Skydive gear hook up mistakes happen. And when you consider this gear is gonna save your life, you’d think it would be a rare occurrence, but that’s not the case. Over the years, our team at NZ Aerosports has seen some crazy Sh%t! So we got together over a beer, recounted our stories and put them down on paper. We’ve listed the 5 most common gear hook up mistakes and also included some extras to keep a look out for. You can never check your gear too much!
1. Gear hook up mistake: Misrouted 3-ring system
Yep folks, we’re starting with a big one! It’s a scary thought that you might miss a wrongly routed 3-ring. All kinds of nasty sh%t can happen if you get this wrong. We strongly recommend you get someone else to check you have reconnected your risers correctly if you disconnect them. Plus, checking your 3-rings should be a part of your gear check anyway. At the start of your jumping day and before every jump.
2. Gear hook up mistake: RSL incorrectly attached to a riser
Again, this has serious consequences if your RSL or Skyhook isn’t attached correctly to your riser. You are essentially stopping the 3-ring system from doing its magic by wrapping the bridle of the RSL around the large loop. No one wants a riser hang-up and having a main entangled with your reserve is the stuff of nightmares (shivers while writing this). It’s far less common to see the RSL actually connected to one of the 3-rings, but it has been seen by a few of the team here.
3. Gear hook up mistake: Soft link only partially attached
We’re not saying you should attach your canopy to your risers yourself and some countries only let experienced riggers hook up main canopies. However, the knowledge will help you to check your canopy is correctly attached. If it’s not, you could end up with your lines detaching from your risers at any point on your skydive. Yep, even on your finals coming into land. Chris did a handy Testie Tip Time video on how to correctly attach your soft links (scroll down) so you know what to look for.
Join the Teem posted a Friday Freakout video demonstrating what can happen when soft links are not connected correctly. Check out the video here and read the article. They raise some really good points – always, always check your gear. And if you don’t know what to look for, ask someone who does. Learn about your gear and get to know it so you know what to look for. There really isn’t any excuse and it could save your life. Ok, rant over.
4. Gear hook up mistake: Skyhook Collin’s lanyard misrouted
Ahhhh Bill Booth and his genius brain. He does come up with some groundbreaking ideas. The Skyhook is another of his designs and is an effective improvement to the RSL system. We’ve added this to the list as there are a couple of ways to misroute it (and our in-house riggers mentioned it). Make sure to route the cutaway cable through the yellow loop (Collin’s lanyard). Think yellow to yellow – see what they did there?
And the cutaway cable should be clear of the AAD. One of our most experienced riggers has seen the cutaway cable wrapped around the AAD cable more times than he would like to mention. It doesn’t stop the Skyhook operating, but it will damage the AAD cable. Not only will that cost you money (jump tickets), but your AAD may not fire when needed. That’s some f$cked up sh%t right there.
We’ve added some links below if you want to know more about how the Skyhook works. And if you really want to delve into that rabbit hole, search ‘intentional cutaway’ in YouTube. Oh, the hours we’ve spent watching YouTube videos…
5. Gear hook up mistake: Brakes incorrectly hooked up
There are a few different ways to connect your brake-lines incorrectly. Forgetting to route the lines through the slider grommets or the keepers on the risers could cause an unpleasant malfunction or at the very least having to land your parachute on your rear risers. We’ve also seen people attach the brake-line to the toggle by pulling the loop over the top of the toggle instead of from the bottom. Why would that be a problem, you may ask? Well, when you are coming into land and pull down on your brakes, you could find yourself holding onto the toggle with no brake-line attached. And then you have a trip to the emergency room to look forward to…
A few more gear hook up mistakes
There are a few ways to mis-route your RDS. It’s not a super common mistake, but we’ve listed a few points to pay attention to when hooking it up.
- Not pushing the cutaway cable all the way through when connecting the slider to the rings. This can result in a “Ring Fire” which will cause a bad opening.
- Connecting rings with lines from other line groups misrouted. The result could cause a slider hang up and malfunction.
- Line from line group twisted around rings. This will result in slider hang up and malfunction.
Loose closing loop
A loose closing loop can lead to a premature opening which can cause many problems. Injury to the skydiver, to those jumping with them and malfunctions. Checking your closing loop when you pack it should become second nature and make sure to change it regularly.
Cutaway handle hanging loose
It seems an obvious one, but we’ve seen it! You can guess what the issues are with this…
Cutaway cable too long or too short
The video below is a demonstration of what happens if your cutaway cable is too long. It’s also possible to route the cables the wrong way round. If you are in doubt, get your rigger to check for you.
Learn from others and know your gear
Matt Leonard’s example from our blog article ’10 Examples of Skydiving Mistakes’ is a very good lesson to learn from.
Back in the day, when I thought I knew what I was doing, (I still don’t fully know what I’m doing) I was demoing a bunch of canopies. At that time I was jumping a Crossfire 109 and decided to demo a 107 Katana. I was a weekend videographer and instructor at the DZ while still studying at University. Excited to jump, I hooked up the canopy on the three rings and noticed the cutaway cable seemed short on the left side of my rig. The cable was still long enough to go into the hard housing on the riser so I thought “It’s good, it’s long enough.”
So I made the first jump and had an uneventful skydive. I was videoing a tandem which probably wasn’t the smartest. Didn’t give me much time to check out the canopy. Did a small turn onto final and then WHAM! The moment my feet touched the ground the left riser unloaded and flew off. I laughed as I had no idea what had just happened! When reviewing what happened, I learned that I pushed the cutaway cable into the reserve tray through the gap in the hard housing where the Collin’s lanyard goes. At the time, I had no idea what a Collin’s lanyard even was. I just knew I had a skyhook. The riser was holding on by a thread through the whole canopy ride. The lack of information I had about my rig was no one’s fault but my own, and it nearly cost me my life.
Our final words on gear hook up mistakes
Ultimately, we aren’t trying to frighten you here – we want you to enjoy yourself when you jump out of planes! Know your gear, check your gear and ask for help if you don’t know. As Jyro would say, there’s fun to be had. Just make sure you do it safely – you are jumping out of a plane after all.
Our tips on buying gear
When buying gear (second hand or new), take the time to research it.
- Ask for as much information as you can if buying second-hand gear. Make sure you find out if there were any repairs made.
- Ask a trusted rigger to check the gear before purchasing (if possible). If you can’t do that, then ask for good quality photos including a photo of the warning label.
- Have a look to see if there are any service bulletins on the model you are buying.
- Check the minimum and maximum canopy size for any container you are purchasing.
- D-bag, pilot chute and risers come with the container, not the canopy.
- Check if they have soft links when buying a canopy. There’s nothing worse than getting everything laid and ready, only to find you can’t attach the canopy!
- Check the age of whatever you’re buying and what the expiry regulations are for your country.
- Contact the manufacturer with the serial number if the DOM isn’t known. If the serial number isn’t readable, the manufacturer may be able to do a search by model, size and colour.