So there he was, no kidding thought he was gonna die. OK. maybe that’s a bit of an overstatement. But the issue was certainly in doubt there for a few seconds. Got a call from Super Girl yesterday. Seems her boyfriend, Liam, had a spot of trouble on a skydive and had to cutaway his canopy. (That’s a parachute, for those of you who are WUFFOS. What’s a WUFFO? That’s a person who does not skydive. Because they always ask us “Whafo you jump out of perfectly good airplanes?”)
What happened was when Liam opened his parachute one of the lines had a tension knot in it. (A tension knot is a fancy term for tangled.) When his chute opened it immediately started spinning. And when a high performance canopy starts spinning it really gets moving! Oh, and it also dives for the ground like a homesick angel. So he had that going for him.
It looks something like this. Or I should say it looks exactly like this because this is the footage he got from the camera he was wearing.
Now cutting away from a malfunction is not that big of a deal these days. The new-fangled cutaway systems on modern skydiving rigs is pretty simple. Just pull the handle on your right to cutaway the main canopy, and pull the one on the left to open the reserve. Simple and easy. (Even fun, if you’re a twisted sort, like me. I’ve had about 27 cutaways over the course of my 34 year career and 20,000 jumps so they don’t bother me. Actually I love them because they are a little bit of excitement in an otherwise boring day of skydiving.)
The only problem with cutting away (part from the reserve not working, but we don’t like to think about that) is that once you cut your main canopy away it tends to drift down by itself landing God knows where. If you’re lucky, it lands on the dropzone. Just walk over, pick it up then go have a beer! (Don’t forget to buy a bottle for your rigger. He saved your life after all!) If you’re unlucky your $2000 parachute lands in the corn. Can you guess, dear reader, where Liam’s precious landed? That’s right. In the middle of the biggest corn field in Wisconsin. Great.
LAUNCH THE ALERT 5 CORN TEAM!
Lucky for Liam he has a lot of friends willing to help wander around in nine foot tall corn fields looking for his stuff. (Better help others look for their stuff or no one will help look for yours.) We actually had the largest group of searchers I’ve ever seen. It still took a while to find his parachute.
It’s kind of creepy searching in the corn. We found two student ripcords that had been dropped. One really old reserve handle from someone’s long ago malfunction and one walkie talkie that must have ripped off some unlucky student’s helmet. They must have gotten down without guidance OK or I’d remember. In the end we were successful in finding his main canopy.
Then just to make the day a little more difficult Super Girl locked her keys in her Jeep. Never fear dad is here!
And thus ends another day at the dropzone.