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CoolBeans

Accuracy landing for students

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Hi there, I'm trying to grasp the accuracy landing topic. I'm currently a student on a big canopy (260sqft I think it's Navigator). I normally start the pattern at 1000ft, turn left at 600ft then turn left again to final at 300ft. Only after turning to final I start to get an idea how far I'm going to fly before landing. Would you please share how you are approaching the accuracy landing?

Regular landing pattern:

0.regular-landing-pattern.png

Tools and tricks that I'm interested in:
1. Looking at the horizon and target - is target "going up", "going down" or fixed? if fixed that's the point I will most likely land at
2. S turns on final - if I know I'm overshooting I could bleed some altitude by doing small left/right turns; I've been told that's a bad idea as it makes me unpredictable and other jumpers can be confused; however it is very efficient
3. Flying in deep brakes on final - never tried that myself, I've seen/heard/read that this could be a way to bleed altitude faster in case I was overshooting; but then how do I flare? 
4. Using front/rear risers to either land sooner or later - no idea about that, is that even an option?
5. Modifying last turn to final at 300ft - instead of regular 90 degrees turn I could cut it short or circle around by turning little bit to the right first and then doing long left turn; the challenge with that one is that I don't know how far I'm going to fly before I actually turn to final

5.modifying-landing-patterns-from-USPA-SIM.png

 

6. The way I flare - quick half-way down should give me a bit more glide, slow full flare should stop the canopy sooner - is that true?
7. Pay attention how long/quick my downwind leg is and based on that figure out when/how to do final turn. I have no idea how to use that one in practice
8. Get the insights about how strong the wind is by looking at the wind sock - that's the theory for me, I have no clue how to actually apply that in practice other than seeing wind direction and knowing that I want to land upwind

I'm aware that before executing any new maneuver I should talk to S&TA at the dropzone. Another important thing that I already experienced - before anything I have to observe traffic. I had one situation where I was fixed on the target (is it going up? down?) and didn't see tandem landing close to me - as a result they had to do some corrections.

I'm just curious to hear your opinions.

Edited by CoolBeans

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The best way to get your questions answered is to talk to your instructors.  Most of this is best explained in person.  Once you are off student status, take a canopy control course as soon as possible.  Don't do anything I suggest before talking to your instructors/S&TA.  

 

1 hour ago, CoolBeans said:

1. Looking at the horizon and target - is target "going up", "going down" or fixed? if fixed that's the point I will most likely land at

I found this easier to learn by practicing up high.  While flying straight at full flight, pick a point in front of you.  If it's fixed, you will likely land there if you change nothing about how you are flying - ie no turns and no brake or front riser input.  If it is moving down, you will land long.  If it is moving up, you will land short.

Now change something. Go to 1/2 brakes.  What does the spot do?  Go back to full flight, then pull down both front risers.  What does the spot do?  Go back to full flight, then pull on both rear risers.  What does the spot do?

Once you've "seen" it and practiced it a bit, you'll find it easier to apply when it comes to entering the pattern, knowing when to turn base and when to turn final.  Once you are on final, consider yourself committed to wherever you are going to land (unless of course you would be landing in the swamp or power lines or trees...).  Too much other stuff to think about and do.

 

1 hour ago, CoolBeans said:

2. S turns on final - if I know I'm overshooting I could bleed some altitude by doing small left/right turns; I've been told that's a bad idea as it makes me unpredictable and other jumpers can be confused; however it is very efficient

DO NOT DO S TURNS ON FINAL - or anywhere in the pattern for that matter.  It can not only confuse other jumpers, it can be a cause of a canopy collision.

1 hour ago, CoolBeans said:

3. Flying in deep brakes on final - never tried that myself, I've seen/heard/read that this could be a way to bleed altitude faster in case I was overshooting; but then how do I flare? 

In many cases it's better to overshoot. Flying in deep brakes on final will slow you down and confuse other jumpers.  

Practice flaring from brakes up high.  Go to 1/2 brakes and then flare the rest of the way.  Try it again from 3/4 brakes. Even though you really don't want to do it on final, someday you might have to - like when you really overshoot and are going to land in the swamp/trees/powerlines.

1 hour ago, CoolBeans said:

4. Using front/rear risers to either land sooner or later - no idea about that, is that even an option?

It is an option, just not on final.  Again, unless you are going to hit an obstacle.

1 hour ago, CoolBeans said:

5. Modifying last turn to final at 300ft - instead of regular 90 degrees turn I could cut it short or circle around by turning little bit to the right first and then doing long left turn; the challenge with that one is that I don't know how far I'm going to fly before I actually turn to final

Don't.  The jumpers behind you can't predict what you are doing.  Unpredictable is the last thing you want to be in the pattern.

 

Edited by skybytch
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 Brother Cool Beans,

We wish all students were as curious as you! Learning canopy control has a steep learning curve - in the early stages - then settles down to refining observations and techniques over hundreds of jumps.

Sister skybytch provided plenty of sound advice.

Modifying the curvature of your final turn towards The target (last 600 to 300 feet of altitude) is only predictable if it is variations on a left turn. Alternating left and right turns only confuses people behind you. Confused people make mistakes. Confused people get hurt!

Learning how to read the winds is a decades-long process. It starts with staring at the wind sock to determine wind direction. Knowing wind direction helps determine landing direction.

Secondly, note how much the windsock/flag droops. It I hangs straight down, and here is no wind and your final approach will be shallow .... meaning turn into final approach we’ll down-wind of the target.

OTOH if the windsock is blowing straight back from the pole (horizontal) winds are too strong for students to be in the air. Strong winds vastly increase the risk of dragging after landing. Strong winds also trick people into turning onto final too far down wind. Far wiser to turn final close to the target.

Thirdly, observe dozens of other jumpers landing. Start by comparing their approach angle with the windsocks’ angle. Try the o keep I mind that the tiny, fast canopies favoured by “canopy pilots” ignore wind shifts far better than sluggish student canopies.

Fourthly,  do wind checks under canopy. Classic precision landing technique includes turning into the wind about 1200 feet above the target and shut off to the side. Apply half-brakes and give the canopy 5 seconds to stabilize before trying to determine your approach angle. Once you determine your approach angle (e.g. the landmark that is neither rising nor descending in your view) make a mental note, then complete your last turn on to final approach at that angle - or a slightly shallower - angle. Winds always decrease as you near the ground.

I prefer talking about angles for two weeks reasons. First: the human eyeball is a miserable altimeter.

Secondly, my dyslexia makes numbers just a jumble of silly little bits of random data.

Hah!

Hah!

Finally, if you read classic precision landing textbooks (published by Eiff, New England Parachutes, Performance Designs Zero, etc.) take them with a grain of salt.

Yes, they are written about wing-loadings similar to student wing-loadings (typically 0.7 pounds per square foot), but those are specialized canopies optimized for stability near the stall. When a canopy is that close to stalling, it has no surplus energy to “flare” or reduce vertical descent rate. Stalling onto an inflated competition “tuffet” is fun, but the same landing technique on hard ground will bruise or sprain you! Forget about finer competition techniques until you can do 10 stand-up landings in a row within 5 metres (15 feet) of your (Frisbee) target.

IOW stick with “sport accuracy” and “exhibition jump accuracy” techniques for your first few hundred jumps.

 

Performance Designs just announced their “Bullseye Sport Accuracy” tour for 2019. This series of casual competitions provides plenty of opportunities to learn theory and practice under the eye of coaches. Few spectators care about your score (measured in centimetres) because they are too busy observing how smoothly you approach and how your skills improve over the summer.

Go check out the “Bullseye Sport Accuracy” page on PD’s website.

Edited by riggerrob
Add reference to PD “Bullseye”

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