After a fun belly jump flying through a hula hoop with friends, this skydiver tracked away – albeit a bit weakly – and pitched. Her canopy deployed but it was an unstable mess that turned into line twists and quickly began diving down, which almost resulted in a canopy collision (48 second mark)!
The jumper, who has been in the sport for less than a year but has over 300 jumps, had previously been chastised for chopping a canopy that others told her she could have landed. With those criticisms in mind, she kept fighting the malfunction – for roughly 25 seconds – until her audible altimeter told her she was at her hard deck. At that time, she cutaway her main and landed her reserve.
The jumper notes that her brakes were stowed but had not been set. She had been using a packer and believed that they would set her brakes for her. The failure to set the brakes may have contributed to the tension knots that prevented her canopy from inflating normally.
The debate between packers and jumpers regarding who should be setting the brakes has been around a long time and we’re not going to settle it here. Ultimately, it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep themselves and those around them safe.
As a jumper, you should be doing everything you can to set yourself up for success and that includes making your packer’s life easier by doing the small things like setting your brakes and uncollapsing your slider.
As a packer, you have an implied responsibility for that pack job, and you should always check to see if the jumper did those small things. If they keep forgetting to do those things, you can always just tell them that they should find someone else to pack their canopy.
This fun little rhyme comes from the USPA and this jump highlights what they’re talking about. Once you know there’s no saving your canopy, don’t mess around and fight it for longer than you have to. This jumper spent approximately TWENTY FIVE SECONDS fighting something that she knew wasn’t stable and wasn’t square. Had her reserve had a malfunction; had she needed to find a safe place to land in an area that wasn’t all agricultural fields; had she had a hard time pulling her cutaway handle, she would have had less time to deal with those issues.
In our minds, one of the biggest points this video brings up is the fact that this was a newer jumper who had been harshly criticized, early in her skydiving career, for having chopped a canopy others thought she could have landed. To the keyboard warriors who engage in discussions like that, please stop. You weren’t in the jumper’s shoes and if they’re willing to risk losing a few thousand dollars of nylon to save their own lives, who are you to judge them? They did what they thought they needed to do to stay alive and that is almost always a decision that should be commended.