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justinbaker27

AFF-1 Should I have listened?

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So I'm gonna put this out there now, I know this post is prolly gonna draw a lot of flack my way but I truly want your opinions. Especially any AFF instructors. Here we go:

I move to Florida 3 weeks ago to learn how to skydive (I have a very flexible job that allows me to move and work my own hours) I'm very committed to learn this sport and was told Florida was the Mecca of skydiving. My first problem was trying to find a DZ that could accommodate my size 266lbs 6'1 inches tall. I only found 2 DZ's that had rigs they said would fit me.

The DZ had me come in Sunday morning at 9am to evaluate me and choose a rig. Also because I had done 2 tandems and ground school the week before (home dz) the instructor wanted to ask questions to make sure I knew my stuff or he would administer a new ground school. He asked maybe 50 questions and I answered them all to his liking after that he grabbed a rig off the shelf and threw it on the carpet area.

When I asked him the size of the Main he got very offended like I was questioning his judgment and got very shitty with me. (I'm really just a curious person and wanna know as much as I can.) I explained to him that I weigh 266 lbs and I was just wondering what size canopy holds a guy like me. He preceded to tell me I don't weigh that much.... Then brought me over to a digital scale and told me to get on. (Now mind you I was turned away by several other dropzones after weighing me so I know exactly how much I weigh) his scale said 244 and I explained to him very politely it was off that I weigh more. Anyways he tells me it's a navigator 280 and I will be fine even weighing 266 pounds.

So at this point I was told I was on a 20 min call and nobody was saying anything to me, a few minutes he comes over in a big hurry yelling at me saying "What are you doing!!? Get your gear on! We gotta go soon..." First off I don't mind that the whole time he has been a dick to me since I got there I really don't, I learned this in the Army that the people are in charge of keeping you alive and teaching you so there gonna be a dick about it. So even though I thought it's unprofessional he got his point across and I can't fault him for it. Anyways when he asked why I didn't have my rig on I politely explained to him that I have never put one on before and didn't wanna screw it up.

At this point he said "Oh" and I could tell he felt bad and explained to me the proper way to put it on. (Obviously it's not rocket science but it's gonna save my life in 20 minutes, I haven't put one on before and I'm gonna wait for instructions. After that he disappeared again. At this time the other AFF instructor comes up to me (very nice and cool dude by the way) asked if I had any questions. I said "where am I landing? When is the briefing on that?" He was very surprised and asked if my primary instructor didn't show me yet, I said "no" so he took me to a giant picture and explained to me landing patterns then took me outside and showed me where I would be landing.... He seemed disturbed my primary didn't cover this yet.

We all get into the plane and start our assent on the way up we're going over the jumps check in, check out, prop, jump arch arch arch... At 11,000 several other skydiving are checking me all over the place and making sure I'm good to go. I said "I have a question" he immediately snapped back with "No! No questions were jumping in 3,000 feet think about your jump!"....... Okay....

Now leading up to this more than anything else he tells me at least 20 times "Do not flare until I tell you to, you listen to exactly what I tell you unless the radio dies" he says if I flare to early it will hurt a lot worse than not flaring... He is the expert, I don't know what I'm doing and my military experience tells me to listen to what I'm told regardless of what I think .

We exit the plane, everything is going great I do my hat check, 3 practice touches, keep checking my altimeter, falling stable (I think 2 hours in the tunnel helped with that) lock on at 6,000 feet, pull and Arch Arch Arch at 5,500. Everything I feel is going great. I get to the play area and hang out.

Now I hear him on the radio and I start taking instructions downwind, base, final. "Arms up" "Arms up" I have an exit weight of 299 lbs I'm under a Navigator 280 and I'm coming in fairly quick no big deal right? At what I perceive to be about 20 feet he says arms up so I know I have radio communication and I'm looking straight ahead as I have been told at ground and not down. About 12 feet or so from the ground I feel that I should flare a little, maybe stage 1 which he didn't teach me (learned that from my tandems) but I'm gonna be a good student and "Arms up" at this point I have the toggles thinking when is he gonna say flare? I'm coming down pretty fast and waiting for the command so I can pull on these freaking things. About 3 feet from the ground I hear "Flare! Flare! flare!" I pull down the toggles as fast as I can don't even make it to position 1 before smacking and sliding across the ground. OUCH! That seriously hurt so I just lay there, on the radio he says wave your arms if your ok and I do because at the time with all the adrenaline I think I'm ok. 2 guys ran over and seemed to be concerned for me and didn't want me to move. After a minute or 2 I stood up and sat in the golf kart while they was nice enough to collect my gear. At this point my instructor is no where to be found. When I got inside the hanger he ask if I'm gonna jump again that day "I say yes", (don't realize how much pain I'm gonna be in as soon as the adrenaline wears off) and he walks away without concern.

As I go into the bathroom this guys comes up to me and says hey bud I hope you don't stop skydiving but that's not how a landing is supposed to go, I was standing next to him when he was giving you radio commands and he told you to flare way to late, not to mention a guy your size needs to give the canopy more time to respond. Hope you come back...... After I came out of the bathroom we finally had something that resembled a briefing in a back room where all of a sudden he wasn't a dick anymore, he very nice and full of compliments on how well I didn't on everything except landing, filled out my logbook and passed me for level 2....

I know that was very long winded but I want to make sure you know every detail. The next day I couldn't walk and went to the VA hospital for a pain shot and x-rays. There was nothing broken but they thought there was a tear in my ACL but I would have to come back because they couldn't exactly see with all the swelling in my knee.

--- So I struggle with this question: When your a new guy in a sport like skydiving did I do the right thing by listening to my instructor and not flaring until instructed to? or a around 7 feet should I have listened to that internal voice that says Flare Flare Flare? Even though I was told it's gonna seem I'm a lot lower than I am and to take instructions from my instructor? -----

First off I will admit fault for even getting into the plane that day for these reasons.
1. Everything was rushed.
2. Instructor expected a brand new guy to jock up his equipment alone.
3. There was no Landing briefing given to me until I asked right before getting on the plane.
4. Even though the scale was wrong I was still not at a 1:1 ratio for the equipment they put me in 280 canopy and 299 exit weight for a 1st level AFF jumper. (Somebody told me there should be a minimum of even or total weight should be less than sq foot of canopy, don't know if it's true but I was told that before that day)
5. When I tried to ask a question in the plane the instructor refused to let me ask...
I understand first and formost my safety is my responsibility and I'm an adult and should have made a better decision, I know I'm gonna get torn to pieces for this so let me restate my question of why I wrote this novel here.

Should I have listened to him or listened to the voice in my head?

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Personally, if you aren't 100% on any task make them slow down and go over it again until you feel confident. Most of skydiving is mental anyway. The plane and gravity do most of the work for you.

If an instructor gives you a hassle, get a better more patient one... this may entail sitting around and waiting, losing a day, having to go to another DZ, etc but in the end of the day you're in charge of your own skydive and saving your own life once you leave the plane.

On the other hand from your few posts so far is sounds like you are basically second-guessing everything anyone tells you. So this is all just one side of the story.

My recommendation is to lose weight and show up with a more open mind. Skydiving is just like the military in many ways... hurry up and wait... hurry up and wait...

Post less, jump more...
NSCR-2376, SCR-15080

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Personally, if you aren't 100% on any task make them slow down and go over it again until you feel confident.



All fine and good, but plenty of people would never skydive if that were entirely true. Who does feel 100% confident? How to know when to trust your instructors that you have sufficient training and instruction for the task? What do you do when an instructor doesn't answer a question 3 minutes before exit? Get up and shout, "Stop this airplane!"? Time may have been tight at that stage of the climb but the instructors could have listened.

It isn't uncommon for students to get rushed during instruction, and the flare command is not always given very consistently. Unfortunate truths abut skydiving instruction. Sometimes learning to skydive is a bit of an unintentional hazing process.

The students who ask a million questions can be a bit of a pain in the ass but students do need to speak up and ask a few when they are really uncertain of something. The OP is being pretty respectful when asking questions.

@ OP:
At least next time you'd have some good ammunition (your injury) to convince instructors to slow down, assuming that you are actually good to jump again soon.

The Nav 280 is rated for higher loads, 336 lb max, but for students 270 lbs is the recommended max. Still, there are plenty of DZ's that don't have extra large or extra small equipment, so some compromise is needed.

It is a very tough call whether to disregard an instructor when it comes to the flare. By far most of the time it will be the student who perceives things wrongly, but not always. What could you have done in your case? Maybe start the partial flare, whatever Level 1 you learned about, and risk being chewed out for flaring early. Or it might have prompted the instructor to issue the full flare command or buy a little more time for that to happen. Hard to tell. Plenty of DZ's use a single stage flare command; others use a 2 or even 3 stage system.

A multi stage flare (arranged with the DZ) might help for you as you are loading the canopy more than the typical student and will be coming in a lot faster and with more energy available for a multi stage flare.

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mattjw916

I agree in spirit. Some things just must be 100% like putting on gear, finding handles, pulling them in the right order, etc... for obvious reasons. ;)



Roger that.


Too bad the OP deleted his post, long as it was.
Some of the basics:

He's an AFF student, level 1, after a couple tandems elsewhere. (I won't mention the state; maybe the OP was advised by someone that it might seem that he's ratting out the DZ. Still, the DZ was never named.)

The OP and one instructor don't see eye to eye when it comes to discussing what the appropriate main canopy size is.

The instructor rushes his gear up at a 20 minute call. The student hasn't been given a circuit and landing briefing yet either, but asks and is given one by the other instructor.

In the plane at 11k he wants to ask a question but the first instructor basically tells him there's no time for that now.

The student is repeatedly told to never flare before being told to do so. The flare command comes apparently late, a few feet off the ground, the student tries to flare, but still hits hard and may have knee injuries. This isn't helped by him being 266 lb + gear on a Nav 280, so he has more speed and wing load than most students.

The questions: To what degree does a student speak up when uncertain about what he's being told? What about when to flare?

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You hit the nail on the head as far as summing up what happened. The reason I didn't name DZ's or Names of instructors is I'm not upset, or mad about what happened at all. Im a student, I'm gonna get banged around a little while learning and I don't have anything bad to say about the instructor or the DZ. Other than the instructor and I communicating differently they was all very nice people. I should have made my question more simplified instead of writing a novel. That question should have been "If I'm instructed to do one thing even though I feel it may be incorrect do I follow the instructors orders? Or listen to that little voice?" I know it sounds like a dumb question but I figured trying to learn something I know nothing about. The instructor had a valid point when he told me "do not flare for any reason until instructed, a lot of new students freak out because they think there about to hit the ground and really there 20 feet in the air" it made perfect sense to me. This post wasn't meant to Rag on anyone or place. I'm new to this community and just wanted advice. I didn't mean to sound like I was complaining. I have a very small tear in my ACL the doctors told me when I went back to the VA, almost all the pain is gone and I plan on jumping again very soon.

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If I'm instructed to do one thing even though I feel it may be incorrect do I follow the instructors orders? Or listen to that little voice?


There really is no way to answer this. I remember, on my first AFF jump, I told my instructor that I thought the flare instruction had come late, and I had hit the ground kind of hard. She said, remember, it's ultimately YOUR responsibility and decision.

Which is true. But, being that it was the first time I landed a parachute, I had absolutely no idea what it was "supposed" to look like before I flared (yes, we were told 8 to 10 feet (or something like that), but I had no idea what that looked like in practice).

On the other hand, what your instructor says is also right---plenty of students think they're a lot lower than they actually are, flare, and either fall some distance and PLF (hopefully), or, worse, let up on the toggles, and then surge into the ground.

So, what do you do when an instructor tells you to do something you think is incorrect? Crapshoot, IMO. But I would normally err on the side of listening to the instructor, unless the command is so obviously wrong (e.g. you're flying into a fence, and your instructor tells you not to turn).

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The original post is gone, so I am only replying to the question of following blindly.

It depends.

If the instructor told me, if you see me give you the Pull signal then you pull no matter what, I would follow that instruction IF I did not see clear, confirmed, reason to think it was a bad thing. If I didn't understand why, I would pull. If I understood why, I would pull. If someone had a horseshoe and I had their lines around my neck, I don't think I would follow the Pull signal.

Remember the waiver that you signed? If anything happens to you, who's fault is it?
Instructor quote, “What's weird is that you're older than my dad!”

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The instructor had a valid point when he told me "do not flare for any reason until instructed, a lot of new students freak out because they think there about to hit the ground and really there 20 feet in the air" it made perfect sense to me.



Were you taught what to do *if* you happened to flare too high?

ETA, also would you mind telling us about how long the classroom portion of your first jump course was?

To all: I think that this would be interesting information. I'm not wanting to start an argument or assign any blame. I don't want to know the name of the DZ or the instructors. I just think that the answers, and we won't even know if he's actually telling the truth (no offence. it's just that people have trolled here just to hurt a DZ before) so waving pitchforks would be a horrible idea.

I just honestly think that depending on his answers and if he's being honest, we might help him best by suggesting he train at another DZ.
Owned by Remi #?

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I'm not waiving pitch forks, I didn't name the DZ or the Instructor for the exact reason. I'm not asking who is to blame. I'm simply asking if I felt it was right to flare and was ordered not to should I have flared? The obvious answer is yes and I wouldn't have hurt my knee. But things aren't that simple in skydiving, because if you dont follow instructions you can get seriously hurt or killed. I'm not placing blame just asking the odds. My classroom portion was 6 hours at the DZ back home, followed by a 100 question test, I missed 2 answers. (Neither about flaring lol) I have no reason to lie about my story because at the end of the day I didn't flare and got hurt, there is nothing about the situation that could make me look good.

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You took my post the wrong way, I think. I wasn't talking about you causing problems, I was talking about my questions causing other people to want to wave pitchforks. I'm honestly trying to be helpful and I'd really appreciate it if you would answer the questions. Honest. No bad will or blaming meant. Your answers are important. They give us information about your training. It sounds like your classroom time was about normal. If you had said 30 minutes, I'd have been very alarmed and suggested that you train elsewhere.

So, what were you taught to do of you flare high? And don't worry if you can't remember. That happens. That's why we review a lot with students.
Owned by Remi #?

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I can tell you're trying to help and I appreciate that. I just honestly forgot to answer that question. When you accidentally flare high in class I was taught to keep your flare put your legs together slightly bend your knees and then do a parachute landing fall. I was also instructed at no time do I ever let up off the toggles for that will cause me to dive back at the ground at a faster speed

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Thanks for answering. That's a good answer. Some places might teach it slightly differently, but not significantly. Were you taught what the consequences of holding a flare for a long time if you flare too high might be? In regards to your canopy, that is.
Owned by Remi #?

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Not necessarily. I'm not going to comment any more about technique for handling a high flare because I'm not your instructor. I recommend asking your instructor what to do if you flare high and you're pretty far off the ground.

I will give you this advice. Stand straight up with your chin level. Glance down at the ground. It's about 6 feet down and you can see it just fine

Now tilt your head and look down. The ground is a few inches closer now but it "looks" like 3-4 feet away, doesn't it? That's why many students flare high... They look down and the ground looks much closer than it is. Keep your chin level when you're landing. You're the guy flying the parachute and it's up to you to flare it when you think you should flare it.

I really disagree with the idea that you're not allowed to flare until you're commanded to. Being prepared for a PLF and doing one if you flare low is good. Knowing what to do if you flare really high is really good. Asking questions is really good too.
Owned by Remi #?

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