Once in freefall the only thing separating you from the sound of heavenly trumpets and in the case of most of us a very long celestial Q&A session, is our equipment.
Your rig is your life, nothing more and nothing less. For many skydivers the only in-depth exposure to their gear that they get is in the first jump course. After which they tend to avoid the technicalities of skydiving equipment like the plague.
You do not need an altimeter, helmet, goggles or any other piece of flashy hardware to survive a skydive. You do however need your eyes, hands, brain and that thing on your back if you intend to do it again. It’s for this reason I require students at Robertson to get a packing licence before being issued with their ‘A’. You cannot realistically keep yourself safe and your buddy safe if you don’t know what you are looking at and cannot discern right from wrong on the equipment.
Once a skydiver has donned his or her rig they cannot even see half of it. They rely on their friends. They are relying on YOU to keep them safe. For the newer jumpers out there I am sure you have seen highly experienced skydivers checking each other. You may or may not notice it but there are at least a half dozen pairs of eyes on you as you walk out to the plane. It becomes an uncontrollable ingrained habit to the good jumper. These are the habits that keep all of us safe.
This is all well and good BUT for it to happen you must know what you are looking at, what you are looking for and have enough working knowledge of the equipment to foresee a potential problem. You need to know your gear.
So if you have a question ask an instructor, a jumpmaster or a person approved to supervise packing. If you see something untoward then step up and point it out no matter how senior the jumper. It may very well be nothing and you will learn something new it may also very well be your day to save that person’s life.
Have fun folks, and DFU.