Foundations of Flight | Back-Fly Side-Slides
By Axis Flight School
Jumpers may find it easiest to learn this move without a rig in the tunnel, since performing a back-fly side-slide while wearing a rig can be challenging. (The relative wind contacts the container first and can cause stability challenges and unwanted drives.) Some wind tunnels will allow you to wear your rig provided that you have a cover for it and follow the tunnel’s safety instructions. Here, we demonstrate a slide to the left both with and without a rig.
Ability to perform:
- Belly-to-back half barrel roll
- Back-to-belly half barrel roll
- Neutral back-fly position
- Back-fly turns
Jumpers can find information on the prerequisite moves mentioned in this article at axisflightschool.com/knowledge_fof.php.
When performing this maneuver in the air, stay altitude aware. You will be falling more quickly than you would be on your belly, and you will not see the ground. Check your altitude between each maneuver, and do not sacrifice altitude for stability at pull time. Start your skydive with a belly exit and transition to your back with a half barrel roll or perform a back-fly floater exit. Make sure that all of your equipment is freefly friendly before engaging in this exercise.
Upper Body, Without Rig
First, look in the direction you wish to slide. Then bring your leading hand in toward the bottom of your ribcage. Your now-bent elbow should push firmly into the relative wind, and you should feel the air on your forearm. Extend your trailing arm fully to the side with your elbow locked and palm facing up. When you perform these two motions simultaneously, your torso will tilt slightly, and you will drive in the direction of your lowest side.
To stop, assume a neutral-back-fly posture to coast, then use the mirrored version to apply the brakes. It helps to look in the direction from which you came to roll the torso in the proper direction.
Upper Body, With Rig
When performing the upper-body maneuver while wearing a rig, the outcome will be opposite from that described above. This is because the relative wind strikes the side wall of the rig before it makes contact with the body and causes the body to travel in the opposite direction. You’ll need to find the balance point while laying on top of the rig, then think of tilting your torso in such a way that your high shoulder now becomes the direction of travel (turn your back toward the desired direction of travel).
For a side-slide, you use your legs exactly as you would if you were making a back-fly turn. While neutral, your feet should remain below the level of your knees in order to get a better grip on the air. Ensure that your feet do not come in contact with one another. When you are ready to slide, expose the inside of your shin—the one on the same side as your direction of travel—to the wind. This may be easier to do by bringing your knee toward center. Expose your other leg to the wind. You can extend it for balance and added power.
If you’re back-flying wearing a rig, you’ll want to prevent the leg straps from riding up to your knees (e.g., use a bungee that connects the leg pads).
If you lose control, don’t try to manipulate your rig by striking it, etc. Instead, continue flying your body and use your limbs to counteract unwanted drives.
The authors intend this article to be an educational guideline. It is not a substitute for professional instruction.