F-F-Friend or F-F-Foe?

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Is your rig freefly-friendly or freefly-fearful? 

How about the people you are jumping with?

Premature opening in a freefly jump

I think by now we can all agree that as a sport, skydiving is as safe or unsafe as we choose it to be. Every factor that we change about the jump, for example, dropzone location, weather conditions and canopy size, causes a change in the risk factor. For me, whether I enjoy my skydive or not is generally based upon whether I calculate it as being worth the risk. 

skydiving is as safe or unsafe as we choose it to be”

This being said, we are all guilty of occasionally bending the rules or taking that extra risk because realistically, “It’ll probably be fine.” This video may make you rethink that phrase…

Premature opening

This is not a new incident or something we have never seen before, but it certainly serves as a reminder of how quickly things can go wrong! Miraculously the skydiver remained uninjured, however, the premature opening in full speed resulted in a torn canopy and cutaway and a damaged container.

The main deploys under the jumper’s arm

Then things start getting really scary when the force of the premature main opening causes a premature reserve deployment and entanglement that the skydiver somehow manages to clear. As always, we are grateful to this jumper for sharing their experience so we can all learn from their mistakes. 

The force of the high speed opening distorts and rips the container

So then, what can we learn?

1. Freefly-Friendly is Vital

The skydiver in this video was not jumping a freefly-friendly handle on his pilot chute. Ensure your kit is freefly friendly AND well maintained. This means

  • Freefly pud on your pilot chute
  • Suitably tight BOC
  • Correct length closing loop
  • Leg strap bungees
  • Strongly secured riser covers
  • Well-fitted container to your body

Freefly Friendly Gear

2. Practice your EPs

Know your emergency procedures better than you know the back of your hand. Honestly, when was the last time you went through your reserve drills? You don’t want to go in with unpulled handles. Or at all. To quote the legend himself…

 Being prepared means anticipating emergencies and having made decisions before the emergency happens. Expect a malfunction so you’re not surprised”

Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld

3. Never give up

Remarkably, despite heavily damaged equipment, the skydiver still managed to save his own life. 

If you are doubting whether your rig reaches the necessary requirements, it is better to be on the cautious side; get it checked by a qualified rigger and have it fixed.


It pays to get FF coaching from the beginning
Photo: Author Hannah Parker coaching Tori Ireland

Starting Freefly?

Finally, here are a few other safety aspects to think about before you go freeflying:-

Experience

Consider getting some more jumps under your belt and improving your skydiving foundations, which ultimately will help to increase your awareness and confidence before you start freeflying. 

Coaching

It is always advisable to get guidance from someone with more experience to help engrain good habits into your muscle memory.

If jumping in a bigger group it’s essential everyone has FF-friendly gear
Image by Roy Wimmer-Jaglom

Company

Who are you jumping with? – Is their rig also freefly-friendly? Let’s look out for one another!

Audible altimeters

I would argue that two audibles are essential on every freefly jump. The reason being, it is more difficult to read a visual altimeter when you’re not on your belly and the increased speed of a freefly jump will reduce your time during your skydive. This can also mess up your altitude body clock, especially if you are used to slower freefall speeds.

Altitude Aware – Jump with 2 audibles and a wrist alti
Image by Vania Da Rui

Clothing

We all want to look cool but no one wants a flappy T-shirt over your handles when you need to cutaway. Let me shamelessly plug my own video and demonstrate to you in song form… 

PD Tip Tuesday: Tuck it in

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Meet: Hannah Parker

Hannah is a skydive instructor, aspiring load organizer and copywriter/account manager at The EdgE. In 8 years, she has completed 5,500 skydives, having previously worked as a tandem instructor and videographer at Skydive Dubai. She has a PhD in molecular genetics, but a passion for skydiving that sparked a career change in the pursuit of making what she loves her job.  

Proudly sponsored by Deem Flywear and The EdgE. Proud to jump UPT, L&B and Cookie

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