While deploying the main canopy, this skydiver realized they were at a higher altitude than expected and decided to hold on to their pilot chute for a few seconds to burn some altitude before completing the deployment. The bridle wrapped itself around the pilot chute as it danced in the wind and the pilot chute was unable to fully inflate once they finally released it, which briefly caused a pilot chute in tow before catching enough air to deploy the main. During the deployment, it appears the jumper panicked and almost entangled themselves in the lines, followed by a hard opening. Ouch.
Why did it happen
Delayed release of the pilot chute
This incident was due to the jumper holding their pilot chute rather than just letting go of it. Once they pulled it out of their BOC, that also pulled out quite a bit of the bridle. With all that bridle flopping around it was almost inevitable that the pilot chute would entangle and kill itself.
How could it be prevented
Pitch all the way or don’t pitch at all
Once you’ve pulled your pilot chute out of your BOC, don’t hold on to it. And, if “for some reason” you’re going to do this, don’t let it go in the small of your back (lower back); at least extend your arm out and get it out of your burble. Letting your PC go in your burble is just asking for trouble.
We added a caveat about “for some reason” because we have seen one or two experienced jumpers on very high-performance canopies who do this on hop and pops. The argument could be made that they do so to ensure perfect body symmetry during deployment. Notably, when they do it, they keep their arm out and away from their burble. Either way, unless you’re at that level, there’s no reason to hold on to your PC.
Many military static-line jumpers can tell you about the horror that is a degloving injury. It’s what happens when a line wraps around a limb, a canopy deploys, then the line pinches down and leaves nothing behind but the bones. As this jumper’s canopy was deploying, they rolled over and got caught in the lines, making this type of injury possible. Just one more reason to make sure you do everything you can to have a clean deployment.