Cloud Dancer
Freefly Weekend
at Quantum Leap Skydiving Center

July 26-27, 1997
Speakers: Rob Romey and Colon Berry
Seminar Notes by Tamara Koyn


The following material does not necessarily represent my opinions and represents my best effort to capture the material actually presented in the seminar. I do not guarantee that it is error free.

Be relaxed and melo. Keep yourself in the learning state.

Refer to your single page handout to see how you can perform various movements while head-down. (These same handouts were also provided by Air Time Designs at the 1997 World Freefall Convention in Quincy, Illinois.)

For the basic head-up flying stance, remember the 3 90s. The arms are straight out from the shoulders at a 90 degree angle to the torso. The thighs form a 90 degree angle with the torso. And the knees are bent 90 degrees with the feet position under the knees.

Audience Q&A Session

Q: How do I fall straight down in the head-down position?

A: When you feel yourself wobble accelerate your fallrate to recover your stability. Go out and do some solo dives. Yes, it's discouraging but it's very rewarding if "you pay your dues." Everyone has a flying style. Colon can tell whose who just by watching the body movements of other freeflyers.

Q: I have trouble relaxing and I go into the fetal position. How should I solve this?

A: Breathe. Maintain eye contact. Enjoy the dive. You paid for it! Don't get discouraged. I know it's a lonely beginning.

Q: What about maintaining eye contact while looking towards the sky? This tends to cause me to move forward regardless of whether I'm head-down or headup.

A: Look around only with your head. Back up if necessary and appropriate for seeing the activity happening above you.

Q: How can you tell if a freefly student stops breathing?

A: They fly tensely and rigidly while clenching their teeth with a strained face. Their flying is generally rugged.

Q: What is the best jumpsuit with which to start?

A: To start learning to fly head-down, start with baggy pants and a tight shirt. To start learning to fly headup, start with a baggy shirt and tight pants. You'll notice that even in the baggy freefly suits, the pants will become more streamlined by themselves when you go into a headup position. Winged suits can get unpredictable if the sleeve twists or you rotate your arm about its long axis.

To keep your feet down while flying headup, have foot awareness and push them feet down, especially if you're wearing shoes. Shoes tend to grab air. Jump barefoot when possible.

Q: Does it jerk your head when opening with a camera mounted on the side of your helmet?

A: No, not really. Throw out, look at the horizon while holding your chin. Spread your risers when you get them in hand. A camera mounted on the top of the head feels like a fin deflecting air.

A Few Debrief Notes

While positioning the arms in the box position while in the head-down position, student freeflyers can end up getting their arms asymmetrical. This position causes more strain and thus the freeflyer is less relaxed. Rob Romey prefers to fly always with the forearm surfaces exposed to the relative wind and feels that even I fly more fluently during those moments when my arms are blown back.

Rob Romey teaches students to perform leg turns first.

Rob also teaches students how to control fallrate first. Controlling forward and backward movement can cause a loss of balance and therefore the student will spend less time actually in a true head-down position if attempting to first learn forward and backward movement.


Two individuals where turned away from this camp because their equipment was not air worthy for freeflying.

In freeflying, more of the rig is exposed to the windflow. The flaps must stay shut. Use a BOC. The main flap should have an extra tuck flap to keep it closed.

Don't have any of the pilot chute hanging out. (Some divers like to have a part of it hang out so it's easier to grab and pull.) Pack your pilot chute for a harder than normal pull so it won't get deployed by accident.

Riser flaps should stay closed and have extra stiffeners. Even with snaps on your toggles, if the risers come out and get blown down to your elbows, this can restrict your flying.

Train formations can cause handles to get snagged. Harness grips increase the chance of an accidentally pulled handle. Pillow emergency handles are less easily snagged.

Your closing loop should be tight. If there is any question about it in your mind, change it immediately.

Break-off at 4,500 feet.

The Total Body Flight Training Program.

To join the program, a 5 jump minimum commitment is necessary. Your first jump with the instructor will determine which level in the program you will be placed. This program has 8 levels. For more information and/or enrollment, contact Total Body Flight at Skydive City in Zephyrhills.

Level 1: Basic Sit Stand & Altitude Awareness. Remember the 3 90s. A common problem students have while sitting is not having the feet under the knees.

Level 2: Sit with Standups. In this level you become adjusted to a faster fallrate.

Level 3: Sit with forward/backward movement and 360 degree pirouettes. You learn to fly slow and smooth and to use the head switch technique.

Level 4: Combinations of Levels 1-3, burble interaction, docks, and rotations of axis. Your input plays a significant role in your training at this level.

Level 5: Head-down Tandem. The freeflying student is introduced to the orientation, air space, and sensation of the head-down flying stance. You'll maintain eye contact with your instructor who will communicate with you.

Level 6: Fallrate control in the head-down position. You'll follow the instructor and learn the importance of being aware of people above you before decelerating your fallrate.

Level 7: Forward/backward movement and 360 degree pirouettes in the head-down position. The legs only are used for performing pirouettes as using the arms and torso cause problems with proximity control. You'll learn to use subtle movements.

Level 8: Head-down hand docks, cartwheels, flips, burble interaction. For example, you may practice a drill during which you will shake right hands with your instructor, then your left, and so on with perhaps a pirouette or other transition in between each grip. Your input plays a significant role in your training at this level.

At this point, you graduate and will realize that your learning has just begun in this new exhilarating skydiving discipline.

Cloud Dancer
© Copyright 1997. Tamara Koyn. All Rights Reserved.