Cloud Dancer
Piloting the Wing Suit Seminar
2002 World Freefall Convention, Rantoul, IL
August 4, 2002 (Sunday)
Speakers: Annie Trach and Olivia Trach
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. This material may contain significant errors.

Deployment bag modification
Photo by Jason Peters

Members of the AirZoneXtreme tent have an extra triangle shaped attachment between their deployment bag and bridle. This prevents the bag from spinning and the bag just rocks back and forth during deployment. Use a larger pilot chute and a longer bridle so that the bag can deploy past your larger burble. (The pilot chute is not as large as one used for base jumping.) The bridle length is about 8 feet. Cock the pilot chute by reaching into the center on the mesh side and pulling the kill line from there.

Deployment handle
Photo by Jason Peters

Hacky Sack style main deployment handles weigh too much and they droop back. They are more difficult to find, especially with the forward speed of wing flying. AirZoneXtreme members have a light weight stiff, stuffed triangle style deployment handle made from codura.

One wingsuit flier in the audience reported that he cut away his wings after opening in order to clear his line twists. Even then, he did not successfully clear his line twists and had to cutaway anyway. However, in general, not many people need to cut away their wings. You can operate your emergency handles with the wings still attached.

Dressing your gear. Put the rig down with the harness up. Lay the suit on the rig. Put the leg straps through the holes into the legs of the suit. Put the wings through the shoulder straps. Lace up the wings. Experiment to find the right place for the main lift web to come through to the front. When done, your emergency handles are exposed, ready for use.

When you are suiting up, even when you are in a hurry, be sure that you put your legs through the leg straps of your harness and container!

During an early Birdman boogie at Skydive DeLand, fliers had a Bird-man suit or their own made suit. Those who brought their own suits were Brian Germain, Sammy Papa, and one other.

Birdman Suits Available:
1) Classic - The Classic is for beginners. The leg wing extends down to the ankles.
2) GTI - The GTI is an intermediate suit.
3) Sky Flyer - The Sky Flyer has a rear deflector option. The rear deflector is on the back of the leg wing just below the seat. Air can pass through the leg wing at the crotch and deflect off the rear deflector. The Sky Flyer also has panels on the front of the arms at the shoulders. The leg wing extends all the way to the toes.

BASE jumping (comments by Lee Hardesty): Even the Classic Bird-man suit with the leg wing extending only to the ankle, makes BASE exits more difficult. It takes about 5 seconds for the arm wings to catch air. You need at least 1,500 to 2,000 feet exit height to get any use out of the wing suit.

The Sky Flyer requires more leg control. It is more twitchy with that back wing pocket. There is a tendency to lose control on the pitch axis, and this could happen at pull time. You'll roll over on deployment if you are not symmetrical.

All of Annie's cutaways with the Sky Flyer are due to line twists. Olivia opened and was thrown forward even up through the lines. Tighten your chest strap. Annie tightens hers to the maximum possible and double knots the loose end of her chest strap. Fly the opening by weight shift in the harness to avoid line twists in order to steer out of them before they happen. Steer with rear risers until situated. Annie opens around 4,000 feet.

Flock Dives - Olivia leads. Break off is at 5,000 feet. Annie cuts across to signal Olivia to break off. Kick off (i.e. wave off by clicking the feet together) at 4,000 feet. Sky Flyers are more sensitive and there is a popping feeling when waving off with clicking the feet together.

Choose a flight pattern before the flight.

Exits. Exit last, even after the tandems.

Otter: Turn the shoulders to the prop and look at the pilot upon exit. Have the wings semi collapsed. Jari throws himself out as far to the side as possible. If you turn out the door without facing toward the pilot, you'll catch your foot on the door sill.

Ramp: Face out towards the rear. Jump forward with the legs extended and you will back flip to the face-to-wind position. Annie put out a six way exiting in 3 sets of two doing this exit procedure.

C182: Poised exit. Get as forward as possible before putting a foot out. This helps prevent the problem of the wind pulling the foot back behind the step. Another seminar attendee mentioned that he just made a diving exit from inside the door.

King Air: Get out to the side so that you don't hit the tail.

Just before two fliers take a grip, their flying efficiency increases and tends to leave others, who are following, to sail on by below the docking two.

How do you turn/bank without losing altitude? Annie turns using only the hands. Annie uses a general flying arm position with the arms spread, elbows slightly bent, and the palms of the hands facing back to the sky. This arm position cups the shoulders. If you go low, look down to cup air. Looking up causes you to cup the shoulders less. You want to fly bent in the hips and with the toes pointed.

If someone is flying on the back then someone must communicate the progress of following the flight pattern to him.

Leave the elbows out and move only the hands to deploy. This prevents the uncomfortable feeling of dipping head-down.

Once deployed, unzip the arms. Take the swoop cord loops off the thumbs. Undo the booties so you can run out a landing. If you take the thumb loops off first, then unzipping the arms will be more difficult without the tension.

Follow your instructor and then work out what works best for you.

It may be fun to jump with the smallest hottest canopies, but they are not necessarily ideal for wing suit flying. You want to choose your gear to work with and compliment your wing suit. The Crossfire 119 is more like a student canopy.

High Altitude Jumps: Hypoxia can hit some people really quick. Your fallrate in a wing suit is slower. Know how you respond to high altitude before trying a wing suit jump from high altitude. A seminar attendee achieved a 4 minute freefall from 23,000 feet.

Do not open above 4,000 feet at the WFFC. One attendee reported have had been on a center Jumprun.

If you laundry your wing suit, use a gentle soap. Birdman is running a special. Buy one GTI suit and get a second for 1/2 price.

Cloud Dancer
© Copyright 2002. Tamara Koyn. All Rights Reserved.