When donning your parachute, make sure it fits properly when adjusted.  Some harnesses are a lot more adjustable than others, and it is possible to fall out of an extremely loose fitting harness.....  a custom built harness for a large pilot may be too large for a small pilot.  When tightened, it doesn't need to be overly snug but the harness should not flop around either.

First, undo the legstraps and chest strap.  Generally, pull each of side of the yoke over your shoulders, bend over at your waist, and do up the legstraps.  Some systems use thread-thru friction adapters, while others use B-12 snaps or quick ejector snaps.  Tighten up the legstraps until comfortable-to-snug, then do up your chest strap and stand upright again.  On 2point harnesses you generally thread one legstrap around your leg, through a loop on the harness, and cross over your chest to the attach point on the opposite side.  On some systems you may have to adjust padding under the hardware.  Tuck the running ends of the webbing into their appropriate elastic keepers so they are not flopping about.


Always put your parachute on before entering the cockpit, and don't take it off until the flight is over and you are back out of the cockpit.  Undoing your parachute harness before exiting the cockpit cultivates a habit that could be carried out in times of an emergency egress.  When the flight is over and the aircraft is shut down, consider practicing an emergency egress each time you leave the cockpit.... even if only a mental practice or including touching everything you will need to operate.  Generally the door or canopy must be opened or jettisoned before you undo your aircraft seat belt system.


For an emergency exit it is good practice to locate the ripcord handle, and if possible grab onto it, before abandoning the stricken aircraft.  This should prevent you from having to do a high pressure search for the handle after you exit.  Generally the handle can be grabbed with either hand (and assisted with the other if preferred) but your thumb should be on the inside of the handle so that the handle rests in the crotch between your thumb and first finger, with fingers grasped around the handle. 

Do you pull the handle immediately after exiting the aircraft?   The standard rule is to activate the parachute after you have cleared the aircraft, and the best way to know if you have cleared the aircraft is if you can see all of it.  In most cases it is best to activate the parachute immediately at this point, but not in all cases.  If you are at a very high airspeed and have lots of altitude you may consider delaying a few seconds in order to slow down, so that your opening shock is reduced.  If you are at a very high altitude you should consider delaying until you are down to a more oxygen rich atmosphere where the air is thicker and your speed has been reduced as well.

How long does it take your parachute to open?  In all of the testing the parachute must be fully opened within 3 seconds of activation.  At lower altitudes this usually means the parachute will be open in about 300-400 ft.

Using your Pilot Emergency Parachute




In the cockpit


How does it work?

Once you have removed the ripcord handle from its pocket, pull it sharply in the direction opposite the housing.  While the last ripcord pin only has to move about 1" for activation, it's a good idea to pull the ripcord handle to arms length.   Once the pins clear their locking loops or cones, the container will open and the spring loaded pilot chute will jump out into the airstream, pulling the parachute along with it (1a).  If a full-stow diaper deployment device is used (our favourite system) the lines will unstow from the diaper (1b), and when finished unstowing, the diaper will unlock and the canopy will be allowed to inflate (2).  Note the canopy inflates from the top down, not the bottom up.  After the initial opening shock (3) the canopy will rebound to some degree (4) and then settle down into a constant rate of descent and forward speed.

After it's open

Parachutes produced in the USA must comform to either a military standard, or the FAA TSO C23. They are tested at various speeds and weight combinations, hot/cold testing, long term compaction, and user interfacing, all to assure it will open quickly and properly  when needed.

As soon as possible after the canopy is open you need to decide where you can land.  Looking down past your toes should give you some idea of your drift, and you can steer in the direction that will take you the closest to where you would like to land.  You will not always find a nice flat soft meadow for landing, so you must decide as early as possible where you are likely to drift to, and take evasive action to miss any obstacles that could cause injury.  Good things to miss are:  buildings, trees, power lines and water.  Try to line yourself up so that you are facing into the wind without turning when making ground contact.  Feet and knees tight together, knees slightly bent, and hands up holding onto the rear riser.  Roll out the landing, keeping your elbows in..... the canopy will continue to offer some support after your feet have touched the ground, and through the roll.  Be prepared to get out of the harness as quickly as possible.  If it's windy, and you can't get out of the harness quickly, deflate the canopy as quickly as possible to prevent being dragged.  To do this you can either get up and run around the downwind side of the canopy (the wind will deflate the canopy as it pushes it towards you), or if you can't get up, grab one or two lines of the canopy that are at the bottom, touching the ground.  Haul in these lines, hand over hand, until the canopy eventually collapses.

At this point you will either have people rushing over to assist you, in which case you will most likely head for the nearest bar, or if away from civilization you will be deciding about where to make a campground.  A parachute stretched out makes a great marker for the Search & Rescue people, and it will make a a good tent as well.  The lines can be cut and used for many things, from tying on a splint to fabricating a shelter or lashing a raft together.

The above is a general guideline, but does not override your owners manual for exact procedures on care of your parachute, donning, egress and steering/landing under your parachute.  Please contact us if you have questions on any of the above.

Steering is accomplished by either toggles on the rear risers (the webbing from the harness to the line attach points above you) or pulling on the rear risers themselves -- the manufacturers instructions will explain this.  Forward speed will vary according to the design of the canopy and suspended weight, the groundspeed varies with wind speed and direction.  Steering capability will vary on the canopy design.  If there is not much wind you should be able to land in an area directly underneath you or a bit off to the side.

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TSO drop test on wing style parachute.   300 lbs @ 175 kts.  Note the lines are stretched, and the canopy has just come out of the deployment bag, and it is starting to open.  This was shot from the ground.