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My Cutaway: Should I have?

 

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keleetz  (B 38956)

Aug 11, 2013, 6:06 PM
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My Cutaway: Should I have? Can't Post

I had my first cutaway on Friday. Just a little background, it was my 72nd jump, and I have a Pilot 210, which I load just under 1:1, and I pack myself. I did nothing different with my pack job. I am very conservative and take my time with packing, and never rush through it.
I opened up at about 4000' and my canopy CRACKED open. It was an insanely hard opening. My first thought after was "Holy sh*t! Am I ok?" I was a bit disoriented to say the least. Anyway, I went to release the toggles, and I ended up pulling them the whole way down to my sides without any resistance. I was confused, so I looked around and noticed that I was holding my toggles in each hand with the lines trailing behind, like streamers.
It was a surreal moment and I made the decision that even though I had a canopy that appeared to be properly inflated, I had no way of steering it since both of my brake lines had snapped, I needed to cutaway.
At this point I was at about 2600'. I pulled the cutaway handle and also pulled the reserve handle, even though I am fairly certain my RSL beat me to it. I landed safely on the DZ under my reserve.
Since this has happened, I have been approached by multiple people from our DZ, including instructors, who have given me mixed responses about whether I should have cut away, or land on my rear risers.
I really think that I did the right thing, especially after talking with a few of the instructors. But I still wonder if I should have done something differently?


dthames  (B 37674)

Aug 11, 2013, 6:24 PM
Post #2 of 37 (7489 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

It is hard to argue with a path that got you to the ground safely when you had equipment fail.

For me, unless I had specifically prepared to land on rears, I would not do so in a similar situation. I think I could, but I would want to practice a few flares before committing.


Andy9o8  (D License)

Aug 11, 2013, 6:28 PM
Post #3 of 37 (7479 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

You had a genuine malfunction - broken steering lines - and at 72 jumps it's not unreasonable to prefer deploying and landing a reserve to landing your main with only rear risers. Plus, if the opening was hard enough to snap both steering lines, there might have been (as far as you knew at the moment) other damage to the canopy or effect on its controlability and/or descent rate, that might not have manifested itself until you were too low to cut away. I frankly think it was inappropriate to impliedly criticize the decision of a relatively newer jumper with only 72 jumps to cut away in that scenario.


davelepka  (D 21448)

Aug 11, 2013, 7:22 PM
Post #4 of 37 (7371 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

 
Kelly -

I'll give you the final word on this from the DZ staff, don't second guess your decision.

For starters, what is your experience with rear riser landings? How many have you done under controlled circumstances when it was your option to bail out and use the toggles? I'm guessing none, and based on your canopy control history, I don't that would have been the time or circumstance for you to start landing with your rears.

Furthermore, landing on rears with a 'good' canopy, and doing it with two broken steering lines is two very different things. Even in full flight, with slack in your steering lines, they are hold the tail in place. When you pull on the rear risers, it also pulls the steering lines and effects the position of the tail (it pulls it down). The end result is that you're flying the entire back half of the canopy when landing with your rear risers on a 'good' canopy.

When your steering lines are broken, there is nothing left to hold the tail in place, and it is free to flap upwards and provide zero lift. So when you pull on the rears, all you are pulling down is the area from the B lines back to the D lines. Essentially, it's about half of the area you would be pulling down when you used your rear risers on a 'good' canopy, and it's a much more difficult landing.

At the end of the day, they are your handles and you may pull them as you see fit. If you have any reason to believe that you cannot make a safe, controlled landing on your main canopy, it's clear that you know what to do.


catfishhunter  (D 28796)

Aug 11, 2013, 9:17 PM
Post #5 of 37 (7261 views)
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Re: [davelepka] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

What Dave Said. I've got 1054 jumps and if I had two broken steering lines after getting my bell rung I'm chopping as I don't want to find out what else is broke or break anything else on landing. Remember it is your ass on the line no one else's. if your going to second guess your decisions then you might want to second guess your decision to jump. You don't want to be back in a situation and wonder WTF the guys on the ground are thinking you should do when you should have already acted.

Good job not breaking yourself.


(This post was edited by catfishhunter on Aug 11, 2013, 9:18 PM)


yoink

Aug 11, 2013, 9:43 PM
Post #6 of 37 (7223 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

Good decision. Good chop.

Buy Beer!. Smile


SEREJumper  (D 29555)

Aug 11, 2013, 11:02 PM
Post #7 of 37 (7152 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

I would have done the same. No sense in "trying" to land on your rear risers and then braking/injuring yourself in the process with a Plan B all packing up back there.

Live to fly another day!


JeffCa  (C License)

Aug 11, 2013, 11:07 PM
Post #8 of 37 (7150 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

Never had a cutaway myself, but this would have made me cut without question. My first thought was that the hard opening could have done more damage than you knew, more than even 2 broken steering lines. That canopy could not be trusted with your life.


brucet7  (C 38954)

Aug 11, 2013, 11:38 PM
Post #9 of 37 (7129 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

I would say good choice. I had a similar thing happen with a few more jumps and chose to land on rear risers. Some at my DZ were surprised I didn't cut away. I walked away saying, 'so that is why we practice riser turns."


grue  (D License)

Aug 12, 2013, 12:43 AM
Post #10 of 37 (7085 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

First off: In a case like that when you're jacked because you just got a slammer and if you've never played with your rear risers prior to that moment, I'd say you shouldn't feel bad about a chop. You weren't comfortable with landing the configuration, and got one you were comfortable with.

Secondly, I'll relate a little story that may be applicable and hopefully you'll check it out:

When I had somewhere around twice as many jumps as you do now, I had a similar event with my Fusion 210, loaded around a 1.3 or so. I had a very brisk opening, everything looked fine except for the canopy being in a firm left turn. I unstowed the brakes, and found myself holding nothing more than a toggle and some line in my right hand. I had been going through Ye Olde Downsize Checklist prior to this point and had experimented on rear risers, but not yet landed on them. I stuffed the toggle in my jumpsuit, and got on the risers to do some practice turns and flares, and headed for the DZ, where I had a nice smooth landing.

That's not the important part, though, this is:

We replaced the lower steering line and I got back in the air quickly. About 3-5 jumps later (I'd have toi check my logbook), I got absolutely rocked by the canopy. I looked up, saw HMA lines snapped and trailing, attachment points torn off, and a blown up cell. That particular situation, I was not game to land. I executed my EPs and landed under my reserve.

What's the takeaway here? Get your main checked out, make sure there's no other damage. If you don't, and there is, you might be finding out about it a lot differently than you might prefer.


popsjumper  (D 999999999)

Aug 12, 2013, 6:25 AM
Post #11 of 37 (6824 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

Put me solidly in the "good job" camp.

Now, having said that, maybe you will want to learn about, and practice, rear riser landings.


mattjw916  (D License)

Aug 12, 2013, 6:30 AM
Post #12 of 37 (6807 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

Beer!
Yeup, I definitely would have chopped that too. I don't see any reason to try and land a damaged canopy in the scenario you described. That sounds a lot more risky to me than just going with plan B.


Scrumpot  (D License)

Aug 12, 2013, 6:45 AM
Post #13 of 37 (6766 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

Way MORE people throughout the history of this sport have been injured, or put themselves into very BAD situations for exactly the opposite. - - - Because they were AFRAID (or to be "nice" maybe - hesitant) to use their EP's/pull their handles. - Glad that you, with this - were not that guy.

You did the right thing.


3mpire  (C 39657)

Aug 12, 2013, 8:48 AM
Post #14 of 37 (6645 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

I had a similar experience when I had less than 50 jumps. I was at my first boogie, first time jumping at a different DZ. On only my third jump I had a hard opening followed by a single broken brake line.

I decided to chop, as I had not landed on rears before.

I also got mixed feedback and I second guessed myself.

That evening I thought that if I had to, I probably could have landed on rears just fine. But in the moment, I wasn't sure. So I chopped and I feel like it was the right decision for me then.

Deciding to chop is a personal decision. If you look up and you don't like what you see, then you make that decision for yourself. It doesn't matter if someone else would have done it differently, because someone else wasn't sitting in that harness at the time. You were, and if your canopy is not 100% you have another one in your rig that is 100%.

If you work on your canopy skills including not only landing on your rears but also flying your pattern, then you will be better prepared for the future if you happen to find yourself in similar circumstances again.


cbjetboy  (D 33207)

Aug 12, 2013, 9:29 AM
Post #15 of 37 (6561 views)
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Re: [popsjumper] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

popsjumper wrote:
Put me solidly in the "good job" camp.

Now, having said that, maybe you will want to learn about, and practice, rear riser landings.

^^ I agree with the good call comments.


fencebuster  (D 29918)

Aug 12, 2013, 10:10 AM
Post #16 of 37 (6500 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

I have had 3 hard openings resulting in at least one broken steering line. The first was when I had about 150 jumps. I had opened high and had some time to practice rear riser flaring and decided to land the canopy. It worked out. The second one happened when I had about 800 jumps. Same rig, same brake line. I chopped it this time because experience told me that it was more likely that I would have an uneventful ride under the reserve since I didn't know if there was additional damage to the canopy that I couldn't see or appreciate hanging there in the harness. It worked out fine. Last one was at jump 1254, same rig, same brake line, although on a brand new set of HMA lines. I chopped again; uneventful canopy flight to an on target landing, but lost the canopy and free bag in a thickly wooded area. Even though I lost the canopy, I am satisfied that I did the right thing. You don't know what you don't know about the extent of damage on a hard opening that damages the equipment. If you don't get hurt and get down safely, you have made the right decision. But I have also learned that we have very good equipment and it can be trusted to work if used at the right time (i.e., high enough to save you). I have 7 reserve rides; 5 of those reserves were packed by the same master rigger. I like my rigger!


Croc  (D 29552)

Aug 12, 2013, 10:20 AM
Post #17 of 37 (6481 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

Good job, IMHO. As a side note, I had an opening so hard on my Pilot 150 last summer that it knocked me unconscious. Since then I only use large stowbands, which I double on every stow.

My greatest skydiving fear is a killer opening.Unsure


Premier billvon  (D 16479)
Moderator
Aug 12, 2013, 10:30 AM
Post #18 of 37 (6450 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

>But I still wonder if I should have done something differently?

If you can land it safely - keep it. If you can't - get rid of it.

Personally I've had four brake problems, all caused by being unable to release one or both brakes. I landed three with either no or a slight rear riser flare but cut away the fourth.

Why did I cut away the fourth? Because it was the first jump of the day (no wind) I had a 2:1 loaded Crossfire2 and I had a camera helmet on; all that meant that my odds of injury were fairly high from a rear riser landing.

It's all going to depend on what you are jumping, what you are comfortable doing and what the conditions are. If you find yourself in that situation again, a few suggestions:

1) Practice rear riser landings BEFORE you need them! It's a good skill to have. Don't make the first one you try an emergency situation.

2) Make sure that you can flare with the brake lines gone. (Some canopies will start to "flap" if you try to rear riser flare them without brake lines.)

3) Practice flying/turning/flaring with all your controls. Try harness turns and front riser turns.

4) Make the decision by ~2000 feet so you have time to cut away if you need to.


keleetz  (B 38956)

Aug 12, 2013, 1:07 PM
Post #19 of 37 (6243 views)
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Re: My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

I want to thank you all for the advice.
I will admit that I have not practiced much rear riser work because I have chicken wings and my canopy is large.
I have been working out to lose extra weight (I have lost almost 40 lb since I started last year; I am 6' tall, and have about 30 lb to go to my goal) and strength training to build upper body strength.
Lepka, your knowledge and advice is always so incredibly helpful to me and I hope to jump with you sometime!
Thank you all, again.
Kelly


parachutist  (D 25468)

Aug 12, 2013, 2:16 PM
Post #20 of 37 (6109 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

keleetz wrote:
I had no way of steering it since both of my brake lines had snapped

So really you didn't have any idea about the option of steering or flaring using your rear risers... until you read all these responses.

Some tasks that I think you should be taking on:
1) Figure out why you were not aware that steering and flaring with rear risers is an option. There's lots of info presented in short time during AFF. Maybe there are other subjects you should revisit with instructors now that you're ready to absorb more.

2) Have someone with lots of experience watch you pack. IMO, the whole scenario was most likely caused by a packing detail. I believe you're meticulous, but at 70 jumps you're still learning about effects of different actions, like slider placement, shoving in the nose or not, etc.

In the end, it's good that you performed your EP's correctly and that you're reviewing the scenario while asking for input. Analyzing past decisions while preparing for future ones works in your favor. *cheer*


gregpso  (Student)

Aug 13, 2013, 12:22 AM
Post #21 of 37 (5729 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

keleetz wrote:
I had my first cutaway on Friday. Just a little background, it was my 72nd jump, and I have a Pilot 210, which I load just under 1:1, and I pack myself. I did nothing different with my pack job. I am very conservative and take my time with packing, and never rush through it.
I opened up at about 4000' and my canopy CRACKED open. It was an insanely hard opening. My first thought after was "Holy sh*t! Am I ok?" I was a bit disoriented to say the least. Anyway, I went to release the toggles, and I ended up pulling them the whole way down to my sides without any resistance. I was confused, so I looked around and noticed that I was holding my toggles in each hand with the lines trailing behind, like streamers.
It was a surreal moment and I made the decision that even though I had a canopy that appeared to be properly inflated, I had no way of steering it since both of my brake lines had snapped, I needed to cutaway.
At this point I was at about 2600'. I pulled the cutaway handle and also pulled the reserve handle, even though I am fairly certain my RSL beat me to it. I landed safely on the DZ under my reserve.
Since this has happened, I have been approached by multiple people from our DZ, including instructors, who have given me mixed responses about whether I should have cut away, or land on my rear risers.
I really think that I did the right thing, especially after talking with a few of the instructors. But I still wonder if I should have done something differently?

what the rest said. I have done 2 AFF first jump courses. Both taught me if in doubt chop ! also told one must trust the reserve or no point in jumping!! You did that you did well.. well done that man/ woman !!


(This post was edited by gregpso on Aug 13, 2013, 12:28 AM)


potatoman  (Student)

Aug 13, 2013, 12:26 AM
Post #22 of 37 (5725 views)
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Re: [parachutist] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

Funny how "neat" pack jobs can give a slammer, and the ones where it looks crap, open nicely. (Not wrongly packed though)

Good decision. Also, you cannot see the topskin of the canopy, so you could have blown that, without knowing, till its too late. Another thing, that it could get worse the lower you go, and putting a turn or rear flare, could also increase damage.

I landed on rears, toggle came loose from the brake line....Suppose that was a bit neglegent from my side on the gear. Standup landing though.


Trev_S  (B 7866)

Aug 13, 2013, 1:24 AM
Post #23 of 37 (5681 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

Not an instructor.

but did a canopy course on sunday in which we were told cutting away is probably the best option (specially if highly loaded) but to practice rear riser landings up high and find your rear riser stall point in case it were to happen below your hard deck.


BIGUN  (D 23385)

Aug 13, 2013, 7:21 AM
Post #24 of 37 (5565 views)
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Re: [keleetz] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

Similar situation.
Different Procedure.
Almost deadly outcome.

Same story as yours, but having 1000ish jumps at the time. Many years with round canopies, lotsa personal training on accuracy using just risers. Square, stable, steerable with risers. What I did NOT see was the tear in the topskin of the canopy. Did a great job of "textbook" steering into the pattern with just the risers. So good that the Instructors with a group of students outside were discussing patterns - thought I was helping to demonstrate a perfect flat pattern entry, downwind, base & final. About three feet off the ground and into my flare, the topskin shredded the rest of the way resulting in a dynamite PLF. Had it been 100-200 feet...

You did the right thing.


NorrinRadd  (Student)

Aug 13, 2013, 8:29 AM
Post #25 of 37 (5454 views)
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Re: [Trev_S] My Cutaway: Should I have? [In reply to] Can't Post

Trev_S wrote:
Not an instructor.

but did a canopy course on sunday in which we were told cutting away is probably the best option (specially if highly loaded) but to practice rear riser landings up high and find your rear riser stall point in case it were to happen below your hard deck.
Same thing my PFF instructor told us.


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