The personal equipment we use for skydiving is obviously very important. A parachute rig is a finely crafted balance of form and function – designed using sophisticated techniques and built from durable but light materials. A lot of effort goes into all of the processes and procedures that keep it all airworthy. Enter the parachute rigger – a valuable member of the dropzone community whose job it is to inspect and maintain the most vital parts of your kit. Here at Skydive Paraclete XP, parachute rigging services onsite are provided by the Sky2Ground Gear Store in the agreeable form of Master Rigger Brian Festi.
The sport of skydiving has moved past the days when people were simply figuring things out as they went along, and now there is a lot of work behind the scenes that keep things operating in a safe and efficient way. A rigger performs many important tasks, so here is a quick look at what they are…
The process of going skydiving causes wear and tear on your stuff. Most of your gear you are expected to look after yourself, and if you treat it well it will serve you for many years, but one part must be seen to regularly by a qualified rigger – your reserve parachute. Arguably, your back-up parachute is the single most important part of the whole system. While not in active use until you really need it, a reserve canopy is not only the most crucial element to keep in tip-top shape – it is required by the rules and regulations of the FAA and the USPA to have undergone a full rigging inspection and re-pack in the last 180 days. After the 180 days are complete your reserve has ‘expired’ and it again needs to be inspected and repacked properly.
By nature the work they do, a dropzone’s rigger will likely be up to their neck in gear supplies – and the dropzone shop and rigging loft will often be largely the same operation. There are lots of different kinds of skydiving gear out there and navigating the buying and selling of what is correct for you can be time-consuming and complex. Your local rigger is likely the best source of information when you need to get something either new or used, and can be just as helpful in finding a home for your old stuff.
Tucked away in some far corner of the dropzone in their canvas lair, riggers can seem scary. They are, however, tuned in to both the sport and industry of skydiving in a unique way, and have much to share if you take the time to listen. They are the ones who receive bulletins about developments in the equipment industry, and also the people to which we turn when we need a deeper understanding of how our equipment works. They can usually be bribed with chocolate and beer to put down their tools for a few minutes to tell amazing stories.
If you damage your stuff somehow your rigger is qualified to perform all minor repairs. If it is serious you might need to seek out a master who has completed a further parachute rigging course – like our very own Brian – to fix you up. The work they can do does not extend just to parachutes and container systems. For example – if you just spent a pretty penny importing a fancy jumpsuit from the other side of the world to find it needs a little tweak then you can likely get your rigger to do it instead of sending it all the way back again.
Riggers are also able to apply their skills to design and create things for use in the skydiving environment such as free-fly tubes, sky ties, and weight belts. You can order this stuff from the internet in various places, but it is worth remembering that for a lot of things relating to the equipment you are trusting your life to, there is nothing equal to going over it up close with the person that will be doing the actual measuring and sewing. Whatever you are cooking up in your brain, they can help.
Here at Skydive Paraclete XP we are very proud to be able to cover all of your needs for quality skydiving, including comprehensive parachute rigging services right here on the dropzone. Whatever your equipment and maintenance needs are, we are here to help you out.