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Jumper in Tow

by Jan Meyer

A jumper in tow means that a jumper is hung up on the aircraft and cannot separate on his own. Many years ago the most common cause, of this uncommon event, was a static line that did not release. In the early 1990's, booties appeared on jumpsuits. Occasionally, the booties would snag the oval shaped step on Cessna aircraft. Over all of these years, a jumper could also get hung up in a seatbelt that was dangling near or through the door.

In the static line, first jump course, jumpers are taught that if you become a jumper in tow you should place your hands on your head. This lets the jumpmaster know you are okay. The jumpmaster would then cut the static line with a knife. You would then pull your reserve. This has happened on rare occasions.

If you were incapacitated, you hoped that the jumpmaster could slide down the static line, grab a hold of you, cut the static line and then pull your reserve for you. This has actually happened too. Don Henderson, SCR-007, has a wonderful tale form the early days of parachuting.

To avoid the jumper in tow scnario:

  • move all seatbelts away from the door
  • ensure the proper routing of static lines
  • be extra cautious around oval steps on Cessnas or get them replaced
The plan for a jumper in tow:
  • Many DZs have a sturdy hook-knife always stowed in the aircraft.
  • Static Line JMs should carry a sturdy hook-knife and a carabiner.
  • Place your hands on your head if you are okay. The jumpers or pilot on board will cut you free. You are responsible for opening your parachute.
  • If you are not ok:
    • hope that someone can save you by sliding down the static line, via a carabiner attachment, cutting the static line and then pulling for you. This may be a scenario when you might have to rely on a mechanical AAD to open your parachute.
    • hope that someone can pull you back inside the aircraft

©Copyright 2000 by Jan Meyer.

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