Group Tracking Tips – 1

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Tracking Group with Efraim Folgerts – Image by Benoit Alziary

How do you get started and progress safely with group tracking/angle jumps? We ask FF coaches for the answers…

Tracking Tips 1 by Efraim Folgerts

Efraim Folgerts, freefly coach – Image by Benoit Alziary

What’s the best way to begin to learn group tracking? 

The best way to start is to do some 1-on-1 jumps to understand the basics. Start on the back or belly, either is good. But really, it’s important to get some coaching in the beginning. After this start to fly in small groups, a maximum of 3, preferably with someone who has some experience. Experience both in leading and safety. Progress from there. Skills camps that offer small groups are a perfect environment to learn as well.

What factors need to be considered when leading a tracking jump? 

You need to be aware of the following and plan your jumps accordingly:

Jump run; The start direction of your track. From here you plan your flight path.

Wind; plan your flight path in a way that you open mostly upwind of the landing area. In this way you can still make it back to the landing area. Also be aware that the winds at altitude can be different to the wind on the ground. Ask the pilot what the winds are doing or the manifest or the chief instructor.

Level of the group you fly with; plan a not-too-difficult jump. It is better and safer to have the group together on a jump with one turn than a wild jump with everyone all over the place. 

Others in the plane; be aware what the other jumpers and individuals on the load are doing when they leave the plane. Also be aware of the local DZ rules. If there are other tracking groups on your load, be sure to talk to them to see what their plan is and their intended flight path.

Exit order; usually, on DZs where there are two tracking groups allowed, tracking groups go first and last with the other groups in the middle.

Cloud cover; if you can’t see the ground it is safer not to do a tracking jump. Make an alternative plan and do your tracking when conditions are better.

Can you give us some safety tips for those learning to track?

Navigate correctly, check the spot and jump run before exiting the plane, stay in your slot or at least your quadrant and brief a good break-off. When you’re in the first tracking group, after opening fly parallel to jump run until you see the next group open their parachutes. After that, make your way to the DZ.

Can you describe an exit on the back and on the belly? 

The relative wind always comes from the front of the plane. When you are doing an exit on the belly make sure you face the front of the plane, and when you exit on the back face the tail of the plane. Exit in a stable position. On the belly it will help to look at the plane for a split second before looking at the formation. Relax. Take a breath before exit and move with the count of the leader. Once you have exited stable, accelerate until you’re in your slot. Don’t brake too early – it’s easier to slow down than to catch up.  

Tracking with Efraim at Skydive Spain – Image by Roy Wimmer-Jaglom

What can you tell us about safe separation in a group tracking jump?

The most important thing is to look first before separating from the group. Always expect that there will be someone next to you. Like in all skydiving disciplines, track away to a clear space as far away as possible.

How can we come tracking with you? 

I’m available all year around. I am doing Trackdayz events at Skydive Spain, one 5-6 October and 7-8 December 2019.…. and hopefully some dates in 2020 as well.

Tight TrackDayz group with Efraim over Skydive Spain – Image by Benoit Alziary

What do you want to teach at your upcoming TrackDayz event? 

Personally, I want to teach participants the different angles you can fly with tracking. When the level allows, we will change, do transitions and fly smooth, cool jumps. 

What can we expect from the setting at TrackDayz? 

Trackdayz is perfect to learn how to fly in a group. We’re super-stoked to take you up for jumps and share our knowledge to give you the best tracking experience you can have. 

Tracking Tips Series

This is part of a series on group tracking and angle jumps…

Tracking Tips 1 – by Efraim Folgerts

Tracking Tips 2 – by Matti Miilumäki

Tracking Tips 3 – by Tex

Tracking Tips 4 – by Harry & Alabama Shanker

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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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