Initially as a new belly flyer, you will be provided assistance when entering the flight chamber. As you progress your ability on your belly, learning to be able to enter the tunnel with no hands on from your instructor will be key. Here you will learn what steps are necessary to execute a smooth and controlled entrance.
Learning to enter the wind tunnel without the physical assistance of the wind tunnel instructor is one of the building blocks of solo belly-flight. You will need to have at least a stable belly-flying body position prior to being able to learn this skill because once you enter the flight chamber, you need to be comfortable in the position you assume. It is likely that you will have completed other belly-flying skills prior to learning the “un-assisted” entrance, but they are not required to do first.
The primary goal of this skill is to be able to set up in the tunnel staging area low and balanced on your feet and then safely enter the flight chamber into your neutral belly-flying body position, controlling your position so that you maintain approximately a waist-high altitude, and stopping any unwanted forward movement. In order to successfully complete this skill, you will want to aim to maintain control throughout so that the wind tunnel instructor does not need apply any assistance.
You will begin in the staging area, on your feet, in a low, squatting stance. Face the doorway approximately 1-2 feet back from the edge, with your arms out and ready to engage in the neutral belly flying position.
You can utilize one ore more flight rotations to practice an entrance followed immediately by an exit and repeat until you feel comfortable.
Technique and Drills
- Set up so that you’re squatting low and enter the airflow low
- For balance, have one foot slightly in front of the other
- Keep your chin up and prepare to thrust your hips forwards as you pass the threshold of the door
- Your arms should be out so they catch airflow once you begin the entrance; this will help with control and better stopping power once you are in
- Enter the airflow slowly so you don’t generate too much speed
- As your feet leave the floor plate, be aware of stopping any unwanted forward drive by bending your legs and slightly extending your arms forward
- Remain arched throughout the entrance so that you maintain a low altitude
Post-flight questions / suggestions
- How did your performance match the initial objectives?
- Were you able to maintain stability throughout?
- Did the entrance feel smooth throughout?
- Were you able to control any unwanted movements?
- What can you work on during the next session to improve your entrances?
For each flight rotation, you can continue to work on different "styles" of entrances, once you feel comfortable entering forward on your belly, ask your instructor about how to enter backwards or side-ways on to your belly.
What skill level is next?
Belly Fly Exit
Similar to entering the flight chamber, during the early stages of your flight progression, the tunnel instructor will assist you for your exit to ensure that it is performed correctly. As your flight time increases along with your comfort level, learning how to exit solo will be a natural part of the progression. Completing these exercies will ensure that you are able to exit the tunnel safely and efficiently each time.