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Westerly

Diving exits: toward the tail or nose?

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This question is in regards to RW on an aircraft with a side door (e.g. grand caravan, twin otter, ect). When a formation is going to do a partly linked exit, say with 2 or 3 people, and send 1, 2 or 3 divers out after the linked exit, is it better to dive out toward the tail or face forward toward the nose of the aircraft? A very experienced LO with 15k RW jumps once told me diving exits are always best done toward the nose of the aircraft as opposed to the tail. He said despite the thought that a tail facing exit might get you to the formation faster, it wont. He dident give me any reasoning, but I presume it's because you have less chance of getting flipped over if you're facing the relative wind as opposed to having it face your back. he mentioned all divers should exit facing the nose and then turn 180 on the hill and race down to the formation.

Thoughts? Should divers stack up facing the nose or the tail? Can you do a combination of both? Say put two divers in the door facing the nose and one diver behind the two facing the tail?

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You should be able to exit without flipping, as long as you present your belly to the relative wind. Head up, head down, sideways....it shouldn't matter.

So it doesn't really matter much which way you dive. Leaving after the base means you are running towards the tail anyway, so it makes sense to keep going that way.

More important is keeping visuals on the base as much as possible, and as they will be behind and below as you exit, its easier if you keep going that way.
My computer beat me at chess, It was no match for me at kickboxing....

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I've always had good results by diving straight out the door, perpendicular to the flight path. Head turned toward the base, left arm pointed straight toward the base, body presented to the relative wind while looking over the left shoulder, right arm swept back, both legs folded back to my butt. Begin unfolding legs and sweeping the left arm back while transitioning from exit config to a full dive while on the hill. Keep looking at the base and other traffic. Tall, spindly, skinny build. So, personal experience, neither toward the nose or the tail. Worked for me.

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muff528

I've always had good results by diving straight out the door, perpendicular to the flight path. Head turned toward the base, left arm pointed straight toward the base, body presented to the relative wind while looking over the left shoulder, right arm swept back, both legs folded back to my butt. Begin unfolding legs and sweeping the left arm back while transitioning from exit config to a full dive while on the hill. Keep looking at the base and other traffic. Tall, spindly, skinny build. So, personal experience, neither toward the nose or the tail. Worked for me.

Who am I to challenge someone with 15k jumps but the above is exactly how I used to do it so I could present as much surface on the hill without flipping forward, keeping a visual lock on the formation, and to reduce some horizontal separation before the 200 mph vertical boogie.
What the OP describes as diving facing the nose is actually what a floater does on the hill, dive up to the formation.

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What your buddy is really referring to depends on a few things.

With small groups in a linked exit, the people inside the plane are sometimes diving and sometimes facing uphill toward the nose. It depends on the exit. For example, if a 4-way group is launching an F (open accordion), the two people inside the plane are aiming out and down at about 45 degrees; both are diving. If the group is launching an H (bow), the inside front is aiming to be completely parallel to the wing at exit (s/he is mostly just falling out, rather than actively diving), and the inside rear is chunking out straight sideways, leading with the hip, with the intention of looking straight up the hill (toward the nose, in your buddy's terms) as the group leaves the plane (like a hop-and-pop exit without climbing out). In this case, neither inside person is really "diving."

With larger groups and unlinked exits:
"Toward the nose" isn't really toward the nose; it's straight out, parallel to the wing. You're only in that position briefly before you orient down the hill toward the formation. Leaving the plane with the intention of being side-to-earth helps in two ways: you're more likely to be stable; and you're less likely to hit the back of the door frame as you exit. As early divers, in the jam-up in line with the door, especially if we are more forward (i.e. there are people next to us toward the tail aiming to go out at the same time), aiming straight out keeps us from slamming into the people exiting to our left (keeping us from slamming them into the door, because damn that HURTS). As late divers, shuffle-running toward the door, we again attempt to launch from near the front of the door and aim more parallel to the wing as we exit rather than straight down because again, we'll be less likely to hit the back of the door (and it's easier to find the base and aim toward it if we don't exit head-to-earth). The downhill pivot happens almost immediately; you only stay side-to-earth long enough to get out of the plane into clear air.

Just to give you an example that sounds a bit like the situation you are describing...
Let's say you're doing an organized jump with 8 people. You have three outside (rearmost guy is ungripped, maybe even out on the camera step) and two inside; the two-and-two are exiting in some form of a 4-way chunk. Then you have three more people diving. Those three will either be in a row of three behind the two already in the door, or two and then one. It's an LO'ed jump, so let's say two and then one.
Those two will go out together, aiming to go with the chunk when it exits, close enough to tag their feet; and the last guy goes after them. The two set up behind the two already in the door, leaving a solid person's-worth of space between the rearward person and the back bulkhead. They are trying to go out together - so if they dive downward, the front guy is going to knock the rear guy into the back of the door as they go. They both need to aim OUT instead of down, with the front guy shooting to aim wingward. He doesn't actually launch up the line of flight, because the plane is flying that way and he isn't going faster than the plane. But having that intention in his movement keeps him as close to possible to being in line with the front of the door as he passes through it, leaving plenty of room for the guy to his left to get out. The last guy out is closer to in line with the forward of the two before him and is again aiming to leave closer to the front of the door, presenting sideways rather than aiming straight down the hill. Once he clears the door he turns downhill and heads toward the group. He's giving himself the space to clear the door, as well as space for the rearward guy ahead of him (in case HE gets out late). Aiming sideways also keeps him from instantly sliding down the hill, which is good if the 4-way chunk didn't funnel; if it held together the relative wind catches it and it "sails", staying higher on the hill. The later diver is less likely to overshoot on his dive if he exits as close to straight out as possible instead of straight down, tailward.

With really large formations, with multiple planes, early divers from the trail planes are sometimes called dive-floaters, because as soon as they dive out they orient back up the hill and start tracking up the hill toward the base (which, since it comes out of the lead plane, is further uphill). However they are still diving out, not hopping out facing forward.

Hope this helps!

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The fastest way to close vertical distance is by assuming a vertical position (normally head down), if you exit presenting your belly instead, it will take longer to closer the vertical gap.

You also want to consider the horizontal gap as well, if you exit head down, the prop blast won't help you close the horizontal distance. This might be different depending on how many people are getting out before you.

Being able to spot the base as you leave the plane is also important. You also want to consider if you have the freefly skills necessary to do a headdown dive on a belly formation.

You also want to consider that head down closing speeds on a belly formation has the potential to be dangerous.

So, if you leave on your belly, by all means, I'd leave facing the tail, if you can leave on your head, the top of your head should be towards the nose.

I'd be curious to hear more from people who have experience on both belly and head down big ways.

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I would submit that in general anything you can by floating the exit can be done with your head pointed at the ground (and vice versa). The main thing is that your tum-tum is facing the prop blast; which direction your head is pointed makes no difference.

I would guess perhaps what he was talking about is executing a brief hard "flare" against the relative wind to kill off some fwd momentum. I believe I saw something about this in one of the "how to skydive" books I bought long ago. I think the passage indicated that someone who does this big flare to kill off fwd momentum gains some advantage over someone who just dives out head first and starts diving on the formation (that person will seem to be poised to get there fast but in reality he's still carrying momentum (fwd vector from plane) while he is diving).

To my first point, I would say that you can execute this big flare head up or head down. And I'd rather do it head down and not lose time in transitioning to a diving position. Also who knows maybe this person was REALLY good at backsliding down the hill to the formation or something.

As far as diving out, for the longest time my problem was not flipping over but rather doing an "auto-turn" on the hill after exit to where I was looking at the plane. Very frustrating. Finally clued in that I was leaving my feet up on my butt for too long and losing some directional control. I guess just some "me" peculiarity. Learned to just briefly pop my feet up on butt just long enough to clear the prop blast and then stick 'em back out and start diving.

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You can do a dive exit both way.

1) Toward the nose, if there is a left side door, keep your right hip and shoulder slightly higher in order to get a good presentation to the relative wind and leave the airplane on the left leg. A good trick is to keep eye contact with the left wing tip. Keep arching. Pretend you are parallel to a 45 degrees imaginary geometrical plane passing over the wing

2) Toward the tail with a left side door, leave the airplane on the left leg and lower slightly the left shoulder and keep arching. You have no choice to use that kind of exit when doing a large formation and being number 10 or more to exit the airplane. If this is a Twin Otter, on a large formation, you can put 5-6 people outside of the door and 3-4 in the door facing those outside. On smaller airplane, 3-4 people outside and 2-3 inside facing those outside. Then in that case if you are number 6-7 or more to exit, you have to use the exit toward the tail
Learn from others mistakes, you will never live long enough to make them all.

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JohnMitchell

***Towards the nose wouldn’t be diving


Exactly. That would be more of a poised exit.


You said Mr. 15K jumps didn't explain why. That makes me think he doesn't have a good reason. All the advice I dispense comes with the reasons why it's "good advice".

he said because it was faster to get down to the formation. He mentioned that if you do a tail exit there is a higher chance of messing it up and getting flipped around since it's a more difficult exit. He mentioned it's typically faster to exit facing the nose and turn 180 on the hill as it's a more stable exit and you're less likely to get flipped or fly off heading.

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In the olden times when the DC3 was the jump ship of choice there would be times when the base of a formation would exit well after the first jumpers had. The earlier jumpers would dive out but immediately turn around to track “up” to the base. Even though they had dived out the door they were still called “floaters” because they would have to float up to the base. Those following the base were the divers and invariably would leave facing the tail.

Maybe your expert meant that it would always be best to present your belly forward toward the nose during exit rather than your back. Did he mean that you dive out head down with belly facing the nose? Probably.

Jon

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Westerly

he said because it was faster to get down to the formation. He mentioned that if you do a tail exit there is a higher chance of messing it up and getting flipped around since it's a more difficult exit. He mentioned it's typically faster to exit facing the nose and turn 180 on the hill as it's a more stable exit and you're less likely to get flipped or fly off heading.

Thanks for the reply. Interesting reasoning. I happen to disagree but I have half as many jumps as him and I'm not a bigway organizer. But I do feel that a good diving exit is not THAT hard to learn to do correctly, and I feel pointing in the right direction on exit is the first step in getting to the formation quickly. I think a lot of more experienced skydivers would agree with me on that. :)

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Westerly

******Towards the nose wouldn’t be diving


Exactly. That would be more of a poised exit.


You said Mr. 15K jumps didn't explain why. That makes me think he doesn't have a good reason. All the advice I dispense comes with the reasons why it's "good advice".

he said because it was faster to get down to the formation.

It seems to me that there might be some truth in this with respect to reaching terminal velocity faster. If you exit in the direction of flight in a head-low attitude, your body effectively becomes a wing at a negative AoA, meaning that the relative wind will be pushing you down. This is particularly noticeable in wingsuiting. With FS, this effect won't last very long as you lose forward speed, but you should still reach terminal velocity a bit faster than if you exit head-low toward the back of the airplane, where you'd experience the opposite effect.

Of course, for you to benefit from this, you'd actually have to maintain your heading for a few seconds instead of flying back to your formation, so I'm not sure of an actual net benefit.

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mxk

*********Towards the nose wouldn’t be diving


Exactly. That would be more of a poised exit.


You said Mr. 15K jumps didn't explain why. That makes me think he doesn't have a good reason. All the advice I dispense comes with the reasons why it's "good advice".

he said because it was faster to get down to the formation.

It seems to me that there might be some truth in this with respect to reaching terminal velocity faster. If you exit in the direction of flight in a head-low attitude, your body effectively becomes a wing at a negative AoA, meaning that the relative wind will be pushing you down. This is particularly noticeable in wingsuiting. With FS, this effect won't last very long as you lose forward speed, but you should still reach terminal velocity a bit faster than if you exit head-low toward the back of the airplane, where you'd experience the opposite effect.

Of course, for you to benefit from this, you'd actually have to maintain your heading for a few seconds instead of flying back to your formation, so I'm not sure of an actual net benefit.Did a couple tandem chases. Exactly. Nailed em both
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Westerly

******Towards the nose wouldn’t be diving


Exactly. That would be more of a poised exit.


You said Mr. 15K jumps didn't explain why. That makes me think he doesn't have a good reason. All the advice I dispense comes with the reasons why it's "good advice".

he said because it was faster to get down to the formation. He mentioned that if you do a tail exit there is a higher chance of messing it up and getting flipped around since it's a more difficult exit. He mentioned it's typically faster to exit facing the nose and turn 180 on the hill as it's a more stable exit and you're less likely to get flipped or fly off heading.

There's nothing inherently more difficult about a diving exit than a poised exit. What he might have meant is that performing a poised exit may be a faster way to the formation for someone who hasn't mastered the diving exit, but that would be a very short-term strategy - like on a single jump when performance is needed over practice.

Every exit should be mastered. Once you have all exit types in your bag, use the one that cuts the most corners to get you where you're going most efficiently.
Chuck Akers
D-10855
Houston, TX

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Quote

In the olden times when the DC3 was the jump ship of choice there would be times when the base of a formation would exit well after the first jumpers had. The earlier jumpers would dive out but immediately turn around to track “up” to the base.


This is still common in big ways.

I'd also add that when you have more than one aircraft your divers (and floaters) are going to be going in all different directions. For example, if you are an early diver on a right trail aircraft, you are going to dive out while presenting 'sideways' (i.e. chest into the wind, head pointing at the base which will be to your left.) Left trail will be doing the opposite which is even more non-intuitive, because you have to exit and then immediately get into a position with your head towards the exit aircraft (which is where the base will be.)

As a general rule, when time to first dock is an issue, the goal is always

1) Present your chest to the relative wind
2) Point your head at where you want to go.

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