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Rsaaronson

Downsizing as a student

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Ok, so I did my 10 jump yesterday.. had two rough landings... one 5 feet from the runway, the other i landed on the runway and PLF’d on the grass right beside it... I have an exit weight of 210... I started on a 260, had standing landings, my instructor then moved me to a 240, had standing landings. This past weekend wind conditions were different than normal, changing up my usual flight plan, with low windspeeds. My instructor downsized me to a 220 and thats when the bad landings started. I purchased a rig with a Sabre 2 210, as my instructors said this was a good way of saving money, and staying out of student gear... my instructor wants to put me on a 200 next jump as it will be more comparable to the speed and sportiness of the rig I got. Ive been flying navigators.. and have not jumped my rig yet... my concern is moving down to a 200 since i had a rough time with landing on the 220. Any recommendation on how I should approach the situation? Trust my instructors or my fear? Go easy on me.. I’m a noob, appreciate all help and insight. 

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(edited)

I'll give it a try:

You "downsized in two ways at once" -- both in canopy size, and by jumping in low wind conditions that you weren't used to. Maybe the instructor didn't realize the latter. (And instructors can never be sure how someone will handle whatever "next step" there is.) So my first instinct is to say just back off one notch to improve the landings. Don't try out the new-to-you 220 when the winds are really low, a situation you aren't yet used to.

However, it sounds like this is more about your pattern. Missing the LZ and presumably hitting a non-grass runway, or almost doing so, is more concerning.

So this is less whether you need to do a bit of a PLF because the landing might be a little tough on your ankles. Landing on a hard runway is not a big deal physically if you already have your landings dialled in to be soft, but you may not be at that stage to do so consistently. (What the DZ and any pilots think of landing there, is another matter, and depends on the DZ.)

Maybe your DZ is tight, but in any case, you probably don't want to mess around with hard runways at this stage. So definitely back off -- even back to the 240 in normal winds --  and work on the pattern, making it consistent. At some point though, you will have to deal with different winds that change your whole pattern planning and descent angles.

Saving some money is great, and it is nice to get off student and rental gear. But you know that you'll be spending plenty more on the sport in the future anyway. Not hurting yourself is more important than spending some extra while taking the downsizing slower.

Edited by pchapman

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IMO you said it perfectly, you were good with the 240. So stick with the 240 until you get stand up landings every time and then downsize to your 210.

Something to note, your Sabre 2 is going to be MUCH faster than your Student Canopy, I have the same exact canopy and the same progression, 280-260-240-210 (WL of 240 and 210 is the same due to loosing some weight.) 

Also make sure you understand how your Sabre 2 flares up high as it is different than most student canopies.

I LOVE my sabre 2 and I am comfortable sticking at a 210 for a while longer.

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I went from a 240 nav, to a 210, down to a 190 sabre2 and spectre2 .... as a student with 24 jumps, I can say that the landings on the sabre2 and the spectre2 are much easier for me than the 240 nav. After jumping the 190s and then going back to the nav I had to slide my landings in on my butt because the flare was so slow and I didnt compensate enough for it.  The sabre2 / spectre2 on the other hand, have very intuitive two stage flares that would plane out beautifully for me.  

perhaps its my inexperience in not loving the flare on the 240 nav, but i find the extra speed and flare power (especially) of the sabre2 190 and (mostly) the spectre2 190 to be a much more intuitive and effective flare, not to mention tons more fun up top!

If I never jump a nav again, it will be too soon. I am trying an sfire 189 this weekend. 

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thanks guys.. today we had some nice wind and i was able to nail those standing landings with the 220 the same way I did with the 260 and 240. Feel confident and will be way more comfortable with going down to the 200 next. I would have jumped the 200 today but my groin was chewed out from the student gear and it was getting choppy at 3000 ft... on top of that my next jump is 13.. didnt feel like testing my luck.

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On 8/20/2019 at 8:00 PM, ColoradoJones said:

I went from a 240 nav, to a 210, down to a 190 sabre2 and spectre2 .... as a student with 24 jumps, I can say that the landings on the sabre2 and the spectre2 are much easier for me than the 240 nav. After jumping the 190s and then going back to the nav I had to slide my landings in on my butt because the flare was so slow and I didnt compensate enough for it.  The sabre2 / spectre2 on the other hand, have very intuitive two stage flares that would plane out beautifully for me.  

perhaps its my inexperience in not loving the flare on the 240 nav, but i find the extra speed and flare power (especially) of the sabre2 190 and (mostly) the spectre2 190 to be a much more intuitive and effective flare, not to mention tons more fun up top!

If I never jump a nav again, it will be too soon. I am trying an sfire 189 this weekend. 

I’m wondering if others reading this have had the same experience with downsizing as a student. I think I read somewhere that another person was struggling with stand up landings and downsizing and getting out or a student rig made all the difference. I’m at 19 jumps. First 6 jumps on a 160 (.77 wing load) then downsized to a Navigator 240 (.85 wing load) and have been standing up my landings. I’m a little worried to downsize because it’s hard to run fast enough with the 240 on no wind days. I’m nervous to go to a 230 or smaller, non-student rig. I’m not Usain Bolt.  Is it common for people to have better landing experiences on non-student rigs? 

I've also thought about purchasing a rig with a 210-220 main (210=1:1 wing load)with the understanding that I will be ready for it soon and I’d regret buying a canopy that is too large but I don’t know how much/fast I’ll want to downsize. Safety is #1 and I don’t want to downsize just to downsize. Would it be dumb to buy a used rig with the expectation to downsize into it shortly after buying it? 

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@Tstringham. I have 165 jumps and have my ow rig with a Silhouette 190 main which puts me on a 1.15 wingload.
My AFF was with a Nav 260 then downsized to a 230, 210 and 190. Then I bought my own rig. 

I never had any real issues with landing and till this day never had a 'bad' landing (= for me a bad landing is when would I hurt myself).
With my 190 I sometimes have to run too, although if I start my flare on the right time so I can make the most of the level out flight it only takes me a few steps, even on no wind days.
y landings have greatly improved since I did a 101 flight course. If I had've known this I would have taken this course way sooner instead of waiting 100 jumps.

Maybe ask an instructor to observe your landings? Or take the 101 course if there is one (don't know if 19 jumps is too soon but I guess how sooner you learn it the right way the better).

My biggest fault was flaring just a little to late so the canopy couldn't level out (horizontal flight just above the ground) enough and I had to run a lot. Or I slided on my but and on finish the canopy put me back on my feet. I'm past those days but my landings are still far from perfect :) 

The more you jump the better it will go. Every landing where you don't hurt yourself or others is a good one. 

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No-wind landings are tough and standing them up consistently is a good test of canopy control skills.  Head winds allow for softer flares and even incomplete ones when the winds are high enough (a bad habit that I used to have).  I haven't seen your landings, but it sounds like you might not be using all the canopy has in the control range with the toggles.  Your hands should be all the way down before your feet touch down - especially in no-wind situations.

Most coaches and instructors would discourage down-sizing any canopy unless no-wind landings weren't a cause for concern.  Same could be said with cross-winders and down-winders, at lower wind speeds.  

In addition to varying wind conditions, canopy responsiveness and flight characteristics vary by design and wing-loading.  You'll want to be cautious on new canopy variants and sizes - that "sweet spot" during the landing flare isn't the same on each chute.  

Also, be direct with your instructor about your concerns.  I wasn't there and can't opine on his/her methods, but it sounds like you're not ready for a smaller canopy, you feel like you're not ready, and this is something you need to tell them.  It's not worth the bumps and bruises, or worse, to downsize too quickly.

-JD-

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23 hours ago, Tstringham said:

I've also thought about purchasing a rig with a 210-220 main (210=1:1 wing load)with the understanding that I will be ready for it soon

Well, personally I would not buy a canopy, before I have jumped that particular canopy. Why buy something that you think you will be "ready for" at some future time? There are many different types of canopies (apart from the size consideration) and if you haven't jumped them, how would you know that you will like how that canopy behaves?

I would recommend starting to try out different canopies when you're at the size that you will want to own for a while, and then purchase the kind of canopy that you like best. That's what I did.
Of course, it may be that I am privileged to have a dropzone that had a few rental canopies as well as a guy who was renting various types in my area, but between DZs with rental gear, private renters, other jumpers and manufacturer's demo programs, it should be possible to at least try a few canopies before deciding to buy one, no?

I tried a PD Storm, PD Sabre 2 and PD Spectre--all in the same size--and after jumping them it was very clear to me that I liked the Spectre and would not have been happy with the Sabre 2 (which pretty much everyone else around me was jumping.) There was no way I could have made that decision accurately if all I had jumped before were student Navigators.

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5 hours ago, mbohu said:

Well, personally I would not buy a canopy, before I have jumped that particular canopy. Why buy something that you think you will be "ready for" at some future time? There are many different types of canopies (apart from the size consideration) and if you haven't jumped them, how would you know that you will like how that canopy behaves?

I would recommend starting to try out different canopies when you're at the size that you will want to own for a while, and then purchase the kind of canopy that you like best. That's what I did.
Of course, it may be that I am privileged to have a dropzone that had a few rental canopies as well as a guy who was renting various types in my area, but between DZs with rental gear, private renters, other jumpers and manufacturer's demo programs, it should be possible to at least try a few canopies before deciding to buy one, no?

Perhaps at bigger DZ's in the US this is an option, but over here it's harder to get your hands on canopies to try.
Just like most people I know, I simply bought a used canopy based on reviews & online info about it. When you're switching to your first own canopy, as long as it's something not too agressive I'd figure you'll be ok. If you REALLY dislike it, you can probably sell it without a loss...

As for buying before you're ready: one of the newer jumpers at my DZ bought his rig with a 170 over a year ago when he had only 17 jumps. Why? Because someone was quitting the sport after having put 50~jumps on a brand new rig and was selling it for dirt cheap. He sure isn't regretting it now that he's finally jumping it a year later!

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10 jumps and you have a “usual” landing pattern? Is that 7 AFF jumps + 3 student jumps?  

You should be extremely concerned jumping a 200. My understanding was it takes a couple of more jumps than 10 to go to a 200, Germain suggest 100 jumps at your weight to jump a 200.E40CA081-CCE9-4F84-BE5A-1CB97AEB53BE.png.405079b8e90ec78e69c12bde682bacb3.png1

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Interesting point jclalor.

But it looks like Germain's chart is pretty conservative here.

2019-09-03_220847.jpg.deb7ec9d9b6f621d4d1c311a33ca2968.jpg

It suggests that at around 210 lbs exit weight, the smallest size a first jump student could use is a 230. (Not the ideal, but the minimum.) And then never go lower than that until 100 jumps, where the jumper could finally downsize to 1 to 1 wing loading. 

I'm at a DZ with a notoriously conservative DZO, and even there a jumper of 210 lbs would be allowed as a student to downsize as far as a 190, provided more or less that a number of jumps were made on each size canopy down to that point. Newbies elsewhere must surely also be going as high as 1:1 loading, and past that. People don't buy their first rigs to be at only 0.9 loading....

 

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15 hours ago, pchapman said:

It suggests that at around 210 lbs exit weight, the smallest size a first jump student could use is a 230. (Not the ideal, but the minimum.)

The big bold number represents the average size and the small number in parenthesis is the minimum. So the smallest is about a 210, not 230. I was a bit over 250lb exit weight and they had me start out on a 300, so the chart doesn't really seem that conservative.

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Thanks for the correction.

Using the "minimum" numbers rather than "middle of range", that would allow a 200 canopy for a 209 lb exit weight jumper, at 60 jumps (or maybe 50 jumps, depending on whether one interpolates or not).

Jclalor suggested 100 jumps minimum, based on the chart's minimum values, based on a strict reading of weights. (That 210 lbs is above the 209 lb column, and thus one must use the 220 lb column, rather than interpolating or saying 'a pound here or there doesn't matter'.   So there are different ways to interpret the chart.)

Either way, the point still stands: I bet one will commonly find novices in the real world, with the permission of their DZ's, at slightly above 1:1 wing loading before 40, 50, 60, or 100 jumps.

 

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22 hours ago, pchapman said:

Either way, the point still stands: I bet one will commonly find novices in the real world, with the permission of their DZ's, at slightly above 1:1 wing loading before 40, 50, 60, or 100 jumps.

Agreed.  You can likely still find people choosing exit separation using the 45 degree rule with the permission of their DZ's as well, and you can find people turning by using their hands as little rudders.  That does not necessarily mean that those things are a good idea.

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13 minutes ago, billvon said:

Agreed.  You can likely still find people choosing exit separation using the 45 degree rule with the permission of their DZ's as well, and you can find people turning by using their hands as little rudders.  That does not necessarily mean that those things are a good idea.

What’s wrong with using your hands like rudders to turn? That’s how I was taught, and don’t want any bad habits this early in the game! Please elaborate... also, what do you mean by 45 degree rule of exit separation? 

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12 minutes ago, Rsaaronson said:

What’s wrong with using your hands like rudders to turn? 

The position of your upper body relative to your lower body, and the position of your legs, provide a far more powerful turning force than your hands do.  Thus even minor problems with your body position will lead to an unstoppable spin if you are relying on the hands method.

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4 hours ago, billvon said:

Agreed.  You can likely still find people choosing exit separation using the 45 degree rule with the permission of their DZ's as well, and you can find people turning by using their hands as little rudders.  That does not necessarily mean that those things are a good idea.

Certainly.  Still, something being commonly accepted, even by DZO's, at multiple DZs, is at least suggestive that it meets current standards of acceptability, without being proof that it will stand the test of time. Humans, amazingly enough, are not infallible.

Perhaps you could argue something more specific, such as suggesting a maximum wing loading policy for novices that you support, and the reasons for it? At how many jumps is a 1.1 wing loading acceptable, for someone flying their canopy competently?
 

(@Rsaarson:  1960's style hand turns are turns made using only the hands, angling them but not not moving the arms... A waste of potential turning power.)

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