The sit to head front flip is likely the first transition that you will learn when wishing to place together the two orientations. It can be the most natural move as during your head down training, you are forward transitioning your body to place your head on to the net. A front flip is usually the safer option when initially learning the transition to head down flight, so it is likely you will master this first to gain the awareness and ability to place head up and head down flight together.
When you finish learning basic head-down and can fly head-down by raising off the net with no assistance from the tunnel instructor, you are ready to begin learning the transition from sit-flying to head-down. The step-by-step learning process for head-down is similar to the step-by-step phases of mastering a solid body position. Now you are ready to start putting together one vertical flying position with another and ultimately building a seamless flying display.
The primary objective is to be able to safely and successfully transition from a neutral sit-flying position through a front flip maneuver and finish in a neutral head-down position in the center of the tunnel without generating any lift or movement.
You will start in the center of the tunnel in a neutral sit-flying position. For your early transitions, your instructor will manage the speed of the wind so it is appropriate for the orientations but not so high that you gain any altitude during the move. Your instructor will be assisting you early on and will aim to keep you approximately waist to chest height above the net.
Technique and Drills
- Begin in the center of the tunnel in a neutral sit-flying position
- You should focus on rotating around your waist line; your upper and lower body should switch places
- Initiate the transition by rotating your head forward and pushing your upper body forward and down toward your knees
- Keep your arms spread out from your side for stability
- As you start to rotate, ensure that your body stays small in a “balled” up type position, this will help you avoid any lift or drive
- Once your head and shoulders are down and your upper body becomes vertical, you will need to anchor it down and pick a reference point on the tunnel wall to look at to help stop your upper body
- As your upper body stops rotating, allow your lower body to hinge around your upper body and open up
- To stop the rotation, use a lot of input with your back leg, extending it out in to the wind for maximum lift
- To prevent over-rotating and “falling off your head,” you can slightly roll your head back and look slightly lower in the tunnel, which will keep you from exposing your back to the wind
- Once the rotation has stopped, assume a neutral head-down flying position
- Manage the speed of the rotation. Remember: too slow can present lifting and driving potentials and too fast can present over-rotation potentials
Post-flight questions / suggestions
- How did your performance match the initial objectives?
- Were you able to consistently transition without creating any unwanted lift or drive?
- Are you ready to perform the transitions with an assisted grip by the instructor?
- What techniques did you feel comfortable with and what can you improve on during the next session?
This maneuver is one of a few sit-to-head transitions that you will learn. Usually it is the first one to learn due to the fact that most flyers will be comfortable performing a front flip type move. It won’t necessarily by the most common maneuver you select when transitioning to your head, but still a vital skill to be able to perform. Continue to master the front flip to head down maneuver as it will many other traits that you will use during other parts of your flying career.
What skill level is next?
Sit to Head Back Flip
Likely the most common sit to head transition is the back-flip style. This is the cleanest and most effective use of the body when transitioning from sit to head down, especially at higher more competition type wind speeds. Although you will learn this transition without changing a heading, it is more common for people who are comfortable flying this maneuver will initiate a turn, complete the back-flip to head down and then adjust their heading to build their planned formation.