Ralph Wilhelm

Through the lense: Time to Check

Monday, August 24, 2020

It doesn’t matter if you film a 4-way team or a 100 way bigway,

if you fly the camera, you have a lot of off time during debrief, brief, and dirt-dive. Of course, you want to check out the dirt-dive on the next jump in order to position yourself perfectly in the air, but there is still a lot of time left. Besides working on pictures from the previous jump, you as the camera flyer can at least use the dirt-dive time to improve the safety of the whole team and yourself.

This can simply be done just by looking at some butts. Well, not exactly the rear ends themselves, but the BOC storage of the pilot chute which is found in close proximity to above mentioned body part.

So, while your 4-way team is turning points in front of the mockup, just before getting on the plane, you don’t even have to move to see all pilot chutes. Your team is moving for you. Visually check if the pilot chutes are seated completely in the pocket with no fabric and only the grip/pillow itself hanging out. And while at it, you may also want to take a look at the flap of the main parachute. Is it closed and the pin doesn’t stick out to the side? That the easy part.

If you film a larger formation,

they usually have a dirt dive in full gear before you get on the plane. Trust me, it’s quite a walk all the way around a 100 way, but it’s worth it. With such a large formation you usually catch one person with a less than perfect stowed pilot chute. What remains is the 1-million-dollar question, why you should spend your most valuable and overpaid time as a world class camera flyer to look at the behinds some dirty jumpsuits?

Simply, because you will be the first one to know if something goes wrong. And if a pilot chute comes out of its pocket during climb out or freefall, it will happen somewhere between “frightening close” and “too close” to you. More of less directly in front of you. Got the message? You are not doing this (primarily) for the safety of the team or the jumper, you are checking the other jumpers for your own safety.

And while you are at it…

after you are done checking out the butts, the fronts of your fellow jumpers are also worth a check. You will find some handles/pillows and a chest strap there, which can be overlooked. That is why you’re here: your own safety. Unless you want to get hit by a dislocated handle in freefall. And if this in not reason enough for you to check those who are flying a level below you, just remind the person whose gear you found not to be in perfect order about the old custom of thanking you with a beer at the end of the day.

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