If you’ve ever wanted to know how a parachute works and how one is packed, well, hopefully this page will help.
The parachute canopy is typically made of Nylon Ripstop stop and ranges in sizes from 80 to 260 square feet. In most cases the size of a canopy is based on experience and proficiency of the skydiver. Generally speaking, the smaller the canopy the faster it is. This all corresponds to wing loading principles.
Most sport canopies are ram air filled, meaning, that as the canopy opens air fills cells creating a wing.
Attached to the canopy are suspension lines that collect together and then attached to four risers; two front risers and two rear risers. The risers then connect to the container by a three-ring connecting system, which is worn like a backpack by the skydiver.
Here are pictures of the container worn by a skydiver. When the canopy is packed the raisers are incorporated into the shoulder straps. You will also note that there is a chest strap and leg straps.
This picture shows where the pilot chute is stowed, which is pulled from the pouch and thrown out to start the canopy deployment process.
The electronic device in the top center of the container is the AAD, (Automatic Activation Device). This precisely tuned device will activate the reserve canopy if it detects that the skydiver has passed through a minimum altitude at a high rate of speed. An example would be an unconscious skydiver.
Let’s go through the steps it takes to pack a parachute.
First, the steering toggles are stowed onto the rear risers.
Then the suspension lines are “walked out” to removed any line twists or tangles.
Then, while hanging over the shoulder of the skydiver, the canopy is “flaked”. This process insures the folds of the canopy are placed correctly and the suspension lines are all in the middle.
The back of the canopy is then wrapped around the front of the canopy to “hold” everything in place for the rest of the packing process.
The canopy is then placed carefully on the floor.
The skydiver will then lay on the canopy to remove all the air, then tuck away any excess material of the canopy into a straight column. An “S” fold makes the canopy small enough so that it can be tucked into a deployment bag.
The deployment bag lid is then secured by grabbing four line bites and using rubber bands that are attached to the outside of the bag to hold them in place and the lid closed. The rest of the lines are then secured inside a side pocket.
The deployment bag is then moved to the rear of the container so that the risers can be secured to the shoulder straps by tuck tabs.
The deployment bag is then placed in the container tray with the stowed lines facing down and the bridle attachment facing up. The bridle connects to the deployment bag on one end and the pilot chute on the other.
The four closing flaps of the container are then closed around the deployment bag with the help of a pull up cord that is looped through the closing loop, which helps compresses that deployment bag just enough to lock it into place with the use of a closing pin. Once the closing pin is in place the pull up cord is removed. The closing pin is attached to the bridle.
All that is left to do now is to tuck away the bridle and fold the pilot chute and stow it in the pilot chute pouch.
When the pilot chute is deployed it catches air and subsequently pulls the closing pin from the closing loop which allows the four closing flaps to spring open releasing the deployment bag. The tension the pilot chute produces is enough to pull the suspension lines from the deployment bag. The deployment bag is then pulled away from the canopy, which immediately starts to “snivel” as it catches air and opens up. This process only take a couple of seconds and about 700 feet to complete.
The parachute has now been repacked. This picture show both the reserve and main canopy closing pins exposed. Pin cover flaps cover the pins prior to jumping.
Other equipment includes a helmet, goggles, if not using a full face helmet, gloves, and an altimeter.
Pictures take by Christine, KK6PNV