3 fun jumpers fly under canopy against backdrop of mountains

What Is a Canopy Control Course & Why They’re Important

January 12, 2019 3:07 pm Published by

Photo credit (above): Dennis Sattler

If you’ve been at this skydiving thing long enough to get to the B-license stage (read: not very long at all!) you already know that canopy education is really important. After all, you won’t get far without it: the USPA requires everyone who wants that B to pass a canopy control course. But why? It couldn’t be more obvious, really, that a successful reunion with the land is inarguably the most important skill any skydiver will need to perfect — and a canopy control course is where you earn that skill. The idea of participating in a skydiving canopy control course is to learn about the details of the equipment and the various inputs used to move the parachute around its environment in specific ways. That empowers the student to fly much more safely and confidently in dynamic, challenging environments. Simple enough, right?

Underdeveloped canopy control skills don’t just injure newbie jumpers or overcranked adrenaline-seekers in a physical sense. Often, they end skydiving careers in a sneakier way, causing jumpers to quietly and without fanfare simply…stop jumping. The threat of injury, of grass-stained humiliation or both becomes too much. Here’s what you need to know to dodge that bullet.

Every Skydiver Can Improve.

You might think that canopy courses are for two groups: In Group A, brand-new jumpers going for that B license; in Group B, would-be swoopers with brand new sub-100’s thirsty to dig their hips and toggles into the world of 270-degree turns. In reality, canopy control courses are for Group C: EVERYBODY.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a freshly-stamped A-license holder or a grizzled vet, safety- or performance-minded, canopy-mad or canopy-meek. You’ve got to bridge the gap between yourself and your equipment, and you’ve got to stay on top of developments. A canopy course — with a refresher every couple of seasons — is the tried-and-true way to do so. Want to explore a new canopy? Want to find the “sweet spot” on a canopy you’ve been using for a while but haven’t really nailed? Want to improve your accuracy? Want to know what it feels like to do a turn in perfect form? This is how to do it.

experienced jumper landing under canopy with control at Skydive Perris

photo credit: Dennis Sattler

Bad Information Is All Over the Place

Especially if they haven’t chosen to specialize in parachute-flyin’ as their main focus, skydiving canopy pilots sometimes forget that they are, indeed, pilots. You’d be hard-pressed to find a fixed-wing pilot with as little education, as many deeply held incorrect beliefs about aerodynamics and as few compulsory educational requirements as you find every day in the parachuting world. (It follows that the imbalance between pilot skill and wing performance has shot both pilot-error accidents and canopy collisions to the top of the USPA incident list.)

male skydiver with hands on toggles landing canopy with control

photo credit: Dennis Sattler

Skydive Perris Has Your Back

Here at Skydive Perris, we have a dream team of canopy control coaches to help keep you well away from that incident list. Duane Hall, Dimitrije Dadic and Joshua Colby, the three epic instructors who comprise the Perris-based Elite Canopy Dynamics, will teach you the critical skills needed to safely fly and land your parachute. Courses are designed for beginner, intermediate and advanced canopy pilots, with ground training and debriefs for each level.

Remember: your next jump could be the one you need better skills to land safely. Don’t put off your training!

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This post was written by Skydive Perris