Jul 6, 2001, 11:34 PM
Post #1 of 20
I'm currently in the AFF student program at a major mid west dropzone. (Major because of aircraft availibility) T-Otter for 13,500 ft. However, I'm concerned for my safety because my brother learned at an eastern DZ that has taught him the ins and outs of the equipment and every aspect of student awareness and safety. He was surprised at how little I knew of the equipment I was jumping. I'm at AFF level 4 and no one taught me how to PLF among other things. Since I was the only one in the ground school at the time, 3 hours max...I was not even aware what the number on my rig meant. I bought a student package...should I bail for better safety elsewhere? Safety is MY most important priority! Or will this come with advanced levels? What should I do? I want the most safety for my buck!
I'm at AFF level 4 and no one taught me how to PLF among other things.
That's not good. They should have tought you that !
Is it a USPA DZ?
<standard disclaimer>I've only made 2 SL jumps and I'm admitedly ignorant to the inner workings of a good DZ, but ...</standard disclaimer>
I feel quite safe at my DZ. I've received lots of instruction all along the way. I've even had the benefit of student JMs training me followed by my JMs instruction and debriefing of the student JM in my presence. How cool is that? I had a mini-clinic occur on my back during my first gear check. The S&TA, my JM, a student JM, and a couple of un-named (thank you whoever you are) jumpers all checked my gear before I went up.
There are SIMs and FARs available to review while you wait and wait and wait for perfect student weather conditions . There's a harness to practice on, lots of pictures of the DZ and canopy malfunctions, the c-182 sits right in front of the hanger, and there tons of nice skydivers to talk to. I'm afforded every opportunity to learn the things that I need to know... and I like the sign above the hanger door "Welcome to Skydive Orange. Please don't hurt yourself."
The short version is. If you're not comfortable with the training you are receiving, go somewhere where you will be comfortable. Just because you've already plunked down a wad of $$ at that DZ is not a reason to stay if you are not getting what you paid for.
I was concerned about the lack of gear/anotomy training I received at my DZ. I didn't know the differance between a A line and a D line until I had over 85 jumps. There is so much to learn. The key is not to be critical but informed. Get Parachutst magazine, Skydive Magazine, read these Safety and Training Forums (They are great!!!)talk to experienced jumpers who have "been there done that". Devour evry bit of information you can get your hands on. It may save your life some day. Starz
O.K. here is the bottom line what you don't know could hurt you. Every DZ and school has slightly different philosophy of teaching when is what order and how to best prepare the students to progress for the best safety and most enjoyment. Some teach everything at the begining assuming that more information is better. Some dole it out giving it to you in small bite sized bits and others (unfortunately) seem to give you the bare minimum to survive and get you off student status. Now that we have established that all DZ seem to be different my advice is to to switch if you feel uncomfortable with thte level of information that you are getting. You are the pilot and will always be the one making the decisions and the judgements. YOU MUST BE COMFORTABLE THAT YOU ARE INFORMED AND KNOW WHAT TO DO. IF you don't feel that where you are talk to them, ask for more and then if it doesn't make you satisfied MOVE. Be responsible for your own learning don't let them dictate what you know.
Take charge of your own learning - read everything skydiving-related that you can. Parachuting - The Skydivers Handbook by Dan Poynter is a really good place to start (it's available from most major gear dealers, and amazingly enough, also from Amazon). If you haven't joined USPA yet, do so soon so you'll get Parachutist magazine. Subscribe to Skydiving magazine. Read the numerous gear and safety articles here on dropzone.com. Check out the various gear manufacturers and dealers websites - many of them have loads of good information (links are available here on dz.com). Ask your instructors and the local riggers lots of questions. Insist on learning to pack now - you should learn a lot about the gear as you learn to pack. Call or email gear dealers with your gear related questions.
And make someone teach you how to PLF, even if it's your brother. PLF's are a survival skill that imho should be included in every first jump course.
If you're uncomfortable with the instruction you are getting, before you bail talk to the chief instructor and/or the dz's Safety and Training Advisor. Let them know your concerns and request more in-depth instruction.
pull and flare, lisa ---- I don't think much, therefore I might not be
Jul 8, 2001, 12:30 AM
Post #7 of 20
I check the rig I'm jumping completely before I put it on, regardless of who packed it. Then I have someone check it again before I get on the plane. I usually have someone at least look at the main pin, bridle placement and p/c before leaving the plane, too. You can never get too many gear checks, imho!
pull and flare, lisa ---- I don't think much, therefore I might not be
How many of you fail to check your gear after it has been packed by a packer.How many check your gear after you have packed it yourself and left it on the rack for a few minutes?
It amazes me how many people just grab the rig, throw it on, and go.. These are the people that should insist on gear checks from somebody else, but often seem to be the people who say no thanks.. I always pack my own rig.. I check everything after I finish packing it.. I then check everything again just before I put it on..
Not long ago I visited a DZ up north.. There were a couple tandems on the load.. One of the instructors was doing back to back loads - video on one, then tandem on the next.. He landed, dropped his rig and video equipment, threw on the tandem rig, and met the plane.. Took less than 3 minutes.. On the airplane, the other TM noticed that "something didn't look right" with the rig.. Upon closer inspection, it was noted that the drogue release cable was improperly routed.. After passing through the loop, the cable then went through TWO of the three rings.. It probably would not have caused a problem - but it definitely could have caused a hard or impossible pull on the drogue release - resulting in a reserve ride with a drogue in tow.. The problem was fixed in the airplane, and the tandem was uneventful..
I always check my gear before and after putting it on, then do the '3-3-3' check several times on the way to altitude and prior to exit.. I have somebody check my reserve pin, and I can feel my main pin.. My main pin flap has a somewhat unusual closure, so I prefer nobody touch it unless they know that specific type.. I don't need my main pin and bridle exposed in a 180mph stand..
Jul 9, 2001, 12:08 AM
Post #14 of 20
Not being taught to PLF before you jump once is unacceptable IMO. PLF has saved my ass (literally) on most of my jumps so far (due to my high flare). They had us jump off a table and practice it several times in ground school. And on my first jump, even though I had a stand up landing, I PLF'd after I stood up just for the practice. My training was a little weak on the gear side, but all you have to do is ask.
That's a reason why these forums are great. I read about certain situations and things that I should know about, get everyone's opinions here, and then ask the instructors at my dz about them. None of them has ever given me attitude about asking a question, no matter how busy they are. If you're getting a different reaction from them, I'd definitely move on.
Wow! It is shocking that you weren't taught a PLF. But I agree with Lisa, you should ask for more before you bail. You might have just been unlucky enough to get the laziest instructor at the DZ! When I was in AFF I learned the most on the days where the weather would keep us on the ground. I'd just pick the brains of all the instructors and JMs I could find - even the ones who weren't jumping with me. They are a wealth of information and are usually more than happy to share with someone who is eager to learn. If you still feel like you aren't getting what you need - then absolutely move on! This is your life and your skydiving career! Do what feels right.
Yeah, I do the same... I check my rig over completely before I put it on, then I have it checked again once I'm geared up, and someone usually checks it in the plane as well! It's also good idea to get into the habit of checking your cutaway cables up on your risers once you're under canopy. They usually don't, but can slip out of the 3-ring release. I've never actually seen it, but I've heard stories of jumpers landing then their right riser disconnects... or worse, it happens at 100 ft. if you do check it & it looks like they're about to come out just push it back up making sure there is plenty of cable above that loop!
For emergency procedures, it's also a good idea to look at your cutaway & reserve handles & even touch them in both freefall & under canopy and note their location. They will move some, especially once under canopy.... or half a canopy when you'd actually need them!
"If words were wisdom, I'd be talkin' even more.."
I check my gear repeatedly on every jump. I "took the short course" the first time I went to the MFF JM course, I was kicked out on the LAST day because I failed to inspect a piece of equipment on my jump buddy. Neither of us had touched our rigs from the time we doffed them to wait for the next plane, but the guy sitting next to my buddy (an Italian guy who barely spoke English) started taking the automatic opener off his rig! Not HIS rig, but my buddy's rig! After being told not to unrig the gear, the Italian guy just shoved it back in the pocket without re-snapping the keepers. I was an idiot not to do a complete gear check, so it's my own fault, but then again I had no reason to believe the gear would be in any different condition than when we took it off. It sucked being recycled (I had been a USPA "I" for over five years at the time), but it definitely taught me a lesson. I do not pay packers...period. I pack my own reserve. Not checking your gear is a poor reason to burn in. ALWAYS check your gear after leaving it unattended for any time.
You obviously should have been taught to PLF. There could be a variety of reasons why you weren't and I'm not going to guess what they may be. The bottom line though, is that you are now second guessing your training, which will probably affect your confidence level, and ultimately, your performance. I know that my mind was rattling full of doubt when I was a student, and what kept me getting on the plane was the faith that I had been given the tools to safely complete the skydive. I would strongly suggest researching the training available at other DZ's. Go hang out, talk to the students and JM's, ask to see their training progression. I jump in the Midwest too and there are many DZ's in the area to choose from.
Uncertainty is not a good thing in this sport and if you are second guessing yourself, you may take too long to make a critical decision. What's good is that you are questioning on the ground, and at the very least, you should address that with your S&TA.