One factor is what you're doing with the pack job.
Another factor is what kind of plane you're jumping from, and is the pilot cutting enough speed for exit?
I'd rather jump my Triathlon from King Airs, but I've managed to slow the Lightning openings down enough for them to be tolerable. I just about roll the 3 outside cells of the nose in toward the center, all the way to the edge of the Lightning logo on the end cells. Plus double-wrapping at least the first 4 stows. But hell, I'm sure there are a lot of shit the other crwdogs have developed that does the trick. To each their own, and they will post here soon enough.
1 - don't get too fat. I am sure that my opening hardness is proportional to my expanding sexy body!!!!! 2 - don't go base / pin. If you are in a >= 4 way. Get the final slot. Your opening accuracy is still very important but you can fudge it a bit more. 3 - don't jump French CRW gear. Your Lightning openings are like gentle pillows and satin sheets versus a stone cold floor...... If you get my drift!!!! 4 - roll stuff. 5 - roll other stuff. 6 - don't dump into prop blast. 7 - keep an eye on your pilots and their exit airspeed. Especially with inexperienced pilots and aircraft that have c of g problems at lower airspeed. 8 - quarter your slider properly (even spiders, etc). 9 - just deal with it and get yourself a chiro. Prepare to be a old bugger earlier in life. 10 - etc.
Use a mesh slider, tail pocket, expose the centre cell and just put a single fold in the outside 3 cells (as one, not individually) and fold the tail over the top each side leaving the center cell well exposed.
Make sure the run in speed is 80/85 knots (if the aircraft can do this) and dont do more than a 3 sec delay cos if you start to go face to earth the opening shock of pulling you upright will hurt more.
If you roll stuff then you get an initial snivel as the canopy is starting to unfold followed by an explosion as all of a sudden it is full of air, while this was happening you have started to build up freefall speed, this seems to magnify the effect of the opening shock.
Also if you wear lead wear it around the body and not over the shoulders as this can cause you to start going flat much quicker, also a decent weight belt around the waist will give you lower back some support.
Make sure you have a decent, well fitting rig and everything is done up nice and tight.
Do some stretching before you start jumping to loosen up the neck, back and shoulders.
Go to russia and jump helicopters cos the openings are fantastic, plus if you do get hard openings the cheap vodka numbs the pain big time.
Cant think of much else at the moment.
(This post was edited by plastic on Dec 27, 2006, 1:12 AM)
I don't roll the nose but I do bury it to the tail like large numbers of people do with freefall canopies. That definitely helps. The biggest thing is definitely airspeed. Assuming that you're not in competition where airspeed matters, I normally exit last and have the pilot slow down as much as possible. I've exited as low as 55 out of Otters and Cessnas, and am generally exiting at about 60 knots out of our Pac 750. Definitely makes for soft openings! W
Believe it or not, my first canopy was an early Lightning that didn't have the logo on it. Everyone thought I was jumping a PD 218 and couldn't figgure out why I was having such horrific openings. You could hear it open from inside the hanger. After about one hundred terminal openings I sent it to PD for a reline and Rusty Vest informed me that it was a Lightning, so I sold it and got a Spectre. Anyhow, I learned to handle those openings by sitting up upon deployment. Perhaps a bad habit, but it sure helps with opening shock!
Well like Bob, I agree with suck it up, it's CRW!!! If it's too much well tough
But on to lightning openings. My lightning opens beautifully about 90% of the time. It's soft and gentle, and for a good 50 to 100 lightning jumps I didn't understand what CRWDogs were talking about the hard openings... Then I had 1. They aren't so bad though.
I use a tail pocket with mesh slider, and when I pack it, I pack it as if I'm packing a freefall canopy in the sense that I roll the nose. I roll it real good, and then I stuff it in the middle (like wendy mentions she does). I do everything else the same. When I go to 'stuff it' in my rig, I make sure all the air is out, and I make it tight, and roll it a little bit more. Mostly because it makes it look neat, and easier to get in the rig. My packjobs are definitely far from neat, but very rarely do i have offheading openings, OR hard openings either. They're usually quite soft...
I have jumped a variety of Lightnings, all using a deployment bag. I get nice openings. I don't think I have ever had what I would call a hard opening using the deployment bag. I have a lot of freefall jumps, and I have had some spankers, so I know the difference.
It's sort of a bone of contention with me that people persist in the use of freepacking when it gives them such horrendous openings. My deployments from the bag are, for the most part, soft, on-heading, and predictible. Certainly, I get a "funny" one now and then, but I see plenty of that with freepacking, also.
I will concede that the "perfect" freepack will result in a statistically higher chance of a perfectly predictable opening with regard to heading and altitude. This is important to world-class competitors who want to open within arm's reach of the next canopy. However, if you are willing to forgo some of this "perfecton" in favor of not wearing a neck brace or going to chiropractors for 10 years, it is possible.
It bothers me that new CRW folks are pretty much told that they must freepack a Lightning. They aren't told why, they just do it. I've given up trying to sell people on using a deployment bag. Sometimes they go to a bag and don't get perfect openings, and give up on it. Well, it's easier to try to work on your packing to get better heading control, etc. (In My Opinion) than to risk a broken neck and constant pain.
My point is that there is a clear alternative to the hard openings that some people bitch about. Anyone who does not wish to avail themselves of it can just "Suck it Up, Cupcake".
Kevin makes excellent points. I did vote suck it up, but that's really a hold over from competition freepack openings where my feet were always on the horizon on deployment. I still freepack a tail pocket, but roll the nose very tight back to the A lines. I get acceptably smooth openings.
As far as bags go, I think a freestow bag is the best for CRW canopies. A single closing stow with the lines s-folded into the pouch (like a reserve). A large stainless grommet reefs the PC, making the bag act like a kill cone.
I'll second what Wendy said - getting a cut from the pilot is vital and you should be firm about your desire for one. You don't need to hear the stall horn going off but there should be a noticeable change in airspeed and engine sound if you're getting a good cut.
Body position is also important - maintain a good arch. Sometimes we CRWDogs get lazy about body position, as evidenced from the highly entertaining "exit cam" on big-ways!
I also shove my nose in straight towards the tail. My setup is all but designed for brisk openings (mesh slider, tail pocket with one stow), and I rarely get really badly slammed. When I do, it's usually due to body position, bad cut, or taking a long-ssa delay.