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mjskiii

Should I have cut away?

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I was on my 4th AFF jump and after deploying the main, I noticed the cords to my chute were pretty tangled and the slider was a bit askew. The canopy looked good, however, so I executed a flare and a couple turns with both checking OK. The malfunction did cause me to pull a bit to the left, but I was able to compensate by steering to the right. At that point, I decided to just ride it down and actually ended up sticking my first landing in which I stayed on my feet. Anyway, once on the ground the DZ staff were adamant that I should have cut away. My logic was that since I did not appear to be in any danger, why cut away a chute that would get me down safely. My newbie mind told me why risk putting all my eggs into a good reserve deployment unless I absolutely had to. Anyway, was just curious on anyone's thoughts? Maybe I was being overly cautious at not wanting to use the reserve unless I absolutely had to.

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mjskiii

the DZ staff were adamant that I should have cut away



Were these DZ staff your AFF instructor? If not, you can and should ignore any and all advice they give you.

So, if I went through my control checks (2 deep flares, turns right and left, maybe another flare) and felt OK landing a canopy that looked a bit funny, then I would have done the same.

Relevance of this to you? Zero. You should also ignore me - doubly so, because not only am I not you, and not your AFFI, I wasn't even there. This will almost certainly be true of everyone else who replies in this thread, though some people will probably try and tell you what they would have done.
--
"I'll tell you how all skydivers are judged, . They are judged by the laws of physics." - kkeenan

"You jump out, pull the string and either live or die. What's there to be good at?

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mjskiii

I was on my 4th AFF jump and after deploying the main, I noticed the cords to my chute were pretty tangled and the slider was a bit askew. The canopy looked good, however, so I executed a flare and a couple turns with both checking OK. The malfunction did cause me to pull a bit to the left, but I was able to compensate by steering to the right. At that point, I decided to just ride it down and actually ended up sticking my first landing in which I stayed on my feet. Anyway, once on the ground the DZ staff were adamant that I should have cut away. My logic was that since I did not appear to be in any danger, why cut away a chute that would get me down safely. My newbie mind told me why risk putting all my eggs into a good reserve deployment unless I absolutely had to. Anyway, was just curious on anyone's thoughts? Maybe I was being overly cautious at not wanting to use the reserve unless I absolutely had to.



Well the good news is that you get to skydive again! Did they provide information that made sense during the debrief? What sort of malfunction/scenario did you have with the main, and why did they suggest that it be cut away?

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mjskiii

... My logic was that since I did not appear to be in any danger...



The question is this: are you, at your experience level, able to judge this?
To be more precise, are you able to estimate the speed at which your (somewhat malfunctioning) canopy is flying, both forward and downward? This is very difficult to say when you are still high enough to - safely - cut away.

Not saying you made the wrong decision - just something to think about.

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evh

***... My logic was that since I did not appear to be in any danger...



The question is this: are you, at your experience level, able to judge this?
To be more precise, are you able to estimate the speed at which your (somewhat malfunctioning) canopy is flying, both forward and downward? This is very difficult to say when you are still high enough to - safely - cut away.

Not saying you made the wrong decision - just something to think about.


Very good point and while I think I was able to judge how controllable the canopy was, I doubt I could really judge my rate of descent. May have gotten lucky with that.

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FrontRoyalty

***I was on my 4th AFF jump and after deploying the main, I noticed the cords to my chute were pretty tangled and the slider was a bit askew. The canopy looked good, however, so I executed a flare and a couple turns with both checking OK. The malfunction did cause me to pull a bit to the left, but I was able to compensate by steering to the right. At that point, I decided to just ride it down and actually ended up sticking my first landing in which I stayed on my feet. Anyway, once on the ground the DZ staff were adamant that I should have cut away. My logic was that since I did not appear to be in any danger, why cut away a chute that would get me down safely. My newbie mind told me why risk putting all my eggs into a good reserve deployment unless I absolutely had to. Anyway, was just curious on anyone's thoughts? Maybe I was being overly cautious at not wanting to use the reserve unless I absolutely had to.



Well the good news is that you get to skydive again! Did they provide information that made sense during the debrief? What sort of malfunction/scenario did you have with the main, and why did they suggest that it be cut away?

Actually, the debrief was kind of limited and mostly just folks looking over the tangled lines. Hard to describe in detail without seeing it, but several lines were all tangled over others just under the slider and the whole thing kind of caused the risers to close in on my head (not a lot, but noticeably)

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Joellercoaster

***the DZ staff were adamant that I should have cut away



Were these DZ staff your AFF instructor? If not, you can and should ignore any and all advice they give you.

So, if I went through my control checks (2 deep flares, turns right and left, maybe another flare) and felt OK landing a canopy that looked a bit funny, then I would have done the same.

Relevance of this to you? Zero. You should also ignore me - doubly so, because not only am I not you, and not your AFFI, I wasn't even there. This will almost certainly be true of everyone else who replies in this thread, though some people will probably try and tell you what they would have done.

They were both staff and instructors. I felt like things were not that bad off, but as someone mentioned below, does my experience level really give me the ability to know what seemed safe? Part of me wishes I would have cut away just to have had the experience, but hey, always next time. Thanks!

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mjskiii

Anyway, once on the ground the DZ staff were adamant that I should have cut away. My logic was that since I did not appear to be in any danger, why cut away a chute that would get me down safely.



The trouble is when you find out that the configuration is in fact not landable, but no longer have the altitude to change canopies. It's always your call in the end, but in-air rigging is rarely the right choice. Unless you're sure it's good to land, the odds of finding out the reserve is bad after you cut away are lower than the chances of finding out the main is not landable after you decided not to cut away.

PS. "Lines" and "canopy" are the preferred terms, rather than "cords" and "chute".
"Skydivers are highly emotional people. They get all excited about their magical black box full of mysterious life saving forces."

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mathrick

***Anyway, once on the ground the DZ staff were adamant that I should have cut away. My logic was that since I did not appear to be in any danger, why cut away a chute that would get me down safely.



The trouble is when you find out that the configuration is in fact not landable, but no longer have the altitude to change canopies. It's always your call in the end, but in-air rigging is rarely the right choice. Unless you're sure it's good to land, the odds of finding out the reserve is bad after you cut away are lower than the chances of finding out the main is not landable after you decided not to cut away.

PS. "Lines" and "canopy" are the preferred terms, rather than "cords" and "chute".

Thanks for the advice and correction on terminology. Still learning the lingo.

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Bob_Church

You should probably ask yourself how your decision compared to what you were trained to do.



Which is good.
Still, the way we are trained falls far short of all of the subtleties of the problems that can occur, and there's often no perfect answer on whether to stay with or chop some problems.

That's the problem that the whole thread grapples with.

The canopy sounds like it was squarish, flew and flared ok. Fair enough he said it did pull a little to the left, and I don't know what his training said. Sometimes students are warned that canopied don't fly perfectly straight even in normal conditions.

I figure doing a flare tends to weed out canopies that are 'barely stable'. And looking for a canopy that is still 'square' (rectangular) tends to help avoid canopies that are too distorted to fly well at a reasonable descent rate, although that can be a little harder for a newbie to interpret. But anything more than a closed end cell can start to be serious as a canopy gets smaller.

I can understand that skydivers seeing a mess of lines being wary of it. It is unusual that others could still see the mess on the ground -- tension type entanglements tend to disappear at that point.

So I could see that it might be a situation where a lot of jumpers (but not all) would chop when there's a clear tension knot entanglement of some type, that interferes with both the slider and the placement of the risers -- even if a control line check made it seem OK. Still, a student might conclude from their training (which could differ from place to place) that it was still acceptable.

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I think it's worth knowing what your instructors say before and then after an event. In 1978, on my 9th jump, I had a high speed malfunction and had to use the belly wart on my student rig. I tried to do a plf but hit butt first, hard. I mentioned this back at the dz and was told "oh, yeh, when you use a low mount reserve you have to pull yourself up into the lines."
He told me this AFTER the jump, and it always sort of modified my outlook.

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Once under canopy, I teach to immediately check air space for traffic and altitude, and then check three aspects of the canopy, the three S's. Is the canopy Square (more like rectangle but we go with square to have the third "s"), Stable, and Steerable, if not than you are to cut away. Was your canopy square, stable and steerable?
The big chance you take here is that shit may hit the fan down the line. The canopy you THOUGHT was OK at 3000 feet actually has a couple of snapped lines or a ripped cell. It flies fine with a little manual trim, but suddenly at 600 feet that cell rips the rest of the way, or another line snaps and you are now too low to chop and go to reserve. The issue you decided to nurse down now progresses and kills you when you are too low to do anything about it.
You say you had to correct the rest of the way down. What happens when you are in the pattern and have to do some collision avoidance and land crosswind? That trim you were being forced to manually introduce just became a hell of a variable in your canopies control, one that could give you a very rough landing.

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mjskiii

******I was on my 4th AFF jump and after deploying the main, I noticed the cords to my chute were pretty tangled and the slider was a bit askew. The canopy looked good, however, so I executed a flare and a couple turns with both checking OK. The malfunction did cause me to pull a bit to the left, but I was able to compensate by steering to the right. At that point, I decided to just ride it down and actually ended up sticking my first landing in which I stayed on my feet. Anyway, once on the ground the DZ staff were adamant that I should have cut away. My logic was that since I did not appear to be in any danger, why cut away a chute that would get me down safely. My newbie mind told me why risk putting all my eggs into a good reserve deployment unless I absolutely had to. Anyway, was just curious on anyone's thoughts? Maybe I was being overly cautious at not wanting to use the reserve unless I absolutely had to.



Well the good news is that you get to skydive again! Did they provide information that made sense during the debrief? What sort of malfunction/scenario did you have with the main, and why did they suggest that it be cut away?

Actually, the debrief was kind of limited and mostly just folks looking over the tangled lines. Hard to describe in detail without seeing it, but several lines were all tangled over others just under the slider and the whole thing kind of caused the risers to close in on my head (not a lot, but noticeably) You currently have 5 jumps. You are at least twenty short of knowing much and a couple hundred short of knowing what you don't know.
What you seem to be describing are tension knots that kept the slider from completely coming down. Without actually seeing it, no one here can give you an opinion that has any relevance, but you also mention the risers were pretty much together. This is something that could easily turn to crap. Your canopy was distorted and a steering line could have caught in the mess and either not come down or hung up at any time you moved the toggles.
The staff and instructors ALL told you you should have chopped it.
If you want to live to get to a couple hundred jump or more, spend more time learning from your mistakes and less time trying to justify them.
This is the paradox of skydiving. We do something very dangerous, expose ourselves to a totally unnecesary risk, and then spend our time trying to make it safer.

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Caulk this one up to experience.

You were trained to make a decision and apparently the decision you made as adequate.

Based on your 'new' experience you will be able to make a better decision in the future.

Keep asking questions and talking to others and jumping.

Red, White and Blue Skies,

John T. Brasher D-5166

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Bob_Church

You should probably ask yourself how your decision compared to what you were trained to do.



This is the real question. Did you do what you were taught in your training. For example in Australia the canopy checks students are taught are square, flying strait and no damage, on this basis you should have cut away but depends on what you were taught.

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Yeah, you were looking at tension knots and a slider hang-up. They told you chop it next time because it's hard to tell if something is affecting the descent rate or you don't know if your brake lines will get caught in there at a lower altitude. Don't be afraid to use your reserve. There are many broken people out there who should have.
"I encourage all awesome dangerous behavior." - Jeffro Fincher

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kawisixer01

Once under canopy, I teach to immediately check air space for traffic and altitude, and then check three aspects of the canopy, the three S's. Is the canopy Square (more like rectangle but we go with square to have the third "s"), Stable, and Steerable, if not than you are to cut away. Was your canopy square, stable and steerable?
The big chance you take here is that shit may hit the fan down the line. The canopy you THOUGHT was OK at 3000 feet actually has a couple of snapped lines or a ripped cell. It flies fine with a little manual trim, but suddenly at 600 feet that cell rips the rest of the way, or another line snaps and you are now too low to chop and go to reserve. The issue you decided to nurse down now progresses and kills you when you are too low to do anything about it.
You say you had to correct the rest of the way down. What happens when you are in the pattern and have to do some collision avoidance and land crosswind? That trim you were being forced to manually introduce just became a hell of a variable in your canopies control, one that could give you a very rough landing.



I agree with most of what you say, apart from the bit I've highlighted.

IMO the scenario you describe is unlikely. Opening shock where rips and broken lines occur, do so because at that point the canopy is subject to most force and stress.

Once the canopy is open the forces on it are fairly constant.

Canopy fabric and lines are pretty strong, and fabric "unzipping" like that, and lines suddenly snapping, might happen in Hollywood for dramatic effect, but in reality is not likely at all.

A test jump I did on a canopy which had significant damage after an encounter with a power pole, suffered no further damage after I subjected it to a terminal opening. ( I didn't land it of course) I was trying to blow it up completely.

As others have said, its best to stick with what your training told you, if you have doubts about the canopy, that is a good enough reason to chop it, up high. Your decision making has to be decisive. Make a decision immediately, AND STICK TO IT.

IMO the most dangerous situations for any jumper to deal with, are those like the OP describes, because they cause indecision, and altitude is wasted humming and haaing about what to do. Altitude is precious and should not be wasted trying to make a decision. A fast mean mal doesn't need much thinking about, so decision making is easy.

And don't ever forget, that a canopy which you might have limited control over, could easily become uncontrollable near the ground due to turbulence...a much bigger danger than further damage occurring.

At that point you are out of choices, and things can get nasty....very nasty.

Sticking to your training is the best option, its why we train that way, and is the result of lots of experience over long periods of time.

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evh

***... My logic was that since I did not appear to be in any danger...



The question is this: are you, at your experience level, able to judge this?
To be more precise, are you able to estimate the speed at which your (somewhat malfunctioning) canopy is flying, both forward and downward? This is very difficult to say when you are still high enough to - safely - cut away.

Not saying you made the wrong decision - just something to think about.

That. I still vividly remember an experienced jumper breaking his back after landing a canopy which OK from the jumper's point of view but it had some issues on the top skin which made it 1) descent quite fast and 2) dumped him on his back quite hard when the canopy folded up during the flare.

Another similar incident was a thread on here a few years ago, with a tandem canopy that had a split cell on the top skin. Again, hard to see from below, canopy looks fine-ish and luckily this one landed 'just' a bit hard.
IMO the TM should have chopped it though, after seeing his practice flare on video where the end cells just about touched from left to right :o and he had of course the responsibility for his pax.

What I teach my students: after your 2x flare after opening and your other checks, if the canopy still looks or even feels a bit 'funny' and you're in doubt, fly a 360 right and a 360 left and do a couple of practice flares. If your canopy can do that, it can probably land you safely. If it spins up or folds up or you can only turn when holding one toggle 3/4 down, well there's your answer.
If after these checks you're not 100% happy with your canopy, and are still above your decision altitude, chop.

On general, instructors prefer jumpers chop when in doubt, over what the OP did. Although, if a student chops because say the slider wouldn't go back up, he/she might get a bit of a talking to :P

But since I'm not your instructor, listen to yours!

ciel bleu,
Saskia

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Personally, I find it a bit disconcerting that you, as an AFF student, are asking DZ.com if you should have cut away. A bit of an insult to your instructors, IMO. It's fine to have questions and want to know why. Hash it out with them. If you feel you can't trust them, go elsewhere. When you have a little more knowledge and don't say things like "the cords to my chute were pretty tangled" and "the slider was a bit askew" perhaps then can come to DZ.com in search of knowledge. Right now, you don't know what you don't know...and you need to heed and trust your instructors...Just my opinion.

__________________________________________

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What probably helped in your case was using a student/rental chute that was a lot larger than what you'd jump later on. But there was still a higher risk of the chute losing stability over the course of descent as you go through turns, turbulence, etc. Going to a stable reserve would drastically cut down the odds of that. As others mentioned, 4 jumps is very little experience to judge.

When I was a student, the wing loading was ~0.65-0.75 (Your weight with rig divided by main canopy size in sq ft).

Without the extra size, the speed may have caused injury so you do want to cut away if it's not "there and square", which esp as a student should mean looking only 1 way except for minor line twists.

It's true that instructors aren't infallible but I'd roll the dice with their odds until you have way more experience.

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