Pumas 4-way team cameraman Paul Rimmington talks about deploying safely after filming a jump
You nailed the exit, didn’t bust any points and didn’t have a camera mal… everything is going great and now it’s time for breakoff . A good breakoff is key on any skydive, not just 4-way. You should always have a breakoff plan and ensure that everyone knows what it is – including the cameraflyers – and then stick to it!
The Pumas usually break off at 4,500ft. As a cameraflyer, this is my time to initiate main deployment – as soon as the team twitch, you pitch! Pull in place. Don’t “smoke it down” with your team. A good solid track by all the jumpers allows clear sky below for the cameraflyer to deploy into and, all being well, you’ll be under your main with plenty of height to spare. Remember that you will be open higher than a lot of other jumpers, so have a good look for anyone exiting the aircraft after you, as well as for your team below you, and get into the pattern for landing.
Imagine if you opened at 3,000ft after following your team down: you’re now in the centre of all four of your team (or more if on a big-way). If one or more of your team have a 180 off heading opening they’d be heading straight towards you at half the horizontal distance from the opposite team member, leaving much less thinking/reaction time to get out the way! Pulling in place immediately as the team leaves keeps you safe and gives the other jumpers more horizontal separation to deal with off heading openings or any other issues.
What if you have a mal? Initiating main deployment at 4,500ft gives you extra time to deal with problems. It may be a simple mal or it could be something a tad worse involving your extra equipment, but deploying higher keeps you and the rest of your team as safe as possible. Remember, altitude is your friend!
Photos: Paul geeking the camera above him while filming the Pumas below him & Puma Breakoff, both by Spencer Bailey
First published in the June 2021 issue of Skydive the Mag.