“Learn to Fly Your Body First” is horseshit

Thursday, December 14, 2023

Experienced skydivers tell new small skydivers that they shouldn’t wear weights and instead “learn to fly their body.” The notion they are proposing is that somehow weights inhibit learning to fly properly, but the complete opposite is true.

This myth is a very destructive concept. It is horseshit.

The Double Standard

This phrase infuriates me because no one would dare suggest the same idea to a big person. If a 225-pound skydiver went low, skydivers would immediately tell that person to get an oversized suit. “Learn to fly your body” is ridiculous because they can’t outfly their natural fall rate range. The same applies to small people.

Developing poor habits – chicken wings, hangers

Young skydivers who fly too light for their jumping groups are likelier to develop negative fall rate dumping habits (chicken winging or over-arching). As a result, they do not learn to move correctly and are set up for a frustrating failure.

Pegging yourself out to fly with faster people all the time slows down your learning and makes it impossible to perform to the same standards as an appropriately weighted person.

Frustration

In addition, an underweighted person will have difficulty understanding why they can’t move around like everybody else. They might be confused that despite being tiny, they go low (a common side effect of being too light is funneling yourself when you try to pick up grips). Someone too light will struggle to drive forward and pick up grips if they are wholly arched out.

Dangerous jumps

Mismatched fall rate ranges can lead to jumps with zero chance of successfully connecting. As a result, these zoo dives have a heightened danger level. If there is no way someone can get to a group, they will zoom, go low, go high, and not be on the radar at breakoff.

If you know that someone is not weighted right and jump together anyway, it will get sketchy.

Real Reasons not to slap lead on a new person

There are legitimate reasons for not slapping lots of weight on brand-new jumpers. Extra equipment and wing loading are safety issues.

But skydiving with no chance of being on level with a group is also dangerous. If someone will always need weight in their career, our role is to help them do so safely. Help them wear the belt correctly and choose canopies that account for their likely need to wear weight with most groups. Make good decisions, and only select jumps they can safely and effectively participate in.

Weight belts are not a crutch; they are tools, like large suits, that allow people to fly in the middle of their range. You don’t learn to fly better or faster without weight; it leads to bad habits, frustration, and even dangerous situations. So instead, fly with matched people and learn to use weight belts appropriately.

 

Want to practice flying at the right speed? Book some tunnel with Christy now!

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