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When is it safe to downsize?

 

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vanessalh  (D 33301)

Sep 11, 2012, 8:11 PM
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When is it safe to downsize? Can't Post

I'm a relatively new jumper (65 jumps), and for the last 11 jumps I've been using a 190 main canopy. I've tried a few different brands (Silhouette, Sabre 2, Pilot), and I've found all but the Pilot fairly mushy and unresponsive.

I'm considering trying a 170 when I jump this weekend, and wonder if anyone has advice on whether it is too soon to downsize, or if poor handling is an indication that I wasn't loading the canopy correctly.

My exit weight is about 190 lbs.
My accuracy is okay with the 190 (usually within 10m, but almost always within 20m). My landings are great with the more responsive Pilot, but find on the other two I struggle to flare fully (strength wise).

Any thoughts and advice are appreciated.


5.samadhi

Sep 11, 2012, 9:00 PM
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Re: [vanessalh] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

why do you want to downsize?


davelepka  (D 21448)

Sep 11, 2012, 9:14 PM
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Re: [vanessalh] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

 
In terms of jump numbers and overall WL, it doesn't sound like you would be 'pushing' anything to try a 170, HOWWEVER, the more important part of the euqation is the jumper.

You seem confident in your performance with the 190, but what do others have to say? How about the instructors at your DZ, how would they classify your canopy piloting abilities?

If you don't know the answer, ask one of them if they could watch your landings for a day. If they'll be on the ground when you land, remind them before the load takes off, and see what they have to say about your skills. That will be the real determining factor.

Quote:
I struggle to flare fully (strength wise).

This is common with some female jumpers. One 'trick' you can use is to keep the toggles close to and in front of your body as you flare. Pull them straight down in front of your nipple-area, and then as you get down toward your belly button, you can rotate your hands down and your elbows up, and now you're able to push straight down on the toggles to finish the flare.


ghost47  (D License)

Sep 11, 2012, 9:22 PM
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Re: [vanessalh] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I'm considering trying a 170 when I jump this weekend, and wonder if anyone has advice on whether it is too soon to downsize, or if poor handling is an indication that I wasn't loading the canopy correctly.

My exit weight is about 190 lbs.

Any thoughts and advice are appreciated.
Brian Germain would recommend waiting at least another 35 jumps if you're a bad-ass, and another 135 if you're an average canopy pilot. See also "Relevant Variables".

http://www.bigairsportz.com/pdf/bas-sizingchart.pdf


vanessalh  (D 33301)

Sep 11, 2012, 9:27 PM
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Re: [davelepka] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks davelepka,

I've asked a few folks, but I'll get some more opinions. It really depends on the canopy though, with the Pilot I get soft stand up landings 2-5m from the target, with the others... less good :)

This is helpful. Just so I understand the trick correctly, when I get to the bellybutton and put my hands down, do my elbows go out to the sides? Or do they straight?

At the end of the flare, would the tops of my hands be facing each other?

It feels a little awkward when I try just in my room, but it definitely uses different muscles, and I'll try a few at 3000 ft before trying to land this way.


vanessalh  (D 33301)

Sep 11, 2012, 9:30 PM
Post #6 of 33 (2376 views)
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Re: [5.samadhi] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

I'm trying to accomplish 2 things:
1. Find a canopy that performs well for me. I chatted with some instructors and they said one reason that it could feel a bit mushy is I'm not wing loading it correctly. I never knew this, but you can underload a canopy.

2. A smaller canopy will be easier for me to flare (strength wise), which I think will make my landings easier.

There is a third reason, which is I want to buy my own gear soon, and I'd rather start on a 170 (which I think will be good for me for many many jumps), than on a 190 which I'm already feeling the need to downsize from.

Of course, safety is most important, and the first two reasons trump this one.


vanessalh  (D 33301)

Sep 11, 2012, 9:36 PM
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Re: [ghost47] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

This is interesting. I'll read through it.

What are the reasons for not downsizing too soon?
I had thought it was about accuracy and ability to land safely.

Are there other considerations?


ghost47  (D License)

Sep 11, 2012, 10:09 PM
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Re: [vanessalh] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
What are the reasons for not downsizing too soon?
I had thought it was about accuracy and ability to land safely.
It is. However, many canopy pilots think about accuracy and ability to land safely while landing into the wind, on a good spot. When they are able to do that more or less consistently, they say huzzah, and downsize.

What happens when you have to land out due to a bad spot (either for the myriad reasons that bad spots happen, or even simply because the pilot has declared an emergency, and ordered everyone off the plane)? Can you still land accurately and safely?

What happens when the wind changes 90 or 180 degrees on landing, or you read the wind flags wrong (or, on a FMD dropzone, the FMD reads the wind flags wrong) and now you're landing crosswind or downwind? Can you still land accurately and safely?

What happens when suddenly on final, a jumper cuts in front of you -- are your instincts such that you might stab down on one toggle to avoid him? If you might do that, would you prefer to be on a bigger or smaller canopy?

Bill Von Novak's downsizing checklist is somewhere on this site if you do a search. If you can do all the things on his list, then maybe I'd think about exceeding Brian Germain's downsizing chart by a little (though I probably still wouldn't do it). If you can't do everything on his list, well . . .


ELLIOTT  (A License)

Sep 12, 2012, 1:32 AM
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Re: [ghost47] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

I agree with everything here .That is why I upsized. 56 years old and want to keep on jumping.Playing it safe .Packing was also a issue, Upsized to Pulse 190. BUT !
Most likely ended up in a worse situation by doing so. And having to reline a 200 jump canopy . I am approx 5'8 and 90Kg in my socksTongue

PD Pulse - New lineset specs - better flight and flare


billeisele  (A 5643)

Sep 12, 2012, 3:53 AM
Post #10 of 33 (2301 views)
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Re: [vanessalh] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

so glad to see someone asking good questions

plenty of info in DZ.com on this subject, do some reading and talk to your instructors, without seeing you fly a canopy it is impossible to offer a valid opinion

to the strength issue, fairly common, suggest you work on the triceps to prevent any future issues, one day you'll need a little extra strength and you'll be glad you have it, there are many simple exercises to strengthen them, 10 minutes a day and you'll have all the confidence you need

I'd say get a Pilot


Sky_doggy  (C 41295)

Sep 12, 2012, 5:32 AM
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Re: [ELLIOTT] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
Most likely ended up in a worse situation by doing so.

Hi, I am in similar situation, I fly a Pilot 188 at close to 1:1 and I was wondering why you feel that you have ended up in a worse situation by doing so.

My only concern with my rig is that wonder if I would be less likely to have a canopy collapse with something that was pitched down to be faster and with a higher W/L, for example a Saber2 / 170


ELLIOTT  (A License)

Sep 12, 2012, 6:11 AM
Post #12 of 33 (2234 views)
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Re: [Sky_doggy] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

If you read this thread .PD Pulse - New lineset specs - better flight and flare

You will understand what happened. I upsized to a pulse 190 without the new lineset and being a short fellow had hardly any flare on no wind landings not to talk about a out I had with a down wind landing the other weekCrazy.I thought it was me that was the problem before PD came with the mod .Which I will get asap
Not every thing works out how you think its going to


scottd818  (C 41314)

Sep 12, 2012, 6:52 AM
Post #13 of 33 (2208 views)
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Re: [ELLIOTT] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

last time i talked to brian germain about downsizing, the question he asked me was can i land my current canopy crosswind, downwind, uphill, downhill, and in a back yard. and if the the answers were yes then it was time to start thinking about downsizing. but not necessarly downsize imediately, but just start thinking about it.
Its really good to see this thread being a very productive thread about learning and making good safe decisions. not a bunch of ppl just saying your gonna bounce. Wink


vanessalh  (D 33301)

Sep 12, 2012, 7:45 AM
Post #14 of 33 (2182 views)
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Re: [ghost47] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thx ghost47 - I found the guide you mentioned: http://www.dropzone.com/cgi-bin/safety/detail_page.cgi?ID=47

Am starting to read through it.

Phew, there's a lot more to canopy piloting than I realized...


wolfriverjoe  (A 50013)

Sep 12, 2012, 9:24 AM
Post #15 of 33 (2140 views)
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Re: [vanessalh] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Thx ghost47 - I found the guide you mentioned: http://www.dropzone.com/...etail_page.cgi?ID=47
Am starting to read through it.

Phew, there's a lot more to canopy piloting than I realized...

That's Billvon's article. If you read that and the article that accompanies Brian Germain's downsizing chart, you'll have a pretty good idea if you can/should go down a size.

You need to realize that a smaller canopy will be faster and more responsive. It will turn faster and dive harder in that turn. It will be faster on landing.

Those 2 things have hurt a lot of people who downsized too fast. Some of them were making aggressive approaches, some of them just reacted badly too close to the ground and didn't have time to recover.
The skills mentioned in the 2 articles will be a great help in preventing those kinds of mistakes.


DrewEckhardt  (D 28461)

Sep 12, 2012, 11:35 AM
Post #16 of 33 (2108 views)
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Re: [vanessalh] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I'm trying to accomplish 2 things:
1. Find a canopy that performs well for me. I chatted with some instructors and they said one reason that it could feel a bit mushy is I'm not wing loading it correctly. I never knew this, but you can underload a canopy.

While you can underload a canopy, it's generally at much lower wingloadings than you have. About .65 pounds/square foot (a 292 for you) is ideal for classic accuracy.

The canopies which don't like low wingloadings (PD Stilettos) aren't good choices at this point in your jumping career for other reasons.

In reply to:
2. A smaller canopy will be easier for me to flare (strength wise), which I think will make my landings easier.

It won't (I fly canopies from 105 to 245 square feet).

In steady flight the load on all the line groups must add up to your weight regardless of how big or small the canopy is.

Various canopy designs vary in how they split that weight between front risers, rear risers, and brakes. How they react to toggle input (how much, how fast) also varies between different designs and you're likely to to prefer some over others

In reply to:
There is a third reason, which is I want to buy my own gear soon, and I'd rather start on a 170 (which I think will be good for me for many many jumps),

If you buy used and do a reasonable job shopping you'll be spending about $1/jump on depreciation regardless of how many canopies you go through. Do a good job and you might make a little money.

In reply to:
than on a 190 which I'm already feeling the need to downsize from.

Can you land it down-wind? Cross-wind? Turning in the flare? Turning below 50 feet? With some speed from front-risers? From half brakes without returning to full flight? Down-hill? Up-hill?

Without having done these things enough to be comfortable with them you're not ready to down-size.

These things are survival skills. Eventually you'll find yourself in a situation where you need to use them (although you won't need to use front risers, you will need to land with an approach at greater than trim speed if you didn't turn flat enough when you needed).

Bill gets into more details.


(This post was edited by DrewEckhardt on Sep 12, 2012, 12:51 PM)


Trafficdiver  (D License)

Sep 12, 2012, 5:38 PM
Post #17 of 33 (2021 views)
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Re: [vanessalh] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:

What are the reasons for not downsizing too soon?

Life > Death


Mr_Polite  (D 420)

Sep 12, 2012, 7:41 PM
Post #18 of 33 (1976 views)
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Re: [vanessalh] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
I'm trying to accomplish 2 things:
1. Find a canopy that performs well for me. I chatted with some instructors and they said one reason that it could feel a bit mushy is I'm not wing loading it correctly. I never knew this, but you can underload a canopy.

Did your instructors tell you that you are underloading a Pilot 190 @ 1:1? or that you were under loading a different canopy?


vanessalh  (D 33301)

Sep 12, 2012, 8:23 PM
Post #19 of 33 (1967 views)
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Re: [DrewEckhardt] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, this was very helpful!
I'm going to start working on the skills mentioned here and in the other links.

Hmm... I guess maybe I've gotten stronger then if flare difficulty doesn't vary :) I started on a 220, and downsized every 10-15 jumps to a 190, and I noticed that it got easier to flare.

I was comfortable downsizing to 190 because of wing loading, conversations with instructors and my experience with the larger canopies. Going above 1.0 though, is something that needs a lot more consideration, so I'm so grateful for all the help on this thread.


vanessalh  (D 33301)

Sep 12, 2012, 8:26 PM
Post #20 of 33 (1966 views)
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Re: [Mr_Polite] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hmm, actually now that you ask I think it was more like
Me, "I notice that when I downsized to the 190 my landings got much better and I was better able to control the canopy"

Instructor, "It's possible to underload a canopy, this could be the reason for the improvements you've seen when you downsized"

So I think I generalized this in my mind when I shouldn't have. thanks!


Joellercoaster  (D 105792)

Sep 13, 2012, 1:16 AM
Post #21 of 33 (1945 views)
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Re: [vanessalh] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I'm a relatively new jumper (65 jumps)

...I'm considering trying a 170

...My exit weight is about 190 lbs

Please excuse my cherry-picking bits of your post, but as someone who doesn't know you other than here, these are the facts that jump out at me.

The combination of those three numbers is a worry.

190, especially something like the Pilot you have been on, is plenty small for now. There is no rush, and smaller will not make anything easier.


(This post was edited by Joellercoaster on Sep 13, 2012, 1:16 AM)


degeneration  (C 106811)

Sep 13, 2012, 4:56 AM
Post #22 of 33 (1904 views)
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Re: [DrewEckhardt] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Can you land it down-wind? Cross-wind? Turning in the flare? Turning below 50 feet? With some speed from front-risers? From half brakes without returning to full flight? Down-hill? Up-hill?

I've never been in a place where I've even had the opportunity to be able to land my canopy uphill or downhill. So I've never done this on any canopy I've ever owned. Does that mean I shouldn't have ever downsized until I had that off landing on a hill?

More or less the same with downwind. I think I've only ever done 2 or 3 downwind landings, so not really much experience or knowledge on this. Should people do intentional downwinders when they are thinking of downsizing to assess whether they are ready?

The rest I've more or less done on every canopy I've downsized from, which is why I felt comfortable and happy to downsize to where I am now, and I'm enjoying the canopy I'm now on (Pilot 124 loaded at 1.37 to 1.55 depending on the amount of weight I have to wear).


Quagmirian  (A 110392)

Sep 13, 2012, 6:38 AM
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Re: [Joellercoaster] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

Apologies for me sticking my hypothetical oar in, but is there any point where a bigger canopy makes things more difficult? I would say that I found it more difficult to time the flare on a Manta or Skymaster 290 loaded at 0.55 than I did a Balance 210 loaded at 0.76. Are there any skills which are easier to learn on a smaller canopy?


5.samadhi

Sep 13, 2012, 7:47 AM
Post #24 of 33 (1848 views)
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Re: [Quagmirian] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Apologies for me sticking my hypothetical oar in, but is there any point where a bigger canopy makes things more difficult? I would say that I found it more difficult to time the flare on a Manta or Skymaster 290 loaded at 0.55 than I did a Balance 210 loaded at 0.76. Are there any skills which are easier to learn on a smaller canopy?
you can underload a canopy so much so that it will not get good penetration into the wind. I am 150lb and my first jump was on a manta 288...that sucka barely moved forward in a headwind for me Laugh


Premier billvon  (D 16479)
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Sep 13, 2012, 8:57 AM
Post #25 of 33 (1819 views)
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Re: [degeneration] When is it safe to downsize? [In reply to] Can't Post

>Does that mean I shouldn't have ever downsized until I had that off landing on a hill?

It's not a great idea, but that's a decision you have to make. It is a VERY good idea to have experience at several DZ's before you downsize; you learn a lot by going to different DZ's that use different patterns, have different winds, different size landing areas etc.

>Should people do intentional downwinders when they are thinking of downsizing
>to assess whether they are ready?

Again up to you. If someone is fearful about doing a downwinder on their current canopy due to how fast they will be going, it is a bad idea to get a canopy that will go even faster (IMO.) Downwind landings happen, and I think it's better to learn how to do them on larger rather than smaller canopies.


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