Frequently I find and receive videos of skydiving injuries, malfunctions or small issues that could have been avoided. We need to pay more attention to our gear and do frequent gear checks. Gear checks can help us to escape from a situation that we don’t want to be in. However, we usually think that these things could never happen to us until it happens. And when it does happen, we will need to deal with a situation that we should not be dealing with it.
Chest strap, closing loops, helmet, cutaway, and reserve handles, RSL are a few examples of what we need to check, recheck and check it again.
On the video below, 4 friends are doing a horny gorilla exit. Usually a skydive like this one goes smoothly, unless one of your friends forgets to put his chest strap on. In short, he could have died. On the other hand, he got lucky and didn’t fall off his container and is alive to tell the story. Remember that our sport is dangerous and can go wrong very fast.
For example, my instructor Greg Foster told me many times:
“It is just a matter of time until that happens to you too”.
This is one of the most truthful phrases I heard in my skydiving career. I do my best to repeat it to the many skydivers I know. The reality is that we all will make mistakes and if we are lucky enough we will get out of them alive. If we are smart enough, we will learn from our mistake and share it to help other people avoid making the same mistakes we have.
To avoid those kinds of mistakes, we have the famous skydiving gear check. We need to go through the entire process and check, recheck and check again our gear and our friends’ gear. We can do it by full inspection (our gear), by asking someone with experience to fully inspect (our gear) and by looking at our friend’s gear if they don’t ask for a proper gear check.
In the video above, all jumpers should be taking a look at each others gear (at least that). Chest straps can be easily missed. It happens much more often than you think. Above everything else in this post, I want you to remember that.
Skydiving gear check
Every person has their own way to check their gear. People teach it in different ways, and I’m not here to say what is wrong or what is right. I’m just here to explain what I do to pay more attention when I’m doing a gear check and what works for me.
My first rule is to check my gear before I put it on, them check it once I have my full gear on, and then I check it again inside the plane– at around 9000 feet. I’ll recheck my chest strap, handles, and closing loop once again when the door is open.
Let’s make the gear check visual
The first thing I do is:
- when I arrive at the DZ is to turn on my AAD and check my gear.
- I check handles, cables, the material on the harness.
- I also go through my visible lines, risers, rings, brindle, main/reserve pin, altimeters and everything else I’m going to use to skydive that day.
It’s time to put my gear on and get ready to board the skydiving airplane.
- Put all gear together.
- Check if ADD is on, reserve and main pin.
- Put the container on, shoulders and leg straps.
- Close chest strap such as you are ready to jump.
- Put the wrist altimeter on and check if the audibles are good to go (helmet).
- Finish adjusting the legs straps.
- Check if all the gear I need is there and walk to the boarding area.
The boarding area is the place where we talk with other skydivers, figure out what everyone else is doing, and organize the exit order, but also it’s time for a gear check. With all my gear on and ready to jump, I do my first full gear check, which is:
- 3 rings
- Chest Strap
- Front Handles
- Leg Straps
The back is where we can’t see, we need to trust our knowledge or ask another experienced skydiver to help us out. On this side, I check my gear from the top to the bottom.
- When I did turn my ADD on that day
- Risers’ tab and position
- Reserve flap and pin
- Main flap, closing loop, and pin
- BOC and handle
Riding up to altitude
We are going to skydive and we are very excited. I know, I get you, bro. However, we still need to pay attention. There are so many things that can happen with our gear on the way to the plane, climbing up, and during the way up. We need to do all that procedure all over again.
On top of it, this is a great opportunity to be reminded of emergency procedures. It’s very important to repeat them many times. The emergency procedures must be automatic.
As I said before I recheck my skydiving gear during the way up and I also do a quick check on my chest strap, handles, and main pin before I exit the plane.
I fucked it up. What should I do?
As Travis mentioned on my Facebook Fan Page
First off, that should NEVER happen, gear checks must not be taken for granted and no one is “too cool to do it.”
However, if you are ever in this situation, the best alternative is to grab your right shoulder pad with your left hand (right beneath the three rings), slow down as much as possible and pull. Right after the pull, grab your left shoulder pad (right beneath the three rings), using both arms as a chest strap. Hold that as if your life depends on it. Because actually, it does.
The big thing to remember is that this situation is easily avoided if we pay attention to our gear and have other people looking for safety. Drop zones need to be aware that this is their responsibility also. They need to enforce safety during all times, and a safer mindset will be created.
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