Main Canopy Deployment: Methods, the Main Pilot Chute and Bridle
This section explains the deployment of the Main Canopy. There are many methods and the one you choose will depend on the discipline of Skydiving you pursue, personal preference and qualifications. The most common amongst sport skydivers is the Throwaway Bottom of Container method where the Handle is attached to the Pilot Chute and stored in a pouch at the Bottom of the Container.
Many thanks to Tom Hill for writing this article and for taking the pics.
Bottom of Container
This is the most common place where the deployment of the Main Canopy begins. The Pilot Chute or Handle is stored at the Bottom of the Container. This allows 2 systems to be used, a Throw Away Pilot Chute and Pull Out/Throw Out system.
Throw Away Pilot Chute
This is where the Handle is attached to the Pilot Chute and has the largest variety of Handles available. The Pilot Chute and Handle is thrown into the air stream to deploy the Main Canopy.
The standard option for many manufacturers consisting of a PVC tube attached to the Pilot Chute and has a low snag hazard.
Figure 29: PVC Tube at the Bottom of the Container.
Free Fly Puff
A fabric handle that is used by Free Flyers due to its streamlined characteristic and tuck tab to prevent high speed premature deployments. This Handle is used on the Throw Out System/Pull Out System.
Figure 30: Freefly Puff at the Bottom of Container.
A ball a couple of inches in diameter favoured by some Skydivers due to its large size and distinctive feel in the hand. This is suitable for Free Flying however some coaches do not recommend them for Speed Skydiving.
Figure 31: Hackey at the Bottom of Container. © Tom Hill
Free Fly Hackey
Like the standard Hackey but has a tuck tab to improve security.
Figure 32: Freefly Hackey, note the Red Tuck Tab which improves security at the Bottom of Container.
Similar to the Hackey but uses Para Cord to make the handle.
Throw Out/Pull Out/Pin Pull System
This uses a Free Fly Puff attached to a straight pin via a bridle which opens the Container. The Pilot Chute is inside the Container instead of attached to the handle. Some systems use Velcro to secure the handle to the Container although this can wear out so others offer a Velcro-less system. This system prevents Horse Shoe and Pilot Chute in Tow Malfunctions however it cannot be used by Wingsuiters and those who do not hold a BPA C-Licence or above.
Figure 33: Throw Out/Pull Out/Pin Pull system. Note the straight closing pin and grommet to the right of the pin in the bridle cover.
Leg Strap Stored
Found on some older equipment and a modification by some skydivers to newer equipment, the Pilot Chute is stored in a pouch on the Leg Strap. This can be used by Skydivers who cannot reach the bottom of their container with ease. Free Flying is not permitted with Leg Strap Stored Pilot Chutes due to the risk of a premature deployment.
Some student equipment contains a rip cord housing however this method is generally found on Ram Air Progression System equipment and not seen amongst sport skydivers for their Main Canopies. This uses a handle mounted on the Harness which when pulled will release a Spring Loaded Main Pilot Chute. Although rare amongst sport Skydivers for Main Canopies, this system is still used for the Reserve Canopy.
Thanks for reading this article. Next up, we move on to the main pilot chute, bridle and pin.