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chrismgtis

What skills did you work on after getting the A-license?

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I fairly recently received my A-license and took Scott Miller's course. I realized how little I knew about canopy flight and the flight pattern. Also, recently I've started to notice how quickly newly licensed jumpers start to participate in four ways and free flying. I don't see any problem with learning those skills, but it makes me wonder how many people are working on essential skills.

I've asked "Are you working on your flight plan still" to people who recently took the canopy course and they said no.

In the time I've been jumping I've spent a lot of time at the DZ and started to notice trends. Students will complete the skills on their A-license proficiency card and mostly never think of them again. Or some of us may take the canopy course and not really continue to work on the skills we were taught. I know this because I'm guilty of it myself and it took 10 hours of instruction to make me realize it.

The reason I find this alarming is because taking that course made me realize how blindly I was flying and how important a lot of the skills were that I didn't think to learn more about.

I plan on doing this for a very long time and if that's going to happen I don't want to find myself at another drop zone or in one of those situations that I don't know what to do (a long spot, having to make a low turn to avoid an obstacle, etc).

We can learn the free fly skills and four way skills in free fall. The really important part comes when it's time to pull. Personally, I'm concentrating on those things and waiting to do the rest later on, but we can do both. It's no big deal to jump in a four way and work on canopy skills on the same jump. I don't think a lot of people do it though. It seems like so many people are just worried about getting in those four ways.

I've realized how little I did know about canopy flight. It was sort of an eye opener because I look back and think "damn, I was flying blind out there" because now I know how little I knew. I basically had the thought process "fly in a triangle, start downwind, then crosswind and land upwind and keep your eye on traffic". Ok, so I knew a little more than that, but still.

It seems like so many students that just got their A license recently in the last 6 months seem to want to get into four ways and sit fly, but they don't really think too much about their canopies and the skills they can learn after they track away from their formations and start flying the parachute.

Flat turns are something I didn't experiment with very much. I did what was required on the card and didn't think a whole lot about it afterwards.

Another thing is flight patterns and traffic awareness. It's probably not such a big deal at smaller drop zones that don't have a lot of swoopers flying around, but we probably shouldn't make that assumption. I was taught pretty well the very basics of the pattern and what to be doing, but I'm glad I know about verticle seperation and that kind of thing now.

I don't think it's necessarily a problem with the AFF program or student status. What I'm seeing just concerns me a little, because it makes me wonder how many people actually care about the skills that are going to save their life or someone elses instead of just "I want to get in that four way and learn more". So it's more of a trend in what people are concentrating on learning (or not learning).

I've been pulling high (at 8000 ft) and playing with my canopy as much as possible in the last few months and now that I have my own canopy I can do that a lot more often and will probably do it as much as the conditions permit. It gives me a lot of air to play with the toggles and when I'm at 3000-0ft there isn't usually anyone around so I can really work on accuracy.

So the point I guess is that those of us that are new at this (maybe even people with a couple hundred jumps already) may be flying around with really basic skills and not attempting to learn more or asking "why?".
Rodriguez Brother #1614, Muff Brother #4033
Jumped: Twin Otter, Cessna 182, CASA, Helicopter, Caravan

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Hot damn and pass the peas!

What an excellent post. You are, as far as I can tell nowadays, absolutely correct. WTF is wrong with the youngsters? Why is it that out of all the students I see going through training, at every DZ I've been to, only a minority actively persue learning...most of the others will sit and listen if you go drag them in but will rarely initiate a learning discussion on their own.

This is why we all need to get more stringent on training programs...to drag them in...sometimes kicking and screaming.

Has ALL of skydiving become nothing more than a carnival ride?
My reality and yours are quite different.
I think we're all Bozos on this bus.
Falcon5232, SCS8170, SCSA353, POPS9398, DS239

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Has ALL of skydiving become nothing more than a carnival ride?



I can't answer that question, because I lack the time in the sport, but I think that may be the case for a lot of people.

I'm not saying that no one at all cares about learning the important things because plenty of us do and plenty of us are interested in learning more, but I find that until you realize how little you know and how much there is to learn besides free fall skills (tracking,formations,freeflying,etc) and having fun in free fall, you don't know how much you really can learn besides those things.

I've heard instructors tell us plenty of times "Your skydive is not over until you're safely on the ground". I realized how true that was and your chance to learn is also not over until you are safely on the ground which is probably what some of them meant too.

You know, this also got me to thinking and I'm going to mention this to our DZO and DZM and see if we can get together some kind of program for newly licensed jumpers (or anyone for that matter) to promote learning more about safety, basic canopy flight, spotting, accuracy, etc. to complement programs that teach skills in free fall.
Rodriguez Brother #1614, Muff Brother #4033
Jumped: Twin Otter, Cessna 182, CASA, Helicopter, Caravan

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You know, this also got me to thinking and I'm going to mention this to our DZO and DZM and see if we can get together some kind of program for newly licensed jumpers (or anyone for that matter) to promote learning more about safety, basic canopy flight, spotting, accuracy, etc. to complement programs that teach skills in free fall.



My only problem is that most/some/a few (take your pick) dzo's are going to think, "What's that going to cost me and our instructors? How much mark up can I make on top of that?" This stuff used to get taught for free, and now most people even need to pay to learn how to pack.

Luckily I come from a dz that with the exception of cheap gear rental (the rental is cheap, not the gear;)) and cheap lift tickets, everything else is free. You pay if forward. I was doing four ways by ff #17 and I guarentee that they would not have let me do it if I couldn't track and wasn't aware enough and knew how to react with other canopies in the area. It's not at what jump can you do or should you do x/y/z. It's when are your skills good enough to do x/y/z, and when AFF grads get left by alone by the wayside unless they're willing to dish out good money, we're going to have problems. I wish everyone had what I have "at home".

As for the carnival ride comment: I think it's a reflection of our society. Kids these days need to be entertained 24/7. When I was a kid and took long car rides we entertained ourselves by playing red car/blue car. Now kids have DVD players and iPods and GameBoys. We had cartoons Saturday and Sunday mornings. Now they have 100 stations that run nothing but cartoons every second of the day, every day of the week. How does it translate into skydiving? They want full altitude now. They want to do 4 ways now. They want to do head down now. They want to jump with a camera helmet now.

Just my worthless newbie $0.02...

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How does it translate into skydiving? They want full altitude now. They want to do 4 ways now. They want to do head down now. They want to jump with a camera helmet now. Just my worthless newbie $0.02...



Well I agree. I've noticed friends buying camera helmets when they have an A-license. I'm not even sure that is allowed.

I'm in no hurry for the four ways and things like that. It can wait, cause I'm still having fun just jumping by myself and getting to know my canopy. I realized theres more important things right now than just how much fun can I have on one jump. Then again, I could do all these things and still work on other skills under canopy too on that same jump.

Not to pick on DZ friends or anything, it just makes me go "wait a minute, why are they doing this?" when I see all these people working on four ways, or talking about camera helmets, or whatever. It would make me feel a lot better if they said yes when I asked them if they were working on accuracy skills or any of the basics actively.

Some of the PD guys this past weekend were talking about how they tried to get into swooping early on and realized later how stupid that was, then had to start over again at he basics when they had like 500 jumps. And that their view was "That's cool! Thats what I want to do!".
Rodriguez Brother #1614, Muff Brother #4033
Jumped: Twin Otter, Cessna 182, CASA, Helicopter, Caravan

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I'm in no hurry for the four ways and things like that. It can wait, cause I'm still having fun just jumping by myself and getting to know my canopy. I realized theres more important things right now than just how much fun can I have on one jump. Then again, I could do all these things and still work on other skills under canopy too on that same jump.



I'd recommend not jumping by yourself so much... you don't learn much in freefall unless you have at least one other person with you... you don't have a frame of reference as to exactly what your body is doing. You could be turning, orbiting, backsliding, and not know it.

My mission in life, as much is possible around working as a packer, is to make sure that newer jumpers aren't doing solo after solo. I help them work on basic survival skills... tracking, fall rate, turning, etc, just in two ways. If they want to open high to work on canopy skills, that's fine by me.

I've jumped with too many people now with with 60-100 jumps, 90% of them solos, that have no idea what their bodies are doing in freefall. You don't need to dive into 4 ways or freeflying or whatever, but find a coach or experienced jumper who's willing to work with you a bit.... you'll be surprised how much quicker (and safer!) you'll progress as a jumper. Most of us are quite happy to work with you on spotting skills or anything else as well in the course of the dive.

Do or do not, there is no try -Yoda

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It should be a continual learning process.The problem is that a lot of peoples' minds do not function that way. They do not have the ability to look at what they are doing, analyze it, recognize a mistake and fix it.

Learning to recognize who is flying which canopy, how fast it flies and how the pilot flies it is important for stacking the pattern.

I am loaded at just over 1-1 and if someone with a faster wing opens 500 ft. above me, I know that he will probably overtake me in the pattern, so I get into brakes until he gets below me.

On breakoff, I am really working on looking left and right during tracking to insure even spacing.

On throwout, I'm working on getting head high to ease opening shock.

At some point much of this should become muscle memory.

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Maybe it is because I am at a small Cessna dz, but I have never stopped trying to work on the entire dive. When I do have to do solos I work on things that don't necessarily need a frame of reference such as tracking. You can feel how your body is flying and make adjustments. I recently went on a jump that tested my ability to hike up my fall rate. I mean I was punching it out. It made me learn how to arch like crazy but still be able to fly. I have learned so much from doing 2, 3, 4 ways. I had a backsliding problem that became very clear after doing some of those group dives. I always get feedback from my jumps because I jump with instructors and high jump number people. I always putz with my canopy and try different things. My point about all this is I think the reason why recently licensed jumpers might not keep learning is because they might feel out of the loop. Trying to get people to jump with them might be hard and paying for coaching is expensive. I think if high jump number people would let in those low number jumpers more readily I think it would help. Give them a reason to learn. Give them something to strive for.
Sky Canyon Wingsuiters

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Hello Chris, I know that Scott Miller's course is great (I took the basic twice and intend to take it again). The first time I took it (50 jumps) I think I understood about 1/4 of what he was telling me but with practice I felt better about being able to land were I wanted to. That was my goal. The second time I took it (100 jumps)I realized that I understood a great deal more and it really built up my confidence. Being able to pilot your gear with confidence and in a well recognized pattern will help you and others stay safe.
At Skydive Carolina you have a lot of folks with great skills who would be willing to jump with you one on one. I know this because they are willing to jump with me. Do not miss the opportunity to learn flying your body with others (fall rate, side sliding, forward docks, backward docks) It is great fun and helps build your body awareness. Your instructors stayed with you, now it is time for your to learn to stay with them.
Plan to open early and practice your skills at setting up for your pattern. Ask the guys from PD to do air to air with you. It is a great learning tool and they love to do it.

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I agree about the doing solos part of the arguement. Doing solos here and there is great. It's nice to not have to worry about anything but pulling to just take everything in. But jumping with other people is part of the learning process.

Does that mean that newly A licensed jumpers should be doing 4 ways? Well, not necessarily. But if there are 3 experienced jumpers willing to take up someone who has 4 way or other RW stuff in their future, why not? Even if the person can't track all that well (because if they have an A license, they CAN track), the other 3 are there to compensate for that. I was doing decently sized RW jumps fresh off of A license and I think it was great for my learning.

I do HIGHLY agree with the canopy skills. I've said from the beginning that there should be more emphasis on it. People aren't dying in freefall, they are dying under perfectly good parachutes. If anything, more emphasis on flat turns at least. With the "no low turns" comment burned into students' brains, knowing how to do flat turns effectively, in my opinion, would be a huge help.

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...You know, this also got me to thinking and I'm going to mention this to our DZO and DZM and see if we can get together some kind of program for newly licensed jumpers (or anyone for that matter) to promote learning more about safety, basic canopy flight, spotting, accuracy, etc. to complement programs that teach skills in free fall.



I like the way you think.
Good stuff!
My reality and yours are quite different.
I think we're all Bozos on this bus.
Falcon5232, SCS8170, SCSA353, POPS9398, DS239

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Lynn,

Everytime you open your mouth about your blasted DZ it makes me more and more jealous and envious. You guys have such a great place with such great comraderie.

Plan A:
Do you want to adopt a son? I don't eat much and I clean up behind myself without having to be told.

Plan B:
Can I get you guys to move your entire DZ just a little to the South...like to Georgia?


:D:D:)
My reality and yours are quite different.
I think we're all Bozos on this bus.
Falcon5232, SCS8170, SCSA353, POPS9398, DS239

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I'll take plan A because I think I would have to file for bankrupcy if I had jumpable weather all 12 months of the year. Its nice to have the three weeks off in February when its too far below zero to get the planes started to save up for the summer:P.

Seriously, you should plan a trip up sometime this winter. Offer goes for anyone. Fly into Minneapolis (cheaper than Eau Claire) on a Friday afternoon. I'll pick you up at the airport and we'll head to Chippewa. Jump all weekend and I'll get you back to the airport Sunday night. You can stay at the clubhouse so no need to waste money on a hotel and the fridge is always fully stocked with beer! Being that I work for a food broker, I always bring food to the dz. Pot roast, prime rib, french dips...whatever is laying around. We'll get 'er done Wissota style!

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I agree with your post.

I used to say it as we need to keep our skydives
within the framework of an intelligent parachute
jump.

When I coached post AFF people it was 70 or 80%
parachute jump stuff.

> So the point I guess is that those of us that are new at this
> (maybe even people with a couple hundred jumps already)
> may be flying around with really basic skills and not attempting
> to learn more or asking "why?".

I think new people show up and tune in to the
attitudes and outlooks and practices of the people
who are already there, and it just perpetuates.


I used to spend over half the dirt dive practicing
the part that happens after breakoff.

Track away, pull, hands on rear risers - and I'd
run over to some other position and say "OK,
here's someone coming right at you, which way
do you turn to avoid the collision?"

And then go into we're here, the target's over
there, the winds are like this. What's the landing
pattern and what do we do to get from here to
the beginning of the pattern?

And we'd walk through all that, walk through
the pattern, the flare, and so on.

Do you see people doing that? Most dirt dives
I see end at the break.


There's nothing wrong with downsizing and
head down and swooping and most of the
other stuff that gets popular.

What's wrong (just my view of course) is
that we've created a world where people
skip over the couple hundred jumps where
you make a real effort to develop that
foundation of making an intelligent
parachute jump.

Plunging immediately into all the other
stuff without that foundation only makes
a social kind of sense, where you act like
the people you're trying to fit in with.

But the air, the sky, the ground don't care
about that.


So since you are thinking this way, maybe
you can develop your foundation, and then
pass it on to a few people when it's your
turn to teach.

Skr

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People get into skydiving for different reasons. Also because skydiving will attract many different types of people those people will approach the sport differently. It is funny to me how it seems that those who get into skydiving are nonconformists, but once in the sport we strive to conform. Latest trends, newest gear, and such. The adrenaline rush is not what kept me jumping. It was most likely what got me to the DZ the first time but that was quickly replaced by the sheer awe of what we are able to do in the sky. I think having the passion to learn is what really separates people within the sport. Some feel that because they have been able to jump out of a plane and land safely on the ground what they know right now is enough. Now apply that thought process to a sport like downhill skiing. Well I can get from the top of the mountain to the bottom safely so what else do I need to know? Picture the guy bombing straight down the hill arms flailing. In the end it is the amount of respect for the sport, what the sport gives to you, what it can take away, and your own passion to learn. Training programs and classes can try to do this, but ultimately it is up to the person to make that decision.
Sky Canyon Wingsuiters

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Do any drop zones have any kind of accuracy contests for different ranges of experience like say up to 100 jumps, 101-300 jumps, 301-500 jumps, 501 to 1000 jumps, etc (just for example). That would be cool for fun. Might promote accuracy skills.

Something else neat would be coaching for basic CRW skills. If you can fly around another parachute then you should be able to navigate in traffic a lot better and avoid a collision (hopefully :P)
Rodriguez Brother #1614, Muff Brother #4033
Jumped: Twin Otter, Cessna 182, CASA, Helicopter, Caravan

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Do any drop zones have any kind of accuracy contests for different ranges of experience like say up to 100 jumps, 101-300 jumps, 301-500 jumps, 501 to 1000 jumps, etc (just for example). That would be cool for fun. Might promote accuracy skills.

This would be an awesome event for any boogie, event and especially safety day. GOOD IDEA!!! I will definitely be bringing it up at my dz this weekend.

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I focused on Freeflying and CRW after getting my A-license. At about 100 jumps when I did a belly tunnel camp the majority of time I had spent on my belly was in the deploying position. This didn't change until I started shooting tandem videos.
"I encourage all awesome dangerous behavior." - Jeffro Fincher

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This would be an awesome event for any boogie, event and especially safety day. GOOD IDEA!!! I will definitely be bringing it up at my dz this weekend.



Sweeet. Let me know if that works out. I'm curious if it's something people would really want to do.

So like say we came up with a sort of "Essential Skills Club" type deal. In that we work on accuracy, basic CRW, basic to more advanced spotting, learning to fly your canopy, etc. Then build on that with the accuracy contests, possibly some sort of canopy relative work events.

From that you might see some people get involved in other aspects of the sport. I don't see a lot of CRW at our DZ. I know different drop zones have have jumpers that focus on different skills.
Rodriguez Brother #1614, Muff Brother #4033
Jumped: Twin Otter, Cessna 182, CASA, Helicopter, Caravan

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Do any drop zones have any kind of accuracy contests for different ranges of experience like say up to 100 jumps, 101-300 jumps, 301-500 jumps, 501 to 1000 jumps, etc (just for example). That would be cool for fun. Might promote accuracy skills.



If your a college kid collegiate nationals does sport accuracy and classic, they break the classes down by number of jumps.
"The restraining order says you're only allowed to touch me in freefall"
=P

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"I'd recommend not jumping by yourself so much... you don't learn much in freefall unless you have at least one other person with you... you don't have a frame of reference as to exactly what your body is doing. You could be turning, orbiting, backsliding, and not know it."




I would agree with you here. Did a 3 way on jump 30 and it was not pretty. Reached to make docks, hard time matching fall rate, bad exit got on top of another jumper. Reached to make dock with wrong hand. Broke up the formation. Got on the ground not feeling great at all. The two other jumpers were congratulating me on a great skydive. I thought they were nuts. As they explained to me I did a lot of things right and most importantly we had a safe skydive. I recovered quickly from all of my mistakes and turned and tracked flat at the right altitude. They both told me having more solo jumps probably would have made matters worse as you can pick up a lot of bad habits when you do not have a point of reference. One of them asked me to make another jump and things went a little better. They both told me jumping with other people takes some getting used too and encouraged me to continue to ask them and others to make jumps.

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Since my A I've been concentrating on spotting and landings and working in some 2 or 4 ways in between.

I've been doing A LOT of hop and pops to practice spotting (so important for when you go to boogies) and consistent accurate landings (again important when you go to a different dz). The 2 & 4 ways I jump with the same group of experienced jumpers every time.

For me I've decided instead of going immediately into CRW, (which was all I could think of to get me through AFF), I'm better off honing my canopy flying and belly flying skills. Then, when I feel more confident with those, I can move on to bigger and better aspects of skydiving!

(Just my 2 cents thats working for me)
"It is our choices that show what we truly are far more than our abilities." - A. Dumbledore

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What should be concentrated on more than anything and absolutely above all else after acquisition of an “A” License is:

First:
Emergency Procedures that encompass a through educating, understanding and cross checking by the newly licensed skydiver, this includes a through understanding of the gear, its proper utilization configuration and maintainence.

Second:
Canopy piloting education that not only requires and abundant amount of education and practice but also requires an enormous amount of, ummmm, practice...

Open parachutes, especially ones that are properly flown greatly increase our odds of surviving and walking away from every landing. I have done recurrencey training with a lot of skydivers with hundreds of jumps and am completely floored by how little they knew about the fundamental survival aspects of skydiving. I sit out by the beer line and watch team members with their matching jumpsuits and thousands of jumps make mistakes under canopy all the time that only require training in the most fundamental aspects of canopy flight.

Being under-prepared on the fundamentals of survival is amazingly common in the skydiving community. Everyone wants to get out there and become hotshot in the varying disciplines and disregard the important stuff. Regardless of what aspect of skydiving you are concentrating, you will get better with repetitive practice, and we only get that 45 seconds at a time.

I’ve said it before and will say it again:
I have never seen a skydiver sitting in the plane on the way to altitude with a femur bone sticking out of the side of their leg.
-
Mykel AFF-I10
Skydiving Priorities: 1) Open Canopy. 2) Land Safely. 3) Don’t hurt anyone. 4) Repeat…

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