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Bluejules8000

Tension knots and stuck riser in reserve.

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Posted (edited)

Order of events from memory. Stable flat belly-to-earth deployment at around 5000-5500 feet.  Remained this way for at least six seconds including a right head turn. Nothing felt so went to emergency procedures, cutaway, and reserve deployment.  Was spun in the air onto my back and was looking up at the leg and watching lines of a parachute unravel from around a leg/foot. The next moment a reserve parachute opened above my head in a very hard spin and the riser up, could not be corrected with toggles. Initially assumed this was the reserve parachute catching my leg but logically more likely was the primary chute.  Memory is fallible. Very hard landing. Would the tension knots have been caused by unstable deployment when I was turned onto my back? 

Only about 63 jumps and the first cutaway.  Respectful honest feedback is appreciated.  

Edited by Bluejules8000

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More information would be helpful if you can provide it. Any feedback you get here will be speculative because there are many unknowns and possibilities. To me the first and most obvious piece of information missing is what was the state of the main canopy and it's deployment system both at landing and during the descent under the malfunctioning reserve?

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Yeah it is a little hard to piece together what was happening based on imperfect memories after what sounds like a crash landing.

A possible scenario:

Pilot chute in tow. (Rather than pilot chute around leg, which wouldn't have left you still falling stably while 'nothing happened' for some seconds.)  Cutaway & reserve procedures performed. Loss of pressure on main container allows main to come out of container as reserve deploys. Bad luck and bad timing results in a riser from the main tangling in the deploying reserve.

Probably nothing to do with tension knots.

Just an effectively fucked-up reserve because there's a main parachute somehow connected to it by a main riser caught up in it, pulling at it probably off center or maybe partially choking it off.

Leading to a high speed impact under a spiralling, perhaps partially inflated reserve. There are certainly some youtube videos out there of such scenarios.

Various related possibilities don't change the basic scenario, just how bad it might be: You might have been thrown into line twists under the reserve; the main could have been partially inflated, mostly streamered, or still caught up in its bag by its lines; the reserve canopy could be fully inflated or have part of it pulled together if the main riser wrapped itself around or through multiple lines or caught under rather than over the slider.

 

 

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Thank you for the replies.

 gowlerk; I was using hired gear and would have been having a helicopter ride to the city hospital but  I have been informed that the primary parachute was a tangled mess when retrieved and therefore nothing could be learnt from its state. There was no comment about the pilot chute so I assume it looked normal.  The reserve parachute had been moved to create shade during my treatment from emergency services so this disrupted its state but I have a photograph from the air before it was disturbed, I have included it. The parachutes were sent to the manufacturers for examination and came back clear and lines looked undamaged but here were line marks on the one leg of my jump suit.

Pchapman; it was a crash landing, 30 broken bones all up but fortunately central nervous system intact other than tingling tips of little and ring finger corresponding to cervical vertebrae. (A little reminder of how bad it may have been :). Hopefully the photograph will be useful, not thought of a riser of the main fouling the reserve and choking it off.

Ufk22; main had been deployed and not in bag but a tangled mess when retrieved. I think we do tend to constantly ruminate over the event, partly to make the sport safer and partly to relive ourselves of recrimination.

vlcsnap-2022-07-06-08h10m04s678.png

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Tension knots can happen any time and it sounds like (given inspections) you may have had a bad one.  You don't say how much the reserve was loaded ,  which would be a factor.

We like to think that if we do everything right, that everything will be OK.   Its what we like to believe/need to believe but it isnt absolutely true.    

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Thanks yarpos, wing loading was low, I was using a 260 student rig and my weight was about 83kg. The reserve was same or similar size I think.

From your last statement, I understand there is inherent risk in this sport even if we follow protocol, a randomness and complexity to nature that can never be fully accounted for even if we follow good procedure and protocol. At the same time when an incident like this is examined there are always areas where one thinks it could have been done differently. An example is that I read today that sometimes pulling on the reserve handle can sometimes be faster than the RSL and increase the chance of a reserve main interaction. Is that true?, what is the average time of the automatic reserve deployment from a cutaway and RSL. RSL's are manditory here for less experienced skydivers but this is one time I wish I did not have one and had  waiedt for stability before pulling my reserve handle. I also understand far too many skydivers in the past have died with there reserves still in their rig.

 

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(edited)
10 hours ago, Bluejules8000 said:

RSL's are manditory here for less experienced skydivers but this is one time I wish I did not have one and had  waiedt for stability before pulling my reserve handle.

Sorry to hear about your accident.

Based on your account of the events I think there is a good chance that the RSL didn't activate your reserve, and played no role in the reserve malfunction. 

You could look at the reserve cable, they often get a kink in them when there is a RSL initiated reserve deployment.

But like you say in the quote before, you pulled the reserve handle, or at least that is what I interpret your comment "reserve deployment" to mean in that sequence.

On 6/10/2022 at 7:59 PM, Bluejules8000 said:

Remained this way for at least six seconds including a right head turn. Nothing felt so went to emergency procedures, cutaway, and reserve deployment.

This sounds like a pilot chute in tow, or potentially a pilot chute that is stuck in the low pressure burble above you or even sucked right on to your container. Pchapman's has a good potential account above for the PCIT scenario.

You did the right thing to initiate emergency procedures.

What happens next is a bit of luck. Once the reserve is deploying the main container may stay closed if there is a misrouted or pierced bridle, or it may open up and the main may start deploying because having the reserve tray open and the reserve out relieves some pressure and tension on the main container which allows the closing pin to finally clear the closing loop.

There may be things that you could have done differently, or it could have just been a spot of bad luck. You may never be able to determine exactly what happened here but you can talk with your instructors and experienced skydivers to help avoid it in the future.

  • Know your gear, ensure that is is properly maintained, properly configured, and operate it correctly.
  • Practice your emergency procedures. Review how you will respond to different circumstances.
  • Plan your jumps from take off all the way till you are back safely in the packing area.
  • Build awareness about what other skydivers are doing.

You may also want to talk about your accident with a therapist who specializes in traumatic accidents and events. Having an accident, especially one that has many questions, can leave you with a lot of mental stuff to process.

 

 

 

Edited by DougH
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An RSL will always pull a reserve ripcord faster than a human.

Back around 1990, AFF I/E Rick Horn made a training film for the US Air Force. The training film included a couple dozen intentional cutaways both with and without RSLs. Despite all his recent experience, Rick was never able to pull his reserve ripcord before his RSL did.

The only way a human can beat an RSL is if the main does not release ... or is still inside the container as Wendy suggested.

IOW an RXL will not pull your reserve ripcord during all types of malfunctions.

All that being said, it is still a good habit to pull your release cables completely clear of your harness and promptly follow through with your reserve ripcord.

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