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CoolBeans

First cut-away - line over and/or tension knot

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Posted (edited)

Hi there, I had first cut-away on my last jump, #19 on Icarus Student 240 sqft canopy with RSL on it - rental rig. These are packed by drop zone packers. That was a coach jump. At pull altitude I went for the main deployment handle but I missed it. I went for it again and then I got good grip on it and deployed then. From coach perspective it looked like I grabbed and kept it for 1 sec or so and apparently bridle released on first touch. Don't know if any of that could have contributed to the malfunction.

Opening was just fine. I'm used to Icarus Student 220 sqft canopy that usually gets energetic during the opening - end cells don't inflate for few secs and canopy shakes me side to side. Because of that I have a habit of getting quick on toggles as I'm always thinking - what if it's toggle fire? and also getting ready to pump brakes to get these end cells to inflate. 

Anyway this time on Icarus Student 240 sqft I did the same thing, went to toggles very quick. But then I noticed canopy wasn't square. It looked like a bow-tie attached on the picture except:
- in my case the bow-tie knot on the canopy wasn't as tight, it was about 2 feet wide
- normally steering lines bend as canopy flies forward; my left steering line didn't bend; it was tangled with other suspension lines

What happened later - I realized I have to either fix it or cut-away. Canopy was pretty stable, no spin. I checked altitude, 4000 ft and then pumped brakes 3 times. That thing didn't clear, my canopy still wasn't square but it was relatively stable so far. Next thing I pulled left toggle only about half way down. That woke the devil. Now it spun me on my back like a roller-coaster. At that moment I decided I'm cutting it away as I realized things might get only worse from now on
- I let both toggles off
- I looked down on cut-away handle and grabbed it with both hands
- I yanked it out
- Right after that I went with both hands to reserve handle and pulled that one too

At 2500 ft I was under fully inflated reserve and landed normal pattern. No injuries whatsoever. 

What I DIDN'T do was
- I did not arch before starting emergency procedures - forgot about it as I never practice that part
- I did not bother at all about peel-punch, I just yanked cut-away and then reserve handles - same thing, don't really practice details about how to handle the handle
- Once under the reserve I realized my cut-away cables didn't clear all the way; I didn't swipe the cables - same thing, don't practice swiping cables when practicing emergency procedures
- I did not LOOK at reserve handle; I might have been lucky that after cutting away I found it with no looking whatsoever - I normally practice that part; during real thing I must have forgotten about it
- I did not keep reserve handle, it dropped

Surprisingly this whole situation wasn't stressful at all, I didn't think about anything else but solving the problem and doing next step as I was trained. As a matter of fact I felt very calm and comfortable given that canopy for the initial part wasn't spinning and I had good altitude left. I have no problem jumping exact same rig again.

There are things that I could have done better, I could have tried harder to fix it, I could have performed my emergency procedures better, I could have saved the reserve handle. Right before cutting away as I let both toggles off - canopy started getting stable again so I COULD HAVE tried again to fix it but I was already committed to cutting it away. I'm sharing this so I can learn and prepare better for any future dealings with problems but also for others to see, evaluate and learn from my incident.

Also, I don't really feel like talking to family or non-skydiving friends about that...

Disclaimer: attached picture is NOT my malfunction. My malfunction only looked very similar to it.

malfunction.jpg

Edited by CoolBeans

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What I DIDN'T do was


- I did not arch before starting emergency procedures - forgot about it as I never practice that part. Yea lots of people dont. Try to do it, but getting the reserve out quickly is the more important objective.


- I did not bother at all about peel-punch, I just yanked cut-away and then reserve handles - same thing, don't really practice details about how to handle the handle. You should always practice pealing the velcro away. People have been unable to execute their EPs at all because they were not pealing the velcro and therefore could not pull the handle. But that's fine, it worked, just know if ever you grab the handle and cant pull it, possibly it's because you did not peal the velcro away.


- Once under the reserve I realized my cut-away cables didn't clear all the way; I didn't swipe the cables - same thing, don't practice swiping cables when practicing emergency procedures.  The point in sweeping the cables is to ensure you dont have a partial cutaway, but if you're already under your reserve and the main is gone then it worked. As long as you punch all the way down as far as you can with your cutaway arm(s), then you would have pulled enough cable through the housings to cut away both sides.


- I did not LOOK at reserve handle; I might have been lucky that after cutting away I found it with no looking whatsoever - I normally practice that part; during real thing I must have forgotten about it. You should always look before reaching, but know that the day might come where you cannot see your handles. Many people have had issues finding their handles because they could not see them. This usually happens during linetwists that occur in a manner that your head is pinned in a position where you cannot look down. I've had this happen several times to me, just so far never during a cutaway.


- I did not keep reserve handle, it dropped. Irrelevant. Keeping the handle is not part of conducting proper EPs.

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On 8/4/2019 at 11:01 AM, CoolBeans said:

Disclaimer: attached picture is NOT my malfunction. My malfunction only looked very similar to it.

malfunction.jpg

Just so everyone is aware. This can happen with half a step through. As you can see the right riser is also twisted. 

 

 

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Thing one - You got your reserve out and landed safely. 

 

Things you didn't do:

Fight it too long. 
Think that because it was flying 'ok' with no toggle input that it would be ok to land.

Not pull the reserve handle (some folks trust the RSL and don't - bad idea). 

Get hurt.

 

I agree that not peeling the velcro is 'bad form', and could have resulted in issues, but it worked.
I also agree that not looking for the reserve handle is 'bad form' and could have been a problem, but you found it and pulled it.

I also agree that losing a handle is a minor issue. Keeping them is ideal, but not required.

 

Things you did:

Kept your head and evaluated the situation.
Made the decision to chop before it was too late.

Landed safely.

You are now on the ground and engaging in the extremely important and useful action of 'after action report'. Evaluating what you did right, what you did wrong, and how to make the next time go better. You have enough recollection of the event to make that a fruitful process. As you noted, you can learn and so can others.

 

And last but not least...

Was this your first cutaway???

:P

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Executing a successful cutaway on jump 19 is great. Congratulations.

I have been jumping for 50 years and have had 2 cutaways, one in 1972 using 100% military surplus gear and one in 2005 using modern gear. I am thankful I wasn't tested at jump 19. Not sure I would have done as well as you did. 

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Congrats on a job well done.

It might be worth it for a rigger to check whether the release cables are not too long. There might be lots of reasons why the cables did not come out fully, but this is an easy one to rule out.

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