Dive Dr: Do Booties Make a Difference?

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Dear Dive Doctor,

I tend to have trouble matching others freefall rate cos my exit weight is 115kg. I’m just curious if booties on a jumpsuit make a big difference in slowing my freefall rate?? 

Do booties make a big difference in slowing fall rate?
Image: Mextreme 4-way by Roman Alba

Answered by Paolo Giazzi…

… CEO of Parasport Skydiving Equipment

Being the fastest falling person in a group can be challenging, but the truth is that the slow freefallers have to consider increasing their fall rate to help their mates.

This of course involves using weights to increase the terminal velocity, but the fast skydiver has to be fair and work a bit on his/her fall rate as well. This can be achieved with the correct jumpsuit, but also working on the freefall position.

On the jumpsuit side, using booties will help, provided that the upper part of the body gives an extra drag too, giving an overall good balance. Using polycotton forearms instead of the spandex ones will give extra drag, helping that balance. Keep in mind that both booties and forearms must not be too wide as the suit will become uncomfortable, and freefall kind of unstable because of flapping fabric.

“The current technique is pushing to get a more flat position, with legs more in the airflow”
Image: Mextreme by Roman Alba

A lot can be achieved working on the body position. We used to take an arched position to be more stable and help turning in place, but this position doesn’t help slowing freefall speed. The current technique is pushing to get a more flat position, with legs more in the airflow. This creates a slower freefall rate, but gives a faster reaction.

For the upper part of the body, a huge help comes from the arms: keeping arms more forward (with our hands in front of our face not far from our chin) and lowering the elbows catches more air, creating a very helpful extra drag, still keeping a comfortable position, that is something we don’t have to lose in order to be able to move and turn points.

Keeping the arms forward creates extra drag
Image: Mextreme by Roman Alba

Jumpsuits can help, but you can be surprised by the result you can achieve working on the body position, that I would consider first.

Answered by Dive Doctor Paolo Giazzi, CEO of Parasport Skydiving Equipment and Jumpsuit manufacturers

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Meet: Paolo Giazzi

Started skydiving back in 1976 during high school, taking the jump course in the beautiful Venice. Being living in person the development of the sport, I accumulated a good experience in canopies, containers, and of course accessories. Being thru different specialties (old style... RW, freestyle, "chute-assis", tandem pilot), I'm now more in formation skydiving and indoor flying. Currently holder of Italian record in Big Way Sequential and World Record in Big Way Sequential for POPS and SOS (well, not that big...), I also worked as Skydiving Event Director at the 2009 World Air Games in Torino.

With Parasport Italia since 1990, I follow the development of the different accessories, with a special interest in electronics and helmets.

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