Exit Hazards-static Line
When climbing out onto a step for a S/L exit, you need to firmly plant your feet on the step so that you don’t trip over yourself and fall off. If you do find yourself prematurely exiting the aircraft, merely arch hard for stability. Don’t grab the pilot chute or parachute as it comes by you. To do so may cost you your life.
When climbing out for an AFF exit, your jumpmasters are supposed to have good control of you. If you start to stumble, they will probably help you into position. If you do prematurely exit, at least one of them should have a hold of you and you will need to arch hard for stability.
When climbing out, make sure your hands stay away from the jumpmaster’s ripcord handles. Occasionally a jumpmaster is launched off the step when a student grabs for the jumpmaster and snares a handle by mistake.
Dangling Static Line
After the jumpmaster dispatches each student, he will unhook the static line and stow it in the back of the aircraft or under the pilot’s seat. If he forgets to disconnect the static line, it is one ingredient for another horror story. During the scramble to exit, jumpers have managed to get those long pieces of webbing half-hitched around their ankle. The result is a surprising and abrupt halt just a short distance out the door. Due to the weight of the gear and the wind, it is impossible for the jumper to climb back up. There should be a knife in the plane to cut you loose and, of course, every experienced jumper in the plane should be carrying one. If there aren’t any knives handy, you will hope the pilot is sharp enough to think of breaking some glass out of one of the instruments in the panel because your alternatives are not terribly pleasant. Either you can pull your ripcord and risk jerking your leg off, or you can wait it out and suffer severe runway rash when the plane lands. One jumper caught in this situation lucked out, he was jumping a helicopter. The pilot set him down gently and red faced in front of everyone on the DZ.
Student In Tow
One of the more dramatic problems is the static line hang-up or student in tow. It occurs when you or some part of your equipment entangles with the static line preventing separation. You wind up suspended about ten feet below the aircraft by the long nylon web. This emergency is extremely rare and if it does occur, it will probably be because the static line is misrouted (perhaps under the harness). Maybe the error was missed in the equipment check, or you and the jumpmaster failed to keep the line high and clear as you moved into the door to jump, or you performed some wild gymnastic maneuver instead of a stable exit and became entangled in the line. Some students, despite all their training, yell arch thousand and then let go with the hands, leaving the feet firmly planted on the step, thus they perform a backloop upon exit.
The in-tow/hang-up situation presents all of you with a perplexing situation. The jump ship will be more difficult to fly. In fact, the pilot may be unable to maintain altitude because of all the extra drag. Just as with the dangling static line situation, you do not want to pull the reserve or land with the plane. As with other emergencies, there is an accepted procedure. You, your jumpmaster and pilot must be familiar with it.
The pilot will be diverting the aircraft to a safer, open area and will be trying to gain altitude. If you relax, you will probably assume a stable towing position either face or back to earth which is better than twisting in the wind.
If you are conscious and your arms have not been injured, signal the jumpmaster by placing both hands on top of your helmet. Your hands will show you understand the situation and are ready to take corrective action. Your jumpmaster will signal he is ready too by holding up a knife. Now, your jumpmaster will cut the static line and you will fall away. Pull the reserve ripcord. Be sure you are cut loose before you pull.
If you are unconscious or otherwise incapacitated, you won’t be able to give the OK signal to your jumpmaster. Your static line will still be cut but your jumpmaster (and you) will rely on your automatic activation device to deploy your reserve parachute.
Back when reserves were worn in the front, jumpmasters could lower an unconscious student by unhooking their own reserve and attaching it to the static line. The static line had to have an extra ring for attachment to the reserve to make this method of rescue possible.
There is also a second type of main canopy in-tow emergency to be considered. Normally, you fall away from the step so quickly that it is virtually impossible to tangle your canopy in the tail, but if one of your parachutes opens when you are on the step, entanglement may occur. If you find yourself in this situation, look up and determine which parachute is fouled on the aircraft. If it is the main parachute (which will be attached to risers that can be disconnected from the harness), look at your reserve ripcord handle, jettison your main and pull your reserve ripcord immediately, per the procedures that you were taught to use.
If it is your reserve that is entangled on the aircraft, pulling the reserve/SOS ripcord would not change your situation but it will make your main canopy useless as it would be disconnected at the risers, therefore don’t pull the reserve ripcord handle. The fouled canopy may just self-destruct, putting you back into freefall, in which case you will need to deploy your main parachute to save your life. (If you deployed your main parachute while the reserve is fouled on the aircraft, you can assume that major structural damage will occur to that aircraft and anyone left inside that aircraft will have to perform their own emergency procedures.)
Static Line Not Hooked Up
Occasionally, despite all procedures, a student exits the jump plane without being attached to it. While hooking up the static line is the jumpmaster’s responsibility, you must verify that it is attached prior to exit. If you forget to check this and find yourself in freefall, follow the procedure for a total: pull your reserve ripcord.
Pulling High Is Dangerous
Everyone else expects you to pull below 3,000 feet. If you pull higher, another freefalling skydiver could hit you. An open canopy descends at about 1,000 feet per minute and jumpruns are usually a minute apart. If you plan on pulling higher announce your decision to all before leaving the ground.