Keep an Eye Out

Landing Patterns

These jumpers landed in completely opposing directions, which greatly increased their risk of a collision. Fortunately, they both landed uneventfully. Drop zones must establish guidelines to ensure a smooth flow of canopy traffic that keeps all jumpers—whether they are making standard or high-performance landings—flying in the same general direction for each part of their landing patterns, and jumpers must follow these guidelines. Jumpers flying high-performance canopies and making turns of more than 90 degrees must separate themselves from standard canopy traffic by using a separate landing area or exiting on a separate pass. If two or more jumpers are executing high-performance landings into the same area, it is critical that the jumpers have a plan in place to ensure clear airspace and eliminate the risk of a canopy collision. more »

Step-Through Malfunction

This student experienced a step-through malfunction, which occurs when a parachute container flips through the lines before being packed. The student elected to stay with the main canopy and steered it with the steering lines around the twisted risers, which could have led to the main becoming uncontrollable. Another jumper under canopy noticed the situation—which was not visible to staff on the ground—and landed as quickly as possible to inform the radio operator. By this point, the student was too low to safely cut away, so a more experienced instructor took over the radio. He coached the student through steering the canopy with the rear risers instead of the steering toggles and guided him to the main landing area. The student flared the canopy using the rear risers, performed a parachute landing fall and landed hard but without injury. more »

3-Ring Flip-Through

During a tandem skydive, this instructor deployed his main canopy and the 3-ring locking loop on the left riser broke because the two smaller rings on the system had flipped through the large ring and placed excess force on the loop. Fortunately, the riser held until the tandem pair landed, and the jump was otherwise uneventful. The instructor did not realize the riser had broken until after he landed and a packer discovered the problem. more »

A Different Kind of Mae West Malfunction

After landing uneventfully under her main parachute following a clear-and-pull skydive, this jumper discovered her reserve ripcord handle wedged into the side of her bra outside of her shirt. If the jumper had needed to perform emergency procedures on the jump, the wedged handle would have prevented or delayed her from pulling her reserve ripcord. The jumper had performed a handle check before exiting and speculates that the problem occurred on opening. She was wearing a soft, stretchy T-shirt and had tucked her cell phone into her bra, which may have created a gap that allowed the handle to get lodged. Jumpers should ensure that the clothing they wear while skydiving does not prevent operation of their parachute system’s handles. more »

Closing-Loop Length

The owner of this rig replaced the closing loop but did not properly adjust its length. Consequently, the main container was very loose—posing the risk of a premature main-canopy deployment—because the overly long loop applied very little tension to the main closing pin. On this brand of container, the main container’s grommets align on top of each other when the loop is at the correct length to hold the closing pin securely in place. more »

Hidden Misrouting

As a jumper scanned the chest straps of other jumpers boarding the aircraft for a skydive, he noticed that he could not see how one was routed because the jumper had stowed the excess strap over the attachment point. He almost ignored it but decided to make the extra effort to approach the jumper and check the strap from above, at which point he discovered that the strap was indeed misrouted. more »

Excess Leg Strap

The excess leg strap on this jumper’s rig came unstowed during exit and immediately stretched out to its full length. Not only can this create a distraction, it can also impede main canopy deployment if the strap interferes with the main-pilot-chute handle. Jumpers should store excess leg strap securely and perform a gear check just prior to exit to help ensure that the rig’s components are stowed correctly. more »

Dual Deployment

After throwing out his main pilot chute, this jumper experienced a pilot chute in tow. He pulled his reserve ripcord, and as the reserve pilot chute deployed, the main pilot chute finally pulled the closing pin out of the closing loop and extracted the main canopy. The main canopy inflated with the reserve bridle entangled with the main canopy’s bridle. The jumper grabbed the reserve freebag to prevent the reserve from deploying and safely landed the main canopy while holding the reserve freebag between his legs. Although the witness report did not state the cause of the pilot-chute hesitation, common causes are a misrouted main bridle or an uncocked collapsible pilot chute. Skydiver’s Information Manual Section 5-1 includes recommendations for this type of emergency. more »

Stuck Slider

After main canopy deployment, this jumper found her slider stuck approximately halfway down her suspension lines. As she pumped the brakes of her canopy to work the slider down the lines, she passed her decision altitude for a cutaway and had no option other than to land the canopy. For landing, she pulled down the opposite toggle to keep the wing level. The landing was rough, but she was uninjured. more »

Stored Rig

After four years of storage in a climate-controlled environment, this parachute system needed some maintenance before it was airworthy. The brass grommets on the main deployment bag reacted with the stow bands and broke down the rubber, making it hard and brittle. The stow bands broke apart and some of them adhered to the grommets, as pictured. Manufacturers now make most, if not all, main deployment bags with nickel or stainless-steel grommets to prevent this type of interaction with rubber stow bands. more »