Cloud Dancer
Standing Solo Drills for
Learning Headup VRW

by Tamara Koyn
© Copyright 1995, Tamara Koyn. All Rights Reserved.

Congratulations! You have taken interest in beginning a program that will enable you to learn and enjoy the world of Vertical RW as quickly and efficiently as possible. In Tamara Koyn's VRW courses, all course materials and structure are based on movement engineering techniques and, by following the techniques taught in the course, you will correctly learn this discipline in the beginning phases and you will be rewarded with many quality fun dives.

This introductory document is written only to provide brief information to prepare course participants for getting the maximum benefit possible from a VRW course prior to attending an actual course.

During the beginning stage, it is most important to learn good habits and it is essential to practice the exercises as correctly as possible.

Before beginning basic relativity drills, solo freefall drills will help you to develop air awareness, orientation awareness, aerodynamic control and better balance skills. There are three series of solo freefall drills listed in this document. The first series will help you to learn the basic upright position from which you will eventually learn to control your proximity and levels. The second series serve as a preparation for learning to advance and retreat (forward and backwards movements). And the third series prepare you for learning to control your fallrate. You may find that you can sometimes combine more than one drill during one solo skydive or you may repeat one drill for a number of dives. In any case, you want to keep your drills simple. Do not burden or overwhelm yourself with trying to remember or do too much during any single dive. In cases where a skill learned in a previous drill is required to perform a more advanced drill, you should not proceed onto the more advanced drill without first mastering the necessary drills. For example, if you have not yet learned to balance in the Basic Standing Position, you will not be able to effectively practice any of the fallrate control drills in the third series of drills. In some cases, trying some drills before others or in association with others can assist you with a particular problem that you may be working on.

From the list of exits, select an exit with which you would like to start a solo freefall drill. If you are exiting after another group, you should allow approximately 7 seconds of time or more between the group's exit and your exit to insure sufficient horizontal separation. While practicing a solo drill, you should face perpendicular to the jumprun. In this way, you will avoid drifting into the airspace of other jumpers.

As you progress through each series of solo freefall drills, try them with and without a winged sit suit. Approximately, one third of your solo time should be with the winged suit and two thirds of your solo time without the winged suit. Ultimately, you will find that flying with other partners without using winged suits is more efficient, fun and rewarding as there is the possibility to mix upright and head-down positions on the same dive. The wing suits can act as training wheels to help you to become more familiar with certain positions in the air and to begin initial 2-way relativity drills without having to wait for an experienced freeflyer to fall as base for you.

Exits to Practice

Sitting Exit: During this exit, you will leave the airplane with your seat presented to the relative wind. To set-up in the door, get completely in the door frame with the C.G. at the edge of the door sill and your weight on the left foot. To launch yourself into the relative wind, step out with the right foot presenting your seat into the airflow. Bending in the hips will make this exit more stable. Relaxing will allow you to feel the natural tendency of allowing your seat to sink into the airflow. For greater stability, spread your limbs out to the sides away from the center of your body.

This exit is described for an aircraft with no outside hardware and the door on the left side. If the door is on the right side of the plane, step out with the left foot.

If you will be jumping from a Cessna, this exit can be performed starting from hanging on the strut or from a position in the "V." From hanging on the strut (be sure that you are as far out from the plane and step as you can get), let go with the hand closest to the airplane and you will rotate to face the plane as the wind blows that side of your body back. When you release the other hand, bring it out to your side in the direction of the airplane. Spread your arms as you drop away with your seat into the relative wind. From the "V" facing the tail, be sure that you launch forcefully enough that your back and gear will clear the step. One way to do this is to stand on the step and try to fly without holding on strongly with your hands and then let the wind push the entire weight of your body toward the tail as you step forward. Lean forward (in the direction of your chest) only a little bit as the wind pushes you off the step. Leaning forward too much may encourage you to front loop off the step.

Toe Hang from Wing (Cessna): Climb all the way out and hang from the strut by your hands. You want to be out as far as possible so that you will clear the step and wheel. While tucking the legs, pull your feet up, hook your toes over the front edge of the wing and let go of the strut so that you are hanging from your feet. To launch into a position with your seat presented to the relative wind, just point your feet. Assuming that you maintain your heading, you will be head low during the exit transition.

Tumble Exit: Tumble out the door and regain your stability straight into the Basic Standing Position. Try this exit after the first series of solo freefall exercises. With this exit, you test and train your ability to quickly recover an unstable exit as quickly as possible into a position in which you can control your relativity. For another variation of this exit, pop out the door without taking or using a carefully thought out position in the door and concentration to help you achieve your flying stance on the launch. After just popping out the door, immediately position yourself in a position in which you can control your relativity. When launching from the doorway of a Cessna, start from a position with at least one foot on the step to guard against the possibility of hitting the step.

First Series of Solo Freefall Drills

Solo Freefall Drill 1: In this drill, you will become familiar with the winged sit suit. Exit the plane in a seated position and play with that position. Then, roll over into the face to wind position and make several practice pulls. You will also want to practice tracking. To track, position the backs of the hands toward the ground-this will collapse the wings enabling you to achieve an effective track.

Solo Freefall Drill 2: Exit from inside the door into the seated position with legs spread and torso upright (remember to present yourself to the relative wind and not the ground). From the seated position, lean back to push your legs straight into the windflow to assume the Basic Standing Position. The Basic standing position is an upright position with the legs spread and knees bent as if you were almost sitting in a chair with the chair back in front of you. The arms are straight out from the shoulders with the hands even with the shoulders. The reclined seated position in which you exit into gets your chest out of the airflow. Your goal is to keep the air pressure off your chest as you assume the basic standing position. (Skydivers are naturally comfortable with flying and feeling the air on their chest.) If you find yourself in a situation where it seems that the wind is taking control and pushing your legs about, repeat this solo freefall drill. Before you go into the basic standing position, move the legs about. Use a bicycling action or other actions which involve pushing the legs into the windflow. This will get you accustomed to using your seat muscles in the relative wind. Again, while trying the basic standing position, move the legs about forcing them against the relative wind in different ways.

Solo Freefall Drill 3: Practice pirouettes rotating to the right and left while in the basic standing position. (Pressing more with one hand, carving the fingers backward and into the windflow, will rotate you in that direction.)

Solo Freefall Drill 4: Practice assuming and holding the Straddle Stand, an upright standing position with the legs spread to the sides and knees straight. You know that you are completely standing when there is no air blowing onto your chest.

Solo Freefall Drill 5: Practice assuming and holding the Stand-up. If you lose your balance, tuck, roll over, stick your arms straight out to the sides, and put your legs back into the windflow for another try at the Stand-up. During all of the solo freefall exercises, you should develop a habit of always tucking and rolling over into your next attempt (rather than going face to wind between each attempt). To assume the Stand-Up with your legs together, initiate a one quarter of a back loop by tucking the legs and push your heels toward the ground as you come upright. You can pretend that you are trying to jump on that point straight below you on the ground. While standing, keep your feet flat and your chest vertical out of the airflow. If you feel the air on your chest, you know that you are leaning forward too much. In this case, move your arms forward, pressing on the air to shift your balance backward to get your chest out of the windflow.

Solo Freefall Drill 6: Practice pirouettes rotating to the right and left in the Straddle Stand.

Solo Freefall Drill 7: Practice pirouettes rotating to the right and left in the Stand-up.

Solo Freefall Drill 8: While standing up, practice changing the position of your legs. Bicycle the legs and perform any leg movements that come to mind. Listen to the sound of the wind rushing past and develop an awareness of your fallrate as your practice. This exercise is also good for developing your ability to balance well in the upright orientation.

Second Series of Solo Freefall Drills

Solo Freefall Drill 1: While holding the basic standing position, practice shifting your balance. Lean back, lean forward, lean your sense of weight onto one leg, etc. Notice the feeling of the air as you lean in each way.

Solo Freefall Drill 2: While holding the basic standing position, increase the backward tilt of your body. The goal is to see how far back you can lean without losing your balance and falling.

Solo Freefall Drill 3: While holding the basic standing position with the legs positioned closer together, maintain the legs straight into the airflow and lean the chest forward to feel the airflow on the chest and then lean the chest backward to feel the lack of airflow on the chest.

Solo Freefall Drill 4: While deliberately trying to fly at an angle to the windflow (leaning slightly sideways, backwards, etc.), bicycle or try to walk around with your legs. Try bicycling the legs during pirouettes as well.

Solo Freefall Drill 5: While holding the basic standing position, practice looking all around you while maintaining balance. Ask yourself: "Did I keep the air pressure off my chest?"

Third Series of Solo Freefall Drills

Solo Freefall Drill 1: Assume the basic standing position. Slowly and smoothly bring the legs together and slowly and smoothly separate the legs while maintaining balance. You will notice that because of the faster airspeed, you will experience stronger air pressure on your legs as you move them apart from a stand-up (eccentric contraction) and perhaps wonder why you are sore the next day, especially if you have made a number of these dives. Practice this movement symmetrically. Insufficient leg strength can make it difficult for you to slowly, smoothly and symmetrically spread your legs. Remember to keep your arms level with your shoulders. And remember to keep the airflow off your chest! Repeat this drill as necessary to do the exercise with straight knees and to explore using a 2-staged approach from spreading the legs and putting them together. In using a 2-staged approach to move from a wide straddle stand to a stand-up with the legs together, you first bend your knees, positioning the lower legs into the wind flow, and then lower your knees to assume a complete stand-up. Do the reverse action to move from a stand-up to a wide straddle using the 2-staged approach.

Solo Freefall Drill 2: Assume the Basic Standing Position. Explore your arm position and the feeling of the air pressure on your arms by raising and lowering your arms. Explore positions with your arms straight over your head and your arms straight next to the sides of your body. Make silly signs with your hands and arms. Try using the hands by carving the air as you would with your hand when you extend it from a moving car and notice what you feel and what happens. Try this drill at slower fallrates (legs spread) and at faster fallrates (legs together). These dives mainly focuses on developing air handling skills and better balance skills in the air.

Cloud Dancer
© Copyright 1995. Tamara Koyn. All Rights Reserved.