When I purchased my first Cobalt (a 135), I fell in love with the canopy. I flew it in every jumpable condition, landed it crosswind, downwind, in brakes, on rears, etc. The front riser pressure was too much for me to do any sort of experimentation with it up high though. My landings were great and I could surf it for a short distance or set it down on my tiptoes if I wanted.
When I downsized to the 120, I found myself having to surf out or run out my landings. I thought that this was just the nature of the downsize and that as I learned more about the canopy, that would change. Again, I landed and flew it in every condition, but found myself having to run or surf out landings. I kept one of my 135s for wingsuit jumps for that reason. I found that if I really shifted in my harness and pulled as hard as I could on my front riser, I could do about a 45 degree turn before the pressure got too heavy.
Getting extremely frustrated with my landings and after putting about 150 jumps on the 120, someone suggested that maybe I wasn't building up enough speed to maximize my flare. I decided to try my husband's 105 on a calm day for a hop & pop from altitude.
I immediately fell in love with the way it flew. I really felt I was flying the canopy, not the other way around. I was able to do full 360s up high on front risers. I decided to do a 45 on landing, went to rears and then toggles and had a beautiful little "mini swoop" followed by a landing where I only had to take one step.
Thinking it was a fluke, I continued to jump his canopy on calm days and built up to front riser 90s. I am at the point now where I can do a nice 90 and go straight to toggles or to rears and then toggles and set it down beautifully at the end on target.
Why can I do this with a 135 and a 105, but not a 120? I just decided to get rid of my 135...not doing enough wingsuit jumps to justify keeping it... and purchased another 120. Now, I am thinking that maybe I made a mistake and should have gotten a 105.
I do not want to downsize too quickly, but am frustrated with the landings on the 120. I have put about 30 jumps on the 105. I have NOT landed it downwind yet and have not attempted to land it on rears only.
Has anyone else ever had an issue like this? Any suggestions or advice would be greatly appreciated.
I jump at least two days a week, sometimes three and am anxious to learn everything I can and want to be as safe as possible.
Only 2 different Sabre 2 120s. Landings were fine, but hated the openings and liked the way the Cobalt flew much better.
I think your statement about how you liked the Cobalt way better says it all: get the cobalt.
There can be a big difference between different canopies of the same / similar size.
For me the Sabre2 was the absolute ticket (I jumped 170s, 150s, 135 and 120). At my wingloading I had to surf them out sometimes and sometimes I was not able to shut it down completely, what I found is that I was not finishing my flare when my feet touched the ground.
As for "in between sizes" I don't know if there is such a thing. If you are ready for the next step down, you will know when you're jumping the right canopy.
When I was looking for my next canopy (my current one) I jumped a Velo 120, 111, 103, and 96. I settled on the 103 cause that one "felt right" for me. Choose the canopy that feels best to you and that you can safely land wherever you want, in all different directions. As you said you're very current, so that shouldn't be too big of deal. Just make sure you fly the sizes in between when you're downsizing.
Hmm, tough one. I'm assuming you have under 1000 skydives, but from what you've said you jump very frequently (moreso than the average jumper).
Can you give an idea of your canopy goals? Often times this is the driving factor around a recommendation. If you have little to no intention of learning to swoop I'd recommend a different canopy entirely.
The difference you see from the 105 to the 120 can probably be attributed to the speed of the flare as well as the differing characteristics between the cobalt and the sabre2. The cobalt is much more like the stiletto with a shorter toggle stroke. Oftentimes jumpers making the switch either don't flare far enough, or fast enough. If the jumper doesn't provide input enough to swing in front of the nose of the canopy then they pretty much do a controlled descent - the smaller size may be making you flare a little harder than you realize, essentially causing the desired reaction and giving you tip toe landings. More than likely though, if I were to bet, it would be because the flight characteristics are something you are more familiar with - ideally you'd have a video of a typical 120 landing that could be reviewed to see if it's pilot, canopy, or some other phenomenon that's causing your difficulty.
Finally, please seek good canopy coaching - your profile says you're in cali so there should be plenty of excellent coaches (seek out Jonathan Tagle at Elsinore if you can). You talk of landing on rears and good coaching can really help you avoid some common pitfalls that can really ruin your day.
Hope this helps.
(This post was edited by ianmdrennan on Nov 26, 2007, 5:46 PM)
My canopy goals do include learning to swoop. My planned progression was to stay on a Cobalt for another 300 jumps (whether it be a 120 or 105) and then get something with a longer recovery arc...probably a Katana (107).
The canopy I feel the most comfortable flying right now is the 105. I definitely feel that I would want to do some intentional downwinders and braked approaches before I would feel confortable taking it to an unfamiliar DZ, but I feel more in tune with it than I do with my 120.
Jonathan said that you should be at a 1.7 wingloading before thinking about serious swooping. That would put me on a 95 which wouldn't happen for at least another 600 jumps (or more). I don't plan on doing anything more than a 90 until I get to that point, and I really enjoy doing them on the 105 (early morning Cessna Hop & Pops have become something I look forward to for that reason), but they are impossible for me on the 120
I think that my big internal debate comes down to this: I always felt that you should "conquer" a canopy before downsizing. I feel I did that with the 135, and acheived all of my goals except one with the 120. However, the one thing that I felt I couldn't master on the 120 is not a problem for me at all on the 105. And, I feel that by sticking with the 105, I'm "giving up" on the 120, but by sticking with the 120, I'm taking away front riser control.
Good advice on the video. I will have my landings filmed on both the 120 and the 105 this week and try to figure out the difference. I have been receiving informal coaching, but will look into a more structured course as well.
I'm glad to hear you've spoken to Jonathan already. I must say, I think there may be a misunderstanding with what he was saying though - remember Jonathan's definition of "serious swoop" is different than most skydivers . I don't think he was implying that you can't learn to swoop under a lesser loading.
I think you have the right approach with the 'conquer' attitude and I feel this is approach you should stick with as it makes the most sense. So, with that in mind, the next thing is to figure out WHAT is causing the 120 problems - like I said I think it's just a different flying characteristic than you're used to and you're struggling with the transition from type rather than size - the 105 is the same canopy as the 135 you've conquered, so to speak, so it feels most comfortable.
When it comes time for a structured course I can't recommend Scott Millers course highly enough. You'll be a better pilot and have a great understanding of what the canopy does, as well as how to apply it to your future flights.
Just to clarify, the 120 is a Cobalt as well. I replied to someone asking if I had flown any other 120s by saying that I had jumped two Sabre 2 120s. The canopy I am having the issue with is a Cobalt, same as the 135 and 105.
I did just purchase another Cobalt 120 for my turn rig and will be flying it this weekend. I am extremely curious to see if I have the same issue with it.
It all looks a little messed up to me... Why comparing Cobalt to Sabre? Cobalt is an elliptical, it's recovery arc will be longer. I've never jumped regular Cobalt, I've tried Cobalt Competition and it's evolution called Radical. Radical 105 had pretty long recovery arc, and if you carve it correctly it falls from the skies very agressively! But that 2-stage oppening thing didn't work out well for me, so I bought myself Crossfire-2. Choosing a canopy is like choosing a car, someone has mentioned this here already... everyone has his own preferences. So you will soon be choosing from Radical/Katana/Crossfire/Mamba... Try Radical if you like your Cobalt so much:)
But who am I to give such advices after all... Seek an advice from a well-recognized canopy coach;)
Sabre 2s have nothing to do with what we are discussing. I only mentioned them in response to a question about what OTHER canopies I had jumped at the 120 size. We are comparing three different sizes of Cobalts.
And, a Radical is a Cobalt. Exact same trim, planform, aspect ratio, etc. The ONLY difference is that the end cells on each side have an extra rib, splitting them in three instead of two. My husband has a 135 Radical that he used for wingsuit flying. It flew exactly the same as my Cobalt. Atair marketed them under the name Radical for a while while trying to appeal to the swoop market. If you doubt me, ask cobaltdan. I spoke with him directly on the phone regarding the Cobalt / Radical.
Maybe the Cobalt 120 design is just not as well trimmed as the 105 and 135. Maybe the one you are jumping is just not quite made right. Try jumping another Cobalt 120, if you can find one.
The key could be break settings. I have a Cobalt 135. I could completely shut it down in no wind, but I was pulling some tail if I was pulling front risers down. I have about 400 jumps on the original Spectra line-set. I got my breaks lengthen by 5cm, I seem to lost a little flare, but not pulling tail with front.
That could be your case too. So get line-set specs and measure it. You may check if you pull tail with fronts, you might get your lower break lines shorten a bit than...
So you've got at least 500 jumps, 100's on Cobalts, and 150 on a 120, and you love the 105 at under 1.5 to 1.
Maybe just jump the 105 and be happy. Fuck the 120, it's not for you. Maybe the line trim is off, maybe the brake settings are off, maybe the canopy hates you and is plotting against you. Who cares?
You've demonstated that you can safely jump the 105, mentioned some personal limits you have that indicate you're conservative under canopy, and mentioned that you've consulted a top rated canopy coach who's seen you fly your canopy.
It all adds up to you just enjoying the 105. I would suggest putting your husbands canopy in your rig, and telling him the good news that he gets to order himself a new canopy. For you, that means instant 105, no waiting.
Not to get too off topic here, but when my husband ordered a brand new 135 Cobalt and received a Radical and I called you about it, are you saying you gave me innaccurate info?
I explained to you that he ordered the Cobalt 135 to put in his rig that he would be flying wingsuits with and that he didn't want something more aggressive than a Cobalt. You told me it was the "exact same canopy with the exact same specs" and that the only difference was the extra ribs on the end cells and the way it was marketed. In fact, you guaranteed me that it would fly the same as the Cobalt (at the time, I was nervous about him using an elliptical for wingsuit flying...until I started to use mine and saw that the Cobalt will fly straight in line twists).
I have to say I am extremely dissapointed to hear you say now tht this is not the case. Either I was given incorrect info by you personally on the phone or you are giving incorrect info in theis thread. Which one is it?
I still love Cobalts, but have to say that my trust has been shaken regarding any info put out by Atair.
Are these canopies new? could they be out of trim, either brake lines and/or suspension lines, giving you a "false" feel for the canopy? also, i might be reading this wrong but are you saying that on the 135 and the 105 you can do 90 degree front riser dives on landing but not on the 120? that would seem weird to me. also, the manufacture date could have an impact, an older canopy might not have the "updates" as newer ones.
of course in the end, you might just like how the 105 flies. i can tell you that i absolutely love how the velocity 96 feels compared to my 90 or 84, but that's just what i like.
make sure the canopies are in trim and also get some formal coaching from a reputable coach
I can do 90 front riser dives on the 105 and shut it down completely. On the 135, I can't pull the fronts down at all, but don't feel like I need to build up any speed to give myself a tiptoe landing.
On the 120, I feel like I need more speed to maximize my flare, but the riser pressure is too much to be able to do this.
After reading the responses so far, I am definitely going to have my rigger check the line trim on the 120 I've been jumping (400 jumps on canopy - original line set). I do have a bow when I look up at them, but now that I think of it, I don't think it is as much of a bow as the 105 (400 jumps - original lineset).
I'll post on Monday what I discovered and if my experience with the new 120 (220 jumps - original lineset) I got is any different.
(This post was edited by nicolesheridan on Nov 27, 2007, 9:28 AM)
I'd bet on lower brake line length and trim; you may have problems accessing the bottom of the control range on the 120 because its not what you're used to, the 105/135 have shrunk more making it more accessible, etc.
Brake settings have a _huge_ effect on how the canopy feels and meshes with your personal style. The last time I replaced the lower brake lines on my Stiletto 120 I added 6". It felt _very_ different at first.
The 120 (if used) could be going out of trim. I found a 5" shrinkage over 600 jumps on my Stiletto end cell suspension lines which is significant for a small canopy.
Riser length would be worth looking at too - if you have shorter risers on the 120 than your husband does on his 105 you'll have to reach farther to hit the bottom end which may not be possible if you have shorter arms.
(This post was edited by DrewEckhardt on Nov 30, 2007, 3:22 PM)