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gregpso

hop and pop incidents

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dwhenline

I doubt that most skydivers have jumped out of a plane in an emergency. It is a very rare event, whereas having a malfunction on opening is a much more common event.



It is a very rare event, but it's still a very real possibility. Jumpers go hundreds or even thousands of jumps without a malfunction, but they still practice EPs so they are ready if it does happen. I see hop and pops in the same light.
"I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

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dwhenline

I have no real dog against this poster but the question is a valid one. I personally believe that HOP and POP from 3500 feet to get an A license is silly and probably not warranted. Ill explain
Students are not as experienced as most jumpers and their exits are often not the best. Why put them on purpose into a situation that could be potentially dangerous. Much better to allow them to fall from 12K feet and get stable with plenty of time to relax and make adjustments if there is an opening failure.
Using the arguement that you need to be "prepared" for a emergency landing of the plane is not very sound. Planes are generally safe and turbine engines have a very low failure record. I doubt that most skydivers have jumped out of a plane in an emergency. It is a very rare event, whereas having a malfunction on opening is a much more common event. Why have that pressure on a student with a low number of jumps? Just doesnt make sense.
H and P should not be required for a student A license. Feel free to disagree but dont use an arguement you cant defend, such as a "plane emergency".
Dont know what the beef is with the poster but the question remians valid.
dwh



I'm actually of the exact opposite opinion.

If it were up to me, after AFF, I'd want to see a dozen or so hop and pops from 2.5-3k. It seem newer jumpers are scare of low altitudes, underservly so. 1 or 2 hop and pops doesn't get them over it. Put in a dozen or so, focusing or spotting, presenting and clean quick deployments, and then purely on pattern and approach control.

Low altitude hop and pops are fun, not anymore dangerous than other types of jumps. In fact, it seems some jumpers think they have a lot of extra time to solve problem from their "high" opening altitudes.
Remster

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dwhenline

I have no real dog against this poster but the question is a valid one. I personally believe that HOP and POP from 3500 feet to get an A license is silly and probably not warranted. Ill explain
Students are not as experienced as most jumpers and their exits are often not the best. Why put them on purpose into a situation that could be potentially dangerous. Much better to allow them to fall from 12K feet and get stable with plenty of time to relax and make adjustments if there is an opening failure.
Using the arguement that you need to be "prepared" for a emergency landing of the plane is not very sound. Planes are generally safe and turbine engines have a very low failure record. I doubt that most skydivers have jumped out of a plane in an emergency. It is a very rare event, whereas having a malfunction on opening is a much more common event. Why have that pressure on a student with a low number of jumps? Just doesnt make sense.
H and P should not be required for a student A license. Feel free to disagree but dont use an arguement you cant defend, such as a "plane emergency".
Dont know what the beef is with the poster but the question remians valid.
dwh



A friend of mine was refused her A license until she could exit, quickly become stable, and deploy while stable. I would agree that these skills should be developed at a safe (higher) altitude. Once developed, tested or demonstrated at a lower altitude,.....why shouldn't that be a requirement to get off of student status. If you can't exit and get stable, you are still not "there" it would seem.
Instructor quote, “What's weird is that you're older than my dad!”

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I learned on static line so my first ten or whatever jumps were all hop and pops.

When you learn that way, hop and pops are not scary at all.

In my personal opinion, if you can't exit a plane stable, then you have no business having a license at all. Exiting a plane stable is a basic skill, not an advanced skill. Regardless of altitude.

Additionally, performing a clear and pull from a low altitude is good for student jumpers because they can focus only on the canopy flight portion of the skydive.

Especially with students, limiting their cognitive load to only a few tasks is actually putting them under less pressure. By eliminating the free fall portion of the jump their brain only needs to focus on a short exit sequence and then it's all canopy flight.

Exit, arch, reach, pull, check your canopy. That's your skydive.

From there, you have the whole airspace to yourself (if you're on a solo H&P pass) so you can take your time to plan your pattern and adjust for accuracy without the added stress of other canopies.

If you don't think that you can get from exit to check your canopy within 10-15 seconds, then some additional training is probably necessary.

Honestly, that AFF jumpers are so afraid of a hop and pop that they consider it dangerous and think it should be limited to C or D license holders is a big indicator that if anything MORE hop and pops should be required before getting your A.

The plane emergency issue is real, but to me, a hop and pop is a much more fundamental skill.

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dwhenline

I have no real dog against this poster but the question is a valid one. I personally believe that HOP and POP from 3500 feet to get an A license is silly and probably not warranted. Ill explain
Students are not as experienced as most jumpers and their exits are often not the best. Why put them on purpose into a situation that could be potentially dangerous. Much better to allow them to fall from 12K feet and get stable with plenty of time to relax and make adjustments if there is an opening failure.
Using the arguement that you need to be "prepared" for a emergency landing of the plane is not very sound. Planes are generally safe and turbine engines have a very low failure record. I doubt that most skydivers have jumped out of a plane in an emergency. It is a very rare event, whereas having a malfunction on opening is a much more common event. Why have that pressure on a student with a low number of jumps? Just doesnt make sense.
H and P should not be required for a student A license. Feel free to disagree but dont use an arguement you cant defend, such as a "plane emergency".
Dont know what the beef is with the poster but the question remians valid.
dwh



Did you read any of the posts that preceded yours?

It doesn't appear that you could be bothered to read and comprehend?! Maybe because you were too busy writing this drivel? There were a number of informative replies that have already been shared in this thread which address all of your "points".

If a student can't successful complete their hop and pops then they shouldn't get an A license. This isn't children coach pitch softball. If you can't get this done, don't pass go. We have first jump IAD students who can manage the practice, I think we should expect the same of our A license hopefuls.

I won't go and retype all of the reasons why it is important to practice low exits, or explain why you are distorting the risk involved in the practice.

The beef with the poster is the same as the beef with your response. He is too busy typing a bunch of uninformed long winded threads, when he should probably just read and learn for once instead.
"The restraining order says you're only allowed to touch me in freefall"
=P

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I don't know where to start with this...

I'm going to assume that you're relatively new because I can't imagine any experienced jumper making these arguments.

You have to realize that 3500 feet is NOT low - no matter what you think. It's a psychology that's been insinuated into AFF students because they're used to having time and altitude to deal with things. Students who have trained on static line simply don't see a 3500ft exit as 'low' because they're comfortable with it. There's a full 15 seconds to deploy before things get gnarly.

It's this 'comfort zone' that causes AFF students to worry, and it's EXACTLY why we need to train it out of them before it becomes so ingrained that they CAN'T get rid of it.


You say that aircraft emergencies are rare events, and they are - but to my perspective so are malfunctions on my parachute. Particularly on student parachutes... I jumped for a decade without any malfunction - does that mean I shuoldn't train to deal with them from day 1?

Emergencies in skydiving are like blackjack - you can look at the statistics all you want, but the reality is that anything can happen on your next jump. You could have 3 malfunctions in a row... or you could have an AC emergency on your first jump when you're not being shepherded around by an instructor. Just because it's unlikely doesn't mean that you shouldn't know how to deal with it competently.

You talk about 'freefall, and getting stable and relaxing'. The truth is that these are all nice to have things in skydiving. In training for emergency situations we're talking about survival and that will always be the priority.

Being comfortable with exiting a plane and being able to get stable without 10,000ft of altitude under you is a survival priority.


You've heard of the phrase 'plan for the worst, hope for the best'? That's how you survive in skydiving.


Picture this scenario:
A newly licensed skydiver, call him Bob, who has completed training according to your progression has say, 30 jumps. Bob's taken a little while to get through AFF but he's now very relaxed in freefall and when the time to pull comes he's in great shape. It's no problem that Bob takes a couple of thousand feet to sort himself out after the exit because the rest of the freefall is spectacular.

On jump 31 the engine starts to splutter at 3100ft and then quits. The pilots calls for an emergency exit and EVERONE in the plane starts yelling and bustling.

Bob is terrified. 3100 feet?!!! He's right next to the door and people are screaming at him to get it open and exit. Someone pushes past, opens the door and goes... another person is right behind them.

There are lots of nightmare scenarios from here.

Bob exits but cant get stable because he's freaking out and pitches himself into an entanglement.
Bob is so scared he doesn't try to save himself at all. (it's happened)
Bob panics and screws up his exit, throwing his PC way too early and tossing itinto the door he's trying to leave from where it gets caught on something and brings the plane down with everyone still on it.
Bob simply curls up in a ball in the tail, doesn't exit and goes down with the plane.

The list could go on.

The point is that there is no reason to panic. He had loads of time but because it's not something he's done and practiced, he's making bad choices.

The argument of 'it's a rare event' is utterly invalid when compared to the potential outcomes. I completely agree with Remi - if it were up to me I'd have multiple hop and pops from lower than 3500 as a requirement for an A-license just to teach people that it's not a scary place to be exiting.

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I like the way some of you think in this thread.:)
More H&P should be mandatory.
Why not even staticline them on 2 or 3 jumps?

And I don't mean that to scare them but to show them how "high" they really are, and then you give them the real freefall H&P.

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dwhenline

Feel free to disagree.

:)
I find a larger issue with DZ's refusing to trim and slow down for a H&P. They're risking a lot more than ROI when they don't orient for jump run. I like the idea of having a 5500 high solo then a 3500 low solo to help build confidence. My first H&P was from 3.5 grand. I remember my AFFI said I had the look of death on my face the entire ride up.

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I know in the world of turbines and AFF...3500 feet seems scary low to low timers today. I've seen plenty nervous in the door on their first hop n pops even from 4K or more. I don't care where they jump from, but I do think being able to get out of the plane quickly, with stability, and able to open a canopy within 5 seconds is a reasonable requirement.

I've been on dropzones twice where planes had emergencies, and the pilot ordered a bailout. IMO, everyone needs to be able to comply with that order. The idea of having some people who can't jump in places that might cause a traffic problems with the people trying to GTFO of the plane and follow the pilots orders is not appealing to me.

If you are really not capable of exiting stable, and getting a parachute open in 5 seconds or so...I would argue that you are not ready to be considered a licensed skydiver.

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dwhenline

I have no real dog against this poster but the question is a valid one. I personally believe that HOP and POP from 3500 feet to get an A license is silly and probably not warranted. Ill explain
Students are not as experienced as most jumpers and their exits are often not the best. Why put them on purpose into a situation that could be potentially dangerous. Much better to allow them to fall from 12K feet and get stable with plenty of time to relax and make adjustments if there is an opening failure.
Using the arguement that you need to be "prepared" for a emergency landing of the plane is not very sound. Planes are generally safe and turbine engines have a very low failure record. I doubt that most skydivers have jumped out of a plane in an emergency. It is a very rare event, whereas having a malfunction on opening is a much more common event. Why have that pressure on a student with a low number of jumps? Just doesnt make sense.
H and P should not be required for a student A license. Feel free to disagree but dont use an arguement you cant defend, such as a "plane emergency".
Dont know what the beef is with the poster but the question remians valid.
dwh



I'm a student doing the IAD course. You have to show them the perfect arch for at least 5-6 jumps, and then you get to do a hop and pop. I did waaaayyy too many practice pulls (where the pilot chute is thrown out and you reach back and pull out a newspaper where the pilot usually is) and it really prepared me for my first 5 second...which turned out to be only 2 seconds. Yeah, we don't have a lot of time to get stable. BUT we know all the risks going into this and we accept them.

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>Why put them on purpose into a situation that could be potentially dangerous.

Because on the very next dive they may have to bail out at 1500 feet due to an engine fire. It would be best if they did not struggle to get stable for 10 seconds. Thus a practice jump before that happens is a good idea.

>Why have that pressure on a student with a low number of jumps?

Best to know they can't do it at 20 jumps than have them lock up in the door at 100 jumps and prevent a bailout. That could kill more than just one person.

>Using the arguement that you need to be "prepared" for a emergency landing of the
>plane is not very sound. Planes are generally safe and turbine engines have a very low
>failure record. I doubt that most skydivers have jumped out of a plane in an emergency.

Aircraft crashes kill a lot of skydivers. We use the "dregs" of aviation - the aircraft that are timed out for many other uses, and we always try to figure out clever ways of making skydiving cheaper through creative maintenance. We do this in part because we rationalize "well, we can always get out if there's a problem." Even though this isn't always true, it often is. And if we use that rationalization we damn well better prepare for the event.

Personally I've been through one bailout and one instance that we should have bailed out but good communication prevented it. Most jumpers who have been in the sport for a while have similar experiences. You must be prepared for it. For a good part of your skydiving career you will be in an old plane with an open door and a low time pilot; you better know how to get out if you have to.

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The last stage of my AFF course was 3 hop & pops from 5000 then 4000 and finally 3000ft. I'll admit I was a tad nervous on the first one but after I nailed the exit, I relized I had plenty of time and didn't need to be worried at all and really enjoyed the next two.
I still like the idea of starting at 5k and working your way down through a few jumps. 5k is low enough to make a 10 jump wonder a bit nervous but high enough to allow for a stuff up. Seen plenty of AFFs stuff the exit due to nerves so starting just a bit higher before going to 3k makes sense to me.
Just relaying what I went through and have seen.
Remember you don't stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing.

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Hellis

And I don't mean that to scare them but to show them how "high" they really are, and then you give them the real freefall H&P.



:D:D
I'm getting a good laugh our of this. Yes, it's a no-nonsense thread and I understand the reality of the fear but....

We in the S/L training got more and more terrified as exit altitude increased.

"What? Four thousand this time. Oh shit."
:D:D
My reality and yours are quite different.
I think we're all Bozos on this bus.
Falcon5232, SCS8170, SCSA353, POPS9398, DS239

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dwhenline

I have no real dog against this poster but the question is a valid one. I personally believe that HOP and POP from 3500 feet to get an A license is silly and probably not warranted. Ill explain
Students are not as experienced as most jumpers and their exits are often not the best. Why put them on purpose into a situation that could be potentially dangerous. Much better to allow them to fall from 12K feet and get stable with plenty of time to relax and make adjustments if there is an opening failure.
Using the arguement that you need to be "prepared" for a emergency landing of the plane is not very sound. Planes are generally safe and turbine engines have a very low failure record. I doubt that most skydivers have jumped out of a plane in an emergency. It is a very rare event, whereas having a malfunction on opening is a much more common event. Why have that pressure on a student with a low number of jumps? Just doesnt make sense.
H and P should not be required for a student A license. Feel free to disagree but dont use an arguement you cant defend, such as a "plane emergency".
Dont know what the beef is with the poster but the question remians valid.
dwh



Totally disagree and will add that i think night jumps are silly....
smile, be nice, enjoy life
FB # - 1083

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popsjumper

***And I don't mean that to scare them but to show them how "high" they really are, and then you give them the real freefall H&P.



:D:D
I'm getting a good laugh our of this. Yes, it's a no-nonsense thread and I understand the reality of the fear but....

We in the S/L training got more and more terrified as exit altitude increased.

"What? Four thousand this time. Oh shit."
:D:D

:D:D:D
Yep!
I remember that too.
On the jumpun you keept hoping the plane would hit turbolence and drop down to the "safe altitude".

On the high altitude you got so much time to mess up :D

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gregpso


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Why do hop and pops have to be done so early in ones jumping career. Could it wait until B or C licence when one is more experienced. Have read a few reports re hop and pops with students,,,, including one fatality in Australia a few years ago.

Whats the hurry when it obviously causes so much stress to new jumpers ??

There is another curly question for a certain CI who banned me for daring to ask " Why no skyhooks on the student rigs " ?

Instead of an answer I got banned from AFF and set up by fellow travellers of being sexist .. when I warned female Aussie skydivers of the male predators at DZs (admit I used fairly basic language. but my intention was good.

Talk about shooting the messenger !!

I should go away but yes the answer is no I am not going any where



Male predators exsist everywhere, every sport, every endeavor, every occupation...

As a matter of GD fact Its' been my experience that females get better respect and less objectified on the DZ than many , many other places. I would imagine that some have individual horror stories, but for the most part, the large numbers support my observation. Despite the banter that does exsist.

There is no place on the DZ for marginilising and objectifying women.

On the other hand I am sexist, and proud of it! I hold the Otter door open for my female dates, as well as mandatory chocholate for the first date as well as flowers for my dates mother, if err,.. she is still alive at the nursing home. I open my signifignts others car door open, from the outside each and every time the opportunity presents itself! As well as paying for dinner.

C

"when I warned female Aussie skydivers ..." <<<< And why would yo do this???? Just a different form of BS, lousy opening line if you ask me :S:)
But what do I know, "I only have one tandem jump."

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popsjumper


:D:D
I'm getting a good laugh our of this. Yes, it's a no-nonsense thread and I understand the reality of the fear but....

We in the S/L training got more and more terrified as exit altitude increased.

"What? Four thousand this time. Oh shit."
:D:D



Agreed.
More time for a klutz like myself to get into a spin.:S:o
I just checked my logbook; It was on jump 22 when I finally conquered my spin problem.

:D
"There are only three things of value: younger women, faster airplanes, and bigger crocodiles" - Arthur Jones.

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dwhenline

I have no real dog against this poster but the question is a valid one. I personally believe that HOP and POP from 3500 feet to get an A license is silly and probably not warranted. Ill explain
Students are not as experienced as most jumpers and their exits are often not the best. Why put them on purpose into a situation that could be potentially dangerous. Much better to allow them to fall from 12K feet and get stable with plenty of time to relax and make adjustments if there is an opening failure.
Using the arguement that you need to be "prepared" for a emergency landing of the plane is not very sound. Planes are generally safe and turbine engines have a very low failure record. I doubt that most skydivers have jumped out of a plane in an emergency. It is a very rare event, whereas having a malfunction on opening is a much more common event. Why have that pressure on a student with a low number of jumps? Just doesnt make sense.
H and P should not be required for a student A license. Feel free to disagree but dont use an arguement you cant defend, such as a "plane emergency".
Dont know what the beef is with the poster but the question remians valid.
dwh



The question is NOT valid. Why require anything of any jumper because it might place them in peril. Night jump, water training, taking a test (they might get a paper cut, or fail and hurt their self esteem!), maybe 25 jumps is too much risk before they get a license, maybe we should cut it to fifteen.

This sport is dangerous and as soon as you board the aircraft you are in some peril. The more you understand that and the earlier you grasp that, then you can cope with what can happen in this sport.

Being able to exit cleanly and safely at a reasonable altitude is not a difficult task. The AFF students consider it complex because they are not used to it, unlike the static line students who think nothing of it. It comes down to training, not risk.

Go train!

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Jump more, post less!

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billvon

>Aircraft crashes kill a lot of skydivers.



Just wanted to repeat this point.

At one time I was tracking skydiving fatalities and the reason for those fatalities. I had info from 2003 through mid-2011 in my spreadsheet. Just looked at it and 91/604 of the fatalities I had listed, or 15%, involved the plane. 85 of those involved a plane crash. Granted, probably a decent number were on takeoff where you can't do much and I know there was at least one involving testing a plane after some maintenance and at least one involving a cross-country trip from a boogie.

But after looking at that data, I concluded for myself that the single most dangerous risk for me was actually from the plane crashing.

And I'd bet that most guys who've got jumps in the high thousands can tell at least one story of having to bail out of a plane in less than ideal circumstances. I know I've heard a few around the bonfire.

dwenline- don't fool yourself. COG issues can bring down that plane you're jumping out of easily.

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sorry been away for a few days. Several good responses and a few bad responses. Insulting me for an opinion, is not generally a good response.
Billvon stats are the most compelling reason to consider the question. I am not naive about COG. I am also an instrument rated pilot, so I am very familiar with what a bod COG can do. In fairness, most cog accidents happen on take off, when a hop and pop would do no good. Bailing form a plane at 500 feet or two hundred, isnt really a good idea
I never implied that exiting a plane and getting stable is not a good exercise. Several folks commented on the need to practice and I agree. BUT practice can occur at 12K as easily (and arguably safer) as 3500 feet. An exit could be made with an instructor and if student can not demonstrate stabilty and ability to throw pilot by say 1500 feet of free fall then they fail. Training for emergencies occurs in many sports, but it doesnt mean you have to put yourself in a potentially dangerous position.
If 3500 is ok for an A license, then why not 2500 for a B license? 1500 for a C license? how about 500 feet for all those guys who worry about the turbine engine failing?
To get my pilots license, we often simulated emergencies but we never put ourselves in a true make or break situation. Engine outs are practiced with an engine in idle, not one that has been turned off.
In scuba diving we practice empty tank emergencies with full tanks, not going down 80 feet and running out of air on purpose.
So the question would be, : "why not practice a simulated hop and pop?" Right now it is not the culture but that does not mean it isnt a good idea.
dwh

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dwhenline

BUT practice can occur at 12K as easily (and arguably safer) as 3500 feet. An exit could be made with an instructor and if student can not demonstrate stabilty and ability to throw pilot by say 1500 feet of free fall then they fail.


Like...AFF? Static line? IAD? The 5.5k H&P requirement for your A license?

Quote

Training for emergencies occurs in many sports, but it doesnt mean you have to put yourself in a potentially dangerous position.


The very logic you're trying to use is the justification for doing the jump in the first place. The whole point of getting out at 3.5k is to show that it's not any more dangerous than a higher altitude. I'll be in the saddle at practically the same altitude as I would if I pulled at the same altitude from terminal. It's not a big deal. Really not a big deal. Honestly, if someone makes a post about how horrible the 3.5k h&p requirement is without actually doing one, their computer should explode.

Quote

If 3500 is ok for an A license, then why not 2500 for a B license? 1500 for a C license? how about 500 feet for all those guys who worry about the turbine engine failing?


Nice non sequitur.

Quote

To get my pilots license, we often simulated emergencies but we never put ourselves in a true make or break situation. Engine outs are practiced with an engine in idle, not one that has been turned off.
In scuba diving we practice empty tank emergencies with full tanks, not going down 80 feet and running out of air on purpose.


Congratulations. This isn't flight or scuba school.

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Training for emergencies occurs in many sports, but it doesnt mean you have to put yourself in a potentially dangerous position.



A hop & pop from 3000 - 3500 feet, even an un-poised one, is no more "potentially dangerous" than any other garden-variety (if there is such a thing) solo skydive. Further, the practice is not simply a physical skill - exit, get stable immediately & pull - but doing so with the knowledge that you don't have the altitude (and thus the time) to dick around on the hill for 12 seconds and let yourself slowly settle into stability - you have to do it right away. Sorry, but a little bit of mental pressure is part of the training (and let's not use analogies, because they really don't fit).

To take a hybrid approach that incorporates some of your thinking (and some DZs offer this), how about a 3-second hop & pop from, say 5,000, just to work on the physical skill set. Then another at around 4200, then another at 3500. By that time, the "lower altitude" jitters should be pretty much worked out.

As I'm sure you know well, a large part of training is mental acclimatization to an unfamiliar environment. To AFF-trained jumpers, getting out low is unfamiliar. Best to get everyone mentally acclimatized with the reality of getting out low sooner rather than later. The alternative is a jumper freezing in the door during a bailout emergency, putting everyone's lives at risk.

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>BUT practice can occur at 12K as easily (and arguably safer) as 3500 feet.

Interesting statement. Why do you think that? Most AFF students are simply afraid of exiting at 3500 feet; there's not really any increase in risk. The only problem comes from the student's fear of the exit. That fear won't go away if the engine ever conks out at 2000 feet. In fact it will be much worse. Thus there is a lot of benefit that comes from being able to exit low.

>If 3500 is ok for an A license, then why not 2500 for a B license? 1500 for a C license?

Because 1500 feet is below the minimum pull altitude for a C license holder.

Other than that, if you are in a place that allows jumps at 1500 feet, AND you are comfortable with it - go for it. Low exits are a good skill to have, and exiting at 1500 feet for a H+P is quite similar in terms of working time to a freefall pull at 2000 feet.

>To get my pilots license, we often simulated emergencies but we never put ourselves
>in a true make or break situation.

Exactly! Under controlled conditions your instructor pulls power and says "you lost your engine, what do you do?" If your instructor is like most instructors* he will have you trim for glide, do simulated radio calls then set up a pattern and plan a landing. He'll have you turn final and be set up on a stabilized approach, and then at 500 feet he will give you power back.

Now of course there is some risk to that. What if you don't get power back? What if the carb ices up (low power setting is a good setup for that) and you don't get any power back; you might have to land in a dangerous field! Why doesn't he have you do a simulated approach and give you power back at 5000 feet instead of 500, so you can glide to the airport if need be? I mean, it's the same in theory, right?

But it's not really the same. When you set up a pretend approach to a pretend landing area at 5000 feet he doesn't know if you'll be able to set up a real approach to a real landing. But when you are on final, the field is in sight, you have correctly identified the actual wind direction, and he sees that you will make the field, then he knows you can set up an emergency landing. (And since he has seen you land without power on the runway he knows you can finish the process.)

Likewise getting out at 12,500 feet is, in theory, the same as getting out at 3500. But in actuality it's not.

(* - I had an instructor who was better than most, who actually had me make an emergency landing on a deserted beach. I learned a lot from that.)

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I think part of the problem is students fear making them stuff up. Sure I know NOW there was nothing to really worry about but given my first 10 jumps were from above 12k, 5k looked pretty low. And am glad is was not 3k at the time. What is wrong with doing a series of H&Ps starting a bit higher and working your way down?
The extra height is not more time to get into a spin as Ryoder mentioned but to give the student more time to get stable after a poor exit due to nerves or a malfunction from poor body position at pitch time again from nerves. Remember by this stage you have proven to your instructors that you can exit stable and can hold a heading in freefall so you wouldn't be doing your H&Ps if you don't already have these skills. It about showing the student that you can safely get out low but as we all know, nervousness can do funny things to students so why not give them a bit more room for error until they realize its not a big deal and then take them lower??
Remember you don't stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing.

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