Flying Head Down

Learning Head Down will be one of the most challenging yet fun things you will do in the tunnel.

It is a time-consuming goal to attain, but the reward will certainly be worth the effort! Head Down flight is the final Static orientation in the IBA flight progression; it will open many doors for your flying career and help complete you as a fully-rounded flyer.

Prior to beginning the Head Down progression in the wind tunnel, you will need to be competent at:

  • All Belly Flying (IBA Level 1) skills
  • All Back Flying (IBA Level 2) skills
  • All Sit Flying (IBA Level 3) skills
  • The Sit-to-Sit Front Flip transition (we will break this one down next week, stay tuned!)

Before each flight session, you will need to receive a full safety briefing from the tunnel Instructor, as well as a body position and skill briefing from a qualified Head Down Coach.


The primary objective is to be able to safely and successfully fly a static neutral Head Down position off of the net at moderate to fast wind speeds, with minimal assistance from your tunnel Instructor and/or Coach.


On The Net:

  • Set up on the net, with your head down and holding the net
  • Once in the Head Down position, start in a “straddle” (legs wide) position, and then switch to a “daffy” (one leg in front and one behind) position
  • The “straddle” position is an easier position, to begin with, in order to get a feel for supporting yourself on the net upside down and practicing the “bail.” The “daffy” position is more difficult but provides the right amount of lift and control initially. Later in your progression, you may learn a “hybrid” type position which is a mix of the two, based upon your consistent fall rate and finally the “shelf or stall” position which is more commonly used for VFS flying
  • For the “straddle” position, your legs will be straight and spread as wide as possible (laterally)
  • For the “daffy” position, your designated front and rear leg will be spread wide (longitudinally), both legs will be bent at approximately 90º to ensure that they are balanced in the wind
  • Once you are stable, your Coach will give you the signal to release the net one hand at a time. It is done in this manner to ensure that you maintain stability throughout the release process. Once you release you will relax your arms, initially close to your sides
  • With your arms from the relaxed position, slightly raise them to about shoulder height with a slight bend at the elbow
  • The position of your head can have an effect on the line of your body, which ultimately can affect the pitch of your body in the wind causing unwanted drive. Try to avoid having your chin down toward your chest exposing your back to the wind; this can cause a forward drive. Alternatively, having your head rotated back too far can expose too much of your chest and create a backward drive
  • If you are signaled to do so, or if you feel any large instabilities, “bail” to a neutral Back Fly position
  • The “bail” is completed by tucking your head forward toward your chest and performing a front flip type maneuver
  • You will repeat these steps until your Coach feels that you are stable and ready to begin lifting off of the net
  • During each rotation, you will learn to balance each aspect of your position: your torso straight, your arms spread, your front and your back leg. Maintaining constant control of each unit of your body will allow you to maintain controlled neutral flight with no movement

Off The Net:

  • Made it this far? Visit the IBA Skill page to read on about flying off of the net.

Check In

After you flight session review these questions with your tunnel Instructor and Coach:

  • What techniques did you feel comfortable with and what can you improve on during the next session?
  • Are you able to demonstrate correct bailing procedures?
  • Are you ready to be released?

Visit the IBA Skills page to download the full lesson plan and to find post-flight evaluation questions and suggestions.

More Tutorial Videos

Next tutorial, Sit to head-down transition

IBA Sit Fly Tutorials HERE

IBA Back Fly Tutorials HERE

IBA Dynamic Progression Tutorials HERE

This article was originally published on skydivemag