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Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg

 

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vanessalh  (D 33301)

Nov 21, 2012, 2:58 PM
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Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg Can't Post

Hey folks,

I'm working on my canopy skills, and I'm interesting in how you setup your landing pattern. I used to do a fairly large pattern, which made it possible to enter at 900 ft and still be fairly on target.

I recently took a canopy course at Elsinore, where the instructor had us shrink our landing pattern quite a bit from what I'm used to. I find that even when I enter the pattern at 750' and start my final leg at 250' I still overshoot my target, with roughly 15s of flight on final.

I know a lot depends on the canopy and wing loading, but I'd like to know what altitude you enter each leg of your pattern at?

I'm planning to tweak mine a bit to:
Downwind: 650'
Base: 400'
Final: 200'

I jump a Spectre 150, at a wing loading of roughly 1.25.

Does this sound reasonable?
I'm not looking to be too aggressive, so want to make sure I give my canopy plenty time to recover from the turn.


CarpeDiem3  (D License)

Nov 21, 2012, 3:15 PM
Post #2 of 102 (4779 views)
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Re: [vanessalh] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

It's too variable to refine down to such a finite set of numbers like that.

It depends upon the canopy wing loading, canopy type, traffic density, wind speed, wind direction, size and shape of the landing area, and so on. Hitting specific altitude numbers for your turns is the least of your worries, compared to avoiding other canopies int he air, and obstacles on the ground. Keep it dynamic and flexible.


vanessalh  (D 33301)

Nov 21, 2012, 3:20 PM
Post #3 of 102 (4770 views)
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Re: [CarpeDiem3] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
It depends upon the canopy wing loading, canopy type, traffic density, wind speed, wind direction, size and shape of the landing area, and so on. Hitting specific altitude numbers for your turns is the least of your worries, compared to avoiding other canopies int he air, and obstacles on the ground. Keep it dynamic and flexible.

Yes, I definitely agree that there are a lot of factors that determine patterns. I try to ensure good separation before entering my pattern. Even though there are going to be situations which may change it, I'd like to practice a consistent pattern as much as possible, so if I do have to change I'll have a baseline to know what to expect.

I guess I'm looking for some examples of what other people do, and if there are good rules of thumb folks use.


voilsb  (D 30581)

Nov 21, 2012, 3:49 PM
Post #4 of 102 (4742 views)
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Re: [vanessalh] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

can't you just use your old altitudes and shift your pattern downwind a little, however far you're overshooting?


vanessalh  (D 33301)

Nov 21, 2012, 4:02 PM
Post #5 of 102 (4729 views)
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Re: [voilsb] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
can't you just use your old altitudes and shift your pattern downwind a little, however far you're overshooting?

This is definitely possible, and would work well at DZs I commonly jump at. I want to get into the habit of not relying on a large landing area though. My canopy instructor was quite adamant that we not hang out over unlandable area. This resonated with me, because at any time winds could change, or even be drastically different as I descend. I feel more comfortable knowing that if winds did kick up, at worst I land on the edge of the landing area.


nigel99  (D 1)

Nov 21, 2012, 4:09 PM
Post #6 of 102 (4725 views)
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Re: [vanessalh] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

Why not shift your entire pattern downwind slightlly?

It doesn't seem wise to move the pattern down in altitude, as part of the reason is to survey the landing area, giving you alternatives if something is wrong.

One trick you can use is to hold in brakes as soon as you've turned into the wind on your final. That way you can watch the accuracy spot easily, I was taught this on a canopy course and it is useful. Just remember that riding brakes on final can screw up people behind you, and to allow altitude for your canopy to recover to full drive safely.


AggieDave  (D License)

Nov 21, 2012, 4:13 PM
Post #7 of 102 (4721 views)
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Re: [nigel99] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

Quote:
Just remember that riding brakes on final can screw up people behind you,

No, riding in deep brakes in any point in the pattern can screw up the people behind you, not just on final.

The pattern isn't something you make up after you freefall, it is something you plan before you get in the plane. Then you're not stuck having to hold in brakes, you have already adjusted your pattern for the winds of the day/jump.

Remember that barring a solo hop-n-pop, you are apart of a school of fish under canopy. You have to not only fly safely for yourself, but you have to fly safely and predictably for the other canopies in the air with you at the time.


Premier Nigel  (D 99999)

Nov 21, 2012, 4:21 PM
Post #8 of 102 (4718 views)
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Re: [vanessalh] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

I too struggled with accuracy. But I pretty much did what you're doing, and it's got a lot better. I also found imagining I had to land in someone's back yard, and then only flying in the airspace directly above, helpful...

On windless days, I calibrated a pattern against reference points on the ground, so that if I entered at 750ft , I'd land on 3). If windier, I'll take it up to 950 or 1150ft. (I used a Suunto Vector for landing altitudes, regular analogue units don't seem accurate enough).

Disciplined repetition (50-100 jumps) has taught me the sight picture, so I barely need the Suunto now.

Seems to me you're doing the right thing, just keep at it.


nigel99  (D 1)

Nov 21, 2012, 4:23 PM
Post #9 of 102 (4715 views)
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Re: [AggieDave] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
Quote:
Just remember that riding brakes on final can screw up people behind you,

No, riding in deep brakes in any point in the pattern can screw up the people behind you, not just on final.

The pattern isn't something you make up after you freefall, it is something you plan before you get in the plane. Then you're not stuck having to hold in brakes, you have already adjusted your pattern for the winds of the day/jump.

Remember that barring a solo hop-n-pop, you are apart of a school of fish under canopy. You have to not only fly safely for yourself, but you have to fly safely and predictably for the other canopies in the air with you at the time.

Very true. About a third of my jumps are hop and pops, and I only work on accuracy when alone in the air. After RW my priority is a safe landing, clear airspace and then accuracy.


DocPop  (C License)

Nov 21, 2012, 4:38 PM
Post #10 of 102 (4701 views)
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Re: [vanessalh] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

Here is an approach you can use to build up your pattern from the ground up.

1. Up high - clear your airspace and then note your altitude (use a digital alti) and make the same 90 degree turn you would in the pattern.

2. Count for ten seconds (1-one thousand, 2- one thousand, 3-one thousand etc...) while flying with your hands completely up and then note your altitude loss. This gives you the minimum height you should make your turn to final to allow any flight cycles to diminish and return you to full flight.

3. Let's say the exercise above tells you that you need to make your turn to final at or above 280'. You might round that up to 300' and then set all the legs of your pattern to 300'. Why? Because that way each leg will take the same amount of time to fly and your brain will become calibrated to the cadence of your pattern.

4. Your three altitude checkpoints are now 900', 600' and 300'. All you have to do now is move these three checkpoints over the ground to allow for wind and landing target.

5. Practice this by making a plan before you board the aircraft, and flying it as accurately as you can. When you land, assess the accuracy of your landing and the wind conditions and adjust your next plan as necessary.

Good luck!


(This post was edited by DocPop on Nov 21, 2012, 4:50 PM)


vanessalh  (D 33301)

Nov 21, 2012, 4:41 PM
Post #11 of 102 (4698 views)
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Re: [Nigel] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I too struggled with accuracy. But I pretty much did what you're doing, and it's got a lot better. I also found imagining I had to land in someone's back yard, and then only flying in the airspace directly above, helpful...

On windless days, I calibrated a pattern against reference points on the ground, so that if I entered at 750ft , I'd land on 3). If windier, I'll take it up to 950 or 1150ft. (I used a Suunto Vector for landing altitudes, regular analogue units don't seem accurate enough).

Disciplined repetition (50-100 jumps) has taught me the sight picture, so I barely need the Suunto now.

Seems to me you're doing the right thing, just keep at it.

Thanks Nigel. The tip about taking it a bit higher on windy days is good, I'll try that next time there's wind to see how I fair. I'm trying to do exactly what you describe, and get to the point I can do it all visually (I was forced to once when my altimeter fritzed out and was pretty successful, but I need a lot more practice)


voilsb  (D 30581)

Nov 21, 2012, 4:49 PM
Post #12 of 102 (4685 views)
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Re: [vanessalh] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

Let me rephrase, then.

You should move your pattern downwind to accomodate for overshooting. You should not change your altitudes. Leave your altitudes alone, so that in the air you're always flying the same pattern. Just slide the points across the ground. Good altitudes to use are 300, 600, and 900. Some use 1000, 500, and 250. I like 3/6/9 because they're the same amount of altitude loss per leg, so on no-wind days they cover the same distance across the ground.


popsjumper  (D 999999999)

Nov 21, 2012, 8:21 PM
Post #13 of 102 (4602 views)
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Re: [vanessalh] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I'm trying to do exactly what you describe, and get to the point I can do it all visually

Which is what you should be doing. Good for you. I'm just less than happy that it's taken this many jumps to start focusing on it.

In reply to:
(I was forced to once when my altimeter fritzed out and was pretty successful, but I need a lot more practice)
..and that is one reason why we need to be able to do it. This is why depending on an altimeter for landing pattern altitudes and setting ground reference points for turning is a bad idea ...except for AFF students.

What are you gonna do when you go to a different DZ?

There is nothing static about flying a canopy. It's every inch a dynamic process. Why? Because of the many variables involved.

So..OK. It took a few jumps to get focused on landing patterns. Using the set altitudes and the set reference points as others have suggested, is OK for now...IF you have a large landing area capable of handling the errors you will be having while learning.

But!!!! Get yourself away from that dependence on altitudes and references as quickly as you can. Develop your judgement using your eyes. A safe off-landing may depend on it.

Know wind direction and speed before you get on the plane all the while knowing that it could change, even radically, by the time you are landing.

You want to know why the set altitudes and references are a bad idea? This:
The effects of wind direction and speed on landing patterns. Look it up in the SIM.

If you start your pattern at a set altitude and turn on base x number feet below that, that turn on base may be so far downwind of your landing area that you can't make it back.
Hint: Compare low wind vs high travel distance on your downwind leg.

By the same token, if your turn on base is too early (that set ground reference) in a low wind situation, you may wind up overshooting the landing area.

Me?
Under canopy, I'm thinking...Hmmmm...OK, the winds are strong because I'm hauling ass going downwind direction so I know that my final approach leg is gonna be shorter so I'll turn a little closer to the target.

Well, that and more. You may not want to know what else I think about,
LaughLaugh

On top of all that, you are not going to be in the right place at the right time on every single jump...what are you going to do when you can't make it one of your assigned altitudes or reference points?


Good luck with your canopy work, eh?


potatoman  (Student)

Nov 21, 2012, 11:23 PM
Post #14 of 102 (4535 views)
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Re: [vanessalh] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

I am old school, and I don't swoop, but my landings are spot on. Remember, top drift and low winds are not always the same speeds, and even different directions. What happens at 1000ft is not neccesarily going to happen down below where there might be trees/buildings etc. Also, from 1 dz to the next, you will have differet wind patterns.

My advice, try and follow the pattern, and practice hitting a spot, BUT, without making life difficult for other canopies, and not making last minute turns. if you overshoot a bit, just try again. You will learn the wind and how your canopy flies. (Also, if you think of jumping weights, keep that in mind when doing landing pattern)


JackC1

Nov 22, 2012, 1:15 AM
Post #15 of 102 (4513 views)
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Re: [popsjumper] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
In reply to:
I'm trying to do exactly what you describe, and get to the point I can do it all visually

Which is what you should be doing. Good for you. I'm just less than happy that it's taken this many jumps to start focusing on it.

In reply to:
(I was forced to once when my altimeter fritzed out and was pretty successful, but I need a lot more practice)
..and that is one reason why we need to be able to do it. This is why depending on an altimeter for landing pattern altitudes and setting ground reference points for turning is a bad idea ...except for AFF students.

What are you gonna do when you go to a different DZ?

There is nothing static about flying a canopy. It's every inch a dynamic process. Why? Because of the many variables involved.

So..OK. It took a few jumps to get focused on landing patterns. Using the set altitudes and the set reference points as others have suggested, is OK for now...IF you have a large landing area capable of handling the errors you will be having while learning.

But!!!! Get yourself away from that dependence on altitudes and references as quickly as you can. Develop your judgement using your eyes. A safe off-landing may depend on it.

Know wind direction and speed before you get on the plane all the while knowing that it could change, even radically, by the time you are landing.

You want to know why the set altitudes and references are a bad idea? This:
The effects of wind direction and speed on landing patterns. Look it up in the SIM.

If you start your pattern at a set altitude and turn on base x number feet below that, that turn on base may be so far downwind of your landing area that you can't make it back.
Hint: Compare low wind vs high travel distance on your downwind leg.

By the same token, if your turn on base is too early (that set ground reference) in a low wind situation, you may wind up overshooting the landing area.

Me?
Under canopy, I'm thinking...Hmmmm...OK, the winds are strong because I'm hauling ass going downwind direction so I know that my final approach leg is gonna be shorter so I'll turn a little closer to the target.

Well, that and more. You may not want to know what else I think about,
LaughLaugh

On top of all that, you are not going to be in the right place at the right time on every single jump...what are you going to do when you can't make it one of your assigned altitudes or reference points?


Good luck with your canopy work, eh?


I have never seen the "forget references, just eyeball it" method taught on any of the canopy course I've ever been on. In fact, in my experience they teach the exact opposite. Why do you think that is?


peek  (D 8884)

Nov 22, 2012, 2:55 AM
Post #16 of 102 (4477 views)
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Re: [JackC1] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
I have never seen the "forget references, just eyeball it" method taught on any of the canopy course I've ever been on. In fact, in my experience they teach the exact opposite. Why do you think that is?

Because it is difficult to teach. Specifying altitudes and positions in the pattern is much easier. Formalized instruction (classes) more or less requires specifics.

So much of skydiving is a "non-verbal" brain activity, but most people (understandably) teach to the "verbal" brain.

By telling Vanessa to "eyeball it", Andy was in a way suggesting that she focus less on the verbal part of the brain and more on the non-verbal.


JackC1

Nov 22, 2012, 3:46 AM
Post #17 of 102 (4457 views)
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Re: [peek] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

See, I think that's a load of bollocks. The altitude/reference method does work, plus it is a really good way of giving people a procedure by which they can learn how to eyeball it. By saying forget references and altitudes, you're taking away the best gauge people have to judge their progress and replacing it with what? Trial and error? Suck it and see? Seat of the pants? Nothing a 1000 jumps wont fix?


nigel99  (D 1)

Nov 22, 2012, 4:16 AM
Post #18 of 102 (4428 views)
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Re: [JackC1] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
See, I think that's a load of bollocks. The altitude/reference method does work, plus it is a really good way of giving people a procedure by which they can learn how to eyeball it. By saying forget references and altitudes, you're taking away the best gauge people have to judge their progress and replacing it with what? Trial and error? Suck it and see? Seat of the pants? Nothing a 1000 jumps wont fix?

How many dzs teach, fly to the tall tree, turn at the road etc? I'm pretty sure that's what Andy means by 'reference'.


JackC1

Nov 22, 2012, 4:44 AM
Post #19 of 102 (4418 views)
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Re: [nigel99] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
How many dzs teach, fly to the tall tree, turn at the road etc?

Why would they? That isn't the altitude/reference method.


raveninca  (B 6377)

Nov 22, 2012, 5:32 AM
Post #20 of 102 (4394 views)
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Re: [JackC1] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

I took level one and two of the Flight1 canopy courses and we were taught to never to change your pattern altitudes. On the second jump of the course we did a 90 degree turn up high followed by 10 sec of full flight and recorded the altitude loss (you will need a digital alt for this), this recreates your turn to final and give the canopy enough time to go through it's natural recovery cycle. Then like was posted above we set our A and B points accordingly, mine worked out to a turn to final at 300ft flying a Saber 170 loaded at 1.3 so my pattern entry was 900ft and B point set ot 600ft. From there you can adjust those points over the ground to dial in your accuracy. We were also told to fly in 1/4 brakes on your downwind and crosswind legs so that you have some room to make your altitude points if conditions change.

From there and with lots of practice in different wind conditions you can dial that pattern in by moving those same altitude points over the ground. On no wind days the pattern will get spread out from the target (longer downwind, crosswind and final over the ground) and on high wind days the pattern will tighten right up to the target (shorter downwind, shorter crosswind and shorter final over the ground) but the altitudes for each leg stay the same. In really high winds this can change a little bit as you might want to start your crosswind turn a little bit early and crab to your B point but that is in really strong winds.


Now with all that said I still consider myself a student and without going through that course a few times and getting many more jumps in I am not 100% confident that my advise is correct, might be missing something here but it is what works for me and what I remember.

My accuracy is much much better now in all wind conditions that I jump in and flying in 1/4 breaks through the first two legs of the pattern was a big help as well.


(This post was edited by raveninca on Nov 22, 2012, 5:48 AM)


peek  (D 8884)

Nov 22, 2012, 5:45 AM
Post #21 of 102 (4377 views)
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Re: [JackC1] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
See, I think that's a load of bollocks. The altitude/reference method does work, plus it is a really good way of giving people a procedure by which they can learn how to eyeball it. By saying forget references and altitudes, you're taking away the best gauge people have to judge their progress and replacing it with what?

Perhaps I did not make myself clear. I do not think that the references should be abandoned, but instead, augmented by letting the non-verbal brain give you some clues. If the clues work well enough, then you can begin to reduce your dependency of references.

We of course need to teach references/altitudes to skydiving students with very few jumps, and see how they learn from that, then suggest other methods.


raveninca  (B 6377)

Nov 22, 2012, 5:53 AM
Post #22 of 102 (4371 views)
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Re: [peek] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
In reply to:
See, I think that's a load of bollocks. The altitude/reference method does work, plus it is a really good way of giving people a procedure by which they can learn how to eyeball it. By saying forget references and altitudes, you're taking away the best gauge people have to judge their progress and replacing it with what?

Perhaps I did not make myself clear. I do not think that the references should be abandoned, but instead, augmented by letting the non-verbal brain give you some clues. If the clues work well enough, then you can begin to reduce your dependency of references.

We of course need to teach references/altitudes to skydiving students with very few jumps, and see how they learn from that, then suggest other methods.

I think it has to be taught at altitudes and then switches to references. For example if I am short of my target by lets say 30ft then I know that I have to back my pattern up about 30ft. Since at my home drop zone I enter the pattern above the 4th trailer in the campground then I know that on the next jump I should enter the pattern at the 6th trailer in the camp ground. This is just an example of my particular drop zone. The point is though you should always be taking note of where your ground references are at the altitudes you want so that you can adjust accordingly and develop your "sight picture" at those various altitudes so that the time when your landing off in someone's back yard you will have an idea of how far it is from their driveway, or road, or power line to a safe landing spot. I hope that makes sense Tongue Even at new DZ that you haven't jumped at before it only takes a few jumps to dial that in.

Just to add there are lots of other tools you can use when landing off like deep brake approches, low flat turns, etc but my post was more in response to the normal pattern with other traffic in the same landing area.


(This post was edited by raveninca on Nov 22, 2012, 6:08 AM)


nigel99  (D 1)

Nov 22, 2012, 6:06 AM
Post #23 of 102 (4361 views)
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Re: [JackC1] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
In reply to:
How many dzs teach, fly to the tall tree, turn at the road etc?

Why would they? That isn't the altitude/reference method.

Well I've come across it a number of times, and that may well be what Andy was talking about.


JackC1

Nov 22, 2012, 6:11 AM
Post #24 of 102 (4355 views)
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Re: [peek] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
...then suggest other methods.

I'm always up for learning a new method. What have you got?


peek  (D 8884)

Nov 22, 2012, 6:22 AM
Post #25 of 102 (4344 views)
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Re: [JackC1] Landing Patterns - altitude to begin each leg [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
In reply to:
...then suggest other methods.

I'm always up for learning a new method. What have you got?

The things Andy is suggesting to Vanessa. They are not new though.


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