A few words from Australian Canopy Pilot Robbie McMillan on swooping and staying alive, as a part of our Get Current series, compliments of the NZ Aerosports canopy team.
Robbie McMillan has been flying high performance canopies and winning competitions for years. World famous in Australia (and in swooping circles) Robbie has written hundreds of articles on canopy piloting and has a wealth of experience and knowledge.
Start thinking and acting like a pilot should. A parachute is no longer simply a means to get you to the ground. Parachutes are the most efficiently built low glide ratio wings in the world and we generally spend the least amount of time flying them. Begin to learn the fundamentals of flight and how they apply to parachute piloting. So open higher, spend more quality time enjoying piloting your parachute.
Skydivers tend to be on a one track mindset to get a smaller faster canopy to match their progression of freefall skills. Wind Tunnels are a great tool to progress your freefall skills, tho you can’t land a parachute in a tunnel. If you’re a smart pilot, you should spend an equal or greater amount of time and money investing in canopy flight and canopy coaching.
Practice your PLR’s. When was the last time you practiced a Parachute Landing Roll? [Known as PLF – Parachute Landing Fall in the Northern hemisphere] Skydivers that hurt themselves in our sport are either very unlucky or very unprepared for the consequences of your choice of flight inputs. Pilots that are good at PLR’s are way more likely to walk away from an awkward landing.
Flying Slow is just as important as flying fast. You should be spending just as much time, if not more flying in the deeper ranges of your toggle movement. For most people the only time they spend in deep breaks is when they flare for landing, and of course this is where all the accidents occur.
The Recovery Arc. We can all give inputs to our canopy in many combinations of ways, however the stage of the flight cycle that is often overlooked is the recovery arc, whether it be natural or forced. Due consideration must be given to this aspect of flight otherwise your recovery may in a hospital bed.
You can catch more of the Staying Alive tips from the pros through the original post.