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lurch

Tony Suit Rebel/skydiving handle access modification

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So.
There have been a variety of solutions tried by others.
This is mine. I wanted simple, straightforward, and as much as I can guarantee it, bulletproof.

How it was done:
1: After doing a trial setup and discovering the mod was definitely going to be necessary, I put the rig and suit on as they were. Obviously no way this was going to work. Handles were almost in the armpits.

2: I traced out on the surface of the suit exactly where the lift web and handles actually were, underneath.

3: I took a razor blade to my brand-new never-jumped suit. This took a bit of nerve. I made 3 cuts for each handle forming a cute little door the size and shape of the opening I wanted with the door facing inward, toward the center of the suit.

4: I pulled the material of the door behind the lift web, which placed only the handle and the associated section of main liftweb outside the suit entirely.

5: I added a bit of velcro as a placeholder just to hold the door shut behind the liftweb and allow me to assess the resulting geometry. Long story short, it worked.

6: I took it to my local rigger, Don Mayer. He has helped me with a number of my crazier projects over the years and he was good for this one, too. After showing him what I had done to the suit and explaining what I was trying to do, he jumped into it, adding much larger door-extensions of velcro to the door and doorframe, and hemming the razorblade slashes neatly with binding tape. By the time he was done, I couldn't tell his work from Tony factory stock, myself.

7: Final suit reassembly: I put the whole mess together, pulled the rig through the holes and closed the doors behind it. Then I ran around wearing it, bugging random friends to try to find anything wrong with it or any possible failure mode I might have missed. Kinda hoping somebody would spot whatever weakness might be hidden in this idea that I might not see myself. A little peer review.

8: After thoroughly examining and re-reexamining this, I jumped it. I couldn't find any way this could possibly fail. The velcro/door forms a 3d interlock in such a way as to make it pretty much impossible to either pull the handles back inside, or accidentally pull the handles themselves, or somehow prevent the handles from being pulled. You'd have to tear the suit apart around me in order to disturb this geometry enough to affect any part of the rig involved. The doorframe sort of grips the liftweb without touching the handles themselves. As an afterthought for EXTRA security I might add a piece of velcro to the liftweb itself and a matching piece to the suit so the two are not only interlaced but bonded together... but it doesn't seem necessary. Neither the suit nor the rig can move enough relative to the other to actually disrupt or disturb this setup.

So
If you're a skydiver who has been drooling over the new suit but choking on the whole handle-access problem, this might be a good way to make the suit useful to you. Make sure to take extra-special good care of your rigger after. I could have done this myself but my sewing skills are atrocious...Don made this look Factory. I owe you one, man.
:)-B

Thats all there is to it. I've put a few jumps on it and there have been no problems.
Live and learn... or die, and teach by example.

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Looks like a good modification to me. The one concern I would have: Maybe there is a risk that after deployment when the jumper sinks into the harness, leg straps, the handles might disappear into the shoulder area of the suit. Probably make sure you keep your knees bent throughout the whole opening sequence and until the leg wing zipper is open. As others I am still wondering what actual effect and benefit the integration of the shoulder part and chest strap of the rig into the suit brings. The risk taken in case of a malfunction seems rather high to me.

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