Am I ready to downsize my skydiving canopy?

In a word, no!

If you’re asking the question, then the answer is obvious, you are not ready.

That’s really not the answer you were looking for, is it?

I’m not going to go into the WHY. It simply does not matter. (but it mostly has to do with broken backs, femurs & pelvises…)

What I am going to talk about is how you know if or when you are ready to downsize your main.

So first things first, the Brian Germain Downsizing Chart. It’s been around since 2009, when Brian wrote this hefty 21-page document, a complement to his book, The Parachute and its Pilot (an essential read for every skydiver).

Here it is:

Brian Germain’s Parachute Downsizing Chart

For now, lets just look at the first page, and see if you’re even in the ballpark for your jump numbers, bigger than what’s in the chart is ok, smaller is not. If you’re not in the ballpark, I highly suggest you UPsize immediately, before you next jump.

Second up to bat is Bill von Novak’s Downsizing Checklist. Published in 2003, it is one of the most referenced pieces of advice ever on dropzone.com.

Read the entire article. Do it now!

The approach is simple. Find out for yourself if you are ready to downsize!  This article gives you the tools to better evaluate yourself. That way you don’t have to take my boring advice, you can see for yourself, and confidently know whether you are ready (or not) to downsize).

The short version of the list is below. Before you downsize, you should be able to perform these maneuvers with your current main parachute:

If you don’t know what these are, or how to do them, ask an instructor or a coach for some help.

Here’s Bill’s Conclusion – I could not have written it better:

“The above list is not meant to include all the skills you need to safely fly a canopy; it’s just a checklist for a cross-section of skills you should have before downsizing. Some of these will be easier on a larger canopy, and can be practiced right away. Landin

g downwind, for example, is easier on a larger canopy simply because it can slow you down more before stalling. Some skills are more difficult on a larger canopy. It can be difficult to get a planeout at all on a larger F-111 canopy, so practicing things like a flare turn may best wait until you approach a 1:1 loading on a ZP canopy. At that loading, the canopy begins to perform more along the lines of how we expect a HP canopy to fly. More importantly, skills like the flare turn become both possible and necessary to practice, so you can hone your skills while you are under a canopy that tolerates minor mistakes.

As I mentioned in the beginning, these are skills you should learn before you downsize, although some (like the flare turn) can be difficult to practice at very light loadings. If you can’t do some of them yet? Get some coaching; it makes a lot more sense to learn them on your larger canopy, before you start jumping a smaller canopy that scares you. Once you can do them all, then try the smaller canopy. And if someday someone cuts you off under the smaller canopy, you’ll have the reactions you learned under the larger canopy. Even if you haven’t completely adapted those maneuvers to the smaller canopy yet, those reactions will more likely than not save your life.”

Alain Bard has been an active skydiver since 2003.
Alain holds the following CPSA ratings: D CoP, ,Skydiving Coach Level 2, Jumpmaster (JM), Ground Control Instructor (GCI), Skydive School Instructor (SSI),  Skydive School Examiner (SSE), Exhibition Jump Rating (EJR), Parchute Rigger (RA). He is also a Skydiving Tandem Instructor.
Alain is a certified Hot Air Balloon Pilot (Transport Canada)
Alain is a certified Paramotor Pilot (Transport Canada)
Alain is a certified Paraglider Pilot (HPAC)