Submit Article

Skydiving News and Articles

Select A Category

Pick a Category

Indoors Outdoors - Translating Between The Tunnel & The Sky (Part 6)

Part Six: Wrapping Things Up
Before you have invested the considerable time and effort to persuade your brain how to understand freefly properly it can all feel rather difficult. Witnessing highly accomplished flying in both the sky and the tunnel appears akin to magic, and the road to being able to do all that stuff yourself can seem very long indeed. However - the key to mastering the necessary skills is about breaking down complicated positions and challenging movements into manageable, digestible elements. As you learn you will start to recognise moves that you can do as being pieces of the overall puzzle - building blocks that you can assemble in a variety of ways to achieve different results.
Without proper guidance it can be difficult to take on board the amount of themes and concepts you are required to grasp, so hopefully this series of articles has offered up some insight into the methodology behind the ways we train. To get the most from your sessions with a coach it is important to not only understand what to do and how do it, but furthermore why you are doing it.
Now that we have looked at the individual body positions, here are some general tips to help with progression:
Slow Is Fast - The importance of being able to control your speed cannot be overstated. Mastery of a move is not the ability to do it fast but the ability to do the opposite - the slower you can do something the more your body is registering exactly what is happening with the surfaces you are using for control and the easier it is to inter the correct technique in your muscle memory. Low speed training is a very useful way to develop good technique as you must apply more of your body to the wind in order to make the positions work. Once you have practiced something enough the good technique should transfer though to higher speeds in the tube and on your skydives. Zoom!
Range - This begins with being able to do things as slowly as possible. Zooming flat out is no good if you cannot get there and back safely, and merely being able to go fast does not count as having mastered something. Being able to apply and remove speed with precision means you truly understand how the mechanics of how something really works.
Less Is More - The most efficient way to fly you body is to use all of it a little bit, rather than one part of it a lot. At the start of training a particular move or position the inputs might be exaggerated to emphasise the effect they have, but as you improve and work through the drills the goal is to use your body as effectively as possible. Pay attention to the very best flyers to see how conservative they are with the energy they expend in the tunnel. Aim to be as economical with your movements as you can.
Personal Goals - The only person you are trying to be better than is you. Learning to freefly properly takes a lot of time and effort and money. Everybody went through the same steps and recognises the same frustrations - some things you will get relatively quickly, whereas other will take more time. It can be inspiring to watch people that have been flying for years but also very frustrating. Try not to focus your too much on the huge goals - it is important to remember that every small step forwards is of equal value as they are what adds up the the whole.
Fill the Gaps - Being a truly good flyer is about breadth and depth. Try to resist letting your skillset lead you off by the nose in a single direction - instead use the training time and resources you have available to build your skills evenly. You may well be able to zoom like a motherfucker in a single position and a single direction, but once it gets like that it is all you are ever going to want to do at the expense of everything else. If this is already you then don’t think that revisiting weak areas is ‘going backwards’ - filling in any gaps in your abilities to bring them level is very much moving forwards. All the pieces matter.
“Keep it loose. But keep it tight.” - James Brown

By admin, in Disciplines,

Flanders Boogie 2017: World Class Organizers, Cheap Jumps and Belgian Summer

What do Belgian beers and boogies have in common? Greatness. If you haven't combined both yet, you are missing out.
Last chance was at end of July, in Moorsele (west Belgium). The Flanders Boogie is quite possibly the largest boogie
in Europe. Not happy with that, the club behind -PCV- makes it also the cheapest. PCV is a non-profit organization,
which means that every penny is used to make the club greater, while keeping the jump ticket prices the lowest in the continent -as low as 15€ to 13000ft-. If you aren't convinced yet maybe 3 supervans and 1 grand caravan will
tip the balance.

An event for every jumper.

The Flanders Boogie is an inclusive event in nature. At all levels. The number of jumpers increased over the last
few years, reaching now almost 500, from more than 20 different nationalities. There are jumpers from every skill
level and discipline.

In this day and age, freeflying is the most popular discipline. As such, most of the participants and organizers
focused on different forms of freeflying. Every
day in the morning participants had to sign up for the desired group. Head up, head down, tracking/tracing or
dynamic flying. Each one of these disciplines was further divided in beginner, intermediate or advanced groups.
That made it easier to find an appropriate bunch of mates for each flyer. 13 coaches took care of the groups, that had a
maximum of 7 participants (+ coach). Do you think that a cheap boogie would have second level coaches? Think again.
Ally Milne, David Nimmo, Hedda Andersen, Julian Barthel, Kurt Dockx, Luis Lopez-Mendez, Reed Ramage, Troy Rodway,
Rene Terstegen, Kim Van der Horst, Mike Wittenburg, Dylan Poty and Rich Madeley (from Fly Warriors, Fly-In, Airspace,
Skydive Empuriabrava, Maktoum, Turbolenza, ...) were the freefly organizers, and some of the best flyers of the planet.
Moreover, the all-mighty Gustavo Cabana joined some of the jumps so mere mortals could see the shredding of the
most advanced jumps right before each day's party. Don't believe me? Watch the video.

Even though freeflying has an important presence in the Boogie, the number of belly jumpers is still very significant.
They also had their big share of fun. Quality 4 and 8 ways? That is guaranteed when world champions like Hayabusa are in the house.
Big ways (16 and 32 ways)? No problem when Marco Arrigo, Martial Ferre, Lesley Gale, Roy Janssen, Johan Van Eeckhout
and Herman Landsman are in charge. Are you a beginner skydiver and you think this boogie is not for you yet? Wrong.
Coaches of the club organize fun 4-ways, with one coach and one experienced videoman, where you can learn the basics
of relative work, if you are cleared to jump with more people. I told you. This is an inclusive boogie.

Wingsuiting is the last big modern group discipline. If massive flocking is how you roll, you'll have a good time
here as well. Darren Burke, Benoit Syben, Joran Dekker and Julian Boulle were the bosses in the area this year.

If that is not enough, sometimes balloon jumps, high altitude jumps, CRW or cross country jumps are also organized during
the Boogie days. Unfortunately the weather made it difficult this year for these activities.

Be careful with what you wish.

Last year the weather was hot. Too hot. I bet more than one was wishing for cooler weather. I know I did. Wish granted. This
year was by far the year with the most challenging weather conditions. Wind, clouds and low temperatures -for being
July- were the norm the whole week. Belgian summers tend to be a bit unpredictable, but this level of crappiness
is a new high. Multiple weather holds and 500+ jumps limits kept a lot of people on the ground. The plus side?
There is a brand new tunnel 15 minutes away, and the motivation was high as soon as the conditions improved a little bit.
That's obvious when you notice that we broke a local record: 115 loads in a single day! Nobody wanted to miss the
chance when after 5 days we had a day of good weather.

More than jumping.

The Boogie is also a great opportunity to talk to all the vendors present there. You can see their newest products,
talk about them, demo them, try them on and even get measured if you decided to order a new container or suit later
on. NZ Aerosports, Icarus, Performance Designs, Aerodyne, Vigil, Cookie, Sonic, SWS, Sife, Parachute Systems, Intrudair,
UPT and Boogie Man representatives were there during the boogie with their latests products. Since last year, one
of the evenings all the vendors present there organize the vendor's night, where beer and snacks are on them!
The sponsors of the Boogie -lots of them present during it- also helped to make it more attractive with awesome
prizes during the raffle. The prizes included discounts on products, free gear, tunnel time, t-shirts... you name it.

After a legendary day of jumping (or of waiting) you need a legendary night of partying. Did I mention Belgian beer
while watching the video of day, edited most days by the master mind of Marcel Leen? Well, I did it now. After it
there was live music or DJs to keep the mood high. For some, too high. Maybe the questionable weather was not that
bad on some cases.

Wrapping up.

During 7 days 459 skydivers from 20+ countries made 6904 jumps in 414 loads (16.67 jumpers per load, and 59 loads
per day). The weather tried to keep everyone down and in the lowest day just 21 loads went up. The Boogie rebounded
and made 115 loads when the conditions were good. Fun was had. Skills were learnt. The sky was shredded. Beer was drank.
The wind blew and we blew back. That was stupid but we blame the beer. If you weren't there you missed out. Learn
from your mistakes and save the date for 2018. If you were there and you are feeling the Boogie blues maybe watching again the daily videos will cheer you up.

Flanders Boogie 2017 - Day 1.
Flanders Boogie 2017 - Day 2.
Flanders Boogie 2017 - Day 3.
Flanders Boogie 2017 - Day 4.
Flanders Boogie 2017 - Day 5.
Flanders Boogie 2017 - Day 6.
Flanders Boogie 2017 - Day 7.

By admin, in Events,

Know Your Gear: Harness and Container Systems Part 2

Harnesses: Fitting to your body and effects to consider...

During part 1 (take a look here) we described the different parts of a skydiving harness and the materials used on it. On the second part we are a bit more practical. Here we will go through most (all?) harness options and designs, independently of the manufacturer. We will see what they are and which purpose they have, so you can decide if they are for you or not. Most manufacturers are open to offer non standard options if the buyer asks about it. However, there is a significant number of options that are specific for a subgroup of manufacturers, and therefore you can't freely mix and match every single option explained here.

To keep things ordered we will go from top to bottom of the harness. Let's go!

Going from top to bottom, the first thing you find are the main risers. As simple as they seem to be, they have a significant number of options.

The first thing to decide is which type of webbing you want on your risers. In this time and age there is little debate: If you are not an outlier you'll want type 17 risers. There are multiple reasons. The main technical reason is that it makes it easier to pull down the slider to stow it behind your head. Type 17 is also preferred to type 8 because of its lower bulk and cooler appearance (which is, of course, not a technical reason). It typically comes paired with minirings, which are also less bulky than traditional rings and "cool" looking.

Regarding webbing, a second option is to have risers sewed in half, reducing its cross section and drag. This option is only available in type 17 risers and has a very specific audience: hardcore swoopers. They need to reduce drag as much as possible, to squeeze out all the performance in their canopies. If you are not a hardcore swooper you can ignore this option. Moreover, some manufacturers advise against these low profile risers if you are going to deploy at terminal speed.

The last bit regarding webbing on risers is its length. 21" (53 cm) is the standard length of many manufacturers. As usual, check first with them to ensure that is true. You can also order them shorter (if you have short arms) or longer. It is normally recommended to have them as long as possible, but allowing to reach the slider. That's because with longer risers the canopy can "open up" a bit more, and you'll have more range in all your controls, particularly in toggles. That also means that you can stall your canopy easier, so the whole system has to be in balance.
Diving loops

Diving loops are nowadays kind of standard, and even rigs targeted at newly licensed skydivers have them. There are, however almost as many kinds as manufacturers.

The simplest type is a loop of type 17 webbing sewed close to the top of the front risers. These loops are easy to manufacture, cheap, and play no role on hooking your main canopy. On the flip side, they lay flat against the risers, making them more difficult to grab and causing distractions, and are harder on the fingers.

Another common type of loop uses tubular webbing. The advantage of this type of loop over the simple type 17 is two-fold: It is easier on the fingers, allowing to hold the front risers longer, and the loop tends to stay open, making it easier to grab. Sometimes these loops have extra material inside (stiffeners or bungee cords) to ensure they stay open when you need them. It is also possible that the tubular webbing is sewed in the inside part of a regular type 17 loop.

In recent years the so called "louie" loops have become more popular. These loops have a double layer of webbing, and stay easily open. But their most distinctive feature is that they wrap the loop used to connect the canopy to the risers. That implies 2 things: First and foremost, they require more attention when connecting a canopy. The soft links (these loops do not accept hard links) have to go through the diving loops and the connecting loops. Routing the soft links just through the diving loops can have serious consequences. The stitching could break and the whole line group could be released. The advantage of these loops is that it allows the canopy pilot to pull from the highest point of the risers, giving more range and a more comfortable pull.

Diving loop with tubular webbing on the inside for added comfort and to keep it open.

Louie loop. Note how the soft link has to go through the link loop and the dive loop.  

The last thing to comment here is that CRW dogs typically have dive blocks instead of dive loops. Dive blocks are easier to grab and release, which makes them more useful than loops in that environment.

Manufacturing techniques vary wildly between different rigs. So much, that we won't cover them in too much detail here. What is important is that the toggles stay secured until you grab them. To the best of my knowledge, that is true for every modern reputable manufacturer. Nevertheless, we can analyze the different components/options, even though each manufacturer uses its own technique and rarely offers changes to it.

Brake line retainer: That's the part of the toggle that goes through the cat's eye in the brake lines. Normally it is a "hardened" piece made using multiple layers of webbing. Some manufacturers use a straight pin instead. While this seems like a good idea, it opens the door to misrigging, since the pin fits through the guide ring. That could result in the brake line pulling on the pin and its pocket, which could be easily damaged.

Toggle retainers: The toggles need to be secured in place. This is achieved with either stiffer parts inserted in pockets in the risers (just like the brake line retainer), straight pins inserted in tighter pockets, or snaps. The number of stiff parts and pins varies between 2 and 3. The orientation also varies. That is why some cases require an upwards motion before pulling the toggles down to release them. Should snaps be used, it is important to remark that the snaps should perforate an extra piece of webbing sewed in the risers, not the webbing of the risers itself.

Slack retainers: These are loops sewed on the back side of the back risers. They can be a simple piece of tape (which tend to let the slack a bit more loose), or a elastic (which secures the slack better, but makes the slack stowing more tedious).

Toggle with stiffener on top and pin on bottom, tape slack retainers and closed top pocket. Other options are stiffeners on top on bottom, pin on top, extra stiffener pointing downwards on top, elastic retainers and open (at the top) top pocket.  
Additional guide rings

Some riser manufactures have the option of placing an extra set of guide rings at the top of the risers. This way, during full flight, the brake lines go through this set of rings, but not through the normal guide rings. To stow the brakes the cat's eye has to go through the normal rings, the toggle has to lock the brake in place, and the excess can be normally stowed. The benefit of this option is to have a smoother transition to rears, and reduce the length that the brake line is traveling, since it doesn't have to go down to the guide ring and up again towards wherever the pilot has his/her hands. If you are into canopy piloting, or if you need to have very short brake lines, this might be an interesting option for you.
3 rings

The last set of options in the risers is the 3 rings system. The first thing to decide here is if you are happy with today's standard: Minirings. The vast majority of sport rigs have them today, mostly for aesthetic reasons. They work just fine, and you rarely see rigs with large rings nowadays. But the pulley minirings form is slightly less effective than in large rings. That means that the force needed during cutaway might be higher. Modern risers have extra housings for the cutaway cable -sometimes with teflon inserts-, to avoid them from being pinched in twists, and make cutaways more difficult. The usage of these housings in modern risers offsets the extra force required to cutaway with minirings in most cases. Another thing to consider is that typically minirings come with type 17 risers, and large rings with type 8 risers, even though other combinations are possible. So the type of webbing you want on your risers might tip the balance for you, if you are undecided.

Aerodyne, to keep the aesthetics of minirings but without compromising on pull forces, designed a modified 3-ring release system. The "miniforce" rings system is essentially the same as other minirings systems, but with an enlarged middle ring. That improves the pulley efficiency and reduces the load in the white loop. If you want to use these risers in a container not manufactured by Aerodyne, check first with your manufacturer about component compatibility. We will talk a bit more about this at the end of the section.

Aerodyne's "miniforce" 3-rings system.

Lastly, you can decide the hardware finish. There are 3 main options in the market:

Cadmium plated steel: This is possibly the oldest type of hardware used in skydiving that is still sold today. It works well will all kinds of webbing, the plating offers corrosion protection and it is generally cheaper, despite the extra costs associated to dealing with cadmium's toxicity. However, the plating can flake off over years, and then corrosion might happen, depending on the environmental conditions and how you treat your gear. Moreover, it is not shiny, which goes against one of the (sadly) first principles of skydiving: You have to look cool.

Cadmium plated steel 3-rings system after more than 1000 jumps.

Stainless steel: This kind of hardware is the most commonly used today. It offers better corrosion protection than plated steel, since there is not plating that can flake off. It is and stays shiny. And it slips more. 3-rings release system can lose about 5% efficiency (more force transmitted to the small ring) because of the reduced friction. Arguably, in well manufactured miniring systems, it doesn't play a role.

Stainless steel 3-rings system after 100 jumps.

Black hardware: This is the latest addition in hardware finish. It is steel hardware with an oxide layer, that gives it its matte black color. It is relatively recent, so field experience is more limited than stainless steel and cadmium plated steel. Some people claim that after hundreds of jumps it doesn't have significant usage marks. However, at least in some cases, marks are pretty visible (see also the pictures of chest rings).

Black 3-rings system after 100 jumps.

The chosen finish will affect the 3-rings system, buckles, chest and hip rings, and RSL shackles. However, whatever you choose, it won't affect the grommets or housings of your rig. Maybe something to consider.

Some people mix risers with different hardware materials and from different manufacturers. This works fine in most cases. However, you are stacking the odds against you if you are not careful. On one hand dimensions and placement of all the parts should match. RSL ring side, cutaway cable inserts and length of cable, large ring dimensions -that can be different even among minirings systems-, large ring placement -higher or lower in the MLW-. All these are things to consider. There have been already fatalities rooted in a poor mix of components (reverse risers on a Javelin container). On the other hand, NAS-804, the specification required by TSO-C23b, states "The use of dissimilar metals, especially brass, copper, or steel in intimate metal-to-metal contact with aluminum or aluminum alloy, shall be avoided, whenever possible.". So, in principle, unless you know better, you should avoid mixing types for extended periods of time, as you might cause premature degradation of your hardware. Also, "miniforce" risers work fine with Aerodyne rigs. But the enlarged middle ring might not release cleanly in other rigs. Check compatibility with the manufacturer of your rig before using that mix.
Chest rings

Exploring down our harness we get to the chest strap junction. Most manufacturers -but not all- add chest rings to articulate their harness, either by default, or as an option. A fully articulated harness (with chest and hip rings) is supposed to be more comfortable, as the webbing doesn't need to bend and fold as much as a non-articulated harness. However, the chest is an area where these deformations are not really pronounced. As much as your body moves and twists in freefall, your upper torso stays pretty rigid. Nevertheless, chest rings help to avoid awkward and uncomfortable webbing twisting when the harness has been made for a larger person than the wearer. In these cases, the tendency is to overtighten the chest strap to compensate and secure better the jumper. That brings both chest junction together more than they should, and without rings the webbing would be unnaturally bent at that point. Of course, in an ideal world, every skydiver would have a harness that fits them properly, so this would never happen.

Besides the arguable increase in comfort, chest rings are an excellent investment if, for whatever reason, the harness needs to be resized or repaired in the lower MLW. With chest rings the area affected is reduced to the webbing between the chest and hip rings. Without chest rings, the amount of work (and price) for this would be significantly higher, since the MLW is sewed to more components that would need resewing or replacement.

Like the 3-rings release system, the chest rings can have different finish. More unique to chest rings is their orientation, and its influence on fitting and chest strap width. The chest rings used in every modern harness/container system are always very similar to the large ring in the 3-rings release system. The only possible difference is the bend in the slot where the MLW is threaded, which might or might not be present. In the chest, manufacturers orient the ring in 2 different ways: With the threading slot towards the upper MLW, or towards the chest strap. There are a few subtle implications:

Rings with a vertical orientation (threading slot towards upper MLW) accept more naturally type 17 chest straps. In roughly half the circumference of the ring, the manufacturer has to accomodate the lower MLW and the chest strap, so commonly type 17 is used for the chest strap. That doesn't mean that type 8 is not possible. It is, but being it more bulky, it is less convenient.

Rings with a horizontal orientation (threading slot towards chest strap) accept more naturally type 8 chest straps. I have yet to see this configuration with type 17, but it is, in theory, possible. Looks would be compromised for no reason though, so it is unlikely you'll see it either. Another thing to consider with this configuration is the range of motion of the upper MLW. Here, it can slide to the sides easier (the ring stays in place and the upper MLW can slide on it) than in vertical configuration (where the whole ring has to move and overcome the friction with the chest strap and the lower MLW). What that means is that when flying steep head down angles, the harness can slip down (up?) your shoulders easier than in other cases.

Black chest ring after 1000 jumps. Note the shiny side on the right.

Chest ring with the threading slot towards the upper MLW and a type 17 chest strap.

The last option to consider regarding chest rings is the use of padding under the rings. Not many manufacturers offer it, but it is nevertheless possible.

Chest ring with the threading slot towards the type 8 chest strap. The additional tape keeps the padding secured under the ring. Chest strap

As we mentioned already, there are two chest strap widths to choose from. Regarding strength, there is no real difference, since the weakest point is the friction adapter, which is rated at 500 lbs independently of the width. Type 17 is less bulky and has less drag, which some swoopers would care about. It is also true that these same swoopers, the ones that can notice the difference, would completely remove their chest strap after opening and stow it away (while using a belly band to secure themselves). So this is also a moot point. At the end, this is one of these options that are completely a matter a personal taste.

Another option regarding chest straps is their length. Most manufacturers have a standard length, which is typically around 19" (48cm). Normally this can be extended at no cost. Long chest straps allow the jumper to open up their harness and therefore their canopy, for increased efficiency. With a long chest strap it is also possible to lean forward during landing for a more active canopy piloting position. Regardless the length of your chest strap, if you are going to loosen it as much as you can, you should pay attention to its termination. Type 8 chest straps have a folded end that acts as a stopper and prevents the chest strap from being accidentally unthreaded. Type 17 terminations are sometimes not that effective, depending on how it was done.

Termination of a type 8 chest strap. The tip has 4 layers to make it stiffer and the tab prevents the strap from being accidentally removed.

Terminations of type 17 chest straps. The top picture has an extra tape, that creates a tab. The bottom picture has a stiffener at the tip. Note how fuzzy they are, specially the one on top. That's the effect of rubber instead of the normal elastic bands. Lastly, some manufacturers offer wide webbing loops in the chest strap to stow it. That replaces the default elastic bands, that tend to stretch over time loosing effectiveness, and can also get lost. This option is more common on type 17 chest straps than on type 8. Whatever you choose (elastic band or webbing loop) avoid rubber bands anywhere in contact with webbing. Rubber bands are fairly abrasive. As a result they will weaken your webbing and make it look fuzzier.

The next decision point coming down the harness affects the cutaway and reserve handles. The most common combination is a pillow for the right side (cutaway), and a metal ring for the reserve ripcord. But there are variations.

Pillow handles are popular among freeflyers, because they are less snag prone than other options. Many of them use pillows for both the cutaway and reserve handles. The obvious downside, is that they make grabbing and pulling them more complicated. A pillow requires your whole hand to grab it. On top of that, it has a similar texture to your jumpsuit fabric, so if you are not looking and you have a loose suit you can grab part of your jumpsuit by mistake. To make them easier to grab, some manufacturers make sure they have a harder core. Others make them extra fat. And others sew an extra layer of a less slippery material. You can also embroider pillows for extra "flashiness", which is not possible with other types of handles.

Reserve pillow handle, with embroidery, a pocket between both pieces of webbing on the MLW, and a spectra ripcord.
Metal rings have been around a longer time than pillow handles. They are easier to grab (you can simply hook your thumb through them) and have a very distinctive feeling, so you can't possibly grab your jumpsuit fabric by mistake. On the other hand they are easier to snag when your buddy is grabbing your harness or with a small camera during exit. To mitigate that, some manufacturers offer low profile D rings, that stick out less than traditional D rings.

Reserve D ring with a pocket between both pieces of webbing, and a steel cable ripcord.

The last option is having a webbing loop with a stiffener inside to retain its open shape. These handles are very common in tandem rigs. However, in sport rigs they are rarely used. They are compromise between pillow and D ring handles.

The reserve ripcord has been made of a steel cable for a long time. It works well in most cases, and most manufacturers stick to it. Others give the option of using a spectra ripcord with a bungee inside. In some cases this is the default for new rigs. The claimed advantages are many. Since spectra is more slippery than steel cables, it reduces the pull force required. In case of a dislodged handle, the bungee will keep it close to the housing and minimize the area in which it will be bouncing around. It is also cheaper to manufacture and inspect in some cases (steel cables have a hidden swage inside the pillow to keep them connected to the handle). However, it is slightly easier to misrig (the reserve pin can be threaded through just some fibers of the ripcord, instead of through the loop) and can be damaged by a sharp edge in the housing easier than a steel cable.

The next option here is the material of the cutaway cable. Almost every manufacturer offers "lolon" coated cables. These are the standard yellow cables that most people are familiar with. They are reliable if the user/rigger ensures proper length and maintenance. The maintenance requires regular cleaning and lubrication of the cables. This is often neglected, which can result in increased pull forces during a cutaway. An alternative material is teflon coated cables. These are orange or red, and are currently in use just by Parachute Labs and their Racer harness/container. The advantage is that they don't require periodic cleaning and lubrication. However, getting them right is more complicated, as teflon doesn't stick easily to the cable. That resulted in the past in the core of the cable detaching from the coating, leaving the sheath locking the 3-rings release system. Regardless of the material you chose, it would be smart to check regularly your cables for cracks or other issues to avoid similar situations, as in theory it could also happen with "lolon" cables.

Finally, there are a few ways to construct the pockets for the handles. The most common ways are either sandwiched between the 2 pieces of webbing of the MLW, or with a specifically manufactured pocket made of fabric wrapping the MLW webbing. As long as the velcro is in good condition, both are equally secure. On rigs with chest and hip rings the pocket wrapping the MLW is more common, as there is extra stitching necessary to secure the MLW in place, right where the handles are. Another advantage of the fabric pocket is that velcro is placed further away from webbing, avoiding possible contact and damage. On some older rigs, the cutaway handle might be attached just with a simple velcro strip, without extra pockets or in between the MLW. This is easier to disengage accidentally.

Reserve pillow handle, with pocket wrapping the MLW and a steel cable ripcord.

Cutaway pillow handle, with a simple velcro strip on the back side of the MLW.
Hip rings

More important than chest rings, are hip rings. However, they are more difficult to evaluate for a variety of reasons. The most important one, is that each manufacturer puts together in that junction a different set of harness components. Let's see this in more detail:

MLW, laterals and front and back leg straps: Some manufacturers might connect together in a single round ring 4 different components. This has a couple of disadvantages, and that's why it is not a common configuration. First and foremost: it connects the leg straps too far up. The angles then could be a bit more awkward and less comfortable, particularly if you are a tall person and want to sit on your harness during canopy flight. Secondly, with 4 connected components there is little room for a belly band.

Round hip ring connecting 4 different components (lower MLW, laterals and front and back leg straps).

MLW, laterals and a single leg strap junction point: This setup is far more common than the previous one. Having the front and back leg strap junction working independently from the ring, and therefore placing this junction further down in the harness, allows to have a more comfortable fit. The angles of the leg strap become more natural. Nevertheless, the consequence of this is that the leg strap becomes slightly more stiff. There is a non-articulated junction between front and back leg straps, and they move as a single component. Most manufacturers design the geometry of this junction in a way where the back leg strap connects to the ring, and the front leg strap connects to the back leg strap. Rigging Innovations does it the opposite way in their Curv. There these roles are reserved and the front leg strap is connected directly to the ring. As a result, when the leg strap moves forward, it pulls in a bit more on the hip ring, and consequentially on the whole container.

Round hip ring connecting 4 different components (lower MLW, lateral, belly band and leg strap)

MLW and front and back leg straps: This arrangement is also very common. The ring is placed further down than in the previous case, which allows to connect independently the front and back leg straps, while preserving comfortable angles. Laterals are connected to the MLW above the ring in this setup. That junctions is very stiff, and right above it is the handle pocket. The small area in between absorbs whatever angle change you induce by leaning forward, so it ends up bending sharply. Another effect of this arrangement is that having the rings below that junction makes belly bands sit further low than in harnesses with rings connecting laterals. But the positive side is that both parts of the leg strap can move independently. Some people like them to move "at once", and so opt for a setup that adds an extra piece of fabric that softly links front and back leg straps and slightly covers the ring.

Hip ring connecting 3 different components (lower MLW and front and back leg straps linked with an extra piece of fabric). Note how further up is the lateral junction.

Each arrangement is a tradeoff. Depending on your body type and chosen discipline, you might prefer one setup or another. Part 3 will focus on body types and will explain how theses tradeoffs might affect you.

As with chest rings, repairs are easier on harnesses with hip rings than without them. Another thing in common with chest rings is that hip rings are also affected by your choice of hardware finish.

An option related to hip rings is the belly band. This component can have 2 different functions. Most people that use them do it in their swoop setup. They undo completely their chest strap, and stow it away. To stay secured in the harness they use belly bands. The second group of people interested in belly bands are people whose harness has laterals that are too long. With a belly band they can pull their hip rings a bit forward, making their container stay closer to their lower back and move less in freefall. That is particularly important while freeflying. Of course moving the hip rings too much forward can distort the harness geometry and affect comfort. If you are in this situation chances are that you should get your harness resized.

Hip ring connecting 4 different components (lower MLW, front and back leg strap, and belly band). Note how this setup places the belly band lower than in a setup with a ring connecting to the lateral.

As we saw in part 1, the laterals are the part of the harness that connect the back of the harness with the lower MLW. They are critical for comfort during freefall and under canopy. Too long and you will have a huge gap between your back and your container. Too short and they'll make your harness feel too tight and uncomfortable. The default construction, with the laterals coming straight out of the edge of the backpad, works fine if your back is significantly wider than your container. But in many cases that's not true, the container and back are about the same width, and there is a measurable gap between the back side of the laterals and your back.

Many manufacturers try to find a way to contour to the side curvature of your back (back to front, at the belly level). That makes the container more comfortable and it stays in position without moving around much. There are essentially 2 schools for that. The most common is to find "cut-in" laterals, where they are inserted in the backpad not at the edge, but somewhere more centrally. This style of laterals are in contact with the jumpers back, and typically they are padded for extra comfort. Another type is to have the webbing coming straight from the edge, get to the hip junction, and come back a bit more towards the center of the backpad, wrapped in padding.

There are alternatives to the two main approaches. Infinity and Sife provide floating laterals as an option, where the lateral webbing goes through the webbing slot of the hip ring, which moves freely. Sife adds padded stabilizers to that configuration. Mirage has the laterals coming straight out of the edge of the container, but has two elastic bands coming from the center of the backpad, acting as a sort of elastic stabilizers. Lastly, as in some student rigs, SunPath added adjustable laterals to their Aurora wingsuit rig.

Straight laterals coming out of the edge of the container.

Padded stabilizers. The outermost component is simply an stiffener wrapped in fabric, without major structural purpose.

Floating laterals. Note how the ring can move freely through the webbing of the lateral.

Elastic stabilizers.
Leg straps

Leg straps are the remaining piece of the harness. And of course, there are multiple options here as well. In part 1, we already saw multiple adapters. Each manufacturer has its default set of adapters. Nevertheless, some of them, can install an alternative style if you ask them. These adapters are also affected by the chosen hardware finish. As it has been mentioned before, stainless steel is more slippery than cadmium plated steel. The teeth of the adapter could also be harder and sharper if they were the same design as plated adapters, which could damage the webbing and make the whole system work differently. That's why both types of hardware have slightly different designs. These effects are also part of the reason to have double layer straps, to make them thicker and slip less. Besides this, adapters are normally thread-thru. But it is also possible, even though not common, to order B-12 snaps. They allow to clip-in the leg straps, instead of having to put your legs through them.

We have seen lots of options targeted for swoopers in the upper side of the harness. The bottom side also has options for this discipline. It is possible with some manufacturers to order wider leg straps, so sitting in your harness for long periods is a bit more comfortable. The tradeoff is that they are more uncomfortable during freefall and on the ground. Since swoopers tend to slide during their landings, the leg straps suffer a great deal of wear. That's why it is also possible to use leg strap covers, that can be easily replazable once they are worn out. That way, your harness stays intact.

The last optional bit is the freefly bungee. It's functionality has been already discussed in part 1. There are basically 2 designs: Connecting the inner part with 2 webbing loops and a bungee; or connecting the outer part, with the bungee routed through a channel that hides the knots and distributes the tension.

Freefly bungee connecting the inner part of the leg straps and knots exposed.

Freefly bungee connecting the outer part of the leg straps and knots hidden in the channels.
More harness options

There are even more options than what we have covered so far. But they are difficult to classify going from top of the harness to bottom. For instance, embroideries. Laterals, leg straps, mud flaps (right below the 3-rings) are all areas were you can include any embroidery. Mind you, the embroidery is done in fabric, not in webbing. So for instance, to add an embroidery to your laterals, they have to have a piece of fabric covering the webbing.

Other example are hook knifes. There are 2 common pockets for hook knifes: In the mud flap, or in the leg strap. Some manufacturers also add a hook knife pocket integrated in the fabric that makes their handles pocket. There are multiple models of hook knifes: Cheap plastic handle with a single blade, harder plastic with single or double blade, metal handle and single or double blade, or full metal knifes. Even though it is unlikely that you'll need it, it is recommended to avoid the very cheap knifes made of brittle plastic.

Some manufacturers make contoured yokes, that adapt better to your shoulder area. It is also possible that they offer an "inverted yoke", where the container seams are inwards, looking a bit neater and slightly more comfortable on that area, since the sharper binding tape won't be rubbing against you. Every manufacturer also offers padding. Some include full padding (yoke, backpad, stabilizers and leg straps) as a single option. Others separate it in 2 or 3 areas, allowing you to choose with more granularity. Besides the standard padding, made normally out of some spacer foam, some manufacturers also offer "deluxe" padding in their backpad, made of a more comfortable material.

Rigging innovations has gone an extra mile in the harness design of their Curv container, and offer 3 unique things. The first is what they call the bio yoke. There, they essentially separated the part of the yoke in contact with your shoulders, and the part of the yoke that connects with everything else inside the container (risers, reserve risers and housings). This way the part in contact with your body is more flexible and comfortable. The second is what they call the bio curve. This is a half container half harness feature. It simply contours the container so it follows the curvature of your back, avoiding gaps there. The third thing is a new leg strap geometry, which has been already discussed in the hip rings section.
End of Part 2

This concludes part 2. As you can see, there are tens of options, which create hundreds of combinations. Each manufacturer has their defaults and their common options. If you are buying a new container and want an option not listed in their order form, ask them. You might be surprised. If you are buying an used container, hopefully this will help you to decide on which harness designs and options are important for you, to narrow down your search in the wild second hand market.

Part 3 will be the last part of the series. There the focus will be on how different harness designs might fit different body types, and how the wrong dimensions in parts of the harness will affect your flying, comfort, and potentially even safety. So if you enjoyed part 1 and 2, keep an eye out for part 3!

By admin, in Gear,

2nd FAI World Cup of Wingsuit Flying

The TOP Wingsuit flyers from around the globe will get together at Skydive Fyrosity℠, Overton, NV to compete in one of the most challenging skydiving competition – 2nd FAI World cup of Wingsuit Flying.
Nov 1-9, 2017 50-70 athletes from over 10 countries and five continents will test their mental and physical strength against each other in two disciplines – Performance Flying and Acrobatic Flying.
For years, wingsuit flying has allowed humans to realize the age-old dream of personal human flight - Zipping through the air like Superman. With the invention of the modern wingsuit, growth of pilot skills and wingsuit technology in the last 2 decades, now this dream is a reality.
Today, we live in spectacular and adventurous new era of aerial sports and Wingsuit flying history – World level competition!
The 2nd FAI World Cup of Wingsuit flying will crown the best wingsuit pilot – the fastest, the toughest and the most accurate one will take the gold.
The Event
2nd FAI World Cup of Wingsuit Flying 2017 will be held at Skydive Fyrosity℠ . The skydiving Drop Zone is located at Overton-Perkins Field, NV only 60 miles NE of Las Vegas directly east to the Valley of Fire and North of Lake Mead National Park.
The official bid to host the Event, was presented by Randy Connell – Director of Competition USPA and an Alternate USA Delegate to IPC on behalf of USA / USPA (United States Parachute Association) and Skydive Fyrosity℠ at the 67th IPC (International Parachuting Commission) meeting held in Faro, Portugal – Jan 25 – 29, 2017. The bid was voted and approved on Jan 29th, 2017 -
IPC (International Parachuting Commission) is the world governing body of competitions skydiving under the umbrella of the FAI (Fédération Aéronautique Internationale).
50 to 70 of the world’s best wing suit flyers and competitors, plus head of international delegations, judges, FAI / IPC officials USPA Officials, family, friends, skydivers, and guests from around the world are expected to descend upon Overton, NV from Nov 1 – 9, 2017 to compete for the gold in one of the most physically and mentally challenging sporting competition – Wingsuit Flying. Overton will be renamed to “Wingsuit City” for the duration of the event and will forever be recorded into the skydiving history as the home of the 2nd FAI World Cup of Wingsuit Flying - 2017.
Marilyn Kirkpatrick, the Clark County Commissioner for this area, is so excited to have Skydive Fyrosity℠ as part of the Clark County family and sees great potential benefits for the northeast area as this thrilling sport continues to grow.
Wing suiting development and Las Vegas have a long history together going back to 1996 – 97, one of the original developers of the modern wingsuit is a local Las Vegas resident and current Drop Zone owner of Skydive Fyrosity℠ – Sammy Vassilev.
“It is an incredible honor to have been part of the wing suiting from the very beginning and now to be able to host the 2nd FAI World Cup Wingsuit Flying at our home DZ here in NV is just the most incredible feeling”.
One of the original modern wingsuit designs is on a display at Skydive Fyrosity℠ and is available for anyone to see.
The Disciplines
The 2nd FAI World Cup of Wingsuit Flying consists of 2 separate events: Acrobatic Event and Performance Events.
The acrobatic competition event consists of team of 3 people, 2 acrobatic performers and a 1 camera man capturing the performance on video. The team of 3 will exit the aircraft at 12,500 above the ground and the performers have a working time of 65 seconds to demonstrate to the judges their ability and acrobatic skills, consisting of flyovers, flips, turns, relative flight. The Artistic event has 7 rounds (jumps) and is judged for accuracy of performance, artistic performance, completion of the formations, grips, and quality of the camera work. The camera man and the image the competitor camera person delivers is part of the acrobatic performance. Each jump is considered 1 round, 1 round is considered complete when all competitors have successfully completed the jump for each round including re-jumps.

The Performance Event is an individual competitor event consisting of 3 tasks – Speed, Time and Distance. Each task consists of 3 rounds (jumps) for the total of 9 competition rounds (jumps). The performance event does not have aerial video, however ground-to-air video can be used if such equipment is available. Therefore, the performance event is judged by state of the art GPS system which records the performance of each competitor delivered to the judges after each jump for evaluation. Once the data is downloaded into the software and evaluated the person going the fastest, furthest and spends the most time in the air is declared the winter in each task. The aircraft exit altitude is 12,500 above the ground up to 4 miles away from the landing area and the beginning of the performance evaluation starts at 3000 meters / 9,842.5 ft above the ground and ends at 2000 meters / 6,561.6 ft. The competitor performing the best within the 1000 meter / 3,280 ft evaluation window gets the gold medal.
2016 World Champions of Wingsuit Performance Flying:

1. Chris Geiler – USA - View profile
2. Travis Mickle- USA - View profile
3. Espen Fadnes – NOR - MView profile

2016 World Champions of Wingsuit Acrobatic Flying:


The History of Wingsuit And How It Is Related to Las Vegas
An early attempt at wingsuit flying was made on 4 February 1912 by a 33-year-old tailor, Franz Reichelt, who jumped from the Eiffel Tower to test his invention of a combination of parachute and wing, which was similar to modern wingsuits. He misled the guards by saying that the experiment was going to be conducted with a dummy. He hesitated quite a long time before he jumped, and was killed when he hit the ground head first, opening a measurable hole in the frozen ground.
A wingsuit was first used in 1930 by a 19-year-old American, Rex Finney of Los Angeles, California, as an attempt to increase horizontal movement and maneuverability during a parachute jump.
These early wingsuits were made of materials such as canvas, wood, silk, steel, and whalebone. They were not very reliable, although some "birdmen", notably Clem Sohn and Leo Valentin, claimed to have glided for miles.
Las Vegas
In the mid-1990s, the modern wingsuit was developed by the French skydiver Patrick de Gayardon, adapted from the model used by John Carta. Patrick loved Las Vegas and few people know that he did a lot of jumps testing his suit and prepping it for the Grand Canyon flights in Las Vegas.
In 1997, in Las Vegas the Bulgarian second generation skydiver Sammy Vassilev a.k.a (Popov) designed and built a wingsuit which had a larger wing between the legs and longer wings on the arms. His prototype was developed at Boulder City, Nevada. Testing was conducted in a vertical wind tunnel in Las Vegas at Flyaway Las Vegas. Vassilev’s (Popov's) wingsuit first flew in October 1998 over Jean, Nevada, but it never went into commercial production. Vassilev’s (Popov's) design was a great improvement in creating lift; it was able to slow the vertical speed to 30 km/h while gliding horizontally at speeds over 200 km/h.
Today exactly 20 years later Sammy Vassilev is one of the co-founders of Skydive Fyrosity Las Vegas and will be hosting the 2nd FAI World Cup of Wingsuit flying!
The original wing suit built by Sammy Vassilev will be exhibited during the World Cup at Skydive Fyrosity℠. The suit was jumped during the World Championships of Wingsuit flying from the test pilot for INTRUDAIR - Benedikt Hovelmann and it is still flying fast and stable.
More history:
In 1998, Chuck "Da Kine" Raggs built a version which incorporated hard ribs inside the wing airfoils. Although these more rigid wings were better able to keep their shape in flight, this made the wingsuit heavier and more difficult to fly. Raggs' design also never went into commercial production. Flying together for the first time, Popov and Raggs showcased their designs side-by-side at the World Free-fall Convention at Quincy, Illinois, in August 1999. Both designs performed well. At the same event, multiple-formation wingsuit skydives were made which included de Gayardon's, Vassilev’s (Popov's), and Raggs' suits.
Commercial era
In 1999, Jari Kuosma of Finland and Robert Pečnik of Croatia teamed up to create a wingsuit that was safe and accessible to all skydivers. Kuosma established Bird-Man International Ltd. the same year. Birdman’s "Classic", designed by Pečnik, was the first wingsuit offered to the general skydiving public. Birdman was the first manufacturer to advocate the safe use of wingsuits by creating an instructor program. Created by Kuosma, the instructor program's aim was to remove the stigma that wingsuits were dangerous and to provide wingsuit beginners (generally, skydivers with a minimum of 200 jumps) with a way to safely enjoy what was once considered the most dangerous feat in the skydiving world. With the help of Birdman instructors Scott Campos, Chuck Blue and Kim Griffin, a standardized program of instruction was developed that prepared instructors.[4] Wingsuit manufacturers Squirrel Wingsuits, TonySuits Wingsuits, Phoenix-Fly, Fly Your Body, and Nitro Rigging have also instituted coach training programs.
The Host
Skydive Fyrosity
Located at Overton- Perkins field Airport about 55-minute drive from the Las Vegas Strip, North-East of Las Vegas in one of the most beautiful locations in Nevada, Skydive Fyrosity℠ offers the most incredible views of Valley of Fire, Lake Mead, Grand Canyon, Moapa Valley Indian Reservation, Mormon Mesa, Mormon Peak, Virgin & Colorado Rivers, Zion National Park, City of Las Vegas, City of Mesquite, City of St. George, UT and 3 US states, Arizona, Utah & Nevada. The most breathtaking view of your Las Vegas tandem skydiving experience are at Skydive Fyrosity™.
Skydive Fyrosity℠ is the only full-service Drop Zone in Southern Nevada and the Las Vegas area. Offering the best skydiving facility and state of the art tandem skydiving equipment in Las Vegas. Skydive Fyrosity℠ specializes in 1st time tandem skydive students and complete skydive training to all looking to learn to and become skydivers. Skydive Fyrosity℠ is the only certified Skydive Training Center (TC) by USPA in Nevada. We provide the most exclusive, personal and exhilarating tandem skydiving experience to first time tandem students, licensed and experienced skydivers, athletes, skydiving competitors, students, life lovers, adventurers, thrill seekers looking to live their lives to the fullest.
Skydive Fyrosity℠ offers the most advanced and complete skydive training via the exclusive AFP Training program, (Accelerated Freefall Progression Program) and skydiving education for the active and extreme sports adventurers looking to become licensed skydivers.

Skydive Fyrosity℠ welcomes all licensed skydivers, pro skydiving teams and athletes from around the world to enjoy our beautiful year-round Las Vegas Drop Zone.

By admin, in Events,

Insights in Head Up Records - Interview with Fly Warriors

Last June a new European head up record was set. 43 skydivers (plus 2
cameramen) in the sky of Empuriabrava broke the previous 21-way record. Fly
Warriors, a team of 4 talented freeflyers, was behind that achievement. Three of
them, David Nimmo, Luis Adolfo Lopez-Mendez and Gustavo Cabana visited the
Belgian sky during the Flanders Boogie. I had the opportunity to interview them
and get some insight of how this was done. After thanking them for accepting
the interview, this is how the conversation went like.
Who are Fly Warriors? Tell me a bit of your history, previous teams, how you've gotten together...Nimmo: Luis and I were both members of Babylon freefly for
many many years. Around 2015 this was coming to an end, the end of an era, and
being still very keen to push the sport and not to pull back the reins in and
slow down, we combined with a 3rd guy -Raph Coudray-. He had just finished competing in VFS in one back to back world championship. It was kind of a natural
thing forming something together. And then we added a couple of young guys -Leo and Gyzmo- into
the team with similar ideas and did a 4 way dynamic team, which actually won the
world championship together. That kind of was the first year. Then Leo and Gyzmo wanted to focus on tunneling. And with Gus, we needed
video with obviously steady imaging and high quality. His level in freefly has
improved a lot in the last years, he has put a lot of effort on in, and we
asked him to join. And that's how we've got on. Real
professionals, independent, autonomous, all of us doing our own thing, but we
come together to do advanced and worthy stuff. So these jumps (head up European record) is how we do it.
Luis: One of the rules to become a Fly Warrior is that you need to be
over 40 (laughs).
Damian: So if you guys meet somebody young but really great... he
simply has to wait.
Nimmo: Too immature. At 40 you start to be a man maybe (laughs).

Warriors (From left to right: Gustavo Cabana, Raphael Coudray, Luis Adolfo Lopez-Mendez, David
Nimmo) with the record holders and the rest of the crew. Photo: Mariana

Empuria seems to be
Europe's skydiving capital. What is the reason for that, what makes it so
special in your opinion?Gustavo Cabana: Empuria has over 30 years of history and during that time
they had many events and teams who train there because of the
weather and the aircrafts. It is just the best place in Europe to skydive, the
weather, the aircrafts...
Luis: And the location.
Gustavo: And the location! The location is incredible. I think it is
the only dropzone in the world that is in the town. It is not in an airfield,
in the middle of nowhere, it is really in the side of the town. Every time
you go away to jump somewhere else and you come back you can't believe that.
As a photographer to have the chance to jump there, to have the sea, the mountains,
you know, it is kind of the perfect background.
You were the
organizing team for the recent European head up record. Congratulations for
that fantastic achievement. What drove you to take on that challenge? At which
point did you decide "we have to do this"?Luis: Nimmo and myself, when we were in Babylon, we were involved in
other European records, head down. Head up started to wake up and become what it
is today (with respect to records). So when we went from Babylon to the
Fly Warriors Nimmo said to me that we should organize a head up record. And so
we decided to start with the first one, two years ago. We did a 21 way.
The problem is that the capacity of the planes is
limited. It is too expensive to have that many planes and to make it happen. So
being in Empuria with 3 planes made it easier to organize and we decided to put
the full fleet into work. And then we were thinking in starting a bit smaller,
but the two camps we organize in Empuria were really good and big and then the
feedback and registration for the record... we had to tell people to stop,
there was a waiting list. So we went for go big or go home, and we started with
slots and 2 camera flyers, which is the capability of the planes.
Nimmo: We basically maxed it out. To go any bigger we
would have to find money for other aircraft or another location. Europe or South
America don't have 5 Twin Otters or 7 Skyvans in the garage like in Eloy. So, it
is harder go to massiver. Shame.
How did you
organize the try-outs to attract jumpers from all over Europe? How was the
process of organizing the try-outs to select who is going to be part of it or
not. Was it enough with the camps you had in Empuria, or did you try to have
other people that you trust to organize some other camps, somewhere else in
Europe?Nimmo: To try and make it work, there is some smooth out. We had
different areas within Europe, like the German speaking section, the
Scandinavians, the English, the French... and for each area we had a team
captain. He was allowed to do some kind of trials to find out people of
this area that he would recommend to come to the record. So those 5 guys that
were part of that team had their job to do in the jump, and also to bring
people to us. It's helped to some degree but the biggest thing we did was some
try-out camps last year and 2 camps this year. We had a big interest in people
wanted to do head up, and we had the capacity maxed out in those camps. Most
people came from there. It worked out well. The
dropzone wants to do formation records. That's an offer than other places can't
do, that's a premium product that we have, and they are happy to that in the
future. So of course in the future if we can we will keep doing this up to 40

Base exiting from Twin Otter. Photo: Gustavo Cabana

The level has to be
super high once you select jumpers in the try-outs. How do you organize the
jump then? How do you decide who goes in which airplane, who is on base, who is
gonna sting it...?Luis: We try to find a slot for specific qualities. Maybe you are a
heavy person and fly strong, so we put you in the base. The first stingers are
people that can fly fast to get there. And then who closes
the pod needs to have the ability to grab 2 hands and then give shape to the pod. So we kind of
assess the people and give them a slot. We also had Antonio Aria taking care of
the bench. He is a very good organizer and part of the world record crew. And
in the last world record met with Raph Coudray and David Nimmo in Eloy. So that, combined with
our experience, the experience of the world record, and Antonio taking care of
the bench helped us to take decisions. When we needed to have a change we would come to Antonio and
say "we need a second stinger", and he would say "ok, from the
bench, this guy is rock solid. Now. Today". Because sometimes you have the
issue that you know people that are good flyers, but maybe they are having a
bad week or a bad day. And there is some other people that might not be that
strong, in paper, but that day they are on and then get on it. We had issues
with some flyers that were really good, but they had to be cut off, which it
was a surprise for me, and for sure for him. But then other people did their
job and at the end it is not a personal thing, we have a job to be done, and is
to get a record. It is a common goal
and not a personal goal. Which sometimes people don't understand. At the end,
after every record I tell Nimmo I won't never do this again -and then we do
another one-. Because you have 45 people that love you, then 15 that understand
that they had a very good training with the bench group, and 10 that don't like you
Damian: I guess it is also difficult if you have the level to be
there but are kicked out because you are not being consistent enough, I
guess... you know, it has to hurt your ego as well.
Luis: That's the biggest problem in skydiving at the end.
Damian: Ego?
Luis: Ego. Ego is a bitch. And it can kill you.
How did you decide
in other factors like altitude (did you take it as high as possible, decided to
do something lower...), speed (does the base accelerates or slows down, how
much...), shape of the formation, number of people on base, number of people on
base during exit.... How do you decide about all those details?Nimmo: Experience. We have done it enough and we trust that gut.
The formation is just a standard formation, a round thing with
round things attached to it. The base of whatever size and then you connect
pods like doing Lego. So there is nothing really to think about. And with Luis'
experience and Raph's, we look at people and we decide where they are gonna be.
Then you make mistakes and they might not be in their best place so you move
them around. But the most important thing for me is that we had a good base.
This is the key. If you have planes doing their job, the base doing
its job then you just have to take the picture. That's it. If the planes make a
mistake, they are too far away, whatever. The timing of the exit. Or the base
makes a mistake. Then for sure I guarantee nothing is gonna happen.
Luis: But everything starts from the number of people we are gonna
use. Nimmo and myself were discussing for a few months already about how much
people we are going to have in the base, if it is going to be 6 or 8 or 10. If
we have enough people to do that base, to do the pods, what is going to be the
shape... Like he says, we kind of go with the feeling. We can do this and we
put it on paper. We do on the first attempt what we think is best, and then you
realize that this person can be better here or there. So you start moving
pieces around so the structure is more solid.
Nimmo: We had a struggle with the beat. We did 6 jumps a day, which
is a lot to 18000 feet. In the 2 and a half days that took us to do the record
we did 16 attempts. Which is a lot of fucking work. So we really pushed it when
we had the conditions. We could have problems with the weather... there
are so many variables.
Gustavo: The thing with a record is that you need more time, no? So
why don't you go to 20000 or 25000? The problem when you go past 15000 is that
there is less oxygen and people are more prone to have hypoxia. For that we use
oxygen onboard, which helps you to keep sharp. But also because the planes need to climb
in formation, it takes longer to go up and it is kind of... I think we found
over the years that going to 18000 or 19000 maximum is a good compromise between
the effort to climb and what you are going to get for the extra time in
freefall. Also in the head down and head up world records we went to 18000-19000.

The challengers getting together during one of the attempts. Photo: Gustavo Cabana

It took 16 jumps to
get the formation completed. How was the atmosphere before that? Were you
absolutely confident you would make it?Nimmo: I mean, yeah. For sure the last 2 jumps... in the last one
too... we were flying very strong. We knew we would get a record. We started to
cut. We said 45... now we need to get a result. 44. We didn't get it. 43. Done.

The head up world
record is a 72 way, done in Skydive Arizona. Do you see that as an attainable
number in Europe? Or are we limited because of the size of the dropzones and
the number of planes there?Nimmo: It is logistics. You need to get sponsors that say "fuck
let's make this happen, here you have 20 grand, two more planes". Hell
yeah. But otherwise we have to pay. We, as the flyers. And there is a point
where you go "I rather spend that money doing other cool shit". The
record is very cool and it goes in the history books. It is an
achievement for all the participants. But you are still limited by how much you
have to pay for that. So yes, it is possible, but you need some extra sponsors.
Gustavo: 3 years ago we did a world
record with 106 people (FS sequential). But the thing is that bringing the
planes there is super expensive. And if that money has to come from the pocket
of the skydivers... it is too much money. It is really expensive to fly a plane
to a dropzone.
Luis: And it was happening, this 100+ way because Dubai helped financially to make it happen.
Gustavo: If not it is impossible.
Nimmo: It is possible, but we need someone to support it. But, why not?
Shall we look? Maybe we get hungry in a year or two.
Luis: That's why we stopped with the head down once. Basically.
Nimmo: Logistics. That's about flying at the end of the day. Because
if you have to choose between logistics and not flying you go "fuck this,
I want to fly". So there is also that trade off in the equation as well.
How much you want to work on the ground to make it happen, but all you want to
do is flying.
Luis: There is a lot of work behind the scenes. Registrations,
payments, getting everything done... The good thing about our team is that
everyone has a speciallity. And we combined them, and we do whatever we do
strong. We are lucky that we have a very experienced camera flyer plus he is
really experience with oxygen. So we have that part covered. Nimmo and me don't
have to think about it. Nimmo has a lot of experience organizing big ways. And that experience helps you to do the
things. Me and Nimmo are taking care of the administration as well. Receiving
and sending emails. Nimmo was talking to the captains, I was organizing the
Nimmo: Judges, T-shirts.... Bullshits that are just as important. And
we all do that without effort. You don't have to grab anyone and tell them
"do this" like a child. It is just "Hey, could you do this?
-Yeah, sure". And it gets done. So this
also makes the team mature enough to realize you have to do something to make it
work and to do that without having to be hit with a stick.
Luis: And how it works, I don't know. Because we are 4 alpha...
Nimmo: Yeah, 4 alpha males, and we don't kill each other, that's rough.
Damian: That's already an achievement (laughs).
Luis: That's an achievement right there.
Nimmo: Because we are more than 40. After 40 you can work together.
Luis: But I think that's the key, you know? You have things that
bother you about each other, because we are humans. But we are old enough to
either talk about it or understand that no one is perfect and you have to deal
with humanity.
attempt diagram. 44 and 45 were cut off for the final record. One of the mottos
of the record was "make head up great again". Why did you came up
with it? When did it stop being great?Nimmo: That was because head up was kind of neglected. Head down
records started in whatever it was... 21-way in Florida in 2001... when the 1st
head up world record was in 2015 or something. That's 14 years neglected. For
no reason. Head down has got massive, 164. Head up was nothing. So I was
talking with Steve Curtis, a good friend of mine from Eloy. He thought "let's do a 30 way" the first one. They
did 52! You couldn't believe it! Because it was just left on the
shelf, blow the dust off and it was ready to go. So make head up great, bring
it to the level it deserves. It is even more fun to fly, easier visually, it is
more of human kind of orientation, it is better, for sure, its fun.

Damian: That's funny that you chose the word "neglected"
because I had a follow up question that used that word. Do you think it has
been neglected in favor of head down?
Nimmo: Head down is easier to build. Head up for sure its hard. You have to get
in there, be humble and give it a try, and you have to work much harder. But
visually it is easier, its more natural. People look like human beings not
assholes and feet (laughs). But to be
there you have to put a lot of work. Work really hard. But then it is super
good. And it is so small! There is the 72-way, so we can get a head up record
every year to get it up to 150 or something. I mean, it won't be like that
What was in your
opinion the biggest challenge of the record? What's the part that you've found
more difficult? Was it the flying, finding the right people, nothing of it was
really a challenge?Nimmo: The whole thing is this one big fucking package. So you just
have to do it all. Was this harder than that? It doesn't matter, you have to do
it anyway.
Luis: The situation with the record is that it doesn't matter if we
flew 42 way for 20 seconds and one person is missing. There is no record. Or 43
flew for one minute but the camera didn't work, you know? Or 2 planes were
super good and then one plane just lost it and people don't arrive. So at the
end everything has to work, like Nimmo says. The pilots need to work together
so we have a good drop, then the base has to be solid and then from there you
start to construct. The camera needs to be in the right place, take the right
shot so the judges can validate it. So, I would say, there is nothing more
important than other things, because without the pilots we could not do it,
without the base we could not do it, without stingers we could not do it,
without the second stingers we could not do it, without the pod closers as
well, without the cameras you can not, without the oxygen....
Nimmo: Just before, until
Sunday it was fucked up weather. And then hallelujah, we had blue sky. We were blessed with the
weather. Again, that's another factor and you can't control it. But it would
have been very frustrating that being the fucked up. But it wasn't.
Luis: And then everyday you need a lot of work after the jump and
before the jump. At nights, Gus can tell you, how much work he has to do to
prepare the planes to be ready to go.
Gustavo: Yes, because after every couple of jumps we need to exchange the
oxygen bottles. Attach them to the plane, the regulators. And sometimes the plane runs out of oxygen,
and people are waiting... It is kind of stressing, but at the
end of the day you have to do it, and when it works it is very satisfactory.
I was on the boarding area with my rig and I had to
check and make sure that every airplane had oxygen to go up. Because I've been
in many occasions in other records when you go to altitude, and they cancel the
jump because one plane run out of oxygen. And we had all to come down. It
happened many times. Minimum 4 times in 4 different events.
Damian: It has to be frustrating.
Gustavo: Specially if you are the responsible for that. Everybody
wants to kill you (laughs).

43-way formation completed. Photo: Gustavo Cabana
Who do you think is
going to organize the record that will break yours? When and by how much? If
that happens!Luis: What do you mean? In Europe?
Damian: Yes.
Luis: We will try to organize all the records in Europe.
Nimmo: This is the best you could do. So if somebody wants to do it
again... well, show me. In the history of records normally the dropzone or
group that organized the previous one they do it again. The Arizona crew do the head up records.
Rook Nelson does it with the head down records. Not because nobody else can do it,
but because these guys really do it. If Rook said "fuck head down I am not going
to do it" for sure someone will pick it up and try to run with it. But
then, they don't have the experience. So it also makes sense to go with the
guys who have done it once, twice, or five, six times.
If somebody else tried to organize it I would never try to do anything against it, you've got to
respect it. But the record is coming together, unified. We have to work
together or we are going to get nothing. Unified, together, big. Not your own
little shit.
Question for Gus.
The record is 43 people, plus cameramen. Gustavo, you were the wizard behind
the lens -with Will Penny as second cameraman-. You were also in other records.
How did you live each one of them?Gustavo: I always think that the cameramen are under pressure, but
not the same kind of pressure as the participants. Normally in a record we
have several cameras, so if one fucks up, the other one can have the shot. But
in the formation if one fucks up there is no record. Our pressure is more about
trying to be happy with us, with our job. The participants need to do their job
to get the record, and I feel like I need to take the best picture I can to be
happy with me. Also, I've been involved in records since many years, and what I
like about them is that everyone come together, to do something together. It
is not like in a competition where people compete against each other, and some
are going to be happy and some are going to be losers. And not only jumpers,
also people on the ground are helping you, your wife, your girlfriend, your
boyfriend, whatever, are there to help you to make it happen. The feeling you
have when is done is very unique. The feeling of unity and working together. I shoot almost every
discipline in skydiving: Belly, canopy formation, head down and head up. And at
the end I think that everyone has his own pace and feelings, but one feeling
that for sure is great is that you are taking a picture of the best skydivers
at that time in history. And it is a very good feeling to be part of that. It
is cool. Everyone there worked hard to be there. It is not like "I want to
do a record because I want to be cool". No, you need to work your ass off
to be a record holder.
European HeadUp Record 43 Way, June 23th 2017, Skydive Empuriabrava, Spain from Gustavo Cabana
Assuming each one
of these records is special, what made this one special for you?Gustavo: For me the most important record is the next one. It is not
like this one is special, and the other one was less special. The record
happened and it happened, it is in the past. Now you are looking forward to do
something more. I think all of us are looking for that, looking to improve, to
do it better, or bigger, or whatever, but looking forward, not backwards.
Damian: Do you still see room for improvements, seeing that you are
current record holders, that you have so much experience, and you are among the
best in the world, do you still see room for improvement for what you do? Gus
behind the camera, you guys load organizing...
Nimmo: 100% man
Luis: 100%
Gustavo: If not you quit.
Nimmo: We don't know shit. 20000 jumps and we feel like we know
nothing. Sure.
Luis: I learn everyday, even in these events (boogies). From the
people, what I am doing. How did it work? What line I chose? Why I did that?
How can I make it better, get it tighter? And that's how we do it, we think how
to improve it, make it better, more efficient, we can dive better, we can build
better, how can the base fly better, how can we fly better. Everyone for sure
is looking at themselves in that video. And you are like "ok, I could have
done this better, I shouldn't have gone that far, I need to do it earlier, the
transition later". So I think everyone is criticizing themselves. At least
me. I am looking at myself. I am looking at the picture, but I am looking at
myself to see if I did a good job. How can I do it better next time?
Nimmo: When you stop that shit you are getting old, and next step is
death. So I am not going to stop that (laughs). You must keep doing this or you
Luis: Or retire.
Nimmo: Or retire. Play golf or some shit.
Luis: And then you think about your swing (laughs).
So, after this
record, what is next? Is there any other challenge in the pipeline? Or are you
taking a break? Was it enough for the moment?Nimmo: We never take a break, we are constantly freeflying and along
the way we do these things. What is the next thing? I don't know, but there is
always something coming up.
Luis: I would say that record wise probably Nimmo would like to go to
the next head down record. Not me, I don't like head down
anymore. But for head up, when they decide to organize another world record I
think we are going to put an effort, probably the whole team, to go there and
be part of it.
Damian: I suppose that being the organizers of the European record
it is kind of natural for Fly Warriors to be part of the world record if
they organize it somewhere else.
Luis: Yes, well, we did a try-out camp for the world record in
Empuria. In partnership with Steve Curtis, Sara Curtis and Antonio Aria.
We saw how they organize it, and they saw us. And I think we've learned a lot. And they invited us to go there and help them organize. I didn't go, because I had other priorities financially at that moment, but the dropzone supported us. Nimmo and Raph went there and they were part of the organization of the world record. So I think that yes, we are going to be involved as Fly Warriors, even if it is only one or two.
Gustavo: Or 4
Nimmo: Gus shot the fucking record. So it was 3 out of 4 of us in the
record. I still like head down. Raph has lost a bit of the interest in big
stuff. You've done it, you've done it. But there is always another one to do.
You can always go a little bigger. Same shit, different day. Make it a bit better.
I missed one and wish I've gone. So if they do another one for sure, I'll try
to go. If I am not broke I'll go.
Gustavo: The plan I think it is 200 for the head down next year. And
the following year they are going to do a 100 for head up, for sure. One thing
funny about freefly is that they never did a round number. In belly it was 100,
200, 300 and 400 which is the last one. But in freefly they went with 108,
one hundred forty something, 164?. I hope this time they will do a fucking 200 and fucking
100. Why they can't be like the normal people? (laughs). Hopefully, let's hope
for the best.
The last question:
Would you like to say something that I haven't asked about?Nimmo: We've been talking for a long time here. It is good that we
are finished (laughs).
Gustavo: It is the longest interview ever (more laughs).

By admin, in News,

It’s Not Your Imagination. Skydiving Actually Changes the Shape of Time

"We live longer in three seconds than some people live their entire lives."
That's one of my favorite quotes from a fellow BASE jumper, and it was at the forefront of my mind as I read BBC broadcaster and psychology writer Claudia Hammond's new book, "Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception." The book tackles the alternately baffling and encouraging science behind our brains' relationship with the arbitrary measurements of our wristwatches.
More to the point: It puts that information in a framework that makes total sense for an airsports athlete. Time works a little differently for us, after all. Linear time lies at the heart of the way we organize life, sure--but it also lies at the heart of the way we experience it. This might be the bigger concept--because what's within our own minds is under our own control.
Skydivers--especially in high-stakes moments, like competitions and records--can relate to the curiously changing shape of time. Saturated with focus, it feels as though some experiences are being scrubbed through in super-fast-forward, while others are playing out almost frame-by-frame. It turns out that fluxes in time perception aren't simply an athletic and personal deficiency; these mental gymnastics around the concept of time's passage are a "defining feature of how the human mind works."It turns out that, in a physiological sense, the "slow-motion car crash" isn't a myth -- it's "a cognitive reality."
Hammond's hypothesis is compelling in its simplicity: that the way we experience the passage of time is not an external process we're subjected to. Instead, time as we know it is actively created by our own minds. It isn't reliable and it is certainly not objective. Neuroscientists and psychologists call this "mind time," and Hammond describes how we as humans -- and, by extension, we as extreme athletes -- can shape it and use it to our own benefit.
Much of the challenge we face as airsports athletes is exerting a practical amount of control over our physical and mental responses to overwhelming stimuli. No amount of mental gymnastics will turn a BASE exit with a seven-second rock drop into an exit with a 12-second rock drop; however, if we can start to see "mind time" as flexible and ourselves as active participants in our experience of it, Hammond suggests that we can stay in flight just a little longer in our own minds. (This is a deeply appealing and useful thought experiment for athletes who practice a sport that often requires us to dedicate days of our time for scant minutes of freefall.)
"Time Warped" is a profoundly conceptual but still, somehow, practical book. It addresses the way our internal clocks dictate our lives and the ways in which mindfulness works as a tool to master that internal clock.
One of the book's most beautiful passages sums it up brilliantly:
"We will never have total control over this extraordinary dimension. Time will warp and confuse and baffle and entertain however much we learn about its capacities. But the more we learn, the more we can shape it to our will and destiny. We can slow it down or speed it up. We can hold on to the past more securely and predict the future more accurately. Mental time-travel is one of the greatest gifts of the mind. It makes us human, and it makes us special."
Other Resources:
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

Felt Time: The Science of How We Experience Time by Marc Wittmann

By admin, in General,

Swoop Freestyle FAI World Championship Program

When Copenhagen hosts parachuting's inaugural Swoop Freestyle FAI World Championship August 25th & 26th, not only will it set the scene for the best athletes in the world but turn one of the oldest and most historic European capitals into an urban sports festival.
Combining world class sport with DJ's, live music, street food, air shows and various activities for all ages, will create a great festival feel around the World Championships. It is expected that over 200,000 spectators will visit the event at Peblinge Lake, downtown Copenhagen during the two event days. It will be possible to try tandem jumping over the city, bungee jumping, virtual reality parachuting and running across the lake in Fun Ballz.
"We want to create a festival feel around a world class sport by offering a host of activities and giving the audience a full Swoop Freestyle event experience. With different activations and touch points, the spectators will get opportunities to connect with the sport in an engaging way. We believe that by mixing world class sport with, great activities, music and street food, it will set the scene for future events in major cities where a broad activation is key," says George Blythe, CEO of A. Sports, the organizer of the Swoop Freestyle FAI World Championships.
Adrenaline packed sports festival in the heart of major cities
By taking the sport of parachuting, which is usually performed in small air fields, and bringing it into major cities, it gives the host city and local partners a great opportunity to work with potential clients and businesses.
Highlights from the 2016 CPH Invitational  
"With the help from one of our partners, all spectators can download an app and send out their own live feed experience with a chance to be featured in different videos with other spectators both on the big screen at the venue and at the live feed going out to millions around the world," George Blythe adds and points out the mission for Swoop Freestyle: To build a world championship series in major cities worldwide such as Formula 1.

"The Swoop Freestyle FAI World Championship 2017 will not only be the first ever World Championship in urban parachuting in the heart of Copenhagen – it will also form the basis of a genuine festive celebration combining sport and spectators with a festival of side activities embracing the championship – an approach which is typically Danish," says Lars Lundov, CEO, Sport Event Denmark, the national sporting event organization that partners the event.
18 pilots from 10 different countries and with a total of 150,000 jumps between them:
#1 Curt Bartholomew, 31 years old, USA, 8000 jumps
#2 Nick Batsch, 35 years old, USA, 8500 jumps
#3 Claudio Cagnasso, 28 years old, Venezuela, 6500 jumps
#4 Ian Bobo, 46 years old, USA, 20000 jumps
#5 Cornelia Mihai, 32 years old, UAE, 10000 jumps
#6 Pablo Hernandez, 31 years old, Spain, 15000 jumps
#7 David Ludvik Junior, 38 years old, USA, 16000 jumps
#8 Marco Fürst, 26 years old, Austria, 4000 jumps
#9 Tom Baker, 27 years old, USA, 7000 jumps
#10 Chris Stewart, 28 years old, New Zealand, 7000 jumps
#11 Aurel Marquet, 34 years old, France, 2900 jumps
#12 Ulisse Idra, 27 years old, Italy, 7000 jumps
#13 Jeannie Bartholomew, 36 years old, USA, 4000 jumps
#14 Max Manow, 28 years old, Germany, 5000 jumps
#15 Mario Fattoruso, 30 years old, Italy, 6000 jumps
#16 Christian Webber, 30 years old, Denmark, 3400 jumps
#17 Abdulbari Qubaisi, 29 years old, UAE, 6300 jumps
#18 Travis Mills, 35 years old, USA, 13500 jumps PROGRAM - FAI Swoop Freestyle World Championship 2017:
Friday August 25th - Swoop Training and Swoop Night Lights
3.00-3.30pm (15.00-15.30): Highlights from 2016 on big screen
4.00-6.00pm (16.00-18.00): Swoop Training - Round 1 and 2
6.00-6.15pm (18.00-18.15): Fly Boards show
6.15-9.00pm (18.15-21.00): Swoop Sessions, live music
9.15-9.45pm (21.15-21.45) - Swoop Night Lights (airshow with night jumps, lighted suits and pyro) Saturday August 26th - Swoop Qualifying of Swoop Finals
12.00-12.30pm: Swoop Sessions, live music
12.30-12.45pm: Fly Boards show
1.00-3.00pm (13.00-15.00): Swoop Qualifying, Round 1 and 2
3.30-3.45pm (15.30-15.45): Show with wingsuits, BASE and Acro paragliding
4.00-6.00pm (16.00-18.00): Swoop Finals, Round 1 and 2 + medal ceremony. Who will be the first world champion?
6.15-9.00pm (18.15-21.00): Swoop Sessions live music, and meet'n'greet with the athletes Other activities both days:
Tandem jumps over Copenhagen (For booking link and prices - click here)
Water blob (rental)
Floading couches (rental)
Fun ballz (rental)
Virtual Reality parachuting (rental)
Bungeejump (rental) FAI Swoop Freestyle World Championships 2017
Training and Swoop Night Lights Friday August 25, Qualifying and Finals Saturday August 26 2017.
Location: Peblinge Lake, Queen Louise's Bridge, central Copenhagen.
18 parachute pilots from 10 countries.
It's the first swoop freestyle world championships ever in freestyle swooping (canopy piloting), sanctioned under the FAI, Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Website and social media:
Facebook page:
Facebook event:  

By admin, in News,

Jump-Tandem Festival 2017 Report

The first annual JUMP-TANDEM V.I.P. FESTIVAL took place at the Dropzone Prostejov in the Czech Republic on July 11-16 2017.
As the coaches arrived, there was nobody smaller than Léo Blanchon of the Bro’s (FF) and Kim Törnwall (FF), Rolf Brombach (WS), Regan Tetlow (FS), David Nimmo and Luis Adolfo Lopez-Mendez of Fly Warriors (FF).
Each of them trained a small group of skydivers 4,200 meters in V.I.P. style so that everybody made great progress in their skills during the festival. There were also jumps made from two hot air balloons hovering at 4000 meters! Everybody landed safely in the drop zone.

There was a party every night with happy hour, live bands and DJs. The final night featured a raffle with prizes in value of more than € 7,000.
JUMP-TANDEM Dropzone Prostejov has already organized two Vector Festivals (2011, 2012), World Parachuting Championships (2014) and many World Cups and European Championships (2005-2013), for which it has become well-known.

Plans are for only one V.I.P. mark in Europe next year too, which means that there is going to be very limited space available for registrations. If you don’t want to miss your slot on the very special 2018 JT V.I.P. FESTIVAL, check either the website or Facebook page regularly for more information about the event.
More available at or
Special thanks to festival partners Aerodyne and Cypres for their support.

By admin, in Events,

Indoors Outdoors - Translating Between The Tunnel & The Sky (Part 5)

Part Five: Head Down
Learning to fly upside down can be tough. Once a student reaches the point at which the coaches and instructors in charge of their progression and safety invite them to start, he or she should be suitably skilled in the other main orientations of flight in order to manage the variables involved in practicing head down with confidence. However, all too often this is not the case - and although things are improving as training methodology evolves and becomes more widely understood - too few students invest as much time as they should in the right foundational skills in their big rush to get to head down.
The main thrust of these articles is to highlight some of the many ways that various elements of freefly training feed into and stack upon each other to create a deeper understanding of how flying actually works. The process of learning head down is a great example of exactly how many things someone could and should be able to do before they begin with those expensive headstands on the net - in order to make the whole endeavour much smoother, easier, cheaper, and vitally - more fun.
Safety First!
On the most basic level, good backflying and sitflying skills will keep you safe while learning head down. The ability to properly control yourself in these positions on high windspeeds is the minimum by which you should be allowed to get started. Even for those us totally devoid of maths, the ability to reset yourself onto the net in just a handful of seconds after needing to bail instead of fifteen or twenty (or more) spent bouncing around the top of the tube is clear to see.
Investing in your backfly and sitfly early on will save you a great deal of time and money down the road.
In addition, every bit of progress you make in the other areas of your training feeds directly back into your ability to fly head down. Doing this other stuff is more fun and easier on your body than spending hour after hour on the net.
How Does Head Up Help?
Aside from simply being able to safely get in the tube on wind speeds high enough for head down flying, many of the ways you sitfly about the place can be practiced and then switched the other way up as a means of making you brain understand what is going on. The most efficient way to figure out a line or a sequence of moves when you are first learning on your head can be to get it right with some sitfly first where it is easier to maintain awareness and fly with a position in which you are stronger - then flip it over. The way movements are flown from the one orientation to its opposite can be very similar - the space, the lines and the subtleties are very often one and the same.
How Does Carving Help?
Carving your way up from low wind speeds on both your belly and back help your head down flying from the very start by helping your brain to recognise the single most important rule to maintaining positional awareness:
When you go from head up to head down - left is right and right is left.

Once you have got the hang of static head down, moving around is next. Understanding how carving works and practicing it on low speeds is the way to both good technique and a much quicker mastery of it on high speeds. The best way to frame the process is to think of carving in the tunnel as learning the ability to fly at any angle and velocity as opposed to separating high speed and low speed into two categories. Once you get steep enough, the skill set you need to apply to carving becomes closer to that of head down flying - but the most important thing to understand is the fluidity. The golden moment is when your carving drills and your head down meet in the middle.
How Do Layouts Help?
Proper layouts are tough to get right. Frequently people have to do a great many, working through the smallest refinements in technique before nailing them. Training layouts teaches you body many things, but within the context of this article the most prescient value they have for helping with your head down skills is to get your body up over your head and travelling through the axis you need the most control of when flying (or transitioning through) a head down position. Head down is scary at the start - the wind is fast and is hitting your control surfaces from the wrong sides - having some layouts under your belt will help with being relaxed at the idea of your feet being high up and your body low down.
The thing to remember is that all the pieces matter. While it is entirely possible to learn how to fly head down buy achieving the minimum possible requirements to be allowed to try, and then spend a great deal of time and money hammering away at it the way people used to do all the time - there is now a way that is more fun, less tiring, and that will ultimately give you a stronger skill set, better understanding and more useable tools for skydiving.