Friday Freakout: Another Sit-Fly Premature Parachute Opening

Posted by Zej Moczydlowski

What happened

During this skydive, the jumper was flying in a head-up position with a partially exposed pilot chute. At one point he corked onto his back, the pilot chute caught the air and deployed prematurely. His jump was a bit shorter than he expected but, thankfully, no one was hurt.

Why did it happen

The preemie happened because the pilot chute was not fully secured in the container’s BOC. We don’t have video from the start of the jump so it’s hard to tell why it was loose. The biggest possible culprits are the following:

  1. A loose, no longer jumpable, BOC may have gone unnoticed.
  2. The pilot chute could have been improperly stowed.
  3. The jumper could have scraped their hackey and/or BOC across a hard surface in the plane.

How could it be prevented

All three possible reasons for this loose pilot chute could have been prevented through very basic tasks. Each of these steps is something all jumpers — regardless of skill level or jump numbers — should keep in mind on every jump.

  1. Gear Maintenance: Examining the elasticity of a BOC to ensure it is still jumpable is a basic step in keeping gear in good working order.
  2. Gear Checks: If the jumper improperly stowed their pilot chute on the ground, a buddy check prior to boarding would have caught it. If it came loose in the plane, a handle check should have alerted him to the danger.
  3. Proper Exit Procedures: Jumpers should take care to not scrape their containers – and especially their handles – against the aircraft both when boarding, getting to altitude and exiting. A key part is making sure to rotate your rig inwards towards the center of the door (and avoid the sides of the door) while climbing out.