This skydiver was doing a hop ‘n pop from 4,000 ft. (approx. 1200 meters) in shorts and a t-shirt. He didn’t realize that he had a pullup cord in his pocket and believes that – upon deployment – that cord came out, went into the canopy, passed through the slider grommet and locked the slider. He successfully got it out at around 2,300 ft. (approx. 700 meters). Notably this was only 150 ft (approx. 50 meters) above his decision altitude for cutting away.
Why did it happen
He was jumping in shorts and a t-shirt; some may say this jumper should have dressed for success and been wearing a jumpsuit. We don’t really think that’s a big deal as long as an individual knows what they’re jumping in and knows how it can affect their jump. In this case, however, jumping with unsecured pockets that had something in them led to this incident — a very rare incident that none of us would really consider or think about.
The chances that a pullup cord would slip out of a pocket, fly up into a deploying canopy and perfectly go through the grommet are insane. But, evidently, it happened to this guy!
How could it be prevented
Most people only think about items like their three rings, pins, altimeters, etc., as part of their gear checks. But what you’re wearing is an important factor to consider as well. A lot of jumpers take it for granted, but something as simple as checking to make sure you emptied your non-zipper pockets or tied your shoes tightly can randomly turn into something bigger (those choo-lace malfunctions are scary).
One thing we really liked about this video is how the jumper is constantly looking around while he is fighting to get that slider down. Early on you see him find the other canopy and turn away from it. Then you see him repeatedly look down in what we’re assuming was a series of altitude checks. Many jumpers get tunnel vision during a situation like this and forget about maintaining awareness but this guy looks like he did a pretty good job on that note.