If you have a reserve parachute, there are some things to know in order
for it to do any good. Our two primary concerns here are that the
reserve deploy properly when needed and that it not deploy unexpectedly.
Here is more about whether to buy, what to buy and what size to buy.
Here is a great
video describing several aspects of reserve deployment and mounting from Chris Santacroce and Shane Denherder. Chris is extremely familiar with reserve use, not just from
his own acro experience, but also from giving maneuvers clinics.
2009-09-24 Updated. Thanks to
Superfly Inc for
information on reserves, deployment, packing, size and maintenance.
What a shame to buy a reserve, mount it, rehearse using it then, in your
moment of need, have it break your neck during deployment. That's what
can happen if you don't mount and toss the reserve properly. To my
knowledge, it's never happened in powered paragliding but has happened
in other air sports where reserves are used and certainly could happen
to us. We just have incredibly few reserve deployments.
Bridle Is Free
The first thing to do is make sure that your reserve bridles will
properly extend without getting stuck, leaving you in a dangerous
descent attitude. For example, if the reserve bridles are concealed with
velcro, and the velcro locks, the reserve will be hanging you from that
point, potentially upside down. Heads are not to be landed upon.
Steps for Tossing
Here are the steps for tossing a reserve on a paramotor. Memorize and
rehearse them frequently so they' become automatic. If it is not
automatic, if you don't have the actual moves ingrained before they're
needed, don't count on doing it right when shat upon.
1) Kill, 2) Look, 3) Pull. Say that and rehearse doing it. Kill
the motor, look at your reserve handle, and pull the
handle. If your handle is out of sight, like on machines where it's
above and behind, just look in that direction as you move your hand
towards it. When you're pulling the handle, a forceful "Z" pattern helps
pull both pins positively.
3) Clear & 5) Throw. Make sure the area where you're throwing is clear
then throw into clear air, avoiding your flailing paraglider or cage.
It's generally recommended to toss it down and outward.
If the reserve doesn't open right away or come out of its bag in
reserverly fashion, yank firmly on the bridle as if to yank it out. It
is generally recommended to disable the glider, especially if it
re-opens and begins "flying" downward, pulling the reserve sideways thus
reducing its effectiveness. One effective way to disable the glider is
by pulling its B lines hard.
Landing will likely be hard. Prepare by thinking about the Parachute
Landing Fall where you land with bent knees and roll, letting your cage
take the force.
The reserve will open with enormous force. It must be mounted properly
to avoid injury and to do its job. We observe that accidental openings
happen more on side mounted reserves. If possible mount it in front
which also allows either hand to reach it. Wherever it is, practice the
hand motion to reach the handle.
Where: Mount so as to be on the opposite side as your throttle or in
front. Mounting on the front has advantages and disadvantages. If your's
is designed to mount on top like the pap, then mount it that way
Routing: The reserve bridle must be routed to prevent injury
during deployment, maintain structural integrity of the harness and
leave the pilot in a landable condition.
Secure with: Either Velcro or weak cable ties are most common.
The key is that they must let go at about 20 pounds of pull force.
Connect to: Reserve bridles should attach to a D ring on your
After about a year the rubber bands that hold everything together long
enough to deploy properly decay. Plus the fabric can start sticking
together enough to slow down inflation. The video below is an example of
slow deployment for a number of reasons but is typical of a reserve that
has not been recently repacked. They have
Below is a video of the Reserve Repack and
Educational seminar given by long time maker of rescue parachutes, Betty
Pfeiffer. Her company, High Energy Sports, makes the popular Quantum
series of chutes. These clinics are very valuable because the provide
hands-on experience and allow the attendees to get questions answered.
Although this clinic was for hang glider pilots, most of the information
applies to us as powered paraglider pilots.
The bridle structure and pull-down apex are clearly visible in this High
Energy Sports reserve parachute.