November 27

Fear and the Motivation of Skydivers

Sitting in a bar last night the topic came up through a group of experienced skydivers about the value of fear motivation and its history in skydiving.  An older jumper mentioned to me that previously, training was focused with reminders of blue skies, black death in mind.  Today’s training has been more focused on coach course principles, such as presenting correct material only.  Fixation on the goals and the success, and giving little attention to less desirable ideas, such as bouncing into the ground without a parachute open.

I myself have been caught guilty of this.  In fact, it’s what I’ve been trained to do.  One day in California, Hannah pulled me aside after a FJC introduction, in which I made it clear not once, but twice, that skydiving could leave my student seriously injured or killed.  She said it was not like me, and that she hadn’t expected it.  I mumbled something about it being true, and essentially ended the conversation.

It’s in retrospect now that I wonder if I’ve let my focus shift too much to the ignoring of dangerous facts.  I feel as if by doing so, I leave a hole in my students education.  While the principle of teaching correct material only is effective, education comes from knowing the full picture.

The man I met last night harped on how back in the day, they said it was better to pull at 2,000 feet and know where you were, than to pull at 3,000 feet and have no clue.  I’m not sure when the last time was that I paid to altitude below break off, with the exception of my malfunctions.  Automatic openers in all of my rigs may have made me a little complacent.

I’m not ready to throw in the principles I’m used to, of course, but am now looking into a way to teach that whole picture.  I need to fill in the holes, making the common deadly mistakes a larger part of my lessons, but structured, so that the result is pointed, learned from, and moved on.  In the end, if there was too much focus on the bad, I’m not sure I would still be around this sport.



November 26

Advanced Instructor and Coach courses

I’ve been toying around with the idea of an advanced coach or instructor course based upon the following ideas.

Coaches tend to have sloppy debriefs in the coach course.  They need to be practicing good instructor level skills if they are to show up to their AFF or IAD course prepared to succeed in the ground portion where they will be asked to teach an hour long topic. While they can learn this out in the field, often instructors themselves are unable to do this, so whomever mentors them, because of their “get the gist of it” instructor courses, left with holes in their understanding. I do believe everyone wants to follow the principles of being a good instructor, they tend to just not remember it all.

Coaches leave the Coach Course with an overview and gist of how to teach First Jump Courses.  They can leave more prepared, following the principle of preparation being the most important part of the lesson plan.

Tandem instructors have in the past gone and hurt their friends on the Phase II tandem course.  Often, their well intentioned, if misguided, friends “screw with them”, giving unfair and unsafe problems on the candidates 5th-10th time taking an actual passenger. While the concept in theory makes sense, namely that the candidate must be ready for anything their customer shows them, in theory people are doing some scary things to unprepared candidates.  This calls for reform, as Ben Lowe and Bram Clement and many other examiners before me have already understood, creating and in some cases implementing a mandatory 5 jump Phase II program with the examiner.  All issues given are calculated, and in a learning environment.  Briefings are given instead of learning from the sporadic problems that a 100 jump skydiver unwittingly springs upon their friend.

AFF instructors need more time and more experience teaching canopy skills. The time where they can get away without any canopy examination needs to come to a close.


While some examiners have decided to not teach these things, as the USPA does not call for it in their USPA courses, I’ve decided to move forward with designing some advanced courses, to be tacked on to the end of my courses.


They are in development — look for them soon !

November 24

B-license and Canopy Card Tutoring Now Available !!

B-licence Canopy Card Courses

Hannah and I are proud to announce the successful completion of our B-license canopy card completion course.  This 5 jump course is designed for the person who wants a balance between efficiently completing the canopy card, and the structure of a course.

The scope of the course is to ensure every B-license candidate has received a briefing for and has experimented with all the content on the canopy card.  We have seen many skydivers who either missed this training along the way, or appreciated the review at this stage in their career. We also film five landings, to give you an outside perspective on your flaring technique.  We work with you on your landing pattern, giving you ideas to help your accuracy.

The course can be combined in the bigger picture with our B-license licensing service, which includes water training, filming the style series, the B-license canopy card, class for and administration of the B-license test, log book review, and personal support all along the way. We offer this service for those who are on a time budget, or just want the personal attention and professional consultation we are known for.

B-license canopy card courses are five hop and pop jumps, running 6-8 hours. The cost is $100.

The full B-license course cost is $150.

To end the day with a B-license, please have all air requirements met. They are as follows:

b. completed 50 jumps including:

(1) accumulated at least 30 minutes of controlled freefall time

(2) landed within ten meters of target center on ten jumps

We can work with you if you need to wrap up some of the final landings.  If you do not have those landings at the time of the course, we also will work to support you in wrapping those up after the course.

The B-license allows you to do night jumps, earn a coach rating at 100 jumps, and all the previous powers of the A-license.  In addition, currency requirements shoot up from 60 days to 90 days. Dropzones usually require a B-license for specialty jumps such as: high altitude jumps, off dropzone jumps, etc. Some boogies have license requirements.  Licenses often times determine which jumpers a dropzone will put on wind hold.

Congrats to Willy on your B-license ! He took our water training and canopy course !!

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