Skydiving Incidents & Safety Throwaway Stuck in Pocket

By: Robert Waugh

Throw away in pocket this can be a scary experience, it's one of those things that can catch you out as a beginner or as happened to me after more than 250 skydives.

I was on a high load doing a formation skydive dive (FS). I had checked the location of my throwaway both on the ground & again shortly before exit. The skydive went really well & we broke off at 4,500 feet, when I went in for the pull I could not locate the throwaway toggle. I quickly tried again still no toggle, a stupid thought flashed through my mind (you are going to look so stupid, feel the spandex pocket) I grabbed my reserve handle & at the same time made a last attempt to locate the main toggle, only this time I felt for the spandex pocket instead of the toggle.

"Bingo" I immediately realised that the toggle had some how been pushed right into the pocket instead of hanging just outside of it. I squeezed the pocket behind the toggle & it popped out enough to let me get a finger through the hole in the toggle & deploy my main. At this point I was now a little head down but stable & my main deployed without any further problems. I was under a fully deployed canopy just over 2,000 feet. I knew that I had a few seconds on my side to have a couple of attempts at the pull because a few months earlier I had started going for the pull at 3,500 and pulling at 3,000.

The reason for pulling at this higher altitude was I had been watching the French national team doing so on their training jumps, & asked them why they were opening at that altitude. The reply was it is much safer especially with modern high performance parachutes & it gives you that precious amount of extra time in an emergency. I thought if it's good enough for them it's good for me.
During the same weekend the same thing happened to a young lady skydiver called Alison. She was unable to locate her toggle despite a couple of attempts. She made a safe landing under her reserve.

?

What went wrong? Well I tried to figure it out and at first I drew a blank, I knew who was in the aircraft & where they were seated but I did not get the answer for a few weeks. I was on another high load & had done all my checks & double checked the toggle location on the way up, all was ok. Then we got a call to move down the aircraft a little to let the tandem masters tighten up their passenger straps, I was aware of something pushing me on the bottom right of my pack I looked around to see a foot pushing against my pack.... well you can probably guess the rest, my toggle was once again firmly inside the pocket.

Always remember never keep trying to sort it out, if its not where it should be, carry out your reserve drills. Be safe & have fun Rob. If you see someone moving to the exit door with his hand on the toggle it could be me.

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