Lessons of Flight and Fancy

I’ve packed and jumped parachutes for an awfully long time … almost half of my life, and I’ve made my share of misjudgements. Today was one such occasion.

I’m wanting to reinvent my style in the sky, so I thought I’d go for a solo stiffly jump, reacquainting myself with the basics of body flight. The beauty of skydiving by myself lies in the ability to jump on my own terms, learning at my own pace and opening at an altitude that is safe in the situation. Being the only fun jumper on the plane (the rest were tandems), I pulled slightly higher than normal. 3,500 feet to be exact. Boy am I grateful for that little bit of extra time! Turns out, when I unhooked the demo Pilot canopy on the weekend, I did a complete switcheroo without repacking my Spectre main 7 cell canopy. A friend helped me with the exchange whereby all looked and seemed intact with no misrouting. In this instance, I put too much faith in another, and I really know better in such circumstances. Rule of thumb: repack my gear whenever the canopy is released (cutaway) from the container, regardless of whether I’m in a hurry or ‘certain’ that everything looks like it’ll work out fine.

Well, on this opening, I started spinning rather rapidly under a tightly wound cascade of line twists that reached up a good 5 feet. Bicycle kick extraordinaire had me under a semi-normal canopy. The first thing that I looked for after flying on heading was in which direction the nose was pointed. Funny you might ask, but the initial thought that went through my head was that the canopy had been reattached backwards. In fact, I’ve seen slaDE purposefully land a backwards attached canopy. He just did a 180 under his risers and landed like that. I wouldn’t have the same sort of bravado or courage to land a backwards flying parachute! Rather, it turned out that I had a triple twist in my right riser housing whilst the left riser had a single twist. You got it. Misrouted reattachment. But with enough altitude above my set hard deck of 2,000 feet, I deemed the main canopy safe to land (it was surprisingly stable and docile despite the large number of riser twists) and decided against cutting away (even though the conditions and spot were perfect for a reserve deployment). What went through my head was: “Why spend an extra $70 for a reserve repack if I didn’t need to?” I had enough thrills for the day and was happy to safely set down lightly and with ease. Big sigh of relief. Next time I jump a demo, no matter who hooks it up, I’m repacking my main canopy just to triple check that everything is kosher!

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  1. My heart dropped when I read this. This is why I have never jumped, I am just to low risk. So happy your story was one of being safe. Sending loving thoughts and positive energy. And, keep safe ♥

  2. I would have chopped it had it not been as I've taught my students: square, flying straight and flare-able (square, there and controllable). Check. It was all good but looked like crap! In fact, with that many twists, it might have been hard to cutaway!

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