BUFFALO — Do you know how to rig a parachute? Would you like to learn?
If the answer to that last question is yes then you might want to contact Mark Lancaster, the owner of Skyworks Parachute Services in Buffalo. Lancaster is a Master Parachute Rigger/Designated Parachute Rigger Examiner for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). He teaches the students who take his course the proper way to rig, maintain, and repair parachutes.
“We start with how to assemble a parachute properly,” Lancaster said. “After the parachute is assembled, the next step is how to inspect a parachute. Once it has been inspected, the next step is how to pack a parachute. The next step after that is dealing with all the appropriate paperwork.”
To pass the course, a student must be able to properly rig, inspect, and pack 20 parachutes; demonstrate the ability to properly patch parachutes needing repairs; properly attach grommets and snaps to parachutes; tie seven knots used in parachutes; and know all the applicable regulations and rules.
Lancaster said that persons can earn one of two certificates issued parachute riggers.
“There are two levels of certificate,” Lancaster said. “One is a Senior Rigger who is only allowed to do minor repairs. Then there’s the Master Rigger who can do everything above that level.”
Lancaster said the course takes from five to seven days depending on the person taking it.
In addition to teaching parachute rigging, Lancaster manufactures parts used in parachute rigging.
“We also manufacture parts, shipping worldwide,” Lancaster said. “Lines are a big selling item, they are like tires to a car, they wear out and need replacement. We specialize in high performance lines along with standard lines. We also do major repairs.”
In addition to learning how to rig, pack and maintain parachutes, Lancaster teaches students how to use them, both parachuting with someone and parachuting on their own.
“We have tandem instruction along with solo instruction,” Lancaster said.
Lancaster said that the jumps take place in either Union County or Chester County.
While Lancaster teaches the course to civilian students, he also teaches members of the military. He does the military training in cooperation with Para Loft Inc., in Elizabethtown, Pa. In the near future, Lancaster and his Para Loft counterparts will be teaching a class of 34 students including 17 members of the military.
For more information about Skyworks Parachute Service and its course offerings, call 864-429-8428.
Charles Warner can be reached at 864-762-4090 or [email protected]