Surprize! - Zapped in Freefall
by Jan Meyer
Occasionally, you or one of your skydiving buddies may get zapped midway through a skydive. Someone could accidentally brush against your pin. Your container could open. The relative wind across your back could snatch the bag, lines and possibly the pilot chute and bridle line.
Your parachute may or may not inflate properly. If you have an open container with a throw out pilot chute, then the best plan is to immediately deploy your pilot chute. This will give your main the best chance of opening properly. You will also avoid a horseshoe malfunction if you cutaway.
If your main does not open or is not controllable, then you should execute emergency procedures. Cutaway and deploy your reserve.
Whenever you find yourself open high prematurely, you must clear the airspace immediately. Freefall jumpers use the same airspace. Open parachutes and freefall jumpers can be fatal to both the freefaller and the person under canopy. Descend as quickly as possible by rapidly spiraling downward or by collapsing your canopy.
Every once in awhile, you'll see or be a premature opening. No one will be at fault, but you'll have to deal and react to the situation. Know what to do and act promptly.
Spotters should also check for open parachutes below.
Originally published in Sport Parachutist's Safety Journal,
V1, #5 Jan./Feb. 1989.
Dedicated to enhancing sport parachuting safety by disseminating information about equipment, environments and human factors.