Jun 26, 2001, 10:41 AM
Post #1 of 12
Canopy control exercises
I am a really timid canopy flyer - only 4 jumps and the third doesn't count (lol). I have flown straight out, and then turned when I needed to to get into the pattern for landing, but I don't know what to do, or what to expect, when I am in the air under a huge canopy.
I was wondering if anyone out there had some good confidence building exercises that I could do while under the canopy? I have always made it to the target area (big circle for us at Perris), and even stood up the last landing. I am still in the gigantic student rig stuff.
Thanks in advance - ciel bleu (thanks, RemiandKaren) Michele
Practice flaring, and slowly letting the toggles back up. This will give you an idea of the pressure and speed needed to get a good flare, and will also keep you from reflexively letting the toggles all the way up if you flare too high. Stall your canopy once or twice too, so you learn to recognize it and recover.
Practice braked turns - pulling both toggles partway down, then letting one back up a little to start a turn in the oppposite direction. These are good for low turns to avoid obstacles or other jumpers when you might not have enough altitude to do a regular toggle turn and recover fully. (I've also heard these referred to as flat turns.)
Experiment with front and rear riser inputs - not really useful to you now except for collision avoidance right after opening.
All of this should be done up high - if the S&TA and everyone on the load is okay with it, pull high (~5k)EDIT whoops, forgot you're doing AFF... /EDIT so you can play around and not be in anyone's way. You also want to leave yourself room for emergency procedures if something goes wrong. Also, be sure to check all around you - 360º, and above and below too - before you try anything. If these maneuvers are new to you, you can't be sure how far you'll turn or dive. You don't want to do I-CReW with anyone.
Blues, Squares, PTiger
*insert sub-100 character sig here*
<FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by PalmettoTiger on 6/26/01 04:46 PM.</EM></FONT>
With 25 more jumps than you, I am dealing with the same issues. Getting help in freefall is easy, but people aren't right near you under canopy at our experience levels. At least, they shouldn't be.
I bought the "Fly Like a Pro" video, which gives some great advice. My copy of Skydive U's "Basic Canopy Flight" arrived in the mail today, so I can't comment on it. I've also read a lot at different web sites, including the Sport Parachutist's Safety Journal (located at http://www.makeithappen.com/spsj/ ). So first, I did research.
The next step was to experiment. I'm at a much smaller DZ than you, so it isn't as busy. I checked with the pilot on a couple loads, and got permission to do clear-n-pulls. I did a poised (AFF-style) exit from the aircraft at 14,500, then opened after about a 3-second delay. I was under canopy at 13,800. It was great.
It looks really different from that altitude. With no other jumpers around and tons of altitude, I began playing with different aspects of my canopy. My used gear has dive loops, which I'd never used. Well, with that much altitude to recover from any screwup, I tried them. No problem. I couldn't judge the effect as exactly as I could have near the ground, because I didn't have a reference point, but at the same time, I could do it safely. I also gradually increased my toggle input so I was flying in brakes. Then I just kept increasing it until the canopy got mushy. The change in airspeed was really noticable. I let the toggles up slowly, just like the video said, and returned to full flight. I also played with some spirals too.
It was all great fun and I learned more about how my canopy flew than I had in all my other jumps combined. I'm still too inexperienced and conservative to try any of those things near the ground. 13,000 feet is a lot of playground though, and I never thought anything was unsafe. Besides, your canopy ride lasts a LONNNNGGGGG time, so you kinda feel like you got more for your lift ticket money.
If you can arrange to be on a jump like that, I highly recommend it as a good way to work on canopy skills. They might let you do it on a "sunset load" where you don't have to worry about other aircraft or jumpers. Check with the DZO and pilot first.
Justin "If it can't kill you, it isn't worth doing."
PS I just remembered that you are still on AFF. You can't do the kind of jumps I described and still do the AFF curriculum. The clear-n-pull jumps will have to wait, but I wish I'd done them sooner after clearing AFF than I did.
I had a great day when I did mine. I got to fly around some clou... I mean, industrial haze. Even went through some. Fun, fun, fun!
<FONT SIZE=-1><EM>Edited by jfields on 6/26/01 01:29 PM.</EM></FONT>
"They might let you do it on a "sunset load" where you don't have to worry about other aircraft or jumpers."
Oh yeah? Should have seen the flyby we had on Sunday after he dropped the sunset load. Man, I didn't think all the canopies were gonna get down before that Super Otter came swooping in about 20 feet off the ground :-)
Back on topic though...I got the Skydive U basic canopy flight. It's pretty good, gives you lots of great exercises in a staged approach. The video's a little dry, but it's very informative, and the exercises in the book are very helpful. Starts with figure 8's to bleed off altitude and by the end has you doing spirals and using front risers to increase speed before coming in on final approach. I think there are 7-8 modules, and each one has three exercises designed for a total lesson plan of 21-24 jumps.
Personally, my biggest problem so far has been the flare at landing. Wish there were someway to practice that in a safe way. Mild injuries on my last 2 jumps. But I read your tip of "kick the guy in the head" in your other post, and I'll give that a try next time.
Do you guys use the ISP (Integrated Student Program) at your Dropzone? It contains canopy control exercises for every jump and/or level which are designed to increase the student's knowledge of canopy control. For some reason, USPA doesn't have it on their website, perhaps because it's not an 'official' document yet.
As mentioned earlier, practice brake/flare turns. Those can really save your butt. Practice your flare up high several times and with different speeds and amounts of flare to really try and dial it in and get the best flare possible. Try playing with all your control surfaces, front & rear risers and toggles and find out what happens when you pull down 1 or more of them. Practice doing a fast turn and stopping on exactly the heading you want without under or over shooting. See what gives you the best glide angle going down-wind (such as going to half-brakes, leaving the brakes stowed and pulling on rear risers, or unstowing the brakes and pulling on the rear risers). This will help you if you ever have to try and make it back from a long spot. Try the same thing into the wind. Do a hard 180-degree toggle turn and see how much altitude you lose. Try the same thing with front&rear risers, and braked turns. This will give you a good idea of the lowest altitude you could ever do these maneuvers on that canopy.
That's all I can think of off the top of my head, but I'm sure there are many others we could come up with. Just remember to quit doing any radical maneuvers by a nice high altitude (probably 2k or higher) in case you have a problem.
I guess I'll be buying quite a few videos in the near future, and will practice all that has been posted here (with my JM's permission). And I'll read the thread which SkymoneyOne so kindly resurrected.
You guys are so great - thanks! ciel bleu- Michele
The CSPA has in my opinion, a very good instructional program (there has been official coaching training for years!!!)
Have a look at the link below: its what's called the Basic Skills Grid. It covers all the pases of the jumps (prep, inflight, FF, Canopy, equipment, technical). Its made to go hand in hand with PFF (kinda like AFF).