Basic Kit Maintenance: Do you know what you’re looking for?

Skydive LangarExperienced Skydivers

As skydivers, we’re highly reliant on the skydiving equipment we use. Without good kit maintenance, our sport goes from one of thrills and excitement to one of danger and risk – but it only takes a few small steps to keep yourself safe.

The aim of this blog post is to highlight some key areas of kit maintenance that you should be doing for yourself.

Pin checks before every jump

Checking your pins is an important part of your hands on check and should be done before every jump. That includes looking at your reserve pin and your main pin, ensuring both are properly in place and in good condition.

Why is this important?

It’s common for people to check their reserve pins in the morning, but then not to check again until the next day.

This can be problematic, especially when we consider how much moving around we do in our rigs and the potential risk of the pins being nudged or misplaced.

Be sure to check your pins before every jump. It only takes a moment and mitigates the risk of pins being dislodged in the plane or leading to a premature deployment in the door or in freefall.

Stow your excess brake line

The way you stow your excess brake line will differ depending on the rig and type of stow you have. It’s important to note the proper method as stated in your owner’s manual, or as recommended by your rigger, AP or packer. If you’re unsure, please ask.

Why is this important?

It’s important to ensure safe and proper stowing of your excess brake line to avoid any issues when unstowing them for use, such as accidentally taking the toggle through the excess causing a knot.

Proper stowing will also reduce the chances of a brake fire, where the brake becomes unstowed before you have taken control – leading to unwanted turns/spinning which, depending on your canopy, can become more of a problem.

Know your pilot chute

The pilot chute is the first stage of a normal deployment and it’s essential that we know how to use it and where it is before jumping.

Now, this may sound obvious (hopefully!), but consider the last time you jumped a different rig, or bought a new rig with a different style of pilot chute handle. Did you spend time on the ground getting to know it first? Note that there are different styles of pilot chute handle.

Most notable is the difference between a freefly pud and a regular handle, where the pud will usually require a slightly different method to pull. Be sure to get to know your own equipment – and practice with it – before going up in the sky.

Why is this important?

Getting to pull time and then realising you can’t pull your main handle is a horrible place to be. It’s a high speed issue, too, meaning you’re still in freefall (and falling at 120mph+ toward the ground) while you try to deal with it.

Know your gear and also know your drills; as a student skydiver, we teach you that you make a maximum of two attempts at the handle and then go to emergency procedures (cutaway and deploy reserve). Is this still the appropriate course of action for you as you get more experienced? What is your plan?

As with everything outlined in this article, our aim is to promote discussion and help you think more about your own gear safety. If you have any queries, comments or points for discussion, please feel free to bring them to an instructor who will be more than happy to help. Stay safe!