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Found 61 results

  1. This manual is intended as a resource for highly experienced wingsuiters. It is not a substitute for training by a wingsuit instructor certified by Skydive Elsinore Wingsuit School (“SEWS”) or by any other comparable rating program. We strongly encourage novice and intermediate wingsuiters to seek out reputable, qualified, rated instructors to develop the skills necessary to safely and enjoyably fly a wingsuit. This manual and the method of coaching described in it are provided for educational purposes and as a reference tool. Your use of this manual does not indicate endorsement by any staff member of SEWS (or its owners, affiliates, or sponsors) or by Skydive Elsinore (or its owners, affiliates, or employees). As a licensed skydiver, you understand that skydiving (and wingsuiting) can result in severe injuries and death, thus you need to learn the necessary skills to skydive. You are responsible for your own safety. As a result, the information in this manual is provided “as is”, and without any warranties or representations as to its completeness or accuracy. While our goal is to improve the overall safety of the wingsuiting community, your use of or reliance on this manual does not guarantee that your wingsuiting will be incident free. This manual is not intended to establish a legal standard of care with respect to wingsuit instruction. As a result, no inference should be drawn from the use or reliance upon this manual (or the failure to use or rely on this manual) by any person in connection with wingsuit instruction. By using this manual, you are agreeing to indemnify and hold harmless SEWS (and its owners, affiliates, and sponsors) and Skydive Elsinore (and its owners, affiliates, and employees) from any claims (whether by you or by a third party) relating to this manual or its use. This reference manual is intended as a guide for SEWS coaches who have been fully trained in the methods used at the Skydive Elsinore Wingsuit School. It is not intended as a training program that does not include a coach, and should not be used by any person who is not a SEWS-trained coach, as the methods and techniques are designed for a specific progression. Wingsuit Couch Flight Manual Skydive Elsinore 2012 Contributors: Douglas Spotted Eagle/DSE, Joel Hindman, Tom van Dijck, Jarno Cordia, Robert Pecnik, Andreea Olea, Jeff Donohue, Matt Santa Maria, John Hamilton, Karl Gulledge, Laurent Lobjoit, Jason Timm, Jay Stokes, Chuck Blue, Barry Williams, Darren Burke, Alan Martinez, Scotty Burns Skydive Elsinore Wingsuit School Flight Manual CONTENTS Wingsuit Briefing Pilot’s briefing/information Recurrency Jumps Wingsuit Rodeos Helicopter/Night/Balloon/Distance Jumps Hand Signals Pre-Wingsuit Evaluation Jump Level One/First Flight Course Level Two (Forward Motion Control) Level Three (Up/Down Motion Control) Level Four (Coach as base) Level Five (Barrel Rolls) Level Six (Introduction to Docking) Level Seven (Docking) Level Eight (Proximity) Level Nine(Performance Flight) Level Ten (Introduction to Backflying) Wingsuit Water Training Non-USPA Member training FUN STUFF Wingsuit Training MaterialLevels/Dive FlowsThe materials contained in this section are for SEWS coach use. This section is a reference for dive flows, training techniques, and tips for providing students the best information available. These Levels should accompany the skydiving videos found in the SEWS Wingsuit School on the school DVD player and computer system. The methods described are for SEWS-trained coaches and should be used in context demonstrated during your SEWS training process. Pre-FFC Evaluation Jump This jump is for persons who have near-to or exactly 200 jumps, persons that are unknown to the coach and persons who do not have logbooks but do have low jump numbers. Skydiver attends the full Level One/FFC course, while wearing wingsuit. Coach and skydiver will perform a skydive, performing all tasks from the First Flight Course, with the student NOT wearing a wingsuit. The FFC skydiver candidate will: Perform poised exit/Wingsuit FFC exit ‘Wings’ closed (close one-thousand, fly one thousand) Practice touch w/wave-off 90° turn Practice touch w/wave-off Deploy at 4500’ Land in designated area Following ground training, show the relevant video found on the SEWS training DVD. Manifest and jump. If all tasks are properly performed AND the student meets the USPA requirement of 200 skydives, a Level One/First Flight in a wingsuit is appropriate. A small-format camera is permissible on a pre-wingsuit FFC training jump student if the student has previous small-format camera experience and meets USPA’s camera recommendations. **Logbook verifications are important! First Wingsuit Flight Jump/Level One Training for the First Flight/Level One jump may only be provided by a Skydive Elsinore Wingsuit School coach. Non-SEWS coaches may not train on the Skydive Elsinore premises without prior clearance from Lob or DSE. Training must include exit-appropriate training for the Otter or Caravan. Practice exits both in wingsuit-only and wingsuit/rig (with helmet) combinations must occur prior to manifesting the student. **Logbook verifications are required! It’s a good idea to take a photograph of the student with their logbook when possible, and store photo on the video system HDD. REQUIRED EQUIPMENT FOR THE FFC: Hard Helmet Audible AAD Non-Elliptical canopy should not be loaded more highly than 1.3:1 (This is at coaches discretion. SEWS does have some sizes and types of PD canopies for our students if necessary) Appropriate canopies for FFC; PD Pulse PD Storm PD Silhouette PD Spectre PD Sabre, Sabre II PD Navigator Aerodyne Triathalon Aerodyne Pilot Icarus Safire FFC Dive Flow: Perform poised exit/Wingsuit FFC exit ‘Wings’ closed (close one-thousand, fly one thousand) Practice touch w/wave-off 90 degree turn Practice touch w/wave-off Wave-off at 5500 feet Deploy at 5000 feet Land in designated area Following ground training, show the video found on the SEWS training DVD. Manifest and jump. The Coach shall record video when possible; the video is archived on either the SEWS computer or on the Skydive Elsinore master computer system. We prefer the video be uploaded to the Skydive Elsinore YouTube account. This is not only valuable for providing the student a solid debrief, but is also valuable in making other skydivers aware of the Skydive Elsinore Wingsuit School. An FFC/Level One student may not wear a camera on this skydive. Entanglement issues are very possible. We recommend at least 25 clean deployments (linetwist or other issues) prior to attaching a camera to the student’s helmet. Level Two (New exit/three tasks) This jump teaches the Floating Exit, forward drive, and stopping power. It is important to only teach the basics of acceleration in this level; the objective is forward motion, stopping/slowing power with control, not performance flight. Student will be trained for a Front Float Exit. Key training points for this exit: There is no ‘jump’ from the aircraft; it is merely a transfer of weight from the balls of the foot to the heel of the foot. When the “jump one-thousand/fly one-thousand” exit method is observed, the relative wind will turn the wingsuiter towards the line of flight and put them on their belly. Look towards the prop or door of the aircraft for stability. Key training points for this jump: Have the student slightly lower their head while performing the first two maneuvers. This not only helps maintain stability, but also gets the student in the habit of keeping his/her head lower. Tossing head back for the Emergency Stop/Stall is a significant component of stopping force. Dive Flow: Coach (rear float) and student exit (maintain “close one-thousand, fly one-thousand”) Coach and student turn to line of flight and fly relative (it is the coach’s responsibility to fly relative to the student). Coach signals to the student to begin the maneuvers. Student accelerates for 3 seconds, by lowering head and pointing toes. The coach should not accelerate, but rather performs a slight drop in altitude while observing the student’s acceleration. Student performs a “Stop n’ Drop” maneuver. Student’s legs remain in line with body while lower legs are raised to a 45 °angle. This will slow the student and drop them in altitude. The coach and student should once again be flying relative. Student accelerates for 3 seconds. The coach should not accelerate, but rather slightly slows. Student performs a “Slow and Hold/Flying Dirty” maneuver for 5 seconds. Knees are dropped, calves should remain parallel to earth. This maneuver will allow student and coach to fly together at slow speed. Student resumes normal flight, coach and student will fly relative for a moment. Student accelerates for 3 seconds. The coach should not accelerate, but rather maintains speed while observing student’s acceleration. Student performs a Stall/Emergency stop by confidently throwing head backwards, pushing palms towards earth, spreading legs, and cupping/de-arching body for maximum size and air. This will stop the student and the coach will appear to rapidly fly past. The coach slows so that student may catch up and fly relative to coach. The student should be able to rapidly recover from lost altitude and speed. If sufficient altitude is available, the three maneuvers should be repeated. At 6500 feet, the student looks to coach and shakes head, indicating “no more work.” This informs the coach of the student’s altitude awareness, and that the student is about to lock on at 6000 feet, and the deployment waveoff begins at 5500 feet for a deployment at 5000 feet. Following ground training, show the relevant video found on the SEWS training DVD. Manifest and jump. Level Three (New exit/two tasks) This jump teaches the Running/Pivot Exit (Otter only) and Up/Down fall rate skills. The Running/Pivot exit is valuable for rapidly clearing an Otter or other large-door aircraft. The student's objective is to maneuver upward and downward with control. Key training points for this exit: The right foot must be on the edge of the door frame for proper launch. The student should look at the prop/door of the aircraft on exit while keeping wings closed for 2 seconds. Key training points for this jump: These two maneuvers are accomplished exclusively with the hips. Squeeze glutes (butt cheeks) to lose altitude/increase vertical fall rate. “Open” glutes (butt cheeks) to ‘gain’ altitude/decrease vertical fall rate. Proper kinesthetic (against the wall) training is critical for dive success. DiveFlow: The Coach is a rear-float position. The coach will signal the student to exit. As the student’s foot reaches the door frame, the coach launches. This allows the coach to capture video of the student’s exit for debrief purposes. Observe “Close one-thousand, fly one thousand.” Coach and student turn to line of flight and fly relative (it is the coach’s responsibility to fly relative to the student). Coach signals to student to begin the maneuvers. The student will climb 10’ above the coach and wait for the coach to match altitude. The student will drop 10’ below the coach and wait for the coach to match altitude. Repeat these maneuvers until reaching an altitude of 6500 feet. At 6500 feet, the student looks to coach and shakes head, indicating “no more work.” This informs the coach of the student’s altitude awareness, and that the student is about to lock on at 6000 feet, and the deployment waveoff begins at 5500 feet for a deployment at 5000 feet. Following the ground training, show the student the relevant video(s) found on the SEWS DVD. Level Four (new exit, test tasks) This jump teaches the Gainer Exit (Otter-only). This is an unstable exit that prepares the student for instability (Level Five jump) and teaches them to re-gain heading from a new perspective. It is critical that no other wingsuiters are on the load, or that all wingsuiters perform the same exit. This exit forces the student to fly opposite the aircraft line of flight, so adjust the spot accordingly (later exit point). The objective of this jump is to give the student a moving base in order to learn to use small movements to stay as near the Coach as possible. A secondary objective in this jump is to give the student a semi-unstable exit for recovery, and build confidence that the student is capable of recovering from minor instability. In this jump, the coach follows the student. Key training points for this jump: Coach the student to move sideways using either grippers curled in, or using a *slight* drop of the hip/knee. Dive Flow Coach and student turn to line of flight. The coach catches up to the student and flies relative. The coach then acts as a base for the student. This is the first jump in which the student is not the base. The Coach should challenge the student with small movements up/down/forward/slowing/side to side to allow the student to practice their fall rate and forward motion skills. At 6000 feet, the student looks to coach and shakes head, indicating “no more work.” This informs the coach of the student’s altitude awareness, and that the student is about to lock on at 5500 feet, and the deployment waveoff begins at 5000 feet for a deployment at 4500 feet (if student is comfortable with the lower deployment altitude). Level Five (two tasks) This jump teaches Barrel Rolls and Instability Recovery. Although the training is aimed at barrel rolls, a primary objective is for the student to gain confidence in managing instability. A Front Float Exit is used for this jump. The student will do two barrel rolls to the right, then two barrel rolls to the left. Key training points for this dive flow: Use a count of 1,2 (pause) 3, 4. Look in the direction of the turn. Close knees/feet slightly before closing arm wing. Do not force/muscle the rollover. Let the wind create the force. Dive Flow: Coach launches first, maintains altitude above the student. Student sets heading towards dropzone. Student begins barrel roll without input from coach. Coach should observe first barrel roll from above and second barrel roll from the side (if possible). Student demonstrates two barrel rolls in one direction, then two barrel rolls in the other direction (right/left). One side will typically be weaker/less confident than the other side. Heading should be re-set and altitude checked following each task. At 6000 feet, the student looks to coach and shakes head, indicating “no more work.” This informs the coach of the student’s altitude awareness, and that the student is about to lock on at 5500 feet, and the deployment waveoff begins at 5000 feet for a deployment at 4500 feet (if student is comfortable with the lower deployment altitude). Following ground training, show the student the relevant video found on the SEWS Training DVD. **It is very important that the Coach maintain proximity during these jumps. The best camera angles are from the top and from the side. These positions also assist Coach in chasing student so that when student recovers, Coach is relative, providing instant feedback and boosting their confidence. Level Six (two tasks) This jump teaches Introductory Docking skills. This jump also provides an emphasis on stability during wing movement (as the student passes the baton from hand to hand during flight). The objective is to make the student feel confident with moving towards another wingsuit pilot and confidence in collapsing the wing. Exit: Student choice of Front Float, Running/Pivot, or Gainer Exit. It is recommended that the student perform the exit in which he/she (or the coach) feels is the weakest or most difficult exit. Key training points for this dive flow: The student should slightly dip the head with each hand transfer of the baton. This helps maintain altitude. The student should use hands, hips, or knees to slide sideways (as presented in Level Four) to slowly bring the baton to the coach. Dive Flow: Coach has baton in hand. Coach exits from Front, Rear, Running, or Gainer slot (Student choice) Student and coach turn to heading. Student takes baton from coach’s hand. Coach does not provide any significant assistance to the student. Student flies over coach to coach’s opposite side. Student transfers baton from one hand to the other. Student flies the baton to the coach and places baton in coach’s hand. Coach does not provide any significant assistance to the student. At 6000 feet, the student looks to coach and shakes head, indicating “no more work.” This informs the coach of the student’s altitude awareness, and that the student is about to lock on at 5500 feet, and the deployment waveoff begins at 5000 feet for a deployment at 4500 feet (if student is comfortable with the lower deployment altitude). Following ground training, show the student the relevant video found on the SEWS training DVD. If the student has baton in their hand at 6000 feet, student should hold baton in LEFT hand for deployment, then place baton in chest strap or wingsuit tail vent for landing. Student should not attempt to hold baton in hand while controlling the parachute. It is also beneficial for a student to do a solo wingsuit skydive with the baton in hand, and practice exchanging the baton from hand to hand. Level Seven (two tasks) This jump teaches docking and sideslides using the hips. This jump uses a running exit. The objective is to teach the student to use small hand/hip/knee movements to make a dock. The Coach should be prepared for bumps and student instability. Key training points for this dive flow: The Student slightly shifts weight to hips or slightly drops a knee to generate a side slide. This helps teach small movements. Student should breathe and exhale prior to making the move and a dock attempt. Dive Flow: Coach exits first, student follows. Student flies to coach. Coach flies a stable base. Student docks on Coach and holds dock for 1-2 seconds. Student/Coach releases. Coach flies 4-5 feet away from student. Student flies to coach. At 6000 feet, the student looks to coach and shakes head, indicating “no more work.” This informs the coach of the student’s altitude awareness, and that the student is about to lock on at 5500 feet, and the deployment waveoff begins at 5000 feet for a deployment at 4500 feet (if student is comfortable with the lower deployment altitude). Level Eight (test tasks) This jump teaches PROXIMITY. Coach challenges student with forward speed, diving, and floating. Objectives include student maintaining proximity even with high movement, breakoff speed, and using speed control/fall rate skills learned previously. Exit: Running Exit after Coach Key training points for this dive flow: -Reiterate the importance of keeping head low for speed/drive. -Reiterate the importance of hips/elevators keeping body on level. Dive Flow: Coach exits with a Running/Pivot exit. Student exits after Coach. Student dives to Coach. After Coach has established the student being relative, Coach challenges student with increased/decreased forward speed, up/down movement, and floating. Student should stay proximate to Coach throughout the entire flight. (if the student appears to be struggling and distance grows greater than major separation, the Coach should attempt to assist the student by slowing/speeding, floating to re-establish relative flight). At 6000 feet, the student looks to coach and shakes head, indicating “no more work.” This informs the coach of the student’s altitude awareness, and that the student is about to lock on at 5500 feet, and the deployment waveoff begins at 5000 feet for a deployment at 4500 feet (if student is comfortable with the lower deployment altitude). Level Nine (one task) This jump will introduce the concepts of performance flight. The student should have a logging device (Altitrack or Neptune) that has previous flight data for purposes of comparison. One of our Flysight devices is also useful for comparison and showing the track in Google Earth. The primary objective is to teach speed, which may translate to either distance or time, depending on how the student works with their body. The exit is a student-choice (although Float or Running are the most efficient). Key training points for this jump: Gearshifting Gear one-Head down Gear two-elbows forward Gear three-hips up/glutes open Gear four-pointed toes Listen to the sound of the wind. Dive Flow: Exit Coach and student fly relative. Student engages Performance Flight for 10 seconds. Student slows. This allows the student to feel the change in speed, with focus on listening to the wind. Coach follows/provides hand signals as necessary. Use Head Down, Arms, Hips Up/Down, Point Toes hand signals. At 6000 feet, the student looks to coach and shakes head, indicating “no more work.” This informs the coach of the student’s altitude awareness, and that the student is about to lock on at 5000 feet, and the deployment waveoff begins at 4500 feet for a deployment at 4000 feet (if student is comfortable with the lower deployment altitude). (See next page for illustrations of correct body/arm position) Level Ten (two tasks) This jump is an introduction to backflying. The purpose of the jump is to introduce Backflying. The actual objective is to familiarize the student with transitions from belly to back and back to belly. Key training points: Legwing should be kept closed. Focus on keeping knees close together. Armwings provide lift, legs provide drive. Describe the first backfly to be similar to sitting in a “lazy-boy lounge chair.” Demonstrate and observe the “dead cow” Reiterate ISR (instability recovery) EXIT: The coach will exit from a front float, backfly position. The student will exit from a rear float, belly fly position. This enables the student to see the backfly exit. The Coach exits first. Dive Flow: Student will drop below Coach after exit (Coach rolls over after exit). The Coach should fly directly above the student, providing a visual point of reference. Student transitions from front to back, and holds back position #1 for 7-10 seconds. Student transitions from back to belly, re-sets heading, and transitions from belly to back again, to position #2. Student transitions from back to belly, re-sets heading, and transitions from belly to back again, to position #3. At 7000 feet, the student transitions from back to belly and stays on belly. At 6000 feet, the student looks to coach and shakes head, indicating “no more work.” This informs the coach of the student’s altitude awareness, and that the student is about to lock on at 5000 feet, and the deployment waveoff begins at 4500 feet for a deployment at 4000 feet (if student is comfortable with the lower deployment altitude). Following ground training, show the relevant video found on the SEWS training DVD. Manifest and jump. Positioning student for backflying. This is “Position 1.” Coach should not be forward of student (as would normally be in a vertical jump). Coach should be slightly behind, so student is not bending neck backward. This example photograph is taken from below the student. This concludes the standardized levels. All of these levels tend towards using smaller suits such as the Phoenix-Fly Phantom series; while big suits are a lot of fun at times, they are typically meant for performance flight and not very suitable to the agile and precise flying style we teach at SEWS. Larger suits can be challenging in flocks; consider suit sizes and related experience when coaching, organizing, or assigning lanes of flight. Wingsuit Water Training Wingsuits in the water are more difficult than standard skydiving water landings. As a result, wingsuit water training is unique and valuable when wingsuiters are planning to jump near bodies of water. Not a good place to be in wingsuit Every wingsuiter receiving water training should have already achieved their mandatory USPA B license water training. Wingsuit landings begin with these same steps when possible. A water landing sequence is as follows: Unzip arms Loosen or undo chest strap Do not remove helmet Put canopy in half-brakes After impact with water, cutaway main. It is likely that the impact will force a face-down position. Roll over onto back immediately. The reserve will act as a flotation device for up to 30 minutes in fresh water, longer in salt water. The tail wing may also be inflated, making a roll-over a bit more difficult (in repeated water training, it’s unlikely the tail will remain inflated once it’s become entirely soaked). While on the back, calmly unzip the body zippers, and unzip the leg zippers. In the event of a unibody zipper, the zippers should be positioned below the knee for efficient escape. Loosen legstraps Work legs from legstraps first, then pull arms from harness/wingsuit, and roll forward Dive to swim away from rig/wingsuit/main Remove helmet when/if appropriate (in moving water, keep the helmet on to protect the head unless the helmet impedes breathing) If landing in moving water, it is important to stay upstream of canopy. In moving water, it is very easy to become entangled in the main and attached lines. Water moving at even moderate speed is very dangerous. It is important to become free of wingsuit, rig, and main as quickly as possible, while attempting to stay upstream of canopy. If landing in calm waters far from shore, stay near the container if the main has been cut away and can be avoided. The reserve parachute may act as a flotation device. However, there is always the risk of becoming entangled with the main and its lines. If skydiver can swim and is near a shoreline, then swimming to the shoreline is preferable to using the rig as a flotation device. The tail will likely want to float, making it difficult to breathe if facing belly-down. Get onto the back as quickly as possible. The reserve will act as a flotation device. Non-USPA Member Training Skydive Elsinore is a destination dropzone. This means we attract many foreign visitors. If a foreign visitor is using their FAI or other foreign membership to obtain jumping privileges, it is very important that Coaches verify the wingsuiting requirements of their country’s wingsuit/parachuting rules and regulations. Persons that join the USPA and meet USPA regulations may be trained according to USPA membership/BSR’s. Examples: United Kingdom/BPA- A member of the BPA must have 200 jumps in the past 18 months, or a total of 500 jumps. They may not be trained at Skydive Elsinore if they cannot prove either of these things. For example, they may not be trained if they have 200 jumps in the past 19 months. (BPA Ops manual Section 2 Para 9.) Australia/APF- Have a minimum of 500 freefall skydives; or a minimum of 200 freefall skydives made within the past 18 months, and receive one-on-one instruction from an experienced and qualified wingsuit trainer (who possesses an authority and/or recognized instructor status from a wingsuit manufacturer). Sweden- Wingsuit skydives requirements are at least 500 logged jumps. (birdman, skyflyer etc). AAD must be worn and it must be activated. Wingsuits designed with no restriction of movements of arms and legs requires 300 logged jumps(Phoenix-fly Prodigy etc). In other words, to jump a Phantom 3 or similar (wingsuit with arm restrictions of any kind) the Swedish student must have a minimum of 500 logged/demonstrable jumps. However, a Swedish student may jump a Prodigy, Intro w/no clips, or other non-restrictive wingsuit with 300 logged/demonstrable jumps. Operations manual/Wingsuit 402:07 France- Minimum of 150 jumps and may only fly a student suit (S-Fly Access, PF Prodigy). Note: We will not teach persons from France with only 150 jumps, as the USPA BSR is the standard to which we must adhere. SKYDIVE ELSINORE COACHES MUST VERIFY CURRENT USPA MEMBERSHIP OR ADHERE TO LICENSING COUNTRY’S WINGSUIT REGULATIONS PRIOR TO PROVIDING A LEVEL ONE/FFC COURSE TO ANY FOREIGN SKYDIVER. Logbook checks are required; No logbook, no training. Wingsuit Fun Formations This is a random collection of wingsuit activities for one or more persons. Flat flocks shaped as diamonds, wedges, chevrons, inverted V’s (forward chevrons), or letters of the alphabet. Vertical flocks shaped as diamonds, wedges. Haystacks-(three or more) A vertical stack is built. The bottom person moves to side and climbs the “ladder.” The next to the bottom person stays as “base” for a few seconds, and then too, moves to the side and climbs the “ladder.” This is an evolution where each person is on top and on the bottom of the formation. Be cautious about getting this formation larger than 5-6 people, as lesser experienced people on top may take out the group. A variation on the haystack is that the bottom/base person flips to their back as the bottom person moves to the side and climbs to the top of the vertical stack. The person above the ‘base’ may also direct the line of flight. Organizing tip: Left side of formation exits first, right side exits last. In groups larger than 5-6, it’s a good idea to have the base exit in the middle of the group vs in the first part of the group. It’s often a good idea to put base as front float, left side as rear float, and right side as center float. Dirt-dive the formation, then have the right rear side of the formation load into the mockup, loading from right rear to left front. This will help clearly define the exit order. ALWAYS dirt-dive group dives to be sure no one is crossing in front of someone else; this helps avoid collisions. Baton-passing (one or more persons) Be sure to brief deployment with baton in left hand, stow baton in arm or tail vent after deployment. Over-unders (Two or more) Start by flying side-by-side, one person flies over the other. To add variety, alternate between flying over, and then flying under each other. French Braid (three or more) fly all wingsuiters in a straight line next to each other. Right side floats up/over to the left, taking the left end slot. The former left slot (now middle) flies to the right slot. The former right slot (now middle) flies to left slot. The new right slot then flies to left (either over or under the group). This can be done with as many as five wingsuiters without too much difficulty. Orbits (two or more) start flying relative. One person pulls ahead of the other and flies forward, to the side, and then behind the other, returning to original position. Carving Rolls/Rotors (two) One flyer is on back, other on belly straight over. Each wingsuiter reaches towards the other, and carves into a reverse role where the backflyer becomes the bellyflyer and vice-versa. Team barrel rolls (two or more) Get out of the plane, get relative, and on a head-nod or other cue, everyone does a barrel roll in the same direction. The goal is to see if the heading and horizontal proximity can be kept on-heading and equal. Team front rolls/fruity loops (two or more) Get out, get relative. Do front rolls one at a time (they can be done together, but you’ll both want to be very able to do these well, otherwise a collision is almost assured) Learn a backfly exit Learn a Gravitron. Add a twist. Do some forward Orbits Use the 2-way guides for WRW.
  2. Courtesy Apex BASE: Pascal Constantineau flying his FLiK at Skydive Perris during his BASE canopy course with Dimitrije Dadic. (Of note: Square1 offers discounted rental rigs to people taking Dimitrije’s BASE canopy courses.) If you’re like most people, your idea of dropzone training for the stresses of the BASE environment involves trying to look nonchalant when you climb into a hot-air balloon basket. If you have no access to such a thing (and/or if you’re significantly smarter than the average bear) you’re probably looking for more. You know you need a way to get as many jumps under your belt as possible with your BASE parachute proudly overhead--preferably, with a reserve on standby. But how? “Skydiving your BASE canopy is by far the best way to learn canopy skills for BASE jumping before making a BASE jump,” says Steve Doherty, who served as Director of Operations of Apex BASE for five years. “In a perfect world, everyone would be able to jump their BASE canopy skydiving--a lot--before they ever took it out on a BASE jump.” Ideally, if you’re serious about this, you’re not just swapping gear willy-nilly on every dropzone day. You have a dedicated skydiving system, configured for the purpose. Here’s how to build it. The Canopy “It's only with the introduction of ultralight canopies that jumping BASE canopies at the dropzone has become a possible and useful activity,” he continues. “Anything you can use in the BASE environment, you can use in the skydiving environment--of course, in the skydiving environment, you have to manage your opening speed.” “If you take your whole BASE setup: mesh slider, BASE bridle and BASE pilot chute, you're going to have a very brisk skydiving opening,” he adds. “In our collective experience at Apex, we found that you can make two or three slider-up skydives on this kind of setup in a day and it's okay. If you were going to make five to ten, you need to start making modifications.” As any seasoned BASE jumper will tell you, nothing flies quite like an actual BASE canopy--so the goal is to get as close to it as possible. Athletes who want to train BASE canopy skills should choose an ultralight canopy and seek a skydiving container that fits it. That said: Athletes who want to get into flying a wingsuit with the intention of BASE jumping but don’t want to jump a BASE-sized canopy for all their wingsuit skydiving training now have some options.“On today’s market, you can find seven-cell, BASE-type canopies created for the skydiving environment. The benefit is that--while these canopies do have some of the distinctive BASE properties--you can jump all day and not feel it when you wake up the next morning. The Risers Forward-facing risers are more appropriate in the skydiving environment for a simple reason: the possibility of a horseshoe malfunction. During a horseshoe malfunction, forward-facing risers are the only type that you can reliably cut away. “During a horseshoe malfunction with rear-facing risers,” Doherty notes, “Your body will be in the way of the twisting movement that the three-rings need to do in order to release. So, when you’re jumping a two-parachute system, we always recommend jumping forward-facing risers.” The Container As you’ve certainly noticed by now: Apart from student gear, most of the containers available for sport use won't fit BASE canopies. According to Apex, the best way around that is to jump an ultra-light parachute. (Take, for instance, the Lobo: a 250 can pack up to the size of a skydiving 180.) “More and more drop zones are coming around to the idea of BASE jumping,” Doherty continues, “That is to say: Not assuming that it’s attracting bad publicity to the sport of skydiving. Nowadays, they're more willing to let their student gear be used. Here in Southern California, we suggest going to Square One. They have a huge selection of demo equipment, so it’s relatively easy to get the largest demo container they have and pack into it the largest BASE canopy that fits.” Most drop zones have a container that's sized for a 180/200. The Apex team have, however, not been able to find a non-tandem or -military container able to fit anything bigger than a 300+ made from F-111 fabric. (UltraLite PN-9 is a different story, and large canopies are more easily accommodated.) The D-Bag Talk to your local CReW dogs: You don't have to use a deployment bag when you skydive. “You can free-pack your BASE canopy into a properly-sized skydiving container, just like you do in your BASE container,” he says, “except the rectangle is a lot smaller, so you’ll have to stack it up.” If that sounds a little unnerving, ask for help. Doherty notes that a lot of the older generations of CReW skydivers are quite familiar with that deployment method, so ask them for advice. If you do use a D-bag, he insists that you’re using it correctly. Take note of what BASE canopy you're using. Not all BASE manufacturers use a metal ring at the top of the parachute. Some do use a metal ring, just like you'd find on a skydiving canopy. The Blackjack and Ace canopies built by Asylum also use a metal ring. Atair doesn't. And Apex doesn’t, either. To get this right, use a metal connect link to prevent the canopy from getting sucked up into the grommet of the bag. (Very importantly, the link needs to be inside the bag.) The Pilot Chute You are going to want to use a slightly larger pilot chute for a BASE canopy than you would if you were jumping a skydiving canopy, because the BASE canopy itself is much larger. “You don't need to use the same-sized pilot chute that you use in the BASE environment,” Doherty notes, “We recommend a 32" non-collapsible pilot chute for skydiving. It's much larger than a sky pilot chute, which is typically 28 inches.” The Bridle“We typically use a longer bridle in BASE jumping,” Doherty says. “You don't need to take the BASE bridle over to make the BASE canopy work. You'd want to use the bridle that was appropriate for whatever discipline you were doing in skydiving. We recommend using a normal skydiving bridle for normal skydiving freefalls. If you’re wingsuiting, we recommend using whatever bridle length you'd normally use for wingsuiting in the BASE environment.” The Slider You can use a mesh slider, but it’s not ideal. “In BASE, we’re so close to the ground that we tolerate--even welcome--brisk openings,” Doherty says. “But if you make five jumps on a mesh slider at terminal, you’re going to feel it. You won’t regret using a sail slider in the skydiving environment. That said: If you’re making hop-and-pops, a mesh slider is not a problem.” The Jumps Once you’re all geared up, there’s only one place to go: Up. And when you get there, you’ll have a few more things to think about. “When you're jumping a BASE canopy on the dropzone, you have to think about where you're going to be in the pattern,” Doherty advises. “You're jumping a parachute that's much larger than the other parachutes around you and you're going to descend a lot slower. Especially at large dropzones where they’re flying multiple aircraft and doing multiple load drops over the same area, this can get problematic. Stay out of the way.” The Mentality If you have access to a candy-colored, fire-powered dead-air machine, then by all means use it--but don’t rely on them as the sole training platform for your BASE-jumping skills. Commit to fine-tuning your BASE canopy skills (and that impossible-to-exaggerate-the-importance-of accuracy) before and between jumps from objects. Your bones, your friends and your family will thank you. And--as always--talk to your mentor and/or gear manufacturer to clarify any points that leave you unclear.
  3. Part Six: Wrapping Things Up Before you have invested the considerable time and effort to persuade your brain how to understand freefly properly it can all feel rather difficult. Witnessing highly accomplished flying in both the sky and the tunnel appears akin to magic, and the road to being able to do all that stuff yourself can seem very long indeed. However - the key to mastering the necessary skills is about breaking down complicated positions and challenging movements into manageable, digestible elements. As you learn you will start to recognise moves that you can do as being pieces of the overall puzzle - building blocks that you can assemble in a variety of ways to achieve different results. Without proper guidance it can be difficult to take on board the amount of themes and concepts you are required to grasp, so hopefully this series of articles has offered up some insight into the methodology behind the ways we train. To get the most from your sessions with a coach it is important to not only understand what to do and how do it, but furthermore why you are doing it. Now that we have looked at the individual body positions, here are some general tips to help with progression: Slow Is Fast - The importance of being able to control your speed cannot be overstated. Mastery of a move is not the ability to do it fast but the ability to do the opposite - the slower you can do something the more your body is registering exactly what is happening with the surfaces you are using for control and the easier it is to inter the correct technique in your muscle memory. Low speed training is a very useful way to develop good technique as you must apply more of your body to the wind in order to make the positions work. Once you have practiced something enough the good technique should transfer though to higher speeds in the tube and on your skydives. Zoom! Range - This begins with being able to do things as slowly as possible. Zooming flat out is no good if you cannot get there and back safely, and merely being able to go fast does not count as having mastered something. Being able to apply and remove speed with precision means you truly understand how the mechanics of how something really works. Less Is More - The most efficient way to fly you body is to use all of it a little bit, rather than one part of it a lot. At the start of training a particular move or position the inputs might be exaggerated to emphasise the effect they have, but as you improve and work through the drills the goal is to use your body as effectively as possible. Pay attention to the very best flyers to see how conservative they are with the energy they expend in the tunnel. Aim to be as economical with your movements as you can. Personal Goals - The only person you are trying to be better than is you. Learning to freefly properly takes a lot of time and effort and money. Everybody went through the same steps and recognises the same frustrations - some things you will get relatively quickly, whereas other will take more time. It can be inspiring to watch people that have been flying for years but also very frustrating. Try not to focus your too much on the huge goals - it is important to remember that every small step forwards is of equal value as they are what adds up the the whole. Fill the Gaps - Being a truly good flyer is about breadth and depth. Try to resist letting your skillset lead you off by the nose in a single direction - instead use the training time and resources you have available to build your skills evenly. You may well be able to zoom like a motherfucker in a single position and a single direction, but once it gets like that it is all you are ever going to want to do at the expense of everything else. If this is already you then don’t think that revisiting weak areas is ‘going backwards’ - filling in any gaps in your abilities to bring them level is very much moving forwards. All the pieces matter. “Keep it loose. But keep it tight.” - James Brown
  4. admin

    Wingsuit Progression

    kydiving today is rife with would-be wingsuit pilots. Ask any number of new jumpers what discipline they want to pursue, and more than likely you’ll have a majority vote for wingsuiting. This is thanks in no small part to the viral popularity of wingsuit BASE videos in recent years. Let’s be honest, even your mom is sick of watching people fly ‘The Cheese Grater’ line at Aiguille du Midi. And while that trend seems to be tapering off somewhat (perhaps as the number of true terrain flyers left in the sport is itself dwindling), there are no shortage of noobs eagerly awaiting their first prom dress. But, for those who have already cranked out the requisite jump numbers, done their FFC, and are now exploring the freedoms of human flight, what path marks the best progression into the world of wingsuit wizardry? DISCLAIMER: I’m going to set aside any brand loyalties and personal biases towards/against manufacturers. There will be no suit-specific insights or recommendations. The point of what follows is to provide some simple and easy to follow suggestions through a safe and effective wingsuit progression – from your first party dress, to flying more demanding, high-performance suits. While there is no doubt that putting in serious work on a small suit is better than jumping quickly into a bigger suit, there is some divergence as to how long your mentor(s) and/or more senior jumpers/coaches may suggest that you remain in your entry-level suit before upsizing. [There is even some discrepancy as to what is deemed an appropriate entry-level suit…but I think for the most part your FFC coach should be able to walk you through that one…]. For my part, I can say that while having put 150 jumps on the small suit I started with was certainly enough for me to be safely flying a bigger suit, there’s also no doubt in my mind – looking back now with the benefit of hindsight – that I would’ve continued to benefit tremendously from growing my skillset and utterly mastering the smaller suit before moving onwards and upwards. To clarify, wingsuits can be considered as belonging to one of three very basic overarching “platforms”: small suits, medium suits and big suits. [This is by no means a comprehensive dissection of suit design, merely a simple and inelegant framework to help guide the discussion]. Small suits have wing-roots near the hips, and a tail that does not extend to your feet. Medium suits have wing-roots near the knee and a tail that goes straight across your feet. Large suits have wing-roots near your feet and a tail that extends past your feet. The obvious analogy, here, is parachute size. It’s easy to get caught up drooling over the tiny table-clothed sized wings that you see people flying online or at your home dz. [Insert any number of panty-dropping related clichés here…]. And in your hurry to get down to a smaller, “cooler” wing, you may rush through some key skills that you should already have deeply ingrained in your muscle memory and sight picture, on a larger and more docile/forgiving canopy, before continuing to progress to smaller and more aggressive parachutes. The only difference is that, with wingsuits, the reverse is true. I mean, who wants to spend 150-200 jumps wearing some tiny little baby dress? Ain’t nobody got time for that!! Am I right?! Well...no. The problem with this logic is two-fold: 1) The more time you spend in a smaller suit, nailing down an array of skills and mastering the suit, the better you’ll fly in a bigger suit. This means that, in the grand scheme of things, you may well become the badass flyer you want to be even faster if you master a solid foundational skillset in a beginner wingsuit before moving on to bigger suits. 2) The more surface area you add (as you increase suit/wing size), the more challenging and demanding the suit is to fly. As you increase size, you dramatically increase the power of the suit, and also the inherent danger of flat-spins, hard pulls, no pull-finds, losses of control, etc. While more powerful in the right hands, larger suits can also be less forgiving of pilot error. This is especially dangerous for pilots who skip a step in their progression – upsizing by more than one platform at a time. Recent events have tragically proven that no one is invincible to the effects of poorly chosen gear. If there are any positives to take away from the great losses our sport(s) recently suffered, they are the lessons we must learn from those who paid the highest price. Choose the right tool for the job! It doesn’t matter if you’re in the mountains or at the dz. Exercise good judgement and your chances of playing safely are far greater. It seems simple enough. But this requires an honest self-evaluation of your skill set, and an assessment of what job (type of flying) you want the tool (the suit) to perform…and in what specific conditions/environment. Always consider these factors together and choose accordingly. But let’s be real, my advice carries little weight relative to the allure of the sky and BASE gods you might still be watching on repeat on your YouTube or Facebook feeds. And it’s more than likely that my words are also outweighed by your own ego and pride (I know this of myself firsthand…). So I asked someone with just a little more experience to share his thoughts – someone who’s become synonymous with wingsuit progression – both in the sky and in the burgeoning scene of the wingsuit tunnel…and also in what some view as the pinnacle of wingsuit progression and human flight: the wingsuit jet-pack. In all domains, Jarno Cordia is an authority on wingsuit flying. And with the obvious benefit of his 4100+ wingsuit jumps, and countless hours of R&D; spent analyzing flight, and designing and testing suits, Jarno had the following to say about finding your own wingsuit progression: I think too many people look at 'good numbers' as a sign of being in control of a suit. The fact that you fly a certain distance or time just means you have a good feel for the performance, but, safety wise, the actual control is where the real importance lies. Learning to not just fly your suit straight, but in steep dives, turns in various ways, flat, steep, mellow, sharp, backflying, and barrel rolls. Though these may not all seem like skills needed to fly (especially) bigger suits, when your only aim is performance competitions or base, on bad exits, or tumbles, it’s those skills and spatial awareness that will make a big difference. It’s also important is to realize 'doing two dozen jumps without incident' is not the same as 'mastering a suit' and quite often people mistake their uneventful jumps as a sign for being ready to move up to bigger suits. Make sure you are in complete control before upsizing, and not just 'getting by' by doing some straight line flying and a few flares. In terms of learning, the small suits provide much more feedback and direct results in terms of what you're doing. Though, these days, bigger suits seem to be the focus. And in marketing various companies try to sell big suits as 'the new small'. Note that in the end, you're the one flying it, and not the 10.000 jump wonders in slick marketing videos. Nobody ever became a worse a pilot from flying a small suit, and the majority of my personal jumps I still enjoy doing in actual small suits. Acrobatics and performance…the actual inputs and feeling don't change. When flying with the right technique, any suit or size can be flown the same. Just certain techniques needing to be done with bigger or smaller moves, but any time spent on a small suit is never wasted. Both in BASE jumping or skydiving, the skills learnt on a small suit in terms of turns, and emergency response will be of vital importance. Big suit or small suit, the inputs are the same, but the response on a big suit are much faster and more aggressive, and sometimes violent. In all other serious disciplines, issues with flying, tend to be fixed with a strong focus on skill. A common problem in wingsuit flying is that coaches, though not all bad in intent, can sometimes put too much influence on students to look for gear solutions instead of focusing strictly on technique. This makes our discipline one that's sometimes too much resorting to blowing cash on nylon, instead of on skills. Gear for sure can be a factor in your flying, as not every suit, model or brand has the same degree of precise control. But make those decisions by trying various suits in the same category, as any suit upsize will on the first few jumps feel like you've just been handed a jetfighter with afterburners. But in the end, it’s the fine control that matters most, and across the board, most manufacturers have similar size models in terms of capability. It’s the steering and control that matter most, be it belly, backfly, acro, flocking or performance. There, demoing suits of various manufacturers in the size you're familiar with will tell you a lot more about the control, and allow you to make informed decisions, instead of basing it on the brand your (sponsored) coach may be trying to push onto you. There’s no doubt that placing your focus strictly on skill attainment – instead of relying on jump numbers, positive flysight data, or lack of problems flying a suit – is the most effective way to gauge a safe progression. I must admit that I personally regret not having kept my smaller suit, which I now wish I had for flying with newer pilots, and for generally tossing around all over the sky in ways that I’m not yet able to do as confidently on my big suit. But, as Jarno pointed out, money inevitably comes into play. And we can’t all keep throwing it towards gear hoping to become better pilots. So, in order to max out your value and your safety, please consider asking yourself the types of questions raised above relating to skill acquisition, suit mastery, and finding the right tool for the job as you progress. The link below also provides a great progression chart (free to download) with an indication of levels/skill that is often used at wingsuit boogies around the world: http://flylikebrick.com/skills-database/ Fly safe folks!
  5. The winter is coming and you’re thinking about where you're going to jump to clear your winter doldrums. When you get to where you want to jump, everybody needs to freshen up their skills, maybe learn some new ones. One of the most popular skills to learn is Headdown. As a coach I have seen a lot of ways to learn the position. Some people, if you manually stick them in the position and hold them there, will learn it in a few jumps. Other fliers don't have it so easy. Well this article is for you! We will learn what to concentrate on in the Headdown position, but more importantly how to work around the problem with other skills, which I think contribute and can sculpt the Headdown position. These skills being back flying, flat back tracking and flat belly tracking. Headdown Headdown is probably the most technical of the freefly positions. It requires balance, skill, strength, and a refined technique. I teach the straddle position first, because it is easier to balance and conceptualize early on. You should have your head, shoulders, hips, and ankles completely in line. Your head should be pointing straight towards the Earth with your field of view consisting of the horizon with a half sky/half ground ratio. People who fly on their bellies a lot usually have a huge arch in their torso, which causes them to go to a back track, or belly track (we will get to how that is important later). Others usually have a kink in their hip so their shoulders and head are in one plane and their hips and ankles in another plane. This causes a steep track on their belly. Most of the concentration, once you have acquired the skill of keeping your body all in one plane, should be concentrated on the hips, legs and feet. First, You should have tension in your butt so you are straight, this can fix the hinged at the hip problem addressed above. Second, you should squeeze your quads taught so they push outwards, but remain in the same plane as everything else and keep the full extent of your leg straight. Third, you should have your toes flexed up towards your head. Picture yourself hanging from a bar upside down by your feet. You should feel air on your toes when you get it right. Pressure should be felt on your toes much like someone standing on your feet. Once you have the straddle position, the progression calls for 360 turns both ways, forward and backward motion, and then docks. We won't get into the technique of daffy Headdown, but it is extremely useful to slow down, fly in the tunnel with the lower speeds, and for heavier people to fly with others. Back Fly People often ask why they need to learn to fly on their back. The answer is simple. Headdown is a balance between flying on your back and on your belly. When the Headdown position is correct, no wind should be felt on your back or belly. This position requires the awareness of air being on your back or belly, so you can achieve no air on the torso. Since most people can fly on there belly relatively well, then it is imperative for you to learn how to fly on your back to acquire the Headdown position. The back fly position can be attained in the tunnel first, because it is much safer. Start on the grate. Relax your torso so it is convex. Put your hands above your head, and relax them. Do not push down towards the grate unless you want to slow down, or go up! Let your head relax and sit in line with your torso, while looking straight above. Keep your hips 90 degrees just like sitting in a chair. Keep your legs wide for stability. Back fly also has many everyday uses. Flying with tandems on your back is not only fun, but honestly the best video angle. When you are flying with an inexperienced sit flier and they cork you can match their speed on your back, until they can get vertical again. Lastly, you can use back fly to fly with relative workers, or once again get an interesting camera angle from below. Two words of caution! First, tighten up your rig when you fly on your back because the rig tends to shift from the wind below and can turn you. Second, I do not recommend flying on your back with other people unless you can competently fly in the wind tunnel on your back with a coach, as not to cause a huge difference in speed and thus a high speed collision. Tracking When first learning the Headdown position people either track towards the coach or away. I think it is very useful to learn to flat track on your belly and back. If you learn to fly both positions well with a coach, then control of the Headdown position is easier. Belly flat tracking is a little different than the steep track taught in the majority of AFF programs. A flat track has the ankles, hips and shoulders all in one plane. The progression suggests to learn to turn left and right, adjust your fall rate with your torso, and finally increase your speed with your legs. Turn left and right with your arms first as to make the adjustment slow. Then start to adjust the trim of your body for more powerful turns. Adjust your fall rate in tracking by arching to go down, and cupping with your torso to go up. Lastly, squeeze your quads tight for speed. Back tracking is fun and challenging. It can be used in Headdown, to track up to formations and to close huge distances. Make sure to slow down well before you reach your target. The first problem most people have when they back track is they have a kink at the hip. This creates more of a back fly rather than a track. Squeeze your butt, or push your hips forward to get flat. To gain more speed, put your legs together and press your ankles down slightly. With all these positions and abilities under your belt, Headdown will be easier to learn. The awareness and skills you learn from these alternate positions can in the end help you conquer Headdown. Remember, try to freshen up with a coach and in the tunnel before you start flying with other people. Headdown, along with these other positions is never easy, but persistence mixed with awareness and the right guidance always pays off. Swoop high, don't lag on jump run, and pack your instructor's parachute. Later! The New School Fligh University Web Site Steven Blincoe is the founder of The New School Flight University in Lake Wales, Florida. He has 4,000 jumps total and 300 hours of Skyventure Orlando wind tunnel time. If you would like to contact him you can at blincoe.org, or 530-412-2078.
  6. Part Five: Head Down Learning to fly upside down can be tough. Once a student reaches the point at which the coaches and instructors in charge of their progression and safety invite them to start, he or she should be suitably skilled in the other main orientations of flight in order to manage the variables involved in practicing head down with confidence. However, all too often this is not the case - and although things are improving as training methodology evolves and becomes more widely understood - too few students invest as much time as they should in the right foundational skills in their big rush to get to head down. The main thrust of these articles is to highlight some of the many ways that various elements of freefly training feed into and stack upon each other to create a deeper understanding of how flying actually works. The process of learning head down is a great example of exactly how many things someone could and should be able to do before they begin with those expensive headstands on the net - in order to make the whole endeavour much smoother, easier, cheaper, and vitally - more fun. Safety First! On the most basic level, good backflying and sitflying skills will keep you safe while learning head down. The ability to properly control yourself in these positions on high windspeeds is the minimum by which you should be allowed to get started. Even for those us totally devoid of maths, the ability to reset yourself onto the net in just a handful of seconds after needing to bail instead of fifteen or twenty (or more) spent bouncing around the top of the tube is clear to see. Investing in your backfly and sitfly early on will save you a great deal of time and money down the road. In addition, every bit of progress you make in the other areas of your training feeds directly back into your ability to fly head down. Doing this other stuff is more fun and easier on your body than spending hour after hour on the net. How Does Head Up Help? Aside from simply being able to safely get in the tube on wind speeds high enough for head down flying, many of the ways you sitfly about the place can be practiced and then switched the other way up as a means of making you brain understand what is going on. The most efficient way to figure out a line or a sequence of moves when you are first learning on your head can be to get it right with some sitfly first where it is easier to maintain awareness and fly with a position in which you are stronger - then flip it over. The way movements are flown from the one orientation to its opposite can be very similar - the space, the lines and the subtleties are very often one and the same. How Does Carving Help? Carving your way up from low wind speeds on both your belly and back help your head down flying from the very start by helping your brain to recognise the single most important rule to maintaining positional awareness: When you go from head up to head down - left is right and right is left. Once you have got the hang of static head down, moving around is next. Understanding how carving works and practicing it on low speeds is the way to both good technique and a much quicker mastery of it on high speeds. The best way to frame the process is to think of carving in the tunnel as learning the ability to fly at any angle and velocity as opposed to separating high speed and low speed into two categories. Once you get steep enough, the skill set you need to apply to carving becomes closer to that of head down flying - but the most important thing to understand is the fluidity. The golden moment is when your carving drills and your head down meet in the middle. How Do Layouts Help? Proper layouts are tough to get right. Frequently people have to do a great many, working through the smallest refinements in technique before nailing them. Training layouts teaches you body many things, but within the context of this article the most prescient value they have for helping with your head down skills is to get your body up over your head and travelling through the axis you need the most control of when flying (or transitioning through) a head down position. Head down is scary at the start - the wind is fast and is hitting your control surfaces from the wrong sides - having some layouts under your belt will help with being relaxed at the idea of your feet being high up and your body low down. The thing to remember is that all the pieces matter. While it is entirely possible to learn how to fly head down buy achieving the minimum possible requirements to be allowed to try, and then spend a great deal of time and money hammering away at it the way people used to do all the time - there is now a way that is more fun, less tiring, and that will ultimately give you a stronger skill set, better understanding and more useable tools for skydiving.
  7. Part Four: Belly Flying It is probably important clarify exactly what we are talking about when referring to belly positions. Not to be confused with ‘Relative Work’ or ’Formation Skydiving’ or whatever saucy nomenclature is used in your part of the world for gathering up your bootie friends and doing as many doughnuts and thingys as you can - within the sphere of freefly training ‘belly’ means the various forms in which the side of your body with your belly on it is presented towards the wind. An important part of evolving into a wise and learned freefly type is the difference between merely teasing belly flyers for being lame and actually meaning it. Serious flat flying is very technical and contained within it are many of the concepts it is crucial to understand to fly competently in other orientations - such as developing spacial awareness, using multiple surfaces of your body at the same time to control both place and position, and the processes of planning and executing bigger, more complex skydives. The better you are at one element of flying the easier the others are to learn. Freefly is about mastering movement across all three axis, any way up and at any angle, and learning to fly with the wind hitting the front parts of your body is not only as important as any and all of the other parts - it is available right from the start. There are a couple of very good reasons why good belly basics are not something to dismiss or overlook. Firstly, the circumstances you are training under (indoors or from aircraft) require you to achieve some kind of basic proficiency anyway - so why not use the opportunity to cram as much of it into your brain as possible? Secondly - down the road when you are ready to attempt some of the more advanced tricks and transitions, understanding more advanced methods of how to fly on your belly will help a great deal. How Does Belly Carving Work? The general rules about learning to carve in (or from) a belly position are the same as doing so on your back. The mechanics of carving do not change wether you are head up or head down, facing inwards or outwards, and if flying on high speeds or low speeds: The combination of a drive and a turn creates a carve. When carving, the input with your body required to generate the turn part of the equation is small. Controlling everything else is the same - the surfaces you apply to the wind to alter your speed both horizontally and vertically remain constant, so when you are learning to carve in the tunnel you are training the same movements and positions that you use for tracking and angle jumps. You start flat and work up through to higher speeds and steeper angles - which is directly reflected by the skydives you perform as you build your confidence with tracking jumps. Orientation and Awareness It cannot be overstated how important spacial awareness is. As you work through the various stages in a training programme there are drills in which you are re-programming your muscle memory to do the exact opposite of what it has normally done every time in your life up to this point. Up is down, left is right, forwards is backwards. It takes time and is frequently frustrating, so anywhere you can find the opportunity to gain a head start is valuable. The same drill we discussed in the last chapter - where you can fly in a flat orientation (on your back) and switch (as far as your brain is concerned) between a head up and a head down position simply by moving your head is also applicable when on your belly. The opposite version of the same procedure has a comparable outcome and similar advantages: Helping you to fly an outface carve in the tube without losing control or getting dizzy. Setting you up for learning to fly head down positions and then perform transitions between head up and head down without being bamboozled by it. Progressing your angle skydives into steeper and steeper positions while maintaining safety and awareness. As we touched upon in the previous chapters, as you push through the training stages the symbiosis not only between each orientation of flight but that of the indoor and outdoor environments becomes more and more apparent. Knowing some details of how things all work together with each other hopefully de-mystifies the process somewhat and puts you on the good foot from the start. Getting to where your ambitions lie is a long road and the key to a more rewarding and fulfilling time with it is to recognise each step of the way as being of equal value. Every small push forwards is an important victory and an essential part of the bigger picture.
  8. Part Three: Back Flying Backflying, in the manner that you learn as the entry point into freefly training in the tunnel, is not something much done up in the sky. Back tracking yes, and transitioning through your back from one place or position to another also yes, but static backfly not so much. Nonetheless, it is a crucial skill for many reasons - not only as a safety position that you can control at any speed, but also to build your awareness and ability with more advanced techniques. These days, people understand much better the importance of being able to backfly with confidence. From the perspective of coaches and instructors the resistance to students spending time learning this skill is more manageable than it was not such a long time ago. If you are feeling morbid and have substantial gap in you day, go dig up an old tunnel monkey and set them off about teaching backfly - then watch as their eyes bulge and the veins on their neck stick out. Investing in you backfly skills now will save you a lot of time and money later. The ways in which this orientation sets you up for strong progression are important and various. Not only is it your rescue position when practicing high speed drills in the tunnel, it is the jumping off point for understanding carving, how to build your back tracking and angle flying skills, and develop your awareness when switching between head up and head down. How Does Back Carving Work? Carving all works in the same way regardless of which way, which way up, or on which side you are approaching it: The combination of a drive and a turn creates a carve. If you just drive in a straight line with no turn then you fly straight into the wall. If you just turn and don’t drive at all then you spin on the spot. The balance between these two inputs dictates the size of the carve. Ok, so now jump back to just driving and not turning - when learning to carve hitting the wall is not your goal, but what if there is no wall to hit? The surfaces you use to control your speed and pitch are the same wether you are going around in a circle or in a straight line, so the muscle memory and technique you develop while learning to carve in the tunnel is immediately applicable to your angle jumps. Hooray! Orientation and Awareness So much of learning how to fly is teaching your brain and your body to do the opposite of what it is naturally programmed to do. Slow is fast, left is right, up is down. When practicing moves that are initially complicated and difficult, it can be very challenging to consider any other factors than simply getting to body position right. As your skills grow so does your ability to process more information - such as where you are, where anyone else is, where you have just come from and where you are going. Awareness drills that you can practice early on help greatly toward overwriting your brain with the correct information about which inputs move you in which direction. For example, transitioning from head up to head down while facing the same way switches the direction of you whole body - shoulders, head, eyes, brain - everything that was on your left side is now on your right side and vice versa. Without training your body to understand how this effects movement and swap things around accordingly, you will find yourself going the wrong way because it feels correct to go the wrong way. Building your understanding of how, why and when to switch direction is a vital part of moving around safely and with purpose while freeflying. So start now. When you are flying on your back looking down across your chest towards your feet you are in a head up position. When you are flying on your back with your chin up as far as it will go, your eyes pointing backwards and the top of you head down towards the net you are in a head down position. It does not matter that your body remains horizontal - for all intents and purposes you brain is learning the differences between the two. When you move on to higher wind speeds and and positions that are tougher on both your body and attention, having been aware of how this works from the start and including it in your training will help a lot with how fast you move on. So, right from the start there are things you can do in the tunnel that will improve your skydiving. Learning to freefly properly is something that requires attention to detail and practicing backfly skills on low wind speeds in no way diminishes the rate at which you learn.
  9. Of all the basic orientations and body positions available, good old sitfly is the one that changes the most between indoor and outdoor flying. If you have done any head up training in a tunnel, your coach will very likely have been hitting you over the head from the very beginning about how you need to use your back more and your arms less. Learning to freefly is about understanding how each and every surface of your body can be presented to the wind in different ways that work together to create lift and drive. Your back is the biggest single surface that you have - and as such knowing how to use it properly and from early on not only makes flying head up easier on every other surface you use, it feeds into many, many other skills. Head Up Is Cool Just a mere handful of years ago it was much more common that sitfly abilities were seen as another frustrating speed bump on the way to ‘getting head down’ - and as with belly and backfly only the minimum possible understanding and skill development was needed (or tolerated) before you do the ‘proper flying’ that was cool and not lame. In no small part thanks to the macroscopic nature of modern tunnel training people now seem to mostly accept and understand that the path to improving as a flyer is one that embraces good foundational skills that cover all the orientations properly. The ways that programming your body via repetition to understand movement and build both confidence and awareness have such a strong symbiotic relationship that the better you are at one thing, the easier it is to learn another. Even a well fitting harness might develop space that can hinder your movement Being diligent and thorough with something that is comparatively easy will make the harder thing easier and you will get it much quicker. Also, some imaginative people did awesome, progressive things with their feet pointing at the ground and as a result we have learned that doing head up flying is as challenging, rewarding and fun as anything else. With bigway records and complex feetsdown angle flying becoming more and more regular - head up has never been more exciting. What About My Parachute? Herein lies the difference. Your container assembly is made from a really grippy material and from the ass-end is not so aerodynamic. Also, as often as not, when flying head up your body position will generate a little (or a big) space between your back and your rig, exposing more surfaces to the wind that you need to consider. The sum total of these factors is that your rig hampers your ability to use your back to get about the place, and the balance of how you move shifts over to the other surfaces you have available - your arms and legs. When learning to sitfly a good coach will explain and demonstrate exactly how all the surfaces of your body work together and how to safely manage the difference between indoor and outdoor movement. Once you have learned how to do it, using your back for movement in the tunnel is easy peasy. When you put on a parachute and try the same thing while skydiving you will feel like your rig is trying to anchor you on the spot and you must adapt how you fly accordingly. Technical Difficulties While the following is true of other positions, a good early example of how developing good technique between the tunnel and sky is with sit. The tunnel is an enclosed space in which you need to generate the correct amount of lift with your body to fly and remain in the right place - whereas In the sky there is no net to worry about so strength and diligence with your body position becomes less important to maintain a position. There is stability in speed and it is easier on your body to fly fast. Understanding how to use your limbs important So, in the sky things feel a little looser and jumps tend to fly a little faster. This is great when applying things you have learned in the tube, as once you remember to be subtle you will have it nailed to the wall - but it is important to be aware that the same adaptation in reverse means it is easy to develop sloppiness and wind up battling with inefficient and tiring technique when you go back inside. The way to avoid this is always consider your body position as part of your pre and post jump process. When running through the plan in your brain, picture yourself flying in a proud, efficient position and break down the movements you are aiming for into each surface you will bring to bear on the wind. Afterwards, include analysis of not only what you did, but of how you did it as part of your personal de-brief. if there is video of the jump go through it frame by frame and deconstruct exactly what is happening with your body and how the changes you make effect your movement.
  10. Part One: Where Are We Now? Bodyflight has undergone significant evolution over the past few years. There are many tunnels now, with many more on the way - and the very best flying from formalised competitions attracts a great deal of attention from the outside world across the various media that we absorb into our brains every day. The techniques used to teach flying skills both indoors and outdoors are myriad and complex. Whether you are brand new to flying or a bit further down the road, the amount of information you are required to process during a short time in a stressful environment can be a heavy burden. Once you fall down the freefly rabbit hole, flying quickly gets very technical, and although many of the concepts are fairly simple to understand during the briefing - remembering and applying them while you are doing it is a different game. Indoor flight has taught us how to squeeze every efficiency from our bodies, gradually trimming the fat from the training process to where a lot can be achieved in a relatively short space of time. However, when new to the mysteries of the tube it can be confounding to watch exactly what coaches are asking their students to perform and be left wondering exactly how the various drills and techniques on display are relevant and applicable to one’s skydiving skills. The articles that follow are designed to clarify somewhat how tunnel flying and skydiving crossover with each other and address some of the questions people generally have at the beginning of the training process. Generic Coaching Disclaimer While it is certainly possible to learn some useful things from articles such as this, there is no substitute for good quality tuition. A coaching fee on top of what you are already paying for tunnel time or jump tickets will likely make things feel extra spendy, but for the amount it costs to employ someone with both the right knowledge and the means to convey it into your head will get you much further than the equivalent cash thrown at just trying to figure things out for yourself. Bodyflight is evolving quickly and expanding into every corner of the world. There are lots of coaches and many different opinions out there as to what exactly is the correct way to teach things. After reading this someone may well trot up to you and pontificate about how much of an unbearable ass I am and that what I say doesn’t count for shit all. Different approaches work for different people - and the more sources of information there are available to you the better equipped you can be to winnow the wheat from the chaff. I am writing from the position of eight years as a tunnel professional and have attempted to structure these words in a way that represents that which people most want to pick my brains about. Low Speed, High Speed, and the Follow Me Game The driving force behind how things have changed is the space available in which to fly. Some years ago tunnels were mostly smaller in diameter. Learning to fly used to be about getting the wind speed up as soon as could be, and that learning moves on lower speeds was a tedium to be rattled through as quickly as possible until you battled your way to head-down flying. As a general rule, tunnels then started getting bigger and as a result people began to discover a couple of very important things. The extra space meant that not only was it possible to present bigger, flatter, more efficient body positions to the wind - you could do so with more than one person (crucially - a coach and a student) at the same time. At this point, coaching via leading and following around the tunnel was already a thing, but bringing the format forward to the very beginning of the training process meant that a student could learn more things faster. A coach now had the room to quickly demonstrate something next to the student without more than the very minimum of time consumption and fuss, which is of tangible value in a place where very seconds mean monies, but also when leading and following is added into the process the student would then be approaching all the main concepts of getting shit done in the tunnel from day one. Following a coach from one position in the tunnel to another and performing structured moves in the same spot that they do engages the key elements of understanding how dynamic flying works. Not only are you practicing the moves themselves, you are learning lines and programming the management of space into your body, coaxing your awareness outwards to the environment you occupy. Good awareness is just as important for safe flying and a healthy learning curve in the tunnel as it is up in the sky. Low Speed and High Speed Training An unsophisticated way to think of the difference between low speed flying and high speed flying is as an indoor and outdoor skill set. In the simplest imaginable terms, low speed training teaches you how to fly all pretty in the tube and high speed training is where you learn skills to be better at skydiving. This is pretty reductive as while these things are not untrue, there is so much more value in understanding exactly where, why and how things cross over. The beautiful part is that the symbiosis between the two ways of doing things is so total that end result is greater than the sum of its parts. If bodyflight has put the hooks in you then chances are you desire to be a good flyer in both the sky and the tube - which is where the benefits really start to show. There are differences between the two environments which reveal themselves the more you learn. Adapting you skills from one place to the other takes a minute and does not happen automatically, but lots of what you learn translates from one environment to the other in valuable ways. The chapters that follow each represent one of the main orientations in which we fly - broken down into elements where attention is paid to the similarities and differences between indoor and outdoor zooming, and how to approach transitioning concepts and body positions successfully between the two environments.
  11. (This article was first published in Parachutist magazine under the title "The ABCs of 4-Way", and has been published with consent of the author) 4-way is a group activity, so jumpers should learn it as a team. This article offers advice for doing just that. As such, it is geared toward jumpers new to 4-way, but you don’t have to be a student to be “new to 4-way.” Jumpers with experience in other disciplines like freeflying, canopy RW, or skysurfing can be new to 4-way. Even jumpers with experience on big-ways can be new to 4-way flying. Before you read another word, remember this: Learning 4-way is a gradual process. You have to start with simple drills and work your way up, adding to your skill set as you go. The skills you learn in the beginning will be useful down the road, even in the most complicated block moves. So, learn 4-way correctly from the get-go. Here, then, are suggestions for learning 4-way flying techniques from the ground up, so to speak. Train with video. No team should jump without video. Jumpers might have to swallow a little pride the first time they see their screw-ups on video, but it’s well worth it. Video helps jumpers identify and correct problems before they become bad habits, and it saves money. What might have taken a couple hundred jumps to learn in the pre-video days, jumpers today can learn in 20 or 30 jumps. Camera flyers deserve every penny put toward their slots. Match fall rates and fly no-contact. A team’s first few practice jumps should be devoted to finding a compatible fall rate and basic body control. Both can be accomplished on the same jump. Here is a good drill: Launch a 2-way with the other two jumpers exiting as close as possible.Build a Star then drop grips and try to stay level with the formation and in your slots. Adjust your fall rates to match that of the fastest falling jumper. Jumpers who float after adjusting their body position should wear weights on the next jump. If three of the jumpers are arching the whole time to stay down with the fastest-falling jumper, that jumper should probably wear a looser jumpsuit on the next jump. The rest of the jumpers should wear slick suits. It might take several jumps to get fall rates and body control worked out, but it is important. You can’t do 4-way if you can’t stay level and in your slot. Practice turning in place. After jumpers learn to fly no-contact and fall at the same rate, they can move on to turning in place. Here is a drill: From a no-contact Star, two jumpers across from each other turn 90 degrees (either direction) while the other two jumpers stay put (facing in). Fly these positions while staying in your slots. Try to stay close enough so you could take grips if you wanted to. After a designated jumper gives the “key,” go back to the no-contact Star. (A “key” is a signal to break for the next point.) Make two or three jumps doing this drill, then two or three more, this time substituting 360-degree turns for the 90-degree ones. Practice single formations. After teams can fly no contact and turn in place, they can start on randoms(single formations) selected from the 4-way dive pool *. * The 4-way dive pool is published in USPA’s Competition Manual. The dive pool is used for parachuting competitions around th world and is agreed upon by the IPC (International Parachuting Commission) at the beginning of each year. In the 4-way dive pool, single formations are called “randoms.” As of this writing, there are 16 randoms in the dive pool. Teams should start with simple randoms, where jumpers are facing in and nobody moves more than 90 degrees to go to the next formation. The following illustration shows a sequence of three simple randoms. Jumpers perform the sequence in the order shown (Star-Satellite-Zipper) then repeat the sequence. (For more challenging flying, a team can build the Zipper before the Satellite.) (Note: The Zipper is not a formation in the current 4-way dive pool but it is a good tool for learning how to stay level.) Techniques to practice while performing this sequence include: Flying with little tension on grips. Paying attention to the keys. If you can’t see the person giving the key, look into the eyes of a jumper who can see the key – it will tell you a lot! Moving smoothly and in control to the next point. Stopping the move and flying level before taking grips. Once teams can do drills like the one above, you can move on to more difficult randoms.But they shouldn’t do so without proper coaching. With all the formations in the dive pool, new teams can easily get lost in a fog deciding how to transition (move from one point to the next). What might look like a good move for one jumper might hinder the moves of other jumpers. Dive engineering is not rocket science, but it requires experience to see the most efficient moves for each jumper. Let a coach map out the moves so the team can focus on performance. Practice exits. The success of any 4-way jump depends on a solid exit. New teams should dedicate several jumps to exit practice. They should start with simple exits where all jumpers can look into the center. And they should check with a coach before they go up to make sure they are doing it correctly. A good way to focus only on exits is to jump at a lower altitude, say 6,000 feet so there is little time for anything but the exit. With 16 randoms and 22 block sequences in the 4-way dive pool, there are 38 possible exits. But the same principle applies to each. Jumpers exit as one stable unit by presenting themselves and the formation to the relative wind*. The formation should ride smoothly on the relative wind without buffeting or creating undue tension on grips. * Relative Wind is the air coming at you from the direction you are falling. On exit, the prop blast is the first type of relative wind you encounter, although this lasts only a second or two. As you fall away from the plane, the relative wind comes more and more from straight up from the ground. Learn your slots. On a 4-way team, there are four slots: Point, Outside Center, Inside Center and Tail. The camera flyer, the fifth (and invaluable) member of the team, does not turn points with the team, so the camera position is not discussed here. (But be good to your camera flyer – you can’t do without video!) The Point typically flies in the “front floater” position on the high end of the formation as it leaves the plane. He or she is responsible for launching out and up on exit. The Point usually makes bigger moves, especially in the block sequences. Typically, this slot is given to the jumper who is better at the longer moves. The Outside Center flies in the “middle floater” position and works with the Inside Center to build the center of most formations. The Outside Center also catches the Point in some block moves. The Inside Center exits from inside the door across from the Outside Center. It might appear that this is an easy position since the jumper is often facing out, but timing and body position are important. The Inside Center exits “with” the group and normally presents his or her chest to the relative wind. If the relative wind catches them in the back, they can fold underneath the formation. On some teams, the Outside Center gives the count and keys transitions. On other teams, the Inside Center gives the count and keys the next point. For this reason, both the centers should be able to lead the skydive and fly their slots at the same time. The Tail usually flies in the “rear floater” position and is responsible for anchoring the formation down as it flies off the plane. Sometimes it appears that the Tail exits early. Whether this is true is up for debate. The important things are timing and placement. As long as the Tail stays low on exit, the formation has a better chance of flying smoothly on the relative wind. Learn to fly on the hill. Experienced 4-way teams transition to the second point right off the plane while the formation is semi-upright relative to the ground. This is called flying “on the hill.” New teams should not try to transition on the hill until they can consistently pull off good exits. Even then, they should transition to simple formations where not much movement is involved. Also, teams should not try block sequences on the hill until they can consistently transition to single formations. Here is a simplified look at hill flying. The exit is the first part of hill flying. Moving to the next point is the next part. As long as the exit formation flies stable on the relative wind, you can make the same moves on the hill that you make when the formation is falling at terminal velocity. You just have to put more punch into some moves because the air is a little “mushy” (meaning the formation hasn’t yet reached terminal velocity). Probably the hardest part about hill flying is learning to ignore the fact that it seems like you’re sometimes standing on your head (or vice versa) when making your move. In Summary: If you can perform the techniques discussed in this article, you’re a darn good skydiver. But you have so much more to look forward to, like block sequences where you fly with piece partners. But don’t jump ahead just yet. Piece flying injects a completely new set of dynamics into 4-way flying and builds upon the fundamentals discussed in this article. So learn the basics first. Learn them as a team. Find a compatible fall rate before you practice randoms. Learn how to make smooth, controlled moves. Set aside jumps for practicing nothing but exits. Learn all the randoms in the dive pool. Then keep practicing. Spend an entire season doing randoms if necessary. Then you will be ready move on to the block sequences. Don’t expect miracles overnight, but do expect rewards for hard work. It might be weeks before your team has a breakthrough, but when you do, it will be exhilarating! The light will come on for the team all at once - you’ll see it in each other’s eyes in freefall. You’ll feel it in the rhythm of the skydive. And, most important, you’ll see it in your score!
  12. admin

    From Tunnel to Sky

    Training Wind Tunnel Students to be Great Skydiving Students by Kirk Verner and Gary Peek Photos by Michael Breweri Tunnel student Emily Young The advent of vertical wind tunnels has created not only an incredible new air sport, but has also provided us with a very realistic simulation of freefall skydiving. This simulation can be used to provide both accurate and efficient training for skydiving students. As wind tunnels proliferate around the world, more and more people are going to begin skydiving having already experienced flight in a wind tunnel. Many of them will come to skydiving having performed maneuvers that skydiving students experience not only in their initial skydives, but in their more advanced training jumps as well. At some point, nearly every dropzone and skydiving instructor will need to plan how to use this technology to both enhance and replace traditional training for freefall. Advice for the tunnel instructor: Keep in mind that the sport of skydiving and the skydiving industry are extremely concerned about legal issues and liability. Trusting a student's instruction outside of the normal skydiving channels is a huge leap of faith for both dropzones and skydiving instructors. It may be a long time before tunnel training for skydiving gains widespread acceptance, so have patience and try to cover all the bases during this transition. In all likelihood, a tunnel instructor is going to have to hold a skydiving instructional rating from a national organization in order for their instruction to be used toward skydiving, for example, an USPA AFF instructional rating in the US. Logging tunnel skills and experience In order for a person trained in a tunnel to transfer their skills and experience to skydiving, they are going to need some reasonable verification of their training. Tunnel management and tunnel instructors would do well to create their own logbook to help their students take proof of their time and skills to dropzones and skydiving instructors. This logbook should include items like the date, location, flight time, maneuvers, and instructor signature, but could also include multiple ways to contact the instructor, since using proof of tunnel training will be new to many dropzones and skydiving instructors. They will likely feel much more comfortable with their skydiving student if they can discuss their tunnel training with the tunnel instructor if needed. If a specialized tunnel logbook is not available, a skydiving logbook could be used just as well, with the advantage of the student already having a logbook when they start skydiving. Suggested progression for a tunnel student working toward being a skydiving student In order to allow an AFF instructor who does not have tunnel flying experience to feel comfortable with the progression of students you have trained in the tunnel, there are a number of skills that the student should be able to demonstrate. These can range from basic stability all the way to advanced maneuvers, depending on the amount of time spent on instruction in the tunnel. In most cases, a single phase of tunnel training will be all that a potential skydiving student will need. If the goal of the tunnel student is to skydive, they may be eager to do that as soon as possible. In some cases however, a tunnel student may have begun tunnel flying without the goal of skydiving in mind, and may have accumulated significant time in the tunnel before deciding to skydive. Or, they may prefer the efficiency of the tunnel to learn the more advanced maneuvers before skydiving. If the skills outlined in a second phase of training are learned, the student may be able to advance very quickly in their skydiving progression. Phase 1 - Phase 1 training would include basic stability, neutral body position, heading control, fall rate control, forward and backward motion, docking, simulated altimeter checks, and simulated pilot chute throws. This training can be used to provide the student with the basic stability and maneuvers to allow them to jump with a single AFF instructor and to quickly advance to skydives and aircraft exits that will deliberately introduce instability. Phase 2 - Phase 2 training would include controlled turns, intentional unstable maneuvers, "delta" and tracking body positions, and the backslide body position. This additional training can be used to allow the student to quickly perform the maneuvers necessary to advance to the "coached" phase of skydiving training. Ways to add realism to skydiving training in a tunnel In order to provide a more realistic simulation of skydiving, a tunnel instructor may have their student wear a skydiving rig along with one of the "Tunnel Wrap" or "Rig Condom" devices, used to enclose skydiving rigs in order to prevent accidental deployments when worn in tunnels. Also, a simulated altimeter training device can be helpful to allow the student to practice the position of their arm when checking altitude. Advice for the skydiving instructor: For legal liability reasons, all skydiving students need to be given instruction in all areas related to making a skydive. However, most of us realize that students that have been trained in a wind tunnel, especially in skills related to skydiving, are going to progress through the skydiving freefall skills at a rate that no traditional skydiving student could. This may allow for a considerable savings to the student in time and number of jumps. In all likelihood, a skydiving instructor is going to have to hold an instructional rating from a national organization in order to be be allowed to train students, for example, an USPA AFF instructional rating in the US. Aircraft A skydiving student of any kind may have no knowledge at all about aircraft and the dangers that they can present. Students need to know how to avoid propellers, enter the aircraft and position themselves properly, to protect their handles, and to find and wear their seatbelts. Remember that tunnel students are probably not used to having a rig on their back and may not realize what the flaps are rubbing up against. Since most skydiving exits from aircraft are difficult to simulate in a tunnel, a skydiving instructor will need to tell the student what to expect for a particular exit. The advantage for a tunnel trained student is that if an exit causes instability, the student will be able to correct this almost immediately and quickly continue with the skydive. Gear One thing that many tunnel students are unlikely to have experienced is having a parachute system on their back while flying. If the student rig is sized well for the student and adjusted well on their back, this will likely not be an issue at all since they have learned and felt a great deal of stability in their body during tunnel flight. However, if your dropzone is one of those who still uses one-size-fits-all student rigs with large parachute for all students you will need to pay close attention to the adjustment of the rig if the student is a small person. If a tunnel student has been flying in a tunnel for a while, or is very serious about tunnel flying, they may already have their own jumpsuit, helmet, and goggles. Their jumpsuit may or may not have grippers, so an instructor may not be able to easily take a grip on the student, but then again, why might they need to? If the student has enough tunnel time it is very unlikely that the instructor would need to take grips to control the student, but perhaps they would feel uncomfortable without grippers. If the student is required to wear the dropzone's jumpsuit it should be appropriately sized and probably be rather tight unless they are a larger student. If the student's personal helmet and eye protection is appropriate for skydiving then having them use their own gear would be best. But if the student is required to wear a radio for canopy guidance there might be some serious tradeoffs. If the dropzone uses radios that are mounted on the helmet, the student may need to wear the dropzone helmet and goggles. However, if the radio is mounted on the student's chest strap, then perhaps telling the student to raise the face shield on their helmet once under canopy to hear the radio better might be sufficient. Where will they be placed in our progression? One of the first questions that your student or your dropzone owner may ask about a tunnel trained student is "With their experience flying their body, what "level" or what "category" are we going to have them start with?" (In reality, you may need to create a level or category specifically for them for at least a few jumps.) Realize that there will be a huge difference between a student that has 15 minutes in a tunnel compared to one that has several hours. If the student's tunnel instructors have done specific training in preparation for their student learning to skydive, there may actually be only a few freefall related skills for the student to learn and demonstrate. Body Position When you are initially training your student and practicing a skydive on a creeper or other training device, you may see your tunnel trained student use a body position that is different than what you would normally train your skydiving student to use. Well, if your student has more than a few minutes of tunnel time using that body position, then you should usually just let them continue to use it. Trying to make them do something different that what they were initially trained to do will waste time and may make their performance worse. This also includes some maneuvers such as turns, which may be taught differently by tunnel instructors. Freefall maneuvers Most freefall maneuvers used in skydiving can be simulated and practiced in a tunnel, perhaps with the exception of the lengthy movements made during tracking or backsliding. Although tracking can be simulated in a tunnel, the skydiving instructor will still need to make sure that the student can track in a straight line in order to provide separation before deploying a parachute. Most skydiving instructors will be concerned with the altitude awareness of their tunnel trained student, and perhaps for good reason, given the extended period of working time provided by a tunnel. However, the normal training given to skydiving students regarding the dive flow should give the student sufficient time and altitude awareness. A simulated altimeter training device with an altitude that can be set to count down would be extremely valuable. Canopy control Knowledge of parachutes and how to fly them safely is something that no tunnel student will know until they are trained on it. All of the normal canopy training subjects will need to be taught. The good news is that the increased confidence that a tunnel trained student has in their freefall skills will allow them to relax and to use more of their energy and thought learning canopy skills. If your tunnel student turned skydiver is not catching on to canopy control after having mastered the freefall skills, you can always do what you would do to a student that started as a skydiver. They can always do a number of clear-and-pulls and concentrate on improving their canopy skills. This may also provided them with more opportunity to practice spotting in the aircraft. About the Authors Kirk Verner and Gary Peek have known each other for over 30 years. They both learned to skydive in the early 1980's at Archway Skydiving Centre in Sparta, Illinois, owned by Kirk's father Dave Verner. Both Kirk and Gary are on the United States Parachute Association Board of Directors, Kirk as a National Director and Gary as the Central Regional Director. Kirk managed the Paraclete wind tunnel for 10 years and now manages the Paraclete dropzone. Kirk is an active AFF instructor and teaches students trained in the tunnel to be skydivers using Paracletes' tunnel to skydiving program. Kirk is also a world champion formation skydiver, having been on the Arizona Airspeed teams for 13 years. Gary is an active Tandem and AFF instructor, and teaches students locally, as well as when he visits dropzones in the region. He is also a Master Parachute Rigger, a Commercial Pilot, and Cessna 182 jump pilot.
  13. Image by Wolfgang Lienbacher When it comes to the windytube, Vince Arnone has a few solid miles under his belt. He’s worked in the wind tunnel industry since 2010 (and in the skydiving world for a few more years before even that). He runs Indoor Skydiving Source, a community-based resource for indoor skydiving and bodyflight. During his many years as a tunnel instructor--working with first-time flyers and skydivers alike--he has constantly been approached by wanna-be tunnel rats. If you’re one of them, he has some advice to share with you. I asked him some questions about it, and here’s what he had to say. Q: What’s the first step? Are there prerequisites? Vince: Just apply! At the end of the day, great timing and a solid application really is the key to working in the wind tunnel. Beyond that, there are a few important factors to consider before filling out that app. The physical requirements of the job should be the first thing you consider before seriously looking at getting a job as a wind tunnel instructor. Being a tunnel instructor, and especially working with first-time flyers, is a physically demanding job. Sometimes you work with children, but sometimes a 250lb man walks through the door. They are both your responsibility, and bothcan kick your ass! Both the IBA and Tunnel Instructor rating programs administer a physical fitness test that you must pass in order to be an instructor. The test normally includes pull-ups, sit-ups and running. You don't need to be superhuman, but being generally in shape is a good starter. Q: Do you need a lot of previous tunnel experience? Is it, like, only shredders need apply? Vince: No. The training will be part of the job, and it’s an investment. It goes like this. In order to work in a wind tunnel with first-time flyers, you need a tunnel instructor rating. Earning this rating requires a 3-4 week course which teaches you how to safely introduce and monitor a flyer's first flight. Most wind tunnels include this as part of your initial hiring period. You might have to sign a contract or have some money withheld from your paychecks to pay for the training, but rarely do you have to pay out-of-pocket for it. Training programs like this are designed to take anyone off the street with no previous experience and set them up with the key skills they need for the job. Q: Do you have any insider tips that might give an application the edge? Vince: If you remember one thing from this article, remember this: a staff at a wind tunnel is a close-knit team, and the team has to work well together. Because of this fact, knowing and having a standing relationship with other instructors or managers can make the difference when applying. A hiring manager is always looking for a good fit to the team, not just a skilled individual. This means they are looking for someone who will mesh well with the other instructors on the staff and work hard. This is the most important thing to remember when applying. If you don't know anyone, but you know the job is for you, don't worry! I don't mean that you have to be long-time buddies with someone at the tunnel in order to get a job. Hang around. Get to know the staff at the tunnel you want to work in. Show interest. Small acts like this will go a long way, and you just might learn about the tunnel and bodyflight in the process. Q: What should a potential tunnel employee do to prepare for the interview? Vince: Treat it like a “real interview.” Don’t be too casual about it. All the standard job application best practices apply. The opportunity to work in the wind tunnel is a unique -- and possibly life-changing -- one. Approach it with a good attitude and tons of passion, and see where it might take you. Good luck! Q: What are the major differences between tunnels for flyers with an eye on growth? Vince: Back when I first started--I guess I’m sounding old now--there were just so few tunnel jobs out there. The number of tunnels from 1982 to the year 2011 was around 40. From 2012 to 2015, that number jumped to around 80. Today, looking at the database, there are 113. So rather than jumping at ANY possibility--as someone who sees the tunnel job as an opportunity to grow their personal skills and maybe even start coaching--it really matters which tunnel you land at. The days where everyone would flock to a single tunnel because it was the only tunnel, only high speed tunnel, or only 14 ft tunnel, are long gone. There are more coming, too; since 2013, the number of tunnels opening each year has also exploded. This also means the number of instructor positions has grown. Just by the numbers, setting out to get an instructor job is more likely to end successfully. This also means that the experienced flying community has spread out. Consider working at a tunnel that mainly serves first-time clientele. There will be lower experienced flyer traffic, and the other instructors might not be flying- and coaching-focused. That’s a much different environment than a tunnel that sees experienced flyers as a larger percentage of their business. Working with experienced flyers and other coaches will play a big role in your personal progression. Surrounding yourself with people who have similar goals will immerse you in the culture. Consider the location and culture of the tunnel you land at. A location that will support your flying goals will help you reach them much quicker--and this is about you going all-in for personal development, isn’t it?
  14. admin

    Health gymnasiums

    Two other advantages offered by good gymnasium are constant supervision, which enables you to exercise with safety confidence, and a congenial atmosphere. Exercising with people who share common purpose can provide extra enjoyment and incentive. It is necessary first of all to distinguish between the different types of gymnasium. Training gymnasium are essentially for athletes and other men and women who wish to develop their skills for particular athletic activities. They provide facilities for athletes to keep themselves for their chosen sports. Health gymnasium provide advice, instruction and facilities for everyone who wishes to become or keep fit, whatever his or her initial physical condition. Their clients range from professional athletes to office workers who wish only to make the best use of their lunch hours. Health gymnasium vary widely in quality. When choosing one of yourself, you should check that is staffed by qualified and responsible instructors. You may feel flattered to be attended by a sports celebrity, but professionally trained physiotherapists and physical education instructors can be equally, if not more, beneficial to an unfit person. You should expect to be asked details of your medical history, and to be carefully examined before being allowed to use all the facilities. Three types of exercise The accessories provided in health gymnasium to help you exercise range form simple wights and benches to more sophisticated equipment such aș pulleys and rowing machine. These accessories are appropriate for different kinds of exercises. Isometric exercises, the simple type involve a applying muscular strength by pulling or pushing immovable objects. The muscles are tensed and this tension is sustained for short periods of time. Because little movement is involved in these exercises, they develop static rather than dynamic strength. Isotonic exercises involve pulling or lifting an object to certain position and then returning it to its original position. They cause the muscles to contract as you move but, because the weight or force employed is to the same degree throughout the exercise. The weight or force used can only be that which you can lift or pull at the weakest point in the range of motion involved and at other points your muscles are not sufficiently strained to develop in strength. The third type of exercise, known as isokinethic, requires more sophisticated equipment. Isokinetic exercises can be designed for particular needs. For example, a person who is training for a particular sport can do exercises that stimulate exactly the demands of this sport, and also developed precisely the muscles he or she most needs. Massage Facilities for massage may be available at health gymnasium or sauna baths. Massage is used in physical therapy as a means of rehabilitating patients who are suffering from certain physical pain or aliments but, as a mean of getting or keeping fit, its value is very limited. Sauna baths Sauna baths may be attached to health gymnasium or may exist as separate establishments. Most sauna baths are organized according to similar basic principles, although Finnish sauna baths retain their original national characteristics. They have an invigorating effect on the whole body and aid physical and mental relaxation, but their effect on the whole body and aid physical and mental relaxation, but their effect are temporary rather than long-term. Sauna baths provide a healthy and enjoyable means of relaxation, but the sudden rise and pulse rate can be dangerous. Pregnant women and people with high or low blood pressure, should therefore avoid them.
  15. Part One: Instructor vs. Coach A tunnel coach and a tunnel instructor are different things. This can be confusing as they may look the same, sound the same, perhaps wear the same suit and even be the same person performing two different roles from one session to the next. They will all high-five you too many times. What exactly does an instructor do? What exactly does a coach do? What are the differences between the two and how do they apply to me? Also, what is spotting and who does it? Do I need some? Also, how do I go about finding a good coach that is the correct fit for my personality and flying goals? What does a tunnel instructor do? An instructor is an human employed by the facility itself to oversee and conduct the tunnel sessions. This includes managing the time, keeping everyone safe and teaching students as and when it is required. Instructors are also responsible for taking turns controlling the tunnel and during downtime performing maintenance around the building. Coaches provide tuition in different ways. Sometimes from outside the chamber... ...And sometimes from within. Instructors provide support where it is needed. What does a tunnel coach do? A tunnel coach is an accomplished flyer that buys time from the tunnel as a private individual and offers it as lessons to potential students. Coaches buy bulk time from the tunnel company to secure it at the cheapest available rate and sell it on to their students including a fee for their services. Do I need to get a coach? Yes, no, sometimes, maybe, yes. At any given tunnel there is an instructor in the immediate vicinity of the action at all times (watching from the doorway or in the chamber itself). They are present for safety and are available to teach anyone in their session who requires help. You can go to the tunnel without booking a coach and have the instructor teach you, but there are a few things to consider: 1. Instructors learn on the job - they begin with a very basic amount of training and advance through levels of qualification while working at their tunnel. This means the instructor for your session can be a veteran of many years or a new employee conducting their very first class. 2. Instructors have other duties to perform. The busier the tunnel is the less time the instructor will have to talk to you before and after your session. If they have a birthday party of tiny children to fill with joy they will probably not have the time and energy to discuss your backfly position in any detail. 3. You will likely get a different instructor each time you visit. While there is something to be said for mixing up the sources of your learning, there are couple of things that are important to consider - An instructor you do not know might want a demonstration of your skills before they will teach you anything new, thus eating into your valuable time. Also, the more you fly and more skills you acquire, the higher the chances that an instructor will not be qualified to teach you anything new. 4. If you want to learn head down flying you need to have a coach to give you feedback from the front as the instructor will be holding on to (spotting) you from behind. (While it is possible to learn this from just one appropriately qualified person, it is a very inefficient and time consuming way to do it). Both instructors and coaches will tell you to get a good coach. 5. As you gather more experience and your skills grow, you will recognise the times when you might or might not want or need coaching for a particular session. There are times when you a required to have a coach in order to progress, and there are times when you can improve by practising alone or with a group of friends. For learning head down you will need the help of both an instructor and coach. The coach (left) is there to teach you what to do. The instructor (right) is there for your safety. An instructors job is to spot transitions when required. What is spotting? Spotting is the term used to refer to the techniques used by by instructors to control and catch flyers in the flight chamber. This term is commonly used in two ways: 1. As action. For example - A student flips onto their back and is caught by the instructor. This is a spot. 2. As method. For example - An instructor is teaching a student how to sitfly. The instructor is doing the teaching, but is also spotting the student should anything go wrong. The duty of spotting falls to the instructor of the session. The flying activity that takes place will be equal to the level of qualification of the instructor. The exception to this is that if there is another person in the tunnel that has more advanced qualifications. An example of this might be another instructor doing some private coaching outside of his duties at the tunnel. Tips for finding a good coach: There is no enforced rating system for coaches. As a result of this there are many excellent ones and just as many terrible ones. Someone can easily be a very accomplished skydiver but have skills and methods that simply do not translate well to the tube, just as a tunnel coach might be the best flyer you have ever seen and have never set foot in a jump plane. - Does your coach provide a proper briefing and de-briefing? It is very important to have the right information and suitable practice before your session begins. This can mean the difference between rewarding progress and frustrating failure. If your coach turns up at the last minute or books their sessions so they are back-to-back with another student and have no time to brief you then they are crappy - get someone else. Does your coach de-brief you properly with video after your session? Deconstructing and analysing your flying can often be the part of the process in which you learn the most. If your coach stays in the tunnel with another student or disappears without de-briefing you properly then they are crappy - get someone else. - Always find out peoples experience level. Ask around, it doesn’t take much to find out if someone is full of shit. - Does your coach have time to perform a backflip or some such each time you get in and out of the tunnel? If yes, you have a crappy coach who is more interested in their flying skills than yours. Get someone else. - Does your coach perform moves or fly in a way that is beyond your current skill level while you are flying together? If yes, you have a crappy coach - visual feedback is an important tool for your progress. Your coach should be using their body position to teach you about yours. Get someone else. Coaches will sometimes be qualified to spot transitions themselves. Sometimes the instructor's help is not required. Sometimes the instructor's help is mandatory. Many tunnel instructors also offer their skills as coaches. As a general rule people who have honed their skills working as an instructor make the best coaches. However, there are a few things to consider: Advantages: Instructors make their bones by doing a lot of sessions with people of all levels of ability. This makes them very efficient at communicating ideas and techniques both in and out of the tube. An instructor who offers coaching will likely be able to perform any spotting you require. This makes the logistics of booking sessions easier and the sessions themselves more efficient. Disadvantages: An instructor who offers coaching will be required to arrange their private sessions around their duties for the facility. This can affect their availability and make booking sessions more complicated. An instructor might be broken. Tunnels work their employees hard and pay them very little - this can harm a worker’s attitude toward other humans. A broken instructor will likely be off to do something else soon, but until then they can be reckless and unprofessional. Good coaching from an accomplished flyer is a worthy investment and an important part of speedy progress. Tunnel flying is expensive so everything you can do to aid the efficiency of your learning helps - a little leg work before your actual tunnel sessions can go a long way. Get involved involved in you local flying scene, either at your local tunnel or dropzone - there will be established individuals or teams that can help you directly or put you on the right path. If you are brand new then don’t be afraid to ask questions - everyone starts from the beginning and everybody knows how much there is to learn. Don’t be shy - good quality instructors and coaches value students that constantly enquire about the techniques and processes involved.
  16. joelstrickland

    How To Tube: Getting It Right

    Tunnel instructors are a very special bunch Outside of the physical progress with your tunnel flying skills, there are some things to keep in mind when you visit your local tube that will aid both efficiency and enjoyment for yourself and those around you. Once signed in at the facility the instructor for your session (each session as they rotate) is the one in charge and should be the person you approach first with any questions or concerns - not the hoity-toity fancy coaches or other flyers (or even the other instructors). He or she does this every day and is under pressure to make everything run smoothly and on time. If you instructor is doing their job properly he or she will find you plenty previous before your session and discuss what is going to happen - they should enquire after your intentions but also let you know who else you will be sharing the tunnel with and what they are doing too. If you are with a coach who has overlooked this quick but necessary part of the process then consider getting a better, more communicative coach. Instructors are very fragile - try to help them out If you are a student - do not hesitate to get involved! Not asking when you need to know something will probably only result in looking like an arse in front of a bunch of people than a functioning human in front of one. If you are not with a coach and are relying on instruction from the tunnel staff - seek them out and talk to them before you start. The job of tunnel instructor is all about good efficiency - with time and energy both - and if you embrace this they will go the extra distance for you will do better out of your training as a result. Tunnel Monkeys enjoy teaching people stuff in the tube, it is why they do a physically demanding job for crappy money - yet those same reasons lead to short patience with disorganised and unhelpful flyers. You can aid them by personally finding and talking to either the instructor for your session, or if your instructor is nowhere to be found or prohibitively busy - the tunnel driver. The driver will (should) be halfway responsible for keeping track of your session anyway so you can relay your intentions - the two should constantly relay information to one another before and throughout the session. Happy instructors will make your life easy Here are a few things to remember: Be Ready: Tunnels all try to avoid running late and to buffer against the things that make this happen they will try to operate ahead of time as often as possible. Arrive early. Brief early. Be ready to start and ready to go first. Accommodate: When conducting a session an instructor has to consider many things, not only the requirements of every individual in the group, but what is happening both beforehand and afterwards. It might seem quiet but there can be anything form a long list of circumstances that require the maintenance of a tight ship - things like television crews and scheduled maintenance always require more time and extra work from the staff. Don’t Leave Your Shit Everywhere: The tunnel might let experienced flyers take drinks and such into the staging area but not the newbies - this is because you can be trusted to be safe and organised with your things. The same goes for around the building. Tunnel facilities are public places and the companies that operate them want to appear suitable as such, so put your pants back on and clean up after yourself. Know What Else is Happening In Your Session: Learn how long you will have between each of your rotations. Never rely on having long enough gaps between your flights to brief as you go (see part 3 for more). Plan accordingly. You are paying for those twelve seconds it takes your team to put their helmets on and set up - the clock is running. Thou Shalt Not Take The Piss: The instructor for your particular session is the only one you need to talk to about your plans, and they are in charge. They do not give a single fuck about “what they let you do last time” or what “usually happens” because you “fly there all the time”. News Travels Fast: Instructors whine and gossip like nobody else. If you are difficult with one of them everyone will know it before the day is out. This works the other way around too. It only takes a small amount of communication and consideration to get the staff on your side, and they will see you right. Finally - remember be nice and have fun. There is no substitute for more tunnel time and quality coaching, but everything you can do at the edges to facilitate a positive and productive experience at the tube helps. Putting in a bit of effort to try and make things easier for those around will reflect in both you own skills and the opportunities you are presented with amongst your flying community.
  17. Mixed Formation Skydiving Is Ready To Take Over The World Andy Malchiodi--neck deep in his multi-hyphenate (medalist/coach/musician/filmmaker) life--didn’t set out to co-invent a skydiving discipline. He just wanted to enjoy competition. Luckily for us, he did it anyway. He’s quick to refuse to take credit for being the first person to combine flat and vertical orientations into one discipline, but there’s no denying that he’s the one who has done the most to make it official. The building blocks were there, but Mixed Formation Skydiving (“MFS”) in its current iteration wasn’t even on the radar when Andy’s freefly team, SoCal Converge, was stacking up medals on the competition circuit. From 2008 to 2012, Converge won four U.S. National Championships, took back-to-back gold and silver at the World Championships and racked up two world records. “In my years of [freefly] competition with SoCal Converge,” Andy begins, “Even though we were working within an artistic discipline, we really thrived on--and enjoyed training--the compulsory rounds. In those years, the freefly compulsories were essentially 2-way MFS; teams flew two flat points out of a 10-point pool over two rounds.” As well as being fun to fly, Andy and his team saw several very compelling elements in these compulsory rounds. “We noticed a lot of cool stuff,” Andy explains. “You can train this without a videographer in the beginning--you can just de-brief from your GoPros until you recruit one. You can take it home to a small drop zone with a small plane. People are attracted to the idea of fusing all four primary orientations into one discipline. For those people, it’s a discipline with it’s own identity. And for those who only wish to focus on the vertical, it’s a stepping stone to 4-way VFS.” “The beauty of it is the modularity,” he explains. “Even newer skydivers, who aren’t freeflying yet, can do the flat points and grow into it.” To be clear: The advanced class does not do any of the belly or back points, and some of what are considered the more difficult vertical points are omitted from the advanced dive pool as well. Clearly, the latter makes MFS a very compelling inclusion into a newer skydiver’s arsenal. With the inclusion of the flat points, 2-way MFS is a discipline unto itself, where the training progression from advanced to open nicely follows a well-rounded skill-building arc. “You might choose to do advanced MFS,” Andy says, “When you’re at a skill set where you can’t quite take on the VFS open dive pool, but you’re interested in doing VFS.” “It was initially my hope,” Andy continues, “That advanced do two purely flat rounds and four vertical. The open class would then ‘mix’ them. The current rules are designed, by suggestion of the USPA, to appeal to those who want to use MFS as a method of progression into VFS.” In 2011, as Andy and Converge were getting excited about the possibilities of their nascent discipline, the freefly compulsory rounds changed. The rules moved away from speed compulsory rounds and into artistic compulsories, where teams receive four moves to style a routine around. “It is pretty different than it used to be,” Andy sighs, “And we weren’t very happy to see that change. We had our reasons for believing it was good the way it was. So I took it upon myself to take that really good stuff and make it its own discipline.” Andy had a lot of work in front of him to create an official space for MFS. He took the moves that existed in the pre-2011 artistic freefly compulsory dive pool, brought in several of the points that existed in the wind tunnel competition dive pool (which, at the time, wasn’t as widespread as it is now) and started to work out the details. The biggest challenge Andy faced surprised him. MFS is, after all, at heart a formation skydiving discipline--and, in formation skydiving, you cannot have one point that begins or ends with the same grip of another point. “You would think,” Andy muses, “That with multiple orientations--head up, head down, belly and back--that would open up infinite options, and you wouldn’t have a problem creating points that didn’t start or stop with the same grip as another point. It was more challenging than I would have guessed.” The tunnel competition dive pool, developed in great part by Arizona-based skydiving legend Jason Peters, included several points that--unsurprisingly, considering its non-FS provenance--did not abide by that FS-specific rule. “At the beginning, if you watched a very fast 2-way tunnel draw,” Andy explains, “It looked like a game of patty-cake, because you would finish one point and then begin the next point with the same grip. Pulling off that grip and going right back to it looked kinda funny.” Challenging as it was, Andy stayed the course to, as far as possible, mirror MFS’s rules and regulations to match existing formation skydiving disciplines. He brought a few other top-shelf skydivers to help him work out the engineering puzzle--among them, Ari Perelman and Rook Nelson. The think-tank communicated with the USPA (specifically, James Hayhurst, Director of Competition, and Randy Connell, Competition Coordinator) to get multiple sets of eyes on the points, rules and regulations. With all those collaborators on board, 2-way MFS enjoyed an intuitive and logical evolution as it came into its own. With staunch USPA support, MFS made its public debut in 2013. The first test event, at the U.S. Nationals, was “very well attended;” Andy remembers, “Everyone was very enthusiastic about it.” The first official event was MFS’s inclusion in the 2014 U.S. Nationals. From there, the discipline has consistently ramped up with every passing season. “It’s easy to see why. It creates very challenging and intriguing engineering dilemmas,” Andy grins, “And there are a couple ways you can slice the onion there.” The training videos say it all. Official international recognition is the next logical step, and MFS’s next big push is the one that will send it over the ocean into Europe and Australia. Slotting into place at the IPC level would allow MFS to be included in events like the World Cup and the World Meet, and that’s exactly what its inventors intend for it. So far, the U.S. is the only country with 2-way MFS on the docket--which is stupefying, considering the discipline’s flexibility, portability and low infrastructural requirements. “They’re waiting to see how it goes in the U.S.,” Andy says, “And they’re slow to move, but the more competition skydivers who push for MFS at their Nationals level, the closer we’ll get.” Interested? Check out the 2-Way MFS dive pool from the USPA website. To learn the MFS ropes, reach out to Andy himself, Jason Peters or Nik Daniel with Axis Flight School.
  18. Image by Annette O’Neil Tunnel flying can be physically demanding, especially at the beginning. Being in good shape will help but tunnel fitness is largely built through learning good technique and trying to fly as regularly as possible. The more you fly the more you will be able to fly, in terms of both duration of each period you spend in the tunnel and the necessary rests in between. ‘Rotation’ is the term widely used to refer to the process of sharing time in the tunnel amongst the flyers in each session - of rotating them around so everybody gets to use their minutes in sensible portions and with ample rest periods. Not all indoor skydiving facilities are the same - some have an enclosed (i.e. locked) staging area immediately next to the flight chamber that necessitates formalised sessions of a set duration (usually 30 minutes) which those booked to fly divide amongst themselves. Others tunnels might have an open staging area (i.e. not locked) in which the flyers can come and go as required - which leads to a little more freedom and flexibility for deciding upon the order of rotation, but more chance for things to turn into a shambles if those concerned do not manage the time properly and let it get out of hand. Playback monitor and session information at Hurricane Factory Slovakia. Image by Annette O’Neil As indoor skydiving facilities grow progressively fancier, the most likely way sessions will be displayed is via a monitor where each and every minute of flying is listed via software that is linked directly to the tunnel’s manifesting system. The programmes used to run the daily activities is most likely specific to that tunnel (or that type of tunnel) and will have its own particular idiosyncrasies. However - there are many places to fly where the primary method of marking people’s time is by writing everything out on a white board and crossing off the rotations one-by-one with an actual finger. Here is a simple list of some different ways of splitting up time: Sharing Sessions with the General Public: People off the street giving indoor skydiving a try will likely have bought a package that involves a couple of rotations of a minute or two each. If you are in a mixed session with some newbies you can really help by being on point with your personal plans as your instructor will likely have his or her hands full with the nervous and baffled. Look out for small children bailing out early or people faffing with their gear - if you and your coach can jump straight in when the instructor needs to tend to a tiny crying human or fix a gear issue in the staging area so they don’t have to interrupt a flight they will love you for it. The more the merrier - just be sure everyone knows the plan. Sharing Sessions with Belly Teams: Belly flying is very serious so much coaching, practicing and remembering needs to be achieved. Teams are often fond of shorter rotations such as 1:30s or 1:40s so they can squeeze another go out of a session. If your tunnel has a video playback system on a delay it will likely be set for longer than this so it is easy to get repeatedly caught with your pants down still watching yourself on the screen as the belly types get out. Sharing Sessions with Freeflyers: Freefly training these days is all about the low speeds. Flying on lower wind is easier on your body and the mixture of positions and training methods means it is possible to fly for longer. Rotations of 2.5 minutes have become standard and some coaches and flyers prefer three minutes. Remember, nobody sensible really wants to high five this much - but it is the done thing. British VFS team QFX at the World Air Games. Image by Ewan Cowie Sharing Sessions with VFS Teams: VFS is hard work so teams frequently like one minute rotations which can be a pain in the balls. They should be nice to you about it. You might find your rest periods very brief or even be asked to do shorter rotations in your own time so they can rest too. Stand your ground - as policy tunnels do not guarantee the breakdown of sessions but you are a paying customer an as such should be accommodated. As you progress you might be fine with one minute gaps but as a new flyer it can be too much work. Although it really only involves some very simple maths, organising rotation can be confusing at first which sometimes puts people off figuring it out - resulting in experienced flyers (who should know better) with a total inability to behave efficiently when at the tunnel. The most important thing you can do to make your sessions as smooth and beneficial as possible is communicate with the other people involved - and once you understand a few simple principals you are ready to go.
  19. joelstrickland

    How to Tube: Buying and Using Time

    Tunnel time is not cheap. For casual flyers there is no real way to make it be cheap, short of selling your soul to a tunnel company for a position as an instructor. However, there are a few things to learn about the process of procuring time that can help make every minute as useful as possible. The important bit of information here is the more time you buy the less expensive it is per minute. For example - if you but 10 minutes of flying you will be paying a standard rate, but if you buy an hour you will qualify for a slightly cheaper category and save a small percentage on each minute. If you buy five hours you might qualify for the next cheapest level and save a little more. To qualify for the lowest rate that the facility offers you may have to commit to something like 20 hours of time. This is a lot of money to stump up for tunnel flying but if you are committed to getting good and have to cash to invest in it early then the savings start to make sense. Generally speaking there are a couple of ways to buy time - either from a tunnel or from a coach. Coaches make their money by purchasing time at the cheapest per-minute rate then selling it on to their students at a higher price and banking the difference as the fee for their services. As would make sense for an industry where different standards and levels of experience are available - coaching fees are not all the same. A multiple world champion with many years of experience might cost you more than a new instructor with a year of working at the tunnel under their belt. However, a general rule is: If you are buying smaller amounts of time the difference in price of buying form a tunnel or from a coach is negligible. 
The advantage of buying from a coach: You get to learn stuff in a structured and efficient manner and you do not rely on the uncertain system of being coached by tunnel instructors. The advantage of buying from a tunnel: You may be at the stage in your flying where you can choose wether you need coaching or not. If you just want to zoom around practice without having to talk to anybody then you can. If you do want coaching for a session that you have already booked you can pay someone separately as a separate arrangement. If you want to invite your friends for some group play you can. Important: If you are relying on the tunnels instructors to teach you, remember that they learn on the job and might not be qualified to spot what you want to learn. Tunnel facilities often have a system with which to request an instructor of a high enough level to cover what you need, so don’t forget to ask (A good coach understands this system and will make the appropriate arrangements automatically). Remember that the more advanced you get the greater the chance that a tunnel instructor will not be able to teach you. For the majority of casual flyers it makes the most sense to buy time through a coach. This is because the best way to learn at the tunnel is from and experienced flyer that can effectively and efficiently communicate ideas, demonstrate techniques and provide a quality one-on-one service. The pool of instructors at your local tube may well be good coaches, but are often simply too busy to offer sufficient depth - and if the money you are is not really any different then the choice is an easy one. Some Tips: Look out for loopholes: If the tunnel is running a special promotion you might be a be able to take advantage of it. Buy-One-Get-One-Free on introductory flight packages you say? How many can you buy? Likely nobody cares that this is not proper pro-flyer time - certainly not the instructors. They would probably much prefer to teach you something for a session than process a family of newbies. Events: Tunnels might run special events for group flying - tunnel scrambles, night parties etc. Organised group events can be bags of fun and a great way to find flyers of a similar level to practice with. Last minute rates: If a tunnel has a particularly quiet period or a big group cancels at the last minute they might offer the empty time at a heavily discounted rate. This is often a regulars-only type thing - make nice with the right people and be sure the tunnel has your contact details. Locations: There are a lot of tunnels now, and a lot more on the way. Some places where you can train are cheap to fly to and cheap to live in. Depending on how much time you want to do it can cost less to go abroad than visit your closest tunnel. Plus you get to see somewhere else and maybe learn some stuff.
  20. admin

    Formation Skydiving

    Photo: Brent Finley Free Flyers would call Formation Skydiving "belly-flying", with the earth always below, and the skies above. Formation Skydiving is much more than this, and entails quite a long history. Already in the 70's, freefall veterans experimented for a long time to hook up two people while falling straight down. Currently, the span of Formation Skydiving begins with a two-way and ends with a 246-way as the official world record. It's a social affair in the air: skydivers are holding hands and legs and both at the same time to build all kind of different formations of all sizes. Organizers and coaches are engineering the puzzle. Formation Skydiving has two different areas: recreational skydiving, also known as fun jumping, and the competitive arena. Recreational Formation Skydiving Bellyflyers meet on all kind of different occasions to build their formations in the sky. They are filling their local jump planes on the weekends, as well as weekday sunset loads, to the maximum capacity. As the number of bigger events with larger aircraft continues to grow, they meet with skydivers from all over the country, sometimes all over the world, to build their formations up to the present potential. The current world record is a 300-way formation. Formation Skydiving Competition More ambitious bellyflyers are sharpening their flying skills at training camps and go out to compete. Formation Skydiving has become a very well organized competition arena. Regional leagues and meets are offering competitions for all performance levels over the whole season. Nationwide championships bring the best teams of the country together (such as the National Skydiving League Championships and the U.S. National Championships). The national champions of all countries in the world compete each year at the World Cup or at the World Championships. The best teams of the world are invited to compete at the World Air Games. Formation Skydiving is slowly forging its way to becoming a part of the Olympic Games. Photo: Brent Finley The Formation Skydiving competitions are recognized by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and sanctioned by the FAI (Federation Aeronautique Internationale), the IPC (International Parachuting Committee) and by the USPA (United States Parachute Association) in the United States. The sanctioned competition disciplines are: 4-Way 8-Way 16-way. Competition teams perform up to six rounds per day at the competition. After exiting the jump plane, all teams have a certain amount of time available (4-way 35 seconds, 8-way and 16-way 50 seconds) to perform the same pre-determined sequence of formations and maneuvers. The team with the most accumulated points wins the round. At a competition, all teams must perform between six and ten rounds. Each competition round has a different sequence of formations and maneuvers. Freefall videographers are filming the performance and deliver the footage to the judges for evaluation. The major events have live broadcast of the freefall and live judging. Photo: Brent Finley U.S.A. and France have been the dominating the nations in Formation Skydiving. The 8-way discipline has never seen a different winner than the U.S. 8-way team in the history of 8-way competition. In 4-way, U.S.A. and France have been taking turns in bringing home the gold medal. Only the Swiss 4-way team "Blue Magic" has interrupted this series once in 1983. The French national team is holding the world record in 4-way with 36 points in 35 seconds. The U.S.A. is holding the world record in 8-way with 31 points in 50 seconds. Twenty years ago, the world record holders in 4 way were scoring 8 points in time, and no one would ever have believed that our sport would have advanced to currently scoring 36 points in time. This rapid progression is testimony that formation skydiving is truly a professional, athletic sport with highly trained athletes, and is a skill that can be developed and cultivated like many other professional sports in our culture. We all look forward to where our sport will take us in the future. Until then, the belly flyers continue to train hard, compete well and enjoy the journey.
  21. DSE

    Learning To Fly A Wingsuit

    Wingsuiting is a fast-growing discipline in the skydiving and BASE-jumping world, and like all new disciplines in the sport, there are some potential pitfalls that this article might help you to avoid. Wingsuits can convert downward speed into forward speed/lift, much like a canopy can, up to a certain point. This allows the wingsuit skydiver to travel much farther over the ground than even the best tracker can travel. Like a canopy, there is a balance between weight and performance. Wingsuits come in a wide variety of sizes, but all are of a similar shape. It is a common misconception that size is related to skill, freefall time, and distance traveled. New wingsuiters would be well-advised to not be concerned about which suit they’ll eventually be jumping; suit styles, features, and sizes are constantly evolving. In other words, use the introductory suit provided by your coach and plan on a world of discovery after that first experience. How Should I Prepare For Wingsuiting? First and foremost, you’ll need a minimum of 200 jumps in the past 18 months if you’ll be jumping at a USPA dropzone. This is a BSR, or Basic Safety Requirement. It is highly recommended by both USPA and all manufacturers that you take a First Flight Course/FFC from a qualified wingsuit coach. There is no USPA “instructor” rating for wingsuiting, only manufacturer-issued ratings. Be sure the person providing FFC coaching is current and it is recommended that you seek someone with additional USPA instructional ratings. There is no difference between a wingsuit “instructor” and a wingsuit “coach.” Some manufacturers have elected to not confuse the USPA Instructional ratings with being one who teaches wingsuiting, ergo; “coach.” Tracking jumps with a focus on navigation will go a long way to achieving a good sense of navigation. Navigation is a critical component of a wingsuiting since we’ll be adding the potential ability to fly several miles from 13K. Concentrating on flying “quiet” (without a lot of body/limb movement and relaxed) is a benefit to preparing for a wingsuit skydive. Your coach may even require that you’ll do a tracking dive prior to the first wingsuit flight. There are some equipment recommendations to consider prior to making a first wingsuit skydive. For example, lighter canopy wingloadings are preferable. A good wingsuit coach will recommend or require a non-elliptical canopy for the FFC It’s a good idea to avoid ellipticals for wingsuiting in general, and most coaches will highly recommend (if not require) an AAD. Losing altitude awareness should not occur in a wingsuit skydive, but your body clock will feel “off” in most first wingsuit jumps. A hard helmet is recommended; wingsuits restrict movement. If there is going to be an impact of any kind in a wingsuit, it generally will occur at the front of the fuselage (your head) and your arms cannot be used to protect the head/face. Full-face or open face helmets both work. I personally wear an open face helmet, but many wear full face helmets. There is little doubt the wind can be heard more clearly in a full-face helmet. The sound of the wind is often used to gauge fall rate. An audible may promote awareness due to the potentially elongated skydive. First flights, like AFF, generally terminate at 5.5k, and most skydivers have a lower deployment point. The audible may help with the change in body clock and new sight picture at deployment time. Mudflap or chest mount altimeters are highly recommended; looking at your wrist may cause a turn or instability in the first wingsuit skydive. A good coach should be able to provide these things in the event you don’t have them. I personally prefer chest mounts for FFC’s as they keep the student’s head aligned with the body when looking at the altimeter. Get Taught The Specifics Of Wingsuiting Look for a coach that provides appropriate time to teach specifics relating to: Exits (Exits are the most dangerous part of any wingsuit skydive) Stable flight Navigation Deployment Emergency procedures/recovery from instability You should be doing at least two practice touches in the air as well. Your coach should make sure you not only know all of the above procedures, but assure you feel comfortable in all aspects of the process. The training process should be specific to the aircraft from which you’ll be jumping. Otters and Skyvans have a slightly different exit method than say…a King Air or Cessna 182. Wingsuiting is becoming more common across the world, and suit designs are available for the newcomer to the discipline. A good coach should have an abundance of suits so that the suit fits properly. Wingsuits for introductory skydives/FFC’s include Phoenix-Fly Prodigy, Shadow, and Phantom 2. Tonysuit offers the Intro model, while FYB offers the Access and Indy. All of these wingsuits are designed with beginning wingsuit pilots in mind. Some of them can carry well into a wingsuit pilot’s jumping career, while others will most likely be used for a couple of dozen jumps at best. Linetwists were caused by the student keeping his legs open on deployment. Be cautious about planning for larger suit sizes. There is a balance between wingloading and hang-time. A lightweight person in a very large wingsuit will be more like a “leaf” as opposed to a rocket, where a heavier person in a small suit can generate ridiculous forward speeds. Once you’ve determined that you want to continue down the wingsuit piloting path, you’ll likely figure out whether acrobatics, relative work, flocking, distance flights, or hang-time (time aloft) is the goal. There are suits that can meet most of these goals, while some suits are better designed than others for specific tasks. Performance should not be an objective in initial flights. There are three goals/TLO’s in the FFC that I teach: Safe/clean exit (Avoiding the stabilizer and being stable) Navigation back to the DZ Clean deployment free of malfunctions Other coaches may provide other emphasis, but at the end of the day, the goal of the first wingsuit flight is that it is a fun skydive with a heavy emphasis on safety. You’ll experience a different ground rush, feel the sensation of true flight, and find the wingsuit a very different experience from other skydives. A list of wingsuiting coaches may be found on the websites of various manufacturers. We’re looking forward to seeing you in the flock! DSE is a USPA Coach Examiner, AFFI, Sr. Phoenix-Fly Examiner (North America) and a staff instructor at Skydive Elsinore.
  22. Image by Andrey Veselov This article is a continuation of my previous article “Diving and Tracking Safety on Large Formation Skydives”. Some of that article is repeated here because maximum separation under canopy cannot be achieved without proper breakoff and tracking. On any skydive, it is critical that jumpers keep their heads on a swivel at all times. Nowhere is this more important than large formation skydives where separation is paramount and there is no place for canopies weaving in and out of traffic or front-riser spiraling below other jumpers and cutting them off in the landing area. A few years ago, Kate Cooper-Jensen and other big-way organizers compiled what they called “Rules of the Sky” for canopy piloting on big-way formation skydives. Cooper-Jensen makes sure that everybody knows about these rules at every big-way event she runs. This article reiterates those rules and provides a few additional rules a jumper must follow from the time he breaks off until he opens. Let’s start with responsibilities during breakoff and tracking. At breakoff, jumpers turn and track with their designated tracking groups. Breakoff turn directions should have already been established in the dirt dive to avoid collisions. But turn direction is one thing; how far to turn is another. Jumpers facing the center of the formation turn a full 180 degrees at breakoff. A jumper who is already facing, say, 45 degrees away from the center of the formation turns only about 135 degrees. Jumpers track with their groups for at least five seconds, staying level with their tracking leaders then fanning out a few degrees from the center until the designated opening altitude for their group. A “flat track” is required and absolutely no steep (or “dive”) tracking is allowed! If a jumper goes low, he moves off to the side, assumes a slow fall rate, and tries to get above the formation until the outer wave breaks off, at which time he turns and tracks as far as he can until 2500 feet. Jumpers on the outside of the formation break off first, track the furthest, and open the lowest. Jumpers in the middle break off next and track as far as they can until time to open (at the highest altitude on the load). Jumpers in the base ring track the least distance and open at a low altitude like the outer groups. These staggered openings make it is easier for jumpers to see each other and fly their canopies. Imagine how congested the skies would be if everybody on a 100-way opened at the same altitude. Image by Andrey Veselov As a jumper tracks, he scans the sky in front, below, and on either side. It is his responsibility to watch out for jumpers below. It is also his responsibility to check the sky directly above before he waves off. If another jumper appears directly above or below as he waves off, the jumper can continue tracking to get out of the way. Once a jumper is under a good canopy, the first thing he must do is grab his rear risers and be ready to yank down on a riser if another canopy is coming at him. The general rule is to yank down on the right rear riser if another canopy is approaching directly from the front. If a canopy is coming from another direction, however, say, from the right, it is obvious that the left rear riser should be used. Once the jumper is absolutely sure he is clear of other jumpers, he can collapse his slider, flip up his visor (if applicable), and release his brakes. However, jumpers on large formation loads are normally not permitted to remove booties under canopy. The jumper is now ready to navigate his canopy alongside other canopies in his group on their way to the landing area. Here are the “Rules of the Sky” that big-way jumpers must follow under canopy: Know the recommended canopy wing loading for the event. While not set in stone, a wing loading between 1.25 and 1.75 is typically recommended on large formation skydives so that all canopies will be flying at roughly the same speed. Weights increase a canopy’s wing loading and jumpers should already know if they can safely fly their canopies with the additional weight. Inspect a map of the DZ and landing areas prior to jumping. Know the “outs” and alternate landing areas. This applies mostly to visiting jumpers unfamiliar with the DZ. Know the designated landing direction and landing areas. At most DZs, jumpers follow a left-hand landing pattern unless the spot and wind direction make it impossible to do so. A mandatory landing direction is often assigned. If separate landing areas have been assigned to different sections of the formation, a jumper must follow the same pattern as his landing group. Note: Downwind or crosswind landings may be required by the predetermined landing direction or because of a wind shift after the first canopy lands. Jumpers should already possess the skills necessary to land their canopies crosswind or downwind. Do not cross over into the pattern of another group. If the spot is long, try to make it back to the designated landing area unless doing so would interfere with other jumpers trying to get to their landing areas. In this case, pick an alternate landing area before reaching 1000 feet. Enter the group’s landing pattern around 1000 feet. Follow but stay off to the side of other jumpers entering the landing pattern. Never fly directly behind another canopy. The leading jumper can’t see you and the depressurized air behind the leading canopy can cause your canopy to collapse. Make the final turn between 300 and 500 feet and make no more turns after that. On final approach, turn no more than 90 degrees and never perform S-turns, spiral or hook turns, or fly in deep brakes. This includes camera personnel, organizers, and DZ staff. After landing, turn around while stowing breaks, etc. This allows you to get out of the way of jumpers landing behind you. If the landing area is congested, move off to the side as quickly as possible while watching out for other jumpers trying to land. If landing off the DZ, gather in groups and walk together to the nearest road. If required, check in with the group’s/plane’s designated person. This is especially important if jumpers have landed off the DZ. Conclusion Safety starts with the attitudes and the actions of each and every one of us. While it is perfectly acceptable to demonstrate confidence and experience, it is never acceptable to show off with a blatant disregard for the rules and the safety of others. On the other end of the spectrum, it is never acceptable for a jumper to put himself on a load or in a slot that he is not experienced enough to handle. At one extreme there is over-confidence, at the other, lack of experience. Either one can kill. Reading fatality reports is a sad undertaking but it also makes us angry – angry that the poor judgment of a few puts the rest of us at risk and gives our sport bad press – angry that needless injuries and deaths still occur – and, finally, angry that dear friends had to make the ultimate sacrifice in order for the rest of us to learn. Big-way organizers can only do so much. They can invite the most experienced skydivers in the world, but if just one skydiver doesn’t follow the rules, the results can be fatal. So let’s police ourselves and follow the rules, not just on big-ways, but each and every time we strap on a rig or get a student ready for his first skydive. This sport is a heckuva lot of fun when we do.
  23. Image by Brian Buckland By Ed Lightle This is the first of two articles geared toward safety on big-way formation skydives. This article deals mostly with the freefall part of the skydive whereas the second article “Canopy Safety on Large Formation Skydives” deals mostly with safety under canopy. To get the most benefit, it is recommended that you read both articles. In Formation Skydiving, hundreds of big-ways are completed every year without incident. This is a testament to both the skill level of today’s formation skydivers and the screening process utilized by big-way organizers. To qualify for most big-way events, a participant must obtain the recommendation of a big-way plane captain or organizer and must have recently participated in a big-way camp or big-way event. Organizers take safety seriously. A safety violation on a big-way, whether at a training camp or on a big-way attempt, will get a jumper benched when an honest learning mistake might not. Diving and tracking on big-ways are special areas of concern. With longer diving and tracking times and more jumpers in the air, big-ways naturally increase the risk of a freefall collision. But this risk can be eliminated if jumpers use good common sense and think safety on each and every jump. Here are some tips that can help. Watch Jumpers Ahead of You While Diving As soon as a diver leaves the plane and gets squared away, he must identify the base and the jumpers who will be docking ahead of him in the formation. He must keep them in sight while he dives, stops, sets up and moves in to dock. He should constantly scan the sky in front of him, starting from the base and extending all the way out to the person he will be docking on. He should keep an eye out for camera flyers as well. Because several divers are heading to the same sector of the formation, each diver must follow a straight line from the plane to the area outside the formation where he wants to be stopped and ready to follow jumpers ahead of him into his slot. A jumper should never dive directly behind another diver in case the leading diver comes out of his dive early. The trailing diver should always stay a few feet off to the side. Don’t Zigzag If a diver flares (comes out of his dive) early, he should not zigzag from side to side to bleed off altitude. If he does, he risks being hit by jumpers who are diving behind him. To bleed off altitude at this point, he should either get back into his dive (if he has a lot of distance to make up) or assume a fast fall position while keeping jumpers ahead of him in view. Get to the Red Zone on Time Another area of concern is getting down to the red zone in time. (The red zone is the area around and outside the formation where jumpers have stopped their dives and are lined up and moving straight ahead and down into their slots. From a camera flyer’s perspective, jumpers in the red zone look as if they are lined up in various seats in an imaginary football stadium as them move down to their slots on the field.) A jumper who arrives late in the red zone more than likely has to maneuver around jumpers who are already closing on their slots. He also prevents later divers from getting to their slots. All of this increases the chance of a collision. A more serious situation can occur when a jumper arrives so late that the first wave of jumpers is breaking off. This is not serious if he immediately turns and tracks away with this first wave. If he doesn’t, he risks a head-on collision. Break Off with Your Group To maximize horizontal separation and avoid congestion, jumpers on big-ways break off in “waves”. Imagine how congested it would be if everybody on a 100-way turned and tracked at the same time! On a 100-way, for example, the outer wave might break off around 7000 feet, the next wave around 6000 feet, the next wave at 5000 and so on until only the base group is left. Obviously, the outer wave tracks the furthest horizontal distance and the base tracks the shortest. Again, a jumper who doesn’t arrive in the red zone until break off should turn and track with the outer wave. Track with Your Group When their wave breaks off, jumpers should track away in groups. A group can consist of a few jumpers from one whacker and a few from an adjacent whacker with one jumper in the center of the group designated the tracking leader. At breakoff, jumpers from each whacker turn in the direction of the tracking leader, track side by side for a few seconds, then fan out away from the center. A jumper who goes low should move off to the side, assume a slow fall rate, and try to get above the formation until the outer wave breaks off, at which time he should turn and track away with them. Flat Track, Don’t “Dive” Track A jumper should stay level with other trackers in his group, and everybody should “flat track” to conserve altitude and maximize horizontal separation. “Dive” tracking (very steep tracking) is not acceptable behavior on a big-way,” says Kate Cooper-Jensen, big-way organizer and multiple world record holder, adding, “A jumper can almost stop dive tracking simply by choosing to alter his body position during the turn away from the formation.” To initiate a flat track, a jumper assumes a slow fall position while turning away from the formation, essentially de-arching as he turns. This prevents him from immediately dropping into a dive track below other jumpers in his group. Keeping his hips elevated as he finishes his turn, the jumper then locks his knees, points his toes, and points his head toward the horizon. His arms are initially extended 45 degrees away from his sides and his feet shoulder-width apart. As he picks up speed, he rolls his shoulders forward, and brings his arms closer to his sides and his feet closer together. He should feel the lift as he picks up speed. Open at the Same Altitude as Your Group As an additional safety measure, opening altitudes of the various waves are staggered to maximize separation and make it easier for jumpers to account for open canopies around them. According to one theory, groups in the middle wave open at the highest altitudes while the outside and base groups open at the lowest. The result is a curve of open canopies, starting lowest at the base, curving up in the middle then down again on the outsides. Conclusion A successful big-way is a team effort with the goal of building a completed formation the safest way possible. Diving and tracking on a big-way is like driving on the highway. A safe driver knows more than just how to push the accelerator and go fast. He maintains a safe distance from the driver in front, he doesn’t switch lanes without looking, and he doesn’t cut in front of other drivers just to beat them to the exit. He gets to where he needs to be in plenty of time without causing an accident. So does a safe big-way formation skydiver.
  24. fuga

    Beginning Freeflying

    Whether you are interested in freeflying as a main discipline, or you only want to make the occasional "fun jump", you will still want to follow the best and safest learning progression. Though freeflying can be a very fun discipline to take part in, it can also be very dangerous if you get it wrong. It is not something to rush into. You should take your time and enjoy the experience of flying in this new dimension. This article will introduce you to the steps you need to take to have a safe and fun experience and carry on doing so throughout your freeflying career. Not Just Vertical Freeflying isn’t just about learning to fly headup and headdown, it’s everything (yes belly flying too). As your skills improve you will realize that you can use all angles and positions between headup and headdown. Once you are proficient on your back, belly, feet and head, you will see that everything flows together and you end up moving in between these positions with ease. To get to this stage you need to have a solid base in all these positions and an understanding of what the air is doing to your body. Too many people, especially now that freeflying is becoming so popular, go straight to headup flying after AFF and quickly move to headdown. The majority of these people are limiting themselves in the future and will find that they have to go back and learn basic belly flying and back flying to progress any further. I will now go through the steps I believe necessary to become proficient at this discipline. Future articles in this series will go through some of these steps in more detail, explaining how to do them, how to practice them, and drill dives to improve these skills. You should try to learn these skills in the order listed to increase the learning curve. Belly Flying The most important thing is to become proficient on your belly. This doesn’t mean you need to become a 4-way master, but learning how to move around the sky with control certainly helps (especially now that hybrids are becoming more common). You should learn the following: Fall rate control Horizontal movement (forwards, backwards and sidewards) Center point turns Diving to a formation Docking on a formation Superpositional moves (e.g. sidesliding while moving forwards – known as carving) Break off procedures (flat tracking) It also helps if you experiment with barrel rolls, forward loops and back loops to get used to not just being on your belly. All these skills will become very beneficial in the future. The other advantage to learning to fly on your belly is that you will be getting used to flying close to other people and will be learning the necessary skills to do this, even though it is in a different position. Tracking By now, you should have already learned how to flat track. It’s time to take tracking one step further. Find a coach or someone who has experience leading tracking dives and learn the following: Tracking on exit Heading control Fall rate control Speed control (speeding up/slowing down) Moving Sideways Break off procedures (different on tracking dives) Tracking is a big part of freeflying. Learning these skills will help on breakoff, especially with larger groups, and will also help you when it comes to tracking dives. Back Flying Back flying is the first big step towards learning headup flight. You won’t be able to see the ground and you will start to get used to feeling the air on your back and the other side of your legs. This skill can be used a lot in freeflying when you get low on a jump or become unstable. This position is used to get back where you want to be, while preventing corking (suddenly lose speed) and hurting someone. You should learn: Heading control Fall rate control Horizontal movement (forwards, backwards and sidewards) Turns Barrel rolls from belly flying to back flying and back again Front/Back loops from belly flying to back flying and back again The advantage of back flying is that its speed range is huge. You can stay with a belly formation quite easily, but you can also speed up so that headdown flyers can stay with you without a problem. This diversity is what makes it such a useful technique in freeflying. Headup Flying This is where things start to get a bit different. Because you are in a vertical orientation, you have to learn how to move your body differently, move your arms and legs differently, whilst remembering that arching doesn’t make you stable at all. In later articles we will cover all of this in a lot of detail, explaining how and why, but you must always remember that an article is in no way a substitute for a coach. Whenever you have the chance, get coaching! Things you need to learn: Heading control Fall rate control Horizontal movement (forwards, backwards and sidewards) Turns Transitions (cartwheels, front loops, back loops) Independent arm movement (altimeter checks, taking docks, etc) Correct exit technique Breakoff procedures (you can’t simply go to your belly and track) Headup flying is much faster than any of the other positions. Because of this, every movement has a much larger effect than it would if you were going slower. The air is moving over you much faster and therefore has much more power behind it. Therefore, you have to be very careful with your movements to ensure the safety of yourself and others. Back Tracking Back tracking is a very important skill in freeflying, especially when starting to learn headdown. During breakoffs it adds a whole new perspective and gives you more awareness. Once you have learned headdown this position will open up more angles and add fluidity to your jumps. Backtracking is what I call a power position, this means that when your learning it you have to put in a lot of energy to keep an efficient position and to speed up, etc.. Things you should learn: Back tracking exit Heading control Fall rate control Speed control (forwards/backwards) Moving Sideways Break off procedures (different on tracking dives) Transitions (back to belly/belly to back) Once you have learned these skills, try going on a tracking dive, getting next to the base and transitioning to your back track position, while staying relative. Talk to an experienced freefly coach and ask about leading a tracking dive; you’ll learn a lot. Headdown Learning headdown brings a whole new level to your freeflying. Everything flows together much better and you can move around the sky with more ease. While moving around becomes so much easier, collisions become much more of a danger and you must be even more cautious. This position is not a power position. By this I mean that once you are used to keeping your legs wide you will be able to move around smoothly and fast without having to push into your movement. Again you should aim to learn the basics before you start work on complex manoeuvres. Use this list: Correct exit technique for jumping with others Heading control Fall rate control Turns Horizontal movement (forwards, backwards and sidewards) Transitions (front loop, back loop and cartwheel) both to/from headup and from headdown to headdown Independent arm movement (altimeter checks, presenting for docks, etc) Correct breakoff procedures Once you’ve done this you can start to work on using your skills to take docks, carve, etc. Jumping with Others When you start to jump with other freeflyers, you have a lot more to think about, including where the other jumpers in your group are at all times. As a minimum you should specify the following for a freefly jump with others: Exit Content of jump (don’t just say ‘we’ll see what happens’, have a plan and stick to it) Base (specify someone as a person, everyone should then work towards them for a level) Breakoff (what is the breakoff height, make sure everyone knows where the others are and do not go straight to their belly and track, slowly decrease your speed as you track away) When you are just learning freeflying you should only be jumping solo or with an experienced freeflyer. Use the following as a rough guide to how many people, maximum, you should be jumping with: 0-100 freefly jumps: Solo’s or 2 Ways 100-300 freefly jumps: Up to 3 ways maximum 300-500 freefly jumps: Up to 5 people maximum After this I try to use good judgement and common sense If you have only ever done 2-ways then at the most you should only allow yourself to go on 3-ways. Safety Freeflying can involve a huge range of speeds, trajectories and positions, which presents us with many possibly dangerous situations. Because of this you need to ensure you have the correct training and also the right equipment. Your container should fit well. You should not use a leg throwaway system, only BOC throw out or pull out is acceptable. The leg straps should fit right and not easily slip down your legs. You should also have some kind of bungee between the two leg straps to make sure they do not move around in freefall. It should have good riser and bridle protection with an absolute maximum of 1” exposed bridle near the BOC. Your pins and flaps should be tight. A good test is to gently lift your rig by each pin cover separately - if the covers stays closed then you’re good to go, but if the cover opens when lifting then get the opinion of an experienced rigger. You should have a minimum of 2 altimeters: one visual and one audible. This is important as when you are learning to freefly it can be difficult to see your visual altimeter and it is easy to forget that you will be falling much faster than you would be if belly flying. The audible altimeter will remind you of this. Wear a hard helmet. Don’t think you can get away without a helmet or just a frapp hat. Hard helmets might not save you from everything, but can mean the difference between life and death. If you’re just starting freeflying, don’t even think about wearing a camera helmet. This just adds to the list of new things you will have to think about and will take your awareness away from other more important matters. Some people get away with a full face helmet but if you are learning to freefly then I would suggest an open face. This allows you to keep better eye contact with your coach or other jumpers. Any clothing you wear should be durable and secure. It shouldn’t be able to cover any of your handles and shouldn’t be excessively baggy. A good all round freefly suit will do the job. When learning headup, a lot of people like to wear trousers and a baggier top to help them. If you’re doing this, then make sure the top is tucked in well and is secure. You should always use an AAD of some form when freeflying. You can easily have collisions when freeflying and closing speeds can be upwards of 100mph. It is also very easy to lose altitude awareness. An AAD could save your life, fatal collisions have happened to very experienced freeflyers, why couldn’t it happen to you? The next article in this series will concentrate on how to do the things mentioned in this progression list. There will be ground exercises and tips on performing these in the sky. Louis Harwood is a freeflyer from the UK and jumps at Target Skysports, in Hibaldstow. He has competed for the last two years in the Artistic nationals, he has two silver and one gold medal in B catagory freefly, freestyle and skysurf. www.avalore.co.uk
  25. weegegirl

    The History of Atmonauti Fly

    Atmonauti is a human flight technique, body free, invented by Marco Tiezzi in 1998. Developed and perfected with the help of Gigliola Borgnis, it was presented for the first time in 2000 at the World Freestyle Competitions, the European Espace Boogie, and the Eloy Freefly Festival. The technique consists of flying diagonal with a determinate relation between angle and trajectory speed of the body, to obtain an air stream that permits lift and a precise control of flight. The aim is to fly in formation at the same level and angle, and to be able to perform different aerial games, such as freestyle, three-dimensional flight formation with grip, or acrobatic freefly maneuver (see the 'guinnes' page in www.atmonauti.com). All this is not executed in the normal vertical trajectory of the gravity force. The atmonaut creates his own diagonal trajectory, and thanks to this technique, he regulates with extreme precision all the parameters, such as the angle (trim), speed, and direction, becoming a real 'flight pilot' of his own body. The term 'Atmonauti' ('atmonauts' in English), coined by Marco Tiezzi, is defined as: Atmosphere Navigators (like 'astronauts', that mean astro=space nauts=navigators), the ideal 'definition' of this new way of fly. Revolutionizing the concept of skydiving, where all the different disciplines are performed in the vertical fall (the trajectory of the gravity force), Atmonauti fly is a very complex kind of 'relative' work that occurs during a real 'flight'. There is a considerable horizontal displacement, and above all longer flight time. In fact, the Atmonauti fly permits the jumper to remain in the air for a 50% longer time in respect to the vertical free flight, confirming a real 'human fly performance'. In continuous development and evolution, the Atmonauti fly marked another important step in 2001. Gigliola Borgnis discovered the possibility of flying in the angle trajectory with the feet first instead of head first, realizing something that was considered impossible since then... another revolution that confirms and opens the potential of the Atmonauti fly! In 2002, Marco Tiezzi invented the "Atmonauti tandem", experimenting with the technique to maintain the same angle and speed of a normal Atmonauti fly, but with double the weight (without drogue of course). The tandem Atmonauti offers the passenger the exceptional possibility of trying a real sensation of flying, instead of falling. In 2002 Atmonauti became a reality, known and practiced all over the world. The Atmonauti fly also entered into the compulsory of FAI competitions of free style and freefly. At the end of 2003, the short-film "Atmosphere Navigators", composed of only images in Atmonauti angle fly, won first place in the Flyboyz Film Festival for its unique images and technical contents of the highest level. (The movie is available at www.atmonauti.com.) And again, in October, 2004, Marco discovered the possibility to fly Atmonauti in the wind tunnel: "Tunnelnauts" = "wind tunnel navigators". That consisted of flying around all the perimeter of the tunnel in a side Atmonauti position. Gigliola Borgnis and Marco Tiezzi, of Team Atmonauti, will feature another article on the Technique of Atmonauti Fly in the near future. Until then, more information on beginning your "Atmosphere Navigation" can be found on their website at www.atmonauti.com.