Canopy flight is a lot like summer football mania. Some people absolutely love it, and can’t get enough, whilst others just want it to be over as quick as possible. Whichever camp you fall into, here are some simple tips to help improve your experience under canopy and keep everyone safe!
Have a plan
Sounds simple, right? That’s because it is! In any aviation activity, it is important to have a plan before you leave the ground. What heading will the aircraft be using for jump run? Where is your holding area? Who else will be in the sky at the same time? What height markers are you using for your landing pattern? What direction is the wind coming from, to help you choose a suitable landing direction? These are all questions that you should ask yourself, and have the answers to, before you go to the plane. If you are ever in any doubt, our instructors are here to help.
Airspace. Airspace. Airspace.
You wouldn’t drive down a busy road without ever checking your mirrors or looking out for other road users. It’s exactly the same when flying a parachute. Whenever we change direction, or change the speed at which the parachute flies, we need to be checking who else is around us. Don’t just look at where you are currently heading, look at the path you plan to take. Is there someone there now? Is there likely to be someone there before you get there? If the answer is yes, then exercise caution. As a general rule, if we assume that everyone else has right of way then we shouldn’t create an issue. Gone are the days when you were in the air with 2 or 3 other people - with up to 15 other canopies in the air from our C208B aircraft, spiraling creates unnecessary risk. When you spiral a canopy, that is to make multiple 360 turns in quick succession, you lose considerably more altitude than your canopy normally would at full flight. This often means that larger canopies catch up with smaller, faster canopies, creating a bottleneck close to the ground. This is dangerous, and can lead to canopy collisions. You may enjoy spiraling when you are new to skydiving, but if these maneuvres are what you want to do then you should exit on a separate pass at a lower altitude. The bottom line is to be predictable. If people can easily predict where you will fly, they can plan their own canopy flight. Look after them, and they should look after you.
You know the drill, you’ve just rocked an awesome 4way jump. You scored all the points, you tracked away and have flown your parachute all the way to landing. Then it happens, for some reason you end up travelling sideways and as you reach for the ground with your foot, you tumble through your lines, losing all the cool points you just earned. Some people may blame the parachute; some blame side gusts or air gremlins. Simply: it’s not them, it’s you. When you flare for landing, keep your arms level and pull the toggles down smoothly. If the toggles are level, then you shouldn’t have this problem.
You can read as many of these articles as you like, but the best way to build your skills and rock every landing is with coaching. A coach can video your landings and talk you through everything step by step, and tailor a coaching programme to your individual needs.
Skydive Langar has canopy handling and canopy piloting coaches on site, and canopy courses are available regularly. Get in touch for details.
Words: Nick Robinson