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BASE Jumping: Articles: Jumping: Pilot Chute Assist

Pilot Chute Assist

by BASEwiki

Pilot Chute Assist (PCA) is a very fast and effective method for canopy deployment. When altitude or skills do not permit freefalling an object, static line or PCA are the alternatives. A static line requires a tie off point, whereas a PCA requires a friend to help. Static line jumps require more setup time, but on average give cleaner deployments. That said, a good PCA can give an opening just as clean as the one from a static line, if not cleaner.

On average, both static line and PCA jumps will get cleaner openings than freefall jumps. If the choice is between a one second delay go and throw or a static line or PCA, the latter two are often safer choices.

If you are doing the jump, you are the PCAee. If you are giving a PCA to somebody, that makes you a PCAer.

Makes sure you practice giving PCAs on forgiving objects with sufficient altitude. The Potato Bridge is a good object, and if you take your First jump course there, you will most likely practice being both a PCAee and a PCAer.

If you accidentally drop the pilotchute too early, you may give the PCAee more freefall than he bargained for. This can be trouble on sub-200 feet objects!

There are several techniques for PCAing somebody, some are better than others.
  • Hold the pilotchute by the cap.
  • Hold the pilotchute in de middle, mushroom style.
  • Hold the bridle, and the pilotchute lightly.
  • Hold both bridle and pilotchute strongly.

Theoretically, all techniques should work. In practice, there have been occurrences where the first and second technique led to damaged pilotchutes. Therefore, Basejumper recommends method three or four

Another advantage of three and four is that the distance from the PCAer’s hand to the bridle is shortened. This will lead to a slightly higher and cleaner openings.

The technique itself is pretty simple. First give a gear check to the jumper. Make sure the bridle is routed correctly and has no twists. Next start S-folding the bridle leaving about 20 to 30 inches of slack between the first fold and the lower pin or the lower part of the shrivel flap. The S-folds should be about 10? in length. Leave about 4 to 5 inch between the last fold and the pilotchute. Make sure that both ends of the bridle come from the bottom of the hand!

The pull force will be downward and the PCAer wants to avoid having his hand slammed down hard on a railing or edge. This is the opposite of hand held jumps where the bridle is S-folded with both ends coming from the top of the hand. Fold the PC normally. At the end you will have the s-folded bridle in one hand and the PC in the other. The idea is to have a dead grip with the hand that holds the bridle and a light grip with the hand that holds the PC. By the way, the use of gloves is highly recommended! When the jumper goes, all you have to do is to hold strong on the bridle and keep the PC up and possibly out the object. By “magic” when the canopy is about to inflate the bridle will forcefully slide out your hand and the PC will follow. It’s is imperative that the PCAer has a good grip on the bridle otherwise the jumper will have to burn it lower or worse.

Submitted by BASEwiki on 2007-06-13 | Last Modified on 2007-07-02

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Trying to understand what i think may be a typo, you are saying the best way to PCA is to hold the cap instead of the mid section (mushroom style)

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