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Exit Order: Why It’s Important

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Communicating your jump plan and opening altitude is a vital part of sharing the sky with others

Author Alethia Austin leading an angle group off jump run
Photo by Tex

Planning exit order amongst groups might seem like common practice. However, there are still plenty of DZs around the world not putting much of an emphasis on this important part of what we do.

So, why does the exit order matter? Why is there an emphasis on describing your jump plan to everyone on the load? 

Safe Airspace For Everyone

There are a few things that make it important to create an exit order on every load. First, we want to create safe airspace for everyone. In the same reason that we have exit separation that we honor on a load, we create an exit order that also keeps us from having groups flying into each other. Belly flyers tend to have a lot of drift when exiting the plane. There’s more drag in the flat body position and thus more drift from the where they exited the aircraft. Whereas static freefly or dynamic freefly moving straight down have less drift and less drag. To put belly flyers out first from big to small groups, ahead of freefly will mean that their drift from the aircraft doesn’t cross into a freefly group exiting before then, thus keeping their deployment air space safely contained to their group only.

Predictable Canopy Opening Space

In the above mentioned scenario where the solo belly changed his mind on the jump and didn’t declare that he was going to try a sit fly jump or a tracking jump, we can step into dangerous territory. There’s an amount of drift that we can account for when we know a solo belly jumper is exiting the aircraft performing that jump. However, a solo sit fly jumper, trying to sit fly, tends to backslide quite a lot. If the jumper spends part of that skydive backsliding as a “belly flyer”, he could potentially backslide his way into the airspace of another group. This is the same reason that we communicate moving/tracking jumps on a load. They are moving horizontally, thus with the potential to move up/down jum prun or into other groups. So when an undeclared solo track or undeclared solo vertical jump is made, there is a risk of that jumper moving into other groups.

Longevity in this incredible sport is only possible when we all work together to decrease our risks of injury and death

Higher deployments need to be discussed
Photo by Andres Mesa

Higher Deployment Dangers

Some common reasons to pull a bit higher would be newer jumpers pulling high for training/safety, high pulls due to new gear, high pulls for pure enjoyment and flocking together. The standard across the dropzone would be, I’d say, to deploy around 3,500 feet. Let’s say we have two groups of three belly flyers each. Without communicating about the skydive, we randomly put one in front of the other. The first group, however, forgot to mention that they’ll be deploying at 5,000 feet. The second group pull at 3,500 but one jumper pulls a bit lower because his breakoff goes a little wonky and he loses some altitude. The first group has one jumper who is very new and while he aims to deploy at 5,000 feet, he pulls a few hundred feet higher from nerves. If there’s a big drift from the second group (very possible in high winds) or the exit separation wasn’t giving much room between the groups, we could have a situation where jumpers from the second group are in freefall next to the canopies of the first group who opened higher. This could be avoided if we put the high pulls in the correct order.

Photo by Adrian Daszkowski

Summary

Skydiving is a balance of doing something unique while mitigating risks on a jump-by-jump basis. Longevity in this incredible sport is only possible when we all work together to decrease our risks of injury and death. If exit order is not followed at your dropzone, do not accept this. Arrive at the boarding area early enough to begin to establish your own place in the exit order. If there’s not an exit order, you can do the math on your own to identify where you should place yourself on the load. And if there is a culture of declaring exit orders at your dropzone, be sure you continue to be transparent in your jump plans on every load to ensure the safety of yourself and others.

Thanks for helping to keep our skies safe. 

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Meet: Alethia Austin

Alethia is a passionate full time international angle and freefly coach. As the creator of LSD Bigway Camps and LSD Angle Camps, she's been running skills camps in skydiving for over 8 years around the world. Some of her coaching and LSD camps have taken her to Botswana, Egypt, Central America, North America, Europe and more. Alethia brings her years of yoga teaching, love of good health and healthy living into the way she coaches angle flying and vertical flying. Alethia was a regional captain for the Women's Vertical World Record and has two world records. Her sponsors include UPT, Tonfly, PD, Cypres and LB Altimeters.

You can find her on Instagram at Instagram.com/alethiaja

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