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Cutaway on first solo

 

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tvanderbeek  (Student)

Dec 5, 2011, 1:24 AM
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Cutaway on first solo Can't Post

I was listening to Skydive Radio episode 160 during my drive to Hollister this morning. There was a discussion about stowing toggles which is important to this story:
I did jumps 9 and 10 today (jump 1 was a tandem, then 7 jumps on AFF). Since I graduated from AFF 3 weeks ago, I hadn't been back to Skydive Hollister until today. I feel like I wasn't prepared for a full solo so I did jump 9 with a coach so he could help me learn how to arrange myself on the plane, decide what skills to work on, etc. The jump was uneventful and went pretty much according to plan. When I got back, I watched the pack job since I was going to go up again soon. The packer showed me how to stow the toggles in half brake position. He stowed the left toggle, I stowed the right. This next jump was a fun jump with 2 other recent AFF graduates and a 6-way on the flight. This was really my first time to go solo but now I felt prepared. I exited stable and did turns, a back flip, and barrel rolls. Then I tracked really well for about 10-15 seconds. I was over the downwind end of the field (dropzone is a few miles south of the airport in a large field) and pulled at 5000 feet. I noticed a problem right away. The canopy dove left and right on opening but then cleared up and was flying straight. But the left toggle had fired and wove itself back and forth through the other lines, essentially holding it in a braked position. I didn't release the right toggle since it was flying straight. So I guess it was a toggle fire/tension knot but I'm still not sure what it's officially called. I was at 4500 feet and turned back toward my destination with the rear risers. I tried to get the toggle loose but didn't have any luck. I already knew at 4000 feet that I was likely going to cut away and made my decision that if I didn't clear it by 3000 that I would chop it. I tried to free the steering line and toggle but had no luck. So when I was down to 3000 feet, I took a deep breath and pulled my main cutaway handle, then the reserve handle and arched. Since it was a slow speed malfunction, there wasn't much feeling of falling again. I only fell for a second and the reserve was open. I checked the canopy for steering and it worked great. I remember listening to one of the Skydive Radio episodes about practice flaring the reserve since it handles differently so I flared it a few times and again it felt great (better than the main). I threw the handles in my jumpsuit (another tip learned from Skydive Radio). I looked back for the main canopy and saw it slowly drifting downwind. I tried to see where it was going but had to concentrate on getting back. I made my way back upwind and got all the way to the area where I would normally enter the pattern and did so at 1000 feet. I made 2 lefts, and landed so perfectly on my feet, near the target. It was my best landing yet! Everyone was concerned since they saw the main parachute floating away but they didn't know whose it was since my reserve parachute has dark colors. They should use really bright colors on reserves. Anyway, everything went great since we were trained for problems and I executed my emergency procedures flawlessly. This gave me more confidence to jump again. But I had to go search for the main and freebag which didn't take too long to locate. But the main was at the top of a tree on a steep hill across a ravine. We couldn't get it back before dark so we left it and will come back during the day. We located the freebag and retrieved it. Anyway, I'm home safe and with a great story. I'm not happy I had to have a reserve ride so early or at all but I realized that the instructors at Hollister really taught me how to identify problems and stick to my decision altitude, which helped me stay cool. I owed beer for my first solo and first cutaway. I just found out that a case has 24 beers, not 12. My bad. Can't wait to go again.

Blue Skies,

Toby


jurgencamps  (D License)

Dec 5, 2011, 2:38 AM
Post #2 of 32 (2099 views)
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Re: [tvanderbeek] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Then I tracked really well for about 10-15 seconds.

Thx for sharing your story and your experience.
I have a question, nothing to do with the malfunction.
When you track for 10-15 sec, you can get to close to jumpers in the group before or after you. Was the tracking(direction) coordinated with the other jumpers?

Jurgen


DvK  (B License)

Dec 5, 2011, 4:24 AM
Post #3 of 32 (2075 views)
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Re: [tvanderbeek] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

tvanderbeek good to hear you're okay. I (as relatively new and inexperienced jumper) found out that it's reassuring, in a way, to experience some troubles now and then when my canopy is not fully doing what it is supposed to do.
Managing to solve problems properly give some sense of confidence I suppose...

Not long ago I've had quite a bad line twist. It was my own fault, unstable opening. I realized as soon as I was gonna pull that I was unstable, and expected a line twist already. But while pulling anyway, I was aware that pulling at the right altitude was priority 1, followed by a stable opening...

Now I can imagine that you're not too fund of chopping your first solo, but it seems that you've done the right thing here. Making the decision to jump with an instructor 1 more time because you didn't feel 'fully ready' shows that you're a responsible jumper and not overconfident.

Enjoy all those jumps you're going to have in the future!Cool


popsjumper  (D 999999999)

Dec 5, 2011, 6:31 AM
Post #4 of 32 (1990 views)
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Re: [tvanderbeek] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

Tip o' the hat and a raised Beer! to you!

Great confidence-builder, eh?
Smile


side note: Your story was very interesting but a really hard read. Paragraphs are a reader's best friend.


JohnRich  (D License)

Dec 5, 2011, 8:00 AM
Post #5 of 32 (1941 views)
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Re: [tvanderbeek] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
So when I was down to 3000 feet, I took a deep breath and pulled my main cutaway handle, then the reserve handle and arched.

Wrong sequence: Arch first, before cutting-away and pulling the reserve.


llloyd  (C License)

Dec 5, 2011, 8:49 AM
Post #6 of 32 (1914 views)
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Re: [JohnRich] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
In reply to:
So when I was down to 3000 feet, I took a deep breath and pulled my main cutaway handle, then the reserve handle and arched.

Wrong sequence: Arch first, before cutting-away and pulling the reserve.

At 10 jumps, doesn't that depend on what his instructor taught?

Look. Locate. Peel. Pull. Punch. Arch.

That's how my EP's were drilled into me Smile


JohnRich  (D License)

Dec 5, 2011, 12:46 PM
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Re: [llloyd] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
In reply to:
In reply to:
So when I was down to 3000 feet, I took a deep breath and pulled my main cutaway handle, then the reserve handle and arched.

Wrong sequence: Arch first, before cutting-away and pulling the reserve.

At 10 jumps, doesn't that depend on what his instructor taught?

Look. Locate. Peel. Pull. Punch. Arch.

That's how my EP's were drilled into me Smile

That puts you already back in freefall BEFORE you've arched, therefore introducing the possibility of an unstable position during reserve deployment, and it's too late to fix it. You could be back-to-earth with the reserve pilot chute snaking up between your balls.

If you arch BEFORE you cut-away, then you'll already be in the proper belly-to-earth freefall position to maximize a safe reserve deployment.

But hey, that's just me. I don't know nothin. I'm not an instructor.


(This post was edited by JohnRich on Dec 5, 2011, 12:47 PM)


tvanderbeek  (Student)

Dec 5, 2011, 12:58 PM
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Re: [JohnRich] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

I was mistaken. I arched, chopped, and pulled reserve. I'm sure the RSL pulled the reserve faster than I could but it only took a second anyway and I fell feet down for that minimal time.


ShcShc11  (A 15638)

Dec 5, 2011, 1:32 PM
Post #9 of 32 (1789 views)
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Re: [tvanderbeek] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

Should put some paragraphs... Tongue


popsjumper  (D 999999999)

Dec 5, 2011, 2:11 PM
Post #10 of 32 (1772 views)
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Re: [JohnRich] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
If you arch BEFORE you cut-away, then you'll already be in the proper belly-to-earth freefall position to maximize a safe reserve deployment.

You say that like it's a given.
Not so.
Nothing is going to affect that until you build up speed. By then the RSL or the jumper has done the deed...hopefully.

But it is a good idea and good practices.


(This post was edited by popsjumper on Dec 5, 2011, 2:12 PM)


llloyd  (C License)

Dec 5, 2011, 2:49 PM
Post #11 of 32 (1745 views)
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Re: [JohnRich] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

That puts you already back in freefall BEFORE you've arched, therefore introducing the possibility of an unstable position during reserve deployment, and it's too late to fix it. You could be back-to-earth with the reserve pilot chute snaking up between your balls.

If you arch BEFORE you cut-away, then you'll already be in the proper belly-to-earth freefall position to maximize a safe reserve deployment.
I do agree with you...now I have a little experience Smile

My point was, at 10 jumps, the OP should be carrying out his EP's exactly how he was taught and I don't think your reply allowed for that. In the UK that would have been LLPPP-Arch.

Good job saving yourself TV, don't forget to thank the rigger Smile


dthames  (B 37674)

Dec 5, 2011, 3:12 PM
Post #12 of 32 (1730 views)
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Re: [llloyd] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

Please excuse my ignorance and help me visualize “Arch first, then cut away”, in this situation. Say I am under an inflated canopy with the breaks set and have determined because it can’t be steered that EP is required. I have my hands on the handles and I am ready. I can’t get fully into belly flying position, so this “arch” is what,……the best I can do with my arms to my sides? Head back, chest and hips forward, bend my knees 45, and then “punch down, punch down”, followed by getting my arms into the normal hover position? Is that what I should be seeing here?

Thanks
Dan


tvanderbeek  (Student)

Dec 5, 2011, 3:34 PM
Post #13 of 32 (1716 views)
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Re: [dthames] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

Actually, I can clarify my procedure. I was taught to look at the cutaway, grab it, look at the reserve, pull the cutaway, arch, pull the reserve. I absolutely followed this procedure. By doing this, it's pretty difficult to arch very hard while looking down at the handles but you can stick your belly out. I knew I wouldn't fall far. My body position didn't change as I fell straight down for maybe 2 seconds. After I pulled the reserve handle, I looked up to help my "arch" and the canopy was already above me. By arching after pulling the cutaway and before pulling the reserve, you can help be in position in case the RSL activates which I'm sure it did before I could pull the handle. It happened quickly but I was quite calm and aware of what was going on.


llloyd  (C License)

Dec 5, 2011, 4:24 PM
Post #14 of 32 (1702 views)
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Re: [dthames] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Please excuse my ignorance and help me visualize “Arch first, then cut away”, in this situation. Say I am under an inflated canopy with the breaks set and have determined because it can’t be steered that EP is required. I have my hands on the handles and I am ready. I can’t get fully into belly flying position, so this “arch” is what,……the best I can do with my arms to my sides? Head back, chest and hips forward, bend my knees 45, and then “punch down, punch down”, followed by getting my arms into the normal hover position? Is that what I should be seeing here?

Thanks
Dan

Yes, the 'arch' we're talking about is the stable box-man skydiving position. When exactly to bang this arch on depends on what your instructor wants you to do.

I was taught two-handed drills (as in, two hands per handle) which is why my arch would occur a split second after I'd pulled the silver one. This doesn't mean my way is right or wrong, just different.

Listen to YOUR instructors, then ask questions of anything you're unsure about. They like that Smile


popsjumper  (D 999999999)

Dec 5, 2011, 5:47 PM
Post #15 of 32 (1673 views)
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Re: [tvanderbeek] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

Good job looking for you handles. That's more important than when, or if, you arch in those situations.

In reply to:
I only fell for a second and the reserve was open.
So, did the arch help? Did it flip you over belly to earth before the reserve opened? Nah.

Arching is good practice. Keep in your procedures. You may, at some time in the future, be in a situation that may require a disconnected RSL and a delayed reserve deployment. Think top jumper on an entanglement situation.


(This post was edited by popsjumper on Dec 5, 2011, 5:48 PM)


JohnRich  (D License)

Dec 5, 2011, 5:52 PM
Post #16 of 32 (1669 views)
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Re: [popsjumper] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
In reply to:
If you arch BEFORE you cut-away, then you'll already be in the proper belly-to-earth freefall position to maximize a safe reserve deployment.

You say that like it's a given. Not so. Nothing is going to affect that until you build up speed. By then the RSL or the jumper has done the deed...hopefully.

Nothing is a given in this sport, except gravity and time. But there are certainly odds that are the best way to go. That's why I said if you don't start with an arch, it's too late to do anything about it. Because by the time you build enough air speed to be able to change your position, your RSL should have already deployed your reserve. So if you start out with a bad position, you're inviting trouble with the deployment. And if you don't have an RSL you'll have to choose between an unstable deployment and burning more altitude to get stable. On the other hand, if you start with a good arch, you'll go belly-to-earth right away while building that speed, and while your reserve is deploying cleanly behind you.

But you can feel free to reverse arch on your next cut-away, fall back-to-earth, and let us all know how that works out for you.


(This post was edited by JohnRich on Dec 5, 2011, 5:59 PM)


popsjumper  (D 999999999)

Dec 5, 2011, 6:06 PM
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Re: [JohnRich] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

Nope, John. What you said was, "If you arch BEFORE you cut-away, then you'll already be in the proper belly-to-earth freefall position to maximize a safe reserve deployment."

If you are talking about simple body position with no regard to orientation, then you missed the ticket. On your back in a perfect box position is not what anyone would call "safe" in the respect that you are calling it.

If you are talking about going belly-to-earth, you missed the ticket. The RSL will activate things before the wind offers any help as indeed the OP demonstrated.

Arching in this situation arching would not have had, and did not have, any effect whatsoever. But, as you can see from my previous posts, I support the idea of arching at crunch time....for a reason. Did you notice that?

Thanks for the snide remark, though. It was humorous.

And please don't screw up the OPs thread with dick measuring. Let's not go there, eh?


(This post was edited by popsjumper on Dec 5, 2011, 6:07 PM)


JohnRich  (D License)

Dec 5, 2011, 6:53 PM
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Re: [popsjumper] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
In reply to:
Nope, John. What you said was, "If you arch BEFORE you cut-away, then you'll already be in the proper belly-to-earth freefall position to maximize a safe reserve deployment."

If you are talking about simple body position with no regard to orientation, then you missed the ticket. On your back in a perfect box position is not what anyone would call "safe" in the respect that you are calling it.

It's simple physics. You're hanging suspended under the canopy, upright. You arch with your belly out and legs behind you. As you cut-away, you fall, straight down for a few fractions of a second. And then, because most of your mass is in your torso, you pivot belly to earth. By then, the wind speed is picking up, and you stay belly to earth, because you're already arched.

If you take the normal relaxed in the harness sitting position with your legs in front of you, when you cut-away the pivot will take you onto your back.

No different then hot air balloon exits with zero air speed.

In reply to:
If you are talking about going belly-to-earth, you missed the ticket. The RSL will activate things before the wind offers any help as indeed the OP demonstrated.

I already acknowledged that. But when arched, while the RSL is activating the reserve, your body is in the proper position to not interfere with it.

Do you really want to go on record here as saying that arching for a cutaway is a waste of effort?


(This post was edited by JohnRich on Dec 5, 2011, 8:13 PM)


popsjumper  (D 999999999)

Dec 6, 2011, 6:31 AM
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Re: [JohnRich] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
By then, the wind speed is picking up, and you stay belly to earth, because you're already arched.
You've never had a cutaway with an RSL, have you?

In reply to:
It's simple physics.
You may want to leave the physics to the physicists.

In reply to:
No different then hot air balloon exits with zero air speed.

And how long does it take to get up enough speed for the wind to have significant effect? Less time than the reserve deployment by an RSL, or more?

Surely you're not saying that simply arching on a balloon exit will keep you belly to earth, are you?

In reply to:
Do you really want to go on record here as saying that arching for a cutaway is a waste of effort?
You didn't read my posts on that, did you?

All rhetorical questions and food for thought for others. But OK. We differ. No need to drag this out any further.


(This post was edited by popsjumper on Dec 6, 2011, 6:36 AM)


dthames  (B 37674)

Dec 6, 2011, 10:22 AM
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Re: [popsjumper] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

Gentlemen,

Thanks for the lively discussion. It actually helped me.

Dan


hookitt  (D License)

Dec 6, 2011, 1:40 PM
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Re: [tvanderbeek] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

Go look at the risers and toggles on that rig and any of the other student and rental rigs.

Is the velcro is good condition? Are there toggle keepers?

Ask the packer to show you on a rig that is open then if you care to, please answer the 2 questions.

Thanks


tvanderbeek  (Student)

Dec 6, 2011, 2:48 PM
Post #22 of 32 (1451 views)
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Re: [hookitt] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

On this rig, there are elastic band toggle stows but no velcro. I watched the packer pack the rig before this jump. He asked me to stow the toggles in the field if I have time before daisy chaining the lines. I hadn't learned how to stow the toggles yet so I hadn't done it in the field. I think it's the packers job to at least check to toggles if not do the stowing but this was up for debate on the latest Skydive Radio. From now on I will stow the toggles but they may get bumped around on the ride back from the dropzone to the airport. (Landing zone is a few miles south of the airport in a big field.)

During the packing, the packer showed me how to stow the toggles and did the left one. I copied on the right one. It was the left one that had the problem. The steering line has a hole in it about 3 feet from the toggle, Called a cat-eye or something? I'm not up on all the jargon yet so please excuse my layman's description. I pulled the toggle until the hole in the line was just past the stopper/retainer ring and then put the tip of the toggle through the hole in the line and pulled the steering line until the toggle was tight up to the retainer ring. Then I stowed the loose end of the toggle in the elastic band on the riser, then the loose line through another elastic farther down the riser. It all looked good to me and I trust the packer since I haven't learned to pack yet.


hookitt  (D License)

Dec 6, 2011, 4:03 PM
Post #23 of 32 (1422 views)
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Re: [tvanderbeek] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

Gotcha. Hopefully the toggle keepers are actually very snug. Maintenance can often be overlooked.

Do you by chance reach up and grab risers on opening? If so, how high up?

BTW, by the sound of this... "But the left toggle had fired and wove itself back and forth through the other lines, essentially holding it in a braked position." ... the toggle was likely trailing outside of the riser cover during freefall.

Were you jumping a telesis student rig?


tvanderbeek  (Student)

Dec 6, 2011, 4:11 PM
Post #24 of 32 (1413 views)
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Re: [hookitt] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

The keepers were very snug but I think this student rig gets used often and I hadn't heard about any other problems recently. I don't know what the rig is. I only know the canopy size and that the reserve was really nice and felt better than the main (not just because it saved me). I do normally reach for the risers after opening, about as far as my arms will go, to correct heading. Then I release the toggles and check for control and flare. This is something I learned from Skydive Radio. Does this sound like the right thing to do?
It's possible the toggle was trailing outside the riser cover during freefall but as I mentioned, this rig gets used a lot so by students with instructors that would probably know about it so I doubt it. It's just one more reason to look into my own equipment sooner...


hookitt  (D License)

Dec 6, 2011, 4:32 PM
Post #25 of 32 (1396 views)
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Re: [tvanderbeek] Cutaway on first solo [In reply to] Can't Post

Well, you'd be surprised what gets by as "OK" when it really shouldn't... such as some of the Telesis rigs I've laid eyes on in that area.

If the riser cover opened and the toggle came out, you probably wouldn't see it without doing a flip or barrel roll or something other than tracking for the last 15 seconds. The tangling into the lines is what makes me think it came out in freefall.

Reaching up is fine but don't reach up too high or pull on stuff right away.

Here, read this Article, it's a pretty good one and will save me from stating about the same thing in my own words. ==>Body Language: Helping Your Canopy Open Better

BTW, seems like you did rather well. Keep it up.


(woops, forgot to put the /url tag in there )


(This post was edited by hookitt on Dec 6, 2011, 4:33 PM)


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