It’s been a long time coming, a discussion on tunnel flying, but honestly I’m glad I waited until after my second camp to provide commentary on the experience – I learned so much about tunnel training this time around!
The first time in a tunnel was humbling, to say the least. Everyone says that as a freeflyer the first hour or two you spend training in a tunnel is going to be a bit frustrating as you break bad habits you learned in the sky and learn to backfly (as most of us go straight to sit rather than learning the ever important backflying and back to sit transitions).
I learned a lot in January, don’t get me wrong, but this time around I was astonished with the learning curve.
My goal this time was to start learning the fundamentals of head down work. For someone who has only been legit head down in the sky a handful of times, mostly because someone put me in that position, it was a bit of a lofty goal to say the least. I went in knowing that I needed more work on my back and could afford to focus energy on my sit, docking and transitions as well.
To my surprise, I had my head on the net by the second rotation. Getting the feeling for head down and finding your balance takes time, patience and practice. There’s lots of muscle memory involved in this position, and (as was my case) you can expect to do it over and over again until you get the feel for it.
I was amazed how much backflying came into play during this journey, and fully understand why Mickey stresses proficiency on your back before making the transition to head down, or head up for that matter. Back is the bail out position – and if you’re anything like me, you’ll spend plenty of time there before getting your head off the net.
But, once you get there, the feeling is amazing. Pretty sure I squealed like a little girl the first time I got lift.
What was especially valuable about this camp was that most of us flying this weekend had about the same level of proficiency. We were all working to improve our backflying, finding additional comfort in our sit and putting our heads to the net in some head down work. The lessons you can learn from simply watching others in the tunnel, the corrections they make and hearing feedback in the debrief sessions while reviewing flight video is invaluable.
During the camp, our buddy Dave over at Skydive Radio decided it would be great to have a round table about the camp to hear it from the mouths of skydivers who benefit from tunnel coaching and encourage other jumpers to get themselves into the tunnel.
I’ve also shamelessly plugged Jump for Diabetes and the wonderful cause that we are supporting.
For those who have never been to a tunnel, get yourself there ASAP. For jumpers, a camp is extremely beneficial as you learn from everyone else and you get plenty of 1 on 1 time in the tunnel and out (read: debriefs after each session). I highly recommend Body Pilots for your training – Mickey is a spectacular coach. And I really have nothing but good things to say about the instructors and facilities at SkyVenture Colorado. They take good care of you there and even though you’re in a camp, the instructors are there to help, provide additional thoughts and give you tips to improve your flying.
What have been your experiences in the tunnel?