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I suppose a disclaimer is in order, so here goes: This web log is for entertainment purposes only, and any information gleaned from it is to be used solely at the reader’s own risk.

There. With that out of the way, I’ll start by saying that these modern ram air parachutes just want to open. I’ve jammed some pretty sorry-looking pack jobs into my container over the years, and as long as a few caveats are adhered to, the parachute will open without much drama, if any.

These caveats are, in no particular order, that the suspension lines that connect the parachute to the risers are not twisted or tangled;

That a bit of care is exercised when bringing the tail of the parachute around the nose, so as not to draw the outermost suspension lines around said nose;

That another bit of care is employed when the suspension lines are rubber-banded into their respective bights;

That the pilot chute is cocked so it will catch air at deployment time;

That the bridle’s routing from the deployment handle to the closing pin does not wrap around any flaps on the container;

And, that a reasonably good belly-to-earth body position is assumed at deployment. Of course, this last one goes out the door if an emergency dictates that time is of the essence.

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In the above photo, Alice has already laid her container down, set the brakes, ran her fingers up the suspension lines to ensure they’re not twisted or tangled, and is in the process of drawing the tail of the parachute around the nose. In the photo below, she’s tightly rolling up the tail.

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Then the parachute is laid on the ground, and all the air is slowly pushed out. With a slippery, brand-new parachute, things can start to get out of hand here. You’ve got to go slow, and control how the bundle gets compressed.

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That’s Mike, using a knee and both arms to push out the excess air. Once that’s done, I like to lay down on the bundle (my favorite part of packing, a brief rest!), and roll in the sides of the bundle to about the width of the bag you’ll be stuffing the parachute into.

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And that’s John, Alice’s husband, preparing to stuff the top of the parachute into the deployment bag. This is another step where things can get out of hand. As before, you’ve got to maintain control of some fairly slippery material while “S” folding it into the bag.

Here, Mike is in the final stages of “S” folding, keeping it quite neat, I might add.

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When the parachute is in the bag, rubber bands are used to close the bag, and to control the orderly release of the suspension lines.

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After the lines are neatly stowed, the risers are put into channels along the container’s sides, and the bag is laid into the container’s main pack tray, with the excess line laying underneath.

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The pilot chute and bridle stay on the outside of most containers, and here’s one of those times that care is taken. When Mike pulls the flaps of the container closed, he wants to be sure that when he pins the closing loop shut, the bridle’s path from the pilot chute to the pin isn’t wrapped around any of the container’s flaps.

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Next, the pilot chute and bridle are folded and carefully stuffed into the pouch on the bottom of the container.

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And that’s about it. Go make a skydive!

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If that’s just too outlandish for you to contemplate, there is an alternative that requires no parachute at all, the vertical wind tunnel.

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That’s my wife, Pam, being coached by a professional.

After a day at the drop zone, you could show up at the local saloon for a beer, and maybe even a little sumo wrestling.

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