Plan the dive, dive the plan. You’ve been practicing this since your first student training jump. There are two reasons for a dive plan:
- Engineering the dive so you can get in maximum learning and/or performance from the jump.
Once you have graduated from a skydiving training program, there are SO MANY things you can do! You rock–you are now a licensed skydiver! But that is just a license to start learning further, not a license to do whatever you want. Safety is priority 1, always!
The goal when planning a dive is to come up with a dive we like that will be executed according to plan (or at least mostly!). Skydives are more successful and safer when things go according to plan–they are predictable. Unlike that new relationship where unpredictability can be mysterious and fun, unpredictability in the sky leads to confusion and safety issues. These could include issues within your group or between your group and others.
Here are 10 things you might want to ask yourself when planning your dive:
- Is there a particular exit I want to do? How should we safely climb out for this exit and what grips should we take? (Hint: Do not scrape your rig along the door as you climb out!)
- What do I want to do in freefall? Is there a skill I’m trying to work on?
- Realistically, how many people should be on the dive to achieve that objective?
- If you are working on a skill, is there a more experienced jumper or coach who can lay a stable base and provide feedback?
- What is the dive flow based on the above answers?
- Where should you be in the exit order for the load with this dive plan?
- How much time do you need between group exits with the current winds?
- How high will you break off and pull? Is there enough time between them for adequate separation at deployment? Is this acceptable relative to others on the dive and other groups on the plane?
- Where is your holding area under canopy?
- What is your planned landing pattern?
Likely, you won’t answer these questions all at once. For example, you will probably figure out your holding area and canopy pattern before your first jump and stick to it for the day unless the winds change. And you won’t know about where you fit in the boarding/exit order until you get out to the boarding area with the rest of the load, but you should already know where you fit in the grand scheme of things. With more experience, you’ll answer many of these questions automatically.
If at any time you feel that the size of the dive is too big for safety or that the participants on it may not be safe for that dive flow, change the plan. If you have any questions about safety or maneuvers, please don’t hesitate to ask one of our Skydiver Training Program instructors or load organizers. Also ask questions if you are on a dive doing something you haven’t done before (such as a new type of exit or group activity such as a tracking dive). Any of us will be thrilled to help you keep us all safe!
Remember–YOU are responsible for your safety, and that of your group if you are planning the dive. Take the initiative to make sure your dive plan is safe and predictable for you, your group and the rest of the load. Blue skies!