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BirdMan Flat-Spin Recovery

This page is a chapter in 'BASE Wiki Jumping Techniques'

Jari and I were witness to an interesting and somewhat scary situation
during a 4-way flight last weekend at Skydive DeLand. I’d like to share the story with you so that you will, in turn, share the information with other birds.

Just after our 4-way exited the Twin Otter around 13,500 ft, two fliers
bumped into one another causing one to get over the other’s burble. This guy (who, by the way, was wearing a Skyflyer) went through the other jumper’s burble without a collision but ended up flipped over on his back. He began a slow, slightly diving spin. (It was much quicker than it sounds in writing.)
At first glance the turn didn’t seem like anything to be concerned about. Within seconds, though, the spin became surprisingly fast and flat. He was in a flat spin on his back and losing altitude quickly (for a wingsuit jump anyway.)

He arched like mad and tried to use a flipping motion to get himself back over, but the speed of the spin continued to increase. I saw that he was very aware of what was going on and was trying just about everything to get out of the spin. He ended up cutting away his arm wings to try to regain stability (which he said was very easy to do even with the G-forces), but that still did not fix the problem.

Finally, he closed all three wings and started to curl up in to a ball. Even before he could ball up completely, his spin stopped, he arched and was quickly stable on his belly again around 8,000 ft. His pull around 4,000 ft was standard.

The moral of the story is, if you get in to a spin (no matter if it is on
your belly, back or side) that is not controllable by arching and relaxing
then you may want to implement what we are calling the flat spin recovery technique. Here is the technique we recommend:

Once you realize you are in an uncontrollable spin, don’t waste time and altitude! Quickly tuck into a ball by bringing your arms and knees to your chest. There is no need to cut away your wings to do this. This body position closes all 3 wings and will put you in to a butt-to-earth position.
[!--page--]You will kill the spin’s momentum, which will enable you to control your suit again. You will be falling like a safe in that position so, again, don’
t waist time and altitude – arch to flip back on to your belly. Then calmly and symmetrically re-spread your wings.

What you don’t want to do in a flat-spin situation is waste time. The jumper above has thousands of jumps, is a BirdMan instructor and a very heads up guy. But, he just did not have this recovery technique programmed in to his emergency procedures.

>From what we have heard and personally encountered at BirdMan,
uncontrollable spins are not common. The accounts we have heard of have been on the Skyflyer. But we don't want to limit the possibility that it could happen on a GTi or Classic. Many flyers out there are getting very radical in their suits (Skyflyers included) and have not encountered the problem. I have put myself in to a faster spin than I had counted on (for a stupid reason I won't get in to here ), but my Skyflyer’s momentum ended up stopping with me just arching, bending my legs up, and countering the turn (I was on my belly). I could feel the momentum slowing down, so I knew the spinny ride would soon come to an end.

But, the spin described above is quite different - you feel out of control. But, it can be a mere blip in your flight if you handle the situation quickly and correctly.

Of course, once Mother Earth is coming close you should hold off on any radical maneuvers that could cause instability. But, that is the case with all types of skydiving. You may never get in to this type of spin, but you should always plan on Murphy joining in on any given skydive.

Have a plan on how to handle every emergency – big or small – and if you have questions pertaining to BirdMan suits, please email us at info@bird-man.com. Like many of you out there, we are learning as wingsuit flying grows. We welcome your input. Feel free to pass this information on to others in the flock. Spread the love.

Thank you for your time.

Blue skies and long soars...

Kim Griffin
BirdMan Inc
Business Manager, BMI, flight fanatic

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