With under a month to go before the season officially begins, it’s time to start thinking about getting back on the plane, and into the skies. It’s not just a case of rocking up to the DZ and doing a quick gear check though, so we’ve put together a handy checklist of things every licenced skydiver needs to do and consider to get back in the skies as quickly and as safely as possible. Some of this you may know and some may be new information, but make sure you spend some time preparing for September, especially if you haven’t been skydiving over the summer.
Also, be sure to check the updated website information and the newly added contact forms in the Experienced section, so you’re not only up to date, but can sign up for skills camps, coaching, team training, and lots more.
Skydive Dubai Recurrency information for September
From September 1-8, Skydive Dubai Desert Campus will provide free recurrency and ground school, starting at 7am each day. This will be available for any skydiver who either requires a course OR who would like to attend, just to refresh the information.
During the same period, the Desert Campus will be offering to AFF students, free refresh/ground school + 50% DISCOUNT on the 1st re-jump for the designated AFF level necessary to regain currency to begin the season. After Sept. 8, normal prices will be will be charged for any services. See the Prices page in the experienced section for a comprehensive breakdown.
For A and B licenced skydivers, free refresh/ground schools will be offered during this period. Discounted recurrency skydives for AED 100 will be available for the first recurrency check jump during these dates.
Experienced Skydiver Pre-Season Reminders and Checklist
1. Make sure to bring a hard copy of your current licence to the DZ, especially if it has been renewed at some point throughout the break.
2. Make sure reserve pack jobs are in date, and AAD’s are serviced if required. A new copy of the reserve data card will be required before jumping.
The Desert Campus rigging loft will be open starting August 18 from 9-4 daily.
3. Please review your emergency procedures and landing procedures prior to jumping if there has been a long break from skydiving.
Again, any skydiver is welcome to attend the refresh courses.
If you would like information on currency rules, please visit USPA.org.
Additional Things to Consider
Before arriving to the DZ
Time for some R n’R?
You’ve had plenty of time for rest and relaxation, but what about a reserve repack?
Your reserve data card needs to be on file at both the Palm and the Desert Campus manifests. Do you know when your repack date is? If not, check. If so, check to be sure!
The loft at the Desert Campus will be open from August 18. Do not wait until August 31 (or worse September 1), to ask the riggers to repack your reserve. They’ll be very busy, and if there’s a queue you’ll just have to wait your turn.
Work those Muscles
You don’t need to have seen the inside of a gym recently to build-up your muscle memory. When was the last time you practiced your emergency procedures? For many of us, it may have been a number of weeks.
Visualise different scenarios, and go through the sequence. You can do that at home, stretching in the morning, or waiting for the kettle to boil. Most importantly, do it in your gear before boarding, and if you’re in need of a reserve repack, try your EPs for real in the loft. You definitely don’t want to be doing it for the first time in months under a spinning canopy as you watch the ground rush toward you.
Logbook and Licenses
Is your logbook up to date, or did you just throw it in a corner of your bag back in May? If you visited other drop zones over the summer, have you updated it accordingly, and got the relevant signatures?
Membership and insurance: Still a member of the USPA or other governing authority? Are you sure? Make sure your membership hasn’t lapsed, and that you have licence and insurance information to hand when you arrive at the drop zone.
For the Palm third party liability insurance is required before manifesting, and personal medical insurance is highly recommended. Make sure you’re covered.
Look at the wind sock
Basic right? Hardly worth mentioning? But how many skydivers have you heard on the plane ask which direction the wind is blowing or which way the arrow is pointing? Possibly plenty. You may have even asked the question yourself on occasion. If you don’t know what the winds are doing, you haven’t planned your jump and landing pattern properly. Remind yourself where the windsocks are located and check them again under canopy.
Plan your jump
Remember that amazing 12-way you finished the season with in May? Want to try 13 this time? It’s important as skydivers we’re honest with ourselves. Egos can kill. You’re out of practice, and maybe not as current as you’d like to be. Start small. Two and three ways are some of the best jumps you can do when they’re planned well. The first few jumps back are not the time to try to get everyone on a big way. Even if you feel ready, are you really sure everyone else is?
What’s a good break-off altitude for your group? It might be worth considering setting it a little higher for the first day back. Give yourself the time and space to react, and don’t risk a low-pull because you wanted that last dock.
Know the load
Get to the loading area early, and see what’s going on. You should know who else is on the load, what type of skydive you (and they) have planned, where each group is in the exit order (and load accordingly), and separation between exits.
According to Skydive Dubai’s Assistant Chief Pilot Dean Ricci, “Each time the plane pulls up to the loading area there are huge hazards involved, “Pay attention when boarding. It’s easy to forget what’s going on in all the excitement, and that propeller is unforgiving.”
“You board the aircraft ready to jump.” Not only that, but your gear should be buckled up before you even get to the loading area. Never board the aircraft with your chest-strap undone.
In the Aircraft
At both drop zones, seatbelts stay on until 1,500 feet. If for some reason you need to land with the plane, they also go back on at the same altitude. In an emergency situation “you are nothing but a projectile,” said Dean at the Skydive Dubai Safety Day. “Wear your seatbelt to save your own life, and the life of the person next to you.” The same goes for anything that isn’t properly secured. “In an aircraft crash, that helmet you’re holding is going to come off you like a bullet … those things become projectiles just like you do.”
The aircraft door is either fully open or fully closed on ascent. There is no in between. A half open door could be potentially fatal for everyone on the plane if a pilot chute sneaks out or a reserve pin pops. The door always stays closed until 1,500 feet.
Listen to the Butterflies
Before exit, especially after a layoff, it’s common to feel a little tension as the plane ascends. Those butterflies are there for a reason – to remind you that you may be out of practice. Embrace them. The adrenaline is why you started skydiving in the first place. Use the butterflies to ensure you’ve checked and triple-checked your buckles and handles. Your body is telling you to pay attention. Listen to it.
The boards and announcements from manifest tell you how much separation to leave between groups. If in doubt, wait until the group before you is at a minimum 45º from the exit door.
Protect them. Simple. Be aware of your gear on climb-out. It’s far too easy to rub your rig against the frame of the door and accidentally pull out a pilot chute.
Cameras, especially small action cameras have made our sport more accessible, but “that small thing on the helmet is a big distraction.” “Once the door is open, forget about the camera. Think about the important things,” Juan Mayer advises. It may be an even better idea to leave it on the ground for the first few jumps back after a break. If you are using a camera, make sure your helmet has a cutaway system, and you’ve routinely practiced your helmet cutaway procedure on the ground before getting on the plane. On exit, be exceptionally careful if other skydivers have a metal D-ring handle. A GoPro is capable of fitting neatly through that gap.
Whether you were skydiving over the summer or not, your internal clock may not be working perfectly. If you’ve been at a boogie and done a few 15,000 feet loads, you might be surprised how fast the skydive feels when you exit at 12,500 ft.
Other exit altitudes, aircraft, and freefall visuals can all throw off your altitude awareness just as much as being uncurrent. Pay extra special attention to your altimeter, and it’s good practice to always have at least one audible (audible altimeters are mandatory at the Palm and Desert Campus for tracking, freefly, and wingsuit jumps).
Approach with Caution
Whether you’re on a two-way belly jump, recurrency skydive, or tracking with your jump-buddies, your brakes may need a little oil and maintenance. Approach all formations and other skydivers in stages, and brake much earlier than you think is necessary. Cannonballs are outdated, and nobody will thank you for bringing them back into fashion. When you get into the right slot work hard to stay there.
When your canopy opens, look at it! Do your canopy checks, and maintain awareness of other traffic. TAP! Traffic, Altitude, Position.
Practice your flare up high, and re-familiarise yourself with your sweet spot (this may have changed slightly depending on how much the food delivery guys visited over the summer).
Everyone is trying to kill you!
We are fortunate to have great jump planes at Skydive Dubai, but that can lead to increased traffic under canopy. Flying your canopy can be similar to driving on Sheikh Zayed Road, you need to be constantly ready to manoeuver if you want to survive. Find your own space by leaving plenty of horizontal and vertical separation between you and other skydivers, especially in the landing pattern.
To have a canopy collision you need to be in the same place, at the same altitude, at the same time.
By eliminating any one of those factors, you can successfully avoid an accident and ensure you keep skydiving all season long. In the words of Skydive Dubai Flight-1 instructor Pablo Hernandez, “sharing that sky with 25 other jumpers – it’s crazy, it’s fun, it’s amazing, but keep those eyes open!”
You already know, don’t you? Wing level, avoid obstacles, and flare. That’s it isn’t it? Well, not quite. If you haven’t been under canopy for a while, like everything else, you can be out of practice. Keep that vertical and horizontal separation throughout your canopy flight. When getting back in the groove, avoid any aggressive turns in the pattern. That front-riser 90º turn you perfected before the summer, may not be all that perfect now. Take it easy, and build-up to where you were before. You want to jump for the entire season, not just a day.
Have a peek at the recent updates to the Tandem, School, and Experienced sections on the Skydive Dubai website.
We’ve recently added contact forms for different departments on the Experienced section of the website, as well as dropzone briefings for the Palm and the Desert Campus. To get in touch with either rigging loft, you can use the forms on the briefing pages.
Click the links below to go directly to the relevant page, or just hit ‘Experienced’ in the top right corner to explore the different sections.
Palm DZ Experienced Skydivers Briefing
Desert Campus Experienced Skydivers Briefing
Flight School Contact Form
Tracking to the Future Registration (available once new season begins)
Vertical Skills Camp Registration (available once new season begins)
Canopy School Contact Form
See you in September! #skydivedubai