This is often a topic of debate, how do you determine whether a canopy is Crossfire or a Crossfire 2 and how to determine the difference between a Safire and a Safire 2. There are some quick and dirty ways to tell the difference. Unfortunately, we see some crazy things in this sport so the only sure fire way to know is to submit the serial number to manufacturer so they can scour the archives.
Here's some info and a video of installing one type of main pilot chute. While each main pilot chute may have a slightly different attachment part, the general idea is the same.
This Cazer pilot chute came with two metal links. We prefer to substitute those two metal links with a PD Reserve Slink and a PD Main Slink. The reserve soft link is used to attach the bridle to the inside of the main D-bag. The main soft link is used to attach the end of the bridle to the top of the canopy.
(Published in Blue Skies Magazine)
Hidden behind flaps, under grommets and inside your container are tiny pieces of metal that can end your Sky God status in a hurry. In an ideal world, all the metal in skydiving is polished, shiny and smooth as silk. But manufacturing issues, abnormal wear and just plain sharp edges can lead to frayed and broken loops in your main and reserve container. The inspection is easy; a little bit of time and some basic knowledge on what to look for will go a long way in keeping your container closed when you need it to be. You can also save yourself from having to constantly replace your loops.
Washing your harness/container every few years can keep your investment looking brand new. You'll be surprised how clean and bright a used container can get with a thorough washing.
Below are tips and a step-by-step "how to" guide for washing your harness/container. These tips have been taken from several manufacturers, riggers and my own experience of washing a few hundred rigs over the past 10 years.
(Published in Skydiving Magazine)
Learning how to patch torn canopies was a trial and error process for me when I first got into parachute rigging. I had to sew a so-called "basic patch" in rigging school on a damaged piece of fabric, but that in no way prepared me for working on real damaged parachutes when I bought my first sewing machine.
I would probably be embarrassed if I ever came across my first 20-30 patches. Opening a drop zone loft meant I got enough practice and work that I just eventually became proficient at patching damaged canopies. But it took me about a year, 30-plus patches, and several visits to other riggers for lessons, tips and tricks to get to that point.
Over the past few months I've surfed across a few great rigging resource sites that I think need a little more publicity due to their value to the rigging community. Make sure you take some time to browse the following three sites.
Check out Dave DeWolf's Para Loft Inc. web site for a thorough listing of sources for raw materials and rigging tips. Click on the links at the top of Para Loft's home page at http://www.paraloft.com.
At the 2007 PIA Symposium in Reno, I gave a seminar on packing/closing tips for the Mirage reserve container. It had been two years since the last seminar I gave on the subject and updated some of my tips and techniques.
I've added a link at the end of this summary of the presentation so the entire text and photo presentation of the seminar can be downloaded for reference. Keep in mind these tips and techniques are only meant to supplement the Mirage owner's manual. I have found these techniques to lead to a cleaner, consistently better-looking Mirage reserve container.
Jumpshack's Racer container elicits many comments from riggers due to how different it is from most other rigs on the market. At the very least, a Racer container takes a little more thought and preparation; and that is where a new DVD packing manual released by Jump Shack steps in to save the day.
I highly recommend every rigger who plans on packing even one more Racer in their lifetime purchase the Racer DVD packing manual. The packing updates, tips and techniques straight from the manufacturer are well worth the money ($15 plus shipping).
I've had some riggers tell me that they don't usually replace the reserve closing loop during each inspection/repack because a new loop stretches and affects the finished look of the rig. Apparently some riggers feel it's the fault of a "stretching" new loop that the reserve pilot chute isn't completely seated or compressed like the prior pack job.
Yet my experience shows that a reserve closing loop made out of spectra Cypres cord and threaded through a Cypres washer can be manufactured and pre-stretched precisely to the desired length. It's just critical that the rigger have a standardized method of construction, measurements and pre-stretching.
The following is the procedure for making a Cypres loop at Chuting Star Rigging Loft. These procedures are for most reserve container systems, but not all. Rigs such as the Racer, Reflex and Tear Drop have other procedures.
PD Slinks come in Reserve Canopy and Main Canopy versions.
Reserve Slinks have a yellow tab with an SR-1 identifier. The Spectra is thicker and longer than the main Slink.
Main Slinks have a white tab with an SM-1 identifier. The Spectra is thinner and shorter than the reserve Slink.