This is a “how” discussion, rather than a “why” discussion – I’ll assume you already have a good reason (or have decided you don’t need a good reason). To get the most out of a nude jump, you’ll want a “C” license and consistent stand-up landings. You might benefit from some of the things I’ve learned along the way, too.
Before you do anything else, get your copy of OpRegs out and check out OR5.1.4 (then 5.1.1 if you don’t know exactly what “approved” means). Most of the people mentioned in 5.1.1 are amenable to the idea when approached; some will have specific concerns they wish to communicate; but if you don’t ask, you’re in danger of breaking an OpReg. Worst case, that may see you at OpReg 8.1, which is no fun at all. Anyway.
First of all, you’re getting your gear off – NOT your rig off. Taking your rig – or any part thereof – off in the plane is an invitation to disaster; you’re asking Murphy to demand an exit when you least expect it. Sufficiently terrified of this, for my first nude jump (made without the benefit of a mentor) I used my hook knife to cut off my clothes on the way up, rather than loosen anything – but nick the lift webbing with said knife, and throw the rig away. A better solution was required! Here’s the golden rule: Any clothing you plan on wearing in the plane – practice removing it on the ground.Jump runs and emergency exits are no place to find out that your system doesn’t work.
Thinking about Gear
1) Clothing – it is advisable to have some form of clothing handy when you land. Boxer shorts can be held in your hand through freefall and landing, but they have the potential to complicate steering, and they’re no good to you if you unclench a fist and abandon them 6,000′ above Koo Wee Rup Road. Also, putting them on under canopy is (a) surprisingly awkward and (b) a waste of time. I’ve successfully used a spare pilot chute pouch (such as the legstrap on a rig with BOC and legstrap fitted), or knotted them through the hip ring on the left hand side (and well clear of the reserve deployment handle). These days, I fold then roll them up, and secure them to my chest strap with a pair of rubber bands. Sorted. 2) Helmets – a great idea if you’re used to one, audible altimeters likewise. I regard them as essential for nude jumps at night (I’m not gaffer taping a torch to my skull, and there aren’t too many other places left to stow one). A full-face lid tends to remove much of the sensation, but the advice stands. 3) Shoes – Well, the wind through your toes is fun, until you have to walk through an uncomfortable crop to get home. Turf surfing in bare feet is not for me. Tevas, if approved, are a good compromise. 4) Goggles – “Jumping without goggles is like wearing your eyelids as a hat”, says Skud. 5) Legstraps: snug, please, ladies and gentlemen, without overtightening. Loose legstraps lead to chafing under canopy, and the possibly of trapping crucial items of tackle between leg and strap on deployment. Check prior to exit. You have been warned. Elect to put your rig on whilst naked, and place a pair of loose fitting shorts or boxers over your legstraps. Make sure ALL your handles are exposed. Ladies, you don’t want a t-shirt over your rig for obvious reasons – but a loose one underneath your rig can be removed by loosening your chest strap prior to jump run. You could consider wearing a bra – seems every female innately knows how to remove one from underneath clothing or a harness – and a bikini top is, well, just great (if you get stuck, I think most blokes on the load will offer to help out). If all else fails, be creative with a towel, two balloons, an inflatable raft, a pair of skyballs, your boyfriend – or just brazen it out. Which leads neatly to
Nudity is not always embraced by DZ operators, or the public at large. I’ve also met a couple of Rel Princesses who think it’s “silly”; their loss. However, if you are a whuffo en route to height for your AFF skydive, it may add to your stress levels. If you are the tandem master, and your student is disoriented by a naked “idiot” (TM’s description), you may have valid cause for complaint. Here’s some food for thought. Body Odour – consider it, deal with it if necessary. Make the student’s experience memorable – not unpleasant. Seating – I like to sit near the pilot, behind the rest of the load. This gives a small amount of privacy, and generally somewhere to stow any clothing not needed for the descent. In colder weather, most pilots use heaters, and this can be handy. The late exit also means my group generally gets to pull high, not a bad thing. Pilots are your friends in this endeavour – if you’re trying to sneak a nude jump in without attention, they are the people who won’t radio down and tell the crowd you’re coming. Buy jump pilots beer. Especially Baz. Get a gear check prior to exit. Don’t skip this bit, it’s an unusual skydive. Yes, someone in the plane will see you naked. You’re doing a naked skydive though, remember?
Ready, set: Hang on though: two more thoughts.
Check the spot. Some loadmasters think there’s nothing funnier than spotting nude rel off the DZ (right, Slim?) A good general rule to have a pullup cord in your rig anyway, just in case you need to close your container away from the DZ. Camera Prior to exit, I also like to examine the front and rear float slots for camera people that watched a nudie way disrobe on climb, then climbed out and somehow “forget” to leave with their exit. In this instance, climb out and peel their fingers off the rails (trust me, this assertive approach works – naked people have a strange effect on the clothed). If you are videoed or photographed whilst skydiving nude, simply assume that the visuals will appear in one or more of the following: ASM, the World Wide Web, on the boogie tape, “Funniest Home Videos”, your bar mitzvah, pinned to the work noticeboard – it’s easier if you don’t kid yourself here. Even if you don’t take camera, unless you are very good at concealing your intentions there will undoubtedly be ground based footage which you have no control over.
Seen what happens to faces in freefall? Don’t forget to look at what your whole body is doing. I’m always intrigued by the interference patterns that build on my forearms. You’ll probably discover things you didn’t know about the bits you normally keep covered – skydivers can generally be broken down into “pointers” or “flappers” (or “whistlers”, despite the fact that this appears to be simply an urban myth). Regardless, it’s an awesome feeling. Isn’t it cold? Heck, yeah. Particularly in winter in Victoria. The Seinfeld episode on “shrinkage” simply had no appreciation for a minus 10° exit – Ron Jeremy on the ground can be Mr Average on exit. Don’t let this stop you – for example, Lower Light on a 40° day can be a different and refreshing experience, and air at 0° is nowhere near as painful as water at the same temperature. Ask the pilot for a guide – most of them have thermometers and know how to use them. It’s the temperature at 3,000′ that’s significant – anything above that is only for a minute.
Flying your body
Everything works – but it feels different. Without a jumpsuit to moderate your fall rate, you’ll find levels can be an issue on RW loads, even with well matched and experienced people. Ladies seem to fall a little faster, men seem to fall a little slower; there’s probably my thesis in that discussion. You probably won’t be able to fly as efficiently as you do in a jumpsuit. Keep RW simple at first, and bear in mind that grippers are not found on arms and legs in freefall (which doesn’t mean there’s nothing to dock on, hmm, Sheeds?) Listen to what your body is telling you about the relative wind, but rely on muscle memory to tell you what’s right.
The business end of the jump
Tracking, in particular, feels quite different – but your track position will carry you away from the centre of the formation, so make sure you go with it. If you normally jump with boosters, well, you don’t have them here. Break off a little bit higher. Don’t be wearing gear you’re not familiar with. A safe skydive is a good skydive.
Take advantage of a few minutes out of visual range to get things warm enough to be “normal”, should you feel the need (don’t overdo it). If you’ve pitched high, leave your brakes set for a minute, and hold your hands behind your back to warm them up. I’ve also tried some nude Stiletto CRW, but have to say I no longer recommend it.
Be careful. And pick your day, too: if you aren’t into nil wind landings, landing nude in nil wind is unlikely to improve your technique. If you blow a high-speed landing without a jumpsuit to protect you, expect 8-12 weeks for the evidence to disappear. That’s 8-12 weeks of explaining how you got it, too…
Touchdown! You’ve attracted a crowd? Get your shorts on, or consider wrapping your canopy around yourself until you can gear down gracefully. If you have pants with you, consider landing a reasonable distance from spectators, and shuck off your legstraps first – this means you can walk back with your gear over your shoulder, and gear down modestly in the packing area. If not, you’re going to be briefly nude in that public spot – your call! Log your nude jump; have it signed; and spread the word. If you haven’t done a nude jump before, you have one more important duty when the bar opens.
Your nude jump…
That was great! But you’re five kilometres from the DZ, barefoot, no pants or pull up cord, found your main and freebag, but it’s getting dark and cars speed up rather than slowing down as they pass? You just haven’t been listening! Learn from my mistakes! Nude skydiving can be a great thing – personally, it’s a huge release, a celebration, and a dedication all in one. You’ll have to find your own reasons. Do it safely, and have fun doing it. Luke Oliver APF Nudie “B” XXX