Feb 16, 2006, 3:52 PM
Post #1 of 12
Wind Direction/Landing Pattern
Almost every time I jump the wind changes from when we left the ground to the time I deploy my parachute. My instructors told me to check the wind sock when I deploy... but usually I can't see the wind sock and have no idea where the wind is going. I usually jump in very low winds so it's hard to tell if I'm going downwind or upwind... but I want to be good at knowing where my holding area is and having a good landing pattern....
So my question... is there another way to figure out where the wind is coming from without looking at a windsock?
Since you're probably jumping a larger main than other jumpers on the load, (if you're jumping at a turbine dropzone), watch the others land. If they're making large clouds of dust, well they're probably landing downwind ;)
Second. You are doing this up high - you can get wind direction several ways and one easy way is to look at the ground straight down between your feet. If you're going fast across the ground, you're with the wind. Turn and check again. If you going slower across the ground, you're against the wind.
Third. Ground winds may be coming from a different direction. At this stage of the game for you, checking what experienced jumpers are doing is a good thing and funny as it is, seeing large dust clouds is a good indicator.
Fourth. See any fires burning on the ground? Any smokestacks? Any large flagpoles? Ripple patterns across a lake?
Fifth. Follow the pattern set before you leave the ground or follow the pattern set by the first-down - depending on your DZ's preference.
(This post was edited by popsjumper on Feb 16, 2006, 4:35 PM)
Sometimes you have to land out with no windsock to check wind direction. After opening, watch your speed relative to the ground. Are you being pushed sideways? Turn 90 degrees and do the same. Turn 90 degrees back to where you came. You will move faster traveling with the wind and slower against it. It doesn't take long to get pretty good at judging the wind speed/direction this way.
The wind direction can be blowing different directions and speeds at different altitudes, so pay attention all the way through your pattern.
Most DZs have a policy of either the first person sets the pattern or a preset pattern. And if the winds are light and variable, a preset direction so people don't land in every direction as the wind changes direction. A downwind landing in light wind is better than one into another jumper coming from the other direction. So always check with the DZ for their policy.
A downwind landing in light wind is better than one into another jumper coming from the other direction.
It doubles the fun when your downwind landing sets a downwind pattern at the alternate landing area
Not too many S&TAs find humor in this. Some may even recommend an alternate DZ.
I was referring to an event at the holiday boogie that monky witnessed. I was on final with about 99% of the load behind and somewhat above me to land. The other 1% spiralled down from above and landed from the other direction, so I'd have been coming right at him due to his leet sw00p m@st3r tekniq. I felt it prudent to land elsewhere, and the safest place to go from my location was the alternate area. Fortunately, everyone else was high enough to just reset the pattern, whereas I was too low to make it to the other side and still land into the wind. I was later told that in that not-common scenario, I probably could have still landed on the main area in the direction I was going without anyone getting upset. At the time, however, I didn't know the other guy's intent, and I didn't want a visit from Brian Burke.
(This post was edited by grue on Feb 19, 2006, 8:32 PM)
One of the first thing I ask about when I jump at a new DZ is landing pattern: how is it set, is there a "default" pattern, etc. Many DZs have a plan, such as "In light and variable winds we always land to the east" or something like that. Your DZ may or may not have such a policy, but it sounds like you're getting frustrated "chasing the sock" on days when the winds are light and variable. Please ask your instructors about how your DZ wants you to handle this; and ask at any new DZ you jump at. Discuss landing direction with other jumpers on the load; have a plan before you go up ("Hey everyone, winds are looking light and variable, how about we plan to land to the west unless they pick up considerably?")
Chasing the sock is one thing if there's only a couple of you on the load at a Cessna DZ, it's entirely another if you're jumping from a full Otter at a busy DZ. If everyone "chases the sock" in light and variable winds, it can lead to total chaos in the landing area.
I just took Scott Miller's canopy course at Deland and one of the main things he emphasizes is making a plan before you even get on the plane. Look at the aerial photo of your DZ and plan where you want to be when you start your downwind leg, your base leg and your final leg. Have a mental picture in your head. If the winds shift, then you just need to shift the mental picture. It's a lot easier to do that then have to think through the whole thing while you're under canopy and trying to pay attention to a lot of other stuff too.