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Found 11 results

  1. gresende007

    Youngest Swooper?

    Hey guys, I've seen some posts about youngest skydiver to complete 1000 jumps but how about the youngest swooper? I am 17 and haven't competed yet but I plan on doing so and jump a JVX 69 loaded as 2.6 and swoop 810's for 110-120m on gates. What have you guys seen?
  2. nettenette

    How To Land A Parachute In A Tree

    Damage Control for Unwilling Christmas Ornaments Image by Corrado Mariani Christmas ornaments are lovely, aren’t they? Glossy, colorful baubles, swinging gaily from the bushy branches of a fragrant fir, make our little hearts sing along with the season they decorate. They are not, however, excellent role models for air sports athletes. If you ever end up gracing some branches with your majesty, the United States Parachute Association would first like you to take your enforced treetop time to think very carefully about how you got there. According to the SIM, “properly preparing for the canopy flight by observing the winds,” “planning an appropriate landing pattern” and “choosing the correct exit and opening points” will generally keep you out of the foliage. In short: you messed up, kid. ...But let’s move on. If you discover that you’re on an imminent collision course with a tree, you need to know your 8-step damage control plan. Here’s what to do. 1. Make sure you’re flying into the wind. Do not downwind a tree landing. You may not have a sock to steer by, but – hey, lucky you! – you have at least one tree for reference. Watch the movement of its branches to determine the wind direction. 2. Fly in half-brakes. Your aim is to slow down your canopy as much as possible for the impact. Fly your final approach in half brakes, taking care not to stall your canopy in the process. 3. Go for the middle. Your aim is to impact at the central trunk of the tree. If you miss the middle of the tree, you run the risk of clipping the tree with a line or a cell, collapsing your canopy and dumping you on the ground in a yowling pile. 4. Keep your $#!* together. As you do in a properly executed parachute landing fall (“PLF”), hug your body towards the midline, as though you were inside a mummy-style sleeping bag. Keep your legs springy at the knee, but hug them snugly towards the midline. Continue to fly your canopy until you contact the tree. Just before impact, draw your forearms together so that your elbows sit at the stomach and your hands over the face. This position protects your belly, ribs and chest from being lanced by branches. 5. Keep your hands to yourself. Resist the urge to grab limbs to stop your fall, as this will only leave vast areas of your body unprotected from veritable armies of sharp branches that are about to mobilize for the attack. 6. Assume a hard landing. More often than not, a parachutist who lands in a tree does not stay in the tree. Usually, the jumper falls right through, snapping branches and leaving shredded bits of canopy all the way down. Keep that PLF position as best you can, in order to make the landing as soft as possible when the tree finally sees fit to deposit you at its feet. 7. Get comfortable. Have you actually managed to stay in the tree? Oh, great. Stay there. A great many injuries occur not during a jumper’s actual tree landing, but from the jumper’s failed attempt to detach themselves from their mangled equipment and climb down. In general, if you’re more than a meter or so over the ground and you have any hope of rescue, wait for that rescue to arrive. If you’re phoneless, radioless, jumping-buddyless, out of public earshot and generally hooped for help, you’d better hope you have a hook knife handy. You'll use the hook knife to -- gulp -- disentangle yourself from the spiderweb of lines you're likely encased in. This is necessary to prevent you from accidentally throttling yourself, and from sustaining a serious rope-burn injury if a branch cracks and sends those knifelike lines through your tender outer layers. You'll probably cry a little bit with every line you cut. Ain't no shame in it. 8. Be grateful. Even if you shred your pricey gear, rejoice if you walk away from a tree landing uninjured. Gear can be replaced -- and you lucked out, you lucky duck. See the bright side.
  3. admin

    Another Look at No-Wind Landings

    The advice Brian Germain provides in his article titled "Surviving the No Wind Landing" might help you achieve consistent, comfortable landings on days when the winds are calm. Unfortunately, other jumpers might not be as successful when trying to follow that same advice. Some of the techniques described in "Surviving the No Wind Landing" are slightly advanced, and jumpers who are just trying to perfect basic flaring skills might find those techniques difficult to use. Other information in that article might be helpful to people flying certain specific sizes and types of canopies, but we might discover that this information does not actually apply to a significant number of canopies in common use. The first piece of advice Brian offers is to "make sure you level off within touching distance from the ground." This can certainly lead to softer landings, particularly in calm winds. There is only one problem: if many jumpers fear no-wind landings, there are probably even more who are afraid of flaring too high. For some people the game is over at the instant they realize they have made that mistake: they expect the worst, stop flying, and start panicking. In an effort to always level off within touching distance from the ground some jumpers develop a habit of consistently flaring too low. Another common problem occurs when people reach for the ground with their feet, believing they are within touching distance when they are actually a few feet high. People who suffer from these habits are often pleasantly surprised, and see a remarkable improvement in their landings, when they learn that it is not actually necessary to level off with your feet right at ground level. Many modern canopies are actually very forgiving of a high flare. Understanding the Stall A very common concern is that a canopy will stall if it is flared too high. Brian reinforces this concern when he mentions the importance of arriving at the ground "before the stall breaks." To understand why flaring slightly high is not necessarily a problem we need to take a closer look at the concept of a stall. "Stall" has a very specific meaning in aviation. It is a significant decrease in lift caused by a separation of airflow that occurs when a wing reaches its critical angle of attack. Understand? No? Okay, then imagine a car driving down the highway, heading toward a curve in the road. Most highways have gentle curves, for good reason, because cars tend to fly off the road if a curve is too sharp. Now think about the relative wind blowing in your face under canopy. Your canopy bends that relative wind to create lift. Pulling down on both toggles pulls the tail of the canopy down and bends the relative wind even more, creating even more lift. The further you pull the toggles down the more lift is created, up to a certain point. The "critical angle of attack" is the point where the curve becomes too sharp and the relative wind separates from the canopy like a car flying off of the road. This separation results in a sudden and dramatic loss of lift. The term "stall" refers specifically to the sudden loss of lift that occurs in this particular situation. Image 1 shows a canopy being intentionally stalled. In frame "A" the brave and handsome test jumper is putting the canopy into brakes, pulling the tail down and increasing the curve that the relative wind must follow. In frame "B" we see the canopy in very deep brakes, but not yet in a stall. The canopy is curving the relative wind sharply and creating a lot of lift. In this flight mode it is flying slowly through the air with a very low rate of descent. In frame "C" the canopy has reached the critical angle of attack. The lift is rapidly decreasing as the canopy begins to stall. In frame "D" the canopy has entered a full stall. When flaring it is obviously important to have your feet on the ground before your canopy stalls. But let's think about a student canopy. Student canopies are traditionally not supposed to stall when the toggles are held all the way down in a full flare. They are either specifically designed that way or are rigged with extra slack in the brake lines. What about a slightly smaller canopy, such as one that might be used by a novice or intermediate jumper? If the brake lines are set to the correct length specified by the manufacturer, many canopies in this category also will not stall when the toggles are held all the way down in a full flare. They will simply maintain a slow forward speed and low rate of descent, just like frame "B" in image 1. Even if they do stall it might not occur until the toggles have been held all the way down for a number of seconds: sometimes five or six seconds, maybe even more. Jumpers who fly these types of canopies don't really need to be too concerned about an accidental stall. You may be surprised to learn that some small, "high-performance elliptical" canopies also will not stall with the toggles held all the way down, or at least not until they've been held there for a few seconds. Whether or not a particular canopy will stall when it is held in a full flare depends on several factors, including the model and size of the canopy, the length of the brake lines, the length of the risers, and length of the jumper's arms. When held in a full flare a significant number of canopies will simply maintain a relatively low airspeed and rate of descent, at least for several seconds. This knowledge can be very helpful when we talk about flaring high. Look at image 2. In frame "A" we see a jumper reaching level flight with his toes about six feet above the ground. Tragedy? Not really. There are only three things he needs to do: 1) wait wait wait; 2) keep it straight; and 3) FINISH! "Wait" means stop pulling the toggles down as soon as you realize you've started flaring too high. Save the rest of the flare for later. "Keep it straight" is important, too. You want to look at a point on the ground out in front of you and keep the canopy flying straight toward that point, just like driving your car down a straight road. And when the canopy starts to drop you back toward the ground, just before your feet touch down, push the toggles down and FINISH your flare, as we see in frame "B." In most cases doing this will result in a reasonably soft, stand-up landing as we see from the last two frames. Even if you don't land softly, look at frames "B" and "C" again. What body position are you in when you finish your flare properly? Looks like you're ready for a PLF, doesn't it? Granted, you will achieve softer landings on calm-wind days if you level off right above the ground, but that is a skill that needs to be developed through practice. An important step in that process is learning to relax and stay focused if you do flare high. This will allow you to keep flying the canopy and finish the flare properly, which will improve your landings in all conditions. Practice at Altitude We can see the importance of knowing whether or not your canopy will stall when held in a full flare. How can you find this out? Yep, you guessed it. Under canopy, in your holding area, above 2000', after checking thoroughly for other canopies, push those toggles all the way down and see if that baby stalls. If you've never stalled a canopy before you may want to get some advice from an instructor or coach before trying it. So try it. Did your canopy stall? No? Makes flaring seem a bit less intimidating, doesn't it? Or was the canopy easier to stall than you expected? If so, you may want to have it checked out by a rigger. Some canopies are relatively easy to stall, even with the brake lines set to the correct length. If you are jumping one of these canopies then hopefully you've already perfected your landing technique under something more forgiving. If you can't stall your canopy just by holding the toggles down, does that mean you won't be able to get enough stopping power at the end of your flare? Some people believe so, and Brian touches on this point in his article when he stresses the importance of making sure your brake lines are "short enough:" Brake Line Settings "Most manufacturers set the brake lines to allow for a certain amount of slack so that when the front risers are applied with the toggles in the hands, there is no tail input. This, coupled with shorter risers... will prevent you from reaching your parachute's slowest flying speed." In reality, many popular canopies do not come from the factory with this much slack in the brake lines. For example, people who jump a Sabre2 from Performance Designs or a Triathlon from Aerodyne Research might prefer to have the brake lines lengthened a few inches beyond the factory setting if they use their front risers a lot. Even then, they might not lengthen them to the point where there will be no tail input all when the front risers are used. Even canopies specifically designed for swooping won't necessarily have the brake lines set that long. Is there really anything wrong if your canopy does have a bit of extra slack in the brake lines? Usually not. Even with the brake lines "detuned" on a student canopy, we still expect students to learn how to stand up their landings. In fact, many popular canopies used by experienced jumpers will also slow down enough for a comfortable landing even if you cannot reach the canopy's absolute slowest flying speed: plenty of people achieve soft stand-up landings in calm winds under canopies that will not stall when the toggles are held in a full flare. Even jumpers who have intentionally lengthened their brake lines for swooping can still achieve comfortable landings in calm winds. Is there anything wrong with shortening your brake lines? In some cases, yes! Especially if they are shortened so much that they pull the tail down when your toggles are in the full glide position. As an example, look closely at the tail of the canopy in image 3. It seems like the jumper is pulling the toggles down slightly, but a closer inspection reveals that his hands are all the way up. Having a canopy's brake lines set too short like this can significantly reduce the flare power on some canopies and make them noticeably more difficult to land, particularly on calm-wind days. Excessively short brake lines are more common than many people realize and frequently go unnoticed. It is a common mistake for someone to shorten a canopy's brake lines because it appears that the canopy "doesn't have enough flare at the bottom end," when the real problem is that the brake lines are already too short! If you're really convinced that your brake lines are too long there are a few steps you should take before having them shortened. On your next jump, after you've released your brakes, put your toggles all the way up against the guide rings and look up at the tail of your canopy. Don't forget to watch where you're going and look out for other canopies. If your canopy looks like the one in image 3 then forget about having the brake lines shortened. They probably need to be lengthened instead. If your canopy seems difficult to land you can also have a rigger measure the suspension lines and compare them to the manufacturer's specifications. It's possible that your canopy has simply gone out of trim and is due for a reline. Once these steps have been completed then get some of your landings videotaped and see if you are finishing your flare properly. Look at the jumper in image 4, just as he is touching down. Does he need shorter brake lines to get a better flare? No, he needs to push his toggles all the way down and FINISH flaring before he touches down. Most jumpers finish their flares at least slightly better than the jumper in image 4, but not finishing completely is one of the most common flaring problems. Brian makes a very good point about this: "the brake lines can only work if they are pulled." If you are still absolutely convinced that you need shorter brake lines then follow another good piece of advice Brian gives and only shorten them an inch at a time. Make several jumps, preferably in different wind conditions, before shortening them any more. And remember that you can significantly reduce a canopy's flare power by shortening the brake lines too much. There is usually some excess brake line left over when the toggles are tied onto a canopy, and there are front row seats in purgatory for people who cut this excess brake line off. That excess line should be finger-trapped back into the brake line or secured in a similar fashion in case the brake lines need to be lengthened later on. A qualified rigger should know how to do this correctly. What else might affect your landing on a calm-wind day? Brian discusses the importance of keeping the canopy flying straight during the flare, and not allowing it to bank or turn. He emphasizes this by stating that "any tilt in the roll axis will result in a premature stall of the parachute…. due to an effect known as 'load factor.'" Load Factor If we are going to introduce "load factor" into our discussion then let's do the math. At a bank angle of 30 degrees load factor will increase stall speed by approximately 8%. A bank angle of 45 degrees will increase stall speed by 20%. The exact stall speed of a ram-air canopy will depend on several factors, but let's use 5 mph (8 km/h) as an example. In that case, a 30-degree bank angle while flaring will only increase your stall speed by 0.4 mph (0.64 km/h). To increase stall speed by 1 mph (1.6 km/h) you will need a bank angle of 45 degrees while flaring, which is a pretty sporty maneuver by most people's standards. While load factor might sound important, is a 0.4 mph increase in stall speed a significant consideration when landing your canopy? Probably not. Nonetheless, is it important to keep the canopy flying straight while you flare? Absolutely. Even without a stall occurring, banking or turning while you flare can cause you to touch down at a higher speed. You will probably also land with your body off balance, and fall over sideways. A bank or turn during the flare is most commonly caused by reaching for the ground with one foot. You can usually see yourself doing this on video, and might even feel yourself doing it while it's happening. This problem can easily be avoided if you focus on looking straight ahead, keeping your body straight, and flaring evenly. What should your feet be doing? Do you need one foot below you and one out in front as you prepare to touch down? That probably will happen naturally just as you stand up at the end of your flare without putting any extra effort into making it happen. And putting extra effort into making it happen could cause you to reach for the ground with one foot. If you need to think about anything while you're flaring, think about keeping your feet together as you get into level flight, and continue keeping them together while you fly the canopy in a straight line across the ground as far as possible. If everything is going smoothly then as the canopy sets you down you can just stand up as if you were getting out of a chair. Your feet know what to do. Look at image 5 below. We see a jumper flaring his canopy with his feet and knees together, knees slightly bent. Looks like he's simply maintaining a good PLF position, doesn't it? As he finishes his flare and the canopy sets him down, his feet come apart slightly to accept his weight. Harness Body Position What about leaning forward in the harness? Is "freeing your body from the pitch of the system" a crucial part of flaring? Look at image 5 again. A pitch change does occur when the nose of your canopy tilts up at the beginning of the flare. This pitch change is what puts the canopy into level flight, and the pitch change is actually created by the movement of your body under the canopy. In fact, it can be extremely helpful to view your body as an integral part of the parachute system instead of separating yourself from it. Feeling your body swing in conjunction with the canopy's movement is an important part of doing effective practice flares. If you like to lean forward in the harness and it seems to help your landings, that's fantastic. It feels nice and looks cool. But it's also not a problem if you simply sit still in the harness and let your feet swing out slightly in front of you as you flare. Your body will rock up onto your feet as your feet touch down and accept your weight. You can either "lean forward into the experience," as Brian suggests, or maintain a more laid-back pose if you prefer. Whichever one feels more comfortable is the best one for you. The technique Brian calls the "Seagull Landing," where you dip down below standing height then rise up again at the end of the flare, also feels good and looks cool if you do it correctly. You'll do it correctly if you develop the technique naturally while you practice good basic flaring skills. Putting too much conscious effort into achieving a "Seagull Landing" is similar to the belief that you must level off right at ground level every time: it can result in the same problems and bad habits. Most canopies will slow down just fine if you level off a comfortable distance above the ground and simply maintain level flight through the remainder of the flare. In general, it might help to stop thinking about a "no-wind landing" as being significantly different from a "normal" landing. The basic skills that you use to land in stronger winds will also help you land softly in calm winds. Any bad habits you develop might not hurt your landings too much when there is some wind to slow you down, but those habits are usually still present and affecting your flare to some degree, and can be eliminated by practicing proper techniques. Eliminating those bad habits by keeping things simple, letting yourself relax, and focusing on good basic flaring techniques will go a long way to improving your landings in all conditions. Soon you'll be just as confident landing on calm day as you are on windier ones, and you may even start to prefer calm-wind landings. Experienced skydiving instructors and coaches, like those in any other sport, develop their own opinions, philosophies, and teaching methods. The advice you get from one person may be quite different from what someone else tells you. This can actually be a good thing sometimes, because the advice that helps one person may not be equally helpful to others. The most basic, fundamental principles of aerodynamics can be used to describe the flight of any wing, so some of the things you learn about one canopy will certainly apply to others. However, specific performance characteristics can vary greatly from one aircraft to another: a 210 sq. ft. canopy does not perform exactly the same way as a 107, and a Triathlon does not perform exactly like a Sabre2. A Sabre2 does not perform exactly like a Lotus, and a Lotus does not perform exactly like a Twin Otter. When discussing canopy performance and flying techniques the most important piece of advice I give my students is this: don't passively accept anything anyone says, including anything that I tell you. Think about it, and if it doesn't make sense keep asking questions until it does. More importantly, experiment in the air and see for yourself if it's really true. Also, remember to breathe. Scott Miller References: Direction of Commander, Naval Air Systems Command, United States Navy. Aerodynamics for Naval Aviators. Washington: Naval Air Systems Command, 1960. Revised 1965. Germain, Brian. "Surviving the No Wind Landing." Dropzone.com. Sep 05 2007. (accessed October 13, 2007)
  4. Irrespective of how long you've been jumping, piloting today's high-speed canopies is not for the faint of heart. With thousands of landings on old zero performance canopies such as round 1.1s, PCs, Piglets, and Strato Stars, many of our founders are frankly fearful of fast canopies. Moreover, as canopy development continues in the present direction toward ever faster, smaller models, skydivers new and old need to be continuously educated on landing technique. As one who recently returned to skydiving after a lengthy layoff (13 years) I knew I needed to get better acquainted with today's high-speed wings. They were obviously different from what I had been used to. Faster ... make that "swoopier" ... and although they looked to me to be more fun, there were too many people getting hurt under them. Wanting to avoid that, I set out to discover what I needed to know that I didn't about piloting these new canopies. To provide some perspective, before learning these tips I'd rather have had to shoot down-wind accuracy on a round than land a small Z-Po 9-cell on a hot still day. Surprised? Remember that a landing in 110 F temperatures, say at Perris' 1,450 MSL, is like landing at 5-6,000 feet. One of the first persons I got turned onto was John LeBlanc, design engineer for Performance Designs. He explained that my old-fashioned notions about the handling characteristics of ram air wings have little relationship to designs now on the market. New high performance Z-pos are lighter and more durable, but they also demand much more attention to landing. Because what you don't know can hurt you, John tried to explain why I couldn't land a zero porosity canopy the same way as my old ram air. Here is my understanding of how to land today's canopies. While some of these ideas, tips, and techniques are from John LeBlanc please remember that they are all filtered by an old time skydiver: all mistakes are my own. This is advice from a canopy expert interpreted by a relic: Stepping up to the ground? On a nice sunny day, John and I watched some landings at the DZ. He used his hands and feet to show me how, having picked my landing area, it should be done. 'You simply level out,' he told me. 'Convert your forward and down approach into forward speed. Eliminate any down for now, but stay inches off the ground.' Inches? with a high forward speed? That seems scary; why not feet? Says John: "The idea that neophytes should be several feet off the ground is okay for flying super big student gear, but it's not what the goal is, and is definitely not okay on the smaller stuff! Several feet up feels worse and worse as you go smaller, whether you're a neophyte or a self-acclaimed expert. As a result , we (Performance Designs) consider it unwise to go smaller (in canopy size) until you can consistently level out with feet at ground level under your existing canopy. Going smaller won't make it any easier, but rather it becomes more difficult!" John compares good landing technique to getting off an escalator. "The down escalator is like the ideal descending approach, level off and landing." Escalators do offer a good canopy landing analogy. Both modes of transport demand coordinated, mindful movements at journey's end. Try visualizing a landing approach as John describes how your landing will resemble stepping off a descending escalator: "Now, think of an escalator. When it levels out, your feet are just below ground level by an inch or two. You can gently transfer your weight from the step (the harness) to the ground because you are at that level. The forward speed is no problem, because you're at ground level. You're stepping up onto the ground, rather than down to it." "If the escalator dumped you off even as little as a foot high, the first few steps would be tough! This is because your forward speed is still there, as it will be on any no-wind landing. (If you level out too high) you crunch down with a (higher) rate of descent. This is why leveling off several feet up for neophytes is not a good idea. They have to come down sooner or later, and when they do, it will be with a (greater) rate of descent at the time of contact. With a little canopy, that will be a bad landing because it will hurt!" I mull this over. There you are, storming across the turn, just above the ground. While you still have forward speed, your feet just brush the weed tops. As your speed decreases, you provide a tad more flare so as to maintain your feel of the grass. Then, just step up. Step up? Wait a minute, I protest. Easy enough for you to say that stepping out of my harness should be as simple as getting off an escalator, but if it's so easy why do so many people crash and burn? Obviously this analogy only applies to a smooth, known landing surface. Life and landing, I remind John, are both dangerous. Yes, he agrees, "You are wise in emphasizing that brushing the feet applies to a known, smooth landing surface." and adds: but notes that "the altitude of your body should be the same, even if you're lifting your feet to stay clear of a poor surface until touch down time." More importantly, John continues, "As wing loadings go over 1.1 lbs per sq. ft., this technique is a required for acceptable no-wind landings." In my words, if you have a 150 square foot canopy and weigh 170 pounds, and your suspended weight per square foot of canopy exceeds a ratio of 1:1, then you gotta swoop the ground to avoid eating it. Then, a good landing will allow you to cautiously stand up out of your harness, starting from where the parachute is holding you up to where your feet are supporting you. The major tactile feedback is that your weight is transferred from your leg straps to your shoe soles. Low wind landings and high speed dirt What about the special challenges of no-wind landing conditions? "You will still stand up out of your harness," says John, "but you'll do so at a fast walk to a run, depending on canopy and wing loading. " The more wing load, the faster you'll have to run. We watch several more landings in which many of the canopy pilots flare too high or too early. One thing hasn't changed about landing, I tell John. Landing softly requires precise timing. How do you time your flare? He explains that if you flare too high, you'll land from higher up with an increased rate of descent, "if its done too soon, it results in a big gain in altitude, which means that you are too high (to land softly) again! " When you flare too high and then crash in on a little canopy, you'll likely get in a few front loops. Of course, if you flare too low or not at all, no matter what size canopy you're under you'll eat much dirt and still do several front loops. People will laugh. Late flares are not considered good form; they tend to dirty your jumpsuit and gear. It's a good idea to avoid them, so you'll eat less dirt less often. As John adds that a good way to learn how, "is to figure it out on a bigger, more docile canopy. (less dirt eaten.)" A backyard swing model Remember the fun you had as a kid swinging in a backyard swing? You could go real high or not. You could even try to jump out at the top of the arc or lower. Or, if you had a littler kid in your lap, you'd just let the swing slow down to nearly stop and then just step out of the seat onto your feet. You do it so smoothly that there is no fear and no pain. It is satisfying. The little kid is happy but not scared. "The swing can be moving slow or fast, but if you get off at the right time, it's easy in either case." [to step out of the seat and onto your feet. No sweat, no fear. Like on a slow-moving swing, it's easier to time your touchdown under a bigger canopy], "The slow swing (big canopy) is easier to time, and the steps are slow. " A fast moving backyard swing is something like a landing small fast canopy notes John, "The fast swing, (like a small canopy), is harder to time and the steps are quicker. But (even fast steps) don't hurt if you step (up) onto the ground at the bottom, when the rate of descent is exactly zero." Just imagine you are stepping out of that swing seat and onto your feet. If done smoothly it's fun, even satisfying. You've just had a good landing and you know it. But "Now try goofing on the timing ... get off on the upswing; things get real rough if you're moving fast! That is just like finishing your flare too high." The transition from sitting in the harness to standing on the ground is subtle enough for another analogy. Thinking for a moment, he used a child's walking chair: and said something like 'I'm talking about those contraptions they put toddlers into. It's a seat with four wheels, and the kid's feet just barely touch the ground. They can paddle around and get into all sorts of trouble. Or they can quit paddling and just stand up. The difference is so smooth that they hardly notice whether it is their feet or the seat holding them up. That's what a good landing is like.' Yes, John said, "The walking chair analogy. Nice." Putting this to practice, I find the idea of a two-stage flare is helpful for transitioning to the horizontal. First, flare with only about 6-12 inches of toggle. This converts the ground-rush into a swoop just above the ground. At the end of the swoop, when the canopy won't stay up any longer, depress (bury) the toggles for the second part of the flare. After thinking about it, John added these remarks: "OK, I like the idea of a two-stage flare except for the part about burying the toggles at the end. This will make many canopies stall, and others might just quickly mush onto the ground. If your feet are at ground level, then this doesn't make much difference. You step up onto the ground just the same. But, if you haven't realized that you're a little higher than the ideal, you'll get a rude awakening when you bury the toggles. [Burying the toggles then] you drop down onto the ground with a thud." He also strongly endorses flare-practice, before finial approach, while still high up, "I like... practicing the flare a lot. I do it on EVERY jump. its fun!" Practicing upstairs helps because you can hear and feel what your canopy is doing without the distraction of high speed dirt coming at you. Keep "hands-on" canopy control Canopy control inputs should be smooth and fluid, not abrupt and mechanical. Whatever landing you do make, says John, "you must still keep your hands controlling the canopy, even if you have the urge to swing your hands as you step (or run). If you are unknowingly moving the toggles, the canopy will do some unwanted maneuvers! People also use their hands for balance cause some pretty wild gyrations, too!" However, "If you continue to fly the parachute properly when you are taking your first steps, [then] the parachute will continue to help support you during those initial steps. Again, this technique is not critical on a big canopy, but becomes more and more important as the wing loading increases." So, remember, parachute canopies only do what you tell them to do. They are so responsive that heretofore unnoticed hand movements will give you yaw and cause you to veer off. In other words, they're responsive enough for perfect landings every time. Or they can turn a twitch into a turn. Keep your hands in sight so you always know what they're doing. Smaller is not always smarter While today's new smaller Z-Po parachute canopies are faster, most do appear to have wider safety margins than did the squares of yesterday. However, I'm convinced that going to a smaller canopy shouldn't be an automatic goal. For some of us, consistently painless landings require lower wing loadings via bigger canopies. As PD's John LeBlanc puts it: "Square foot for square foot, today's canopies are generally more forgiving than those squares from years ago. But as you downsize from one size modern ram air to a smaller canopy of the same type, you give up some of that forgiveness. "So, make sure you've really got things well under control before you even consider going smaller. On the larger canopy, little technique problems will not affect the softness of the landing noticeably, but the same poor technique will cause problems on the next size smaller canopy." Pat Works, SCS-1 Legal Disclaimer: Serous injury or death can result from applying written techniques to a high speed sport. Although the quotes are from John LeBlanc, Neither he nor Performance Designs endorse, condone, apporve, or reccomend anything herein. Parachutes are dangerous: you could kill yourself using 'em. Copyright 1994 by Pat Works RWu Parachuting Publications 1656 Beechwood Ave. Fullerton CA. 92635 (714) 990-0369 FAX 529-4769
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    What To Do When the Wind Picks Up

    As a student skydiver you are guided by your instructors, drop zone management and USPA's Basic Safety Requirements (BSR's) as to the maximum winds allowable for you to safely jump. However, after you graduate from student status and become a USPA "A" license holder, there is no requirement or recommendation concerning wind speeds. And after you purchase your own gear, drop zone management will no longer need to worry about the gear that you are renting from them. From that point on, the decision to jump or to stay on the ground will be a decision that you will be making for yourself. The following article describes some of the things to consider when you find that someone has turned the big fan on "high". Before the Jump: You will find that the maximum winds to jump in is a very individual decision and depends on the jumper's experience, attitude, main canopy size and type, and reserve canopy type. Do not base your decision on what you see more experienced jumpers do because their situation is different, and do not allow yourself to be talked into jumping in winds that are not appropriate for your level of experience and your gear. It does however help to watch more experienced jumpers land when you are deciding whether or not to jump yourself. Watching someone that is your weight and has similar gear will give you a good idea of what to expect on your landing, assuming the wind does not increase any further. In addition to getting the wind speed in miles per hour from a wind meter or other source, you can go to the landing area and observe the winds for a while, noting in particular the gustiness present in that area. With experience you will be able to judge the wind that you can jump in by how the wind feels. Sometimes a lull in the wind may fool you into thinking that the winds have subsided enough to safely jump, but you should observe the winds for at least 5 minutes before coming to that conclusion because another period of increased wind and gusts may follow a lull. If you in fact decide to make a jump when the winds are strong, protect yourself in the event that some unexpected problem arises by wearing adequate head protection and foot protection. After Opening: After your canopy opens and you have begun to fly back to the landing area is the time when you may first begin to realize that the wind has picked up or is much stronger than you were prepared for. As soon as you realize that this has happened, get turned into the wind and check your speed across the ground. If you are backing up there is a good chance that the wind is also very high on the ground. If you have a reserve static line system (RSL) on your rig you may want to disconnect now in the event that you have to release your main canopy. Pulling down on your front risers will increase your forward speed and may help you make it back or at least keep you from backing up as far, but using your front risers also increases your rate of descent, so you will have to use your best judgement as to whether this is really helping you or not. If you do not think that you will make it back to the normal landing area, this is the time to make sure that wherever you do land will be a large clear area. It is especially important not to land behind anything like a tree line or a building. The stronger the winds are, the more turbulence is generated downwind of large obstacles like these. It may be necessary to turn and fly far downwind to get to a suitable area. Approach to landing: As you get closer to the ground there will probably be slightly less wind, but it will be more turbulent, especially if the terrain is anything but completely flat. Your canopy will be more stable if you hold partial brakes. Your arms can act like "shock absorbents" by relaxing some of the tension on the brakes when the gusts come along. Holding some brakes will cause your canopy to fly slower and may even cause you to back up, but this may be better than risking having your canopy collapse. At this point you will be comforted by knowing that you have planned ahead well enough to have chosen to land in a large field with a lot of room behind you in which to back up. Landing: It is usually recommended that you not front riser or turn sharply near the ground when there is turbulence present. This has been known to cause canopies to collapse. Smaller canopies are much more sensitive to small steering changes and to gusts so concentrate on keeping the canopy directly into the wind. You may not need to flare as much as when there is less wind but you must still flare. The main thing to avoid is flaring fully just as a gust occurs. A gust could create enough extra lift to make you go up suddenly and then let you down hard when the gust subsides. Use your judgement and your feel of the canopy to determine just how much to flare and prepare for a parachute landing fall (PLF). After landing: The best advice that can be given here is what we have heard many times as students: Pull down on one toggle, and keep pulling it in until you have canopy in your hand, then run around to the downwind side of you canopy. Even if you have a good landing it is still possible for your canopy to stay inflated and to pull you over and onto the ground. You can usually prevent this by quickly turning around and running downwind with the canopy while it is deflating. If you begin to fall down after landing do not reach out with your hands to break your fall because of the possibility of injuring your arms. Concentrate instead on getting your canopy deflated and do a PLF if necessary, or let the seat of your jumpsuit take the action. If it has become extremely windy or gusty when you land and you are certain that you will not be able to land without being dragged you have one last resort, and that is to pull your cutaway handle to release your main canopy. This of course assumes that you have disconnected the reserve static line (RSL) system and that you are not jumping a single operation system (SOS) that pulls the reserve handle at the same time you cutaway. Do not let your fear of re-connecting your canopy prevent you from releasing it if you really need to. It is not a big deal to release your canopy and it is not very hard to properly re-connect it to your rig. You or your rigger probably do it every reserve repack anyway to test the release system. Quite often a canopy that is released in this manner will land with the risers laying out across the canopy and can be easily straightened out. You may even be able to re-connect it right where you land. Just be sure to have the release system inspected by a rigger and do a good line check before packing. If you decide to release your main canopy, the best time to do it is when you find yourself off balance and know you are going to fall down. If you do this promptly you will simply fall down and not be dragged. You may not even get very dirty! However, if you wait until you are being dragged across the ground by your canopy you may be dragged into a position where you cannot reach your cutaway handle. Once you are being dragged, you are in very bad situation and must do whatever is necessary to get the canopy under control. At this point you will be glad to know that you planned ahead well enough to not be upwind of a paved surface or a barbed wire fence. After everything is finally under control be sure to gather up your canopy tightly to prevent the wind from re-inflating it. Remember, the jump is not over until you are back in the packing area with your gear off. In Your Spare Time: Read your canopy owner's manual! It has a wealth of information in it and contains information on your canopy's flight characteristics. Some manufacturers even have advice on flying your canopy under adverse conditions.
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    Wings Level

    Wings Level I've been thinking for some time about a final bit of advice, some catchy canopy control phrase, to say to students when they are about to go up. This morning it finally came to me: Wings Level When you're close to the ground keep your wings level This covers a lot of ground. Most of the injuries I can think of violated this principle. You can survive a lot of horizontal embarrassment by pulling your breakables in and doing a PLF. The vertical stuff is what hurts, and that mostly comes when your canopy is not level. There are three common situations: turbulence, SLAMMs and flaring. Turbulence One feeling of turbulence is the canopy suddenly rocking/tilting right or left. If it tilts to the right our untrained reaction is to raise our left hand to catch our balance, and lower our right hand to catch ourselves. This causes a hard right turn and slams us into the ground. Under canopy we must retrain ourselves to think "Wings Level!" and counter the tilt with our toggles. Tilt to the right: Think "Wings Level!" Left toggle down / Right toggle up Canopy overhead Back to neutral or continue flaring or ... If we're flaring when this tilt to the right happens another part of our reaction is to raise our left leg up and reach for the ground with our right leg. This is an injury prone position to hit the ground in. Our ground based habits are strong, and it takes some effort and practice to use only canopy control, our hands and toggles, while we're still in the air. Active control is the idea, you fly the canopy, don't let it fly you. SLAMMs - Stupid Last Minute Moves SLAMs - Stupid Low Altitude Maneuvers I got this term from Rick Horn. It refers to last minute panic turns. These last minute turns happen when people Get too low before facing into the wind (Get-home-itis) Try to avoid last minute obstacles Chase the windsock Large scale canopy strategy - thinking ahead - is the approach to focus on here. The idea is to get up wind of target, and then fly a landing pattern. It starts before you even put your gear on. Get a flight planner (an aerial photo of the drop zone). Go outside and look at the ground winds. Draw both left and right hand landing patterns for these winds. Pick one or the other based on obstacles and other factors. If the winds are still the same when you jump, this is the one you will try to use. The actual jump often happens differently than the plan. The point here is to learn a process, a way of thinking, an approach, that keeps you out of the awkward situations and last minute moves in the first place. Now draw the jump run (what have previous loads been doing?). Mark where the first and last groups got out (watch the actual jump or ask people who have just landed where they got out). If the uppers are strong mark both exit and opening point. Now put yourself in the shoes of someone who has just opened. I'm here, the windsock is still the same, so my two possible landing patterns are there, what do I do between now and later to get from here to the onramp, the beginning, of the landing pattern I want to use? Should I run? Should I hold? Should I crab? If I keep facing the way I'm facing now, where will I land? There's an obstacle, a lake, some trees, a power line between here and there. Can I fly over it? Should I fly over it? What if the wind changes and I land on it? Is that a disaster, or just inconvenient? If I can't make it back, where's a clear spot that I can land in? Which way is the wind blowing and therefore what landing pattern should I fly? Can I make it back but the wind has changed, the windsock is moving? What's my new landing pattern and how do I get from here to the onramp? Is the windsock going in circles? Are the jumpers ahead of me landing in all directions? Should I move my landing pattern over a bit and land outside the swarm of clueless sunday drivers? Am I too long but the wind is at my back so I can pull a few inches on the toggles and come down slower and ride the wind back? Am I down wind and don't want to blow away so I should face the wind and pull a few inches on the front risers and get down quicker? Have I by some miracle of forethought made it to the onramp of my chosen landing pattern? How do I handle it now? As a student they told me the 1,000 - 600 - 300 ft technique, but most experienced jumpers guage the pattern by angles and rates. On a light wind day I fly the down wind part at a certain distance from the target so the target is at the correct angle down from me. I fly down wind until the target is maybe 45 degrees behind me and turn cross wind. Once again the target is at the correct angle down from me. At the magic moment I turn on final. If I'm too low in the pattern I can cut across corners and shorten my flight path. If I'm too high I can go into brakes, come down slower but steeper, and bleed off unwanted altitude. If I've misjudged the whole thing, I remember that it's better to land out and walk back than land in and get carried away on a stretcher, so I do my turns onto cross wind and final at a nice safe altitude, and congratulate myself on what good judgement I have. It is hard to stress enough the value of persistently trying to fly your canopy on a predetermined course (get up wind of target, and then fly a landing pattern) rather than zooming aimlessly around and then landing. The value is that trying to make your canopy go where you plan to go in all the different conditions teaches you how to make your canopy go where you *want* it to go in all the different conditions. Canopy control is not simple and it's not easy. There are zillions of variables and circumstances, and on any given jump you don't even know what they all are. If you put genuine effort into this for 200 - 300 jumps you will start to sort out the patterns and learn what you can and can't do. Knowing what you can and can't do is especially helpful in staying out of the SLAMMs when you're landing out. Sometimes, even when you're thinking ahead, you have to make a turn close to the ground. There is a way to do it and still keep your wings level and that is braked (flat) turns. The idea is to first go into the right amount of brakes, half brakes, deep brakes, and then use one toggle slightly up or the other slightly down, or both, to turn. This gives you a change of heading with only a slight bank. If you were really at 50 or 75 ft when you did this, you just have to land that way (PLF). Practice braked turns up high until they feel really comfortable so that when you need one close to the ground it will be easy to do. Letting up from deep brakes near the ground is tricky because you drop quite a ways before your canopy resumes its normal glide path. At some point it's worth spending maybe 10 or 20 jumps edging gradually into this to find out what you can do. It's different with each canopy. Turn onto final in part brakes. At say 150 ft let up slowly and see what happens. Push gradually (that's *gradually*) into deeper brakes, lower altitudes, faster let ups. After while you will get a sense of what you can do. If you keep pushing you will eventually scare yourself and then you will know where the boundary is. Flaring Another place where you can get wings unlevel is flaring flare too high and then let up flare too high and stall flare unevenly There is an old accuracy technique called double clutching, where you let the toggles up 6 or 8 inches (not a foot!), let the canopy fly for a moment, then toggles back down maybe 4 or 6 inches. If you flare too high and just hold it, you will land hard but probably get away with it by doing a PLF. If you flare too high and then let up, you will land much harder and may not get away with it. Even big, slow student canopies can slam you in if you do it wrong enough. If you've been practicing double clutching up high where it doesn't hurt, you can impress your friends and coaches with your great canopy control. If you flare unevenly, one hand lower than the other, you get the canopy tilting one way or the other as in turbulence. Tilt to the right: Think "Wings Level!" Left toggle down / Right toggle up Canopy overhead Back to neutral or continue flaring or ... Some people look at their hands or bring their hands together at the bottom of the flare in order to flare evenly. Those can be good short term techniques, but in the long run it is better to focus on what the canopy is doing. If the canopy tilts or banks I want to counter with one toggle down and the other up regardless of whether it was turbulence or an uneven flare that caused it. The flare works in two stages. The top quarter or top third stops your downward speed and levels you out (for a short while). The bottom part slows your forward speed. This means that in high winds, where you're barely penetrating and your horizontal speed (relative to the ground) is already stopped, you just do the top part of the flare, and you do it much closer to the ground. If you do a full flare in high winds you get picked up and thrown backwards pretty hard. This will impress your friends and coaches but not the way you want. The hard part of flaring in no winds is guessing when to start. You start the top part higher. This levels you out, changes your visual picture, and gives you immediate feedback on how good your guess was. If your guess was good, then do the bottom part and land. If you started too high, then pause for a moment, and then do the bottom part. Part of the trick is where you look. If you look at the horizon then you can't see the ground well enough in your peripheral vision and you can't tell when. If you look straight down under your feet all you see is ground rushing by and you can't tell when that way either. Up higher I'm looking more out ahead. As I'm starting the flare I look ahead of where my feet are going to touch down just like you do on an uneven mountain trail. As my feet are just about to touch down I look more downward just like you do at a rough spot on that mountain trail. What I'm looking for is any rock or uneven spot where I might twist an ankle. If your flare motions are too slow you don't get the effect, but if you yank the toggles down you just distort the canopy and airflow and that doesn't work either. If you back off a little from the yank to a definite, strong motion, it works pretty well. The final bit of flaring technique is to practice PLFs until they are comfortable and natural, because in spite of all this great technique there is nothing like a PLF to save your body and your pride when you misjudge it. A point of terminology is that panic turns are not hook turns. Hook turns, canopy swooping, turf surfing, pond swooping are a form of canopy flying that you can learn about later if you want. If you are interested, then go to some of the larger drop zones in Florida or California or some place and learn from the people who are already good at it. Like any envelope pushing around high speed dirt, it's pretty easy to kill yourself if you fuck up, so it's smarter to build on the experience of others. Meanwhile, in your day to day jumping, keep your wings level when you're close to the ground. Sometimes, in spite of our best efforts, our best training, our best intentions, we have a brain fart and do something stupid. Here's one that ranks right up there with the best of them. One year at Quincy it was hot, it was humid, it was late in the week, I was tired, I didn't want to land out and wait for the pickup, and I had to cross the loading area to get back. The loading area is a pretty wide section of concrete filled with Otters and Casas picking up jumpers, getting fuel, spinning props, planes taxiing in and out, tents full of waiting jumpers. I had seen it in freefall, I had been eyeing the situation from the time I opened. Can I do it? I'm not sure. It's gonna be close. I'll just face that way and decide when I get closer. Can I do it? I'm not sure. Just barely. Maybe. No, I should turn around and land over here. I'm going for it. Concrete. Staying aloft by sheer terror. The slightest gust and ... Shit. Props. I could land on the tail. Massive social humiliation and broken bones but I'd miss the props. Shit. The tent. I'm going to land on the tent. Shit. I'm over. I land. I gather up my chute and walk back thinking that was the stupidest thing I've ever done. To this day I can still hardly believe that I did that. It's not just students who show bad judgement under canopy. Bryan Burke has said that minds are like parachutes, sometimes they just don't work. That means that we must develop the best set of habits and background experience that we can, so that when our minds don't work we might still accidentally do the right thing. Keep your wings level when you're close to the ground. Skr
  7. Image by Andrey Veselov Nobody’s going to argue that landing directly into the wind is the best way to go, but we’re not always that lucky. Got a long, narrow path between obstacles? Unless you’re super-duper lucky and the wind direction seems to have been designed entirely for your landing pleasure, you’ve got yourself a crosswind landing, my friend. If you jump at a busy DZ with a super-strict canopy pattern, you’ve undoubtedly honed your crosswind skills. Great--but that’s not the only place that crosswind landings rear their skinny heads. For instance: you’ll find them lurking at an overpopulated boogie, where the landing area is a human forest with a clear patch at the very edge…or a forehead-slapper of an off landing, where your only choice is a road...or pretty much every beach landing, ever. The importance of your landing direction should override the wind direction in a number of circumstances. Here’s how to make it work. 1. Stop bellyaching and get used to it, already. Ask any airplane pilot: landing with the wind at an angle to the runway is, like, totally normal. Ask any beach-dropzone bum or coastal-soaring pilot, and they’ll definitely elaborate on the benefits of landing smoothly with the wind pushing in hard from the side. Let go of the worry. Your ram-air wing is perfectly capable of flying with the nose pointed at an angle to the runway. That maneuver even has a name: “crabbing.” (The difference between the direction the nose is pointing and the pilot’s path--“ground track”--is called the “crab angle,” which always kinda makes me think of melted butter and tongs.) 2. Get lined up. If you’ve got a long, narrow path in front of you, guess what? You’ve got yourself a landing strip. Start humming ‘The Danger Zone’ into your helmet and get ready, Goose. Your biggest task when you line up a landing is to snag yourself as much of a headwind as possible while keeping away from the obstacles you’re certainly avoiding. Anything up to a 90-degree crosswind will work. (Your task: to avoid any kind of tailwind, if at all possible.) If you have a choice, use the longest runway you can find to increase your margin for error. 3. Get creative. As you come in on that final, you’re going to be doing something of a dance with whatever wind is pushing at you from the side. You can be assured that this wind is going to be pushing you toward something you do not want to fly into. It may be pushing you unevenly. And it may be pushing you pretty damn hard. Your approach, therefore, is necessarily going to be a little less cut-and-dry than your typical downwind/base/final box. You’ll most certainly notice that your downwind leg is not actually, like, downwind and you’re not getting the distance you’re used to. What’s usually your base leg is likely to be the actual downwind, so stay vigilant and don’t let it shove you into an obstacle. 4. Hold your focus. As you tuck into your final approach, glue your eyes on the middle of the far end of the runway. Nail them there. Staple them there. Weld them there. Do not start looking at the obstacles to either side, or you are very likely to get suddenly intimate with them. 5. Let it do its thing. From there, you have one single job: to keep the wing/canopy level while you fly in a straight line. Not so bad, right? Calmly make the necessary inputs without overcorrecting. Let the nose point in whatever direction it needs to point. Warning: this bit of the flight might seem pretty wiggly. Don’t let that motion distract you from maintaining your heading. Any inputs required to keep that straight-line heading will simply increase your crab angle and point your nose into the wind, slowing you down. 6. Come to a full and complete stop. To flare in a crosswind, make a slight adjustment to your normal procedure: use moderate emphasis on the upwind brake to get into a wind-facing position. (Please note that “moderate emphasis” does not mean “full-on, panicked toggle punch.”) 7. High-five somebody. If it’s a beach landing and you managed to drop your canopy in the saltwater, go ahead and high-five the side of your own face--but no matter what, slap that palm to something. You deserve it.
  8. admin

    Surviving the No Wind Landing

    One of the most dreaded conditions of all is the no wind scenario. This fear is so profound that many jumpers in fact avoid jumping in no wind conditions. Although landing with the benefit of a headwind is unarguably easier, there are specific methods that markedly improve the chances of standing up your landing. Here are a few tips that will help you to land softer and safer when the wind goes away: 1) Make sure you level off within touching distance from the ground. If you finish the flight with some space between you and the earth, you will have more than just forward speed to deal with at the end of the landing. All parachutes stall above zero airspeed, which means that as soon as the extreme slow flight capability of your parachute is attained, it will drop you into the ground with both forward and vertical movement. The best way to deal with this is to be sure that you have already arrived at standing height when the stall breaks. That way, the only remaining kinetic energy is forward movement, which can be diminished by taking a few controlled steps. 2) Make sure your brakes are short enough. Most manufacturers set the brake lines to allow for a certain amount of slack so that when the front risers are applied with the toggles in the hands, there is no tail input. This, coupled with shorter risers (most parachutes are set up for 21 inch risers), will prevent you from reaching your parachute's slowest flying speed. With the help of your rigger, shortening the brake lines is an easy task. Take out not more than one inch at a time and give it a few jumps before taking more out. 3) Keep the parachute over your head. Any tilt in the roll axis will result in a premature stall of the parachute, which will drop you into the ground while you still have ground speed. This is due to an effect known as "load factor". When a wing is in a bank, it requires a bit of increased angle of attack to keep it flying at the same height or descent rate. This results in an increased relative weight, which in turn increases the stall speed. Keep your eyes looking down the "runway" and you will be able to notice variance in your bank angle easier. Making smooth corrections to the bank angle all the way to the end of the landing will result in a softer touch-down and less forward velocity at the end of the ride. 4) Be sure that you are finishing the flare. Keep smoothly adding brakes until you run out of arms, or ground-speed, whichever comes first. In other words, if you are flying into a significant head-wind, flaring all the way down will make you go backwards, as the speed of your parachute will be less than the speed of the wind. Flaring straight down is the only way to accomplish a complete flare, as stylish outward sweeping of the arms out to the sides or to the back will only result in a stylishly ineffective flare. The brake lines can only work if they are pulled. 5) Assuming that a PLF is not necessary, put one foot under your spine, as the "main landing gear", and the other out in front as the "nose gear". That way you will not plant both feet at the same time and pivot onto your face. Slide your main gear along the ground as long as you can, and then when the friction finally grabs your foot, take that first step onto the front foot. 6) Loosen your chest strap and lean forward in the harness. This will allow you to get your weight over your "landing gear", rather than back on your heels. The parachute will increase its pitch angle as you progress through the landing, but your body doesn't have to tilt in accordance. Freeing your body from the pitch of the system will allow you to feel more comfortable finishing the flare, as you will not feel the urge to let up on the toggles as you put your feet down to get to a more balanced pitch angle. 7) Let the wing sink down below standing height during the second half of the swoop, and then use the canopy's lift to bring you back up to standing height. Referred to as the "Seagull Landing", this allows you to arrest any excess forward speed, as you will be in a climb at the last part of the landing. Be sure not to climb above standing height as you do this, as that will result in a drop at the end that will put you on your face. 8) Practice slow flight up high. The more comfortable you are with the low-end range of your canopy's performance envelope, the longer you will be willing too keep your toggles down at the end. Fear of the stall results in incomplete flares, as well as letting up the toggles at the end of the landing. Keep the canopy in brakes for at least 30 seconds (up high), and perform smooth turns right and left. This will help you fly your way out of any bank angle created by an asymmetrical level off during the flare. 9) Believe it is possible to land perfectly. It is. Only when a pilot thinks: "I am going to crash" is the crash inevitable. 10) Get video! There is no greater tool than actually seeing yourself land. The best way to get filmed, I have found, is to film other people. Landing in no wind can be great fun. Ultimately, this is how we counter the fear of landing our parachutes. If you lean forward into the experience, your positive body language results in more fluid, appropriate actions that actually improve your situation. When you are comfortable with landing in no winds, you begin to actually look forward to those zero-wind sunset loads. Scooting across the ground with maximum forward speed can be incredibly enjoyable when you know you have the skills to handle the situation. In the end, the only way to achieve this is to jump on a regular basis, and enjoying the learning process is how this is reinforced. Find something about every landing that you can smile about, even your crashes. Everything that is not the path shows us where the path is not. Happy Landings! Bryan Germain www.CanopyFlightInstructor.com Editors Note: Also see - Another Look at No-Wind Landings by Scott Miller
  9. ...Or Where Everyone Else Is Landing, But That’s Beside the Point Image by Wolfgang Lienbacher You’ve seen Star Trek, you big nerd -- so you know the answer to this question: When everybody’s staring out the front of a spaceship as it slams into warp speed, what are they looking at? Don’t make that face. This absolutely applies to skydiving. The answer, of course, is that they’re staring dramatically out into a starfield. Within that starfield, the outside stars are streaked into blurs and the center stars are distinct, clear and individual. At any given moment, the spaceship is headed towards the clear stars in the center of the frame. Gene Roddenberry and his glitter-stirring co-wizards didn’t come up with that out of nowhere. they used a classic model, called the Radial Optic Flow Pattern (or ROFP), to base their screensaver-worthy visuals upon. Originally defined by scientist James J. Gibson, Radial Optic Flow has greatly driven the development of an “ecological” approach to visual perception. This approach investigates human vision in the context of the natural environment (as opposed to a laboratory). It may sound obscure, but that same model is the one you, as a skydiver, should consciously use if you’d rather land in the peas than the trees. Here’s how. Velocity Fields and FOEs As a human in motion, your field of view – your very own spaceship windshield – is called your “velocity field.” Within that velocity field, when you’re traveling along a straight path (with no eye, head or body rotation), your heading is nailed quite precisely by the unmoving focus of expansion (FOE) in the center of your vision. How precisely? Well, a 2008 Oxford University study found that humans can use the FOE in optic flow to estimate their heading within one degree of the visual angle, and that’s good – because the FOE is exactly where you’re going. As opposed to a paraglider – which can go up just as handily as down, in the right conditions* – a skydiving canopy has one essential mode: forward/down. A ROFP for forward movement describes expansion – like the stars in the front windshield of the spaceship as it rushes towards the FOE described by the still stars in the middle. (As our skydiving canopies can’t really go backwards, we won’t worry about the “reverse thrusters” mode.) Image by Wolfgang Lienbacher Where’s My FOE? If you’re flying your skydiving canopy straight, your FOE is easy to pick off: it’s the place in your vision that isn’t dropping, rising, or side-sliding. As you approach the landing area, the FOE remains central while the rest of the field expands proportionally more quickly. If you’re throwing a bunch of canopy inputs into the mix, however, it’s much more difficult to determine FOE. That’s because you’re introducing a “rotational component of lamellar flow,” which forces the retinal flow pattern not to be radial anymore, thereby making it difficult to recover the original heading. How to “Energize” Your Accuracy: When you set up your landing, choose objects on the ground and notice whether they’re moving up or down in your velocity field. Notice the still spot that indicates your FOE. Notice how accurate you can make your landings by fixing your FOE on your intended spot landing. As you learn to determine your FOE close-up, start to work on spotting your FOE from higher and higher altitudes. By doing this, you’ll train yourself to know instantly if the spot is off and you’ll need to choose an alternate landing area. Keep your FOE on the target, not an obstacle. When I was racing motorcycles, I used to refer to this trick as my “eye magnets.” That sounds just as silly as spending four hours in a makeup chair getting a rubber Klingon face glued on, but it’s not: your gaze truly is functionally magnetic. You'll head inexorably towards the one tree in the landing area you’re terrified of hitting (and thus staring at). Conversely, you'll kinda-magically turn away from that tree without any other conscious inputs if you “unstick” your gaze and attach it firmly to open turf. Improperly applied eye magnets are referred to less-cutely as “target fixation.” Many skydivers refer to this phenomenon as “the accuracy trick,” which seems unfair – there are a lot of helpful tools for accuracy, of which this is only one. That said, consistently landing where you want to is a great way for a skydiver to live long and prosper. (Shh. You know you giggled.) ** For this reason, “the accuracy trick” is a little trickier to use for paraglider pilots, because visual cues have a tendency to bounce around as the wing is affected by thermic “bubbles” near ground level.
  10. Landing Pattern is an interactive computer simulation program for ram-air parachutes. It is similar to flight simulators, such as Microsoft Flight Simulator. One can fly a landing approach of a parachute in different wind conditions. Currently only Skydive New England is available in the simulation as a virtual drop zone, but more will be added in the future. Usually the landing pattern is shown to the students on top of an aerial picture or a satellite image. The pattern has an entry point around 1000ft, then the turn to the base leg around 500ft, and then the turn to the final around 300ft. The altitudes for these points are kept constant, while the position of the canopy relative to the landing target changes depending on the wind conditions and canopy parameters. Static Line Interactive released a free online service Landing Pattern Estimator that shows you the landing pattern above the satellite image from google maps. Landing Pattern allows you to fly a landing approach. Landing Pattern comes with tutorials that explain each leg of the landing approach. You can pick the wind direction, wind strength, starting altitude, position for the jumper, and the type of the altimeter to use (digital or analog). You control the left toggle by pressing the left mouse button and moving the mouse up and down, and holding down the right mouse button allows you to control the right toggle. If you hold both mouse buttons together you control both toggles at the same time to flare the canopy. You can experiment with normal and flat turns. It is possible to switch between top view, side view, first person view, and free camera. You can show or hide the landing approach guides. Top view allows you to see the the movement of the jumper from above, which is useful to see the general shape of the pattern that you are flying. It is easy to see when to turn to the base leg or to the final leg. Side view allows to see the difference in altitude between the jumper position and the proposed landing approach. It is also useful to see the changes in the canopy pitch as the flare is performed. After understanding how to fly the approach using the top and side camera views you can use the first person view. This is how you would fly a canopy in real life. You can look at the analog or digital altimeter mounted on your chest. You can also see the proposed landing approach to follow. Use the mouse to look around and locate the target. Free camera allows you to fly the camera around so you can find the perspective that helps you the best. At the end of the jump you can flare the canopy for landing. After touchdown, you will see the speed of your landing as well as other statistics about your jump. You can review the trajectory of the jump and compare the current trajectory with trajectories from previous jumps. Author Information: Alexander Shyrokov is the founder of Static Line Interactive, Inc.
  11. nettenette

    On-Point Off-Landings: A Primer

    Sylvia Tozbikian wiggles her way back to the DZ after an off landing in a graveyard “Off” ain’t such a bad thing. As skypeople, we love “off.” Offbeat. Offhand. Offside. And, y’know -- we’re all a little off, really. Off landings should fit right into our oddball little world. Unfortunately, lots of skydivers tend to be ill prepared for an unscheduled landing out in the real world. Are you one of ‘em? Here’s how to get ready for a surprise skydiving adventure. 1. Be a nerd about it. Sure, the airborne life throws you curveballs sometimes -- but there are variables here that you can control, y’know. Work ‘em. If you only ever land that thing in a schoolbook configuration in the exact same landing area, you’re not going to enjoy the steep learning curve of an off landing. Hang out with a canopy coach for a weekend to workshop your braked flight (and, y’know, braked landings) in a structured, feedback-rich environment. The more thoroughly you train your body and brain to execute these maneuvers, the less you’ll panic when you look down and realize you’re hanging over an endless sea of potential ouch. Also: always jump with a charged method of communication. 2. Speak up. Very likely, your off landing is going to be your fault, and it’s probably because you didn’t pay attention (to winds aloft, to the jump run, to your opening altitude, to where you were pointing your pretty new wingsuit…). If it’s the pilot’s fault, you should know it by the time you’re standing at the door and lookin’ down. If the spot is off, don’t leave the plane. Ask for a go-round. 3. Look out for yourself. If you’re at the caboose end of a group and you can’t spot from the door, make a habit of quickly spotting as soon as you run out. If you notice that your compatriots failed to notice that they were getting out of the plane somewhere in the next state, evaluate your options. If it’s safe, then you should peace out earlier and pull higher, crossing fingers that the extra altitude will get you home. That said, don’t be a dick. If the particular skydive you’re doing is safer for everyone if all members conform to the freefall and breakoff plan, then congratulations: you’re landing out. 4. Curb your optimism. At this point in your journey into offland, you might be under one of two available parachutes. Your first responsibility after ensuring that whatever’s out is controllable is to realistically determine where you’re headed. If you feel like you just-might-maybe make it to the main LZ, make sure you’re not just-might-maybeing your way into a power station or highway or forest or whatever might be in the intervening territory. If you’re not sure -- or if the middle ground is an alligator farm -- then you should bin that Pollyanna attitude and get real. Put your entire brain on the task of on finding a safe alternative that takes into consideration your current position and the wind direction. 5. Mind invisible canopy-eaters. Once you’ve picked a spot and are toodling down to make your acquaintance with it, you should start getting as picky as possible. You’ll obviously be headed for what appears to be an open space, but wait -- are there invisible monsters lurking? Trees, buildings and other solid objects can throw serious turbulence if they’re upwind (and livestock can wander into the picture very quickly). Keep that in mind as you’re planning. 6. Play the field. As much as possible, be a commitmentphobe. Make sure you don’t have blinders on to other landing areas that might save your ass in the event of surprise fences, power lines, turbulence monsters, stampeding herds and other obstacles you didn’t notice from on high. 7. Embrace it. If you’ve always been on, you can be assured that off is coming. Get real and get ready, and you’ll be much better...off. (Snicker, snicker.)