This article appeared in its original form on pussfoot.com, a website for extreme sports enthusiasts.
It’s a good idea to inspect your rig carefully at least once before each jump. If you pack for yourself, you need to inspect the critical parts of your rig each time. And if you’ve left your rig unattended after you pack, you should inspect it again before you jump. Who knows what happened to it in the meantime? If you use a packer, they are probably very busy, so even if they’re extremely conscientious, it is hard to be absolutely certain that your rig is good to go. Give it a good once-over before you use it.
Need more convincing? These photos are from a videographer who is very familiar with his equipment. One day, he had some downtime and decided to change out his canopies. When he pulled his cutaway handle, it got stuck. He was unable to fully pull it, and the left riser wouldn’t release. Upon closer inspection, he found the cause: Almost hidden under the left mudflap was a broken metal housing.
Many manufacturers run their hard housings under the mudflaps to protect them and keep them out of the way. This particular hard housing snapped just above the mudflap fabric. The jumper’s best guess was that a packing weight (in this case, a weight plate such as those used on barbells) fell on the housing at some point during the packing process, which kinked it and caused the break. The break in the hard housing snagged the cutaway cable and made it impossible to cut away. Had this jumper not caught the problem before having a malfunction that required a cutaway, the results could have been catastrophic.
The point is, know your gear. Protect your gear. Inspect your gear. Be mindful when you’re working around rigs and their components. Equipment can get damaged and mistakes happen, but the best way to prevent a catastrophic result is to catch it before you get in the air.
Shauna Finley | D-34907 and FAA Master Rigger
USPA Eastern Regional Director