Congratulations!!! You are now cleared for solo freefall; you can be free as a bird and do what you’d like on many of your upcoming jumps. Scary or exhilarating? You choose, but here are several things to keep in mind as you work towards your A license.
Most importantly, make sure you know what DZ rules apply to you.
Gear and Manifesting
Unless you’re jumping at a privately endowed DZ, you will probably have to start paying for gear rental. You are in charge of your gear checks and you must make sure you do them: the most abused gear is rental gear.
You are in charge of manifesting yourself. Crazy as it seems there are certain things you can do that will make a manifest girl smile. Really, they can smile.
- Be packed and ready to get on a load before even thinking of manifesting.
- When you manifest, smile, and ask which load you can get on.
- Remember your load number and call time (if it’s known).
- Don’t change your mind and try to switch to a different load or a different altitude.
- Keep track of your call time and start gearing up at least 10 minutes before you are supposed to board. 15 minutes prior to boarding is better at busier DZs or DZs where there is a bit of a walk to the boarding area. Better to be ready early than scrambling around trying to put on your rig and misrouting your chest strap in an effort to make the load. If you do find yourself scrambling around, then it is best to miss the load….even if you have to pay for it.
You are in charge of planning your own jumps, which is just.plain.weird. During your AFF jumps you had everything dictated to you, and now you’ve got to do this on your own. Plan your entire jump (exit, freefall maneuvers, pull altitude, maneuvers under parachute, landing pattern) – many bad decisions are made on the fly.
- Exit type. How will you get out of the plane? If you haven’t done your hop n pops yet then it’s a good idea to exit in a stable body position and touch your deployment handle within 5 seconds of exit….just for extra practice.
- All disorienting/faster fall rate maneuvers (eg. flips, barrel rolls, beginning tracking) should be performed at the beginning of your jump.
- It is your responsibility to find out the load exit order and amount of time needed for separation between groups on jump run (hint: it’s not always 3-5 seconds between groups). Please let everyone know if you are deploying above 3500′.
- You are in charge of spotting for yourself – do so every single time!
- Know how to open the door in case it becomes your job to do so. It’s much easier to learn how to do this on the ground from an experienced jumper than on jump run.
- Don’t attempt to backfly or freefly until after you have an A license. Get used to altitude awareness on your belly before taking your eyes off of the ground.
- You may not jump with a camera (even a GoPro or a cell phone intended for selfies in the plane) until you have 100 jumps. This is our DZ rule: we’ve seen too many people that are more interested in getting photos of themselves than making sure they are ready to jump.
- It’s summer time and you don’t want to wear a jumpsuit? You don’t have to, but be aware that your clothing may cover your emergency handles in freefall and take appropriate precautions. But you will wear a jumpsuit when making an instructional jump.
- Received some skydiving goodies lately? Only add one piece of new equipment at a time.
Under Your Parachute
- On each jump you should continue working on your canopy skills.
- You should always work on your landing accuracy, but an appropriate landing pattern is of primary concern.
- Continue to take great care of your equipment after the jump….ensure that you are not dragging fabric across the ground and keep equipment out of the sun.
- You are responsible for logging your jumps. You need to record the jump number, amount of freefall time, what you did on your jump, landing accuracy (in 2, 10, 20, and 25m increments), and have each jump signed by a licensed skydiver.
- You are in charge of your safety. Please do not hesitate to ask an instructor for advice regarding what you should or should not do in freefall or under canopy.
- Lots of the people at the DZ love to give out advice, but you can never be sure if they know what they’re talking about. This goes even for people with instructional ratings: we make mistakes too (hopefully less frequently though). If you’ve been given conflicting advice then head on over to your most experienced instructors….we still love to talk to you. 🙂
Last Helpful Hint
Show up to the DZ on bad weather days…so much can be learned and/or asked when no one is able to do anything, but sit and talk.
Have other helpful hints or tips for new solo skydivers? Let us know!