Safety Check | Some Advantages to Upsizing
Safety Check | Jan 19, 2024
Safety Check | Some Advantages to Upsizing

Ed Lightle

As with any skydiving skill, learning how to land a canopy requires proper training, coaching, repetition and the ability to maintain control and composure in pressure situations. Successful landings can be challenging. At one time or another, most skydivers have landed downwind, flared too high or too low, finished the flare too soon, landed off or found the need to avoid other jumpers in the landing area. But these are situations that student training and canopy coaching should have already prepared everyone to handle.

So why do some jumpers still have issues with their landings? One reason might be that they are flying canopies that are too small and too fast for their comfort levels. This is different from jumpers who downsize too soon or too drastically without the proper training and experience. Let’s face it, some jumpers would never feel comfortable swooping across the ground at 70 miles an hour and would simply rather land under a slower, bigger canopy. For swoopers, high speed landings are a risk worth taking. And that’s OK, because both types of jumpers are operating within their own comfort zones and not putting themselves into situations where they might freak out and make bad decisions.

With that said, here are some questions to ask yourself about your ability to fly your current canopy. Have you taken a canopy course but are still uncomfortable with how fast you are going when you land? Do you consistently become anxious when you come in to land? Do you find yourself worrying about your landing on the ride up to altitude? In the case of a long spot, do you worry that you won’t be able to land your canopy in a small area without injuring yourself?

If the answers to any of these questions are yes, then maybe it is time to consider upsizing. Think about how much more enjoyable your skydives could be if you had complete confidence in your canopy skills and your ability to land anywhere and in any wind condition. And wouldn’t it be better to do a tip-toe landing under a bigger canopy than to consistently biff your landings and put unnecessary wear and tear on your body?

Here are a few other reasons you might want to consider upsizing. (Be honest with yourself when you consider these.) Have you gained a certain amount of weight that is making your landings too fast for you? Have you reached an advanced age where you don’t want to risk a landing injury? And what about currency? Do you make enough jumps each year to maintain your canopy skills? On top of that, do you go six months or more without jumping each year because you live in a cold climate?

Finally, consider this: There are all types of skydivers—old and young, competitors and casual jumpers, swoopers and conservative canopy pilots and accuracy jumpers. The point is there is room for all of us in this sport. But one thing there is absolutely no room for is a jumper who fails to fly a predictable pattern. An example is a jumper who cuts people off in the landing area because he is not competent enough to land downwind or crosswind according to the designated landing direction. He might not injure himself, but he might very well cause injury to another jumper who suddenly has to swerve out of the way to avoid a collision. Skydiving is risky enough without adding incompetent canopy piloting skills to the equation. So, sometimes the smart thing to do is to upsize so you don’t freak out every time you land—and so the rest of us can feel a little safer sharing the skies under canopy with you.

Ed Lightle | D-5966
Columbus, Ohio

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