We’ve all been there, a long lay-off from skydiving, a distinct lack of currency, but a massive desire to get back in the sky. You’re hoping that your wealth of skydiving knowledge so far will carry you through those first handful of jumps back to a position of relative safety.
For most, this lay-off has been unusually long due to Covid. So here’s 10 skydiving tips to make your transition back the best one you possibly can have:
Returning in Style
- A few days before you return to the dz, take your rig out of the storage cupboard, try it on and do a couple of minutes of practice pulls of the main toggle. It’s also worth doing some emergency drills here. Pop your helmet on for this and simulate going for the handles whilst looking at them and looking up. Are they in the same place? How good was your muscle memory?
Credit: Ming Chu
- When your planning your first skydive back, choose to make it an easy one. That’s to say, not at the limit of weather conditions you might normally be able to jump in; but well within your comfort zone. Next, don’t choose to go on a 10-way because there’s a slot available. Maybe pick something a bit easier like a 2-way or 4-way with trusted friends and a slightly higher break-off.
- When you’re in the Dornier or Cessna, you may experience a surge in adrenaline. That’s your lack of currency speaking right there. Do some simple breathing exercises (5 breathes in through the nose and gently out through the mouth). That should help clam and focus you. You can also say to yourself “I’m doing an easy jump, the conditions are great and it’s well within my capability”.
- When it comes to run-in at altitude, you don’t need to put your helmet on thousands of feet earlier than you normally would (if you take it off at all that is!). It doesn’t take 5 minutes to put your lid on, so don’t let that get you hyped-up. If you actually time it, it’s usually less than 30 seconds.
- Start your freefall as you mean to by remembering all the basics. It’s so easy to let your mind go blank as you endure the exit, rather than take control over it. Present your relevant flying surfaces to the relative wind so don’t go unstable. Be confident, remember the basics and enjoy your skydive!
- Do a few extra altimeter checks in freefall as your awareness will probably be not as finely tuned as it was before.
- If you’re with friends and they have a camera on the top of their head, don’t take the roll of an actor trying to get that cool shot to post on social media, showing everyone you’re back in the game. All that does is distract you from the salient job of getting your skills refreshed. Being in freefall above the skies of Hibaldstow is rad enough!
- When it comes to deployment, remember your body symmetry is important. No throwing your pilot chute during a track or a turn.
- Now here’s the most important. Everyone on your load will mostly likely being doing their first jumps back in 2021 too. Spatial awareness between canopies and flying a predictable pattern are super important. Hibaldstow is a large dropzone, there’s plenty of space in the designated areas for you to go.
- Do some practice flares of your canopy when you have the horizontal and vertical space around you to do it safely (and not below 1500ft!). Remember how far you can pull your toggles down before you feel your canopy really slows down. Look at the position of your hands at the side of your body. Was it where you remember it was back in 2020? When it comes to actually landing, don’t rush your flare and make sure you use all of your canopies flare ability (not half toggles!). Lastly, don’t immediately pick your canopy up and head for the bus, there may be other people landing right behind you. Watch out for them.
As I write this article, many of you may think “I’ve got 500+ skydives, this isn’t really that relevant to me”. I’d say wrong, I’ve got over 4600 skydives and when I return back to the sky, it will be with people I trust, doing some easy camera jumps and my eye’s will be extra wide open once I’ve opened my parachute.
When you are planning your jump, does it give you the following three C’s?
If you’re looking to refresh your skills more formally, then have a look at our B-Licence Progression Day running April 29th-30th.
Let’s return to 2021 with a massive season of freefall, but a safe one too.