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elightle

Best Canopy for Smaller Older Jumper

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Posted (edited)

Okay, I know I will get many opinions and that's what I'm looking for. Here's my situation. I am an older jumper with lots of jumps but my landings suck. One reason might be that I bought so many used canopies instead of saving my money and buying a new one. Another reason is a bit of anxiety about landings. I had a few bad ones when I was a jumper in the service and a couple surgeries to prove it.

Looking back, maybe the best landings I've had were on a Sabre 135. But those openings are not good for a guy in his 60's.

So, any advice and opinions will be greatly appreciated!

Edited by elightle
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Spectre with Dacron lines. Opens like butter, easy to land.  I'm 54 and previously injured, 135 # body weight flying a 150. One of the best canopies for us old farts.  You can get a demo from PD.

But that's just my opinion. I'd suggest jumping as many different canopies as you are interested in. What is perfect for me might not be perfect for you.

A canopy control course is a GREAT idea. Your landings will improve, and it will likely help your confidence.

 

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Check out the Firebolt from  Parachute Labs in DeLand.

I have a Firebolt 164, best all around canopy I’ve ever jumped. It’s designed for soft openings on heading and easy landings.

You won’t have any problems with a Firebolt of any size.

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18 minutes ago, 3331 said:

Check out the Firebolt from  Parachute Labs in DeLand.

I have a Firebolt 164, best all around canopy I’ve ever jumped. It’s designed for soft openings on heading and easy landings.

You won’t have any problems with a Firebolt of any size.

Are you perhaps biased toward Parachute Lab products in any way?

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Well...I'm not sure the Spectre 135 was the best choice for my old body. It is really ground hungry and requires a 2-stage flare, which I found out the hard way. Of course, my landing phobia has come back with a vengeance - I had a couple bad landings in the military which required surgery. Might have something to do with my age. I went many, many years without landing fear. Anyway, I might be putting an almost new Spectre 135 up for sale if it doesn't suit my needs after a few more jumps. Oh well, I have the off season to decide.

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Ground hungry... I wouldn't list the Spectra as being a particularly ground hungry canopy. There are certainly other canopies out there that are steeper trimmed. Keep in mind that any canopy that is designed to land easily and be forgiving on the flare will have to have an excess of flare authority. It has to be trimmed a little steeper to have the ability to increase it's CL to give you that powerful flare. If you were to fly a flatter canopy, one with a flatter glide, less ground hungry, you would find that the flare is some what less forgiving. I actually prefer flatter canopies and the way you generally land them is with a little extra speed. Even just a bit of front riser, so in a since you trim it more nose down, ground hungry, to get an easy landing out of it.

 

One thing that was noticeable about the specter, is the way it pitches front to back. It was noticeable on landing as you descended in to the stiller air near the ground. When you passed through a wind shear between two layers. Think end of the day as the ground cools off and the ground winds die but the wind is still blowing a couple hundred feet up. Well there is a wind sheer as you drop from one layer to the next. Some of your airspeed goes away. Interestingly the larger the canopy is for you the more noticeable this is. 5 knts is a larger percentage of your air speed and when that head wind dies you are 5 knts slower. The canopy wants to correct that. It wants to speed up. It feels like it takes off surging forward and down toward the ground. Flaring dosen't seem to help because the canopy is pitching forwards and can not make lift to support you till it pitches back above your head. The larger the canopy and the longer the lines the more dramatic this can be. You see it with student canopies. They induce it all the time. If you make a small turn with a break, the canopy pitches back and then when you let up on the toggle the canopy surges forward. Not a lot but enough to ruin your flare. Worse is the student that flares high and then decides to let up because miss judged it. When he tries to flare again the canopy is well in front of his body. These are more dramatic examples but the same thing happens when you come in to land. If the wind drops off you get a surge in the canopy. Some canopies do this more then others. Line length is one factor but I think the airfoil also plays a part in it. It really depends on the pitch stiffness of the canopy. I don't understand all of it. But it's noticeable in the specter. You might try a Triathlon. They are not as prone to this. Back when these canopies came out they were neck and neck and we had jumpers that went back and forth between the canopies. It was the same market. They loved the specter but had noticeable more trouble landing them under some conditions that they had no problem landing their Tri in. 

 

I would not categorize a specter as a bad canopy you just need to learn to land it. Under those conditions I like to carry a little extra speed, front risers, or a small turn but hook a bit high. The idea being to to have a bit more speed when you enter that still air. You could also barrow a saber 2 from some one and give it a try. They also have a forgiving flare. Or go up a size. But with the specter I think it may just be a mater of learning to reconise the wind conditions. 

 

Or just use it as an excuse to hook that bitch down wind on the last load of the day. That way the wind sheer acts in your favor. Or at least that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

 

Lee

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Lee, I really appreciate the analysis. I was thinking about a Triathlon but wanted softer openings. Somebody told me that Tri's with the 5.0 mod open better. Is that true? Again, thanks for the info...and I will take all of this into consideration before switching canopies. Cheers!

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22 hours ago, elightle said:

Lee, I really appreciate the analysis. I was thinking about a Triathlon but wanted softer openings. Somebody told me that Tri's with the 5.0 mod open better. Is that true? Again, thanks for the info...and I will take all of this into consideration before switching canopies. Cheers!

You should really consider the Pilot (9 cell) or Safire 2 (or 3 I guess, I haven't flown one yet).  They both have great openings but the Saf snivels longer.  Both land really nicely as well.

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I'm also an older jumper with shitty landings. I PLF a whole lot; that saves me from injury. I have no pride whatsoever :D. They're not getting better with age, but, well, my PLF's are still good. I've taken three or four canopy classes. I just don't care that much any more, because I walk back from all my landings. My default landing is a PLF, which I alter to a standup at the last minute if everything looks perfect. Your statement about ground hungry and two-stage landing makes me think that the ground looks the same coming at you (even at 45 degrees, etc) as it does to me. The faster the landing, the worse, for me. Every now and then I nail it, but I'm not sure that good landings will be in my skill set until I upsize to about a .7:1 BASE canopy or something like that.

I currently have a Stiletto loaded at just over 1:1; I've also jumped a Pilot and liked it better; I might break down and get one if I get sick enough of the Stiletto. If you really liked the landings on a Sabre, can you maybe get one with a pocket slider? They're supposed to be magic.  Have someone test it for you a couple of times.

We're in the age range where a small pack is only useful because it weighs less walking to the airplane, and that's outweighed by a whole lot of other things. I'm in the same size range as you. I upsized my rig a couple of years ago, and bought a container that will allow at least two more upsizes. I'd rather be ungainly than broken.

Wendy P.

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On ‎10‎/‎21‎/‎2019 at 3:38 PM, elightle said:

It is really ground hungry and requires a 2-stage flare

Not sure what you mean by ground hungry; I seem to descend at a reasonable rate. 

As for the flare, I couldn't land any canopy well until I took a canopy control course, where I learned the correct way to flare.  I've jumped both 7 and 9 cells since and landed fine using the same flare technique.

Just out of curiosity, what is your wingloading? 

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I was seriously thinking about getting a pilot - getting older and jumping less - I jump a stiletto 150 and this past weekend I jumped a pilot 150 - I am thinking about the low pack volume of a pilot 132 zpx any one jump that and how are the landings on a hot no wind day say vs the regular zp??

 

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13 hours ago, lifeisshort said:

I was seriously thinking about getting a pilot - getting older and jumping less - I jump a stiletto 150 and this past weekend I jumped a pilot 150 - I am thinking about the low pack volume of a pilot 132 zpx any one jump that and how are the landings on a hot no wind day say vs the regular zp??

 

I had a ZPX Pilot 168 and really enjoyed it.  I downsized to a ZP 152 Zulu.  I haven't flown a 168 ZP Pilot, but in my experience, there was nothing lacking in the flare.  

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I work with gear sales on a daily basis. I think you're getting the best info from the people steering you to the Pilot. The low bulk options allow you ton have a larger canopy if you want and keep a smaller rig. If not the standard is fine. Good luck. Worrying about your landings has an effect of your freefall and the enjoyment of the sport. You need to be able to relax.

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On 10/29/2019 at 9:15 PM, lifeisshort said:

I was seriously thinking about getting a pilot - getting older and jumping less - I jump a stiletto 150 and this past weekend I jumped a pilot 150 - I am thinking about the low pack volume of a pilot 132 zpx any one jump that and how are the landings on a hot no wind day say vs the regular zp??

 

My husband has a Pilot 132; he likes it, but on no-wind days he's having to run more than he'd like (we're all getting older). He had a Stiletto 120 before that. But if you're currently jumping a 150 and considering you're getting older and jumping less, do you really want to downsize?

Wendy P.

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