How To Tube: Managing Sessions and Understanding Rotation

    Image by Annette O’Neil
    Tunnel flying can be physically demanding, especially at the beginning. Being in good shape will help but tunnel fitness is largely built through learning good technique and trying to fly as regularly as possible.
    The more you fly the more you will be able to fly, in terms of both duration of each period you spend in the tunnel and the necessary rests in between. ‘Rotation’ is the term widely used to refer to the process of sharing time in the tunnel amongst the flyers in each session - of rotating them around so everybody gets to use their minutes in sensible portions and with ample rest periods.
    Not all indoor skydiving facilities are the same - some have an enclosed (i.e. locked) staging area immediately next to the flight chamber that necessitates formalised sessions of a set duration (usually 30 minutes) which those booked to fly divide amongst themselves. Others tunnels might have an open staging area (i.e. not locked) in which the flyers can come and go as required - which leads to a little more freedom and flexibility for deciding upon the order of rotation, but more chance for things to turn into a shambles if those concerned do not manage the time properly and let it get out of hand.

    Playback monitor and session information at Hurricane Factory Slovakia. Image by Annette O’Neil
    As indoor skydiving facilities grow progressively fancier, the most likely way sessions will be displayed is via a monitor where each and every minute of flying is listed via software that is linked directly to the tunnel’s manifesting system. The programmes used to run the daily activities is most likely specific to that tunnel (or that type of tunnel) and will have its own particular idiosyncrasies. However - there are many places to fly where the primary method of marking people’s time is by writing everything out on a white board and crossing off the rotations one-by-one with an actual finger.
    Here is a simple list of some different ways of splitting up time:
    Sharing Sessions with the General Public: People off the street giving indoor skydiving a try will likely have bought a package that involves a couple of rotations of a minute or two each. If you are in a mixed session with some newbies you can really help by being on point with your personal plans as your instructor will likely have his or her hands full with the nervous and baffled. Look out for small children bailing out early or people faffing with their gear - if you and your coach can jump straight in when the instructor needs to tend to a tiny crying human or fix a gear issue in the staging area so they don’t have to interrupt a flight they will love you for it.

    The more the merrier - just be sure everyone knows the plan.
    Sharing Sessions with Belly Teams: Belly flying is very serious so much coaching, practicing and remembering needs to be achieved. Teams are often fond of shorter rotations such as 1:30s or 1:40s so they can squeeze another go out of a session. If your tunnel has a video playback system on a delay it will likely be set for longer than this so it is easy to get repeatedly caught with your pants down still watching yourself on the screen as the belly types get out.
    Sharing Sessions with Freeflyers: Freefly training these days is all about the low speeds. Flying on lower wind is easier on your body and the mixture of positions and training methods means it is possible to fly for longer. Rotations of 2.5 minutes have become standard and some coaches and flyers prefer three minutes. Remember, nobody sensible really wants to high five this much - but it is the done thing.

    British VFS team QFX at the World Air Games. Image by Ewan Cowie
    Sharing Sessions with VFS Teams: VFS is hard work so teams frequently like one minute rotations which can be a pain in the balls. They should be nice to you about it. You might find your rest periods very brief or even be asked to do shorter rotations in your own time so they can rest too. Stand your ground - as policy tunnels do not guarantee the breakdown of sessions but you are a paying customer an as such should be accommodated. As you progress you might be fine with one minute gaps but as a new flyer it can be too much work.
    Although it really only involves some very simple maths, organising rotation can be confusing at first which sometimes puts people off figuring it out - resulting in experienced flyers (who should know better) with a total inability to behave efficiently when at the tunnel. The most important thing you can do to make your sessions as smooth and beneficial as possible is communicate with the other people involved - and once you understand a few simple principals you are ready to go.

    By joelstrickland, in Disciplines,

    How To Tube: Getting It Right

    Tunnel instructors are a very special bunch Outside of the physical progress with your tunnel flying skills, there are some things to keep in mind when you visit your local tube that will aid both efficiency and enjoyment for yourself and those around you.
    Once signed in at the facility the instructor for your session (each session as they rotate) is the one in charge and should be the person you approach first with any questions or concerns - not the hoity-toity fancy coaches or other flyers (or even the other instructors).
    He or she does this every day and is under pressure to make everything run smoothly and on time. If you instructor is doing their job properly he or she will find you plenty previous before your session and discuss what is going to happen - they should enquire after your intentions but also let you know who else you will be sharing the tunnel with and what they are doing too. If you are with a coach who has overlooked this quick but necessary part of the process then consider getting a better, more communicative coach.
    Instructors are very fragile - try to help them out If you are a student - do not hesitate to get involved! Not asking when you need to know something will probably only result in looking like an arse in front of a bunch of people than a functioning human in front of one.
    If you are not with a coach and are relying on instruction from the tunnel staff - seek them out and talk to them before you start. The job of tunnel instructor is all about good efficiency - with time and energy both - and if you embrace this they will go the extra distance for you will do better out of your training as a result.
    Tunnel Monkeys enjoy teaching people stuff in the tube, it is why they do a physically demanding job for crappy money - yet those same reasons lead to short patience with disorganised and unhelpful flyers. You can aid them by personally finding and talking to either the instructor for your session, or if your instructor is nowhere to be found or prohibitively busy - the tunnel driver. The driver will (should) be halfway responsible for keeping track of your session anyway so you can relay your intentions - the two should constantly relay information to one another before and throughout the session.
    Happy instructors will make your life easy Here are a few things to remember:
    Be Ready: Tunnels all try to avoid running late and to buffer against the things that make this happen they will try to operate ahead of time as often as possible. Arrive early.

    Brief early. Be ready to start and ready to go first.
    Accommodate: When conducting a session an instructor has to consider many things, not only the requirements of every individual in the group, but what is happening both beforehand and afterwards. It might seem quiet but there can be anything form a long list of circumstances that require the maintenance of a tight ship - things like television crews and scheduled maintenance always require more time and extra work from the staff.

    Don’t Leave Your Shit Everywhere: The tunnel might let experienced flyers take drinks and such into the staging area but not the newbies - this is because you can be trusted to be safe and organised with your things. The same goes for around the building.
    Tunnel facilities are public places and the companies that operate them want to appear suitable as such, so put your pants back on and clean up after yourself.

    Know What Else is Happening In Your Session: Learn how long you will have between each of your rotations. Never rely on having long enough gaps between your flights to brief as you go (see part 3 for more). Plan accordingly. You are paying for those twelve seconds it takes your team to put their helmets on and set up - the clock is running.

    Thou Shalt Not Take The Piss: The instructor for your particular session is the only one you need to talk to about your plans, and they are in charge. They do not give a single fuck about “what they let you do last time” or what “usually happens” because you “fly there all the time”.

    News Travels Fast: Instructors whine and gossip like nobody else. If you are difficult with one of them everyone will know it before the day is out. This works the other way around too. It only takes a small amount of communication and consideration to get the staff on your side, and they will see you right. Finally - remember be nice and have fun. There is no substitute for more tunnel time and quality coaching, but everything you can do at the edges to facilitate a positive and productive experience at the tube helps. Putting in a bit of effort to try and make things easier for those around will reflect in both you own skills and the opportunities you are presented with amongst your flying community.

    By joelstrickland, in Disciplines,

    Wingsuit Progression

    kydiving today is rife with would-be wingsuit pilots. Ask any number of new jumpers what discipline they want to pursue, and more than likely you’ll have a majority vote for wingsuiting. This is thanks in no small part to the viral popularity of wingsuit BASE videos in recent years. Let’s be honest, even your mom is sick of watching people fly ‘The Cheese Grater’ line at Aiguille du Midi. And while that trend seems to be tapering off somewhat (perhaps as the number of true terrain flyers left in the sport is itself dwindling), there are no shortage of noobs eagerly awaiting their first prom dress.
    But, for those who have already cranked out the requisite jump numbers, done their FFC, and are now exploring the freedoms of human flight, what path marks the best progression into the world of wingsuit wizardry?
    DISCLAIMER: I’m going to set aside any brand loyalties and personal biases towards/against manufacturers. There will be no suit-specific insights or recommendations. The point of what follows is to provide some simple and easy to follow suggestions through a safe and effective
    While there is no doubt that putting in serious work on a small suit is better than jumping quickly into a bigger suit, there is some divergence as to how long your mentor(s) and/or more senior jumpers/coaches may suggest that you remain in your entry-level suit before upsizing. [There is even some discrepancy as to what is deemed an appropriate entry-level suit…but I think for the most part your FFC coach should be able to walk you through that one…]. For my part, I can say that while having put 150 jumps on the small suit I started with was certainly enough for me to be safely flying a bigger suit, there’s also no doubt in my mind – looking back now with the benefit of hindsight – that I would’ve continued to benefit tremendously from growing my skillset and utterly mastering the smaller suit before moving onwards and upwards.

    To clarify, wingsuits can be considered as belonging to one of three very basic overarching “platforms”: small suits, medium suits and big suits. [This is by no means a comprehensive dissection of suit design, merely a simple and inelegant framework to help guide the discussion]. Small suits have wing-roots near the hips, and a tail that does not extend to your feet. Medium suits have wing-roots near the knee and a tail that goes straight across your feet. Large suits have wing-roots near your feet and a tail that extends past your feet.
    The obvious analogy, here, is parachute size. It’s easy to get caught up drooling over the tiny table-clothed sized wings that you see people flying online or at your home dz. [Insert any number of panty-dropping related clichés here…]. And in your hurry to get down to a smaller, “cooler” wing, you may rush through some key skills that you should already have deeply ingrained in your muscle memory and sight picture, on a larger and more docile/forgiving canopy, before continuing to progress to smaller and more aggressive parachutes. The only difference is that, with wingsuits, the reverse is true. I mean, who wants to spend 150-200 jumps wearing some tiny little baby dress? Ain’t nobody got time for that!! Am I right?! Well...no.
    The problem with this logic is two-fold:
    1) The more time you spend in a smaller suit, nailing down an array of skills and mastering the suit, the better you’ll fly in a bigger suit. This means that, in the grand scheme of things, you may well become the badass flyer you want to be even faster if you master a solid foundational skillset in a beginner wingsuit before moving on to bigger suits.

    2) The more surface area you add (as you increase suit/wing size), the more challenging and demanding the suit is to fly. As you increase size, you dramatically increase the power of the suit, and also the inherent danger of flat-spins, hard pulls, no pull-finds, losses of control, etc. While more powerful in the right hands, larger suits can also be less forgiving of pilot error. This is especially dangerous for pilots who skip a step in their progression – upsizing by more than one platform at a time.
    Recent events have tragically proven that no one is invincible to the effects of poorly chosen gear. If there are any positives to take away from the great losses our sport(s) recently suffered, they are the lessons we must learn from those who paid the highest price.
    Choose the right tool for the job! It doesn’t matter if you’re in the mountains or at the dz. Exercise good judgement and your chances of playing safely are far greater.
    It seems simple enough. But this requires an honest self-evaluation of your skill set, and an assessment of what job (type of flying) you want the tool (the suit) to perform…and in what specific conditions/environment. Always consider these factors together and choose accordingly.
    But let’s be real, my advice carries little weight relative to the allure of the sky and BASE gods you might still be watching on repeat on your YouTube or Facebook feeds. And it’s more than likely that my words are also outweighed by your own ego and pride (I know this of myself firsthand…).
    So I asked someone with just a little more experience to share his thoughts – someone who’s become synonymous with wingsuit progression – both in the sky and in the burgeoning scene of the wingsuit tunnel…and also in what some view as the pinnacle of wingsuit progression and human flight: the wingsuit jet-pack. In all domains, Jarno Cordia is an authority on wingsuit flying. And with the obvious benefit of his 4100+ wingsuit jumps, and countless hours of R&D; spent analyzing flight, and designing and testing suits, Jarno had the following to say about finding your own wingsuit progression:

    I think too many people look at 'good numbers' as a sign of being in control of a suit. The fact that you fly a certain distance or time just means you have a good feel for the performance, but, safety wise, the actual control is where the real importance lies.
    Learning to not just fly your suit straight, but in steep dives, turns in various ways, flat, steep, mellow, sharp, backflying, and barrel rolls. Though these may not all seem like skills needed to fly (especially) bigger suits, when your only aim is performance competitions or base, on bad exits, or tumbles, it’s those skills and spatial awareness that will make a big difference.
    It’s also important is to realize 'doing two dozen jumps without incident' is not the same as 'mastering a suit' and quite often people mistake their uneventful jumps as a sign for being ready to move up to bigger suits. Make sure you are in complete control before upsizing, and not just 'getting by' by doing some straight line flying and a few flares.
    In terms of learning, the small suits provide much more feedback and direct results in terms of what you're doing. Though, these days, bigger suits seem to be the focus. And in marketing various companies try to sell big suits as 'the new small'. Note that in the end, you're the one flying it, and not the 10.000 jump wonders in slick marketing videos.
    Nobody ever became a worse a pilot from flying a small suit, and the majority of my personal jumps I still enjoy doing in actual small suits. Acrobatics and performance…the actual inputs and feeling don't change. When flying with the right technique, any suit or size can be flown the same. Just certain techniques needing to be done with bigger or smaller moves, but any time spent on a small suit is never wasted.
    Both in BASE jumping or skydiving, the skills learnt on a small suit in terms of turns, and emergency response will be of vital importance. Big suit or small suit, the inputs are the same, but the response on a big suit are much faster and more aggressive, and sometimes violent. In all other serious disciplines, issues with flying, tend to be fixed with a strong focus on skill. A common problem in wingsuit flying is that coaches, though not all bad in intent, can sometimes put too much influence on students to look for gear solutions instead of focusing strictly on technique. This makes our discipline one that's sometimes too much resorting to blowing cash on nylon, instead of on skills.
    Gear for sure can be a factor in your flying, as not every suit, model or brand has the same degree of precise control. But make those decisions by trying various suits in the same category, as any suit upsize will on the first few jumps feel like you've just been handed a jetfighter with afterburners. But in the end, it’s the fine control that matters most, and across the board, most manufacturers have similar size models in terms of capability.
    It’s the steering and control that matter most, be it belly, backfly, acro, flocking or performance. There, demoing suits of various manufacturers in the size you're familiar with will tell you a lot more about the control, and allow you to make informed decisions, instead of basing it on the brand your (sponsored) coach may be trying to push onto you.
    There’s no doubt that placing your focus strictly on skill attainment – instead of relying on jump numbers, positive flysight data, or lack of problems flying a suit – is the most effective way to gauge a safe progression. I must admit that I personally regret not having kept my smaller suit, which I now wish I had for flying with newer pilots, and for generally tossing around all over the sky in ways that I’m not yet able to do as confidently on my big suit. But, as Jarno pointed out, money inevitably comes into play. And we can’t all keep throwing it towards gear hoping to become better pilots. So, in order to max out your value and your safety, please consider asking yourself the types of questions raised above relating to skill acquisition, suit mastery, and finding the right tool for the job as you progress.
    The link below also provides a great progression chart (free to download) with an indication of levels/skill that is often used at wingsuit boogies around the world:
    Fly safe folks!

    By admin, in Disciplines,

    Flying Techniques for New 4-Way Teams

    (This article was first published in Parachutist magazine under the title "The ABCs of 4-Way", and has been published with consent of the author)
    4-way is a group activity, so jumpers should learn it as a team. This article offers advice for doing just that. As such, it is geared toward jumpers new to 4-way, but you don’t have to be a student to be “new to 4-way.” Jumpers with experience in other disciplines like freeflying, canopy RW, or skysurfing can be new to 4-way. Even jumpers with experience on big-ways can be new to 4-way flying.
    Before you read another word, remember this: Learning 4-way is a gradual process. You have to start with simple drills and work your way up, adding to your skill set as you go. The skills you learn in the beginning will be useful down the road, even in the most complicated block moves. So, learn 4-way correctly from the get-go.
    Here, then, are suggestions for learning 4-way flying techniques from the ground up, so to speak.
    Train with video.
    No team should jump without video. Jumpers might have to swallow a little pride the first time they see their screw-ups on video, but it’s well worth it. Video helps jumpers identify and correct problems before they become bad habits, and it saves money. What might have taken a couple hundred jumps to learn in the pre-video days, jumpers today can learn in 20 or 30 jumps. Camera flyers deserve every penny put toward their slots.
    Match fall rates and fly no-contact.
    A team’s first few practice jumps should be devoted to finding a compatible fall rate and basic body control. Both can be accomplished on the same jump. Here is a good drill: Launch a 2-way with the other two jumpers exiting as close as possible.Build a Star then drop grips and try to stay level with the formation and in your slots. Adjust your fall rates to match that of the fastest falling jumper.
    Jumpers who float after adjusting their body position should wear weights on the next jump. If three of the jumpers are arching the whole time to stay down with the fastest-falling jumper, that jumper should probably wear a looser jumpsuit on the next jump. The rest of the jumpers should wear slick suits. It might take several jumps to get fall rates and body control worked out, but it is important. You can’t do 4-way if you can’t stay level and in your slot.
    Practice turning in place.
    After jumpers learn to fly no-contact and fall at the same rate, they can move on to turning in place. Here is a drill: From a no-contact Star, two jumpers across from each other turn 90 degrees (either direction) while the other two jumpers stay put (facing in). Fly these positions while staying in your slots. Try to stay close enough so you could take grips if you wanted to. After a designated jumper gives the “key,” go back to the no-contact Star. (A “key” is a signal to break for the next point.) Make two or three jumps doing this drill, then two or three more, this time substituting 360-degree turns for the 90-degree ones.
    Practice single formations.
    After teams can fly no contact and turn in place, they can start on randoms(single formations) selected from the 4-way dive pool *.
    * The 4-way dive pool is published in USPA’s Competition Manual. The dive pool is used for parachuting competitions around th world and is agreed upon by the IPC (International Parachuting Commission) at the beginning of each year. In the 4-way dive pool, single formations are called “randoms.” As of this writing, there are 16 randoms in the dive pool.
    Teams should start with simple randoms, where jumpers are facing in and nobody moves more than 90 degrees to go to the next formation.
    The following illustration shows a sequence of three simple randoms.
    Jumpers perform the sequence in the order shown (Star-Satellite-Zipper) then repeat the sequence. (For more challenging flying, a team can build the Zipper before the Satellite.)
    (Note: The Zipper is not a formation in the current 4-way dive pool but it is a good tool for learning how to stay level.)
    Techniques to practice while performing this sequence include:

    Flying with little tension on grips.
    Paying attention to the keys. If you can’t see the person giving the key, look into the eyes of a jumper who can see the key – it will tell you a lot!
    Moving smoothly and in control to the next point.
    Stopping the move and flying level before taking grips.
    Once teams can do drills like the one above, you can move on to more difficult randoms.But they shouldn’t do so without proper coaching. With all the formations in the dive pool, new teams can easily get lost in a fog deciding how to transition (move from one point to the next). What might look like a good move for one jumper might hinder the moves of other jumpers. Dive engineering is not rocket science, but it requires experience to see the most efficient moves for each jumper.
    Let a coach map out the moves so the team can focus on performance.
    Practice exits.
    The success of any 4-way jump depends on a solid exit. New teams should dedicate several jumps to exit practice. They should start with simple exits where all jumpers can look into the center. And they should check with a coach before they go up to make sure they are doing it correctly. A good way to focus only on exits is to jump at a lower altitude, say 6,000 feet so there is little time for anything but the exit.

    With 16 randoms and 22 block sequences in the 4-way dive pool, there are 38 possible exits. But the same principle applies to each. Jumpers exit as one stable unit by presenting themselves and the formation to the relative wind*. The formation should ride smoothly on the relative wind without buffeting or creating undue tension on grips.

    * Relative Wind is the air coming at you from the direction you are falling. On exit, the prop blast is the first type of relative wind you encounter, although this lasts only a second or two. As you fall away from the plane, the relative wind comes more and more from straight up from the ground.
    Learn your slots.
    On a 4-way team, there are four slots: Point, Outside Center, Inside Center and Tail. The camera flyer, the fifth (and invaluable) member of the team, does not turn points with the team, so the camera position is not discussed here. (But be good to your camera flyer – you can’t do without video!) The Point typically flies in the “front floater” position on the high end of the formation as it leaves the plane. He or she is responsible for launching out and up on exit.
    The Point usually makes bigger moves, especially in the block sequences. Typically, this slot is given to the jumper who is better at the longer moves.
    The Outside Center flies in the “middle floater” position and works with the Inside Center to build the center of most formations. The Outside Center also catches the Point in some block moves.
    The Inside Center exits from inside the door across from the Outside Center. It might appear that this is an easy position since the jumper is often facing out, but timing and body position are important. The Inside Center exits “with” the group and normally presents his or her chest to the relative wind. If the relative wind catches them in the back, they can fold underneath the formation.
    On some teams, the Outside Center gives the count and keys transitions. On other teams, the Inside Center gives the count and keys the next point. For this reason, both the centers should be able to lead the skydive and fly their slots at the same time.
    The Tail usually flies in the “rear floater” position and is responsible for anchoring the formation down as it flies off the plane. Sometimes it appears that the Tail exits early. Whether this is true is up for debate. The important things are timing and placement. As long as the Tail stays low on exit, the formation has a better chance of flying smoothly on the relative wind.

    Learn to fly on the hill.
    Experienced 4-way teams transition to the second point right off the plane while the formation is semi-upright relative to the ground. This is called flying “on the hill.” New teams should not try to transition on the hill until they can consistently pull off good exits. Even then, they should transition to simple formations where not much movement is involved. Also, teams should not try block sequences on the hill until they can consistently transition to single formations.
    Here is a simplified look at hill flying. The exit is the first part of hill flying. Moving to the next point is the next part. As long as the exit formation flies stable on the relative wind, you can make the same moves on the hill that you make when the formation is falling at terminal velocity. You just have to put more punch into some moves because the air is a little “mushy” (meaning the formation hasn’t yet reached terminal velocity). Probably the hardest part about hill flying is learning to ignore the fact that it seems like you’re sometimes standing on your head (or vice versa) when making your move.
    In Summary:
    If you can perform the techniques discussed in this article, you’re a darn good skydiver. But you have so much more to look forward to, like block sequences where you fly with piece partners. But don’t jump ahead just yet. Piece flying injects a completely new set of dynamics into 4-way flying and builds upon the fundamentals discussed in this article.
    So learn the basics first. Learn them as a team. Find a compatible fall rate before you practice randoms. Learn how to make smooth, controlled moves. Set aside jumps for practicing nothing but exits. Learn all the randoms in the dive pool. Then keep practicing. Spend an entire season doing randoms if necessary. Then you will be ready move on to the block sequences.
    Don’t expect miracles overnight, but do expect rewards for hard work. It might be weeks before your team has a breakthrough, but when you do, it will be exhilarating! The light will come on for the team all at once - you’ll see it in each other’s eyes in freefall. You’ll feel it in the rhythm of the skydive. And, most important, you’ll see it in your score!

    By elightle, in Disciplines,

    From Tunnel to Sky

    Training Wind Tunnel Students to be Great Skydiving Students
    by Kirk Verner and Gary Peek
    Photos by Michael Breweri
    Tunnel student Emily Young
      The advent of vertical wind tunnels has created not only an incredible new air sport, but has also provided us with a very realistic simulation of freefall skydiving. This simulation can be used to provide both accurate and efficient training for skydiving students.
    As wind tunnels proliferate around the world, more and more people are going to begin skydiving having already experienced flight in a wind tunnel. Many of them will come to skydiving having performed maneuvers that skydiving students experience not only in their initial skydives, but in their more advanced training jumps as well.
    At some point, nearly every dropzone and skydiving instructor will need to plan how to use this technology to both enhance and replace traditional training for freefall.
    Advice for the tunnel instructor:
    Keep in mind that the sport of skydiving and the skydiving industry are extremely concerned about legal issues and liability. Trusting a student's instruction outside of the normal skydiving channels is a huge leap of faith for both dropzones and skydiving instructors. It may be a long time before tunnel training for skydiving gains widespread acceptance, so have patience and try to cover all the bases during this transition.
    In all likelihood, a tunnel instructor is going to have to hold a skydiving instructional rating from a national organization in order for their instruction to be used toward skydiving, for example, an USPA AFF instructional rating in the US.
    Logging tunnel skills and experience
    In order for a person trained in a tunnel to transfer their skills and experience to skydiving, they are going to need some reasonable verification of their training. Tunnel management and tunnel instructors would do well to create their own logbook to help their students take proof of their time and skills to dropzones and skydiving instructors. This logbook should include items like the date, location, flight time, maneuvers, and instructor signature, but could also include multiple ways to contact the instructor, since using proof of tunnel training will be new to many dropzones and skydiving instructors. They will likely feel much more comfortable with their skydiving student if they can discuss their tunnel training with the tunnel instructor if needed. If a specialized tunnel logbook is not available, a skydiving logbook could be used just as well, with the advantage of the student already having a logbook when they start skydiving.
    Suggested progression for a tunnel student working toward being a skydiving student
      In order to allow an AFF instructor who does not have tunnel flying experience to feel comfortable with the progression of students you have trained in the tunnel, there are a number of skills that the student should be able to demonstrate. These can range from basic stability all the way to advanced maneuvers, depending on the amount of time spent on instruction in the tunnel.
    In most cases, a single phase of tunnel training will be all that a potential skydiving student will need. If the goal of the tunnel student is to skydive, they may be eager to do that as soon as possible.
    In some cases however, a tunnel student may have begun tunnel flying without the goal of skydiving in mind, and may have accumulated significant time in the tunnel before deciding to skydive. Or, they may prefer the efficiency of the tunnel to learn the more advanced maneuvers before skydiving. If the skills outlined in a second phase of training are learned, the student may be able to advance very quickly in their skydiving progression.
    Phase 1 -
    Phase 1 training would include basic stability, neutral body position, heading control, fall rate control, forward and backward motion, docking, simulated altimeter checks, and simulated pilot chute throws. This training can be used to provide the student with the basic stability and maneuvers to allow them to jump with a single AFF instructor and to quickly advance to skydives and aircraft exits that will deliberately introduce instability.
    Phase 2 -
    Phase 2 training would include controlled turns, intentional unstable maneuvers, "delta" and tracking body positions, and the backslide body position. This additional training can be used to allow the student to quickly perform the maneuvers necessary to advance to the "coached" phase of skydiving training.
      Ways to add realism to skydiving training in a tunnel
    In order to provide a more realistic simulation of skydiving, a tunnel instructor may have their student wear a skydiving rig along with one of the "Tunnel Wrap" or "Rig Condom" devices, used to enclose skydiving rigs in order to prevent accidental deployments when worn in tunnels. Also, a simulated altimeter training device can be helpful to allow the student to practice the position of their arm when checking altitude.
    Advice for the skydiving instructor:
    For legal liability reasons, all skydiving students need to be given instruction in all areas related to making a skydive. However, most of us realize that students that have been trained in a wind tunnel, especially in skills related to skydiving, are going to progress through the skydiving freefall skills at a rate that no traditional skydiving student could. This may allow for a considerable savings to the student in time and number of jumps.
    In all likelihood, a skydiving instructor is going to have to hold an instructional rating from a national organization in order to be be allowed to train students, for example, an USPA AFF instructional rating in the US.
    A skydiving student of any kind may have no knowledge at all about aircraft and the dangers that they can present. Students need to know how to avoid propellers, enter the aircraft and position themselves properly, to protect their handles, and to find and wear their seatbelts. Remember that tunnel students are probably not used to having a rig on their back and may not realize what the flaps are rubbing up against.
    Since most skydiving exits from aircraft are difficult to simulate in a tunnel, a skydiving instructor will need to tell the student what to expect for a particular exit. The advantage for a tunnel trained student is that if an exit causes instability, the student will be able to correct this almost immediately and quickly continue with the skydive.
    One thing that many tunnel students are unlikely to have experienced is having a parachute system on their back while flying. If the student rig is sized well for the student and adjusted well on their back, this will likely not be an issue at all since they have learned and felt a great deal of stability in their body during tunnel flight. However, if your dropzone is one of those who still uses one-size-fits-all student rigs with large parachute for all students you will need to pay close attention to the adjustment of the rig if the student is a small person.
    If a tunnel student has been flying in a tunnel for a while, or is very serious about tunnel flying, they may already have their own jumpsuit, helmet, and goggles. Their jumpsuit may or may not have grippers, so an instructor may not be able to easily take a grip on the student, but then again, why might they need to? If the student has enough tunnel time it is very unlikely that the instructor would need to take grips to control the student, but perhaps they would feel uncomfortable without grippers. If the student is required to wear the dropzone's jumpsuit it should be appropriately sized and probably be rather tight unless they are a larger student.
    If the student's personal helmet and eye protection is appropriate for skydiving then having them use their own gear would be best. But if the student is required to wear a radio for canopy guidance there might be some serious tradeoffs. If the dropzone uses radios that are mounted on the helmet, the student may need to wear the dropzone helmet and goggles. However, if the radio is mounted on the student's chest strap, then perhaps telling the student to raise the face shield on their helmet once under canopy to hear the radio better might be sufficient.
    Where will they be placed in our progression?
    One of the first questions that your student or your dropzone owner may ask about a tunnel trained student is "With their experience flying their body, what "level" or what "category" are we going to have them start with?" (In reality, you may need to create a level or category specifically for them for at least a few jumps.)
    Realize that there will be a huge difference between a student that has 15 minutes in a tunnel compared to one that has several hours. If the student's tunnel instructors have done specific training in preparation for their student learning to skydive, there may actually be only a few freefall related skills for the student to learn and demonstrate.
    Body Position
    When you are initially training your student and practicing a skydive on a creeper or other training device, you may see your tunnel trained student use a body position that is different than what you would normally train your skydiving student to use. Well, if your student has more than a few minutes of tunnel time using that body position, then you should usually just let them continue to use it. Trying to make them do something different that what they were initially trained to do will waste time and may make their performance worse. This also includes some maneuvers such as turns, which may be taught differently by tunnel instructors.
    Freefall maneuvers
    Most freefall maneuvers used in skydiving can be simulated and practiced in a tunnel, perhaps with the exception of the lengthy movements made during tracking or backsliding. Although tracking can be simulated in a tunnel, the skydiving instructor will still need to make sure that the student can track in a straight line in order to provide separation before deploying a parachute.
    Most skydiving instructors will be concerned with the altitude awareness of their tunnel trained student, and perhaps for good reason, given the extended period of working time provided by a tunnel. However, the normal training given to skydiving students regarding the dive flow should give the student sufficient time and altitude awareness. A simulated altimeter training device with an altitude that can be set to count down would be extremely valuable.
    Canopy control
    Knowledge of parachutes and how to fly them safely is something that no tunnel student will know until they are trained on it. All of the normal canopy training subjects will need to be taught. The good news is that the increased confidence that a tunnel trained student has in their freefall skills will allow them to relax and to use more of their energy and thought learning canopy skills.
    If your tunnel student turned skydiver is not catching on to canopy control after having mastered the freefall skills, you can always do what you would do to a student that started as a skydiver. They can always do a number of clear-and-pulls and concentrate on improving their canopy skills. This may also provided them with more opportunity to practice spotting in the aircraft.
    About the Authors
    Kirk Verner and Gary Peek have known each other for over 30 years. They both learned to skydive in the early 1980's at Archway Skydiving Centre in Sparta, Illinois, owned by Kirk's father Dave Verner. Both Kirk and Gary are on the United States Parachute Association Board of Directors, Kirk as a National Director and Gary as the Central Regional Director.
    Kirk managed the Paraclete wind tunnel for 10 years and now manages the Paraclete dropzone. Kirk is an active AFF instructor and teaches students trained in the tunnel to be skydivers using Paracletes' tunnel to skydiving program. Kirk is also a world champion formation skydiver, having been on the Arizona Airspeed teams for 13 years.
    Gary is an active Tandem and AFF instructor, and teaches students locally, as well as when he visits dropzones in the region. He is also a Master Parachute Rigger, a Commercial Pilot, and Cessna 182 jump pilot.

    By admin, in Disciplines,

    Formation Skydiving

    Photo: Brent Finley

    Free Flyers would call Formation Skydiving "belly-flying", with the earth always below, and the skies above. Formation Skydiving is much more than this, and entails quite a long history. Already in the 70's, freefall veterans experimented for a long time to hook up two people while falling straight down. Currently, the span of Formation Skydiving begins with a two-way and ends with a 246-way as the official world record. It's a social affair in the air: skydivers are holding hands and legs and both at the same time to build all kind of different formations of all sizes. Organizers and coaches are engineering the puzzle. Formation Skydiving has two different areas: recreational skydiving, also known as fun jumping, and the competitive arena.
    Recreational Formation Skydiving
    Bellyflyers meet on all kind of different occasions to build their formations in the sky. They are filling their local jump planes on the weekends, as well as weekday sunset loads, to the maximum capacity. As the number of bigger events with larger aircraft continues to grow, they meet with skydivers from all over the country, sometimes all over the world, to build their formations up to the present potential. The current world record is a 300-way formation.
    Formation Skydiving Competition
    More ambitious bellyflyers are sharpening their flying skills at training camps and go out to compete. Formation Skydiving has become a very well organized competition arena. Regional leagues and meets are offering competitions for all performance levels over the whole season. Nationwide championships bring the best teams of the country together (such as the National Skydiving League Championships and the U.S. National Championships). The national champions of all countries in the world compete each year at the World Cup or at the World Championships. The best teams of the world are invited to compete at the World Air Games. Formation Skydiving is slowly forging its way to becoming a part of the Olympic Games.

    Photo: Brent Finley

    The Formation Skydiving competitions are recognized by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and sanctioned by the FAI (Federation Aeronautique Internationale), the IPC (International Parachuting Committee) and by the USPA (United States Parachute Association) in the United States. The sanctioned competition disciplines are: 4-Way 8-Way 16-way.
    Competition teams perform up to six rounds per day at the competition. After exiting the jump plane, all teams have a certain amount of time available (4-way 35 seconds, 8-way and 16-way 50 seconds) to perform the same pre-determined sequence of formations and maneuvers. The team with the most accumulated points wins the round. At a competition, all teams must perform between six and ten rounds. Each competition round has a different sequence of formations and maneuvers. Freefall videographers are filming the performance and deliver the footage to the judges for evaluation. The major events have live broadcast of the freefall and live judging.

    Photo: Brent Finley

    U.S.A. and France have been the dominating the nations in Formation Skydiving. The 8-way discipline has never seen a different winner than the U.S. 8-way team in the history of 8-way competition. In 4-way, U.S.A. and France have been taking turns in bringing home the gold medal. Only the Swiss 4-way team "Blue Magic" has interrupted this series once in 1983. The French national team is holding the world record in 4-way with 36 points in 35 seconds. The U.S.A. is holding the world record in 8-way with 31 points in 50 seconds.
    Twenty years ago, the world record holders in 4 way were scoring 8 points in time, and no one would ever have believed that our sport would have advanced to currently scoring 36 points in time. This rapid progression is testimony that formation skydiving is truly a professional, athletic sport with highly trained athletes, and is a skill that can be developed and cultivated like many other professional sports in our culture. We all look forward to where our sport will take us in the future. Until then, the belly flyers continue to train hard, compete well and enjoy the journey.

    By admin, in Disciplines,

    Starting a FUN 4-Way Team

    Many formation skydivers cannot afford a thousand training jumps a year. Some can't jump every weekend. Some are married with children. Some are students. Some live in the cooler climates and can only jump six months out of the year. Yet they dream about jumping on a 4-way team. They try not to get their hopes up though. They figure that only single people or those born with silver spoons in their mouths can afford it.
    But that way of thinking is changing. More and more, jumpers on shoestring budgets are finding ways to compete on a recreational basis. They are starting to realize that they don't have to spend a lot of money to learn 4-way. Granted, they probably won't compete with Airspeed or the Golden Knights, but they can still challenge themselves and have a lot of fun in the process.
    So for jumpers who want to jump on a fun team, here are some suggestions for getting started:
    Do you have the time?
    Are you willing to commit the necessary time to the team? Things like work, family commitments, and other hobbies have to be taken into account. You might have money to burn, but it won't matter if you're a Boy Scout troop leader most weekends. If you have a spouse or significant other, will they agree to your being gone on weekends?
    But don't let the term "fun team" fool you. It can actually be more challenging to coordinate schedules for a fun team than for a serious team. With a serious team, members are usually committed to practicing every day of every weekend. With a fun team, however, members must determine which days on which weekends they're going to practice. It takes a little more juggling.
    Do you have the money?
    Time and money are the big commitments. Even if you can spare the time, can you spare the dime? Okay, corny rhyme but you get the point. Don't get your teammates' hopes up if you know you won't have the money. Also make sure your spouse or significant other knows how much money will be involved.
    Can you take criticism?
    Some jumpers don't like the pressure of competing but perform admirably on recreational jumps. On a team, both your RW and interpersonal skills are constantly under scrutiny. Your every move is going to be caught on video. As coach and friend, Woody (John Woode) always says: "The video doesn't lie." Jumpers who don't like to be under the microscope might want to think twice about signing up for a team.
    Find jumpers who can agree on common goals
    Once you decide you have the time, money, and tough skin, look for other jumpers who can agree on common goals for the team. Your personalities can be as different as night and day, but you can still jump together if you agree on common goals for the team. For example, if two team members want to practice full-time, buy team jumpsuits and go to the Nationals, while other members only want to practice two days a month and forget the Nationals, compromise might be difficult to reach. Teams in this situation might want to think about forming two teams, one serious and one just for fun.
    Ask around and you will find that you have more in common with other jumpers than you think. Most jumpers have jobs, families, and hectic schedules. But that's the beauty of a fun team - it lets you schedule training around everybody's life, not the opposite.
    Tip: Find a couple alternates who can fill in when regular members can't practice.
    Set team goals
    Once you find jumpers with compatible goals, schedule your first meeting. Find a setting for the meeting where everybody can relax and take as much time as they need. Agree to meet as a team at least twice a month.
    At this first meeting, agree upon basic goals for the team, such as showing up for practice on time and notifying the team if you have to miss a practice. Elect a team captain and somebody to create a team-training schedule. Ask team members to provide a calendar of their availability for the entire season, along with contact information (phone numbers and email addresses). Schedule another meeting to distribute the schedule and clear up any discrepancies.
    Determine the cost
    In one of your first meetings, map out a team budget and agree upon how each team member will pay. Let's say you want to make 100 training jumps, attend four meets, and go to the Nationals. Here is an estimate of what it might cost (per person) based on figures from the 2003 jump year in the US.

    100 Training Jumps @ $17/jump (including video)

    4 Regional 4-Way Meets (6 jumps each @ $21/jump)

    Team Jumpsuits (optional)

    Registration for the 4 Regional Meet

    U.S. Nationals (10 jumps @17/jump)

    Registration for U.S. Nationals (per person)

    Transportation and Food


    Competition is not for the feint-hearted, even when it comes to money. But most DZO's give teams a discount on ticket prices if the team trains at that drop zone and buys tickets in bulk. If each team member purchases just 50 tickets to start the season, the DZO collects $3400 up front (at $17 a ticket). It's money in the bank for the DZO and a commitment to the team from each jumper.
    Tip: Set a deadline for collecting money for jump tickets from team members.
    Get good coaching
    Many DZ's have an RW organizer or coach who is willing to offer advice to new teams. Normally, this kind of advice is free. Even if the coach charges a small fee, it is worth it because it will save you many jumps flailing around by yourselves. Coaching is also available at most local competitions to help teams work out exits and engineer skydives. They can also help with the mental side of skydiving such as how to conduct team meetings and how to mentally prepare for the skydive. So don't be afraid to ask for help. You're only cheating yourselves it you don't.
    Keep a team notebook
    In the pressure of training, it is easy to forget what you've learned. This is where a team notebook comes in handy. You don't have to write down everything, just a few reminders about how to do a particular move. Then when you're scrambling to dirt dive at a meet, you can refer to the notebook to refresh your memory. Make a page for each random and each block (currently, there are 16 randoms and 24 blocks in the 4-way dive pool).
    Tip: Create the notebook on a computer so you can print a copy for each team member.
    In Summary:
    There is more than one way to start a team, and the suggestions offered in this article might be old hat to experienced competitors. But for jumpers new to 4-way, they provide a good starting point.
    If you get nothing else out of this article, remember this. Team jumping is a commitment of time, energy, and money. It is a group effort. Everybody has to be dedicated, committed, and focused. They have to be able to perform under pressure. They have to be able to get along with people. And, most of all, they have to believe in what they're doing. If you are willing to do all this, then what are you waiting for? Go find yourself a team!
    © January 5, 2004 Edward E. Lightle

    By elightle, in Disciplines,

    How to Tube: Buying and Using Time

    Tunnel time is not cheap. For casual flyers there is no real way to make it be cheap, short of selling your soul to a tunnel company for a position as an instructor. However, there are a few things to learn about the process of procuring time that can help make every minute as useful as possible.
    The important bit of information here is the more time you buy the less expensive it is per minute.
    For example - if you but 10 minutes of flying you will be paying a standard rate, but if you buy an hour you will qualify for a slightly cheaper category and save a small percentage on each minute. If you buy five hours you might qualify for the next cheapest level and save a little more. To qualify for the lowest rate that the facility offers you may have to commit to something like 20 hours of time. This is a lot of money to stump up for tunnel flying but if you are committed to getting good and have to cash to invest in it early then the savings start to make sense.
    Generally speaking there are a couple of ways to buy time - either from a tunnel or from a coach.
    Coaches make their money by purchasing time at the cheapest per-minute rate then selling it on to their students at a higher price and banking the difference as the fee for their services.
    As would make sense for an industry where different standards and levels of experience are available - coaching fees are not all the same. A multiple world champion with many years of experience might cost you more than a new instructor with a year of working at the tunnel under their belt. However, a general rule is:
    If you are buying smaller amounts of time the difference in price of buying form a tunnel or from a coach is negligible.
The advantage of buying from a coach:
    You get to learn stuff in a structured and efficient manner and you do not rely on the uncertain system of being coached by tunnel instructors.
    The advantage of buying from a tunnel:
    You may be at the stage in your flying where you can choose wether you need coaching or not. If you just want to zoom around practice without having to talk to anybody then you can. If you do want coaching for a session that you have already booked you can pay someone separately as a separate arrangement. If you want to invite your friends for some group play you can.
    Important: If you are relying on the tunnels instructors to teach you, remember that they learn on the job and might not be qualified to spot what you want to learn. Tunnel facilities often have a system with which to request an instructor of a high enough level to cover what you need, so don’t forget to ask (A good coach understands this system and will make the appropriate arrangements automatically). Remember that the more advanced you get the greater the chance that a tunnel instructor will not be able to teach you.
    For the majority of casual flyers it makes the most sense to buy time through a coach. This is because the best way to learn at the tunnel is from and experienced flyer that can effectively and efficiently communicate ideas, demonstrate techniques and provide a quality one-on-one service. The pool of instructors at your local tube may well be good coaches, but are often simply too busy to offer sufficient depth - and if the money you are is not really any different then the choice is an easy one.
    Some Tips:
    Look out for loopholes: If the tunnel is running a special promotion you might be a be able to take advantage of it. Buy-One-Get-One-Free on introductory flight packages you say? How many can you buy? Likely nobody cares that this is not proper pro-flyer time - certainly not the instructors. They would probably much prefer to teach you something for a session than process a family of newbies.
    Events: Tunnels might run special events for group flying - tunnel scrambles, night parties etc. Organised group events can be bags of fun and a great way to find flyers of a similar level to practice with.
    Last minute rates: If a tunnel has a particularly quiet period or a big group cancels at the last minute they might offer the empty time at a heavily discounted rate. This is often a regulars-only type thing - make nice with the right people and be sure the tunnel has your contact details.
    Locations: There are a lot of tunnels now, and a lot more on the way. Some places where you can train are cheap to fly to and cheap to live in. Depending on how much time you want to do it can cost less to go abroad than visit your closest tunnel. Plus you get to see somewhere else and maybe learn some stuff.

    By joelstrickland, in Disciplines,

    How To Tube: A Guide To Getting The Most From Your Tunnel Sessions

    Part One: Instructor vs. Coach
    A tunnel coach and a tunnel instructor are different things. This can be confusing as they may look the same, sound the same, perhaps wear the same suit and even be the same person performing two different roles from one session to the next. They will all high-five you too many times.
    What exactly does an instructor do? What exactly does a coach do? What are the differences between the two and how do they apply to me? Also, what is spotting and who does it? Do I need some? Also, how do I go about finding a good coach that is the correct fit for my personality and flying goals?
    What does a tunnel instructor do?
    An instructor is an human employed by the facility itself to oversee and conduct the tunnel sessions. This includes managing the time, keeping everyone safe and teaching students as and when it is required. Instructors are also responsible for taking turns controlling the tunnel and during downtime performing maintenance around the building.

    Coaches provide tuition in different ways. Sometimes from outside the chamber...

    ...And sometimes from within. Instructors provide support where it is needed.

    What does a tunnel coach do?
    A tunnel coach is an accomplished flyer that buys time from the tunnel as a private individual and offers it as lessons to potential students. Coaches buy bulk time from the tunnel company to secure it at the cheapest available rate and sell it on to their students including a fee for their services.
    Do I need to get a coach?
    Yes, no, sometimes, maybe, yes.
    At any given tunnel there is an instructor in the immediate vicinity of the action at all times (watching from the doorway or in the chamber itself). They are present for safety and are available to teach anyone in their session who requires help. You can go to the tunnel without booking a coach and have the instructor teach you, but there are a few things to consider:
    1. Instructors learn on the job - they begin with a very basic amount of training and advance through levels of qualification while working at their tunnel. This means the instructor for your session can be a veteran of many years or a new employee conducting their very first class.
    2. Instructors have other duties to perform. The busier the tunnel is the less time the instructor will have to talk to you before and after your session. If they have a birthday party of tiny children to fill with joy they will probably not have the time and energy to discuss your backfly position in any detail.
    3. You will likely get a different instructor each time you visit. While there is something to be said for mixing up the sources of your learning, there are couple of things that are important to consider - An instructor you do not know might want a demonstration of your skills before they will teach you anything new, thus eating into your valuable time. Also, the more you fly and more skills you acquire, the higher the chances that an instructor will not be qualified to teach you anything new.
    4. If you want to learn head down flying you need to have a coach to give you feedback from the front as the instructor will be holding on to (spotting) you from behind. (While it is possible to learn this from just one appropriately qualified person, it is a very inefficient and time consuming way to do it). Both instructors and coaches will tell you to get a good coach.
    5. As you gather more experience and your skills grow, you will recognise the times when you might or might not want or need coaching for a particular session. There are times when you a required to have a coach in order to progress, and there are times when you can improve by practising alone or with a group of friends.

    For learning head down you will need the help of both an instructor and coach.
    The coach (left) is there to teach you what to do. The instructor (right) is there for your safety.
    An instructors job is to spot transitions when required.

    What is spotting?
    Spotting is the term used to refer to the techniques used by by instructors to control and catch flyers in the flight chamber.
    This term is commonly used in two ways:
    1. As action. For example - A student flips onto their back and is caught by the instructor. This is a spot.
    2. As method. For example - An instructor is teaching a student how to sitfly. The instructor is doing the teaching, but is also spotting the student should anything go wrong.
    The duty of spotting falls to the instructor of the session. The flying activity that takes place will be equal to the level of qualification of the instructor. The exception to this is that if there is another person in the tunnel that has more advanced qualifications. An example of this might be another instructor doing some private coaching outside of his duties at the tunnel.
    Tips for finding a good coach:
    There is no enforced rating system for coaches. As a result of this there are many excellent ones and just as many terrible ones. Someone can easily be a very accomplished skydiver but have skills and methods that simply do not translate well to the tube, just as a tunnel coach might be the best flyer you have ever seen and have never set foot in a jump plane.
    - Does your coach provide a proper briefing and de-briefing? It is very important to have the right information and suitable practice before your session begins. This can mean the difference between rewarding progress and frustrating failure. If your coach turns up at the last minute or books their sessions so they are back-to-back with another student and have no time to brief you then they are crappy - get someone else. Does your coach de-brief you properly with video after your session? Deconstructing and analysing your flying can often be the part of the process in which you learn the most. If your coach stays in the tunnel with another student or disappears without de-briefing you properly then they are crappy - get someone else.
    - Always find out peoples experience level. Ask around, it doesn’t take much to find out if someone is full of shit.
    - Does your coach have time to perform a backflip or some such each time you get in and out of the tunnel? If yes, you have a crappy coach who is more interested in their flying skills than yours. Get someone else.
    - Does your coach perform moves or fly in a way that is beyond your current skill level while you are flying together? If yes, you have a crappy coach - visual feedback is an important tool for your progress. Your coach should be using their body position to teach you about yours. Get someone else.

    Coaches will sometimes be qualified to spot transitions themselves.
    Sometimes the instructor's help is not required.
    Sometimes the instructor's help is mandatory.
    Many tunnel instructors also offer their skills as coaches. As a general rule people who have honed their skills working as an instructor make the best coaches. However, there are a few things to consider:
    Instructors make their bones by doing a lot of sessions with people of all levels of ability. This makes them very efficient at communicating ideas and techniques both in and out of the tube.
    An instructor who offers coaching will likely be able to perform any spotting you require. This makes the logistics of booking sessions easier and the sessions themselves more efficient.
    An instructor who offers coaching will be required to arrange their private sessions around their duties for the facility. This can affect their availability and make booking sessions more complicated.
    An instructor might be broken. Tunnels work their employees hard and pay them very little - this can harm a worker’s attitude toward other humans. A broken instructor will likely be off to do something else soon, but until then they can be reckless and unprofessional.
    Good coaching from an accomplished flyer is a worthy investment and an important part of speedy progress. Tunnel flying is expensive so everything you can do to aid the efficiency of your learning helps - a little leg work before your actual tunnel sessions can go a long way. Get involved involved in you local flying scene, either at your local tunnel or dropzone - there will be established individuals or teams that can help you directly or put you on the right path. If you are brand new then don’t be afraid to ask questions - everyone starts from the beginning and everybody knows how much there is to learn. Don’t be shy - good quality instructors and coaches value students that constantly enquire about the techniques and processes involved.

    By joelstrickland, in Disciplines,

    How To Get That Wind Tunnel Job - Vince Arnone Talks You In

    Image by Wolfgang Lienbacher
    When it comes to the windytube, Vince Arnone has a few solid miles under his belt. He’s worked in the wind tunnel industry since 2010 (and in the skydiving world for a few more years before even that). He runs Indoor Skydiving Source, a community-based resource for indoor skydiving and bodyflight.
    During his many years as a tunnel instructor--working with first-time flyers and skydivers alike--he has constantly been approached by wanna-be tunnel rats. If you’re one of them, he has some advice to share with you. I asked him some questions about it, and here’s what he had to say.
    Q: What’s the first step? Are there prerequisites?
    Vince: Just apply!
    At the end of the day, great timing and a solid application really is the key to working in the wind tunnel. Beyond that, there are a few important factors to consider before filling out that app.
    The physical requirements of the job should be the first thing you consider before seriously looking at getting a job as a wind tunnel instructor. Being a tunnel instructor, and especially working with first-time flyers, is a physically demanding job. Sometimes you work with children, but sometimes a 250lb man walks through the door. They are both your responsibility, and bothcan kick your ass!
    Both the IBA and Tunnel Instructor rating programs administer a physical fitness test that you must pass in order to be an instructor. The test normally includes pull-ups, sit-ups and running. You don't need to be superhuman, but being generally in shape is a good starter.
    Q: Do you need a lot of previous tunnel experience? Is it, like, only shredders need apply?
    Vince: No. The training will be part of the job, and it’s an investment. It goes like this.
    In order to work in a wind tunnel with first-time flyers, you need a tunnel instructor rating. Earning this rating requires a 3-4 week course which teaches you how to safely introduce and monitor a flyer's first flight. Most wind tunnels include this as part of your initial hiring period.
    You might have to sign a contract or have some money withheld from your paychecks to pay for the training, but rarely do you have to pay out-of-pocket for it. Training programs like this are designed to take anyone off the street with no previous experience and set them up with the key skills they need for the job.
    Q: Do you have any insider tips that might give an application the edge?
    Vince: If you remember one thing from this article, remember this: a staff at a wind tunnel is a close-knit team, and the team has to work well together. Because of this fact, knowing and having a standing relationship with other instructors or managers can make the difference when applying.
    A hiring manager is always looking for a good fit to the team, not just a skilled individual. This means they are looking for someone who will mesh well with the other instructors on the staff and work hard. This is the most important thing to remember when applying.
    If you don't know anyone, but you know the job is for you, don't worry! I don't mean that you have to be long-time buddies with someone at the tunnel in order to get a job. Hang around. Get to know the staff at the tunnel you want to work in. Show interest. Small acts like this will go a long way, and you just might learn about the tunnel and bodyflight in the process.
    Q: What should a potential tunnel employee do to prepare for the interview?
    Vince: Treat it like a “real interview.” Don’t be too casual about it. All the standard job application best practices apply.
    The opportunity to work in the wind tunnel is a unique -- and possibly life-changing -- one. Approach it with a good attitude and tons of passion, and see where it might take you. Good luck!
    Q: What are the major differences between tunnels for flyers with an eye on growth?
    Vince: Back when I first started--I guess I’m sounding old now--there were just so few tunnel jobs out there. The number of tunnels from 1982 to the year 2011 was around 40. From 2012 to 2015, that number jumped to around 80. Today, looking at the database, there are 113.
    So rather than jumping at ANY possibility--as someone who sees the tunnel job as an opportunity to grow their personal skills and maybe even start coaching--it really matters which tunnel you land at.
    The days where everyone would flock to a single tunnel because it was the only tunnel, only high speed tunnel, or only 14 ft tunnel, are long gone. There are more coming, too; since 2013, the number of tunnels opening each year has also exploded. This also means the number of instructor positions has grown. Just by the numbers, setting out to get an instructor job is more likely to end successfully. This also means that the experienced flying community has spread out.
    Consider working at a tunnel that mainly serves first-time clientele. There will be lower experienced flyer traffic, and the other instructors might not be flying- and coaching-focused. That’s a much different environment than a tunnel that sees experienced flyers as a larger percentage of their business.
    Working with experienced flyers and other coaches will play a big role in your personal progression. Surrounding yourself with people who have similar goals will immerse you in the culture. Consider the location and culture of the tunnel you land at. A location that will support your flying goals will help you reach them much quicker--and this is about you going all-in for personal development, isn’t it?

    By nettenette, in Disciplines,