A pilot chute in tow malfunction is never fun, especially when you try to manually deploy your main parachute and end up flipping onto your back with a mess of lines wrapping around your leg. That’s exactly what happened to this skydiver. He pulled his cutaway, deployed his reserve and crossed his fingers that the reserve would clear the ball of $#!t above his head.
Why did it happen?
The pilot chute in tow malfunction was a result of human error — this jumper forgot to cock his pilot chute. Once he realized what had happened, he tried to grab the bridle and pull the bag out manually. Unfortunately, as he did that he got unstable and flipped onto his back. When it came out it wrapped itself around his leg and got super messy super fast.
What could have prevented it?
Every time you pack, take your time and hit every step of the process. Don’t get complacent, don’t rush, don’t get distracted, and don’t cut corners. Some people cock their pilot chute as the first step in their packing process, some people do it after they lay down their canopy, whatever works for you do it… and make sure to do it that way every time.
You know that moment where you’re like “Shit… did I cock my pilot chute?” That’s the perfect moment to turn to your buddy and ask them for a gear check. No one is too experienced to ask a fellow jumper for an extra set of eyes.
This was a really messy scenario. Once the jumper realized his pilot chute wasn’t going to work he tried to get the bag out manually. It wasn’t a terrible idea but, by flipping onto his back to attempt that maneuver, he made the situation a LOT worse. If you’re not able to try to get the bag out while remaining stable just follow your emergency procedures for a pilot-chute-in-tow: cut-away and pull reserve, or go straight to reserve (that debate has been raging for a long time and we are NOT going to get into the pro’s and con’s of those options.)