Jan 3, 2003, 8:54 AM
Post #1 of 6
A few thoughts
Just got back from SDAZ and I made a few observations while there:
--The smaller canopies seemed to make it back from long spots better than the larger canopies.
--In light to no-winds, the jumpers with the smaller canopies seemed to have the higher percentage of stand up landings.
--In heavy winds, the jumpers with larger canopies seemed to be the only ones getting dragged through the desert.
--The jumpers with the smaller canopies seemed to have better accuracy skills than the jumpers with the larger canopies.
There were definitely exceptions to these observations.
I don't think that smaller canopies produced these results, I think it was the pilots. I REALLY don't think that if the jumpers having issues that were jumper larger canopies would find all those issues gone if they downsized. I think the jumpers under the smaller canopies figured out how to land early on in their skydiving career and quickly were relaxed for their landings. Whereas some of the jumpers jumping the larger canopies had a harder time learning to land and didn't get as comfortable landing a canopy as quickly.
I think a big factor in progressing as a canopy pilot is possessing the ability to self-critique and analyze each landing. Then decide what to do differently on the next landing, and finally, to actually make the change(s) to how you land. (This also applies to free-fall skills). Watching a jumper make the same mistakes over and over again, I realized that they were happy to walk away from the landing un-injured, didn't care what they did wrong, and had no plans for changing or improving how they landed. They were satisfied with their landings. "I opened, I landed, I'm not hurt and the sand and dust will come off the rig and my jumpsuit. That's good enough for me."
1. Don't ever be satisfied. Always seek self-improvement.
2. Look around at others. If someone is out tracking you, ask them how they did it (I did, thanks Doug Parks for the tip). If someone beats you to the formation, ask them how they did it. If you see someone do a very smooth sit-to-head-down transition, ask them how they did it. If you see someone fly a canopy very smoothly, ask them how they did it. Have someone video you in free-fall or under canopy. Compare what you are doing to what the really good skydivers are doing. Watch videos of really good Free-flyers/RW flyers/Bird-suit flyers/etc, analyzing them for technique.
3. Read. Read anything you can get your hands on canopy piloting, rigging, free-flying, RW, tracking, etc, and question what you read. If you don't understand something in the article, ask someone to explain it to you. Remember, these articles are written by someone and may contain errors. A recent article I had published I tried to send in a change, but missed the deadline.
4. Find qualified mentors. No one knows it all, and sometimes two qualified people that disagree are a perfect resource. You can listen to both opinions and their explanations for why they think the way they do, then decide which opinion fits your situation the best or makes the most sense to you. Make sure someone you chose as a mentor will say, "I don't know" when they don't know.
5. Apply what you observe and the tips you receive to your flying. Visualization helps tremendously.
6. Start over at #1, above. This is a continuous process that requires effort. Want to be a great skydiver? Want to be a safe skydiver? Work at it.
Hook, you are one of the most sane and rational people I've ever met. Thanks for your thoughts.
As for me, my little canopy doesn't like long spots, but that's a factor in it's design...I'm an exception to that one. That's why I didn't do the cross country jumps. I need better arm muscles to be on rear risers for that long!
I am still learning my canopy...I only have about 100 jumps on it so far, and I am not giving it up anytime soon. I'm slowly learning how to REALLY fly it, and I'm starting to see results from just taking it slow, experimenting up high, and watching other people land.
Now I just need to work on my balancing skills when I try to slide in on my swoop... Any tips? I usually have my weight too far back and sit down on my butt. Then I over-correct, and flop forward on my face.
I'm wondering if there's any "everyday" things I can do to work on this while not skydiving.
As for the high wind day...here's one of the best pieces of advice I ever got:
Land, turn around, take a few steps forward with it, then step on your pilot chute, bridle, D-bag, or even the nose. then you can stow your brakes and unstow your slider in peace, and your canopy will stay put.
This is a continuous process that requires effort. Want to be a great skydiver? Want to be a safe skydiver? Work at it.
So, so true. Someday when I get the computer ability, I'll post video of me flying at the beginning of this year, and a comparison video of me at the end of this year. This year I made a decision that I was going to get better, and nothing was going to stop me. It is a DECISION. I've made almost 400 jumps this year, put in over 6 hours in the tunnel, and started a 4-way team. One of the most gratifying things for me was when two of my personal heroes told me that the work I'd put in this year really shows.
I hear this all the time: "But I don't have time, and it's sooooo expensive. I need that money to buy my new SUV or take my trip to the Bahamas. But gosh, I really wish I was a better skydiver! How did you get so much better, Andi? Screw 2-way drill dives, let's go do a 4-way horny gorilla!"
You have to WANT to improve, and you have to go do something about it. It's frustrating to me to see folks from my home DZ want to get better then make no effort to do it. Yes, it costs money. Yes, it takes time. Yes, I understand that many folks out there are content to flail around on an 8-way and be happy if they get back together after the exit funnels. That's fine. But it's not for me.
One last thing. Read jtval's letter in Parachutist this month. if you're the experienced one, go out and teach! Help people out. Offer to jump with the low-timers, and don't be afraid to help or offer advice. Chances are they are dying for it, but are too afraid to ask you. Trust me, the look on a newbie's face when they finally GET it is one of the best in the world.
Sorry to rant there at the end. I had a blast at the boogie, and I noticed that as a group, the dz.commers were some of the safest and sanest people on the DZ, especially when it came to canopy flight and the landing pattern. I'm not saying we were perfect, but I rarely saw a dz.com person landing in the wrong direction, etc.
>I don't think that smaller canopies produced these results, I think it was the pilots.
True in my experience. At the 300-way it was the smaller canopy pilots who were all biffing. In that case you had some very experienced people, and the differences between pilots was less than the differences between canopies.
I agree that it is pretty much a pilot issue also. Remember too that bigger canopies are often designed for less experienced jumpers, and are thus less zoomie. (zoomie is a technical term;-) Also a good observation that the biffs come on smaller canopies too, which is also a pilot issue!