So, gear sales is a funny thing. Regardless of how much technology and designs have changed through the years, one thing has stayed ever so constant – the rush to downsize by complete beginners. I have pages and pages of email/FaceBook message exchanges that have taken place over the question of downsizing. The vast majority are from jumpers with 30-150 ish jumps… all with “justifications” to downsize that fall within the same list. I could seriously copy and paste these into all the downsizing requests I receive and the reasons/excuses would be covered. It's kind of funny, actually, because it's blatantly obvious that there are holes in the stories of 'how great my canopy piloting skills are.'
I am not, nor have I ever claimed to be a great canopy pilot. But it doesn't take someone who is a great swooper to recognize a femur/ broken body waiting to happen. Regardless of how tactful the responses can be, there comes a point that the broken record becomes both frustrating and humorous all at once. Maybe that should be “femurous” Hmm… I'll coin that term:
1. characterized by femur humor: “That video showing the low turn was femurous! Did you see the divot he left?”
2. having or showing the faculty of a femur break waiting to happen; “Ooooh, he's looking quite dapper and femurous at the DZ party this year.”
WHAT I ASK: You only have 30 jumps on your current main. Why not hang onto it and learn basic flight skills and downsize once you've learned to fly this one?
WHAT THEY SAY: I'm losing weight and will under-load the canopy – so if I order it now, by the time it's ready I will have reached my goal weight and will remain at my current wing loading.
WHAT I'M THINKING: Really??! …and if grandma had balls, she'd be grandpa.
WHAT I SAY: Have you considered taking a canopy control course before you decide to downsize?
WHAT THEY SAY: I read a book and/or watched a video on canopy control and i've done all the things they suggested.
WHAT I'M THINKING: …and I watched House and stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, but that does not make me a brain surgeon.
WHAT I SAY: Do you think you could be rushing things?
WHAT THEY SAY: I know you hear this all the time, but I really AM a fast learner. This comes naturally to me.
WHAT I'M THINKING: There is nothing natural about falling out of an airplane nor have I met a pilot who can naturally land a wing perfectly with 50 jumps.
WHAT THEY SAY: A couple of my instructors and coaches said I was doing well and they even suggested I downsize.
WHAT I'M THINKING: REALLY?!! I'm sure they'll be happy to vouch for your mad skills when I call to verify the info you gave me. :)
WHAT THEY SAY: I’ve landed on my feet almost all of my jumps!
WHAT I'M THINKING: Not so hard to do with that 12 mph headwind and a huge landing area. But can you do it downwind, between houses with a dog chasing you…
WHAT THEY SAY: I've put a bunch of jumps on my canopy and it's boring. I want a more responsive canopy. I've already performed front and rear riser maneuvers, flat turns, and have flown my canopy all sorts of ways.
WHAT I'M THINKING: Searching for your toggles and grabbing the risers by mistake does not constitute flight maneuvers. It's not a one time checklist.
WHAT THEY SAY: I don't do stupid things under canopy. I'm being smart, conservative, and taking my time to downsize, unlike others.
WHAT I'M THINKING: Pot, meet kettle. Kettle, meet pot. You’re doing exactly what you’re criticizing yet you don't see this is YOU you're speaking of.
WHAT THEY SAY: I understand aerodynamics, which makes me a great canopy pilot even though my jump numbers don't reflect it. A few people said the guidelines were old and I feel I'm in the “advanced” column because of… ((refer to excuses 3, 8)).
WHAT I'M THINKING: Yeah and being a motor mechanic makes you a Formula 1 racing driver, right?! Femurous activity, I smell you on the horizon…
(This is a real scenario, names changed)
Joe wants to buy a 150. He's currently on a 170… so for a couple months we email back and forth about the custom canopy order and I ask the usual questions and find out that he has “over 150” jumps and has a “really light” wing loading… which I erroneously believed, but I did sell him the 150.
BERTHA: So how are the landings on your 150? You happy with the canopy?
JOE: Bringing it in like a Boss! I love this canopy, I'm wing loading it 1.34 so I’ll be under this one for a while.
BERTHA: Yeah… I figured you fudged a bit with me on how many jumps you had on the 170… but hey, just respect it for the first bunch of landings. I know you can land that or smaller straight into a light wind. I just wanna make sure you can land her between houses downwind and not have your femur sticking into the ground. Haha! Glad you love it.
JOE: Lol, if you don't femur you’re not trying hard enough! It’s all good.
(70 jumps later… Joe is looking to downsize to a 135)
BERTHA: Dude, you haven't had that 150 for 2 months yet and you’re wanting to downsize again?
JOE: I put almost 100 jumps on it Bertha, and the vast majority of them I have been landing in different scenarios; flat turn with harness input on final, landing with rears, double fronts to rears, doubles to toggle, measuring altitude with front 90, 180, 270, 360 with consistent riser pressure, flat turns around cows, etc. and it's not that high of a wing-load 1:1.3 -1.35. I'm doing it smart and staying conservative… ish.
(I refuse to sell him the 135. He buys it elsewhere somehow.)
BERTHA: (text to mutual friend after reading about the femur on FB) Is JOE okay? What the fuck happened?
BERTHA: (text to JOE) Hey buddy. I just heard. Are you in a lot of pain? You okay?
JOE: I'm sorry Bertha. :(