There I was, going to make a Level 8 four-way. This was a four-way round as part of the Level 8 program to qualify me as a real skydiver before releasing from student status. I was planning to break a 4500 and pull at 3500 (yeah, yeah, yeah, I was an AFF who became programmed never to go low). Once the four way was built, I was having a blast. Wow, it was really great. This was the first time I've experienced this. You can feel the formation as it bends, moves, and flexes in the air. Not like I first expected.
Then all of a sudden everyone broke away and took off ("why they do that?"). I soon got my answer when I saw my altimeter (first time I looked at it during the jump): 3500 feet! Yeeoww! I'M GOING LOW! I immediately turned away from the what was left of the center, tracked, waved off, and as I was about to pull, I saw something I never saw before: EVERYBODY is dumping before ME!
So I threw out the pilot chute and instead getting that firm snatch on the leg straps of a normal deployment, it felt slacky (the "trap door" feeling). The canopy was just a bunch of material in a shape of a streamer. I didn't even think of releasing my brakes (during this whole time I'm way below than what I first planned to be). I chopped the main and dumped my reserve.
I was amazed how fast the reserve deploys, those canopy manufacturers and riggers sure do know their stuff. I was in the saddle (square reserve) at about 2000 feet.
I later found out the main would have worked, it was one that tends to open rather slow.
Beer? I bought the beer. I also bought another case since I graduated off student status by fully meeting the requirements of RW to become a real skydiver. Thus I joined the real skydivers on the real skydive loads, the skygod loads, and also the trash loads. (don't worry, I no longer pull too high).
Attention Students: If you have questions regarding this story, please seek interpretation from your skydiving instructor.
*Title of this posting is from an article by Toots Preston in the June 1988 issue of Peregrine, a skydiving newsletter.