Canopy Flocking 101 with Zack Rosser

Canopy Flocking 101 with Zack Rosser

Flocking. What is it, why is it important and how can you get started? Whether you’re a flocking newbie or a more seasoned pro, there’s always more to explore on the subject of canopy piloting. To lift us into the world of high pulls and flocking, we chatted with Zack Rosser, who organises and runs the highly popular Zack’s Canopy Courses in and around Australia.

Firstly, what is canopy flocking and why do you do it? Is CRW the same thing?

Canopy flocking involves non-contact canopy relative work, where we fly our sports canopies in slot-specific static and/or dynamic movement jumps. I absolutely love canopy flocking as it gives you so much understanding of how your canopy performs in relative flight, seeing so many canopies flying in tight formations, and I love the flow of the dynamic jumps we’ve started working on! CRW (Canopy Relative Work) & Canopy Flocking have similarities but are different too. We tend to have no canopy contact in canopy flocking as the wings aren’t built for taking docks and if there happened to be a collision or wrap, the canopies will react a lot more aggressive than a CRW canopy (which I assume still wouldn’t be at all fun for the people involved)! Another difference is that CRW canopies are usually slower and more docile than your everyday sports canopy. This means when we do flocking jumps we have more range, are moving faster, and definitely have a lot more fun (in my opinion, as fast = fun right?) when you start doing fly by’s, barrel rolls and more complex dynamic jumps!

I’m interested in trying canopy flocking out, where do I begin?

With anything new we try in the sky, I’d definitely recommend talking to your DZSO about your intentions and then seeking out an experienced canopy coach or instructor who's done some 1-1 canopy jumps. You want to make sure whoever you’re flying with has a similar type of wing and wing loading as yours. Like other disciplines, start small with some 2 ways, learning the basics of how your inputs respond in relative flight and once you can safely say you can approach the base flyer, adapt to fall rate changes and hold your slot through turns, then you can start to move up to 3 ways. From there you can definitely start having some fun with taking changing slots around and getting used to having a canopy either side of you, and approaching bigger groups in the sky. When you think you're ready, look out for our upcoming flocking camps and find out when you can get on to one to be a part of bigger formations and exciting static and dynamic jumps!
canopy flocking manufactory apparel “I absolutely love canopy flocking as it gives you so much understanding of how your canopy performs in relative flight.” - Zack Rosser

Do I need special gear to flock or can I just wear my jersey and shorts?

Excellent question! We recently just held a camp at SA Skydiving which was pretty cold! So even though I had my custom ZCC jersey on I definitely still needed a base layer, jumper and gloves. My MX Series Pants definitely helped keep my legs warm too and the custom RDS pocket was a great place to store my slider, instead of having it down my jumper and risking losing it during the flocking jump! For our next camp however, which is up at Far North Freefall, the warmer weather will be perfect for me to whip out my MX-CP Shorts and Jersey, which are great as they protect me from the sun but are also breathable, keeping me cool under canopy!

Are flocking jumps only at events? How much planning do they require?

Currently, I believe you could argue there are two types of ‘flocking’. There are people who want to do a high pull and fly back to the DZ downwind, trying to cover as much distance as they can with their friends. Or there are people who want to build static formations and fly fast and tight dynamic flight paths. Recently there are more people trying to replicate some of the jumps we are doing on our camps, but the level of planning that Niall and I do, including considering the worst-case scenarios and preventing them, is very extensive and has been thought through and organised over way too many beers! Seriously though, we put a lot of time, money and energy into planning and testing out jump ideas, and figuring out how we can make safer and more practical jumps - big thanks to SA Skydiving for being the testing site for our ideas.

Any top tips for future flockers?

Invest in coaching! If you want to progress under your wing then canopy flocking is basically like going to the tunnel. You get so much time under your wing to make mistakes and learn from them. Stay safe, seek the right coaching and then just get on one of our camps! You really don't need to have much flocking experience to be a part of them, and if you're on the fence flick me a message and we can work out some small goals to get you there! Follow Zack on Instagram @zackrosser and find out more about his courses on Facebook - Zack’s Canopy Course.
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