How We Train
Hook suspension presents many challenges and opportunities for a team. Nothing about a great experience happens by chance. Technical skills must be mastered. Teamwork requires practice. Team members must learn to communicate clearly and effectively. Plans and equipment must be in place for typical and emergency situations.
The SuspenDC team meets regularly to train and cross-train. As a team, we review, research, and update our procedures and equipment. We seek out specialized training to expand our skills. Most importantly, we continually practice how we work together and communicate within the team and with the flyers who put their trust in us.
Many of our team members are medical professionals and BLS certified. The remaining team members take CPR and first aid classes in order to be prepared to help if the need arises. All of our team members have specific training in bloodborne pathogen safety. We work to stay well educated about how to keep our flyers safe.
Ground Crew & Belayers
Knowledge silos create road blocks and bottle necks. To avoid this, team members cross-train in order to learn every aspect of crewing for a flight.
All new team members learn how to either ground crew or belay. Ideally, everyone learns both. These two positions offer the best training for the focus and communication needed to make a flight happen.
With the skill and experience of being in the center of the action, some team members train to rig flyers onto the suspension equipment. The SuspenDC team uses dynamic rigging whenever possible. This allows us to make fine-tuning adjustments to how much weight the flyer perceives on each hook.
In some cases, it also allows the flyer to move while flying. This type of rigging requires knowledge of specific anchoring knots and an understanding of how the forces applied will affect the hooks and the flyer.
While some team members stay on the flight deck, others are drawn to the piercing area, to train as part of the piercing and clean up team. To ensure the safety of our flyers, we are constantly reviewing and upgrading our standards and practices in the piercing area, particularly our clean techniques, supplies, and equipment. In the piercing area, the communication and teamwork learned on the flight deck help keep the flyer and team safe while installing and removing hooks.
We strive to offer every team member the opportunity to train in as many roles as they are comfortable. With many trained eyes watching every step of the suspension process, it is easier to catch mistakes and provide the safest and most flyer-centered experience possible.
The team constantly looks for new education opportunities to expand what we offer flyers and help us make the process safer for flyers and crew.
In December 2022, the team began training in arborist tree climbing and highline rigging with the amazing GO-Adventures in Montgomery County, MD. These new skills allow us to safely set up our outdoor rigging between trees. Rather than hunting for a branch to support an outdoor flight, we just have to find two trees we can climb. This also gives us options to fly over water or anywhere else we can dream up. The adventure keeps getting better!