Keep an Eye Out | Loose Pop-Top
Keep An Eye Out | Feb 23, 2024
Keep an Eye Out | Loose Pop-Top

USPA Staff

A senior rigger noticed this rig’s loose reserve pilot chute cap (aka “pop-top”) while it was on the packing mat at the DZ. The PC cap should sit snugly on the reserve flaps, and the reserve pilot chute should be essentially invisible. If you can fit a finger (or more than one finger) underneath the cap, that's a problem.

The rigger notified the jumper of the issue, but he unwisely kept jumping. When pops-tops are improperly secured, the risks include but are not limited to:

  • Premature Reserve Deployment: A loose pop-top might unintentionally release the reserve parachute during freefall.
  • Entanglement: A loose pop-top can snag on gear, the jumper or other jumpers, causing potential injury or parachute malfunction.
  • Impeded Reserve Deployment: A loose pop-top can hinder the effectiveness of the reserve deployment.
  • Damage Risk: An exposed reserve pilot chute can sustain damage.

A loose pilot-chute cap can occur when an elongated closing loop does not compress the pilot-chute spring completely during the reserve repack or—more commonly—when the pack job compresses over time and no longer creates as much tension on the spring. Although more evident in rigs where the pop-top is visible, other rigs can also more subtly exhibit this problem. Riggers and jumpers must proactively address such issues. If you notice that your pop-top is loose, talk to your rigger. Many will offer free adjustments to uphold work quality and ensure jumper safety.

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