While jumping with an experienced coach, this skydiver had a premature opening in close proximity to the coach as he was fighting an unstable body position to stick his sit fly. The preemie was caused by a loose BOC, but the canopy deployed cleanly — albeit a little snappy — and the jumper landed safely.
Why did it happen
Loose BOC (Bottom of Container)
During a very quick inspection on the ground, a rigger said the spandex in the BOC looked fine. A few weeks later the same coach saw the jumper boarding a plane in a tracking suit and thought their pilot chute was sneaking out of their BOC. He relayed word up the plane and had the jumper perform a gear check. During this gear check, the jumper found their pilot chute almost completely out of their BOC. A closer inspection of his BOC after the second incident confirmed that it was loose.
Lack of Gear Maintenance
As a container is used, jumps are going to take their toll. Jumpers are taught to look for certain signs of wear-and-tear but, during ground school, that’s largely limited to major items such as closing loops. However, loose BOC’s are a relatively common factor in premature deployments. It’s an issue that skydivers are not really taught to look for and, unless someone takes the time to tell a jumper to look out for it, it may go unnoticed.
How could it be prevented
Gear Checks & Awareness
There is no way to tell if, before the jump in this video, the jumper did their gear checks properly. However – while on the plane on the next jump – the coach witnessed this jumper’s pilot chute sneaking out of the BOC. We don’t believe in coincidence, so this suggests that this jumper was performing poor gear checks. The alternative is that they were not aware of their container rubbing against various surfaces (e.g. door frame) and on multiple jumps their pilot chute was dislodged while they were boarding or exiting the plane.
Staying on Level
A tangential kudos goes out to the jumper who, when the preemie happened, immediately went to their back and tried to get the hell away from the group. They probably reacted to an emergency by wanting to create distance from the rest of the group; not a bad move. Alternatively, seeing someone deploy may have made them think that they had lost altitude awareness. Either way, they didn’t screw around and made a smart move. Even more impressive however, when they realized that they were not at breakoff yet, that jumper went into a stand to try to get back on level with the rest of the jump. They appear to have wanted to ensure that, when the group hit breakoff altitude, everyone would be on level. Nice work!