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Dionysos

1st Cut-Away - Reserve entangled with Main

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Hi everyone,

I write this post to come to terms with my 1st real dangerous situation I had to deal with while skydiving 2 weeks ago on May 17th.

As I want to improve my flying skills and safety at canopy flight, I was attending a canopy course.
It was my 41st jump altogether and 1st jump of the day. As it was a canopy course I jumped out at 2000 m. 3 others went out before me, then I decided to go out with a sit floater exit.

1st mistake:
I pulled when I wasn't stable. I thought "hop and pop" when I should have waited 2-3 more seconds to be stable. I tipped forward felt the pilot chute sliding along my right leg and immediatly knew I fucked up. While I was hoping not to get entangled my main opended. But... not as you want it to... line overs, line twists and I started to spin. When I saw the mess I decided to cut away. My first time... 1700 m.

2nd mistake:
Instead of cutting away and waiting a second before pulling the reserve, I pulled the reserve pillow almost immediatly after cutting away... not the same time but maybe 1/10th of a second. Faster than my skyhook... So the reserve shot through the left riser of my main before it could totally release.

My reserve opened but the riser of my main was wrapped around all the reserve lines with the main pulling on it. I just managed to catch the lines of my main and tried to solve the problem. Then I realized I wouldn't be able to get rid of the main nor pull it towards me. I could barely prevent it from running up the lines of my partially open reserve - twisted lines, slider not totally down. If I would have let go, the main would have run up the lines of my reserve collapsing everything. No way to hold the main by its lines rubbing on my fingers until I hit ground. Swearing. 1000 m.

Turning point:
Then I remembered my hook knife. I was hoping not to loose it when I was fiddling it out of the pocket while I was getting hurled around. I managed it. Cut all the lines of my main canopy, got rid of main riser and lines inside my reserve lines and kicked out the twisted reserve. 800 m.

After I was safe I even tried the things I learned at the canopy course and landed standing.

Repair will be pretty expensive but life is worth a lot more...

Lessons learned:
Stabilize before pull if possible.
Don't pull the reserve too fast after cutting away.
Always wear a hook knife.

The next day I jumped twice but on my 2nd jump I pulled my left calf because I flared late... So I haven't jumped for 2 weeks. The situation still occupies my mind. I want to go to my dropzone on Sunday again.

Thanks for reading.

Edited by Dionysos

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(edited)

As the saying goes, "if you ever need a hook knife and dont have one, you'll never need one again."

Good job. That sounds like a scary situation.

I use the one hand per handle EP method, but this is one advantage of using the two hands per handle method. If you pull the cutaway with both hands, there is little chance of you accidentally pulling the reserve too soon.

Edited by 20kN

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Yikes.

There's long been the worry that someone might occasionally get the Cutaway & Reserve just a little out of order, if they are trying to "pull simultaneously", or even do a "quick one-two", which is a better strategy.  Maybe the cutaway handle takes a little more force (whether due to forces on the cables or just good velcro), so the reserve pull ends up early.

I'm wondering if maybe you had a line or line group caught on you or around the bottom corner of the rig or something, after deploying unstable or head down. Only that seems to explain the situation. So I'm guessing you were entangled in your main after all.

(I'm not expecting you to know 100% what's happening behind you during a nasty malfunction whipping you around!) 

If one is just in line twists, each set of risers tends to have front and rear close together, very little space for the reserve to go through. Plus, it wasn't just the reserve pilot chute getting through some part of the main lines, in which case the freebag would have solved the issue and you and the reserve would be free. For the main lines to be around the reserve lines, the whole freebag had to go between risers or lines -- such as when some lines are entangled on you somewhere. That can result in a spinny mess with a line over or just something looking like one.

You got a little over amped on the main pull (when you had time to wait a couple more seconds easily), and had the same with the reserve pull.

But great  job on keeping on fighting and actually using the hook knife. And managing to not cut any reserve lines in the process!  It is very very rare for anyone to ever use a hook knife. Not unknown though, so it's still best to have one.

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I could have been more precise and correct about how the main can end up "around" the reserve:

1) I said how I thought the PC & freebag went between risers or lines (within a riser group). Additionally, they could have gone above the slider. Same issue though: It would need some line caught on the rig or jumper to create a gap to go through.

2) Or an entanglement can happen with nothing of the reserve going "through" the main, if the reserve extended but "barberpoled", wrapping itself around the malfunctioned main, especially if the jumper and main were spinning generally along the axis from jumper through main. That's a more traditional main-reserve entanglement. But it would take more than 1/10th second of cutaway delay for that. A full second might be enough though, who knows. 

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And this is why I am constantly advising jumpers who have missing hook knives or the crappy plastic ones to get a decent knife on your rig - if the manufacturer installed a hook knife pocket with a snap then the least you can do is replace it if you lose it.     You never know when you might need it.

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22 hours ago, skytribe said:

And this is why I am constantly advising jumpers who have missing hook knives or the crappy plastic ones to get a decent knife on your rig - if the manufacturer installed a hook knife pocket with a snap then the least you can do is replace it if you lose it.     You never know when you might need it.

What is the difference between a decent and a crappy hook knife? ;)

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(edited)

Thank you for all your support and encouragement!

I didn't go to my dropzone today... Did I eat something wrong yesterday or is it my subconscious mind?
Whatever... I am staying home today.

 

On 6/1/2019 at 1:26 AM, CoolBeans said:

Would you say the hook knife saved your life? What if you didn't have one on you?

Who knows... It would have been a pretty hard impact even if I'd have managed to prevent the main from collapsing the reserve. On the other hand cutting the wrong lines would have been much worse.

 

On 6/1/2019 at 2:49 AM, 20kN said:

I use the one hand per handle EP method, but this is one advantage of using the two hands per handle method. If you pull the cutaway with both hands, there is little chance of you accidentally pulling the reserve too soon.

Good point. For some reason I used one hand per handle even though I learned to use both hands.

Training EPs on a regular basis and going through the motions before each and every jump should help if I ever encounter a similar situation.

 

On 6/1/2019 at 2:31 PM, pchapman said:

1) I said how I thought the PC & freebag went between risers or lines (within a riser group). Additionally, they could have gone above the slider. Same issue though: It would need some line caught on the rig or jumper to create a gap to go through.

Thank you for your effort to explain what might have happened. Everything you say sounds reasonable and the quoted point seems to be quite possible.

 

On 6/1/2019 at 6:41 PM, skytribe said:

And this is why I am constantly advising jumpers who have missing hook knives or the crappy plastic ones to get a decent knife on your rig - if the manufacturer installed a hook knife pocket with a snap then the least you can do is replace it if you lose it.     You never know when you might need it.

I noticed a few jumpers on my dropzone thinking about hook knifes after they witnessed my reserve...

Edited by Dionysos

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(edited)
On 6/2/2019 at 9:47 AM, Monosa said:

What is the difference between a decent and a crappy hook knife? ;)

The short answer is that some of the plastic ones are weak and crappy, but most of the metal ones are very good. Take a look at the variety of hook knives available, for example, http://www.paragear.com/parachutes/10000061/SKYDIVING-KNIVES

Ones like the K11505 are crappy plastic ones.

Edited by peek

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On 6/2/2019 at 8:58 AM, Dionysos said:

Good point. For some reason I used one hand per handle even though I learned to use both hands.

Training EPs on a regular basis and going through the motions before each and every jump should help if I ever encounter a similar situation.

 

You probably used one hand because that is what you do a million times after gearing up and while getting on the plane. Think about your routine - you touch your pilot chute and cutaway handle with your right hand, and your reserve with your left hand. You probably only practice the real cutaway / reserve sequence a fraction of the times that you touch your handles one hand at a time. This exact thing happened to me as well. Practiced two hands...but when it became show time - I used one hand each.

 

Good job staying alive! Well done.

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As to a good knife as against a crappy one.

The following is a thread in the CRWDogs about knives.   The likelyhood of using a knife is greatly increased when doing CRW but the same reasoning applies in that when you need a knife its good to know it will work.

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!msg/crwdogs/RkCMRzmrC1c/6jMFW8aYra4J

After this many of the CRW dogs switched knives and the Benchmade knives seem to be the most popular now (at least in the US CRW community).

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On 6/4/2019 at 7:24 AM, peek said:

The short answer is that some of the plastic ones are weak and crappy, but most of the metal ones are very good. Take a look at the variety of hook knives available, for example, http://www.paragear.com/parachutes/10000061/SKYDIVING-KNIVES

Ones like the K11505 are crappy plastic ones.

Those orange soft plastic knives are indeed the models that have a well deserved, bad reputation. They are the only knives I've heard that were actually known to break. An example of a good small, light, inexpensive knife from Square 1 is linked below (I jump with 2 of these):

http://www.square1.com/manufacturers/square1/p1155.asp#4inchPlastichookknife

 

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On ‎6‎/‎3‎/‎2019 at 9:02 PM, KBUDA said:

I use the VSE hook knives: http://www.chutingstar.com/vse-infinity-hook-knife

You can install snaps on each mud flap and on both leg strap covers. I run with two and never have to think about it outside of touching them for EP practice. 

Exactly what I do - one on the left mud flap and one on the right leg strap cover.  That way I have one high-left and one low-right.  If you need a hook knife you're entangled with something - good to have options in the event your mobility is restricted.

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Great job saving your life! What a mess!

As a general comment, I will tell you that you probably did not pull your reserve 1/10th of a second after you cutaway if you beat your skyhook. You pulled them together, or even probably the pin was pulled before you had actually cutaway at the risers. Practice practice practice having a clear 2 action process: Cutaway, then Pull.  Not cutawaypull.

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