When you’re in the earlier phases of learning any new skill you encounter huge challenges. It’s part of the learning process, and likely part of what makes learning any new skill rewarding and a significant factor in deriving enjoyment from it. If it were easy, it typically is offers less perceived value.
Flying and specifically skydiving, definitely amplifies this fact, as you add into the equation weather, the fact that it can be a costly undertaking, the need for all your own gear, not to mention the large time commitment required to simply participate, let alone progress…. You could spend all weekend at the DZ for only a couple of jumps.
Obviously as time goes on you become more comfortable with this reality as it’s just part of the sport, and there is more to it than just the flying, but in what I’d consider the early learning phase, its tough.
I remember personally from going through this process (it was not that long ago) wanting to go tracking but not being able to lead a jump or not having a necessary crest etc.
I believe it’s super likely we lose a lot of people from the sport during this process. Perhaps this natural filtration process is a good thing, as it forces people to kind of earn it, and it ensure the people that do remain in the sport are operating with a greater level of commitment? But then again, maybe not. Maybe it’s to everyone’s benefit to see the sport grow. That way you are way more likely to be able to send that sunset load at the end of the day as you will have the numbers to turn the plane and people will be keen to charge!
The other side to this is the safety implications that are potentially introduced as a result of the somewhat slow path of progression through the early stages. Without the right leadership and mentors, people can easily get impatient and frustrated. Go and do jumps that they shouldn’t, or find their general decision making can be impaired as they focus their attention in the wrong direction, focussing on what they can not, as opposed to what they CAN do. (sort out your belly skills 😉
It’s with all this in mind that I essentially began running events in the first place, and specifically AWOL: Freefly Basics, was created. This is an event that can be for every level of flyer, but specifically focussed toward bridging that gap for those people between 100-500 where we can really spend the time on the ground creating a strong baseline understanding for how to move forward safety and progress in the most efficient manner possible. The event is designed to enable us essentially to be as flexible as possible and cater to the array of different needs that people have in the early learning phase. Some people are good to go tracking in a 6way and others may need to do a few 1on1s.
We weren’t dealt the best weather forecast for this first event unfortunately, but it’s always good to have the time on the ground without the perceived pressure to turn loads, where we can focus on the theory of it all. Simon Colmer ran a phenomenal safety seminar which always creates some awesome conversation and gets everyone thinking.. It doesn’t matter how much you know – these are always super valuable. Darren Mason did his 300th jump – (Congratulations mate!), and this weekend also marked the opening of iFly Melbourne.
As always a huge thank you to the APF & VTPC for supporting this event and the ongoing support of all AWOL events, Thank you to Angela, Cody and James & the team at Skydive Australia (Great Ocean Road), to DeemFlywear and LVN, to the first-class group of coaches: Tayne Farrant, Simon Colmer & Dave Hyndman and most importantly to those that came to participate and keen to learn and become more proficient and safer flyers. I hope you guys continue to find value in these events -we will continue to put in the effort to facilitate them as long as this is the case.