Hero Mindset

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Heroes in our sport are the ones who understand how to earn longevity through mitigating risk

Relaxed and happy is possible when you’re eliminating risks with good decision-making

Overheard at the dropzone the other day: 

Coach – “Well, it looks like we’ll be on standby for a while. The winds are gusting to 29 knots.”

250-jump Student – “I’m cool jumping that. I don’t mind.” 

The coach, who had told his student that they’d hold off on jumping due to the winds, ended up having a detailed discussion about why gusts with high wind spread are dangerous and why 29 knot/33 mph winds are dangerous.

When we speak about the spread, we mean the amount of speed the winds pick up from high to low. Winds of 15 knots that are steady are far safer than winds that are gusting from 5 to 15 knots. That spread could be the difference between landing at 15 knots and having that wind drop to 5 in a second, or landing in 5 knots and getting gusts up to 15 in a second. High gusts impact canopy performance in a range of ways from nuisance to catastrophic, including higher turbulence to dreaded canopy collapse

Take a cue from some of the experienced leaders in our sport
Image by Michael McGowan

As dangerous as high gusts are, so is a mindset that is misguided into thinking that jumping in poor and unsafe conditions is what is brave, courageous or in any way cool. 

So often newer jumpers make bold decisions to jump in less than ideal situations, boasting about it as though they had more courage than those opting to stand down in weather. This is often a sign of a new jumper who hasn’t had the right kind of education so far in their skydiving life. Time and experience in the sport will hopefully uncover for most skydivers that there is no jump that is worth wishing you were on the ground, wishing you hadn’t gotten on the plane. 

Safe skydiving is cool
Image: Kristian Moxnes by Gustavo Cabana

What is a hero mindset? 

  • Considering the weather conditions before every jump
  • Setting and sticking to your wind and weather limits
  • Questioning in the face of red flags
  • Making decisions in the sport that keep you and everyone else around you safe
  • Knowing that waiting out poor weather is a safer bet to jump again than hoping you are OK on a questionable jump 
  • Pulling off of a load for any reason that had you doubting yours/others safety

How do you know if you’re one of the skydivers that is practicing safe discernment in our sport and respected for this very reason?

Flying with ease in Brazil
Image by Gustavo Cabana

A few questions to ask yourself: 

  • Do you jump in high winds when others are typically waiting it out on the ground? 
  • Are you usually the person still manifesting for loads when it’s questionable conditions – only to find that they put the load on a hold anyway (when others had already pulled themselves off)?
  • Are you on a smaller canopy than most at your experience level? 
  • Do you typically jump regardless of hangovers and/or exhaustion? 
  • Are others suggesting you slow down? 

It takes time and experience to really build a safe skydiver. But if we look around at those who have thousands more jumps than us to see what decisions they’re making in poor conditions we might just realize that it’s not a lack of bravery sitting them down, it’s most likely their experience and what they’ve born witness to in the sport and in their own flying.

Being a safe skydiver impacts not only you, but those around you
Photo by Downunder Dynamics

Take some time to consider what will make you the safest skydiver. Consider who your mentors are, preferably those who have years and thousands of jumps in the sport, and discuss safety with them. Ask questions. Be brave enough to wait out anything questionable so that you can ensure you get another shot at a jump. 

If you haven’t spent a proper amount of time thinking through scenarios that’ll keep you alive, start now. We have lots of experience in our sport ready and willing to help you think through these things not only for yourself, but for the safety of our sport. Take advantage of having experience and talent around you and start having the conversations. 

Remember, in high winds and questionable weather, many of those pulling off loads are practicing safe skydiving. That’s the hero mindset we should all be striving to be to keep ourselves and everyone alive.

Be safe out there!

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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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