- Written by Mike Gruwell
(Published in Australian Skydiver Magazine. The text and photos from the magazine article can be viewed at this link.)
Many times when a skydiver purchases their first rig there is a lack of information or education on how to care for their rig. The following is a good start for all new skydivers. Enjoy...and tell others to check it out.
Thank you for trusting ChutingStar to assemble your new skydiving rig. Below is some helpful information on your purchase and how to make it last.
- Familiarize yourself with the location and shape of your main pilot chute, cutaway and reserve handles on the ground. These handles might be in slightly different places than the rigs you used during student status because this rig was custom-made to fit you. Other rigs may have been slightly big or small on you. The shape and feel of the handles may be different as well. Familiarize yourself with the location and operation of the Reserve Static Line and hook knife, if your rig has these options. Consult an instructor or rigger if you ever want to disconnect your RSL on a permanent basis.
- The packing data card contains all the legal information required by the Federal Aviation Administration and is located in its own pocket under the reserve flap, under the shoulder or on the backpad. Ask a rigger if you have trouble locating the pocket or packing data card. This data card contains the manufacturer, serial number, model and date manufactured of each component. It also has a history of the work performed by FAA riggers and the date your gear was last serviced. Your reserve parachute and container must be aired, inspected and repacked every 120 days by an FAA rigger. ChutingStar currently charges $60 for this service and normal turnaround time is 2 days. During a reserve inspection and repack, other services may be required such as maintenance, repairs or service bulletin work. These services are charged on a per item or hourly basis. Reserve canopies are also strength-tested annually. This $10 test is a 30-pound strength test on the reserve canopy fabric in three places. The testing record/results are noted on the packing data card.
- The automatic activation device (AAD) control unit is located under the reserve flap or on the backpad. The unit should be turned on at the drop zone prior to making your first jump of the day. It is turned on by pushing the button once (a short, quick push), followed by pushing the button in the same manner each time the LED lights up. The Cypres is ready for use when the countdown stops and stays on 0. The Vigil is ready for use when it reads “Pro.” There is no need to turn off either unit at the end of the day, as both automatically shutoff after 14 hours.
- The Cypres 1 must have new batteries installed every 500 jumps, two years or when the Cypres fails to turn on. New Cypres batteries are currently $95 and are always in stock at ChutingStar. Cypres 2 batteries last 4 years, regardless of jumps and are replaced during factory service. Both Cypres 1 and 2 units must be sent to SSK Industries at 4 and 8 years from the date of manufacture for maintenance, testing and updates. This service takes two weeks plus shipping time and is $200 without new batteries and $295 with new batteries. After 12 years, the Cypres is no longer airworthy and is required to be removed from service.
- The Vigil must have new batteries replaced every 4 years, 700 jumps or when the unit indicates “low battery.” New Vigil batteries are $125. The expected lifespan on a Vigil is 20 years. Service by the manufacturer is only required if the unit indicates a problem during the startup process.
- Replace your main closing loop whenever it becomes frayed or worn. Make sure the loop is the correct length to keep the main container properly closed. A loop too long can allow the main container to open prematurely. Consult the manufacturer or a rigger if you have any questions about loop length. New closing loops are available for $1 from ChutingStar. Have your rigger inspect your main parachute after every 100 jumps. ChutingStar currently charges $25 for this service. You can supplement that inspection by looking over your main before the last pack job of the day.
Inspect the following:
The risers. Check the 3-ring assembly, dive loops, toggles and keepers for wear or broken stitching.
The links. Check that the links are tight (metal) or not worn (soft links). Metal links should have bumpers that are in good condition to prevent damage to slider grommets.
The lines. Make sure all the bartacks are in place and the lines are not damaged, broken or frayed. Take all the twists out of your steering lines by walking the line from the canopy to the toggles, pinching the line between your fingers. Then set the brakes again.
The canopy. Check seams and surfaces for snags, stains, rips, holes or missing stitching.
The bridle. Check that the bridle is securely attached to the canopy, main deployment bag, pilot chute and pin. All twists should be removed and metal links should be tight.
The main deployment bag. Inspect for holes or snags. Inspect grommets for nicks or warps and that the grommets are firmly seated. Replace rubberbands that are broken or worn out.
The main pilot chute. Check the rip-stop nylon and mesh for tears or high-wear areas. Make sure the handle is securely sewn on.
Look for anything you may have missed as you pack the canopy into the container
When retuning to the Drop Zone to jump again, check the following items before manifesting your self for a skydive:
Make sure your main deployment handle is set in the desired location and the pilot chute material is inside the pouch completely.
Check that your main pilot chute is cocked. Color should be showing through the bridle window.
Check that the bridle is routed correctly and sufficiently hidden and secured with Velcro.
Check that the main pin is seated, pointing up and the loop is in good condition (not frayed).
Close main pin cover flap and make sure it is secure.
Check the reserve pin to make sure it is seated and sealed. The reserve loop should be in good condition (not frayed).
Set the AAD and make sure it completes its “arming” process.
Check the packing data card to make sure your reserve is in date (less than 120 days since assembly/pack or last repack).
Close reserve flap and make sure it is secure.
Check that the main riser cover flaps are secure.
Make sure the 3-rings are routed correctly with the rings, loop, housing, cutaway cable and RSL.
Check your cutaway and reserve handles to make sure the Velcro is secure.
Check that the leg straps are routed correctly.
Inspect the entire container and webbing for tears, nicks, holes or wear.
Manifest, put your rig on, tighten your leg straps and chest strap and GO JUMP!!!