Friday Freakout: Skydive Malfunction Due to Rusty Gear

Posted by Zej Moczydlowski

What happened

After an uneventful freefall, this tandem instructor went to deploy but nothing happened. So he followed his emergency procedures, deployed his reserve and then did a double take when he realized the main canopy was still on his back. This might not seem to be “Friday Freakout worthy”… but read the full breakdown to learn what caused this malfunction.

Why did it happen

Maintenance Failure

The rig was examined once they landed, and it turns out that the flex pin snapped on the drogue release. The TI noted in his submission that during gear checks he had thought some mud had gotten under the plastic sleeve and onto the pin. What he thought was mud, was actually rust. The packers responsible for changing out the pin had been simply checking the box on their rig maintenance tracking system instead of changing them out.

How could it be prevented

Proper Maintenance

After this incident, the packer responsible for that rig and the head packer responsible for the mat both apologized to this TI. Further, every flex pin on the whole DZ was inspected and replaced because evidently, “they all had exactly the same issue.” This is a terrifying incident and it underscores how important it is that skydivers, packers and riggers don’t cut corners when it comes to maintenance diligence.

Additional Note

In the case of a video like this, it’s our policy to typically block out any information that could identify the dropzone or skydiver in question. This policy exists because we don’t want DZO’s or jumpers – out of a concern regarding repercussions – to hold off on a submission that could provide lifesaving knowledge to the community. In this case, the jumper who submitted the video notes that the incident occurred many years ago and that he, the dropzone and the customer were all fine with the video being posted. And, in his personal defense, he noted that he was a very inexperienced TI at the time and when he got to the ground, he was mainly excited that he punched out his EP’s correctly.

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