Stack the Deck in your Favor

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“Of course I did a Gear Check!”

Photo by Ben Nelson, a staged shot to duplicate the incident

I was out in the loading area while a load of jumpers were waiting for their aircraft. I saw a very experienced fun jumper with a folded piece of paper under the rig’s main closing flap.

For those of you that are not familiar with Spaceland Dallas, when you pick up your rig from the rigging loft after getting your reserve repacked, our Master Rigger leaves a copy of your rig inspection checklist folded underneath your main closing flap. 

Me (walking up from behind the jumper): “Yo, did you do a gear check?”

Jumper: “Yes!” 

Me (removing folded paper and handing it to them): “You may want to do a better job next time.”

Look, the intent here is not to shame anyone (in this case, you know who you are). This type of incident is a symptom of a much larger disease. Here is a list of things that JUST I have found on fun jumpers in the loading area recently:

  • one misrouted three-ring (not sure how many times it got jumped)
  • two misrouted chest straps (seriously!?)
  • three unconnected and dangling RSLs (seriously!?)
  • two misrouted RSLs (not sure how many times they were jumped) 
  • four exposed main pilot chutes due to non-maintained BOCs
  • one reserve seal missing (“It was there when I checked it 5 minutes ago!”)

This type of incident is a symptom of a much larger disease

I can’t even count how many times I see jumpers running back into the hangar when the plane is showing up because they forgot helmet/ altimeter/ goggles/ etc.

When it comes to protecting your own safety, there are far too many things that are OUTSIDE of your control. You should be doing your best to control those things that are WITHIN your control. In skydiving, that starts with a gear check. Stack the deck in your favor.

Don’t just take my word for it. Hear what Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld has to say on the subject:

Video: Dan BC on Gear Checks

Dan BC, Skydive Perris DZ Manager

Our sport is the epitome of self reliance. You need to be sure the parachute system you are about to use is ready to perform its job. Doing a good gear check before every jump is essential

Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld

Related article – Community Eyes – Simon Brentford encourages us to look out for gear mistakes around us

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Meet: Ben Nelson

Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, with a background in Emergency Medicine and Occupational Health and Safety, Ben currently lives in the Pacific Northwest of the United States. He is the former DZM of Skydive Spaceland Houston and Skydive Spaceland Dallas, and former half-DZO of Skydive Awesome. With over 13,000 skydives Ben has attended, both as a participant and sometimes organizer, most of the major vertical formation world records since 2013. Ben is a former big wall rock climber, but he is currently working on pushing the limits of Extreme Relative Work (XRW). When he is not flying parachutes, you can find him flying paragliders and miniwings, SCUBA diving, or BASE jumping. Ben is the owner of Full Nelson Skydiving and Parachute Rigging Services and, in between military contracts, he currently spends his time roaming the USPA Northwest Region as an instructor and S&TA-at-large. If you want to get on Ben’s good side, he enjoys IPAs.

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