Reversed Canopy Jump
On October 10, 2009, on my 2,500th jump, I intentionally hooked up my parachute backwards. I sent a couple of pictures to BlueSkies Mag and they asked me to write about the experience.
Photos by Brian Martin
When I was a kid, I hated riding in the "back-back". This is what my brothers and I called the rear-facing seat in the back of the family station wagon. Riding backward made me nauseated.
That was the flashback I experienced as I flew my canopy...backward. I had intentionally reversed the risers so that once again, I found myself seeing where I had been rather than where I was going.
I had been planning the jump all sumer. I knew a couple jumpers who had accidentally hooked their canopies up wrong but saw the situation as a malfunction and cut them away. I wanted to fly and land the reversed canopy.
The stars aligned and the wind conditions were just right on what turned out to be my 2,500th jump. I packed the canopy as I usually do, albeit very carefully. After I stowed the lines, I disconnected the risers, flipped the bag upside-down, and then reattached the reversed risers. I completed the rest of the pack job normally. Looking at the packed rig, the only indication that something was amiss was the way the 3-Rings were facing down against the reserve risers.
CRW dog Brian Martin was tapped to take pictures. We exited the PAC750 at about 6,000 feet. I got stable and deployed the parachute. I opened with a single line twist but otherwise great. I collapsed the slider by pulling forward on the tabs, then unstowed the toggles which were now on the front of the risers. Just then, Brian showed up and flew in formation with me. It was quite bizarre us to be flying face-to-face.
Normally you don't want to be looking another canopy pilot right in the eyes. We were the only two in the air so we could play around without fear of colliding with anyone. The turns felt very strange. The canopy turned the direction I wanted but the centrifugal force pushed my body a different way. I was having a blast playing but eventually had to face (?) the landing.
I had intentionally waited for a breezy day so that my forward (backward) ground speed would be minimal on landing. Of course, when I landed the winds had died considerably. My flare was a touch late and my feet hit the ground a little sooner than I had expected. I quickly decided a reverse PLF was in order and unavoidable. It wasn't graceful, but I came out unscathed. Just like my student days, I hopped up and let the assembled crowd know that I was uninjured.
I don't know that I'll ever ride in the back-back of a station wagon again. Riding backward in a vehicle still upsets my stomach. Under canopy it is a beautiful thing. I even have this idea of becoming a rear-facing CRW videographer.