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BeyondBanality

Do I cutaway a step through?

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Packed myself a step through the other day and cut away without incident (other than losing my free bag). Carelessness on my part for starting my walk through from the soft links instead of the three rings.

After I landed a lot of people said that I should have tried to land it and that step throughs are easily landable. Really? I only have 240 jumps and I didn't feel as if I could land something that looked like that.

I didn't even unstow the brakes for fear that something would get stuck in the twist and I would start to spin or something. Did do two flares on rears but the canopy felt kinda wobbly and weird so i cut.

I'm going to be obsessively careful on future pack jobs but what I want to know is whether a step through really is EASILY landable? should I have tried unstowing the brakes and dug the lines out from the twist? I guess mine is considered just a flip through and not a bad step through (no crossed lines)- see photo!
http://beyondbanality.wordpress.com/

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You were the parachutist in command and what you did ended up in a successful skydive -- no injury. The problem with a step through can be that if you release the toggles and start steering that the steering line can get stuck between the two risers in something other than a neutral position, putting you into a circumstance with a built in turn. Not a big deal unless it happens near the ground and you can't predict if and when it would happen on any given step through. I landed a step through once at about the same number of jumps you have, but I did a thorough controllability check at altitude and the toggles worked fine with no binding. Had they bound just a little, I would have cut away. Good job. No one should second guess a decision made by a parachutist in command in response to a malfunction or unusual canopy situation that ends successfully. Just learn from the experience.
Charlie Gittins, 540-327-2208
AFF-I, Sigma TI, IAD-I
MEI, CFI-I, Senior Rigger
Former DZO, Blue Ridge Skydiving Adventures

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That's actually a flip through. I personally would have given it a control check .A Flip through is mostly embarrassing. It's almost always flyable.

Is it square: yes
Is it stable: yes.
Is it steerable: .... If you don't try to steer it, you won't know.


Flaring with risers with the brakes still set feels wobbly because it's already flying with the tail pulled down. Try it next time you skydive. Then clear the brakes and try again.

240 Jumps is enough jumps to have understanding and practice using your risers to control the canopy with and without the brakes set. Take a canopy control class from someone like Alter Ego. It is a wealth of knowledge.
My grammar sometimes resembles that of magnetic refrigerator poetry... Ghetto

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BeyondBanality



t what I want to know is whether a step through really is EASILY landable?



Sometimes...

The problem is that sometimes they're not and a control check up high doesn't always give the answer. I've flown one that was easily controllable for the first few checks then got stickier the longer it was under tension. I opted to leave them all the way up and land on rears. Chopping it would also have been an option.

Anyone who tells you that you should have tried to land it is giving bad advice IMO. Try to control it, definitely, but they can't make that determination for you - they weren't there.

Like hookitt says, try a control check next time - if it's square and flying straight you've got plenty of time to make a decision.
If it feels weird to you at that point and you didn't have the confidence to land it then I think cutting away is exactly the right thing to do. That's why we have a reserve.

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Usually you can land them.

However, the right thing to do is what you did - do a control check and see if it feels like it's flying right. (In the future you might also try releasing the brakes to do a full control check.) If it doesn't seem like it will land you safely cut away.

One thing arguing AGAINST a cutaway in the case of a flipthrough is that the risers have full twist in them, usually right above the 3-rings. This can trap the cables in the housings if you don't have hard housings in the risers. This can lead to a no-cutaway condition (which isn't the end of the world; you still have a mostly-good canopy over your head) but it can also lead to only one riser cutting away, which can then lead to more twists and even higher cutaway forces.

Hard riser housings can, of course, mitigate this risk.

Also I'd recommend at some point both doing a control check and a full landing without brakes (both stowed and unstowed cases) during perfect conditions (i.e. moderate winds, low traffic.) That way if this ever happens again you will know what to look for in the control check, and if it passes you will know that it's safe to land.

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It looks to me like all the responses in thus thread are referencing a flip through - the result looks like twisted risers on both sides and a square, symmetrical canopy. It increases friction, and therefore toggle pressure, but will likely pass a controllability check. I've landed one on a tandem canopy, it's do-able, just requires more muscle.

A step through is one of those malfunctions that looks like a huge mess, sideways canopy, where do those lines even go, type situation and you would instantly know you have a bad canopy.

The names don't matter when you're in the air though, just for Internet and dz banter. On opening, a canopy is either bad (broken things, bow tied, WTF am I looking at), or maybe good - you don't know if it's good until you controllability check it (because damage can happen on the top of a canopy that you won't see or feel until you put it through its paces). If something looks a little off but it passes a controllability check, think through what you're seeing and make a choice; choices are different at different experience levels and that's ok.

You did what was right for you in this situation, now you know more.

FWIW, my only cutaway was my first hop n pop on jump 41... I didn't know to expect a much slower opening, watched that thing flop around all over for what seemed like forever, and got myself a new canopy for the rest of that jump. Now that I'm used to what wierd things canopies do on opening, I wouldn't chop a sniveler until altitude becomes a problem - but I did the right thing for me that one time.

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Carelessness and skydiving - not a good mix.

Complacency and skydiving - not a good mix.

Can easily result in death.

How long does it take to do a line check?

Give yourself an uppercut!
My computer beat me at chess, It was no match for me at kickboxing....

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I had this same mal last summer, right around your jump number. It was a high pull, first time flying this canopy, and I had plenty of time to do all the proper controllability checks. I landed it without incident. However, don't listen to the peanut gallery on the ground. Everyone always thinks they know better than the canopy pilot, and everyone has an opinion on what they would've done. COULD you have landed it safely? ehh, maybe. We'll never know. But it's a lot more obvious that you could have landed a non-malfunctioning reserve safely, and there's nothing at all wrong with choosing that route.

You chopped, you landed, you survived, you learned to be more careful while packing. No harm, and you saved your own life.
I'm not a lady, I'm a skydiver.

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Agreed that carelessness and complacency don't mix well with skydiving, and shame on you if you missed a step-through when packing as that's easy to see when you walk up your lines. Even if you don't know how to fix it on your own and need to ask someone to help, it's still obvious that something is wrong.

However, a flip-through (what OP had) is different from a step-through and you can have a perfectly normal walk-up when you check your lines and still give yourself a flip-through if the bag goes through the lines when you put it into your container. I did that exact thing right around same number of jumps as OP; I was flying a large docile canopy which responded well to the control check so I chose to land mine, but it was still scary as f***. 500 jumps later, almost did it again - but because I knew what to look for when packing (the need to pull the pc and bridle back through the lines instead of just around them to keep it clear when you put the bag into the pack tray --> flip-through), I caught it and fixed it. Not something I was taught in any packing class or by any packer I got tips from as I was learning, but something I had to find out the hard way, after it happened.

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When I was still a STUDENT--5th or 6th AFF jump--I had what my instructor called a "riser walk through."

When I opened and looked up, it looked like the h/c had done a cartwheel through/between the risers, a big X over my head instead of two Vs above my shoulders. I was spinning a bit and the risers were touching the top of my helmet.

I remember laughing and and thinking; 'seriously? On my SIXTH jump?' Also I was scared--big time. But I was at like 5k. And I was really scared to cut away. I thought; 'what if whoever packed this main packed my reserve?' Fucker.

Since I had some altitude I tried a controllability check. I found that if I held one toggle several inches--maybe 8--lower than the other, I could fly pretty straight and had decent control

I got down; PLF, shaking, laughing, 'thank you god, thank you thank you thank you!!'

THEN all the pro dudes at the DZ came running over, made sure I was ok--and announced that I was buying the beer???

I was like 'WTF guys??!!' Then we all got drunk together and had a blast.

Q U E S T I O N

To people who have had to cut away: is it really scary? I mean with lower speed mals, where you have time to think about it.

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RockSkyGirl

However, a flip-through (what OP had) is different from a step-through and you can have a perfectly normal walk-up when you check your lines and still give yourself a flip-through if the bag goes through the lines when you put it into your container.



Ahhhhh, that's probably what happened. I've found flip throughs 2 or 3x when doing my walk ups (200+ pack jobs) and fixed them, but this time it didn't occur to me at all that something was wrong when I did my walk through. Learning new stuff every day ! thanks!
http://beyondbanality.wordpress.com/

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heavision


Q U E S T I O N

To people who have had to cut away: is it really scary? I mean with lower speed mals, where you have time to think about it.



Not too scary other than the fact that it was my first cutaway. My life didn't flash before my eyes or anything. Even had time to steer over the LZ in the hope that my freebag would fall straight down but there was a cross wind so it drowned in the lake :|
http://beyondbanality.wordpress.com/

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That particular step through - yes. Your risers are just twisted, the twist will stay at the base of the risers, if you do your canopy check you will 99.9% find you have a steerable canopy.

That having been said my one cutaway as of now was a step through where the canopy got flipped through some riser groups and lines were wrapped around lines. The canopy I judged wasn't steerable (when I tried the brake lines wrapped around both risers brought the risers together above my head but hardly any of the input made it to the canopy) so I cut it away, landed the reserve, etc.

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lyosha

if you do your canopy check you will 99.9% find you have a steerable canopy.



As experienced skydivers we shouldn't tell / teach people this.

Teach them how to make the decision, then let them decide.

Saying 'you're almost certainly going to be able to land it' puts pressure on them not to cutaway because they might second guess themselves. 'Well, it feels weird to me, but people say it's landable 99% of the time, so maybe my feeling is wrong...'
It's poor information.

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heavision

When I was still a STUDENT--5th or 6th AFF jump--I had what my instructor called a "riser walk through."

When I opened and looked up, it looked like the h/c had done a cartwheel through/between the risers, a big X over my head instead of two Vs above my shoulders. I was spinning a bit and the risers were touching the top of my helmet.

I remember laughing and and thinking; 'seriously? On my SIXTH jump?' Also I was scared--big time. But I was at like 5k. And I was really scared to cut away. I thought; 'what if whoever packed this main packed my reserve?' Fucker.

Since I had some altitude I tried a controllability check. I found that if I held one toggle several inches--maybe 8--lower than the other, I could fly pretty straight and had decent control

I got down; PLF, shaking, laughing, 'thank you god, thank you thank you thank you!!'

THEN all the pro dudes at the DZ came running over, made sure I was ok--and announced that I was buying the beer???

I was like 'WTF guys??!!' Then we all got drunk together and had a blast.

Q U E S T I O N

To people who have had to cut away: is it really scary? I mean with lower speed mals, where you have time to think about it.



Cutting away is no big deal. It is the safest thing to do if you have any doubt about your main. That is why we train people to do EPs. Trust your reserve.

If you are afraid to cut away and use your reserve, do not get in the plane. EVER! Skydiving is not for you.

I have a friend with over a hundred cutaways, most of them test jumps, but quite a few real malfunctions. Another has over 25 cutaways from real mals. He doesn't hesitate.

Neither should you.
My computer beat me at chess, It was no match for me at kickboxing....

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Like you, I couldn't believe it when I determined that my canopy wasn't controllable or landable on AFF jump 3 (CAT C1). Hard opening, broken lines, damage to upper and lower skins of the canopy (i.e., big holes). I wasn't scared, but I was definitely apprehensive about what was going to happen when I pulled the cutaway handle. It turned out OK and after that I have never failed to trust the gear. The first cut-away is definitely a signal event in a skydiving career.
Charlie Gittins, 540-327-2208
AFF-I, Sigma TI, IAD-I
MEI, CFI-I, Senior Rigger
Former DZO, Blue Ridge Skydiving Adventures

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yoink

***if you do your canopy check you will 99.9% find you have a steerable canopy.



As experienced skydivers we shouldn't tell / teach people this.

Teach them how to make the decision, then let them decide.

Saying 'you're almost certainly going to be able to land it' puts pressure on them not to cutaway because they might second guess themselves. 'Well, it feels weird to me, but people say it's landable 99% of the time, so maybe my feeling is wrong...'
It's poor information.

I didn't intend it like that. I wouldn't fault someone for cutting away above 500 feet. They're the pilot in command of their airship.

The OP asked how others would act in that particular situation. I responded for myself.

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lyosha

******if you do your canopy check you will 99.9% find you have a steerable canopy.



As experienced skydivers we shouldn't tell / teach people this.

Teach them how to make the decision, then let them decide.

Saying 'you're almost certainly going to be able to land it' puts pressure on them not to cutaway because they might second guess themselves. 'Well, it feels weird to me, but people say it's landable 99% of the time, so maybe my feeling is wrong...'
It's poor information.

I didn't intend it like that. I wouldn't fault someone for cutting away above 500 feet. They're the pilot in command of their airship.

The OP asked how others would act in that particular situation. I responded for myself.

I understand, and the reply wasn't directed at you particularly - I think it's a trap we can all fall into. Just one of communication if we don't think about it.

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bibliwho

As a new jumper I'm having a hard time visualizing what step throughs, flip throughs, etc. look like.

There's a photo here, but it's a little hard to tell exactly what's going on: http://parachutistonline.com/safety_training/keep_an_eye_out/step-through-malfunction

Anyone else have any photos that might help?



I attached a photo of mine in the first post, it's a close up of the risers (imagine that you did a front or back flip between your risers after your canopy deployed and that's a flip through)

BTW what do you guys think of the other branch of post-cutaway advice I got - did you try to back/front flip through the risers to clear the step through? Seems like a sure way to get your feet stuck in lines or slider etc but what do I know...
http://beyondbanality.wordpress.com/

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BeyondBanality

did you try to back/front flip through the risers to clear the step through? Seems like a sure way to get your feet stuck in lines or slider etc but what do I know...



Yeah, probably normally not a good idea. Maybe if you already have experience with hanging upside down in your harness, and know how touchy your canopy is if feet press on risers. Unlikely to be on any official list of steps to consider.

But I have seen a buddy undo a flip-through under canopy. I don't know how you would do a front flip, but a back flip is doable if that's the direction needed.

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I was afraid because it was so early in my training. You go through EPs over and over; but I think, looking back, that I sorta had it in the back of my head that eventually I'll have to cutaway if I keep skydiving, but odds are it'll be a long time from now.

I always knew it could happen on any jump and I thought I was ready for it even on those first AFF jumps. But I gotta admit; it startled me when it happened.

I have 78 jumps now and I feel much more comfortable as far as EPs. That experience actually helped me, sorta woke me up. Now when I pull I always have my EPs right in the front of my mind. I get clear, wave off and then as I'm reaching for my pilot chute I'm in 'ready for EPs' mode.

Plus, I now think of cutting away as just a hop 'n pop from under a crappy canopy.

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BeyondBanality


BTW what do you guys think of the other branch of post-cutaway advice I got - did you try to back/front flip through the risers to clear the step through? Seems like a sure way to get your feet stuck in lines or slider etc but what do I know...




Personally I think it's a horrible, horrible idea.

It might work, but then again you might get your foot trapped in the lines... now you're hanging upside down under a likely spiraling canopy. Have fun with that one - your malfunction just got 100x worse.

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