Keep an Eye Out

Premature Deployment

After the first point of an 8-way formation skydive, a jumper had a premature deployment when his pilot chute came out of its pouch, possibly because someone bumped it during movement to the second point. Fortunately, no one was injured, and all the jumpers landed safely. This incident serves as a good reminder for jumpers to protect their handles and to make sure their pilot chute pouches are secure, but it also highlights how hazardous flying camera can be. The photographer, Pete Jabczynski, wrote, “I have been doing video for 10 years. I have dodged hook knives and helmets, but this was a first (I know, beer). I just want every new jumper who wants to do camera to know that it can happen.” more »

Locked Toggle

After an otherwise uneventful main canopy deployment, a tandem instructor using a United Parachute Technologies system was unable to release a toggle because the steering line had locked itself onto the soft part of the toggle below the grommet and steering line attachment point. He performed emergency procedures, and he and his student landed safely under the reserve canopy. more »

Closing-Loop Maintenance

While changing out a slightly frayed closing loop, an A-licensed jumper discovered that the knot on his main closing loop was pulling through the washer. This closing loop came with the jumper’s new custom rig, and the manufacturer had installed it. The consequences of a loop pulling through a washer range from a horseshoe malfunction to a premature deployment while climbing out of the aircraft. more »

Line Stows

A videographer captured this image showing one bight of suspension line releasing early during the deployment of a tandem main canopy. The line-stow band may have broken as the main bag lifted out of the container, or the bight of line may have been too short for the stow to hold it securely during the deployment sequence. This type of packing error can lead to hard openings and malfunctions, although in this case, the main canopy opened without incident. Following the manufacturer’s instructions for packing and maintenance can help ensure proper main canopy deployment. more »

Shifting Deployment Handles

It’s common to see skydivers, regardless of their experience levels, touching their main deployment and emergency handles on their rigs while on the ground waiting for the plane or during the ride to altitude. This is a great routine to incorporate into your everyday procedures as you prepare to jump, but it’s also something you should occasionally do in freefall and under canopy (generally, just before you release your brakes and after you have ensured you have clear airspace). In freefall or under canopy, your body will change position in the harness, and your handles will probably be higher or wider on your torso than they were when you were on the ground. Knowing where to locate your handles in freefall or under canopy can take some of the guesswork out of your emergency procedures when you need to perform them. When every second counts, it could save time and possibly even your life. more »

Power Lines

This student, who had seven jumps, found himself in power lines after running into them while attempting to land his parachute. He waited for assistance as stated in Skydiver’s Information Manual Section 5-1. The power company got him down safely but had to cut a few of the canopy’s suspension lines to do so. more »

Stabilizer Damage

During normal use, a slider will repeatedly rub against the washers that are inside the slider stops and create friction. Over time, this friction can wear the stabilizer fabric, eventually creating holes that can expose the metal washers inside. These washers then wear on the slider grommets, which can create burrs on the grommets that will damage the canopy’s suspension lines during every deployment. In a worst-case scenario, the washer could fall out and allow the slider to trap part of the stabilizer in one of its grommets. This would likely cause a streamer malfunction, as the slider would be stuck all the way at the top of the lines. more »

Bent Reserve Pin

While visiting a drop zone that was not his home DZ, a jumper gave his equipment to a rigger for a routine inspection and repack. When performing the inspection, the rigger noticed some problems with the reserve pin. The pin, which should be straight, had a noticeable bend, as well as numerous abrasions along its shaft and on its eye. It was also difficult to move, even side to side. The investigating rigger suspected that the bend was from the previous rigger using a positive-leverage device that allowed him to use an excessive amount of force when tightening the closing loop. The scratches on the eye were likely due to the previous rigger using pliers in order to get a better grip on the pin for insertion. The scratches along the shaft may have been due to the use of pliers or from the pin rubbing against the grommet on which it sat. more »

Reserve Seal

During a routine pre-jump gear check for another jumper, a Federal Aviation Administration Senior Rigger discovered an error with the reserve seal on the container. On closer inspection, this rigger discovered that the person who had packed the reserve, also an FAA Senior Rigger, had used two passes of red 4.5-pound seal thread instead of the one pass specified by the rig manufacturer’s instructions. He further observed that the rigger who had packed the reserve had passed the seal thread through the reserve closing loop and not around the outside of it as the instructions called for. more »

Line Over

This tandem pair experienced a line-over malfunction during main canopy deployment. Jumpers can avoid this type of malfunction by taking care that the suspension and steering lines remain centered while they are packing. During a PRO pack of any canopy—sport or tandem—the lines will tend to move away from the center and toward the sides and nose of the canopy when the packer wraps the tail. This increases the risk of the lines looping around part of the canopy. To prevent this from causing a line-over malfunction, the packer should feel inside the canopy after wrapping the tail to make sure the lines are still centered and move them back toward the center if necessary. more »