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.
When you finish learning basic Head Down and can fly Head Down by raising off the net with no assistance from the 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 working toward flying smoothly through every axis.
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 strong enough for the orientations, although not fast enough that it will cause you to gain altitude during the movement. 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 Down 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 be the most common transition you will use when flying, but still a vital skill to be able to perform.
What skill level is next?
Sit to Head Back Flip
The Sit to Head Down Back Flip is likely the most common transition used by flyers that have mastered the stable and neutral Sit and Head Down positions. The Back Flip style is the cleanest and most effective use of the body when transitioning from Sit flying to Head Down flying, especially at higher wind speeds. Although you will learn this transition without changing your heading, it is more common for people who are comfortable flying this maneuver, to initiate a small turn away from the center, complete the back-flip to head down and then return to the original heading to build the planned formation. This allows you to keep a visual reference toward the other people you will be flying with.