As you begin the Head Down flight progression, there are many skills that you will incorporate that you have already had exposure to in earlier training. Turning being one of those skills, as you have already worked on how to balance while in the neutral position. Being able to control your heading will be the initial means of learning this skill. You will begin to understand how your body position and movements affect flight, to the point you can control your movement so as not to turn, and then make mindful inputs to generate a direction change and stop.
This skill is one that you will have some familiarity with as you will learn and understand some of the elements while you are learning supported and basic Head Down flight. Your natural body position will determine what your coach will have had you focus on during the learning stages of your neutral position. You will be familiar in the methods of controlling your heading and stopping any unwanted turns in order to demonstrate control.
Prior to learning specific left and right turns, you will first need to ensure that you have a stable neutral Head Down position.
The primary objective is to be able to safely and successfully begin in a neutral head-down position off the net, then on your coach’s signal, begin a turn to the left, stop on a specified heading then turn to the right and stop on your original heading. You will start making small 90º turns and work your way up through 180º turns and then 360º turns in both directions.
You should be able to complete each turn without gaining or losing any altitude, moving forward or backward, or needing to “bail” due to any instability.
You will need to set yourself up in the center of the tunnel, head down at roughly waist height above the net. Upon direction from your coach, you will initiate either a left or a right turn to a specified heading. Once you stop turning, you will need to be in a neutral position to set yourself up for the next turn.
We recommend you start with small turns and ensure you have control of them before progressing on to larger rotations.
Technique and Drills
- Begin in the center of the tunnel, in a neutral “daffy” flying position
- Be sure to have a plan for which direction to turn to better understand how you will adjust your body position
- Angle the lower part of your front leg into the wind to create a rudder effect, this will assist in initiating the turn
- Slightly turning your head to look in the direction of the turn will aid the rotation
- Stop the turn by angling your lower leg in the opposite direction, creating a brake
- Once the turn has stopped, return to a neutral position
Post-flight questions / suggestions
- How did your performance match the initial objectives?
- Were you able to maintain stability for turns in both directions?
- Can you complete the turns without creating any forward/backward movements or gaining/losing altitude?
- Were you able to turn and stop on the correct heading each time?
- What techniques did you feel comfortable with and what can you improve on during the next session?
When you are learning to fly the neutral Head Down position, you will naturally learn the basics of each of the control movements. Once you feel like you have the basic control of turning, set yourself a goal to adjust the wind speed to faster and slower speeds in order to help advance your ability in this skill area. Set specific headings to turn to and stop on gradually increasing the amount of rotation you perform.
What skill level is next?
Sit to Head Front Flip
The Sit to Head Down front flip is likely the first transition that you will learn when wishing to move from orientation to the other. It should be the most natural transition to learn, mimicking the movement from learned during your Head Down training, where you are forward transitioning your body to place your head on to the net, exposing wind to your front side. A front flip is usually the safer option when initially learning the transition to Head Down flight, so we recommend it as the first transition to master, in order to gain the awareness and ability to safely link Sit flying to Head Down flying together.