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voilsb

I had my first cutaway today

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Load 1 Sunday morning at Skydive Houston. First jump in a week. Javelin J4 container, Sabre2 190 (1.15:1), Super Raven 218 (1:1). RSL. Last repack was in March.

Did an uneventful 3-way fun jump. Broke at 4 grand, pilot chute left my hand about 2550.



Got half a line twist during the snivel, but it cleared before opening. Opened up flat, no problems. Reached up to collapse my slider, and it started spinning to the right.

My first thought, was that it was a closed end cell, so I started pumping my rears to inflate it, while checking and noticing that all the cells looked inflated, and all the lines looked good (from what I can remember). By this time, I was passing 1,500 feet, so I decided I wasn't going to play with it anymore. Just like I've always practiced, look down, grab red, grab silver, pull red, pull silver.

I noticed that it didn't really take much force at all to pull those handles. I'd done it before, on my rig and on others, but that was all while standing in a rigging loft. I *knew* it doesn't take much force, but it was altogether different to *experience* it.

After what felt like 5 seconds or so, relieved that I got disconnected and wasn't spinning anymore, I thought to myself "hmm, I should probably arch just in case" and went into a good, deep arch.
A couple seconds later, I thought "I wonder when this thing is gonna open?" while looking at the silver handle in my hand. I'm thinking I should check on it, when I feel myself get pulled upright again, and I looked up to see a beautiful blue canopy with big red toggles. I found myself thinking "I thought my reserve was white? Oh, no, that was the freebag, not the canopy."

About this time I go to stash my handles, and think "Oh crud, I dropped my cutaway handle. Oh well, I still have my reserve handle. Oh neat, the RSL beat me to the pull, but not by much." The kink was about 1 cm from the closing pin.

So I stash my handle, unstow my breaks, and orient myself.
"Nope, I can't make it back to the airport. Let's see where I can land. Hmm, nice field, but those power lines look awfully iffy. Hey, that's a big field! Nope, that looks like tall crops or something. Well, I guess I'll land with those cows down there."
When un-stowing my brakes, I noticed they're harder to un-stow than my main's. Probably the velcro, but I didn't think of that at the time. Just noticed that it was a little harder.

I also looked at my altimeter when I was grabbing my toggles, and it said 870. So from decision at 1,500 feet, to cutaway, reserve deployment, stash handles, and determining I had to land out, took about 600 feet. Did a controllability check, and flew a pattern into the cow pasture.
The whole time, I was thinking about all the things I've read about Ravens stalling during the landing flare if loaded more than 1:1. Mine was right at 1:1, maybe 1.01:1 at the most, so I was a little nervous, and decided up high I wasn't even going to try to stand it up.

I've demoed an Optimum 193, but this Raven 218 seemed to glide faster across the ground. Maybe it was the canopy, maybe it was the (lack of) wind. There was *maybe* a 3mph surface wind on this jump.
So I did a couple of slow turns to bleed off some altitude, so I could still make the field, and not hit trees or power lines. Once I settled into final, it looked like I was going to land on some cows, who were running away from me, but not making any distance. This was pretty humorous, but not very useful. So I turned about 45 degrees to the right, and gee whiz, there's a cow standing still right where I'm going to land. So I kick my feet and yell "hey cow, run away, move, move!" and he gets spooked, and runs away.

I very softly slide a PLF, and thankfully didn't get any cow poo on my jumpsuit. I could have easily stood that up, but I wasn't taking any chances.

At this point, my adrenaline was pumping quite well, and I was trying to dig out my cell phone to let manifest know where I landed and that I was safe and uninjured, but about the time I got it out, someone was already pulling up along side the field to pick me up.

He said he watched the cutaway, but lost track of the main behind some trees. Said from break away to fully inflated reserve took less than 3 seconds. To me, it felt more like 10-15.

We drove back to the DZ, I dropped the gear in the loft, and we went and recovered my main.

I made 3 more jumps on the main today, and it behaved well on all 3 jumps. All the lines seemed good, the slider was all the way down, and there wasn't a brake fire. I had thought I pumped my brakes, but they were still stowed when the canopy was recovered.
Un-stowing them may have prevented the cutaway, but I was at my decision altitude so I was done trying to fix it.

I never did find my reserve PC/bridal and freebag. Anyone know where I can get one delivered here by Wednesday or Thursday?
I'd like my rig repacked before Tuesday the 28th, because I'm flying to Ireland for the boogie and don't really want to rent gear.






First cut-away, first off-field landing. Beer (plus repack, pilot chute, freebag, liquor, and cutaway handle) is a cheap price to pay for not dying. It was also interesting to notice the time perception and the trivial things that went through my mind, like questioning the color of the canopy.
Looking back, it was actually kind of fun, too. I'll definitely do intentional cutaways in the future when I have the opportunity to jump a tertiary rig.
Brian

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Well done buddy, ill pm you my address so u can send some beer over. Just curious that break off and deployment seems to take a while (1500) feet. Did you learn any lessons from this? Will this change anything in the way you jump in the future?
I tend to break off at 5000 and deploy at 4000 just to be a bit safer and give myself more height and time for when i do have a problem. Plus i like the canopy ride and the serenety of it all.

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Well done buddy, ill pm you my address so u can send some beer over. Just curious that break off and deployment seems to take a while (1500) feet. Did you learn any lessons from this? Will this change anything in the way you jump in the future?
I tend to break off at 5000 and deploy at 4000 just to be a bit safer and give myself more height and time for when i do have a problem. Plus i like the canopy ride and the serenety of it all.



+1

worth noticing!

everyone pulling lower.. lets just say "i've seen it coming!" ;)
“Some may never live, but the crazy never die.”
-Hunter S. Thompson
"No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try."
-Yoda

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The altitudes don't look TOO bad to me.

A 1500' difference roughly between breakoff and pull should be standard enough these days.

The cutaway altitude was getting a bit low -- it is easy to screw around a little long with a problem canopy.

The distance until reserve opening seems a little long given an RSL was used, but the numbers aren't exact, and one might lose some altitude between the opening and when one actually looks at the alti.

Overall it is a good example of how one starts to run out of altitude pretty quickly, a couple hundred feet here, a couple hundred there. I don't mind going right down to the legal minimums for pulling but you have to know there isn't time to screw around down there.

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Pulling at 4000 can be a bit problematic if everyone else on your group are pulling at 3000-2500.



I agree. Understood that when doing more than 4-way higher breakoffs and more time between exits might be needed. For opening altitude on 4-way though; opening as high as 4K should be communicated to the groups following, and probably best put out last of the sport jumping groups.

It's a bit unnerving to be in a track at 3K and be zooming past open canopies from the previous group out.
" . . . the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging them and kicking them into obedience." -- Aldous Huxley

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Glad you didn't die....

Edited to add
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Looking back, it was actually kind of fun, too. I'll definitely do intentional cutaways in the future when I have the opportunity to jump a tertiary rig.



Be carefel what you wish for...Last time I said something to the effect of "I enjoyed my last cutaway.." it cost me a bottle of booze and $50

MAKE EVERY DAY COUNT
Life is Short and we never know how long we are going to have. We must live life to the fullest EVERY DAY. Everything we do should have a greater purpose.

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My point excactly. collisions between jumpers in freefall and under canopy isn't pretty.

The Sabre2 is known to sometimes have off heading openings with closed end cells, and if he had another 1000', he might have been able to resolve the problem without cutting away. This looks like a typical example of how main canopy choices and pull altitudes affect the likelyhood of a cutaway.

But he handled it fine, he's here, and will get repacked and back in the sky.

Oh, and no point in trying to get stable after a cutaway, go straight to your reserve handle. You only burn valuable altitude and create a chance of a pilot chute hesitation that can be extra problematic if you've already burned altitude to get stable enough to get it.
Relax, you can die if you mess up, but it will probably not be by bullet.

I'm a BIG, TOUGH BIGWAY FORMATION SKYDIVER! What are you?

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i dare to disagree; if you deploy at what i reckon to be a wiser altitude, react fast, there's plenty of time to get stable again for your reserve to deploy.. its your last chance at survival, i think it should have the best possible setting for it to work as planned! ;)
“Some may never live, but the crazy never die.”
-Hunter S. Thompson
"No. Try not. Do... or do not. There is no try."
-Yoda

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It's got a spring loaded pilot chute. What body position are you in when you cut away? Your head will be up, and there's a better chance of your reserve pilot coming out in the clean air instead of your burble. But this is part of the old RSL vs Anti RSL discussion that's been going on here forever.
Relax, you can die if you mess up, but it will probably not be by bullet.

I'm a BIG, TOUGH BIGWAY FORMATION SKYDIVER! What are you?

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Good job of living. But I’ve got to say that it’s a situation you likely shouldn’t have been in. PC out at 2,500? That meets the minimum per the BSR’s but it’s awful low for someone with 150 jumps. I don’t like pulling below 3,000 unless I have a compelling reason (Big way requirement, etc.). Part of the problem it creates is that per BSR’s your decision altitude should be no lower than 1,800 (and higher is okay). My Sabre2 pretty routinely takes about 800 feet to open. So deploying at 2,500 puts you at about 1,700 feet. That is a NEGITIVE safety margin of 100 feet. Add in a couple of seconds to recognize an issue and react and you are likely down to the 1,500 you acted at. What you are describing may have been correctable by releasing your toggles. This would have been an option open to you if you pulled at 3,000 and had a little extra time. But you were LOW and didn’t have many options.

Math for my personal minimum pull altitude:
3,000 PC out (for anything other than an extraordinary jump which is a different conversation)
800 Feet for my canopy to open
2,200 Expected canopy open altitude
1,800 Decision altitude
Equals 400 feet of safety margin for dealing with a problem such as line twists, etc. That’s not a lot but at least it’s something. Pulling any lower means there is little to no time to deal with ANY problem even a minor one thus increasing the chances of an unnecessary cutaway.

I educate all my students on the above math. Build a pull altitude from the BOTTOM up. Start with decision altitude, add desired safety margin, add canopy deployment time and then calculate a minimum pull altitude. It’s usually a lot higher than the MINIMUM the BSR’s give for a given license.
"We've been looking for the enemy for some time now. We've finally found him. We're surrounded. That simplifies things." CP

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Nice job saving your neck, however I do agree with most that you were a bit low and should think of picking your numbers up a bit.

Some of my thoughts and opinions:

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Just curious that break off and deployment seems to take a while (1500) feet


The SIM states that break off for groups of 5 or fewer should be 1500 ft above the highest puller in the group. Although I agree that I can normally get adequate separation with 1000 ft, I think 1500ft is a good number, especially for some one of your jump numbers


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Plus I like the canopy ride and the serenity of it all


This could be repeated on every post that is ever made on these forums and it still would not be heard enough. At this point in your skydiving career, you should be trying to get as much canopy time as possible, and there are things to be working on other than just enjoying the serenity of it all.


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Pulling at 4000 can be a bit problematic if everyone else on your group are pulling at 3000-2500.


Anyone pulling at a safe altitude that is at the bottom of their comfort level who is still have problems with the rest of their group, needs to find a new group to jump with. Problem solved. If your problems are with the rest of the load, better load organizing will also fix any of those problems. Of course there are special consideration jumps which require you to pull lower as mentioned by others, but then you do not have to go on those.


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It's a bit unnerving to be in a track at 3K and be zooming past open canopies from the previous group out.


If this is the case, then you should be leaving more time between groups. Exit/Open separation is horizontal, not vertical. I track "past" open canopies all the time, and always get a giggle over how far over there they are.


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I dare to disagree; if you deploy at what i reckon to be a wiser altitude, react fast, there's plenty of time to get stable again for your reserve to deploy... It’s your last chance at survival; I think it should have the best possible setting for it to work as planned!


I have 5 cutaways and only on one of them did I take the time to intentionally roll over, stop spinning, and get stable before pulling silver. This also happens to be the only reserve deployment that I had line twist on......read my signature line.



Now before you go thinking I am the pull higher police, I am actually known to be just the opposite. A lot of people think that USPA should raise the min pull altitudes. I think that 2000' for D license holders is ok for a min, but maybe the numbers for lesser experience should be raised from where they are now. Personally I am comfortable pulling at 2000', however I know that there is no time for playing or fixing anything down there. As Reginald has clearly explained with a mathematical break down, we all need a cushion for safety. For this reason I prefer to pull between 2500 and 3000 ft. Although I know I can pull at 2000' and still survive a malfunction, pulling higher gives me at least 500' of time to fix a minor mal, or perhaps to be used as extra tracking time when some other digit forgets how.


Some of the above comments are replies to others I know, but I am addressing the original poster in regards to jump numbers and what I think he should be considering, please do not take offense.


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I'm back, and I appreciate the majority of the comments.

My decision altitude was 1,500 feet. When I reached that, I stopped trying to fix things and chopped. I honestly don't know how much time and altitude went by between making the decision and breaking free from the risers, but I'd guess (SWAG) a second and maybe 100 feet.
After reading Reginald's post, I re-read chapter 5 of the SIM, and realized I had forgotten that they recommend 1,800 feet.
Now, my decision alt is 1,800 feet.

I also very much enjoy the canopy ride. I normally pull between 3,500 and 3,000 feet. I'm comfortable pulling at 2,500, but I prefer to pull higher. On this jump, the other jumpers wanted to pull at 2,500. Since I was asking to jump with them, and I'm not uncomfortable pulling there, I pulled at their altitude.
About the only time I pull at 2,500 is when the rules, organizer, or rest of the group wants to pull there. For instance, I'm doing some 4-way comp this weekend, and track-off is mandated at 4,000 ft. I'll probably "cheat" anyways and pull around 2,800 or 2,700 feet.

Also, I'm not sure if it was meant for me or not ... but I pulled silver *then* arched.



In other news, my rigger called me and asked if I noticed a built-in turn on the reserve ... because the left steering line was five inches shorter than the right one. I didn't notice it, but that might have been the adrenaline/etc mucking with my perception.
Brian

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