Teen survives chute malfunction at 10,000 ft above Coolum
DEBBIE Denti could only cover her mouth and hold her breath as her teenage son defied death at 10,000 feet above Coolum.
The North Brisbane mother took her son Jay for a skydiving experience for his 15th birthday on Sunday with Skydive Ramblers Sunshine Coast.
And now the teenager has a story to tell his friends, after he became the first person to have a parachute malfunction with the Skydive Ramblers team in more than 4000 jumps.
The Coast company, which offers landings on beaches, has defied statistics and despite the few seconds of uncertainty for the Dentis, the jump came off safely on the sand.
The Australian Parachute Federation says one in every 1200 tandem jumps in Australia ends in a malfunction and reserve parachute ride.
No parachute has malfunctioned with Skydive Ramblers in about 12 months.
Mrs Denti was the first to tandem jump, followed by Jay with his tandem master Brett Higgins.
She watched Jay's main parachute unhook and float to the ground as the red reserve chute was activated.
Quick-thinking and highly experienced, Mr Higgins made the split-second decision when the lines were twisted and deployed the reserve parachute.
"I saw the whole thing happening," Mrs Denti said.
"My freefall had finished and I was just cruising, looking up at Jay.
"I just kept thinking he was going too fast and maybe the instructor wanted to do some tricks to make it fun for him, and that's what was happening.
"He was like James Bond coming down the sky.
"It was a hairy moment, but you know what? I'd jump again.
"The instructors were just so calm and professional."
Skydive Ramblers director Susie McLachlan said twisted lines in a main parachute were fairly common in skydiving. A few kicking motions usually unravel the problem, but the tandem master knew this time they were not going to budge.
He went into reserve mode.
"He knew straight away that the parachute wasn't flying square," Ms McLachlan said.
"The tandem master went to his emergency procedures, which was to cut away the main parachute, which puts you back into freefall, and deploy the reserve parachute. Happy days!
"It is all over pretty quickly - a few seconds - but at the time, it feels like an eternity.
"After all is said and done and everybody is safe, having malfunctions is actually an incredibly positive experience and heaps of fun ... well, afterwards."
Jay was mostly oblivious to the quick-thinking manoeuvres going on just behind him during the jump.
"I guess I was pretty lucky - I got a few extra seconds of freefall," Jay said yesterday.
"I just thought it was all part of the package.
"After the first freefall, my adrenaline had almost stopped and I was just chilling.
"Then he said, 'Hold this rope', and next thing I knew, we were freefalling again.
"He explained to me as we were coming down what had happened. It was pretty cool."