Getting the most out of your consols

Skydive LangarAFF

Dive Exit

Consolidation jumps are a chance to practice the skills you’ve learnt during your AFF Course levels and also learn some extra skills. To achieve your A licence you’ll need to complete 10 consolidation jump and your Level 8 (Hop and Pop) after the 7 Level Skydiving Course. After your A licence you’ll probably want to start learning how to jump with other people, this is the FS1 or Formation Skydiving qualification. There’s things you can practice on your consols to get a head start!

Before trying a new skill ask a instructor and we’ll give you a short briefing, there might be some tips or safety points that are important to know.

Exits 

Standard – with a practice touch

For your first couple of consols keep practicing the exit you have used on your levels. After a couple of seconds try a practice touch, this is good practice for your level 8.

Don’t forget to present into the airflow and arch hard as you exit, if you are struggling to be stable on exit, ask an instructor for some more advice.

Dive to the tail

Diving to the tail is good fun, the visual is quite different but some people find this easier as you’re looking to the ground as you dive out.

The key to the exit is still the same, you need to present your chest and arch to the airflow, only this time your head will be lower than your legs on the hill.

Unstable exit

Once you have done your level 8, try doing an unstable exit. Set up with your back to the door and hold on to your ankles or grips, (make sure the rig is already outside the plane so that you don’t roll over it) then ask the dispatching instructor to give you a push. Count to 5 and then arch to recover.

Float exit

Have you tried holding on to the outside of a moving aircraft?

Float exits are great and are used a lot when jumping with several other people. The trick is to be strong as it’s pretty windy out there! Remember the key to a good exit is presentation and arching and this is the same whether you’re exiting from inside the plane or outside.

Safety tip: Be careful of your rig as you climb out so that you don’t knock your rig on the door frame.

Spotting

During your consols try to get into the habit of spotting. Before exiting put your head out the door, look down and verify where you are over the ground. Ask an instructor for a brief on basic spotting. Try to find out what the exit seperation is before it’s your turn to jump.

In Freefall

Tracking

You can use your consols to practice tracking, this means by the time you work towards your FS1, your break offs will be great! 

First of all, practice tracking in a straight line, make sure you pick a heading first and then don’t rush getting into the track position. 

Once you are happy that you can track in a straight line, try and adjust the heading of your track by 45 °. The most simple way of doing this is to look at a new heading, as you look you will naturally dip your shoulder and this will cause the turn.

If you are a tracking ninja and have found that you can control the heading of your track you can try making your track more efficient. Remember the aim of the track is to cover as much horizontal distance within a certain altitude (from break off to pull time). If you flatten off your arch and bring your chin  to your chest you will lose less altitude during the track and so can track for longer. This might feel a little wobbly at first but try to relax in to it.

Safety tip: don’t track for too long or you might end up directly above or below other skydivers on the load. Avoid tracking for more than 5 seconds on any jump unless you’re sure you’re not tracking up or down the jump run. Ask your instructor about this if you’re not sure. 

FS1 skills

Once completing all your consols most people will start working towards their Formation Skydiving 1 (FS1). This is the sticker that allows you to jump with other skydivers who also have their FS1, meaning that you can go make some awesome jumps with your friends. 

The process of working towards your FS1 involves jumping with a coach who will teach you the skills needed to fly effectively and safely with others, you can start to practice some of these skills during your consols:

Mantis

This is a new neutral body position, this position means you have more range, for example you will be able to go faster or slower, forwards or backwards and turn in place (around the center of your body). The key aspects of this position include a slightly more relaxed arch (you should be able to arch more or less if needed), your arms should be in front of you, this means it’s easier to pick up grips on other people and gives you more range of movement. Because you have changed the positions of your arms you may need to bend your legs a little more in order to stop yourself moving forward.

It might take a jump or two to relax into this new position and commit it to your muscle memory.

You can also practice moving your arms around – putting a hand on your head, or like you’re swimming – to practice being stable without having your arms in your perfect stable student position. (Tip: you’ve already proved you can do this when pulling!)

Forward and backward

To move forward and backward you need to change the distribution of your surface area. For example to move forwards you need to extend your legs and possibly bring your arms in a little, this creates more surface area in the back half of your body compared to the front causing you to move forward, and vice versa for backwards.
Be smooth with your inputs, try to stay symmetrical and keep an eye on your heading to ensure you’re moving in a straight line.

Slow and fast

Everybody has a slightly different fall rate due to their weight, size and even the design of the jump suit they are wearing. Sometimes we may need to fall a little faster or a little slower in order to fly together with other people.

Our main tool to change our fall rate is our arch, if we arch more we will push through the air more so we will go faster, if we arch less the opposite will happen (remember our arch also gives us stability so if we arch less it may feel a little wobbly to start with). 

We can also use our surface area to change our fall rate, if we bring our arms and legs in we create a smaller surface area creating lift meaning we go faster, if we extend our arms and legs we will catch more air causing us to go slower. 

Learn to be comfortable flying with varied amounts of arching – but if you ever feel unstable – arch!

Turning with your knees

When you’re working towards your FS1 with a coach they will teach a new technique for turning. This will make you more efficient when flying with other people and involves using input from your arms and legs. Whilst on your consoles you can start practicing using your legs to turn.

Dip one knee down, into the airflow, if you also turn the knee out a little this increases the surface area of that leg in the wind causing more of an effect. To start with you can use your arms to balance but once you have got the hang of it try it with your hands on your head!

Be careful not to drop your knee straight down underneath your body as this may make you a little unstable.

Opening Heights

On your AFF course you learnt to deploy your main canopy at 5500ft. Throughout your consols you should work down to deploy at 4500ft. For your first couple stick to 5500ft as you feel comfortable, work down to 5000ft and by the end of your consols try to be pulling at 4500ft. This is a more standard height to pull and helps to fit in with what other skydivers are doing.

Under Canopy

During your consols you’ll need to complete you Student Canopy Training (CT). This consists of displaying some skills on 3 jumps and a written exam. To start learning some of the theory you can check out the CT manual here. Section 5 has more information about the Student CT exercises but all parts of the manual are useful.

Some other things to think about

We all know backloops are super fun but did you know there are other ways to test your stability. What about trying a front loop or a barrel roll? Talk to an instructor for some tips on how to do these.

Don’t forget to do your level 8 and Student CT (Canopy Training), the final steps to learning to skydive. If you need a brief or want some advice just ask an instructor, we would be happy to help!

Emily Aucutt