Static Line Jumps
Automatic Opening :
Relative wind and exit position :
In order to safely open his parachute in freefall, a skydiver has to be in a stable position. Before a student can practice freefall on his own, he has to show that he masters this position.To be able to do this, the student jumps from 1 200 meters with an automatic opening device, to be able to try out this position.
During a jump with static line, the parachute is linked to the airplane. The static line opens the parachute without intervention of the student and regardless of his position. The student remains in freefall for three seconds, about 50 meters, before his main canopy gets completely opened. This time is sufficient enough for a student to experience the air pressure and become aware of his position until the full opening of his canopy.
Sensations and validation of the position :
On the ground the student receives a training on the exit position, as well as how to steer his canopy and the landing with it. The exit position is based on the freefall position but is slightly different.
In freefall, the air pressure comes from below as the relative wind from freefall is vertical. Durnig the exit phase, the skydiver does not yet have any vertical speed, but only the horizontal speed of the plane he is leaving. Therefore the relative wind is horizontal at first and progressively becomes vertical as the speed in freefall increases and the projection effect from departuring the plane decreases.
The exit position can be described as this :
- symmetrical, spread on the air
- hips forward
- standing with a 60° angle
- head up, looking at the plane
- facing the engine (facing the relative wind)
- legs streched, getting the air pressure
Dummy ripcord :
The student is asked to perform a controlled exit until the full opening of the canopy. Then, he has to perform the same correct exit a second time. The gesture in itself is not difficult, but the natural apprehension and the discovery of new sensations make that some will accomplish two correct exits in a row on their first jumps, others will need a dozen of jumps to do so.
This does not forsee in anyway the student's later ease in freefall once he will get used to this new environment. The apprehension on the first jumps is normal and proves that the novice is conscious. This will disappear as the student goes along jumping and aquires sensations.
Solo freefall :
A stable exit position is not enough to be able to practice freefall alone. A student also has to show that he can open his parachute without loosing this stability. The loss of stability could cause an opening in an uncertain position and random path for the canopy on the opening.
A student parachute is equipped with a dummy ripcord placed where the actual main canopy ripcord would be. The student leaves the plane and, before the full opening, reaches for this ripcord, going back to the initial position afterwards Again he has to perform two exits with a dummy ripcord in a row in order to be allowed to practice freefall alone.
The dummy ripcord is placed on the right hip strap. If one only moves his right hand towards it, the position is not symmertical anymore. A bigger pressure on the left side than on the right would cause the student to roll on his side and then eventually on his back. One cannot move both hands at the same time either for it would take away all air pressure in front and would place him head down. The student has to take the right hand towards the ripcord and place the left hand flat above his head at the same time. This allows him to have symmetrical pressure without loosing the air pressure in front. Once the ripcord is pulled, the student goes back to the initial position, spread and symmetrical.
Discovery of the movements around the three axes :
Once the instructor is convinced that these elements have been assimmilated, he proposes the student to do a solo jump and open himself his own parachute. This time, departure is from 1 500 meters for a freefall of 10 seconds, opening at 1 200 meters.
Indeed, when a skydiver leaves the plane his speed increases progressively and he will go from 0 to 50 meters in 8 seconds, if he uses the stable freefall position. The distance in freefall is counted as following :
- 5 seconds from 0 to 100 meters
- 3 seconds from 100 to 200 meters
- 2 seconds per 100 meters from there on
In the first jumps the student counts the seconds in freefall and opens his canopy without looking at his altimeter. This way he will establish an intern chronometer which enables him to be aware of the time spent in freefall. The second jump is from 2 000 meters for a stable freefall of 20 seconds.
Then the student learns to freefall using his altimeter while remaining in stable position. For this, he has to look at his altimeter (which is placed on the his wrist) by turning his head and rotating his wrist, without putting his hand in front of him as one would do with a watch.
Once the stable freefall position is mastered and the student is aware of the altitude and the time in freefall, the new skydiver is initiated to the movements around the three axes. The stable position only serves for a secure opening, the skydiver can take any position he wants in freefall. The student learns how to evolve in the air and use the air pressure provided by the speed of freefall.