So....I get to the AOT boogie and things are hopping. I'm there no more than five minutes, filling out the mountain of paperwork at the registration tent, and have already received hugs from no less than 8 friends that I haven't seen in a while.
First jump, did a two-way sit with Turtlespeed out of the CASA. Folks, his name needs to be changed to Lightning speed. I broke 215 in a head down and couldn't catch him.
Second jump is the sunset load. Yeah, I got there late. I was feeling kinda zen so I just decided to do a solo and admire the view. Left the jumpsuit on the ground, thought about leaving my helmet for the full effect, but decided to go ahead and take it anyway.
On exit, Tony from SSM was taking everyones picture so I did a reverse exit, cracked an evil grin, and threw out a couple of "hang-loose" signs as I fell away.
Played in my sit, worked on some cartwheels, and spent from 6K to 3500 on my belly checking out the sun as it finished dropping over the horizon.
3500 comes so I take a look over both shoulders, wave off, make sure that I'm stable & level, and deploy.
Folks, I have NEVER had a harder opening in my life. At that moment I had to decide whether I wanted to throw up, pass out, or scream in agony. I kept conscious, spit out a bit of bile, and screamed like it was a world-class event.
Okay, fuck....I'm alive. I somehow manage to bend my head back, and I know my legs are okay because I really wished I couldn't feel my right leg right then, because it had been severely wrenched at both the hip and the knee and it was singing the anvil chorus.
I look up at my Stiletto 190 and the left side has a bit of a line-over but the canopy is turning so gradually it's no big deal. I popped the toggles and it cleared so I finished collapsing and pulling my slider down as I continued looking at the canopy to check it out.
That's when I noticed that the entire bottom panel had completely blown out of the 2nd cell in from the right and I had busted a control line. Since I was still at 2700 feet I tried a left turn and a right turn. Both were good but the right one took a bit of effort.
Then I tried a practice flare. I got 1/4 into the brakes and the canopy started oscillating.
Fuck! I can't land it, but I can fly it. I checked the traffic around me and flew over to the hangars. I hung out until about 2000', made damn sure there was no traffic below me or above & behind me, and then I chopped.
My Tempo 210 opened wonderfully, if not a bit brisk for my right legs taste, and I stowed my handles for safe keeping, did some practice flares, got a bead on my main and freebag, and got into pattern for an uneventful landing.
It was then that I noticed that my face felt really hot. It turns out I had a pretty good knot on my forehead and also had abrasions on my left cheek and the left side of my forehead. There is no doubt in my mind that if I had not been wearing my helmet we'd have been looking for my ear along with the rest of my equipment.
I gotta give the Aggies credit. The DZO and the RWS factory rep had already gone after my freebag and my main landed right next to the hangar in the swoop area and was already being recovered by someone else. DZ.com's own Brits17 met me as I limped out of the landing area with a beer in hand for me. I had no less than 4 offers from other people who offered me gear to get me back in the air. Damn, those people rock.
My Stiletto is going back to PD thanks to the RWS rep who offered to drop it off for me. Egon, if you're reading this, I really appreciate it!
Unfortunately, my reserve freebag and PC were the victims of a TX highway. The road had just been re-tarred and tar was all over the bag, bridle, and PC. They're totalled.
I have psycho-packed my Stiletto for the last 200+ jumps, the canopy has about 250 jumps on it, the lines are still white, and I had checked the trim 3 weeks previous. I did nothing different during my pack-job and had also un-twisted the brake-lines prior to that jump. Nothing about that pack-job was out of the ordinary. I flaked the entire canopy leaving the nose hanging and quarter the slider, pulled it out over the nose a bit, and made a pocket like I always do. This has given me consistant on-heading 600'+ snivels.
None of the bands on my D-bag were damaged or broken either. I use 2.5-3" bights for my locking stows and 2" bights for the rest.
Frankly, I'm at a loss as to what may have caused it, especially since Stiletto's are known soft-opening canopies.
I'll find out more from PD once they get the canopy in and take a look at it.
I decided to go ahead and head back home. Now I'm going to crash into bed and hope I can move my leg and knee once I wake up. sigh.