Dive Doctor, I want to Flock

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Flocking – Flying with others under canopy can be great fun
Photo by Timothy Parrant

“Dear Dive Doctor,

I want to get into Flocking. I have 450 jumps and a wing loading of 1.3. I’m not super comfortable around other canopies at the moment though! I tend to steer away from other canopies not towards them.

What should I do to get started? Do I need a minimum skill level and/or a high wing loading? And how do I find people to flock with, do they have to have the same size and make of parachute?”

Yours, Piotr

Flight-1 Flocking Camp at Teuge, photo by Pete Allum

Answered by Julian Barthel, Flight-1 Instructor

Julian Barthel

Hey Piotr!

That’s an amazing question and a very normal place to find yourself in. We get taught from the word “go” that canopy collisions equal death and that we need to stay clear of everyone around us. If we are not trained on how to safely fly in proximity to others, that’s probably the best strategy to follow.

But if you follow the Idea that knowledge dispels fear… Starting flocking is a great way to learn how to deal with flying in close proximity with others, but of course, there’s a progression to follow to acquire the necessary knowledge to fly together and safely share the sky.

Flight-1 Flocking Camp at Teuge, photo and coaching by Pete Allum

I recommend that if you haven’t done any canopy courses, you take the basic Flight-1 courses to get a good foundational knowledge of how canopies function and what influences the wing.

While you are Flocking you should be quite comfortable and confident in knowing what is happening with your wing so you can fly with others safely. Just like you would want to have a basic understanding on how to track before you join a group, you need to build a base of knowledge.

After the 100 series and a minimum recommended 200 skydives you can get guidance through Flight-1 air-to-air series, which will teach you the fundamentals of flying relative to other canopies. Once you have built a basic understanding of approaches and flying relative break-offs, you can start building towards flying in groups.

Before you know it, you will be ready to join Flocking camps, such as the LIFT camps all over Europe!

In our camps you do not have to be flying small, fast parachutes, there are actually camps for people with wing loadings of 1.2-1.6, which seems to be cut out for you!

I hope this helps you in your journey, to gain clarity and a path to come join us for flocking soon!

Looking forward to flying together and sharing the sky!

Dive Doctor Julian

Provided you progress at the right pace with Flocking, the possibilities for extra fun are tremendous!
Photo over Deland by Joao Roncato

Learn more about Flocking by reading Pete Allum’s article; ‘Flocking

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Meet: Julian Barthel

Julian is a full time Tunnel Coach, Freefly Coach, Load Organizer, USPA Coach Examiner and Founder of FlyinMynd.
He worked in the sport as AFF-I, TD-I and Camera Flyer for 8 years before going freelance.
Julian loves Canopy Piloting and XRW.
He was part of the current National German Head down Record (38) and the European Head down Sequential Record (3-point 24-way) as well as the current European Head Up Record (43).
Likes: Canopy Flocking, Freefly, XRW, Canopy Piloting, Dynamic Flying.
Julian is sponsored by PD, UPT, Tonfly, Alti-2 and Cypres.

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