Ask a Rigger | Can I Put a Finder Thingy on My Main Canopy?
Ask A Rigger | Apr 14, 2023
Ask a Rigger | Can I Put a Finder Thingy on My Main Canopy?

Kevin Gibson

With the cost of all the stuff you could lose after a cutaway approaching $4,000 these days, installing an Apple AirTag,  Samsung Smart Tag, Life 360 Tile, etc. makes a lot of sense. With some general idea of where your main landed, these devices allow you to use your smart phone to zero in on the tree, cactus patch or disgruntled drop zone neighbor's garage where your canopy may be hiding.

The devices signal their GPS location via Bluetooth to one or another brand of smart phone, and some work with multiple phones so your friends can help in the search. Most have a range of 250 feet, depending on obstacles, and cost around $30. Battery life varies, some up to a year. You'll want to research the choices and ask around.

They measure only an inch or two across and are about the thickness of a Hershey bar, so can tuck inconspicuously away in a little pocket closed by touch fastener, a snap or both. Sewing the pocket inside the deployment bag's top edge near the grommet where the pilot chute bridle passes through provides a secure enough shelter to protect the little device during both packing and opening. Just keep in mind that you'll need the main unpacked to change the battery.

Arguably, installing one anywhere on the main parachute system might constitute an alteration of the main parachute system, thus requiring a master rigger or someone under the supervision of one to perform the work, according to Federal Aviation Administration rules. ((See CFR 65.111(c) and 65.125(b).)) Fortunately, it requires no approvals or paperwork and only basic sewing skills and equipment.

While perhaps not the perfect solution due to their limited range, these little e-finders a make a good investment against losing thousands of dollars in sometimes-hard-to-replace main parachutes and components.

Kevin Gibson | D-6943 and FAA-Designated Parachute Rigger Examiner
Rahlmo's Rigging at Skydive Orange in Virginia.

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