Keep an Eye Out

Avoiding a Pilot-Chute-in-Tow Malfunction

Since originally addressing the issue in the November 2009 edition of Parachutist (“Safety Check—A Pilot-Chute-in-Tow Malfunction” by Jim Crouch), USPA has received two more reports of jumpers who experienced the malfunction when their main closing pins pierced their bridles as they attempted to deploy, locking their containers shut. In all four of the reported cases, the jumpers successfully deployed their reserves and landed uneventfully. more »

Misassembled Soft Links

While walking through the DZ hangar, a rigger noticed a licensed jumper’s main canopy attached to risers with soft links (Slinks®) that he had assembled incorrectly. The jumper had passed the soft link through the suspension lines of the main canopy only one time; when correctly assembled, the soft link passes through both the suspension lines and riser twice before the ends are secured together. He had jumped the canopy a few times in this misrigged configuration, and luckily the main canopy remained attached to the risers. The jumper, who was also the owner of the rig, thought that he had correctly followed the assembly instructions and didn’t consult a rigger. Replacing hard links with soft links is a complex assembly operation, which if done incorrectly could result in injury or death. According to the FAA, the maintenance should have been performed by a master rigger, senior rigger or by the owner while under the supervision of a master rigger. more »

Cutaway and Reserve-Deployment Sequence

This tandem main canopy opened up with line twists that could not be cleared, so the tandem instructor initiated emergency procedures. The following photos show the various stages of a reserve deployment initiated by a Skyhook reserve deployment system (though the instructor puller his reserve deployment handle, the Skyhook beat him to initiating deployment).

Photos by Sean Harrison: more »

Deployment Handles

This jumper experienced a main-canopy deployment as soon as he exited a Twin Otter during a multi-aircraft large-formation skydive. Luckily, the exit and deployment were otherwise uneventful, and the jumpers exiting after him were not in the path of the deploying main canopy. His main-deployment handle may have snagged on an oxygen tube (used during high-altitude flights) or on some other part of the airplane as he moved toward the door to start his dive toward the formation. more »

Steering Lines and Toggles

This jumper was unable to clear the toggle from his right steering line when he initially released his brakes. After several attempts at pulling the toggle in different directions and at different angles, the toggle finally slipped free from its cat’s eye (the opening in the steering line). The remainder of the canopy flight was uneventful.

The jumper reported that the cat’s eye in the steering line had always been somewhat snug around the toggle, and as time went on, the fit seemed to get tighter. more »

Riser Wear

This photo shows four tandem-system risers in various stages of wear. The two on the left show little to no wear of the nylon three-ring-release retaining loop. These two risers are still in use. The two risers on the right show moderate to significant wear of the nylon loop and are no longer in service. All jumpers should inspect their risers frequently and replace them when necessary to prevent total riser failure. more »

Last-Minute Adjustments

This jumper performed her regular gear checks—one before boarding the aircraft, again while the aircraft was climbing and one just prior to arriving at exit altitude—in preparation for a freefly jump. However, after the final check, she removed her helmet in order to put on her goggles and forgot to re-buckle the strap. Soon after exiting, as she transitioned from a head-down position to a sit, the helmet flew off her head. The jumper caught the moment on her chest-mounted camera. No one was struck by the departing helmet, so it was a harmless (but expensive) oversight. Jumpers who make last-minute adjustments should perform an additional gear check just to make sure nothing has been overlooked. more »

Snag Hazards

This jumper snagged the bottom of one of his jumpsuit booties while exiting from the step of a Cessna 182 aircraft. There have been several similar jumper-Cessna hang-ups in the past, in which jumpers were left hanging from one of their booties after letting go of the plane. In at least one case, the airplane landed while still trailing the jumper because the jumper could not be freed from the step. In this case, the pilot, Matt Camardo, was able to cut the jumper free of the step because he had a knife available. The jumper then fell from the aircraft and had an otherwise uneventful skydive. Every aircraft, particularly ones that have a step such as the Cessna 182 and 206 models, should include a sturdy knife that the pilot can access for situations like this one. Jumpers exiting from the step of a Cessna should use extra caution with their foot placement to avoid this type of problem. more »