PussFoot is happy to share a video and write up on a step through malfunction with you this week. The Jumper wishes to remain anonymous and i ask that if you know who he is to please respect his wishes and keep it to yourself. So without further ado below you will find the video and explanation of this situation. I hope you can take away some knowledge and understanding from this one. If you have a video or story that you feel could help members of the community please feel free to email us at Pussfootog@gmail.com , and we will do our best to get it up.
Stay safe and blue skies!
The following are my thoughts during the incident, and my personal analysis of what I think I did right, what I did wrong, and how I believe I ended up with this particular malfunction.
The JumpWe exited the aircraft at 15,000 AGL to form a 6 way speed star to celebrate a jumpers 100th skydive. Which, to this jumpers credit he did naked. After forming a 3 way, we waited for the other jumpers to get in until break off time and track off. As I was tracking off, I didn’t feel like I had enough separation from the group vertically, or horizontally to deploy my main safely so I took it down to 3.3k before pitching. Once I pitched and felt line stretch, I immediately noticed that my lines looked wrong. They were twisted up around themselves, but not around each other like you would expect to see in your standard line twist. Because they were wrapped around each other, this indicated that I had somehow managed to pack myself a step through.
The Cut Away
Once I was under canopy, I went to examine what the hell had just happened. As I reached for my risers to see what I had gotten myself into, I noticed that I was at 2.3k according to my altimeter. But as I looked down, I noticed that I was also over some high hills that surround the landing area. So, because of that, in my mind I thought I was actually closer to 2k AGL and needed to chop right away. Which I did successfully and landed under reserve. What I Did Right
I maintained altitude awareness and followed my own rules and abide by my own personal hard deck of 2,500 AGL that I had set for myself, even if I was below that once I had a main over my head. I didn’t hesitate to get out of a situation I didn’t think I would be able to handle, or land the main safely. I executed my EP’s as I saw fit which ultimately worked out for the best.
What I Did Wrong
After reviewing the footage and speaking with much more experienced skydivers and riggers, there was one big glaring thing I did completely wrong.
CANOPY CONTROL CHECK! CANOPY CONTROL CHECK!! CANOPY CONTROL CHECK!!!
I never un-stowed my toggles or performed a canopy control check. If I had done that, since the twist were below the slider, that canopy was probably controllable; and most likely able to be landed safely. This was a HUGE oversight on my part. I absolutely should have done a controllability check before chopping it. Not to make an excuse, but, because I was below my personal hard deck and over hills, at the time I didn’t feel like I had enough altitude to perform one and I needed to get something over my head I (hopefully) felt comfortable landing ASAP.
How Did This Happen?Before this last jump I had half packed my rig out in the field as we waited to be picked up and taken back to the packing area as this DZ has an off site landing. I had gotten my main into the d-bag and 3 stows completed. When I got to this stage in the pack, our ride showed up to take us back to the packing area. I tossed my rig into the back of the ride and we headed back. Once we got to the packing area and I took my rig out of the trunk, I noticed that my pilot chute was kind of wrapped up funny into the lines. I didn’t think much of it. I just untangled the pilot chute and finished the pack job. What happened was during transportation or the loading and unloading of my rig, the bag and pilot chute managed to work its way through my line set giving me a strep through. I didn’t notice what had happened as when I was finishing up my pack job, I was semi-distracted talking with other jumpers. What Did I Learn?
This was ultimately all my fault. There’s no one here to blame but myself. Looking back, it was a series of events that led to this cutaway:
- Not completing my pack job in the field
- Improper loading and unloading of an incomplete pack job into and out of a vehicle
- Not tracing my bridal and bag back properly to check for a step through after I detangled it from the lines
- Becoming distracted while finishing my pack job
- Being complacent in my own packing skills
- Don’t pull lower than at least 1,500ft above your decision altitude unless absolutely necessary
- CANOPY CONTROL CHECK! CANOPY CONTROL CHECK!! CANOPY CONTROL CHECK!!!
This cutaway was totally avoidable. There really wasn’t any reason it should have happened, but it did. I don’t expect any sympathy, or attaboys. I honestly expect the opposite; and rightfully so. I’m putting this out there because there are three big takeaways here that hopefully other people can learn from:
- ALWAYS DO A CANOPY CONTROL CHECK DURING A LOW SPEED MALFUNCTION UNLESS YOU’RE CLEARLY SCREWED!
- Loading gear (packed, half packed, or unpacked) into and out of a vehicle needs to be done with extra caution as you can accidentally give yourself a malfunction you won’t even know you have
- Complacency will get you eventually
I really hope that people will see this and learn from my unfortunate series of errors and pay closer attention to how they’re packing the next time they’re at the DZ. Or just remember to do a canopy control check next time you think you have a slow speed malfunction. You may be able to clear it, or land it safely if your skill set is there to handle it SAFELY.
Thanks for reading.