Safe Outcome After Airshow Chute Fouls


A British paratrooper says he bought his friend and fellow member of the British Army’s Red Devil parachute demo team a beer after a maneuver went wrong at an airshow. Corp. Mike French’s canopy fouled at relatively low altitude during a jump at the Whitehaven Air Show. His buddy Corp. Wayne Shorthouse wrapped his legs in the chute’s lines to take French’s weight and brought them in for a safe landing in a river. French had the option of pulling his reserve chute but it all worked out with typical self-deprecating understatement from the jumpers. “We were giggling as we hit the water, and then we just paddled to the side and went off for pie and peas and a pint together,” French told a news conference.

Despite the breathless coverage of the mishap, the duo said it’s something they train for but the recovery required some teamwork. Because he was wrapped up in French’s partly inflated canopy, Shorthouse couldn’t see where he was steering the good chute. “From then on it was a question of me letting him know what his parachute was doing, so he could look after the bad parachute,” French told the news conference “We were both wearing open-face helmets and I was giving him instructions like ‘Left, left’, ‘Right, right’ until we were down.” The two were ready to jump again on Saturday but weather scrubbed the show.