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Article by Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld, Manager, Skydive Perris

It’s Not Funny

It is with great sadness that I feel it necessary to bring these skydiving safety issues up again…”

It’s all too easy to create your own malfunction – photo by Colin Bridges

Acouple of weeks ago I had two friends tell me that on a jump they looked up at their parachutes, which weren’t working properly, actually heard my voice in their heads telling them to “Cut that crap away!” and cut away immediately. They both landed safely and wrote humorous posts about it.

This past weekend I had two other friends look up at their parachutes which weren’t working properly. One cut away too late, one didn’t cut away at all. We’re very lucky to have one of those of friends still with us. No funny posts this time.

How is this possible?

I’ll tell you. Please, please listen carefully. 
Most skydivers, probably you, make these two mistakes first:

  1. Underestimate the potential risk involved on any given jump
  2. Overestimate their ability and readiness to handle that risk

Understand this;

SKYDIVING IS NOT A SAFE SPORT. It is a dangerous sport that can be done safely

To do it safely you need to expect everything that can go wrong will go wrong on each jump.

  • Expect that something is wrong with your gear when you do a gear check
  • Expect to have other jumpers close to you on opening
  • Expect your audible and visual altimeters not to work
  • Expect to have a hard pull
  • Expect to have a malfunction
  • Expect other canopies to be coming at you

Many Special Forces soldiers from the US and around the world train at Skydive Perris. They are experts in risk and readiness. All of them practice their EPs every morning for about 10 minutes before jumping. Do you? Are you more prepared than they are? I seriously doubt it.

  • How much would you be looking for air traffic if you knew other jumpers were close to you on opening?
  • How sharp would you be about altitude awareness if you didn’t have any kind of altimeter?
  • How hard would you pull on the first try if you were expecting a hard pull?
  • How much would you practice your emergency procedures if you knew you were going to have a malfunction on the next jump?

The Red Bull skydiving team members are close friends of mine who I knew as young jumpers. They do dangerous jumps. I worry about them, but I know they understand and accept the increased risk and they do all they can to prepare for it.

  • Do you truly understand the risk?
  • Are you prepared for it?
  • Are you really?
Image by Performance Designs

Be Prepared

Being prepared means anticipating emergencies and having made emergency decisions before the emergency happens. You need to decide NOW that if you ever deploy your main, look up at it and aren’t 100% sure it’s good, you are going to cut away immediately. Bad canopies generally get worse and executing your emergency procedures only becomes more difficult the longer you’re under a spinning malfunction. 

Expect a malfunction so you’re not surprised. Being surprised will slow down your response. Take a breath and calmly and immediately execute your EPs.

Be an EPs Badass

Don’t just know your EPs, be great at them!
The first step of any EP is ‘looking’ for your handles. Look first! When you’re under canopy, especially a malfunctioning canopy your handles won’t be in the same place as when you’re wearing your rig on the ground.


Most skydivers, probably you, make these two mistakes first:
1) Underestimate the potential risk involved on any given jump
2) Overestimate their ability and readiness to handle that risk

Coming to you with much love towards our community and sport, and insane frustration when we’re complacent. Please share.

A Final Word

One more thought on skydiving safety. In case you find yourself under a less than perfect canopy thinking “Maybe I can get out of this….”. Think about this. Other than particular CReW situations, no one in the history of skydiving has ever been hurt or killed because they cut away too soon. Many have been who took too long.

Article by Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld, Manager, Skydive Perris

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So you think you’re a BADASS? – By Dan BC

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Meet: Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld

Dan is Manager of Skydive Perris & Author of the highly acclaimed “Above All Else” book. He was a founding member of Airspeed and a multiple 4- and 8-way World Champion, competing for more than 20 years. Dan developed a training system through Airspeed and coaching so many teams. It works. His personal and coached teams consistently performed at their best in competition and often won – three consecutive and different Women's World Champion 4way teams for instance; Synchronicity, Storm and Airkix. He has so much passion for the sport, competing at Nationals every year, organizing at World Records, and trying new areas like Crew and freeflying. As a P3 skydiving organizer, coach and motivational speaker, he is inspirational.

Dan is sponsored by Skydive Perris, Sun Path, PD, Kiss and L&B altimeters.

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