Mar 16, 2005, 8:53 AM
Post #1 of 45
Pilot Chute In Tow
What is the safest way to deal with a Pilot Chute in Tow? If a cutaway might be the best response in some situations, what situations are they? Does anybody know where I might be able to find some accurate information on this issue?
The USPA SIM 2005 states: For a pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction, there are currently two common and acceptable procedures, both of which have pros and cons. An instructor should be consulted prior to gearing up, and each skydiver should have a pre-determined course of action.
Pilot chute in tow procedure 1: Pull the reserve immediately. A pilot chute- in-tow malfunction is associated with a high descent rate and requires immediate action. The chance of a main-reserve entanglement is slim, and valuable time and altitude could be lost by initiating a cutaway prior to deploying the reserve. Be prepared to cutaway.
Pilot chute in tow procedure 2: Cut away, then immediately deploy the reserve. Because there is a chance the main parachute could deploy during or as a result of the reserve activation, a cutaway might be the best response in some situations.
This topic has been discussed many, many times before. Do a search. In the end, people have died using both procedures. And lived, too.
That's true, it has been. But so has everything else. Maybe there's only so many things to talk about and this is a topic near & dear (ahem !) to all of us. So what's the harm ? I think the fatality report from Tunisia may have sparked fresh interest in this as well.
The best thing you can do is in the realm of PREVENTION. Know your gear and keep it maintained. Even if you use a packer, USPA suggests that you reset your kill line yourself before leaving your rig at the packers' tent (along with setting your own brakes and opening your slider back up). Next thing is pay attention to how your p/c is behaving. If the kill line is shrinking, most p/c's will give you a warning, with slow flakey behavior a couple times before failing altogether. If you think your deployment is too slow and don't know why, show your p/c to a rigger - before you jump it again. Next, don't let routine lull you into giving your p/c a lazy toss. Once that baby collapses on your back, it sort of crawls around like an amoeba on your back - nasty thought. Throw that baby like it was a hand grenade !
And maybe get a pullout p/c. I don't use one myself and they have their own drawbacks as well - but you'll NEVER have a horseshoe with one (although I have had friends "tow" them owing to a lazy extraction, which sometimes resulted in a bunch of nasty things at altitudes too low to contemplate).
Reach back and pull the pin. Then figure out what caused the PC in tow and fix it before jumping the rig again.
Well put! Procedure # 3, manually pull the pin. Surprised it wasnt mentioned before - possibility of extremity entanglement with bridle or lines?Prevention is the key I think, perhaps adding 30 seconds to my pack job.
Are you saying that with procedure #3 if you see a pilot chute in tow then pull the pin and see if you get a deployment or just go straight to EP's afterwards?
Well the mains hould open at that point. If it does, then no need for EP's. If it doesn't, you are back at square one with a PC in tow.
Like it has been said twice now, prevention is easy and the way to go. How many people know 1) that spectra kill lines shrink with use and eventually will cause a PC in tow and 2) how to check if their kill line PC is a) correctly built and b) has the correct length kill line?
Here is how I deal with it: 1. I'm paranoid about my PC (I triple check it is uncollapsed). I check kill line every time I packed it and I replace PC ~ every 500 jumps. 2. I jump pull out so I always pull the pin myself. 3. My main is properly sized for container (to avoid container lock)
1. there is a possibility to bridlle to turn around my hand.
Anything is possible, but I found it easy on about 20 occasions to reach back and pull the pin without a problem. (I was experiemnting with small PC sizes).
2. this take the time during high speed malfunction
Yes, it does. It is a trade between taking a bit of time, which if you pulled at a resonable altitude you should have the time, and avoiding the risk of a main/reserve entanglement if you are forced to deploy the reserve.
No perfect answer, each option has advantages and disadvantages. One may work well once and cause a problem the next time. Because of this, avoiding the problem is the best answer. Most PC's in tow were avoidable.
>Pilot chute in tow procedure 3: >Reach back and pull the pin.
I would add - attempt to do this ONCE. If you fail the first time, deploy your reserve (or cut away and then deploy your reserve; your choice.) A lot of people have died trying to find a floating pullout pud (same basic idea) - they all just needed one more second to find the errant pud. We had a cypres firing at Perris recently when a jumper needed 'just one more second' to find the pilot chute. (Unfortunately for him, he was trying on the wrong side, so he never found it.)
You had 20 PC in tow? How fast the main was inflated with collapsed PC (or you had to cut away it)?
The PC was inflated (I never had a collapsed PC in tow), but it was too small to pull the pin. Once I would reach back and pull the pin, the main deployed normally. With the advent of very well protected pins, it can take more force to pull the pin than it takes to deploy the main. In this case it was a very small main that didn't require a lot of drag from the PC to deploy it.
Like Bill said, don;t spend the rest of your life trying to pull the pin. Also, if you have a collasped PC in to (cock your PC!) pulling the pin will probably make things worse, not better.
People also describe how to do high performance landings. Anyone can read that too. As the disclaimer thread at the top of forum says, be aware of advice given. It is a perfectly valid method of resolving a potentionaly dangerous malfunction. A skydiver should be aware of their limitations before simply reading something here and going out to the DZ and giving it a shot.
Should I not post it even though there are people that will/could find value in it because someone of little experience can read it too? If I shouldn't, then there is a lot (probably the vast majority) of threads that should be removed because they are too advanced for new jumpers.
When I disscused this with my instructor I was told that:
1. there is a possibility to bridlle to turn around my hand. 2. this take the time during high speed malfunction
So I was recommended to cut away and pull the reserve...
I've had a pilotchute in tow past summer (have even it on video somewhere) Pull at +- 3000 ft. Uppon throwing out, instead of the usual feeling of the bag coming off, I felt noting. looked back and saw the pilot dancing in the wind, but no pin pulled.
I reached back and gave a hit against the bridle, which caused the pin to come out, and main to start opening.
From throwing out, to realizing nothing was hapening, hitting the bridle causing an opening, only took 1 or 2 seconds. I was open at about 2100 ft.
It was a small F111 collapsable pilotchute that came along with a secondhand main (merrit170), and switched with my normal (non collapsable pilot) for a few jumps. But it was taken 'out of action' after this event (old, leaky)
The pilot was cocked correctly (also shows on video) but just lacked the pull-force to get the pin out.
If it's a pilot-in tow (not due to an uncocked pilot) I think there will be enough force/pull on the bridle to prevent it from wrapping around your hand if you hit/pull on it.
About available time.... my reaction was kinda instincive....If an action like this would mean you'd have to think about it for a couple of seconds before taking an action like this, then you'll probably already be too low...
I'd add that its worth trying it on the ground - get into a rig and video yourself trying this procedure with a friend holding your bridle up... Takes longer than you might think Pull, safety count, thinking time to do a different EP etc...
I wasn't comfortable with the amount of time it took me to perform an unfamiliar EP...
Added to the problem that your cypres might fire as you're reaching behind you entangling your arm & reserve.
People need to think very, very carefully about having multiple EPs when they are relatively inexperienced IMO.