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eatfastnoodle

Landing on your butt: risk vs likelihood?

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davjohns

I can't recall ever seeing a PLF at a dropzone. I've seen plenty of bad landings.

Before every jump, I practice pulling my pilot. I practice pulling my cutaway / reserve. I attempt to build muscle memory.

In military jumps, PLF is pretty well mandatory. So, we practice them before every jump. We attempt to build muscle memory.

How often do you practice your PLF? I can't think of a time I saw anyone practice it on a DZ. I'm pretty sure this accounts for why I have never seen one executed on landing.

Just an observation and possible reason so many people ride in on the keister.



In my training you were encouraged to PLF until you had the flare down good enough that you could easily land on your feet without really taking any shock load to speak of.

When I went from student gear to my rig, I was instructed to get the ladder, go to the pea pit, and practice PLF before I was allowed to jump my rig with the main smaller than the student rig. Yes, people do PLF.

But you are right, you don't see it practiced much.
Instructor quote, “What's weird is that you're older than my dad!”

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I learned in the military. PLF every time. Your probably not gonna stand up a round, if you did you'de probably be on the cover of Stars and Stripes, or given an article 15 for being stupid. I PLF'd every single landing at jump school, and the 82nd, without exception. All but 4 at night. Couldnt see sh@t. Good PLF's too, rolling over the side of my body, legs flopping over me together. Got in PLF position when I descended below the tree line, aprox. 100 ft. Never....NOT ONCE, did I get hurt. Not a sprain, bruise, break, contusion....NOTHING. In nearly 4 years, nothing.

Fast forward 17 yrs. decide to finally do the free falling. Read, studied, researched, and signed up for AFF. I was excited about the prospect of actually not smearing my ass across North Carolina sand on a landing, and actually standing one up. Did the pratice PLF's in FJC like I was at Ft. Benning yesterday...best in the class.

So 1st jump, on radio, flare flare flare, I managed half of one, and crappy approach had me crosswind. I PLF'd like a champ!! My 34 yr old bones felt it the next morning but I was none the worse for wear. 2,3,4 I landed giving honest attempts (and better attempts I'll add) at standing it up. PLF be damned! 3rd one flared layed try to stand it, nearly broke my leg, hurt tendons in my foot, limped a few days. Slid the 4th one in HOTTT on a late flare, in the peas thank god. No PLF SINCE JUMP 1 mind you; 5th...determined not to flare late and to stand up, flared WAYYY to early, luckily knew I did, held the flare as trained, came down backwards and straight down. Of course I can stand it up... Fell flat on my ass going backwards caught myself NON PLF style with my left wrist. Dislocated both bones at the wrist shattered the end of my radius. 3 plates 13 screws and 13,000$ in medical bills.....

You can bet your aunt Sally's ash can PLF IS MY FIRST OPTION ALWAYS. I'll STAND IT UP IF, as the sim states, WHEN ALL VARIABLES ARE UNDER MY CONTROL. Dude, I'm no pro, but I learned a hard taught lesson. Don't risk your body to avoid getting your jumpsuit dirty, or to risk being heckled, and especially for you own pride, "because everyone can already do it."
Risks to PLF. Yes. Risks to butt sliding. Yes. Spine or legs. You answered your own question.

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wmw999

I wasn't joking when I said I prepare for a PLF on every landing, and switch if it looks good. I fall down more than most people, but I always get back up, and I can always get on the next load I'm packed for.

Practice them sometimes, until they really become part of your arsenal.

Wendy P.



Hi, Wendy.

I' m with you. Every landing is a PLF Until proven otherwise!
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I'm back in the USA!!

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I think the main point here is if your not comfortable sliding in a landing then don't attempt it, because you obviously are not aware at what point your canopy planes out. Having said that, if you are coming in fast with horizontal speed and little to no vertical decent it's much safer to slide it in(on your thigh, like a baseball slide) then doing a PLF and risk getting injured tumbling. You should do your best to stand up every landing. I stood up every landing until an ankle injury forced me to start sliding in and I'll tell you once the ankle was better it was very hard to get out of that habit. Not a habit you want to build.

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You've never seen a PLF in real life? Wow! We have tons of prior military jumpers over here and they have a tendency to ALWAYS PLF in their beginning jumps and also lots of older jumpers who don't hesitate to do it. Younger jumpers do it somewhat less but the ones who really heeded the first jump course I have seen do it multiple times...

It will save your legs. I have definitely done it on multiple occasions...

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I teach several canopy courses a month to all experience level jumpers. The teaching and tacit approval of butt landings in AFF leads to more serious issues later in your career, if you are lucky. If you are unlucky, it leads to a debilitating injury early on.

Simple facts. Most people can take about four inches of compression in their ass (give or take a few inches) before spinal compression occurs. You legs can give you (again, on average) about 18 inches of compression before they run out of room. Your legs are meant to be landed on, your butt is meant to be sat on.

If you are landing with your legs in a slalom water ski position (one in front of the other, slightly offset) you are best prepared for running out a landing, or compressing at the knees to absorb some impact, and if the impact is too great, sliding on one hip (similar to a baseball slide). You can spread out the force of sliding on the entire leg, protect your spine, and pop up at the end.

The single biggest mistake most jumpers make is when they flare, they throw their legs out in front of themselves, putting their feet waaaayyyyy out in front of the center of mass. Unless all conditions are right, your center of mass will stay behind your feet, forcing you to butt land. They don't put all the wheels of a 747 in the front for a reason.....

Take a good, quality class, learn to save your spine and your ass.

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hokierower

I'll slide it in after a swoop in 0 to light wind, but if it's over 4-5mph then a stand-up is the way to go.

If you can't stand-up a no wind landing, you've got no business swooping.
This is the paradox of skydiving. We do something very dangerous, expose ourselves to a totally unnecesary risk, and then spend our time trying to make it safer.

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eatfastnoodle

So my question: why are so many people butt landing for so long (I'm discounting tandem instructors as they're often the most experienced group) when the consequence of a bad butt landing is so devastating? And why are people not treating it as serious as, say, low turn (you're guaranteed to a stern "chat" if you turned low no matter your skill level)?

Biggest reason, poor instruction. Students don't understand how important being able to do a good PLF is.
Second reason, poor instruction, instructors don't spend much time teaching it because they don't want to spend time teaching it.
Third reason, newbs see all the tandems doing it, don't understand why, and assume it must be the right way for everyone.
Forth reason, sliding or butt looks cooler than tumbling.

What I tell my Instructional rating candidates;
“Remember, most students aren't stupid, just ignorant. If they do something that looks stupid, it’s probably because we did a poor job of correcting their ignorance.”
This is the paradox of skydiving. We do something very dangerous, expose ourselves to a totally unnecesary risk, and then spend our time trying to make it safer.

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I've been instructing for over 32 years now. The most-common reason young jumpers (and more experienced jumpers who just never got good feedback) fail at standing up is because they flare with their arms out in front of themselves and do not lean forward in the harness to get their center of gravity over their feet at touchdown.

Another thing: it's never OK to pike your feet out in front of you and slam in on your ass. When jumpers are forced (for whatever reason) to slide in a landing the first thing that should touch the ground is your "landing gear". Your feet should be out in front of you, but lower than your ass; your toes up to resist snagging anything; and like someone else said: sort of like slalom waterskiing. When you touch down you slowly transition from sliding on your feet to sliding on your ass.

One should never "assume" they are going to PLF, but they should be prepared to do so. Again: this is very rare if you have performed a satisfactory flare at the correct altitude and have got your center of gravity forward over your feet. One can, however, predict if they are going to possibly have to slide a landing out (hot, no-wind days, etc).

Chuck

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Interesting. I've seen swoopers leaning forward and even leaning out of their harness after unbuckling the chest strap. This is the first time I've seen someone articulate why. I've stood up all of my landings. I might be leaning forward instinctively or because my brakes are pushing me forward. Nice to finally get some instruction. [:/]

I've looked for an analysis of various canopy control techniques and their effects on canopy flight. I can't find anything organized. Any suggestions? Anywhere I can go for little refinements on technique like this tidbit on leaning forward when landing?
I know it just wouldnt be right to kill all the stupid people that we meet..

But do you think it would be appropriate to just remove all of the warning labels and let nature take its course.

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ufk22

***I'll slide it in after a swoop in 0 to light wind, but if it's over 4-5mph then a stand-up is the way to go.

If you can't stand-up a no wind landing, you've got no business swooping.I never said I couldn't stand up a no-wind landing, I said that if it's no wind and I've just done a 270 and am still moving across the ground at a good rate, there's no way that I'm gonna try and run it out and risk tripping over my feet and possibly hurting something. Thanks for going straight to worst case scenario without knowing all the facts.

And as someone else pointed out, lots of pro swoopers slide their landings out.

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riggerrob

Whether you butt-slide or PLF depends upon your ANGLE of arrival.
If you land with excess forward speed, the first option is to run off the excess speed. The second option is to slide off the excess forward momentum. A good forward slide is slightly off-centre, to shift the impact/friction from your tail-bone to your thigh muscles. Since the human body is conditioned to fall - or slide - forward, no big deal.

If you land straight down, then the best bet is to PLF.

If you land going backwards (e.g. to much wind) then you should PLF in a effort to shift the momentum away from your tail-bone to the fleshy parts of your thighs.

Exactly what Rob says. B|

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davjohns

I can't recall ever seeing a PLF at a dropzone. I've seen plenty of bad landings.


Being a former round jumper also, I do a pretty damn good PLF. I did one just the other day landing with a tied-off steering toggle. No worries, just a little dirt on the suit.

I've also seen too many people not PLF and break ankles and legs needlessly. A good PLF is really that effective for high rate of descent or obstacle landings. I wish more people were better at them.

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