Mar 19, 2001, 11:44 PM
Post #1 of 18
A friend of mine told me I could use his rig (he isn't jumping lately) if I am on short call for the next load. I jump a Triathlon 160 and I have a PD reserve 160. His rig has a Sabre 150 and a Dash-M 150. While I have confidence that I can safely fly the Sabre, my question lies in the reserve. I have looked at all the "Parachutists" from the past year or so and the 2 fatalities factoring overloaded reserves were both head down jumpers deploying at speeds of 180mph or more. We as skydivers are always harped upon about aggresive wing loadings, but it seems as if no one will actually draw a line when it comes to what defines an overloaded canopy. I have several questions and hope this is the place I can get several, relatively cooperating answers from riggers, experienced jumpers, etc. 1) At what point does a jumper overload a reserve canopy? 2) I weigh 170 without gear on, putting my exit weight probably around 185 or so. Is a 150 reserve getting too dangerous? 3) Does the experience level on a reserve really matter? I mean, a high speed malfunction is a high speed malfunction no matter if your an AFF student or Arizona Airspeed, you deal with them the same way no matter what. It seems as if exit weight, not number of jumps would constitute what reserve you have. 4) What about Zero-P reserves, is a PD a ZP reserve, or just the Dash-M from raven? How does this affect one's reserve canopy choice? 5) Many, many, many jumpers at my local DZ are 220 plus without gear, yet have reserves that are 170 or less. Is that complacency, or just the fact that they don't think the worst will happen to them.
Thankyou for your help, I hope some (if not all of my questions can be answered to help the entire community.
Warning - this is a controversial subject! (Please, please, don't let this be a troll!) But - to answer some of your questions in a reasonably factual manner:
"(1) At what point does a jumper overload a reserve canopy?"
When you exceed the declared maximum weight or deployment speed for the canopy. The information is on the warning label on the canopy, or look at the manufacturer's web sites. There are surprisingly large differences between manufacturers of apparently similar reserves.
For instance, the PD 126 reserve is rated to 254 pounds, but the Raven 135-M is only rated to 182 pounds.
Remember that these ratings only mean that the canopy and lines should remain intact through the opening. It's no guarantee that you'll be able to land the canopy without hurting yourself, especially if you're unconscious.
"2) I weigh 170 without gear on, putting my exit weight probably around 185 or so. Is a 150 reserve getting too dangerous?"
It's really a personal choice. Lots of people load reserves that heavily and land them OK. At that loading, you'll need to accept that if you land unconscious, you'll probably break something.
"3) Does the experience level on a reserve really matter? ..... It seems as if exit weight, not number of jumps would constitute what reserve you have."
Experience does improve the ability to land highly loaded canopies, even reserves, but probably not as much as most jumpers believe. It obviously has no effect on the probability of something failing on deployment.
"4) What about Zero-P reserves, is a PD a ZP reserve, or just the Dash-M from raven? How does this affect one's reserve canopy choice?"
PD reserve is not ZP. Dunno about the rest of the question. Very few jumpers are using ZP reserves yet. I wouldn't, but that's just me being conservative.
"5) Many, many, many jumpers at my local DZ are 220 plus without gear, yet have reserves that are 170 or less. Is that complacency, or just the fact that they don't think the worst will happen to them."
I would say they are making a choice about their risks, and reaching a similar decision to many jumpers. But yes, they would be safer with larger reserves.
Geoff covered most everything well. A couple of points -
In reply to:
2) I weigh 170 without gear on, putting my exit weight probably around 185 or so. Is a 150 reserve getting too dangerous?
I'm 160 lbs out the door. I've been carrying a 135-M reserve. Never had to use it and I was reasonably confident of my ability to land it uninjured (when conscious anyway). I got hurt, now it's for sale and I'm going up to a PD160R because I know I can land that size 7 cell F111 canopy standing up. It's really a matter of how confident you are; as long as you aren't exceeding the mfrs. max. weight for that canopy you should be fine.
In reply to:
3) Does the experience level on a reserve really matter? I mean, a high speed malfunction is a high speed malfunction no matter if your an AFF student or Arizona Airspeed, you deal with them the same way no matter what. It seems as if exit weight, not number of jumps would constitute what reserve you have.
In a perfect world yes, exit weight would dictate reserve size. But this is skydiving and here small is sexy. Those who choose to overload a reserve should know that their choice can injure or kill them even if they do everything right, just like the small, fast main they are flying can. It's really a matter of how much risk you are willing to take with your body. imho experience IS important - if you have thousands of jumps on a small main you are much more likely to be able to safely land a small reserve than a novice jumper is.
In reply to:
4) What about Zero-P reserves, is a PD a ZP reserve, or just the Dash-M from raven? How does this affect one's reserve canopy choice?
Currently the only reserve available with any zp is the Raven Dash M. ZP fabric is an extra cost option - not all Dash M's have zp - and is only on the top skin. The reasoning behind the zp reserve is NOT to increase the max weight or improve the landings. The zp top skin was introduced to increase canopy life - logic being that zp lasts longer, the top skin of a reserve is what gets the most handling, so a zp top skin on a reserve is going to make the canopy last longer. Don't buy one without talking to your rigger as that's who will be stuck packing the thing.
In reply to:
5) Many, many, many jumpers at my local DZ are 220 plus without gear, yet have reserves that are 170 or less. Is that complacency, or just the fact that they don't think the worst will happen to them.
It's a choice, just like having or not having a Cypres or flying a highly wing loaded main. Hopefully they know the risks they are taking - and most jumpers who make those choices do.
In response to: Poster: Geoff Subject: Re: Overloading Reserves
"For instance, the PD 126 reserve is rated to 254 pounds, but the Raven 135-M is only rated to 182 pounds."
Good replies by Geoff and skybytch. I just want to clarify one thing though. What Geoff is referring to as 'rated' is what the canopy is placarded at. Each canopy is tested to a specific TSO and a category within that TSO, but is not necessarily placarded at the limits to which it was tested. Precision has chosen a more conservative approach in the placarded limits of its'Dash-M canopies.
Thanks for the clarification Alan- I didn't mean to imply that PD reserves are 'better'. At the other end of the size/weight range, the PD253R is only placarded to 254 pounds, whereas the Raven 249-M is placarded to 277 pounds, or 297 pounds for the Raven 282-M. Not sure how the manufacturers decided these placarded weights, but my point was that they sure do vary a lot, even for similar sizes.
I feel if you're 170 w/o gear, you're nearer to 200 out the door. A container weighs 7-10 lbs, say 6 lbs each (or more for over 170) canopy, and a couple more for AAD. Add your jumpsuit, helmet, altimeter, etc.. and you can likely add a total of 35 pounds to your nekid weight. My opinion.
I would try to jump a D-M 181 or PD 176 if I were you. I, like an earlier post, am worried not about coming down uninjured, but if you are injured it may mean further damage to your body.
And another interesting point about PD reserves is that PD126R has Max. Weight of 254 pounds, same as all other PD-reserves, except PD113R which has Max Weight of 151 pounds ! Still the manual of the 113R says that it is tested for 200 mph and 300 pounds. Putting 151 pounds on a 113 sqft canopy would create a wingloading of only 1.3. Still many experienced skydivers load their mains up to 2.0 and easily their reserves up to 1.5. For example 200 pound guy with a Stiletto 120 and PD126R would have 1.66 on main and 1.58 on reserve and those loadings aren't even near the limit on 126R but with 113R the same loading would be way over the limit. Why is that ?
Well my question was really based towards reserve canopy damage on opening. For intance, I'm 185 out the door with a 150 Dash-M reserve. I have a conatiner lock and go for the reserve, what are the statistics of the reserve canopy suffering damage on a terminal opening? Will center cells be ripped apart? Will lines be broken, or will the major safety factor be only in the landing?
I may be wrong, but I believe the fatalites you referred to involved much more highly loaded reserves opening at extreme speeds. Really, a combination of 2 separate issues, and definately beyond the specifications of the reserve canopies in question.
PD reserve manual (http://www.performancedesigns.com/docs/RESERVE.doc") says "All canopies have been structurally tested with at least 300 pounds and 200 mph. However, for landing safety, the FAA has given Performance Designs, Inc. the authority to lower the legal weight limits from those listed in the TSO." So at least PD reserves are tested for much higher opening stress that they ever SHOULD encounter. As I recall the fatalities you refer were both speed skydives which went low and reserve pulls were propably done from speeds close to or over 200 mph. The way I read the (PD)manual, by deploying your reserve from baglock mal in normal terminal speed, you wont be able to cause structural damage to your (PD)reserve, even if you are exceeding the weight limits.
it not a bad idea to test jump your reserve. most manufacturers will provide reserves as demos to jump as a main.
as far as whats over loaded: for structural survival of the canopy: do not exceed the tested specifications. for safely flying: that depends on your skill and if you survived the opening. just because the canopy did not blow up does not mean you didn't snap your neck. reserves are only tested for structural damage during the tso testing and not the potentially inflicted damage to the jumper. this is something atair is addressing with regards to mains (cobalt). we address the problem of high opening shocks by staging the opening. this makes for long openings and obviously is not a applicable for reserves
I am 225 in my birthday jumpsuit. My exit weight is about 255. I jump a Raven 218-M, rated by the manufacturer as "Absolute Max: 255 lbs." I am barely within placard for my reserve, and that's about as small as I care to go. I have only used my reserve on 2 occasions in 2447 jumps - it was a Cirrus (230 sq ft 5-cell) back then - but I was glad to have the big reserve and the tip-toe standup landings (with one wrap on the steering lines, I might add). On the first, I landed in a landfill, and had to be careful where I put my feet to keep from getting hurt.
It seems to me that heavy guys like me overload their reserves because they are wingloading their mains heavily as well, and must downsize their reserve to be able to jump a container that isn't dangerously oversized for the main. For example, my 218-M is in a Javelin J-4. If I were jumping a small (for me, anyway) elliptical turf rocket, it would swim around in that big a main container.
I have a friend with over 13,000 jumps, and he's NEVER been injured jumping, aside from a few sprained fingers dragging exits from a King Air. He sets personal limits for himself so he can jump for a long time. Smart fella.
Choose your reserve for the worst case scenario . . . and if your a big lug like me, and a 200 something-or-other reserve doesn't fit in a sexy TNJ or Micron, don't fret. My J-4 doesn't look too bad when I mount it on my big frame!
BTW, if I have an off-DZ landing, I do a PLF if I can't see where my feet are going. Works every time, and keeps me from breaking a leg in a gopher hole!
Interesting point from slot perfect at the end there about doing a PLF. I wonder if everyone out there knows how to do one - it could make the difference between walking away from a reserve ride and being wheeled away. I had my first mal around Christmas time and ended up under my 150 reserve. I weigh about 160lbs fully kitted up and I usually jump a PD170. Being under my reserve was definitely not what I expected - I thought with it being a 150 it would be a nippy little thing. Yeah, it had pretty quick forward speed but it turned like a truck. What I'm trying to say is that when you end up under a reserve you are going to be under an unfamiliar canopy at low altitude and you don't have time to play around and find out where the stall point is, etc. It's more than likely that you are going to balls up the landing - so get feet and knees together, swallow your pride and if you have to, do a PLF. (The 20 jumps I did on round canopies finally paid off, hehe).
Just to clarify, reserve manufacturers consider 2 parameters when they placard weight limits on reserve canopies. First, the FAA says that all reserve canopies must survive opening at 254 pounds at 150 knots. Under TSO C23D manufacturers have the option of certifying canopies to heavier weights and higher airspeeds. For example, Precision certified the Raven Dash M series at 292 pounds at sea level. Secondly, manufacturers take educated guesses at what weight ankles will survive landing a specific size of canopy. The main reason that tiny reserves have become fashionable - I said fashionable, not wise - is because tiny mains have become fashionable and practical. The average skydiver buys a tiny reserve expecting it to turf surf exactly like his tiny main - NOT! Reserve technology has not changed significantly since the mid 1980s! How many modern skydivers have jumped a tiny, 7-cell, F-111 canopy? I believe that before a skydiver is allowed to buy a tiny reserve, he/she should have to jump a tiny, 7-cell, F-111 canopy as a main. Maybe we would let them cheat a little by jumping tiny ZP CReW canopies. That would really open their eyes. Can you say ouch? With my 3000 plus jumps fashion dictates that I jump mains in the 150 and smaller range. But I own an Amigo 172 reserve. Why? The smallest 7-cell, F-111 main I have ever jumped was a Firelite 176. Despite doing standing landings in the pea gravel bowl, my ankles experienced shooting pains hurt every landing! And the fashion police are trying to talk me into an even smaller reserve? Not likely!
The limiting factor on reserve size should be exit weight & hence wing loading. 7-cell F-111 canopy means 1.1lbs/ft2. The reason for this is that, as Rob says, reserve canopies have not progressed significantly in design since the days of the Pegasus/Fury. In the same time, mains have gone from 7-cell to 9-cell, F-111 to ZP, cross bracing, airlocks, "Eagle-trim"... These are the things that have made loading a main canopy out from around 1.0lbs/ft2 to 2.0lbs/ft2+ a practicable proposition. These are also the things that are missing from a reserve!
Then there is the whole Cypres/consciousness issue. IE.. you're unconscious, your Cypres fires & saves your life, then your 1.7lb/ft2 loaded reserve slams you into the ground hard enough to kill you!
when it comes to reserves i fully agree to err on the side caution.
with that said i would like to point out my flying experience on 2 reserves a pd 113 and an atair 110. these are the only reserves i have flown both intentionally and as saves. i am loading about 1.8#. both fly well and were actually fun to fly. i have no problems landing them and can get a nice little surf out of them.
of course this is ideal conditions. if i was injured and had to fly them, as ted strong says 'you could have a different kind of day.'
instead of wondering and maybe being scared of what your reserve will fly like when you eventually deploy it.
simply demo it as a main. you will be relaxed, conditions will be good, and you will be able to make an informed decision afterwards of if it is suitable for you.
last point, just like mains not all reserves fly the same. atair reserves and pd reserves have a top skin that extends further over on the nose than a pisa reserve. this allows them to fly better and increases the flare. i have watched test jumps on pisa reserves (120 loaded 1.8#) but not jumped one myself.
ps. our reserves are not for sale in the us yet. we manufacture performance variables reserves for sale in europe (german tso rating).