May 21, 2001, 10:17 AM
Post #1 of 11
PRCP's and JM altimeters
I hung out at the DZ all day Saturday and got to listen to some AFF students debrief. One of them failed because of a problem I also encountered - when it was time to grab the BOC and deploy, he ended up getting his mainside JM's altimeter instead. I was lucky enough that I did it while I was still up top and doing PRCP's, and after a little tug-of-war my JM smacked my hand to get me to let go and start thinking again. But the student I listened to was unlucky and had to repeat the level (and pay for it again, too).
My question is this - is it possible for mainside JM's to take a different grip on the student so that their altimeter isn't in the "hand arc" for a student? I know we're supposed to start at the top of the container and work our way down the side if we can't locate the handle, but that's one step too late if you've already got your JM's altimeter and are trying to figure out exactly what it is. Besides, starting low and basically sweeping up your hip until you find the handle is a much more natural movement than reaching back first, then down. Plus, it could be difficult for older students or people with shoulder problems to reach back before reaching down. Another thing that I think contributes to the problem is that the other student and I both went through tandems before AFF, so we were trained on a ripcord that's low and forward, as opposed to the BOC which is low and back.
Anyway, I'd appreciate it an AFF JM could give me some insight as to grip position. If anyone else latched onto an altimeter during their first few jumps I want to hear from y'all too!
That's just not possible with a pilot chute mounted on the bottom of your container. Besides, even if you could see it, looking that far back would probably make you de-arch and start turning. Looking works for ROL and emergency handles, but not BOC.
Our DZ used to have student ripcords located on the front right hip area and we were taught to LOOK, reach, pull. There was a problem sometimes with students de-arching while trying to see it. They've recently switched to a ripcord located in the BOC area. This gets the student familiar with reaching for the same place they will mostly likely be going after getting off student status and the 'look' part of the sequence has been dropped.
I just finished my AFF this weekend but never had any trouble finding and pulling my BOC. Before every jump I stand by myself and do at least 8-10 prcps while on the ground. Then again in the plane I check the location of my BOC pud on the ride up a few times. By pulltime I'm fairly comfortable with finding it. Plus, that's the reason they have you do prcp's on at least your first 3 AFF levels. To teach yourself where it is while they can correct you.
During the briefing and dirtdive of my first IAF jump the jumpmaster said that when you do your first PRCP you will likely reach for their hand located on your legstrap. So true for myself, you can even see it in the video. I just thought....hmmm, that does not feel right and felt around some more till I found it. After that one time I never had a problem again. I suppose all the student rigs have the same type of handle. My advice would be to gear up early before your next jump and keep practicing your dummy pulls. You will get to know the "feel" of the handle and build a muscle memory to where to position your hand and arm when going for the pull. Also this could be a good time to follow those "dummy pulls" with some emergency procedures. I like to visualize different stages of deployment starting with actually reaching for the main handle. Act like it the handle is missing/lost...now follow through with procedures for that type of emergency including dummy pulls on the cutaway if necessary and follow with reserve activation. You could simulate a hard pull situation followed by the proper emergency procedures. Next you could make a practice pull and visualize a PC in tow and follow up with the procedures to correct the situation. Keep going, bag-lock, streamer, you get the idea. Long winded I know, just trying to throw out some ideas.
Craig, the Emergency Procedures dive sounds like an excellent idea, especially since I'll be getting my own rig soon and it will probably fit differently than the student rigs I've been renting.
I guess what I was really looking for was an AFF JM's explanation of why the grip is taken so close to the BOC handle. I realize that you need to be close enough to deploy the main if the student is brainlocked, but it seems to me that if the grip was taken on the legstrap there'd be less a chance of the student getting an altimeter rather than the pilot chute. I dunno... this is a pretty trivial thing I guess, I'm just curious because it happened to me so I'm a little embarassed, and I feel bad for the other student who actually failed a level because of this. Yeah, I know, he would been out more than just a few bucks if he brainlocked and tried to deploy, say, his jumpsuit, but still...
A lot of AFF/PFF instructors wear their altimeter on their left forearm or shift it to their right hand. Some deliberately take a lower grip on the leg strap. But in the long run, it comes down to student awareness. Pulling on an altimeter will not save your life. Neither will pulling on the loose end of a strap. It is important for students to identify the correct handle with their fingertips. This best way to develop this feel is to practice grabbing the correct handle dozens of times on the ground.
A lot of AFF/PFF instructors wear their altimeter on their left forearm or shift it to their right hand.
One of my AFF instructors wore a chest mount when he did AFF. I think his reasoning was that if he moved in front of the student they could see his altimeter. The best way to avoid grabbing the wrong thing is lots of practice on the ground. Don't just assume you'll be able to find it at pulltime.
I did the same thing. First couple jumps were tandems, the handles are in a different place. Before the AFF jump, my JM took my hand, put it on his altimeter and said "Feel this? This is NOT your pilot chute" In the video, you see me reach back, grab his altimeter, then move my hand to the hackey. I didn't even pull on his altimeter, as soon as I grabbed it I knew it was wrong.