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Paralyzed and progressing towards solo sky diving -info on what were doing


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Dec 20, 2007, 9:53 AM
Post #1 of 133 (16832 views)
Paralyzed and progressing towards solo sky diving -info on what were doing Can't Post

I thought to start a thread here so folks who are in similar situation as me and are wanting to sky dive alone eventually (sure I love my tandem instructor dearly but I do not plan on hauling his ass through the blue skies for everTongue ).

Here is my intro thread where you can get the general idea of whats going on to date:;sb=post_latest_reply;so=ASC;forum_view=forum_view_collapsed;;page=unread#unread

I will keep posting the videos as we get them.

But this is my 4th tandem progression sky dive.
We discuss in this video how we secure my legs, and what skills i was working on during that dive,
at the end of the video is the debriefing and the issue that occurred which we needed to correct (these are important aspects ) is discussed.

here is the 4th tandem progression dive:
Something important to note about the 9th tandem dive is that we did not plan to do two back flips.

Since I was in control of stabilizing us,
I was not able to stop the second back flip but as soon as it started I arched as strong as i could and
did finish with a clean stable arch after the second one.

Of course had I not been able to do so,
my instructor would have worked towards stopping us,
but the idea is to see what I could do alone.

This was my last dive prior to our planned trip to the wind tunnel in Feb 2008 or March 2008 and there we will see how stable I am without anyone attached to me.
That will be the real test of what will happen.
There will be video posted of that experience once we have made the trip.

I'll keep this thread updated with the video links and any info on stuff that we find important to share.
especially if something does not work well, and we need to change aspects of our ideas.

Such as what happened with the 4th dive,
we needed to change some things so the strap with which I was to pull my legs up for landing didnt interfere with pulling the cord which it did in that video (it is visible how the daisychain we used is getting in the way when I try to pull... that time it took me 1000f of altitude to finally be able to pull.

ONE VERY IMPORTANT aspect is TO ALWAYS DEPLOY MUCH HIGHER then able bodied people do.

The students at out DZ deploy at 3,000f
I must commence my wave off at 5,500f and have finished pulling the cord by 5,000f.This gives me time to pull up my legs after checking for upper wind directions, DZ location etc. well before I hit the 3,000f marker where the other students would be ready to start flying their canopy.

I think that this is probably the most important thing I can stress. Is the fact that we quads need extra altitude to do our jobs.


(This post was edited by gimpboogie on Dec 20, 2007, 9:54 AM)


Dec 20, 2007, 4:19 PM
Post #2 of 133 (16659 views)
Re: [gimpboogie] Paralyzed and progressing towards solo sky diving -info on what were doing [In reply to] Can't Post

Here is the video of my first tandem sky dive on Aug 6th 2007.
with details of the minimum modifications we made in order for me to be able to do this tandem dive.

Here I am purely a passenger, yet this is the dive that ignited the fire within for my spirit to fly freely.

Baksteen  (C 708753)

Dec 21, 2007, 12:49 AM
Post #3 of 133 (16654 views)
Re: [gimpboogie] Paralyzed and progressing towards solo sky diving -info on what were doing [In reply to] Can't Post

Respect! Keep following your dreams!

I am really looking forward to seeing more of your progression.

Blue skies,



Mar 7, 2008, 3:18 AM
Post #4 of 133 (16444 views)
Re: [gimpboogie] Paralyzed and progressing towards solo sky diving -info on what were doing [In reply to] Can't Post

Projected time line:

Apr. 22/23 first test of the gimp FF pants we have now.
A rigger made them sort of like a hybrid between Peter Hewitt's pants and Jari Kuosma's Impact system pants.

They are paraplegic friendly pants Wink
He put zippers along the sides of the legs up to the knees for ease of taking the knee braces on and off as well as for my leg bag. Now I'll be able to empty my bag under canopy Pirate
This is important because as a para i do not want to be taking my pants on and off each time I want to put the leg braces on for a dive. I do not want to wear them the whole day either, for concern of skin breakdown in the summer heat.
It takes me considerable amount of time to get dressed.
I could propably do a dive in the time it takes.

This way, I can get to my needs,
while keeping the pants on.

I'll try my hand at uploading a photo.

My coaches, Angus and Dave will fly in the tunnel on the 24,25,26th and I might join them in there for more tunnel training since there is 30 hrs booked by a PST DZ group for the 25,26 to buy into if I need/want (more to, how much can I afford Wink ).

The AFF is tentatively planned for 3rd weekend in May, unless we find optimum conditions at the tunnel and great weather outside,
we might just go do the 1st AFF the 26th of April.

We hope to get some tandem refresher dives in hopefully prior to the tunnel dates, if not then early May.
The AFF will have to wait till after the tunnel and the refresher tandem's.
We do not want me to fly my own canopy for the first time after not having done a tandem progression dive since Nov.
This is the general time line.
By the end of next month I will have learned how my attitude is in FF at the tunnel, and have something to report.

(This post was edited by gimpboogie on Mar 7, 2008, 3:42 AM)
Attachments: Minna's_FF_Pants.jpg (81.9 KB)

wmw999  (D 6296)

Mar 7, 2008, 6:02 AM
Post #5 of 133 (16437 views)
Re: [gimpboogie] Paralyzed and progressing towards solo sky diving -info on what were doing [In reply to] Can't Post

I'll just bet you're stoked. Those are great looking pants, and they sound really functional (which is much better than great-looking if you have to choose)

Wendy W.

grannyinthesky  (D 30311)

Mar 7, 2008, 8:00 AM
Post #6 of 133 (16434 views)
Re: [gimpboogie] Paralyzed and progressing towards solo sky diving -info on what were doing [In reply to] Can't Post

Hi Minna,
I"m so excited for you. I can't wait to hear about that first (and second and third and....) AFF jump. The sky is such a great place to be. Cool


Mar 7, 2008, 7:41 PM
Post #7 of 133 (16423 views)
Re: [grannyinthesky] Paralyzed and progressing towards solo sky diving -info on what were doing [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for sharing in my excitement.

This has been a calculated decision for me,
thinking of it for 3 yrs before beginning the process.
It feels like the eve of something big in my life right now.
Doing something that has taken me yrs of mental preparation. I was not sure if this would be possible when i started thinking about it, but was certain that if it was possible, I would find out.


Mar 7, 2008, 8:01 PM
Post #8 of 133 (16420 views)
Re: [wmw999] Paralyzed and progressing towards solo sky diving -info on what were doing [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks Wendy.

They are nice pants, with zippers and velcro their the best!

Yes I am anticipating this.
Been preparing for a lifelong project,
and being on the eve of trying out something that no one has done yet(that I've heard of yet.. Lonnie and I talked one day that propably the only para's regularly skydiving or BASE jumping solo (not counting tandems in this case... although I certainly consider tandems to be skydivers).

Certainly there are several folks with disabilities skydiving, but from what I've been reading the only one who has the need for, and has created his own,
FF pants in order to maintain stability,
is Peter Hewitt.

Peter and I started talking many months ago about this, with him sharing much important info with Angus and myself.

Recently a paraplegic went to a wind tunnel with the same hopes as myself.
Their stability in the tunnel was not optimum,
and the subsequently planned AFF is now on hold.

That recent development overshadows this wind tunnel trip, with my pants.
These pants are definitely different the Peter's pants (his has a mesh type material like you see on the pilot chutes in the place my white material is), and the buckles and webbing for hoisting up the legs once under canopy ready for landing, is different then Peter's system.

I do not know what adaptations the other para who went into the tunnel had.

Peter of course was a skydiver (as are other 3 paras whom I know to skydive and BASE jump)
I was told that makes a difference, since knowing what the dive is supposed to be like is a benefit.
I can see that being the case,
yet also I think that diving as a para is very different then a person who has use of legs to some degree or another.

Perhaps the fact that I have never landed on my feet, and my perspective on the word is from 4 feet high,
I might have some habituation to these low level situations. Does it make sense?
My 'vision' typically of the ground is from 4 feet high, I almost feel like it is about where I flare.

I am vigilant in the forefront of my mind,
the fact that my landings will have to be as perfect as I can make them... each time.
There is much less room for error then a standing individual who by nature has 2 to3 feet more altitude to play with. It may not sound like much, but it is, when you think of falling on your butt.

Weve been toying with various ideas for a skid plate of some sorts for the pants.

I think I will go with a back and tailbone armor sort of like I have see some parkour/freerunners use now, and wakeboarders etc.
If I can find a very lightweight, flexible and secure one I will definitely invest in it.

What I would really like for my butt and lower back is the stuff downhill skiers have in their suits.
The suit is flexible at all times except during sudden impact at which point the suit becomes rock hard armour.

Very useful for swoopers perhaps also but certainly would be the idea component for me.

grannyinthesky  (D 30311)

Mar 7, 2008, 8:30 PM
Post #9 of 133 (16420 views)
Re: [gimpboogie] Paralyzed and progressing towards solo sky diving -info on what were doing [In reply to] Can't Post

I am amazed at all you have accomplished. Besides a continuing lifelong battle with weight which I am finally winning, I only have my age as a challenge and that's more than enough for me.

I am astounded by what a love of jumping from airplanes can inspire people to do and how it can change one's life. I am so glad I decided to do that first skydive last October. I don't know about you, but I can't imagine my life without jumping. Smile

Baksteen  (C 708753)

Mar 10, 2008, 4:36 AM
Post #10 of 133 (16401 views)
Re: [gimpboogie] Paralyzed and progressing towards solo sky diving -info on what were doing [In reply to] Can't Post

Shadows or not,

Knowing you you'll just sweep away those doubts once you properly get into the tunnel. Look at it this way: even if you have the same stability problems, at the very least it could be a sort of research trip as to how to further improve your braces.

I'll be looking forward to read how it went.
You'll get there, Minna!



Mar 13, 2008, 5:08 PM
Post #11 of 133 (16378 views)
IMPORTANT INFO [In reply to] Can't Post

Angus has been developing a Adaptive Free Fall Program
document, which is not near publication yet

but I think this is important to state now.

Angus writes:

"under no circumstances should it be considered the definitive document. There is no substitute for experience. Only HIGHLY qualified and experienced instructors should attempt to train disabled students for solo freefall. "

You must read the experiences I have,
as a guideline for what can happen.

Taking into consideration that some non-traditional methods, such as using an advanced skill as butt sliding on landing, are necessary in some instances.

It is critical you understand the increased risks involved and subsequently the importance of employing ALL safety measures available, as well as utilizing tandem progression while practicing safe landing procedure. Trying a butt slide on your first AFF without working on it with your instructor in tandem format is extremely dangerous. I can testify to it:
I tried to flare at 30f the first time Shocked,
without Angus I could have been smashed up.

Be well, remain safe and have fun,


Mar 13, 2008, 5:43 PM
Post #12 of 133 (16372 views)
"DO NOT"... [In reply to] Can't Post

A few more important quotes.

'"mperative that the student is able to perform low speed landings"
(much more critical for those of us with leg disabilities)

"to select a parachute that is larger than a conventional training parachute, such as a tandem parachute. Do NOT take chances with parachute size!!!

I share this because some have shown interest in trying these things.

Yes I encourage everyone to reach for their dreams,
live happy lives and engage in meaningful activities.
I stress the importance of waiting for someone else to be the "guinea pig" trying this out, and learning from their experiences, then going to the most qualified instructor you can find.
This document, once it is completed, tested to prove correct in the specific methods of instruction will be available in some format to those interested.

-so far I have shared MY EXPERIENCES, but Angus is the one writing up the manual Smile

teamshred  (D 422)

Mar 21, 2008, 9:35 PM
Post #13 of 133 (16320 views)
Adaptive Skydiving Solo [In reply to] Can't Post

Well I've started a manual on Adaptive Skydiving for the disabled so please check it out

All the best
Rod Mack D-422 CSPA


Apr 1, 2008, 10:38 AM
Post #14 of 133 (16273 views)
Re: [teamshred] Adaptive Skydiving Solo [In reply to] Can't Post

The harness test for these adaptive free fly pants has been conducted.


*asides from the video posted proving we can take this all too lightly sometimes... these are the edited out parts of the instructional video. Luckily I trust my life with these coaches..


straps need to be repositioned to below the knee.

stirrups are necessary to keep the pants down while pulling up the legs for landing position.

its easier to pull down then up, we needed to change the angle of approach on the leg straps. From pulling them up, to pulling the straps down at the chest harness.

using a properly fitted harness would have given some comfort (given the bruises it seems that it was a bit excessive bruising from what Angus said)

grippers on jump pants are a good idea after all!!
especially for AFF students who don't have use of their legs.

the harness does not fit inside the same pair of pants which fit FF friendly size (snug) when it was used outside the pants.
We tried to fit the leg straps inside the harness, like we originally planned, but the fact that these pants fit me snug originally, left it too tight for the leg straps inside. Options being to widen the pants, or slots for the leg straps on the outside, we chose the latter being easier, cheaper and faster.

when doing your emergency procedures make sure your AFF instructor does not have your reserve handle.

have fun, but always remember this is not about having fun,this is about training your mind to save yourself when it becomes necessary.
And it becomes necessary each time you enter the plane on the ground.

Angus told me, that each time I go up, it is to be with my safety gear
(I have a kit of gear he wants me to dive with.. for off landings: a cell phone-since I cant walk back to the DZ, a medical info badge-i.e. if I land somewhere knock myself out and a local shows up finds out I can't walk they might think I just broke my back.. meanwhile I just need a lift to the DZ to my wheelchair)
and with a checklist in my mind that I go through...
a big part of that includes
a) telling the pilot and each occupant in the plane what altitude I'm leaving at.... letting everyone know I open at 5.5 (must by 5) is necessary also.
b) rehearsing my mind through the dive as we did this weekend on Sun. for hours.

It is all about awareness.


"where are the others" was the most common 'check' going through
our dirt dives right after altitude checks.

proximity to DZ
IS ESSENTIAL for a paraplegic skydiver.

I do not want to land too far from my wheelchair.
not across a ditch at least, or beyond cow pies.

furthermore, there is the idea of what to do with the parachute once I'm down, and bring it back to the DZ, the packing area...
a bag.

I need to jump with a large plastic bag tightly inside my special pocket with the medical ID etc.
into this bag I place my canopy and then roll along the ground
OUT of the landing path, then towards the building.

these are the little things that matter much but often are overlooked.
Tandem progression was different. I was attached to him,
flying my big bus I will fly alone and need to bring her back safe and clean.
(either a 300 or another canopy Angus will jump with my gear before I do)



Apr 2, 2008, 2:46 PM
Post #15 of 133 (16255 views)
Re: [gimpboogie] Adaptive Skydiving Solo [In reply to] Can't Post

In reply to:
(either a 300 or another canopy Angus will jump with my gear before I do)


This I think is important to reiterate
The canopy will be chosen based on the fact that my landings must be smooth, slow and controlled.

EIther a "big boy rig" with a 300,
a tandem canopy (probably not)
or some student canopy meant for a wing load of 300 lbs or so

should really be considered for anyone starting to jump
with lower leg dysfunction.
paralysis to any degree in the legs require the landing to be taken as PFL's always but with a further consideration
-legs needing to be out of the way
of potentially getting caught under you in any landing situation.

The canopy chosen should only be suggested by the most experienced coaches, and after consultation with the manufacturer and/or a Master Rigger.

Same with any modifications, and 'additions' to fly pants (like mine and what Peter uses), or any other item you will have on you,
while skydiving.

My canopy is chosen by Angus,
regardless of my body weight.
I weigh in between 170-180 lbs, and as a typical student could easily start with a 280 and go down from there faster then I ever will.
This is a different playing field all together,
then a diver with leg use.

whether I jump defined by conditions-winds,
are determined by Angus regardless of what the typical student standards are.

Next update will be the tunnel experience.

superwoman8433  (C 27004)

Apr 3, 2008, 1:57 PM
Post #16 of 133 (16240 views)
Re: [gimpboogie] Adaptive Skydiving Solo [In reply to] Can't Post

I know I have already said it in a past post somewhere but I am going to say it again...YOU ROCK!!! Everything that you have done to get to where you are is awesome! It makes me realize how easy it was (took me 13 jumps to graduate) for me. Even though for my first 20 or so jumps I got sick. Anyways, I just wanted to say kuddos and again if your ever in Deland, you better come jump with me!!!!!


Apr 17, 2008, 4:10 PM
Post #17 of 133 (16149 views)
Re: [superwoman8433] Adaptive Skydiving Solo [In reply to] Can't Post

thanks for the kind words,
I'm not sure if I rock r not,
but i do work hard, try to make calculated decisions with my coach Angus, and have faith that by the end of this
season I will be joining the dark side
and learning the jedi art of FF.


Apr 30, 2008, 7:52 AM
Post #18 of 133 (16032 views)
Re: [gimpboogie] Adaptive Skydiving Solo [In reply to] Can't Post

the "final leg" of this project went as follows:

1) Angus wrote an "adaptive free fall program" for me to follow.
Basically a 'modified' AFF skydiving instructional manual.

2) Dave and Angus checked and re-checked the rigging (of my pants) and continually are developing further modifications to the leg stability and landing safety issues (i.e. building some sort of a 'skid pad' on the butt of the "gimp freefly" pants for added safety for the critical tailbone area)

3) Skyventure NH donated a tremendous amount of support from tunnel time to dedicating their most experienced tunnel instructors to this project.
FF stability was established in the first 1/2 hr block of tunnel time and Angus was confident of our ability to continue to the next step
-1st AFF dive.

4) The tunnel experience 'astonished' the tunnel instructors (in that I was able to gain stability as fast as I did). This I credit to Angus doing 12 tandem progression dives, many discussions with Dave and the expertize of the tunnel instructors in teaching me the skills.

5) Angus felt my stability was 'solid' enough that he was prepared to jump with ONE AFF instructor on our first dive (*only him and Dave on video) but we decided to put safety 'in the bank' (*as Angus says, 'always make sure you have altitude in the bank') and recruited -on the recommendation of the DZO-Mr. Tom McCarthy, another AFF instructor (one who is known for his stability and thus he is called 'a planet of his own'-solid fellow in all possible ways)

6) Angus spent 1 1/2 hr sessions with me two days prior to our dive onrefreshing FF expected procedures, along with high speed and low speed malfunctions, and all possible important aspects of canopy flight.

7) Master Rigger Mr. Will McCarthy repacked my main AND reserve prior to my jump.

8) Champion accuracy canopy pilot Mr. Rob McCarthy gave me a one on one canopy control instructional session on the day of the dive.

9) Angus spent great amount of time helping me focus on the correct solo dive. To build positive muscle and mental memory for this dive. Dirt diving, visualization, what ever you want to call it but it was a 1 1/2 hrs worth of training per day for 5 days prior to this dive. Purely focussing on the way things are supposed to go, and the 'perfect' dive (if there ever could be such a thing), to build that into my mind.

10) On the day of the dive after about 4 hrs of preperations (for the rigging, repacking and canopy control sessions followed by private sessions with Angus on mental focus- I DO NOT want to ever have to pick up golfing, and mental focus is the key for me on this one.... the dividing line between those two sports) we were ready to dive.

11) We left the plane as planned @ 11,000f.
First dive involved three practice pulls, with altitude awareness to a 5.5 'wave off' and deployment by 5,000f (my hard deck is 3,000f in this first dive). Initial assessment from debriefing shows that this FF section was fairly well executed with circle of awareness noticeable in the video, response to hand signals, and wave off at the correct altitude. There was some backsliding in FF which was evident from the video as well as my personal feeling of where i felt I was 'heading' (I felt like I was slightly pitching upward with my head and torso-need to work on correcting this with my arms)
There was an issue during deployment of holding on too long to the pilot chute, which had the potentiality of becoming a malfunction had I not let go at the time I did, for Angus was ready to open the container since he saw the lines going up but no bag coming out.
This is certainly an issue which MUST be corrected, thus this first AFF dive will be done again before we will continue on to the next step.

12) Canopy control was 'nice' according to the DZO watching and on the radio. Landing was in the bowl, and my log book states it was within 2M of target.

13) Leg straps worked fine and easy enough to operate that only minor adjustments are necessary.

Over all, this was a good dive and leaves me feeling confident and positive towards redoing this dive (for the pilot chute issue). I feel confident I will succeed this task and move on in the next dive.

I am very happy, and also quite glad to see that I landed within 2 M of target and the 7 min. 30 sec. FF time I've accumulated in my log book.

More info will be available once a through analysis of the dive video is possible sometime soon.



Apr 30, 2008, 7:56 AM
Post #19 of 133 (16031 views)
Re: [gimpboogie] Adaptive Skydiving Solo [In reply to] Can't Post

my computer is crashed, using public ones so cannot upload any photos now but here is a link to my DZ forum where there are a few photos:


Apr 30, 2008, 8:24 AM
Post #20 of 133 (16030 views)
Re: [gimpboogie] Adaptive Skydiving Solo [In reply to] Can't Post

I cannot help but add in this thread something that is on my mind totally outside of this forum topic but deeply ingrained within my personal journey to skydive.

On Oct 28th 2007 I had my most successful skydive to date, and on that day we lost Tonto-who was a pioneer in teaching paralyzed people to skydive.

On Apr. 26th I finally had my first AFF and on Apr. 27th the skydiving community worldwide and specifically here in my home Ontario Canada lost a deeply loved and accomplished skydiver Ahmed.

I dedicated my first dive to Eric-Tonto. He was on my mind prior to the dive and after the landing I looked up to the blue skies and said to Tonto "look at me fly now, THANK YOU !!!" for he had much email contact with my coach Angus at the beginning stages of my learning process.

This is somehow significant enough for me to state here.

I do not know why. Unsure

grannyinthesky  (D 30311)

Apr 30, 2008, 10:18 AM
Post #21 of 133 (16026 views)
Re: [gimpboogie] Adaptive Skydiving Solo [In reply to] Can't Post

Woo hoo, Mina. Way to go! Your persistence and dedication are inspiring. Your landing was sure better than my last one. I didn't flare in time and did another of my more or less, splats. At least I have learned to roll with them. I looked at the pictures and it is great to see you in the air. When's the next jump?


Apr 30, 2008, 12:17 PM
Post #22 of 133 (16022 views)
Re: [grannyinthesky] Adaptive Skydiving Solo [In reply to] Can't Post

Thank you for the kind words.
I'm pretty happy about it also.
I had TONS of help from MANY people dedicating a lot of time, energy and $ to this.
They ALL know who they are,

next jump T minus 48 hrs or so....
if Mother Nature permits.
On Sun 27th I was to jump but the winds were gusting to 19mph grounding me, which was a very good thing because there was a lot of turbulance, and other issues other then the ground wind speeds.

I watched the experienced jumpers at PST on Sun Apr. 27th and they were having bucking bronco rides under their canopies....

live to jump another day was that days motto.

Were getting a Grand Caravan in T minus 21 hrs,
but my jumping depends on a lot of things other then the availability of a plane and winds @ 15mph or less.

So... my next one will be when it will be! Wink

grannyinthesky  (D 30311)

Apr 30, 2008, 12:24 PM
Post #23 of 133 (16021 views)
Re: [gimpboogie] Adaptive Skydiving Solo [In reply to] Can't Post

Ah, yes, waiting for the next jump. I have spent a lot of time doing that. It seems to be a rite of passage for most students. I am supposed to jump tomorrow afternoon and so far the sky and wind are looking good. When I first started jumping, I was usually the only one at the dz, so I really didn't realize what effect the wind could have. Having spent a lot of hours this spring watching experienced jumpers landing in winds that are out of my range, I now have no problem with staying on the ground. Smile


May 1, 2008, 9:04 AM
Post #24 of 133 (16010 views)
FF photos [In reply to] Can't Post
Go to photos page.



May 1, 2008, 11:58 AM
Post #25 of 133 (15998 views)
correction on names -sorry [In reply to] Can't Post

I apologize for the mistake on the names.
It is John McCarthy the accuracy canopy pilot who was teaching me (and the DZ was Gan. owned by Mr. Tom McCarthy
for freefall pictures on Tom's web site

Go to the pictures page.

ALL photos there are courtesy of Dave hatherly.

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