Sit-Fly to Head-Down Cartwheel
Brought to you by AXIS Flight School Instructors Niklas Daniel at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Photos by Brianne Thompson. For more information visit axisflightschool.com or search “Axis Flight School” on Facebook.
- Neutral sit-fly and head-down positions, particularly the head-down daffy (see “Foundations of Flight,” March 2013 Parachutist)
- Sit-to-sit front flips and backflips (see “Foundations of Flight,” January 2013 Parachutist)
- Belly-to-back barrel rolls to help with visuals
Start in a comfortable, neutral sit-fly position facing perpendicularly to the aircraft’s line of flight. Pick a reference point on the horizon and use this as your heading.
Using the leg that will ultimately become the front leg when you’re in the head-down daffy position, bring your foot in toward your centerline, exposing the outside of your calf to the relative wind. This means if your right leg is in front during the head-down daffy, you will rotate the cartwheel to the right (clockwise from your perspective). As you bring your foot in, collapse your leading arm (the one inside the cartwheel) by moving your elbow back slightly (to behind your ribcage). This will keep your torso straight throughout the transition and allow you to fly over your shoulder.
Continue to focus on your reference point on the horizon throughout the move and keep your torso squared off with it. Your goal is to roll straight over your shoulder. Allow your chest to cave in slightly as your legs begin to rise. As you get closer to the head-down position, use your legs to stop (it should feel similar using your front leg as a rudder during a head-down turn) and remember to engage your core by squeezing your seat slightly. Your goal should be to end up on the crown of your head in a neutral head-down position.
At first, most jumpers will try to initiate rotation with their upper bodies and will favor their fronts or backs (something approximating a front flip or backflip). This can cause a 90-degree heading change at the finish. Prevent this by allowing your legs to do most of the work and by keeping an eye on your reference point.