Beyond the classic face down, belly-toward-Earth flying position, there are many skydiving techniques that it’s great to know. The more you know, the more fun you can have for those few precious seconds during freefall.
Back flying is one of the earlier ones you might want to explore and practice. One of the best ways to do that is by using a wind tunnel at your local skydiving school. Unlike conventional wind tunnels used for testing jets and cars, the skydiving wind tunnel points vertically. It’s used to provide artificial lift to simulate freefall conditions.
In back flying, you are (as the name suggests) on your back. In the wind tunnel you can’t move very far horizontally because the room is relatively small. But you can practice the starting position, maintaining the position and moving out of it all in a very safe environment. Even if the wind failed completely (which is extremely rare), you’re only a few feet off the ground and won’t endure much of a thud when you hit.
You can practice the correct amount of arch and exercise turning. You’ll get used to the sensation of wind on your back. That helps judge what it feels like when it isn’t there. Put your hands above your head and let the wind carry you up. The head should remain inline with the torso, looking straight up. Assume the position you would when sitting in a chair and keep the legs wide to create a stable position.
The third basic position, beyond belly flat and back flying, is the headdown position. Here, the body is straight, all in one plane. Keep tension in the butt in order to keep the hips from rotating away from that single plane. Tense the thighs to maintain that same uncurved position.
The head is straight down toward the Earth, with the foot flexed up, making a right angle with the legs. This isn’t usually achievable in the wind tunnel because of the force required to keep you from falling down. Your head, shoulders and feet don’t present a large enough surface area to create large lift. You should feel a force on your feet like a big dog was sitting on them. Flex your toes upward to keep the tension on the feet and calves.
Now you can practice (in the air) moving from one position to the other. From a belly flat to a back fly to a headdown to a belly flat. Running through this routine provides practice in control of your body in the air. That builds confidence and can reduce any sense of panic when the wind suddenly flips you out of position.
They’re also great fun! When you’re on your back carrying a video camera you can get some great shots of other skydivers above and around you. You can perform exercises hooking up with other skydivers. And you can get the most out of the exciting experience called skydiving.