New Users

Existing Users
Username:

Password:



Forgot log-in info?
©2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 International Bodyflight AssociationTM

FLYER PROGRESSION

Introduction

For you to advance your flying skills safely, you will need to follow through all of the steps of the flyer's progression, which covers all aspects of bodyflight, in a sensible order and using the correct techniques. The flyer's progression can be summarized as:

  • Belly Flying
  • Back Flying
  • Walking
  • Sit Flying
  • Head-down Flying

Each level possesses particular skills that you must learn in a specific order, following this order is mandatory and your instructor can assist you in this process. The flow of the progression, allows you to learn each individual skill and familiar with its characteristics in a safe, controlled training environment.

Belly Flying

Belly flying is the first step in your progression. It is the most fundamental stance of any flyer and is the easiest way to introduce you to the basic concepts of bodyflight. When learning to belly fly, you don't generally need an excessive amount of wind speed in order to fly.

A belly flyer's body position is belly to earth with a generally arched shape where the hips are lower than the knees and shoulders. This neutral position also has left-right symmetry, the knees spread a little more than hip width apart, the feet extended slightly into the wind and the shoulders and elbows at 90º where the hands are in front of the head. This neutral body position is strongly stable when flying; there is a large amount of surface area that acts as a base of support, a low center of gravity and the center of gravity (CG) is in the center of the base of support.

Once you have developed an ability to remain neutral in the tunnel, you will work on your six points-of-motion: forward/backward, up/down, turns right/left, sideways right/left.

While belly flying, you should keep your chin up. This will enhance your arch and allow you to be more aware of your surroundings. Building this awareness will help you when you need to communicate with other people around you.

Back Flying

Back flying is the second step in your progression. Back flying is also considered a form of horizontal flying, although you are in a different orientation than belly flying the mechanics for flying a very much the same, with a similarly shaped position: arched with a low CG. Your progression of skills as a back flyer will very much follow the same path as when you learned to belly fly: neutral, forward/backward, up/down, turns right/left, sideways right/left.

When you are capable of stable flying in belly and back fly orientations, you can begin to learn the basic transitions associated with these positions. The most common transitions to learn at this stage are; belly-to-back barrel roll, back-to-belly barrel roll, belly-to-back back flip and back-to-belly front flip. You need to be briefed accordingly before attempting any transition and all transitions need to be assisted by an appropriately rated instructor.

Back flying also acts as a safety net for you while you are learning the vertical orientation skills: walking, sit flying or head-down flying. As the necessary wind speeds are generally much faster when flying in a vertical orientation than those used for horizontal flying, there is a greater potential for you to inadvertently create drive towards the wall. You will need to react to unstable situations when learning to walk, sit fly or fly head-down by recovering to your neutral, back fly position. Because of this you need to understand the elements of back flying and be comfortable flying on your back before progressing to any type of vertical orientation.

Walking

Learning to walk is the third step in your progression. Walking is the first skill you will learn in a vertical orientation. When you start to learn to walk you will do so at most advantageous wind speed. The wind speed should not be so high as to promote a loss of control, but also not so low as to allow you to walk using incorrect techniques.

Understanding the concepts of walking is important to help you learn to sit fly, as the mechanics are very similar. It's an excellent tool for flyer to be able to feel how the wind affects your movements when making inputs.

You will also be briefed to remain in the vertical orientation and the importance of recovering to their neutral, back fly position if you lose stability and not attempt to fly on your belly while the wind speed is high.

Once you have gained some proficiency learning to walk, you will enter the wind on your feet and at the end of their session you will walk out.

Sit Flying

Sit flying is the fourth step in your progression. Once you get to this stage, you have already demonstrated stability and an ability to control your movements while belly flying, back flying and walking. You will walk into the flight chamber, once in the center of the air column you will squat into an ideal, sit flying position and once you are comfortable and directed by the instructor you can learn to fly up off the net by a combination of learning to slow your fall rate and the instructor increasing the airspeed. ]

After you have some ability to fly a neutral sit fly position up off of the net, you will work to be able to demonstrate your six points-of-motion in a sit fly orientation. Because you may have difficulty controlling your ability to sit still and have some tendency to inadvertently fly forward or backward, you should not orient yourself so that you are facing directly towards or away from any door.

At this point your ability to belly, back and sit fly now opens the door on a large number of possible transitions. These sit fly transitions are fun and challenging. As with back flying, when you are learning to sit fly and do new transitions your recovery position when in an unstable situation is to your neutral, back fly position.

Head-down Flying

Head-down is the last step in the flyer's progression. Head-down is in many ways the most challenging and dangerous flying orientation. The learning process is defined as a series of specific steps in order to keep you safe. Before you can progress to learning head-down, you must have completed all of the necessary preceding skills, have a minimum of 30 minutes of tunnel time free flying and be under the direct supervision of an Instructor Level III.

Learning head-down starts with you standing on your head in the center of the net with an instructor holding on to you. You need to be in good physical condition in order to be able to practice the head-down position on the net; you need to be comfortable supporting your own weight while positioned on your head. Your instructor will be constantly assessing the wind speed and your body position; these factors affect your ability to sustain long periods inside the tunnel in a head-down position supporting your body weight.

The head-down progression incorporates many different drills, allowing you to build confidence and the necessary skills to become competent and able to eventually be unassisted by any instructor. During the early learning stages, you will be supported on the net, "supported" means the instructor has grips on you. These grips allow the instructor to control you even if you were to begin to drive in any direction.

You can inadvertently create a large amount of drive towards the wall which increases your risk of injury. It is also very easy for you to become disoriented when you are in a head-down position. These factors can put you in a vulnerable position where it may become necessary for you to defend yourself from against the wall. For these reasons, during supported head-down, the instructor will always have both hands gripping you to reduce and control the drive you create in order to avoid injury.

Once you have performed the necessary skills demonstrating stability and range of motion while head-down, supported on the net, along with proven ability of recovering to your back should an unstable situation occur, you can begin to learn "Basic Head-down." Basic head-down is taught by an Instructor Level IV and is where you are released while in a head-down orientation for the first time. You will learn to remain stable on the net while un-supported and then begin to learn to fly up off of the net in a neutral, head-down orientation. You will then learn to transition into your neutral, head-down position from a sit fly position by learning the sit-to-head, front flip transition under the supervision of an appropriately rated instructor.

After you have demonstrated all of the skills need to complete "Basic Head-down" you can learn the head-down six points-of-motion and intermediate, head-down transitions under the supervision of an Instructor Level III. Finally, you can learn advanced head-down techniques and the advanced head-down transitions under the supervision of an Instructor Level IV.

Conclusion

The progression from first-time belly flyer to an advance head-down flyer is a long and difficult one, but at the same time it's fun, thrilling and rewarding at every step of the way. Completion of this progression will earn you the designation of a "Flyer Pro." While this represents the end of the IBA flyer rating program it is still the beginning of the much bigger world of bodyflight.