To become an FAA ceritifed Senior Parachute Rigger you must pack a minimum of 20 reserves under supervision, then pass written, oral and practical tests. The practical test usually consists of inspecting and repacking a reserve, sewing a canopy patch, maybe a little hand-tacking plus any other minor task the examiner feels like assigning to you. The testing process is straightforward and examiners challenge you on common rigging problems. The oral exam consists of questions about common rigging dilemas asked during the practical test. To study for the written test, buy copies of Dan Poynter's "The Parachute Manual, Volumes I&II, and Poynter's latest rigger's study guide, the one he co-wrote with Mark Schlatter. Also get a recent Para-Gear catalog and a dozen or more owner's manuals for popular skydiving gear. The real challenge is in finding a rigger to supervise your 20 practice pack jobs. There are 4 ways to acquire this experience. First, you could apprentice under your local Senior or Master Rigger. The local process varies widely in time and knowledge, you also become intimate with many common rigging tools, like the broom! Apprenticeship will earn you the respect of local DZs, but your skill are limited to local rigging practices. Secondly, you could start the process under the supervision of your local rigger, then attend a short course. These 9 or 10 day courses are given every winter by people like Action Air, Dave DeWolf, Tom Dolphin and Cathy Schlatter. Away courses help to broaden your horizons by exposing you to the latest gear and techniques. The third method for becoming a rigger involves attending a long course given by a major loft like American School of Parachute Rigging. ASPR is at the Rigging Innovations factory in Eloy, AZ. They are fanatics and train rigger candidates to far higher standards than the FAA requires. Fourthly, you could enlist in the U.S. miltary as a parachute rigger. They will pay you to learn how to pack things like 100 foot diameter cargo chutes and you only have to pass the FAA written exam. They will also ship you to exotic faraway places where you have to fight with the local authorities for permission to jump. By fighting, I do not mean any of those wimpy town council meetings or law suits, I mean fighting with bullets and bombs! The disadvantage of military training is that you will still have to learn all about skydiving gear. Oh, and the good news is that once you have earned the FAA rigger's certificate, you can start learning how to rig. Learning is a life-long process.
I managed to find a Master rigger that liked me enough to let me apprentice. He shows me all sorts of skills and in return I have to do a lot of busy work ( starts with inspecting containers and reserves, checking continuity, practicing packing and closing reserves including my own, and up to assembling entire rigs for his customers, while he does all the hard stuff, sewing, modifying).
I can inspect while he packs and if it is certain gear I can do the entire repack without bothering him for help.
just recently I was packing assebling a brand new reserve for him and we had to stop and finger trap the brakes. Here he spent 1.5 hours showing me how and letting me practice on his machine. I chickened out from sowing the actual brake lines, though I did the finger traping.( He made me some finger trapping tools)
I have been doing this since December (once a week) and it has taken me this long to log 5 reserve pack jobs (in other words this long to where I could assemble and pack certain makes of rigs by myself...unless there is a problem or somehting weird about the rig not covered in the manuals.)
Good Luck Ramon
P.S. It is weird when you jump your personal rig and your first complete reserve repack is your rig. Makes you think real hard and triple check everything.
Hey thanks you guys! Our DZO is a master rigger, and my jump coach I believe might be...I know he is at least a Rigger. I'll let them know I'm interested and perhaps they'll let me watch when they do some reserves. Everyone's cool at my DZ about teaching you whatever, if you want to learn. And I'm in no hurry, just thought I might as well start learning since I'd like to do it eventually I think. I am the type to want to learn anything that someone is willing to teach me.
(def'ly would be weird jumping your own reserve pack at first!!)
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