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patymaciel

New Girl, getting started on AFF

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Hi, I'm Paty, and I am getting started in the AFF course. I have done 2 regular tandems plus another tandem since Level 1 in my DZ is a tandem, but with altitude awareness, and deployment. I have 10 minutes in the tunnel and I've done pretty good. I love the exits and the free fall, but what freaks me out is everything that comes after deployment! from having the three Fs to landing! every video I see focuses on free fall, not on controlling the canopy and landing... am I freaking out over the easy part or what? I haven't scheduled my next training because of this... thoughts?

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Most DZs use radios, the instructor lands first and gives input to the student to help. See if your school does this.

Also going out to the DZ to watch others land while an instructor or coach explains things and answers your questions can help.
diamonds are a dawgs best friend

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If the canopy part is so concerning to you, there's no shame in doing another tandem. After you go through the AFF first jump course and learn all about canopy checks, navigation, landing pattern, etc. One more tandem would give you a chance for more practice while still having a professional right there with you. At some point you'll have to make the leap and pilot your canopy solo, but you can transition to that goal if needed.
Max Peck
What's the point of having top secret code names, fellas, if we ain't gonna use 'em?

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Welcome.

From one point of view, your concern about canopy flight and landing is reasonable. Landing safely is the ultimate goal of any jump. Dealing with malfunctions can be intimidating. Proper patterns are important. Collisions are really bad. Judging height on short final and timing the flare takes practice to do it well.

BUT... None of it is all that hard.
Mals are pretty rare. You need to be ready, but the EPs are usually pretty simple (at least at the beginning) and you likely won't need them.
Proper patterns take a bit of time to learn, and because of that, students are usually segregated from the 'rest of the crowd'. You'll exit last, open high, and descend slower than everyone else.By the time you enter the pattern, you'll be (safely) alone.
You will likely have radio guidance the first few times, but even without, you will be under a large, slow and forgiving canopy. When (not if) you screw up the flare, you will just land a bit hard.

You are not alone with these concerns. As with everything else, discuss it with your instructors.

The suggestion of watching others land, while an instructor points out what they are doing, how they are doing it and what they are doing right (and wrong) is a good idea.

The idea of doing another 'instructional tandem' isn't entirely bad. Having an instructor right behind you, talking you through the entire landing process can be very helpful.
"There are NO situations which do not call for a French Maid outfit." Lucky McSwervy

"~ya don't GET old by being weak & stupid!" - Airtwardo

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***
Thank you very much for your input, I think it's a good idea to watch others land while talking to my instructor. My DZ is currently having a Boogie, so there is a lot of people and I am going to wait until it's over to schedule my next jump. They do not do radio on student landings, they do signals from the ground (you have to mirror them), which I think is a good thing for me, since I have the hardest time telling "right" from "left" (you should see how I make people scream when I'm driving and someone tells me where to make a turn, lol :ph34r:). Anyway, I am planning on going the day after tomorrow to do some tunnel time (they have a small tunnel at the DZ). I think it will be helpful and there will be a lot of landings to watch!

Any further advice you (or anyone reading this) may have, is welcome!

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There are a LOT of people get hurt (think broken leg or worse) with simple mistakes on landing. Two things that should help....
1. Learn/understand how the canopy works. If you understand how it works, your chances of doing something dumb go down, even when you are not specifically told, "Don't do such and such".
2. Understand what you must do to correctly fly the canopy. This sounds like a simple no brainer, that you will be taught as part of your instruction. While it is true that you will normally be correctly taught, there is a difference in how your study as a student. Will you be a spoon feed student or someone that desires to own the process?

I always expected the instructors to help me prepare for the task at hand. I never expected the instructors to prepare me. Work hard to be a good student. (I think you are starting the process with your questions)

The book "The Parachute And Its Pilot" is a good place to start learning more about canopy flight. The book should help you to be better equipped to talk to your instructors about any concerns along the way. There are other books as well, which I am less familiar with.
Instructor quote, “What's weird is that you're older than my dad!”

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The short answer here is it's easier than you think. In general it really is pretty intuitive to tell a good canopy from a bad one, to get the canopy to go where you want and to guide it back to the DZ. One of the reasons I have students do a good canopy control check early on is that it not only demonstrates that the canopy is safe to fly, it shows them all the controls and how the canopy responds - to avoid the "it was open and I was afraid to mess with it" problem.

There are some common canopy control factors for first jump students:

Everyone wants to flare too high. Wait until the instruction comes from your instructor (assuming they use radios or paddles.) You will want to flare too high; just accept that from the outset, and know that your instructor is not forgetting about you or misjudging your height.

Under a good student canopy everything happens slowly. You have plenty of time to check out the canopy, steer it in the right direction, stare at it a bit to make sure it's OK etc.

There is very little you can do to a student canopy to "hurt" it. So don't worry if it starts banking a lot during a turn; it's designed to do that. Also, turbulence generally feels a lot worse than it is. The canopy is a flexible, inflatable piece of fabric, and turbulence will both bump you around and cause the canopy to wiggle and "breathe." It's designed to do that, and isn't a big deal.

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LONG POST:
So, I put my AFF on hold for a couple of months because I wasn't really confortable in the DZ where I did my Level 1/Tandem thingy. I switched to another DZ and started all over again. Did Level 1 and 2 last weekend (no tandems, 2:1 exits). I think I did a decent Level 1 jump (followed instructions, pretty stable for a first timer and I deployed by myself), except that I totally fucked up my landing. Have you seen those videos in which a driving student hits gas instead of brakes and they just keep on doing that until they crash? well, that happened to me on my first landing, I did a pretty good landing pattern, I was heading towards the landing area, and WHY OH WHY I made a right turn.... and I knew that I was going in the wrong direction, but kept doing it (just like those driving students). I landed on my ass and my instructor told me "thank God you are in a forgiving student canopy, otherwise we'd be waiting for an ambulance right now". So my confidence got pretty broken, that was so not what I had pictured for my first jump, I fucked up, and felt SO stupid. Then I get on the plane again for a second jump, and I was so focused on trying to understand the signals from the instructor flying in front of me, that I totally forgot to check my altimeter (*major facepalm*), so my main instructor that was grabbing me had to shake me to make me focus, and it was time to deploy and I did. But then, I fucked up my landing again!!!! I couldn't hear well on the radio in which direction I should land, and instead of checking the direction of the wind (another facepalm), I went where I "thought" I had heard. So.... I made my landing pattern, and I missed the landing spot, I was still too high, and I was heading towards some cars and a hangar.... I started to make the same mistake as the first time (turning right), but then realized what I was doing and corrected it and landed on my ass again on the driveway (luckily a car that was coming in saw me and stopped). Ego severely bruised, but no scratches. Still, I felt pretty frustrated and my confidence went to the floor. I didn't want to continue for the day. Later, I went to have dinner with my instructor and 3 other diver friends and they told me I should focus on what I did right, instead of what I did wrong, just learn from my mistakes, they were pretty supportive but at the same time very honest. I had a meltdown as soon as I got in the car and cried all the way back to the hotel (I'm a crybaby). I was still pretty bummed on Sunday, so I just hung around at the DZ, watching/shadowing my instructor teach a kid who did his last 3 levels that day and graduated. Two days later, I am still struggling with my confidence, I want to do level 3 on Saturday and maybe just do one level each weekend... take it very slow, as I seem to get new information slower than other people. Please, tell me your struggles when you were doing your AFF course...!! I need to hear I am not the only shitty student out there!!! If you were the perfect student, I don't want to hear from you, seriously!! I kind of need stories of shitty students that finally made it and are happy and safe divers today, please!!

If you made it this far in this rant, THANK YOU SO MUCH!

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Ok, you asked.

I did Static Line progression. I didn't have any issues with canopy control, in part because I am a licensed pilot and understand flight, flaring, landing and that sort of stuff. 

 

BUT...

I had a hell of a time getting to free fall. S/L does 2 'just jumps', 3 practice pulls, Hop & Pop, then higher jumps with longer delays (timed) up to the point where you start watching the altimeter during free fall to decide when to pull.


I had about a dozen H&Ps. I had a very hard time keeping my arch and staying stable.

When I finally got to free fall (10 sec delay), I freaked out. I probably looked like a cat being put in a bath. I de-arched. When I went to pull, I forgot to bring the other arm in. So I did a barrel roll. And pulled on my back. I watched the D-bag come up between my legs and had just enough time to think 'Oh crap. This is NOT good' before the bag got to line stretch. I was yanked around in a 3/4 flip to upright, then my momentum carried me up and over again. My left arm was still extended, so I ended up with the risers on that side wrapped around my bicep. I nearly dislocated my shoulder unwrapping the riser, and had a full twist in the lines. Yes, it was a true 'flip through', not a 'step through'. I've heard people say that a flip through is impossible. I can say for certain that they are. 
And that's not the worst part.

 

The worst part is that after I took some time to calm down, thing about it and practice my arch some more, I came back a week or so later...

And did it again. Same 'cat being forced into a bath' free fall. Same 'forgot to pull my other arm in' barrel roll. This time, I saw the D-bag come up between my legs and had just enough time to think "Oh no, not again" before the 3/4 flip to upright, momentum carrying me through the risers and a flip through again. With the riser around my arm again. 

 

After that, the mental block got so bad, I couldn't jump. I tried twice, and just couldn't get on the plane. 

I ended up doing a two instructor AFF jump (just one). I knew it was a mental issue. My reasoning (discussed with the instructors and they agreed) was that I didn't trust the arch. If I had a couple of 'training wheels' (the instructors) who I could trust to keep me stable if I couldn't, then I could get comfortable enough in free fall to relax and arch properly. 

It worked. After about 4 or 5 seconds in free fall, I could arch. The rest of the jump went perfectly. The instructors said they could feel when I 'got it' because I stopped fighting the air and let it mold me. 
While the rest of my journey to my license and beyond was not flawless, once I got past that mental block, it went a LOT better.

 

You can do this, if you want to.

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On 2/26/2019 at 11:19 PM, wolfriverjoe said:

Ok, you asked.

I did Static Line progression. I didn't have any issues with canopy control, in part because I am a licensed pilot and understand flight, flaring, landing and that sort of stuff. 

 

BUT...

I had a hell of a time getting to free fall. S/L does 2 'just jumps', 3 practice pulls, Hop & Pop, then higher jumps with longer delays (timed) up to the point where you start watching the altimeter during free fall to decide when to pull.


I had about a dozen H&Ps. I had a very hard time keeping my arch and staying stable.

When I finally got to free fall (10 sec delay), I freaked out. I probably looked like a cat being put in a bath. I de-arched. When I went to pull, I forgot to bring the other arm in. So I did a barrel roll. And pulled on my back. I watched the D-bag come up between my legs and had just enough time to think 'Oh crap. This is NOT good' before the bag got to line stretch. I was yanked around in a 3/4 flip to upright, then my momentum carried me up and over again. My left arm was still extended, so I ended up with the risers on that side wrapped around my bicep. I nearly dislocated my shoulder unwrapping the riser, and had a full twist in the lines. Yes, it was a true 'flip through', not a 'step through'. I've heard people say that a flip through is impossible. I can say for certain that they are. 
And that's not the worst part.

 

The worst part is that after I took some time to calm down, thing about it and practice my arch some more, I came back a week or so later...

And did it again. Same 'cat being forced into a bath' free fall. Same 'forgot to pull my other arm in' barrel roll. This time, I saw the D-bag come up between my legs and had just enough time to think "Oh no, not again" before the 3/4 flip to upright, momentum carrying me through the risers and a flip through again. With the riser around my arm again. 

 

After that, the mental block got so bad, I couldn't jump. I tried twice, and just couldn't get on the plane. 

I ended up doing a two instructor AFF jump (just one). I knew it was a mental issue. My reasoning (discussed with the instructors and they agreed) was that I didn't trust the arch. If I had a couple of 'training wheels' (the instructors) who I could trust to keep me stable if I couldn't, then I could get comfortable enough in free fall to relax and arch properly. 

It worked. After about 4 or 5 seconds in free fall, I could arch. The rest of the jump went perfectly. The instructors said they could feel when I 'got it' because I stopped fighting the air and let it mold me. 
While the rest of my journey to my license and beyond was not flawless, once I got past that mental block, it went a LOT better.

 

You can do this, if you want to.

Thank you so much for your reply and the link to the cartoon! You have been very helpful! I feel just like the duck in the cartoon (BTW, a lot of people call me Pato, which means "duck" in English), specially that part where she says "Why was I doing this?.  I wasn't a thrill seeker.  It scared the @#$* out of me.  It was something I'd watch from afar. That's cool, I'd tell myself, but I could never do it.  This seemed reasonable.  Then again, really something I could never do?  What would happen if I tried?"
I have confirmed to my instructor that I will be at the DZ 8:45am on Saturday for my 3rd jump. Wish me luck!

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Just take your time with it, don't be in a rush to land, I am still working on my landings, if you don't think you can stand it, just sit and slide, just be sure to flare on time! Just take it easy, and relax. Also good luck on your third jump!

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12 hours ago, Devin Cyr said:

Just take your time with it, don't be in a rush to land, I am still working on my landings, if you don't think you can stand it, just sit and slide, just be sure to flare on time! Just take it easy, and relax. Also good luck on your third jump!

Please don't 'sit and slide'. That's a good way to break your coccyx (tailbone). Or your back. Sliding is actually a very advanced landing technique.


If you don't think you can stand it up, PLF. Learn to do a good PLF and you will save yourself a lot of pain & trouble.

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Hi again guys. Back here with sorrow.

First, thanks again for your advice! I did a very decent 3rd jump, my instructor even congratulated me on it. A couple of weeks later I did jump no. 4, which I failed miserably (I was spinning and spinning, my instructor had to stop me three times. I was stable for a few seconds and it was time to deploy, when I did, I started spinning again, and it was kind of a hard opening. Got a little bruise on my face (that I didn't notice until someone back at the dropzone pointed out at me). I landed on my ass (again), but I did land right on the spot where I was suppossed to land (yay!).

Anywho, I was going to repeat that jump (Level 4) and attempt Level 5 this upcoming weekend. And here comes the tragic part, which I am still having a hard time dealing with: my instructor had a terrible accident while doing a tandem jump and neither him nor the tandem student made it (it's in Spanish, but you can see the video of the accident in this link https://www.adn40.mx/noticia/mexico/nota/2019-03-24-19-47/mueren-dos-personas-en-accidente-de-paracaidas-en-morelos/). I believe you build a very strong bond with the person who teaches you to fly, and this hit me very hard. I was devastated and I couldn't even sleep on Sunday night. I just couldn't believe it, if someone was thorough with equipment checking and emergency procedures was this guy!! (he would constantly ask me questions of what I would do in different emergency scenarios, not just while training, but even while we were chilling having a beer!) I kept wondering all night what had exactly happened. Then at some point the next day I also started to think about my course. At first I thought of quitting (was this a sign that I shouldn't skydive?), but after his memorial service, I decided that I want to finish the AFF course, to honor his memory, and make him proud as I was going to be his first female graduate. I don't know when I'll finish, as I need to find a new instructor, I will look into my choices in the area, but I keep wondering if I will find someone like Mau (my instructor). He was very patient with me, and I trusted him since the moment I met him, he knew how to deal with a slow learner like me.

Anyway, I needed to vent, since I can't think of anything else since Sunday night. Thanks for reading this.

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I am very sorry for your loss.My condolences to his friends and family.

 

That is very sad. Especially hearing the man filming worried about his son/daughter/spouse.  

 

Good for you for deciding to keep up with it to honor his memory, i agree that we do get a special bond with the person/coach that teaches you how to fly.

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