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Who Goes First?

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Should angle jumpers or belly flyers exit first?

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For most experienced angle coaches, a discussion about whether to send the belly groups out first or the angle groups out first is something that’s a common occurrence at the boarding area.

It used to be that belly groups were always out first. Then it became fairly common to send out the tracking groups as a rule of thumb. But as we’ve learned more about drift and forward throw, we’ve also learned that not all situations are safe with tracking groups out first.

Every load requires thought into what that exit order should be, based on the weather conditions, group sizes, group plans and group disciplines.

Not all situations are safe with tracking groups out first

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Why send tracking groups out first?

One could argue that tracking groups are the only groups that can get out on the green light and use up airspace before the green light. Dynamic groups, those mixing disciplines such as tracking and vertical, will be moving off of jump run as well as descending a lot faster than belly. Since these groups can control getting away from jump run (vs a fully vertical jump) and they will be falling a lot faster vertically, exiting first can get them out of the way of other groups under canopy as well as have them in their own airspace.

Another reason could be that those intermediate to advanced groups will most likely beat the belly groups down, which will could make canopy traffic more seamless.

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So, why would we want to send a belly group out first? 

High winds.

In high winds, a belly group is going to get a lot of drift and forward throw. With a belly group traveling a good distance due to drift, and forward throw and an angle group not hitting their exact spot, we could have the two groups ending up in the same airspace. By putting the belly group out first, we can ensure the tracking group is working their way away from the group the entire jump and can somewhat have an idea of where they will be. Whereas, if the tracking group goes out first, there is no way to know where the belly group will end up on jump run.

Also, if the tracking group goes out first and the belly second with a lot of drift…  and say, the belly group pulls lower than the tracking group (which is quite typical of the discipline)… and anyone in either group has a poor breakoff, we could find ourselves in a scary situation under canopy or even in freefall.

Another reason to put the belly group out first; they are a bigway (5+). A bigger belly group on a windy day is a no brainer – send them out first. A bigway on a nil-wind day? Same.


As you can see, every load is unique. Who is on it, what they’re doing, what the weather conditions are, are different on every load. There is no hard rule for who goes out first. What is important is that everyone on the load has the information they need to make the right decision on who goes out first. Be safe out there!

Getting clear airspace for everyone is the goal
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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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