While climbing down to hang from the helicopter skid, a skydiver’s D-ring got caught on the skid and it deployed the reserve pilot chute while she was still hanging under the heli! It’s hard to communicate under a noisy helicopter through full-face helmets, so it took a few seconds to process the seriousness of the situation before she let go.
Why did this happen?
Lack of awareness of the snag hazards on the skid while climbing down. In this incident, it was the connection points on the skid used for ground handling wheels.
These jumpers were briefed prior to the jump and it’s easy to rehearse the climb out in your head on the way up to altitude, but we can sometimes feel rushed and forget about snag hazards as we climb out — especially if it’s your first heli jump.
What could have been done differently?
Be mindful of any snag hazards — not only your handles, but your chest strap as well like this other heli incident.
Heli jumps are super fun, but the safety briefings can sometimes be a little too brief and basic, and an incident like this might be one of those “you don’t know until you know” situations. If this wasn’t a scenario you’d previously considered, now you know and can remind other jumpers during the safety briefing before your next heli jump.