Friday Freakout: Skydiver Fights Heavy Line Twists On Both Main + Reserve Parachutes

Posted by Zej Moczydlowski

A skydiver has some heavy line twists on opening, which he fights all the way down to his hard deck before cutting away and deploying his reserve parachute — which also opens with heavy line twists. Yikes!

Why did it happen:

It’s hard to tell what caused the initial line twists, but there may have been some instability upon deployment. The main was open around 2,600 feet and had 2 or 3 line twists far up his lines, but within a few seconds there were no less than ten additional twists and the uneven risers resulted in a diving canopy that was burning up altitude rather quickly.

He attempted to clear the lines but cut away at about 1450 feet and he was under his reserve at around 1150 feet. He was using a Skyhook and his reserve was a PD Optimum 126.

How could it be prevented:

Body position

Your body position on opening is an important part of a clean deployment. Remember to keep your body level/symmetrical and look straight forward towards the horizon on deployment.

Dealing with line twists: push vs. pull

Check out this article by Skydive Mag to learn some great tips from the experienced Flight-1 instructors on how to deal with line twists:

In order to unravel a twist we need rotation. Pulling on risers with twists in the lines does not create any rotation. At worst, if there is any existing offset in the risers then you are potentially pulling asymmetrically on the canopy and may worsen or induce a turn. Pushing the risers together at least takes the tension off the twists to minimize any such input.

Altitude awareness

Once the line twists started getting worse there was no option other than to cutaway. This jumper took 22 seconds and – more importantly – 1100 feet to attempt to clear a malfunction that was not fixable. He probably had an audible set for a hard deck of 1500 feet and he chopped promptly at that altitude (good job!). But given the depth of those line twists, he should’ve chopped earlier.

There’s no reason to fight an un-fixable malfunction all the way to your hard deck. Your reserve could snivel, you might have line twists, you could have a malfunction on your reserve, or you might need the altitude to reach a safe off-landing site. Once you’ve realized that your main canopy is not going to get you to the ground safely, don’t screw around and burn altitude. Get rid of it and figure out what’s next.