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Safety Tips
  • Pilot Briefing - Always inform the pilot of any aircraft on each load that you are doing a wingsuit jump, and tell them on which side of the jump run line of flight you plan to make your descent. This serves two purposes:
    • The pilot knows you are exiting last, possibly several seconds after the last non-wingsuiter gets out, and won't start his descent dive while you are still at the door! (not too much of a problem in a Cessna or small plane where they can see you easily, but it has happened with Otters and Caravans!).
    • The pilot will make his descent circles in another part of the sky well away from your wingsuit flight activity.
  • Direction of Flight - Because wingsuiters have relatively high horizontal ground speeds (70-100mph), it is imperative that all wingsuits on the flight fly in the same direction, following the pre-arranged flight pattern! This should be the case even if some flyers lose sight of the others in the flock. It can be deadly for flyers crossing paths at high speed, or on a head-on collision course, where the closing speeds can be up to 200mph - too fast to see or react to the oncoming flyer!
  • The Burble - In the regular freefall disciplines (FS and FF), the burble of dead air is generally directly above the freefaller. In wingsuit flight, it is directly behind and up at about a 45o angle from the tailwing of the flyer due to the relatively high forward speed of a wingsuit. Avoid flying in this dead zone when following others as it will suck you into a collision with the tailwing of the flyer certainly causing surprise, and perhaps injury.

Flying Tips
  • The "Box" - Each flyer has an area of the sky that they wiggle around in during flight called the Box- that is, while trying to fly straight and level, from the rear they appear to bob and weave slightly due to small variances in body position or perhaps air density ("bumpy" air). Beginners and those new to a particular wingsuit tend to have a larger "box" than those more skilled with flight on a particular wingsuit. A smaller flying "box" around you means that others can approach you more closely for docking or close formation flying. A larger "box" means other flyers will tend to hang further away, to avoid unintended collisions.
  • The Base - In formation flying, the designated base sets the fall rate and direction of flight for the flock. Others with slots should key on where the base is at all times. A good base will set a fall rate that is fast enough for comfortable flying (but not too fast for the skill level and suits of the flockers behind him to keep up.
  • Diving for the Flock - When you are leaving the plane near the back of the line, you must get into a dive quickly to catch up with the base. But don't aim directly for your slot in the formation else you are likely to pull out of the dive overshooting and zooming ahead of the group, and probably converting your speed into lift to pop you up above the group. Instead, aim for a point several yards behind the slot you want to take, being careful to avoid the burble coming off flyers ahead of you. Pull out of the dive there, and bleed off your excessive forward speed before sliding gently into your slot in the formation, matching fall rate and forward speed with the base, and smiling!
  • Solo Flights - Until there are enough jumpers with wingsuits so that anyone can show up at any DZ and find 4 or 5 others who want to flock (much like you can find ready company for FS and FF and sometimes CRW at most DZ's now), you may find yourself making solo wingsuit flights. This is a great opprutunity to show others how much fun wingsuiting is, so talk it up at the plane, and show your wings to others on the load. On solo flights, try doing the kinds of things you can't do when flocking with others, like "maxing out" (stretching your wings tightly and dearching a bit to make your fall rate as slow as possible and achieve max free fall time on the jump (this can be a real physical workout for you, too!). Or assuming a position for maximum forward speed, measuring youself against points on the ground, and seeing how much distance you can cover (if the DZ is near a freeway, it is fun to "race" cars on the freeway below!). You can practice your backflying, do barrel rolls, flips, and other acrobatic maneuvers (note: some wingsuit designs are better suited for acrobatics than others).
  • Split-S - A fun maneuver for solo flights is to exit the plane last, leaving with your back instead of with your belly to the relative wind (prop), follow line of flight for several seconds keeping yourself straight by the airplane’s flight path for a short while as you level out, arch your back some, and achieve near level flight. When you think you’ve gone far enough, and there aren’t going to be any potential obstacles on the line of flight (like high-pullers), arch gradually and push yourself into a vertical dive so that your lift shifts from the back of your wings to the front. Then pull out of the dive into high speed flight back towards the DZ. If you leave the plane at 13.5K and backfly for 10-15 seconds, you usually come out the dive at around 8-9K with enormous ground speed when you pull up into level (belly-to-earth) flight. It is a good practice to angle your flight line off to one side a bit coming out of the dive so you're not 100% on the line of flight back to the DZ (to avoid any others on the load who exited earlier than you and may have opened high for some reason). This maneuver can usually confuse a Neptune or Pro-Track to say you deployed at 9000' though, because you often hit 150mph in the vertical dive (which is really cool!) but you slow down to around 30-40 mph vertical fall rate after pulling out of the dive, so your logger thinks you must have deployed.
Suit Tips
  • Zippers - Most wingsuits have a lot of zippers. Some have a helluva lot of them! A general rule with zippers on wingsuits is: zippers should be all the way zipped, or all the way unzipped. Partially zipped zippers are prone to problems as the fabric on either side can get pulled and the tiny teeth on the zipper may give way, causing a broken zipper, and rendering the wingsuit useless.
  • Snaps - Where snaps are involved on a wingsuit, and are difficult to unsnap in the air under canopy, try adding a little "skin oil" on the rim before snapping it. Where do you get skin oil? From your skin!! All of us have sebaceous glands that produce oil (this is where "oily" hair comes from!). If you just run the tip of your finger alongside your nose or behind your ear, you'll get enough sebum on your fingertip to lubricate the snaps of your suit, making for an easier unsnap when you need it!
  • Hackey - No matter how many flights on a particular rig or wingsuit you have, when mating a a new combination of wingsuit and rig, always check that the wing on the suit will not interfere with your reach and your ability to get a good grip on your hackey on that rig. Finding out at 3000' that the wing is too large to reach the hackey higher on your back than you are used is a real bummer!
  • Fit - For most most wingsuits regardless of manufacturer, fit to your height is more important than to your width. As long as you can comfortably close the front zippers and bend over without splitting any seams or zips, extra width is just more surface area ("wing"). But a suit that is too loose from shoulder to toe will work you death trying to tighten it up in flight, and your booties may pop off when you relax your leg and/or get inverted. A suit that is too tight from collar to toe may cause you some grief under canopy when you need to pull your foot near your hand to unzip a leg wing. Some suits have clever ways to make this easier for you, but be aware that it is not always possible to determine how a suit will fit in flight and under canopy until you actually get there.
  • Learning Curve - Because each of us has a different body, and our bodies are the "airframe" for human flight, it takes us a few jumps to "dial in" the right combination of positions of our various body parts to fly any suit well. As we figure out what works best for various situations, we get more comfortable in flight with the suit, and it "works us" less each jump (we don't get fatigued as quickly). This allows us to be smoother in the air, and move closer to others (without scaring them!).
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