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Perilous Packjob!

WRONGLY packed reserve – the ripcord does not go through the reserve closing loop, therefore cannot activate the reserve
WRONGLY packed reserve – the ripcord does not go through the reserve closing loop, therefore cannot activate the reserve

A jumper had his rig returned from a reserve repack, done by a well-respected and experienced rigger. Fortunately the skydiver checked his reserve flap, to discover a mistake that could have cost his life, if he hadn’t bothered.

Correct – Reserve ripcord and MARD linked to the pin  — by Seth Parr
Correct – Reserve ripcord and MARD linked to the pin  — by Seth Parr

The reserve pin (pictured, right), does not pass through the reserve closing loop; only the MARD pin does so.

The MARD was correctly attached. If the skydiver jumped this rig, had a main malfunction and cut away, the reserve would have been successfully activated by the departing main canopy. However…

…If he had pulled his reserve handle directly, nothing would have happened. So for example, if he had a floating pullout or baglock, it would be impossible to manually operate the reserve by pulling the handle. In this scenario, if he was jumping with an armed AAD, it should have fired and saved his life.

This particular mistake, although it looks obvious in the photo, is a relatively easy one to make. If you tuck the ripcord tidily out of the way at the start of the packjob, it’s not obviously reminding you at the end.

What lessons can we learn?

Check your gear - failure to do a gear check could have resulted in a fatality.

Take responsibility for your own equipment – it’s easy to get ‘gear blinkers’ and put the onus on someone else - but it’s your life.

Have a checklist - riggers should have and compete a checklist. We all make mistakes and a checklist picks them up.

Avoid the complacency trap– this was done by a very experienced rigger, no-one is immune!

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