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. The Up and Down movement being one of those, as you have already worked on adjusting your fall rate in Belly, Back, and Sit Flying orientations. Being able to control your fall rate will ultimately broaden your range as a flyer especially when flying with others.
This skill is one that you will have familiarity with, as you will learn and understand the majority of the elements while still flying supported by the Instructor. You will find that most of your time learning to fly Head Down skills early on has been based around learning to fly up and off the net. Prior to learning how to fly Up and Down in a Head Down orientation, you will need to ensure that you have a stable neutral Head Down position first.
The primary objective is to be able to safely and successfully begin in a neutral Head Down position off of the net, then, when signaled by your coach, fly Up approximately 3-6 feet from your original altitude and stop. Then, when signaled by your coach again, fly down 3-6 feet back to your starting altitude. You should be able to complete each movement without losing your heading, moving forward or backward or needing to “bail” for any instability.
Set yourself up in the center of the tunnel, flying Head Down. You can begin the upward movement from either on the net or just a small distance above the net. If you are starting the downward movement, you will need to set yourself up with enough space between you and the net to perform the movement without hitting the net. It will be important that you are able to stop yourself before reaching the net.
Technique and Drills
- You will begin in the center of the tunnel, in a neutral Head Down position, approximately 2-3 feet above the net
- Plan to use balanced inputs of your body’s surface area to create lift
- Initiate the upward movement by extending your “daffy” position (spreading your front and rear legs as far apart as possible) to maximize the amount of lift potential
- As the lift begins, you will need to extend your arms out sideways
- Your arms can raise slightly, but no higher than your shoulders at any time
- Maintain balance with your inputs as you rise, to control any unwanted forward or backward movements or turns
- To stop an upward movement, you will slightly reduce the additional surface area to reduce the lift and maintain the desired altitude
- Begin in the center of the tunnel approximately 6 feet above the net. Depending on the position required for you to fly at that altitude, you can either be in a neutral or slow-fall position to begin the downward movement
- You will want to reduce the surface area at your arms by relaxing and lowering them and at your legs by reducing the spread between your front and back leg in your “daffy” position
- Maintain balance with your inputs as you descend, to control any unwanted forward or backward movements or turns
- To stop your downward movement, you will use the same inputs to initiate an upward movement and then once you have stopped, you will need to manage your position to maintain the desired altitude
Post-flight questions / suggestions
- How did your performance match the initial objectives?
- Were you able to maintain stability when flying up and down?
- During the up and down movements did you encounter any forward or backward drive?
- 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 up and down movements, set yourself a goal to adjust the wind speed to faster and slower speeds in order to help advance your ability in this area while you learn other movements.
What skill level is next?
Head Down Turns
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.