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timmymiller

What Should Be In The New SIM?

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I was recently hired by the USPA to lead the team that is writing the new version of the Skydiver's Information Manual. I'm an AFF instructor and a TI with 23 years in the sport, but my day job is as a college professor, where I specialize in the translation of complex technical concepts for broad public audiences, so I'm pretty stoked about this project!

As part of that effort, we are soliciting feedback from the skydiving community about what should be in the next version of the manual. Is there something in the current SIM that you absolutely love? Or something you completely hate? Is there something missing from the SIM that needs to be there?

We have a plan and a draft table of contents, based on our own understanding of what the community needs, but we want to hear from you! Our goal is to create a resource that can help everyone throughout the sport, so tell us what you think!

If anyone has specific questions, or has links or materials they wish to share, feel free to email me directly at [email protected]

Blue Skies!

Tim Miller

D-27737

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Solicit input from USHPA. They've been moving forward, we haven't.

 

For example - active flying - keeping your canopy in the same position above your head - is absent from skydiving although it is a derivative of landing priorities.

 

The high winds recommendations in the SIM are just wrong. You should pull rears not a single toggle. This will stall the canopy instead of making it produce lift.

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1 hour ago, lyosha said:

The high winds recommendations in the SIM are just wrong. You should pull rears not a single toggle. This will stall the canopy instead of making it produce lift.

And of course every idea can be debated. 

The toggle method has an advantage of toggles already being in hand, especially with hands already lower from flaring.  Rears may be harder to reach especially if the canopy is already angling back, dragging you back, after touchdown instead of being right overhead. (Yeah I know in paragliding one doesn't want to slam the very zero-p canopy nose down into the ground, but it isn't as big an issue with skydiving canopies.) Using rears might use a little practice otherwise one may not get quickly to the stall point, but just add a lot of drag and lift, pulling one off one's feet.

I have recommended both methods in the past, but haven't had to practice them lately so can't be sure of what should ideally be taught. Maybe rears is 'better technically' but toggles is 'more practical' especially for the less practiced jumper.  

 

(P.S. - Active flying - Yes I have long liked and taught that concept. Surely someone else in skydiving teaches it too? But if it is missing from the SIM that's something to consider.)

Debates about what techniques are best to teach can be messy!

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Upper wind limits should be based upon the concept of "when student canopies start landing backwards" ... instead of the current jumble of numbers.

It is also dumb for experienced jumpers to be under canopy when winds are strong enough to back them up when faced into the wind.

Take this logic from a grumpy old TI who has suffered plenty of bruises, but no fractures during landings. 

Also consider the concept of when turbulence collapses canopies - at low altitudes - wiser jumpers stay on the ground.

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I'll admit that I find using a single front riser to collapse my canopy in higher winds to be the most effective. It just dies right down. Maybe the USPA should, instead, consult with the PD canopy team, or a group like that, to have them formally study which is the fastest under the largest number of conditions (gusty, obstacles, varying strength and arm length, etc), and then have instructors evaluate based on that ranking, which is the easiest to teach students to be able to consistently execute.

Wendy P.

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6 hours ago, lyosha said:

For example - active flying - keeping your canopy in the same position above your head - is absent from skydiving although it is a derivative of landing priorities.

Can you explain this concept in more detail, or provide a link or recommendation to a reference that does? I'm confused by what you mean by "the same position above your head."

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The canopy collapse question is a good one, and it's one of the many questions I am thinking of in the category of "one right way". There is probably more than one right way to collapse a canopy. What method is best depends on a bunch of things, including the type of canopy, the prevailing winds at the DZ, etc. The question of what is the BEST way will also depend. Maybe your landing area is all sand, so your big concern is longevity of the canopies. Every DZO will make these decisions for themselves. My plan for the new SIM is to treat questions like this as follows:

1. Explain WHY you need one right way (in this case: the canopy can drag you, and that's bad)

2. Give an example of one right way (I teach drop one toggle and use both hands to pull hand over hand on the other steering LINE, mostly because it's foolproof and they already have the toggles in their hands)

3. Say that there is more than one right way, and tell the skydiver to ask their USPA instructor about the most appropriate method to use at their drop zone.

The advantage of this approach is that it allows you to teach whatever works for you, but reminds instructors that they have to teach SOMETHING. It also means that you can tell the student to go read that section of the SIM, and if they don't ask about how to collapse the canopy afterward, you know something useful about how likely that student is to actually read things.

Things like mnemonics, for gear checks and canopy checks, are another good example of questions that I plan to treat with this "one right way" approach.

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3 hours ago, wmw999 said:

Maybe the USPA should, instead, consult with the PD canopy team, or a group like that, to have them formally study which is the fastest under the largest number of conditions

In general I am a big fan of formal study and evidence-based approaches, and I would support ideas like this. It's not something that's possible within the time and budget constraints of the SIM rewrite, but I'd love to see more of this type of thing in the future.

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This may be me just being wrong ...but Cat F quiz has a question on what an a licensed skydiver can do...and the correct answer says "perform water jumps" ...which is super confusing as I thought water training class was a requirement for a B license

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On 3/14/2022 at 3:30 PM, timmymiller said:

(I teach drop one toggle and use both hands to pull hand over hand on the other steering LINE, mostly because it's foolproof and they already have the toggles in their hands)

The method of collapsing becomes so much less critical if people would immediately release one toggle/turn 180 after touchdown.  So many don't turn at all, or do it slowly.  I realize this assumes a stand up landing.

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2 hours ago, sundevil777 said:

I realize this assumes a stand up landing.

I would hope that’s not what’s taught to early jumpers; standup landings should not be prioritized when a good fall can increase the range of landing skill so much.

Wendy P. 

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15 hours ago, wmw999 said:
18 hours ago, sundevil777 said:

I realize this assumes a stand up landing.

I would hope that’s not what’s taught to early jumpers; standup landings should not be prioritized when a good fall can increase the range of landing skill so much.

Wendy P. 

It depends what we mean by "early" jumpers, frankly. I emphasize good falls for all students. But the 45-jump A-license holder is still "early" in most senses, and I'd prefer to see her standing up most of her landings. I completely agree with turning to face the canopy, too. I've found that if you take newer jumpers out on a windy and teach them to kite the canopy deliberately, it helps them get a sense of ground control that they will use when landing in windy conditions.

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On 3/16/2022 at 3:25 PM, timmymiller said:

... I've found that if you take newer jumpers out on a windy and teach them to kite the canopy deliberately, it helps them get a sense of ground control that they will use when landing in windy conditions.

Booo! Boooo!

No airmanship for skydivers! No peripheral knowledge that might help them out! Essentials only because their brains are so small and overworked as it is! Boooo!

To be serious for a second though, I would absolutely love this SIM rewrite as an opportunity to encourage newer skydivers to learn more than just the essentials and become much more well-rounded jumpers.

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The online version would benefit from a high-level version (“this is the progression of a jump”) with inline links to the next level of detail (what you have to know), and from there links to that greater level of detail. More maintenance, but that way students will have a context to place pieces of knowledge into.

Wendy P. 

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On 3/22/2022 at 1:55 PM, wmw999 said:

The online version would benefit from a high-level version (“this is the progression of a jump”) with inline links to the next level of detail (what you have to know), and from there links to that greater level of detail.

This is a good suggestion. In the current draft the first nine chapters are basically the material covered in any first jump course, without any method-specific stuff. Then the next nine chapters are those same topics, but in much more technical detail. Then there are eight chapters about various different disciplines, (CRW, RW, Freefly, etc.), then the BSRs, then the dive flows for the ISP. This content could be linked together in a future online version, so if you're on the packing mat looking at the dive flow with a student on their phone or laptop, the dive flow has links in it to the relevant chapters. So if the student seems stumped about something, you just hit the link, tell them to read, and go do something else.

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On 3/14/2022 at 3:32 PM, timmymiller said:

In general I am a big fan of formal study and evidence-based approaches, and I would support ideas like this. It's not something that's possible within the time and budget constraints of the SIM rewrite, but I'd love to see more of this type of thing in the future.

i'll tell you right now that it the perfect time to get this into the sim.  next time you rewrite it, not this time.  if you wait, it will miss that one too  things like this don't happen in a month, or two.  they take years sometimes to get all the relevant data and analyze it, then write it up.  if you wait much longer, it will be a good thought you wish you had started sooner next time you write it up. 

 

one thing i would like to see is a better breakdown of landings.  i have about 150 jumps now but have been having trouble landing a zero p canopy on a 1:1 wl since downsizing.  most of it is lack of currency and not doing it 4-5 times a day for a bit.  i bought brian's book about parachutes and as i was reading the landing part, i had the 'aha' moment when i realized that i had been landing a round my entire jumping career so to speak.  eyes on the horizon works best for rounds, and makes it hard as hell to land a square, but when you use bug canopies that are forgiving, it works and you stand them up anyway.  downsize a bit and you have a challenge.  i haven't looked recently, but i think it could use a little clarification for folks like me coming in with bad habits from the army.  i don't recall if i have just missed that part, and that may be the case. 

 

anyway, good luck with it.

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(edited)
On 3/14/2022 at 1:29 PM, timmymiller said:

Can you explain this concept in more detail, or provide a link or recommendation to a reference that does? I'm confused by what you mean by "the same position above your head."

Here is a handy guide by the German equivalent of USHPA: https://www.dhv.de/fileadmin/user_upload/monatsordner/2004-06/Ausbildung/activ_flying_english_text.pdf

Keep in mind - I am not a PG instructor - just a guy that's most of the way there to his P4 (D license equivalent) and that has a D license and at one point had a coach rating.  I know that I should not be teaching anyone active piloting.  But I believe it is a useful application of first principles of canopy flight - especially for larger canopies.  This is why I said "you should reach out to USHPA".  I absolutely do not know everything there is to know.  I can recommend some instructors for you if you want - they are much more qualified than me to discuss the topic.

Specifically a few instances - when you fly out of a thermal/rotor/turbulence and your wing surges, you should "check" the surge with some light braking.  This one several friends and my wife have broken themselves over.  Also - if you find yourself low and in a turn, don't release the turn, apply counter steering.  This one is taught in canopy courses (at least it was in mine).

But the general gist is exactly that - keep the canopy overhead, square, stable, and in approximately in the same place over your head.  That means you check your surges, release toggle pressure (or front riser... good luck with that on a skydiving wing though) on the drop backs to keep the wing in the place above your head it is happiest and producing valuable lift.  And if you find yourself in a situation where you need to make emergency maneuvers, make sure to keep your wing flying and producing lift and not surging towards the ground in a turn.

 

With regards to rears in high winds - what is currently in the SIM sucks and I have the video from landing in high winds that picked up suddenly at Burning Man to prove it.  I pulled one brake, my canopy literally did a 360 without touching the ground, locked itself into a line twist, and kept inflated while pulling me at a 30-45 degree angle.  I was along for the ride with literally nothing I could do except watch my now locked-in brake line dangle in the wind when I realized I made a mistake and tried to release the pressure - and it did absolutely nothing.  It took a few random passer-byes jumping on the thing for it to finally deflate.  It just kept producing extra lift due to the toggle input and dragging me.

Later, I learned about rear risers and it all just clicked.  What you want to do in high winds is stall your canopy.  The reason is simple - a stalled canopy produces no lift and therefore only the fabric drags you.  Additionally, stalled canopies fly backwards (something that absolutely needs to be added to the SIM as well - not just for high winds, but also for canopy collision avoidance), which in most scenarios means the canopy flies back into the ground, pinning it to the ground and reducing the surface area actually dragging you and promoting deflation and distortion. 

In almost all modern canopies, a rear riser stall requires much less effort and range of motion than a toggle stall.  This is why "trust your rears" is a joke on sofpidarf.  You will accidentally walk into a rear riser stall with no warning - but in the case of collapsing a canopy in high winds - that's exactly what you want to achieve.  I'm no swooper, but I have yet to jump a canopy that stalls at full brake deflection - and I've jumped most semi-ellipticals and am currently on a Pilot loaded at 1.4-1.5.  That means if I pull a toggle to full deflection, it will only cause the canopy to produce more lift, dragging me more - and not collapse the thing.

Rear risers collapse canopies.  With large modern canopies - it's much more dramatic of a difference.

Edited by lyosha

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