Static Line Training

Lamorna Harpin from Freefall Addicts gives you some in depth information about the static line training system of learning to skydive.

There are two different ways of learning to skydive, with Static line or RAPS, or with the AFF system. Each have their pros and cons, and static line is especially popular in countries where the weather can be changeable. The AFF system allows an individual to qualify as a solo parachutist in a shorter time period.

How does the Static Line system work?

The static line training system has existed for some time, and was the original method of teaching people to skydive. The first jumps made by a static line student are from about 3500ft and are solo jumps. There is a ‘static line’ attached from the student’s equipment to the aircraft, and this line tightens as the students jumps, consequently automatically opening the parachute system and releasing the main canopy. The instructor who dispatches the student is able to witness the students exit and body position to debrief after the parachute jump. Meanwhile, the student floats to the ground under the canopy using the steering toggles to control direction, with assistance from their instructor (usually through a radio the student is wearing). Further on in the static line course, the freefall delay and jump altitude will increase allowing the student to deploy their own canopy directly without the static line.

Is the static line parachute equipment different from experienced skydivers equipment?

As a student, it is normal to fly a large, docile canopy that is easy to control. The design of the equipment is the same as any sports rig an experienced skydiver would have. The difference comes with the deployment part of the equipment. Because the static line is deploying the canopy, and not the student, the static line is carefully packed in the equipment. The other end of the line is attached when you climb into the aircraft to a strong point inside the plane. Once the aircraft has climbed to the correct jump altitude, the student climbs into the door and prepares to exit the plane. As they exit with the correct body position, the static line gets tight and initialises the parachute deployment sequence. The static line remains attached to the aircraft and the canopy opens straight away.

What will I do before my first static line jump?

As with all skydiving training systems, you will first go through a comprehensive ground school. This training takes about 6 hours and is broken down into around ten separate lessons that cover everything you will need to know. You will learn about canopy flight, aircraft drills and emergencies, equipment, parachute landing falls, hazardous landings, stability and body position, emergency procedures and exits.

Once you have completed the ground training, you will get ready for your first jump. Your instructor will help you put your equipment on and check that everything is correct. This check after you have put on your equipment is something that you will continue throughout your skydiving career. Your instructor will seat you in the right place in the plane and after take off, the aircraft will climb to about 3500ft, your exit altitude. You will wait for the command ‘get into the door’, which signals you to climb into your correct body position and prepare to jump from the aircraft. The instructor will then give you another command, usually a ‘GO’, shouted in a loud, clear voice. This is your cue to exit the aircraft, making sure that you present your body to the airflow correctly, with a good ‘arch’ and your head up.

You will hold your body position and start counting out loud ‘one thousand, two thousand, three thousand, four thousand, check canopy’. This count is a safety check and ensures that you give your canopy time to open completely before checking it for problems. Then you can carry out specific drills to check the parachute, before flying down to the ground, assisted by your instructor over radio.

How do I progress through the static line system?

After ground training of about 6 hours, you will be ready to do your first static line jump. You are now classed as ‘Category 1’, the first category on the ladder of the training system.

Once you have completed the ground school, you are a Category 1 student.

Static Line Jump: Altitude 3500ft

Static Line Jump: Altitude 3500ft – now you are classed as a Category 2 student.

On the following ‘dummy pull’ jumps, you will still be jumping with a static line system that deploys the canopy. However, you will be practicing deploying the parachute on your own by using a simulated deployment handle.

Dummy Ripcord Pull (DRP) Jump: Altitude 3500ft

DRP Jump: Altitude 3500ft

DRP Jump: Altitude 3500ft – now you are classed as a Category 3 student.

After the dummy pull jumps, you can progress to freefall skydives. However, you must have completed a minimum of five static line jumps, and have been authorised by a CSI (Category System Instructor). Also, your first freefall jump must take place within a day of your last successful DRP descent.

Now you have progressed to freefall skydives, you exit the plane and deploy your canopy after a particular freefall delay, depending on how far through the category system you are. The further you progress, the longer the freefall delay, and the higher the altitude you jump from.

Freefall jump: 3 second delay: Altitude 4000ft

Freefall jump: 5 second delay: Altitude 4000ft – now you are classed as a Category 4 student.

Freefall jump: 10 second delay: Altitude 4500ft

Freefall jump: 10 second delay: Altitude 4500ft – now you are classed as a Category 5 student.

You wear your altimeter on the left hand and will be checking it every 2 to 3 seconds to ensure you deploy your canopy by the minimum height your instructor has given you, or after the specific delay for the jump.

Freefall jump: 15 second delay: Using altimeter in freefall: Altitude 5000ft

Freefall jump: 15 second delay: Useing altimeter in freefall: Altitude 5000ft - now you are classed as a Category 6 student.

Your next skydive will involve turns, and you will be briefed to deflect air your arms to initiate the turn.

Freefall jump: Turn 360 degrees both left and right: Altitude 6000ft minimum - now you are classed as a Category 7 student.

In your next skydive, you will intentionally go unstable by bringing your knees up to your chest. Next, you will perform a back loop to show that you are able resume stability after being unstable.

Freefall jump: Unstable exit with back loops: Altitude 7000ft minimum.

In your next skydive, you will carry out a dive exit, jumping out of the aircraft at a 45 degree angle between the tail section and the wing tip. After you have completed the dive exit, you will perform a track. This is when you sweep your arms to your side, with your hands palm down and straighten your legs. Tracking is used to gain horizontal movement and is used mainly when jumping with other skydives to ensure you have your own space to deploy your canopy. We use a ‘wave off’ to communicate to other skydivers that you are going to deploy your canopy.

Freefall jump: Dive exit with a track: Altitude 7000ft minimum.

Freefall jump: Dive exit, back loop, left 360 degree turn, right 360 turn, short track and wave off: Maximum jump altitude.You have now achieved ‘Category 8’ and the FAI A Certificate.

How long does it take to qualify on the system, and what kind of costs will I have to consider?

Costs will vary from place to place. Usually, you can expect to pay about 200 GBP for your ground training and first static line jump. Following jump costs will be around 40 GBP including equipment hire. It is normal for static line training to be spread over some time because of the number of skydives required to advance through the system. Whilst the system only contains 15 jumps, the average opinion is that the static line course takes from 30 to 50 jumps to complete.

Tell me the advantages of learning to skydive on the static line system?

If you want a system that is an economical way to carry out a parachute jump, the static line system is an ideal solution. The static line system is very common with University clubs, group and team building. Once you have finished the initial ground school, you only need a small amount of tuition for your next descent. Another advantage to the static line system is the lower altitude that you jump from in the initial jumps, for countries that have changeable weather this means that you can sometimes still jump even if it is a cloudy day.

Are there disadvantages of learning to skydive using the Static Line system?

In the beginning, the freefall delay of your jumps is very small, so it can be hard to learn the correct body position. Should a student have poor body position, there is also a slightly higher risk of getting entangled with the parachute system in the deployment sequence. Classes of static line students can contain up to 12 individuals, meaning that students do not get very much one on one tuition, consequently making graduating the course a slow process. For convenience, most static line students choose to spread their jumps over time, usually on weekends. This inconsistency means that every time a student makes a jump, they are having to relearn what they did on the previous jump, as well as learning the new content of their next jump.

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