Friday Freakout: Skydiver Has Hard Opening, Spinning Line Twists & Low Cutaway

Posted by Zej Moczydlowski

What happened

Despite not having enough experience (by his own admission), this jumper was attempting to fly a cross-braced canopy at a high wing-loading. He noted that he was “expecting a toggle fire or major line twist on every jump.” On this particular jump he opened into diving line twists, but instead of cutting away early, he tried fighting it for far too long and ended up cutting away very low.

Why did it happen

Inexperience

A lot of skydivers downsize too fast and purchase canopies they are unprepared for. High performance canopies are sensitive and inexperienced jumpers can easily induce malfunctions during deployment. The fact that this jumper was expecting a major issue on every opening is an indicator that he was not ready to be flying that wing. Inexperience may have also played a role in this jumper forgetting to maintain altitude awareness, which resulted in chopping dangerously low.

How could it be prevented

Coaching

Unfortunately, some inexperienced jumpers think they can safely downsize just by watching videos of professional canopy pilots. However, there are a lot of great canopy coaches and schools out there and they are dedicated to helping jumpers make responsible decisions when it comes to downsizing. A lot of the best canopy pilots in the world continue to get coaching even after they’re getting on the podium at competitions; it it’s good enough for them, it’s probably good enough for the rest of us.

Community Responsibility

Skydivers need to have the courage to tell their fellow jumpers when they are making questionable decisions regarding safety. If this jumper was constantly having malfunctions, someone should have spoken up. Furthermore, the same can be said about selling this jumper a canopy they weren’t ready for. The argument has often been made that if someone wants to make poor decisions it is on them, but given that the whole community gets a bad name when someone has an incident, we owe it to one another to prevent it from happening.

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