Apr 15, 2008, 12:12 PM
Post #1 of 21
Very Small AFF Student
I've recently been given a challenge in the form of a 4'0", 80lb student. I realize that in order to make AFF a possibility for her, not only do we need to obtain gear that fits and she can operate, but we also need to consider how she will fly because of her stature. She is well-proportioned and has no physical restrictions beyond being very small, thereby giving her a shorter reach.
I've searched the forums and (heaven forbid) the web, and have been unable to come up with anything serious regarding this subject. If I missed some search terms and anyone knows of a link, would you please share? Also, if you or anyone you know have experienced a situation similar to this, would you please ask them to contact me?
I've recently been given a challenge in the form of a 4'0", 80lb student. I realize that in order to make AFF a possibility for her, not only do we need to obtain gear that fits and she can operate, but we also need to consider how she will fly because of her stature.
My opinion is that the former is way more important that the latter. If no one can stay up with her in freefall, she can at least use another training method as long as her gear is safe.
And thank you for asking for a number of opinions. I think your student will really benefit from what you learn. Many DZs would just slap a big rig and weights on such a person and watch them struggle.
Most of those PMs have asked why not just put her in a smaller rig, so I though I would give a little more info:
We were actually able to put her in our smallest student rig. It snugged down just fine and her torso size isn't the biggest problem. It's her reach. Her arms are in the 14" range and she can't reach the PC handle without turning to do so, which of course would be, ummm, not good. She would also have trouble reaching the toggles.
My hope was to find a rig that already exists rather than modifying a new one. I don't want the cost to be prohibitive to her, but modification would include at minimum both sets of risers with toggle placement, adding break line length and finding a short, squat rig or moving the handle around to the front, possibly using an SOS handle instead.
I appreciate everyone's views and opinions, so if you think of anything else we should consider, possible avenues to look, or maybe just want to tell me I'm nuts, please post or PM!
One thing you can do for deployment is to use a main ripcord. Yes, it sounds weird and old-fashioned, but it does make deployment accessible to much shorter arms (and bad shoulders etc. for other limitations)
That's a great idea, Wendy! And if your suggestion is old-school, I guess that makes us old-school, too.
I neglected to say in the previous post, if we moved the handle to the front, it would be with the use of a ripcord and spring-loaded PC.
My first guess is that sewing an ROL pocket and some velcro on might be easier than installing a cable housing for an MLW ripcord, and it would teach better muscle memory for if/when she gets her own rig with BOC.
Edit to add: Nevermind. An ROL pilot chute might not be the greatest idea if you're planning to do AFF with her.
(This post was edited by livendive on Apr 15, 2008, 3:41 PM)
An easier solution to the toggle problem, is to modify a set of toggles to make them longer - like a Tandem set. Advantages are that a: toggles are cheap b: no change to line settings c: minimal changes to the risers (a new keeper) that can easily be undone.
I don't know my tandem gear that well, but I believe tandem toggles are longer, with an extra handle or loop and the bottom portion is generally tacked to the riser by a snap. I think a longer toggle would work well unless she dropped one or both of them. They then would trail behind out of her reach.
That was one of our concerns so we thought we should just move the toggle settings down the risers, but doing that keeps the canopy in brakes even when released. And that's what brought us to the conclusion that we might need to extend the brake lines too.
Please let me know if I've missed your point or am missing something regarding the the tandem toggle.
CRW toggles are often very long and set-up to fit sport gear.....That could help the toggle issue. My biggest fear would be if her arms are that short would her flare be effective even at the low wing loading....would she have the strength to adiquately flare and if needed take wraps to get a good flare? I think the idea of the RC for the main deployment is probly the easiest and best fix without any mods. needed.
If the toggle settings are lowered(brake line guide ring and keepers) while keeping the eye of the brake line in the same place, the canopy will be in a deeper brake setting during opening until the toggles are released. If the canopy is in trim, this shouldn't be an issue. If the brake lines have already shrunk, this could cause some issues on how the canopy opens.
If she looks like she will make it through the whole program and get her license, why not get a set of risers now that are sized to her reach. She could pay for them since she will need to get them anyway. It will take more time to reset the gear by changing out the risers, but the canopy brake line settings will always be the same, no matter what risers the canopy is on. Reducing the chance that they will be miss adjusted when going back to a "standard" riser length. If you have to change from a pull out system to a spring loaded PC and ripcord, it isn't that much more work to change out the risers if the lines are on French links.
We have also been tasked with a similiar incident, and looked long and hard for gear to provide them the safety factor everyone else has. But always ended up with the same issue when it came to a reserve, There you would have to have the harness it's self changed to fit the person, In the end the cost of doing all these mods was much greater than what was expected. I would talk to your student and see how far they are willing to go so your efforts are for nothing, but I do applaud the fact your trying to assist.
In the end our guy settled for some awesome tandems rides.
ROL or belly-band mounted PC (like the original Wonderhog) could solve the reach problem, but would require a BSR waiver (full board, no less). If you swap over to ripcord and spring-loaded PC, the rig manufacturer may recommend/require a D-bag with a kicker plate built in.
AFF could be a problem; SL or IAD might work better.
Stitching an S-fold into the lower portion of each riser would leave the brake settings and canopy trim pretty close to normal, but would require an STC or something for the reserve risers.
A small canopy doesn't require the toggles to be pulled as far to get a full flare. A more experienced jumper could jump the canopy and check length and estimate pull force required. You could set up a toggle going over a pulley to a weight to check both. (Good way to build strength if necessary, also.)
Best of luck to all concerned; let us know how it works out, please!
I don't know if anybody mentioned it, but is this student wanting to go straight to AFF? I'm assuming she hasn't made a tandem jump. Maybe suggesting that she try that first if she hasn't done so, and explain why as discussed here.
If she really likes the experience and feels the extra expense of having training gear altered for her size is worth it, then continue as thus.
What size canopy will she be jumping? Our smallest student canopy is a 220 navigator. If she is 100 lbs. out the door that would be 0.45 WL. I would be cautious of high wind days as well. her student wind threshold may be 10 mph. just a thought. Stay Safe, JimOke
Thanks so much, everyone, for all of your replies and suggestions! It's been incredibly informative. I feel like I can go to her now presenting a more complete picture of the considerations. I've also got food for thought to bring back to my DZ.
As for the would-be student, she will be doing a tandem this weekend (because she just can't wait!) while some of her friends are participating in AFF.
With all of the input I've been given and the taste of jumping she's about to receive, we'll be able to make a more informative decision about the where to go next.
I really can't thank you all enough, and I will keep you posted as to the outcome.