Get Current: I’m not Strong Enough to Flare, Part 1

Katie Hansen: totally took weak to flare!

This is the first part of two on the topic of landings – in particular the strength it takes to flare. The first one is written by Katie Hansen, an NZ Aerosports sponsored pilot, and incredible talented flyer both under canopy and in freefall. The second part will be published next week – from the male perspective – written by Australian Canopy Piloting competitor Robbie McMillan.  Katie and Robbie are a part of The Canopy School team, dedicated to furthering awesome human flight. 

canopy2

Ladies! Is your jumpsuit and rig always dirty? Do you get anxious coming into land?

Not flaring all the way is one of the most common problems I see. This can be from anticipation of the ground coming up and the pilot essentially stopping flying the canopy, resulting in an incomplete flare and a subsequently a hard landing.
With girls, a common excuse is that it’s too hard to flare all the way – and the reason given is lack of strength.

Lets explore this a little further, beginning with the mental aspect. It is very important to be confident when coming in for a landing.  I like to call this proactive canopy piloting vs reactive canopy piloting, setting the stage for a successful and safe landing.

Proactive Piloting vs Reactive Piloting

Don’t be along for the ride. Be the driver! Come in with the “I’VE F*ING GOT THIS!” strong attitude. Flare that shit! If you think you’re going to eat it landing, you probably will. Consider your body language on approach, and what it is telling you. Have a friend film your landing, or simply make a mental note to observe your own body. Are your feet already way out in front of you? If you were to step off a bench and put your feet out like that, would you land on your feet or your butt? You’ve got to believe in yourself, and set yourself up for success. Focus on keeping your feet underneath your hips, and be strong. Don’t stop flying your parachute until your feet are on the ground, finish that flare ALL the way. Be proactive, not reactive.

So…Am I Ready to Downsize?

Now that we’ve cleared up the mental side of it, if you really can’t get those toggles down all the way because there is just too much pressure…not to fret, but NOT to downsize. True, downsizing might alleviate some toggle pressure. But. it brings on another set of potentially dangerous consequences for both you and the people around you. Our main goal is to keep everyone safe and have fun at the dropzone. If you truly are not able flare your canopy because you are not strong enough, it’s time for a little bodily maintenance. Use skydiving as your motivation to get in shape – work it, sister!

Here are some things you can do to get in shape for skydiving and to help you improve that flare and landing:

  1. Set a goal that’s realistic. 
    – If you keep it real, you’re much more likely to achieve it. You will feel good about yourself, as you should, for accomplishing it and motivate yourself to keep going!
  2. Put a timeline on it. 
    – Do you have an organizer coming to the dz you want to jump with next month? Do it!
  3. Believe in yourself.  
    – Make the change you need to. It’s not the canopy’s fault you can’t flare it, so it’s not the canopy that needs to change.
  4. Get coaching!
    – Getting professional canopy coaching is a great step towards improving technique and confidence to land consistently well.

Skydiving is amazing and most people with they could do it, when the truth is that they can. The thing that makes skydivers special is that they choose to. People who are already fit enough to flare aren’t special. If you’re having a tough time with it, keep working at it – you really can do it!

You just need to choose to.

Katie Hansen: totally took weak to flare!

Katie Hansen: totally took weak to flare!

Connect with Katie Hansen and The Canopy School via Facebook (Canopy School), Facebook (for Katie Hansen), Twitter or Google+.  Go flare!

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Articles, tips and tricks from experts to help you emerge into the new season a well-rounded and fabulously interesting skydiver

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Poll on Proposed 2015 IPC CP Rules

Photo courtesy of Joe Abeln Photography

With the 2015 swoop season underway, competitors are taking a look at the new rules being proposed by the IPC. Many veteran Canopy Pilots were caught by surprise by the changes suggested and feel that further discussion is warranted.

The Canadian CP Team would like to explore in more detail what the competitors (that will be using these proposed rules) really think and give the competitors of the PRO/Open categories events a forum to express themselves. If you are (or have been) attending events at the IPC level, please take this poll hosted on the Canadian CP Tame Facebook page, and share it with your fellow competitors.  Click here to vote.
If you don’t have Facebook but would like to share a comment, please feel free to leave that below – we will make sure to pass it on.

Photo courtesy of Joe Abeln Photography

Photo courtesy of Joe Abeln Photography

Get Current Series – 2015 edition

GetCurrent2015

GetCurrent2015Last year we gathered up some good articles from a handful of companies and individuals, and threw a sort of an online safety day. Over the span of a couple of weeks, it provided a great opportunity for uncurrent skydivers to brush up on their knowledge. Some of the posts in that series remained our most visited throughout the year, with lot of great feedback and information.

We now bring you the 2015 edition. We are still waiting for the final list, as some of our hopeful candidates are juggling busy manufacturing schedules, PIA preparation, competitions and life in general, but hope that they can finagle a submission. If you are an expert skydiver, instructor or gear nut, and would like to share, we still have a handful of slots open. Email Kolla to discuss participation.

Below is a list of most of the authors and topics we have on the schedule. We will be metering these out over the next couple of weeks, so stay tuned for a smorgasbord of  skydiving related goodies on your screen.

We present, in no particular order:

  • True or False: Will worn lines break during opening, in flight or on landing?  Team effort by the Performance Designs staff
  • Fitting a Rig by Sandy Reid of Rigging Innovations
  • BASE tips – 3 installments by Chris ‘Douggs’ Mcdougall of Base Dreams
  • Tips and Tricks: How to Improve Upright Flying in the Tunnel (and the sky)  by Chris Argyle, instructor at iFly Utah an Skydive Ogden, Utah
  • 7 Quick Tips Before Your First Swoop Comp by Andrew ‘Angry’ Woolf
  • I’m Not Strong Enough to Flare – a two two part series authored by NZ Aerosports athletes Katie Hansen (Part 1) and Robbie McMillan (Part 2)
  • Speed Riding – by the staff at Fluid Wings
  • Beginner Safety by NZ Aerosports athlete Matt Fogarty
  • Topic to be announced – written by Rigging Legend, submitted through Velocity Sports Equipment
  • Another SECRET TOPIC by inside masterminds at NZ Aerosports, Chris Brocks and Julien Peelman. Our inside people in NZ tell us Julien may go into some aerodynamics and Chris will look at the world form a test jumper perspective

From the “we might be able to play” files, we have pending submissions from certain PD Factory Team/Flight-1 members, another one from Everest jumper/Tandem Examiner guru Tom Noonan, World Record Momma Melissa Lowe, possibly something from UPT and/or Vigil and some other smart skydivers. Stay tuned, as this list may change!

Get Current

Articles, tips and tricks from experts to help you emerge into the new season a well-rounded and fabulously interesting skydiver

Get Current Series

Get Current 2015: Will worn lines break during opening, in flight or on landing?

Strength Loss: HMA line

The first installment in the 2015 Get Current series is brought to us by Performance Designs, Inc. PD’s maintenance department fields a lot of questions about line condition and when it is time to send your beloved in for a reline.

True or false? If a line is going to break, it could happen during opening, in flight or on landing.

This is true. It is unwise to think that if your lines are worn and they’re likely to break at some point, it will only happen during opening. There have been several situations where lines have snapped during the landing sequence. In every case, the lines were in really bad shape and should have already been replaced.

Below are some illustrations of loss of strength on lines with varying degrees of wear. Find your type of line and use for visual comparison next time you check out your main.

Strength Loss: Microline

Strength Loss: Microline


Strength Loss: Vectran line

Strength Loss: Vectran line


Strength Loss: HMA line

Strength Loss: HMA line


Strength Loss: Dacron

Strength Loss: Dacron

When debating if/when you should get a reline, consider not just the cost of the actual reline, but the potential costs of losing a canopy due to a malfunction or potential injury if it happens on landing.
When you should get a reline depends on several factors, including how well you take care of your gear and the environment you jump in. There really is no ‘magic number’ for the lifespan of a line set. The variance can be quite dramatic. It’s best to be proactive and replace lines if you’re seeing signs of wear, such as broken carriers, very ‘fuzzy’ lines, etc.
PDBlock-OrangePD-150dpi

Get Current

Articles, tips and tricks from experts to help you emerge into the new season a well-rounded and fabulously interesting skydiver

Get Current Series

Wingsuit Cutaway Following an Unrecoverable Spin

Steve's Zulu-122 headed for a night in a tree

Steve Hubbard, a jumper at Skydive DeLand recently attended a Wingsuit Speed Camp at Skydive DeLand, hosted by Jay Moledzki, Carlos Pedro Briceño, and Rob Heron – all well-known and highly experienced wingsuiters.
The camp split up in groups based on experience level, and in the video below, Steve was flying with Jay Moledzki and another jumper as a part of the experienced group. Shortly after exit, the third jumper fell quite a bit behind and was not in the mix for the rest of the jump. Nearing break off, Steve makes a small movement to check his airspace and locate Jay, which results in an unrecoverable spin.  Steve responded by deploying the main canopy to get out of the spin. Unsurprisingly, the main opened with a few line twists, and following the cutaway, Steve landed safely under his reserve.

Steve's Zulu-122 headed for a night in a tree

Steve’s Zulu-122 headed for a night in a tree

Instead of sweeping this one under the rug and acting like nothing happened (getting harder and harder to do in this GoPro age!), Steve immediately posted up the video and agreed to share his recollection of the jump so that other wingsuiters flying the big suits all out may review what took place and learn from it – thank you, Steve!

Information about Steve and his equipment:

  • Number of jumps: 1400 jumps, of that 700 wingsuit jumps
  • Ratings and licenses: D-license, AFF instructor, Coach
  • Currency: Jumps every weekend – one of those “never been uncurrent” people. Averaging approximately 400 jumps per year.
  • Wingsuit: Tony Suits Jedei (about 150 jumps on that particular suit)
  • Rig: Aerodyne Icon I3
  • Main: Aerodyne Zulu 122
  • Reserve: Aerodyne Smart LPV 150 (the LPV designates a low bulk version)
  • AAD: Airtec Cypres 2

Steve notes that while the Zulu is not an appropriate wingsuit canopy for the masses, it can be safely used by experienced wingsuiters. In this particular case, probably only a round would have stood a chance of a clean deployment.  On a happy note, all gear was recovered, even if the main had to spend a night in a tree.

After the jump, Steve mentioned that he mostly felt relief that it was over. During the jump everything happened so quickly that there really was no time to think about the what to do. It was a matter of assessing the situation quickly and respond almost immediately. That is where skills, currency and experience come into play.  Steve did note that losing control like this is pretty uncommon for experienced pilots, but that it clearly does happens. This was the first time in Steve’s 700 wingsuit jumps that he had experienced being out of control in this manner. The procedure to handle a flat spin – and more importantly how to avoid one – is (or should be!) taught at every First Flight Course.

 

Fly Sight Data from the jump

Fly Sight Data from the jump

Steve Hubbard’s recollection of the jump: 

This was the last jump on day one of the Wingsuit Speed Camp held at Skydive Deland, hosted by Carlos Pedro Briceño, Jay Moledzki, and Rob Heron. Things had been progressing nicely throughout the jumps earlier in the day, with the groups getting tighter and faster. On the last jump of the day, we really wanted to push it and end the day on a very strong note, setting the stage for the remaining 2 days of the camp. 

On the jump, everything started out very typical, just faster than the previous jumps. Jay was flying faster, which made me have to fly faster. I was working hard to stay in my assigned slot in our formation (forward and to the left of Jay). We were flying strong, yet relaxed, and according to Jay’s FlySight data, we reached speeds of 150 MPH horizontally. As the jump continued, we executed our turns with no real issues. There were a couple of points where I slipped a little out of slot, but was able to come back and slide back in with little problem – everything was going great.

Once we made our final turn on to the return leg of our planned flight, we really turned up the speeds, as we had been doing on earlier jumps. Things were feeling great. I got a bit out in front of Jay and wanted to maintain visual contact with him and this is where the trouble started.

Once out in front, I turned my head to look back at Jay, but couldn’t see him. He was blocked by my right arm wing. Not a real problem – I could just lift up my shoulder, which should clear my view and I’ll be able to see where he is. Sure enough, that worked. Once I had Jay in my sights again, I returned my focus to straight ahead and attempted to return to my standard flight position, lowering my right arm back down to where it should be. In doing that, I over-corrected and my right shoulder dipped lower than it should have, allowing the 150+ MPH wind to hit the top of my shoulder arm wing, pushing me way off axis. This can be clearly seen in the video – when my right shoulder is far below my left I look almost sideways!  After reviewing the jump videos and talking to several highly experienced wingsuiters, it is that moment – where my right shoulder was below my left that was the beginning of the end. I tried to correct the situation, knowing that this could get bad quickly. I rushed that correction and that’s what started my roll (which you can also see in the video, from both perspectives).

Despite everything happening incredibly fast (all this took place in about 2 seconds), I till realize how much trouble I was in. Once the roll started, at those speeds, there really was no recovering it for me, but I tried everything I could think of in the moment. It seemed anything I did only made the situation worse. I was able to stop the rolling, but that only put me on my back, in an uncontrolled flat spin. It was here when I knew I was in major trouble. Thankfully, I had a fairly clear idea of where I was, altitude wise. The roll started at approximately 4500’ and the flat spin started very shortly after that. In the middle of the flat spin, while trying to recover and fly out of it, I had so many things going through my mind at what seemed like lightning fast speeds, yet I could very clearly hear my audible altimeter beeping at the prescribed altitudes – I heard my 4000’ alarm go off shortly after everything started, and then I heard my 3500’ alarm go off some time after that. At some point, between my 3500’ alarm and my final 2500’ alarm, I came to the realization that recovery and stability was just not going to happen – I had to resort to plan B.

Plan B. Yikes. I completely abandoned whatever stability I was hoping to obtain and immediately ran through every option I had. All I could hear is the voice of my mentor and friend, Scotty Burns, who taught me how to wingsuit. 2 things stuck out in my mind. First was that if you stay in a flat spin long enough, you run the risk of passing out, due to the centrifugal forces of the spin. The more violent the spin, the less time you have. My friends and I counted, after I was down on the ground – I did 21 rotations in 13 seconds – I don’t know if that would be considered violent, but it sure seemed pretty fast to me. I knew I had to end the spin one way or the other, and I had to do so fast. The second thing I remember Scotty telling me was that if you ever go completely unstable, you need to get a canopy out – this will at least slow things down and make them more manageable.

So my decision was made. I knew going to my reserve in that state was out of the question. I had to get my hand to my pilot chute and get my main canopy out, one way or the other. Now this sounds easy enough, but factor in the centrifugal forces from the spin and the massive inflation in the arm wings of the suit – this was no simple task. I estimate that it took me about 5 dedicated seconds to get my hands back to my pilot chute. Once I felt my hacky, I immediately deployed my main canopy, already knowing that there was no way this was going to come out cleanly and that I was certainly going to have to cut away – I was willing to sacrifice my main canopy for some semblance of stability. The main canopy came out (you can see it deploying over my right shoulder), yet the fun wasn’t over yet. As the canopy deployed, because of the spin, the lines were dragged across my helmet, from the right side to the left, and in doing so, it snagged on something – I’m still not quite sure what, but all of a sudden, my head was being pulled to the right. I now had to clear the snag before I cut away the main canopy, which had opened in an incredible amount of line twists and almost immediately started diving at the ground. I estimate that I was at approximately 2500’ when the main canopy came and stopped my flat spin – but the important thing is that it STOPPED MY FLAT SPIN.

I estimate that it took me approximately 3-5 seconds to clear the lines that were caught on my helmet, which allowed the canopy to come out in front of my, with my head going between the risers, giving me a brief view of the canopy – no good. It had line twists practically up the entire line set, from risers to canopy. Again – I was fully expecting a main canopy malfunction, so the view up the lines was just out of habit and to confirm. I immediately reached for my cutaway and reserve handles, pulled one, then the other, and AMAZINGLY, I had one of the best reserve canopy deployments I have ever seen. On heading, no line twists, flying straight and stable and it even had the courtesy of aiming me directly back to the dropzone, giving me a chance to land in a clear and open area.

Once the reserve was out and I realized that the situation was finally under control, I took a second to collect myself. I unzipped my arms from the wingsuit and looked at my altimeter – it read just above 1100’. To be honest, I really expected to be much lower than that – it felt that so much time had passed – I was truly surprised. I unzipped my legs from the suit and landed safely.

In the end, the important things I think to take from my ordeal are these.

  1. Pay attention to your training and NEVER, EVER get complacent. You’ll never know when you’ll need it.
  2. Even when things go wrong, it is vital to keep your composure and do your best to stay calm. Panicking will only make things worse.
  3. And maybe most importantly, you need to analyze your options, make the best decision you can, based on your training, knowledge, and experience, and once your decision is made on how to act, execute that decision, immediately. You can’t afford to wait. You’ll run out of time and altitude before you know it.

Hopefully this experience will help my fellow wingsuiters in some fashion – be safe everyone! 

 

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