By Ally Milne
Why are canopy skills so important in our sport?
One key area I think we as a sport can improve on is Canopy Skills, in regard to, discipline and experience. We develop our canopy skills in our early progression from our instructors. Most countries’ progression systems include a variety of skills to develop for B-licences and beyond, which is a great improvement. Luckily there is also a great increase in demand for Canopy Courses and some great enthusiastic canopy pilots touring the world to improve skills such as PD Flight-1 and Curt/Jeannie Bartholomew.
However, canopy discipline is something that I think we all need to talk about. So often in the pattern, I see people making too many turns, spiralling, cutting into the pattern, and making a swoop when they should’ve aborted. Some people are in a rush to downsize and missing out on key skills as there is some perceived race to get onto a faster canopy. Sometimes I also wonder if people aren’t bailing to toggles when they need to because they are worried about what people will think. And people opinion-shopping when it’s time to downsize, keeping asking people till someone says it’s a good idea! Or worse not asking anyone. I still ask someone when I get a small canopy in case I’m suffering from some kind of cognitive bias. You can often be the worst person to judge your own skills.
We can also work a bit harder to develop canopy experience too, practicing landing in a crosswind or slight downwind. If you can’t land well in all conditions you probably have a canopy that’s too small for you. It takes a big person to own up and correct that, but the advantage is you’ll spend more time doing one of the coolest things in skydiving. Walking off the landing area without a limp!
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