Hula Oops!

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Photo by Gustavo Cabana

Who doesn’t want to do a Hoop Dive?! 

Angelo Declerck goes through some Dos and Don’ts to make sure your Hula Hoop skydive isn’t Hula Ooops! 😉

This year I got the opportunity to organise at the Vector Festival alongside Marco Arrigo. Because at that time it was mainly a freefly event, we had to come up with some bad-ass formation skydives so we would not just be ‘the belly jumpers’. 😊 

I had never done a hula hoop jump so it was the perfect moment! It was not only my first but also that from our world-famous video guy, Gustavo Cabana, which surprised me. 😊. I asked some advice from experienced ‘hoopers’, below is a mixture of their wisdom and what we learned…

Photo by Gustavo Cabana

Jumping Through Hoops

Things to keep in mind jumping with a hula hoop before it becomes hula oops…

  1. Find a big enough hoop (check people can go through). Made from lightweight material.
  2. Only take a small group… maximum 5 people going through and 2 holding it
  3. Train the climb-out and exit at the mock-up (the hoop takes some wind, it’s easy to hold it alone)
  4. Make sure you have planned the skydive. Make a set-up and after-hoop plan for the 5 people
  5. It takes two! – 2 people holding the hoop is better then one
  6. Make sure pilot chutes, bridles, handles are tucked away properly
  7. Set a high break off. The person holding the hoop needs clearance to pull in place
  8. The other person has to keep holding the hoop so you are stable while you pull (then let go)
  9. Jump a non-high-performance canopy. Drop the hoop a few meters above the ground
  10. Make sure you have fun and have great footage and stills of this cool jump
Don’t get stuck in the hoop!
Photo by Gustavo Cabana

What could possibly go wrong?

It’s always good when doing something different in skydiving, to think through what could go wrong, and make a plan. If the poop hits the fan in freefall you may not have time to think, so do the thinking on the ground. 

Possible worst-case scenarios

1. Only focusing on the hoop

Skydivers can get ‘tunnel vision’ and might see only the hoop in the air and not their fellow skydivers. Stay aware of others around you and don’t dive into them.

2. Pilot chute or bridle caught in the hoop

Make sure it’s all nicely tucked away and that your container pin is tight enough. Pre-exit handle check for everyone!

3. Poor break-off

 (This is something that happened to us)
Make sure the organiser’s audible is set a little higher than break-off, so they can signal it to the others. Also make it clear that people must track away at a safe altitude and have a good look around, they might not see everyone straight away.

What happened to us:
I gave a stop warning, people broke away, I waited a few seconds and deployed my parachute. A few meters away I could see someone just watching how I opened with the hoop in my hand. THIS WAS NOT BRIEFED THIS WAY. This wasn’t cool and definitely got brought up in the debrief afterwards. 😉

4. Deployment issues

If someone is going to hold the hoop while you pull, make sure you practice this on the ground, so the second hoop person knows when to let go. Tell this person to track away before they deploy, just in case the person holding the hoop has to cut away.

Deployment series

Meet: Angelo Declerck

Angelo is a Belgian FS and CRW enthusiast, holder of many big-way records.

He flies PD, UPT, Tonfly helmets, L&B and Intrudair.

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