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Spotting skills

 

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skydivermom  (C 36927)

Feb 6, 2006, 4:10 PM
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Spotting skills Can't Post

I've done a search and read through some of the info. on spotting....and I realize you can't teach this skill on-line. What I'm wondering is how long did it take you to "get it" and are you still anxious about .

I started to learn it this weekend and I'm a little nervous. I've seen jumpers with 500 jumps screw this up so I'm thinking "how in the sam hill am I going to learn it?"

I really don't want to get stuck on this and have it hold me up getting my license.


sunshine  (D License)

Feb 6, 2006, 4:23 PM
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Re: [skydivermom] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

Unfortunatley most jumpers that train at turbine DZs don't ever learn to spot well. Seems us "static line babies" are the only ones that learn the skill of spotting. Anyhoo, it does take time and practice to learn. I understand you being a bit frustrated but keep at it and eventually you'll get it. I hope you have good instructors that are willing to really help you out with this. You have no idea how happy it makes me to know someone wants to learn to spot. Smile


Kimblair13  (D 28140)

Feb 6, 2006, 4:42 PM
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Re: [sunshine] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm at a smaller cessna DZ. But still, our pilot is kick ass and in over 1,000 jumps I seriously don't think I've ever spotted. When pilot says door can be open, I just get the hell out. Have had 3 reserve rides too and all gear has landed pretty much in a great spot.
Just got to watch for the owner when he fly's...he'll give you door over houses cuz he's a crazy mutha fucker.Tongue


Premier NWFlyer  (D 29960)

Feb 6, 2006, 4:48 PM
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Re: [Kimblair13] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
When pilot says door can be open, I just get the hell out.

So you don't even look down for other traffic? Or try to make sure you're at least somewhere near the DZ? That kind of attitude could really be problematic at some DZs where the air traffic is pretty considerable and pilots of other aircraft don't always listen to radio.

To the original poster: spotting is something that you can learn gradually, with the help of your instructors, and it's a great skill to have even if you're not always going to be the "spotter" for the load. At the DZ where I learned, students would work with an instructor and an aerial map to plot out what we thought would be a good spot based on the information we already had about the winds. We worked up to it gradually, first just watching and listening to an instructor as he/she spotted, then spotting and getting confirmation from the instructor, then spotting by yourself.

Really, it's something you'll continue to get better at with experience, and even the best and most experienced don't always get it right. Sometimes you make an educated guess with the best info you have available and you still get it wrong. But one of the things you may also want to ask your instructor is how to minimize the effects of getting it wrong.


Premier skybytch  (D License)

Feb 6, 2006, 4:48 PM
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Re: [skydivermom] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

There's a pretty good discussion of how to spot in the book "Parachuting, A Skydiver's Handbook" (Poynter/Turoff), but it's really something that is best learned by doing.

Hopefully you're learning on Cessna loads and not turbines; it's much easier to spot for four or five people in one or two groups than it is for 15-20 in five or more groups, and it's much easier to spot out of a slower flying aircraft than it is a faster one.

Don't feel too bad if you do mess up a few; anyone who can spot has screwed up at least once.

When you aren't jumping, take the time to watch other loads exit and land. Ask them where they got out and compare that with your observations of the winds.

If you aren't spotting the first load of the day, ask whoever spotted the last load where they called the cut and how the spot worked out; many times you can use the same spot.

And don't stress it too hard. Once you've done it a few times in different conditions and seen the results, you'll start to understand what you are doing and get more confident.


Kimblair13  (D 28140)

Feb 6, 2006, 5:23 PM
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Re: [NWFlyer] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
So you don't even look down for other traffic? Or try to make sure you're at least somewhere near the DZ? That kind of attitude could really be problematic at some DZs where the air traffic is pretty considerable and pilots of other aircraft don't always listen to radio.

Of course I give a look silly. Tongue Our DZ is super small with not much going on. And the whole ride to altitude I know where we are. I've lived in Creswell my WHOLE life and am pretty good at knowing if I'm over Rays food place, the DZ is due North. And if I'm over my house the DZ is NW about 1 1/2 miles.Wink Would I do this anywhere else? No, of course not. Has there ever been an issue or "close calls" no.

I guess I was more just implying I've never given "5 left" or "5 right". Maybe once for fun, but the pilot just laughed at me.


yarpos  (D 373)

Feb 6, 2006, 7:00 PM
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Re: [skydivermom] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

hi

somehow I got the job of being the spotting guy for many years, and had the job of spotting demos, formation loads etc pre GPS. Here are some things that worked for me...your instructor may have other/better ideas.

Spot with your head just out of the plane, dont use any part of the plane to line up with landmarks on the ground. The plane is generally nose up and may also be turning slightly, the airframe is not a good guide.

To make sure you are looking straight down, look out at the horizon (the real horizontal), imagine a 90 degree/right angle down from it and run your line of vision down that. If I did this with my head just past the edge of the plane it gave me a pretty good picture of ground position +-100 yards on the ground. I used to do this 4 or 5 times on run in just to check I got a consistent ground picture.

Give clear and decisive commands to the pilot. Have very clear unambigous left, right, power off or go around signals. Signal when you are sure, dont give left, then right, then left...it makes them crazy (which can be fun)

Talking about run in direction and depth of spot is to convoluted to do here. Better face to face with someone you know, talking about landmarks you know.

Good luck on the weekend. Spotting isnt hard , just a learned skill you are well equipped to do, enjoy.

regards

Steve


speedy

Feb 7, 2006, 12:20 AM
Post #8 of 130 (2413 views)
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Re: [skydivermom] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

Don't worry about it. There are jumpers with 1000's of jumps who can't spot. It's probaly more important where you are to check for traffic. If you can see the DZ you will probaly land on it, unless it's windy. If it's windy, stay on the ground, it's probaly safer.


phoenixlpr  (D 3049)

Feb 7, 2006, 12:51 AM
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Re: [skydivermom] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

Don't worry so much!

I've started jumping on round mains. Dropping or jumping those spotting was essential.

I've seen even experienced failed to spot, we had a clubRW record attempt from a 207 and 208, most of the experienced jumpers were onboard, bad spot, most of the were landing out.

You can learn it on big planes too if they willing to make a run over the flield at 600m and you can throw a streamer.


darkwing  (D 4164)

Feb 7, 2006, 4:21 AM
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Re: [skydivermom] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
... I've seen jumpers with 500 jumps screw this up so I'm thinking "how in the sam hill am I going to learn it?"

Heck, you'll see experienced spotters with 5,000 jumps mess up a spot too. Do your best.


kallend  (D 23151)

Feb 7, 2006, 6:15 AM
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Re: [skydivermom] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

 
On a big plane that may have 7 or 8 groups and solos on board (or more), remember that not everyone can have the perfect spot. If the first group waits for its perfect spot, the last folks will be hosed or the plane will have to go around, which costs fuel and time.


lisamariewillbe  (A License)

Feb 7, 2006, 7:14 AM
Post #12 of 130 (2292 views)
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Re: [skydivermom] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

You seem similar in how you approach things in this sport and I think it is because of our status as mothers. We have a love hate relationship with our desire to jump and so to compensate we try to seek to learn thru all means, ie dz.com, home dz's, articles etc etc.

I spotted my hop and pop. I had a great GREAT instructor (on here as scrumpot) but 25 jumps later and my spotting is still long. I still try it anytime I can, but depending on when I am exiting I often only check for air traffic and seperation. I actually start on the ground with pictures and winds. I am more lazy about it at my home DZ because the pilot and the instructors have never gone wrong as far as putting people out the plane. So often I find that at the farm I am only checking for clean air. Which probably isnt a great thing.

Its a hard thing because part of it is math and I hate math. Ive spotted myself into a herd of animals, and almost spotted myself into a golf course this past weekend. Just keep at it as long as their are people willing to help you.

Since I spotted my hop and pop and made it back to the dz (yup I was a bit long but I made it back) I got my signature. Talk with whoever you have sign you off and ask him what he considers a passing spot.


L.O.  (D 16935)

Feb 7, 2006, 7:37 AM
Post #13 of 130 (2286 views)
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Re: [skydivermom] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

     Spotting sucks, but it is a necessary evil. Learn it, do the best you can and don't take any s(*t, just say I did the best I could you spot next time (then if you suck maybe you wont have to next time).
Knowing were you are and were you should be getting out, even if your not spotting is so nice it may be the diff between making the DZ or not. I spot once or twice a weekend and still feel a little tension on the first load (or spotting for an otter,DC-3, Carvair (DC-4). but Its been a long time since I landed off. Give it a go. Good luck.


tso-d_chris

Feb 7, 2006, 7:51 AM
Post #14 of 130 (2275 views)
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Re: [speedy] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Don't worry about it. There are jumpers with 1000's of jumps who can't spot. It's probaly more important where you are to check for traffic. If you can see the DZ you will probaly land on it, unless it's windy. If it's windy, stay on the ground, it's probaly safer.

ShockedCrazy

Skydivermom: Learn to spot. It is a skill that could save your life one day. Bad spots have been known to start fatal chains of events.


ripcord4  (D 2238)

Feb 7, 2006, 7:59 AM
Post #15 of 130 (2270 views)
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Re: [skydivermom] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

Skydivermom,

After you make one or two looong walks back to the DZ, your spotting skills will improve dramatically. Seriously though, practice your spotting low and slow for hop'n'pops and gradually work your way up in altitude. When you can consistently make the DZ at one altitude, move up 5,000 feet or so and start over. Practise makes perfect. Ask to spot as often as you can and don't worry about being "sniped" for your abilities as JM. The biggest secret is to insure the plane is level and you are looking STRAIGHT down.


skydivermom  (C 36927)

Feb 7, 2006, 10:58 AM
Post #16 of 130 (2201 views)
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Re: [ripcord4] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
After you make one or two looong walks back to the DZ, your spotting skills will improve dramatically.

__________________________________________________

This is funny because I have already had a couple of off-landings. Neither one was becuase of a bad spot though because everyone else landed on target.Unsure On my hop n' pop, I landed with a herd of cows, but at my dz, they come and get youSmile

I landed off this past weekend as well because I didn't stay in the playground area long enough.

I am definatel going to tackle spotting! I am ready to get my 'A'. Thanks for the tips, I feel much better.


skydivermom  (C 36927)

Feb 7, 2006, 11:04 AM
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Re: [lisamariewillbe] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

LisaMarie,

Yes we seem to have much in common. Your thread about checking your altitude too much could have been written by me Smile. There are times I think "wow, I was born to jump" and then times when I think "what am I doing?"


I don't know about you but sometimes I "overthink" in this sport. I finally got proficient in packing, but not before I really agonized over itUnsure I'm really being too hard on myself in expecting to be able to spot right away. After all, I couldn't flare in time and land on my feet right away...and my traciking still needs helpTongue

Thanks for the advice, it helps a lot.


riggerrob  (D 14840)

Feb 7, 2006, 11:04 AM
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Re: [speedy] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

We expected a more mature response from a static-line instructor.


councilman24  (D 8631)

Feb 7, 2006, 11:14 AM
Post #19 of 130 (2190 views)
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Re: [skydivermom] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

Spotting is more than looking out the door. First you have to decide where you want to open your parachute. This is done in many ways. Asking someone who's been up (that you trust), throwing a wind drift indicator, watching the ground speed of the airplane, watching the drift of the airplane on cross wind legs on the way to altitude are just some. In general the opening point should be the point at which, from that altitude, you would drift back to the DZ (meaning the 50' target areaWink) under an unmodified round.

Then you have to decide where to leave the aircraft in order to open at that point. This includes aircraft throw (which depends on type of exit and freefall) and wind drift in freefall.

Then you have to decide when you want to start the climb out so as to leave at your exit spot. Are you just bombing out, or do you have 12 people to get out onto the wing of a twin beech. Fourway climb out on a Cessna. Ok, but are they newbies, are you taking grips, is there an old fart like me who doesn't move so fast?

THEN you have to be able to look down and see when your at the climbout point.Tongue On Cessna jumps, especially if we don't know what's going on with the wind, I want the door open soon enough to be able to judge drift, ground speed, etc and correct the spot. When I'm spotting Cessna load this all starts not long after take off.

I won't go into things like, if you see your drifting left you may need to correct to the right not only to get the plane where you want but to move the spot over based on winds aloft. These kind of details are best taught live.

Now, a lot of people will say "What the hell is all this!?" Well, it's actually what I do, but much of it is done quickly or on the fly (so to speak) in the airplane. Of course I learned on rounds. We had to spot to LIVE! These days, if your on the right side of the airport (and a lot of experienced jumpers can't do that even in a Cessna) and somewhere close to the wind line, you'll probably make it back and everybody will think the spot was fine.

Two years ago I jumped a round for the first time in 19 years. I decided my exit point to within about 100' based on the streamer and observation on the way to altitude and observation with the door open. I put the Phantom 28' into the 30' pea gravel pit from about 1/2 mile away. But to do this you have to start your landing approach on opening.Wink

Spotting isn't hard, even though I've made it sound complex. It just takes some experience. And throwing static line students on rounds gets you good. But don't sweat it. You won't have much opportunity to learn it, but take advantage of what opportunity you do have. Concentrate on windline, direction from the landing area, and distance within 1/4 mile and you'll be good enough.

There are lots of jumpers now who don't know much how to spot. They've never had the opportunity. Take the chances to learn that you have. And then on the turbine GPS spots set back, trust the pilot, and carry a cell phone.Cool


tso-d_chris

Feb 7, 2006, 11:19 AM
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Re: [councilman24] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

Excellent post. Smile


AggieDave  (D License)

Feb 7, 2006, 11:36 AM
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Re: [skydivermom] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

Here's the layman's way to figure a spot. Average the directions, average the speeds and there you go. Then again, that will not work for every wind condition. For a lot of wind conditions that'll be close. Using vector math would work well, but for those of us that aren't math people, I'd say it just takes experience to get it just about every time. Even then every once in a while the winds will be of such a fashion that its still very hard to figure out.

Just keep trying.Smile


TheBachelor  (D 22560)

Feb 7, 2006, 1:00 PM
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Re: [skydivermom] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

I was fortunate enough to do my first 100 jumps at a Cessna DZ, so I had to learn to spot. My greatest learning came during my 1/2 mile walk back from my bad spot. Smile

Even with a GPS in the plane at my current DZ, I still look out before jumping. If I think we're too far out, I will wait, even though there'll be people at the front of the plane yelling for us to get out.

I do know that if I hold things up for too long that I'll have to answer to the pilot/DZO. That still beats the heck out of landing on the freeway. Tongue


skytash  (D 100388)

Feb 7, 2006, 1:34 PM
Post #23 of 130 (2135 views)
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Re: [skydivermom] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

I have to be honest that I can spot once I know where the spot is (ie ask someone from a previous load), but haven't quite worked the whole wind speeds at different alitudes out yet. I think I should take out my calculator and sit down on a bad weather day and just go through met reports and work out where I'd spot and check that with one of the pilots.

Working out where you are is a matter of slow learning I think. I don't think there is a quick fix, it's experience only. The earlier you start though, the earlier you'll master it - good luck and keep at it!

tash


councilman24  (D 8631)

Feb 7, 2006, 2:49 PM
Post #24 of 130 (2105 views)
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Re: [skytash] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I have to be honest that I can spot once I know where the spot is (ie ask someone from a previous load), but haven't quite worked the whole wind speeds at different alitudes out yet. I think I should take out my calculator and sit down on a bad weather day and just go through met reports and work out where I'd spot and check that with one of the pilots.

tash

You think the PILOT knows?Tongue He just drives the plane where he wants. He's got an engine, we don't.Cool Even in the round days we accepted the error based on a seat of the pants guess about winds aloft. I have actually used reports in the past, but just to say "Okay, lets cheat a little to the west"Cool

Forget the calculator, we're all wearing squares now. Just make it the right side of the airport.Wink


Dolph  (D License)

Feb 7, 2006, 9:55 PM
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Re: [councilman24] Spotting skills [In reply to] Can't Post

Spotting is pretty easy when the pilots guess of uppers is fairly accurate.

It gets more difficult when it's off by a wide margin and he's late in giving permission for the door to be opened.

And then there is the Great Temptation. Your pilot has made a bad guess and a late "open door" call. Ya order a 90 right, fly for a bit, then a sharp 90 degree left. Now you're on the line you want to be, but ahead of your perfect spot.

You look down, there are good outs. At this point, my head goes

"Aeeeh oohmmm eeeh well it is...hmmmm YAH F*CK IT" <climbs out>

Some impressive cow swooping has come from such situations.


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