Stowing the Slider

Q:
What should I do with my slider after I deploy my main canopy?

 

A:
Once the slider performs its job—slowing the opening of the canopy—it can become a noisy nuisance. Most jumpers choose to quiet the slider by stowing it using the kill-lines that are stock on most models.

Rule number one for attending to the slider is to prioritize. Since the noise of a flapping slider is really no big deal, you may not want to stow it at all until you gain experience and confidence. It’s too easy to get caught up while collapsing the slider and end up colliding with someone under canopy or to lose track of altitude and fly too far away from the drop zone.

To learn how to quiet your slider down after opening and to prevent damage from the grommets beating against the lines at the connector links, get a rigger or your instructor to show you how to operate the kill-lines. Study and practice with the system first on the ground until you understand how it works.

After opening, most jumpers collapse the slider before releasing the brakes since the canopy’s flying more slowly and both hands are free. Make sure you have a clear path ahead, then reach up and find two small tabs on the trailing edge of the slider. Pull the tabs out of the slider and straight back, sharply, until both kill-lines lock. You can’t really hurt anything by pulling backward, but pulling to the side can cause unnecessary wear.

The technique for operating the system takes some getting used to, and many people report that they can’t reach the slider or operate the kill-lines the first few times they try. Get familiar with it on a jump when there won’t be a lot of other canopies around. Always remember: first things first. As soon as anything more important comes up, forget about the slider.

You should also make sure you know what type of connector link is on a system before jumping it for the first time. If the rig uses fabric connector links, it’s easy to pull the slider grommets down the risers and over the brake system. In fact, some jumpers plan to do just that. However, it’s pretty freaky if you’re not prepared for it. At least one company offers easy-to-install cloth bumpers to prevent the slider from going below the links. If your rig is not so equipped, be ready to deal with pushing the slider grommets back up or pulling the slider the rest of the way down. You should also be prepared to operate the brake system both above and below the slider grommets—or even with one brake above and one below. Things get really exciting when you accidentally release one brake as you fidget with all this!

Collapsing your slider means including an additional step in your packing checklist—resetting the slider—and it should become part of your routine (“slider-brakes-pilot chute”) when you put your rig down. You should also check it again just before you enclose the slider in the packed canopy since you can’t check once you close the deployment bag. At the very least, a collapsed slider will give you a harder opening, and all that loose, tangly kill-line could make even more trouble. Make sure to reset the slider every time.

Also, many sliders have a right way and a wrong way to unlock the kill-line. A rigger or instructor can help guide you through the owner’s manual so that you do it correctly.

The faster a jumper likes to fly the canopy, the more slider drag matters. Some jumpers like to pull the slider all the way to the bottom of the risers and hook it to a slider-keeper to keep it out of the wind stream. Serious canopy swoopers may even use a fully removable pilot-chute-and-slider system—one that allows them to take the entire deployment system off while under canopy. However, only highly qualified canopy pilots with advanced knowledge of gear should use these systems.

Collapsing the slider is generally a good idea. It reduces wear on the lines and lets the canopy fly more freely. However, it makes things more complicated and so requires careful attention. Focus on the more important things you need to do to keep safe on every jump. Then if you have enough altitude, clear sky and brain space, shut that noisy thing up!

—Kevin Gibson | D-6943
Master Rigger
Sawangdaendin, Thailand

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Oleg Tchernychenko
Fri, 10/18/2013 - 03:22

Dear Kevin,

Appreciate you article about slider stowage.
Could you kindly explain how to make such kill-line?

Oleg

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