Ask A Rigger | Help Your Rigger Help You
Ask A Rigger | Apr 01, 2021
Ask A Rigger | Help Your Rigger Help You

Ron Bell

As you navigate your skydiving career, you’ll find many mentors along the way. But there is one unsung hero that many jumpers never meet until forced to by circumstance: the rigger. These individuals often work in the solitude of their lofts, repacking reserves and making repairs, and see their customers at six-month intervals (unless they have a cutaway). In some locations, they are solely responsible for all the equipment the jumpers use, from that first tandem jump on.

Riggers typically have been around the sport for decades. They have a wealth of knowledge, not just about gear but a lot of the facets of skydiving. Sitting down with your rigger can be an enlightening experience; you might be surprised by the subjects that come up.

Riggers keep track of every “save” they have and can usually tell you the back story that led up to each reserve activation. Since eventually your rigger is likely to have a save with your name on it, how can you help make their life a little easier? Interestingly enough, the most productive way to help your rigger is by taking a little time to help yourself.

1| Stop treating reserve repacks as an inconvenience and start treating them as a necessary part of the maintenance cycle.

2|  Set a reminder a month before your repack is due. This allows you to schedule your repack at a convenient time rather than being caught off guard at the beginning of a beautiful jumping weekend and having to walk into the loft saying those dreaded words no rigger likes to hear: “How quickly can you have this done?”

3|  When you schedule your repack, ask your rigger what their agenda is over the next four weeks and when the best time is to bring in your rig for the fastest turnaround. You do not want to be behind the five tandem rigs they have to repack before the weekend.

4|  While you are at the loft to schedule, have your rigger do a quick gear inspection. If something is starting to reach the end of its life cycle, the rigger can order a part immediately so that it’s ready to install during the repack.

5|  Update your personal information on your repack card. Did you know that, for accountability and traceability reasons, the Federal Aviation Administration mandates your rigger to log all that information at every repack?

6|  Expect that things will need to be repaired or replaced. Commonly overlooked items include main risers, spandex bottom-of-containers pilot-chute pouches and pilot chutes (including kill lines). Around the 10-year mark, take a close look at leg straps, including the covers and padding, and the chest strap.

7|  If you must walk into your local loft and utter that dreaded phrase, “How quickly can you have this done?” expect to pay extra. If your rigger does not charge you for it, give them a tip; it is a service, after all.

These easy steps can make a substantial difference both in the turnaround time of your repack and the relationship with your rigger. And remember, when the time comes that you walk into a loft with a freshly used reserve, remember to reward your rigger for their save by bringing them a bottle of their favorite refreshment.

Ron Bell | D-26863
USPA Director of Safety and Training and FAA Senior Rigger

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