Solo Freeflyer?

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Practicing freefly on your own? Alethia Austin has some tips to keep your jump safe. 

Image by Nathy Odinson

Declaring what kind of a jump we are making for the exit order is a pretty standard and obvious part of skydiving. But one thing that might be overlooked is why a solo freefly might potentially need a little extra communication.

I’ve found that solo freefly jumps tend to be the skydiver who is trying to learn or practice flying head up or head down. This can end up causing a little bit of a dangerous situation if we don’t pay close attention. 

Image by Stikkos

Fireside story

A few years ago I was leading a one on one tracking jump with a student. We opened in airspace off of jump run. That particular jump I was sharing a side with another movement group and there were a few jumpers in between us. When I opened at my planned spot, I was looking for the next group after us. I was confused when I saw a canopy quite close to ours. Having opened off jump run in an airspace only possible for a moving jump, I couldn’t figure out how we had someone close to us. When I got down, I found the jumper who was after us, who’d mentioned he was making a solo belly jump. Turns out, he ended up trying sit fly. He was a beginner, able to hold it, but without any control over his movements. 

Typically, when people are learning sit fly, they tend to backslide. If you spend an entire jump backsliding, you’re going to cover quite a lot of distance. And as we know, covering distance in a skydive needs to be declared as we run the risk of getting too close to comfort with other groups, or tracking up/down jump run. 

Image: Temeeka Steward by Allen Dupont


So, how can we best train freefly as a solo skydiver? 

  • If within your budget, get some coaching until you can understand how to hold the position and be certain you’re not moving horizontally. If that’s not possible with your resources, I get it. 
  • When you’re spotting before you exit, take note of where you are. As you’re practicing, be sure you check to see you’re still above your exit point. 
  • Tie a pull-up cord on your shoelace: if it’s hitting your knee in head-up, you’re moving forward, if it’s away from your leg, you’re backsliding. Not 100% accurate all the time, but give it a shot.
  • Face perpendicular to jump run. This means if you’re backsliding/tracking by accident, you’re moving away from jump run. 
  • Speak to the other moving groups on the plane to know where they’re opening so that if you do face jump run, you can work together to plan the best exit order in case you move. 
Image: Sunset carve over the Pacific Ocean by Craig O’Brien

Check the Spot

One thing to remember as a solo freefly is that you’ll be getting out typically towards the end of the jump run. This means that spotting truly needs to be ingrained in you as you may be deep. You’ll want to have a look to be sure that you’re still within the range you’re comfortable at to get yourself home to the dropzone. Let’s be clear: you should and WILL spot for yourself every skydive, even if you’re group flying, you’ll always want to know where you’re getting out of the plane. Of course we put faith in our pilots, but all humans make mistakes and thus it lands on us to decide if the spot we’re given is safe. Make this a part of your every jump routine, wherever you are in the load. 

Make a plan, stick to the plan. Above all else, even when it becomes busy and rushed, communication is always going to be an ally to us in this sport. Understanding your own jump and what that means for the exit order, others on the load with you, and your opening area is what will keep us all 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

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