Forums: Community: Skydivers with Disabilities:
Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo?

 


Mills

Jun 27, 2011, 7:01 PM
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Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? Can't Post

When I first started looking into skydiving I thought the only way for a blind person to jump was tandom. While googling places I learned about John Fleming and Dan Rossi. They're both blind jumpers who have set some free fall records and have done formations with other sighted jumpers. From what I've gathered they jump with the aid of 2 way radio with a spotter on the ground and an altameter that beeps every thousand feet. I would love to get my license, but the instructors in my area have all told me they have no experience training a blind person and are hesitant without first consulting with someone who has, or a blind person who has their license.

I have done cliff jumping, am a rock climber and participated in martial arts tournaments. I even have tight groupings on a shooting range. I'm all about safety and would really appreciate any guidance and tips as I have yet to find any ways of contacting any blind skydivers.


sinjin  (A 210530)

Jun 28, 2011, 12:58 AM
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Re: [Mills] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

please let us know where you live, that might help in placement. good luck on your challenge !!!


airdvr  (D 10977)

Jun 28, 2011, 6:39 AM
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Re: [sinjin] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

Might want to talk to Dan Rossi

https://www.facebook.com/...le.php?id=1010152994


peregrinerose  (D 28983)

Jun 28, 2011, 9:17 AM
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Re: [Mills] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

Define 'blind'. I'm an AFF instructor, and a low vision rehabilitation optometrist. 'Blind' is a pretty broad range, from no light perception to 20/400, to 20/20 vision with no peripheral, so more information would be helpful.

Dan's a great resource as others have posted.


Mills

Jun 28, 2011, 1:20 PM
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Re: [Mills] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks guys for the responses. I'll definetly contact Dan. I live in Vancouver B.C Canada. I am blind as a bat, so have no functional vision.
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peregrinerose  (D 28983)

Jun 29, 2011, 6:21 AM
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Re: [Mills] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

What is the diagnosis? Light perception? I don't ever take 'blind as a bat' as an answer... too many of my macular disease patients walk in saying that and walk out reading a newspaper, I just want to make sure that any information I give is actually appropriate to you.


BlindBrick  (C 35382)

Jun 29, 2011, 9:10 PM
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Re: [Mills] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

Good luck in your quest. When I leanred to skydive, I had a severe level of bilateral keratoconus that wasn't correctable with lenses or RGP's so iI've got at elast a partial idea of the road ahead. Based on that, you need to understand that you will be at an elevated risk as a jumper due to the fact that you will be lacking three core safety items as a skydiver: your sight being your primary altimeter and the ability to not have to rely on anyone but yourself when it comes to jumping safely after you leave student status, and finally your situational awareness in both freefall and canopy flight is very heavily dependant upon visual cues.

What you're doing is varely similar to the elevated risk associated with BASE jumping and I'd suggest you PM Tom Aiello on here as an early part of his BASE first jump course is an honest risk/benefit assessment.

For some the risk assessment shows that it's clearly not worth it, for others the benefits outweigh the risks.

In my case, the benefits did outweigh the risk and I embarked on a journey that was long, hard, and frequently painful, ocassionally permenantly damaging and there was a time or two where dumb luck kept me alive despite everything I did wrong; however, I kept going down that road because the reward (sense of achievement and personal empowerment) was worth it.

Best of luck in coming to your decision,

-Blind


airtwardo  (D License)

Jul 1, 2011, 7:36 PM
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Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

Put a muzzle on the dog...


Mills

Jul 5, 2011, 1:10 AM
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Re: [Mills] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

I have one eye that can see light. I can see tv and digital camera screens if I try hard, but with no detail. When not looking at the lighted screen I only can see bright light (sun) and blue for sky. The bright lights hurt and I guess my other senses fill me in to what I should be seeing and then I subconsciusly make a mental visual picture. I once had full vision. The eye that can see tv is noted by my eye doctor as having no functional vision. I argue with them that I can see something as I am able to watch movies but with no detail. I really want to get my license because I love the feeling of falling from things like cliffs. I had an idea the risks would be greater for me being blind and getting more info on those risks will better enable me to make an educated choice. what's tom's user name on here? Thanks again for all the advice and leads.
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sinjin  (A 210530)

Jul 5, 2011, 2:10 AM
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tomaiello


peregrinerose  (D 28983)

Jul 5, 2011, 7:38 AM
Post #11 of 23 (3011 views)
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Re: [Mills] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

Damn, it's like pulling teeth to get a diagnosis out of you!

As an AFF instructor, I have taught students with end stage retinitis pigmentosa, as well as other less than ideal vision. Could you seen an altimeter? If not you'll need 2 audible ones (one for freefall, one for canopy). I'd also recommend 2 radios in case one dies. Dan Rossi found that out the hard way once.

How is your peripheral vision? Could you see another canopy in the sky?

The more information you give, the easier it is to help.


Mills

Jul 5, 2011, 11:10 PM
Post #12 of 23 (2987 views)
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Re: [peregrinerose] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

Sorry, I'm doing my best. I can't see anything on the eye chart, so I guess some how my senses instantly translate things I pick up from hearing into mental pictures. I doubt I could see another parachute in the sky. I definitely would need the set up with 2 radios and audible altimeters. I have glaucoma in one eye The hard thing is that the eye specialists say I cannot see but I can see some things on tv. I think its best that when I consider my situation I should do it on the bases of having no vision. It is really hard to explain what I can sense as some things I am not suppose to pick up I can and at other times my senses fail me. I'm not guessing, there are times when my senses just don't give me any feedback, so they are unreliable.


peregrinerose  (D 28983)

Jul 6, 2011, 10:18 AM
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It sounds like you've never had a low vision evaluation. I'd strongly recommend it. What we do is work with the vision you have and teach you how to maximize it. Even a little vision is helpful for things like mobility, etc, and there are ways to decrease the fluctuation in vision by being more aware of how to maneuver things like lighting, contrast, etc.


Mills

Jul 6, 2011, 1:30 PM
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Re: [Mills] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

That sounds like a good idea too. I'll look into that. Any ideas on how the instructors would go about training me? How would I know which positions to do in free fall and when to do them?


gimpboogie

Jul 11, 2011, 12:01 PM
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Re: [Mills] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

thank you


smdobbins  (B 36211)

Jul 19, 2011, 12:51 AM
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Re: [Mills] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

have you visited a wind tunnel? you may find enough enjoyment in this safer environment for your condition or at least use it as training for body positioning before you move on to AFF.

also, i'm curious how you are using these forums do you have someone help you type and read you the messages?

good luck hope you can one day get your license and enjoy this great sport


Mills

Jul 19, 2011, 1:07 AM
Post #17 of 23 (2825 views)
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Re: [Mills] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks for the win tunnel tip. I looked it up and think that would be a great way to prep.
If anyone here is in contact with a blind skydiver, could they please ask the person to pm me with advice and tips?


I have a screen reader program on a regular computerthat talks like a robot.. The thing about skydiving is once you are out of the plane there's no turning back, so I'd like to be as safe and prepared as possible. When training for karate tournaments and target shooting, there's ways to practice and experiment safely without crossing the point of no return, so the win tunnel may be the solution. Blind Dan and John Fleming seem to have lots of years of experience under their belts. I wonder how they learned, or if they used a wind tunnel to ogment their training.
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dthames  (B 37674)

Nov 6, 2011, 11:28 AM
Post #18 of 23 (2625 views)
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Re: [Mills] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

Mills,

I am fifty four years old, new to skydiving, and it is something I have wanted to do all my adult life. I have been sensitive to motion sickness all of my life. Under canopy looking down at the ground and maneuvering compounds the motion sickness problem. I made a joke to my wife after the second jump by telling her, when I get finished I might be the first instrument rated skydiver. While I said that sort of as a joke, I have been thinking about technical solutions that might help me.

I have tinkered with micro computer controls in the past. Just for fun I have been thinking about electronic solutions that might help me avoid so much time looking down at the ground. The last time I was working with electronic controls was 2005. Even back then you could get a GPS receiver unit you could integrate into a design project. The GPS receiver would deliver data in text format that an embedded controller chip could use to make decisions.

As I write this, I am brainstorming the idea. So don’t think this is a well-planned solution. It is just a concept. And before I get any further I would say, such a device might already exist that could help you. If not, finding a college student in electronics that needs a Master’s or a PHD project might get you free engineering development.

I imagine an interment package that would have the following abilities.
1. A custom micro controller computer system. Something smaller than a pint milk carton should be possible.
2. Ultrasonic or inferred ranging to give you precise distance to ground as you get ready to flare. I know of people that have robbed autofocus units out cameras to build their own short distance range finders. A tone that ramped up a recognizable cue to flare might work.
3. A GPS and compass unit that would be tied into the primary computer, so that the computer could know where it was and what direction it was moving.

Imagine you are under canopy, and you have a way to signal the computer. I see people taking photographs in freefall by blowing on a tube that is in their mouth. One puff on the tube and the shutter is triggered. The computer would need several flight modes to get you where you need to be. First you need to maneuver to the holding area so you are in range to enter your landing pattern. Pretend this computer has menu that you can rotate through by blowing on the tube. You puff, puff, puff until you hear it tell you, FLY TO HOLDING AREA. In the FLY TO HOLDING AREA mode it would tell you the distance to the holding area, the heading to the holding area, and your heading. You might not really want to know your heading at long as you could tell if you were headed correctly or not. If you were headed correctly you would get a pleasant tone in the background as the computer counted down the range to the holding area. I you needed to steer left, the computer could cue you with tones or with words……..10 left, 10 left, 5 left, 5 left, then beeeeeep, meaning you are on course again.

Now you want switch computer mode and have it keep you in the holding area. During this time we could also determine wind. By flying a square box with the GPS data you can find the direction of least ground travel. Now you know and the computer knows your heading for being into the wind. Also, you could have a changing tone or a voice telling you how far you were from the center of the holding area and what your heading is. At a predetermined altitude the computer would switch to a mode to guide you into your landing pattern.

Somewhere about now we need to make sure the computer has the correct heading for INTO THE WIND. Even with good instruments you will most likely need a spotter to help you. Since we have arrived at the holding area, we can skip that option in the menu and so reduce the number of puffs in the tube to cycle through the options. Because we are near our landing pattern entry point, we can’t do too many things other than to land. Pretend you want to enter the landing pattern at 900 feet. At 1200 feet the computer says, INTO THE WIND HEADING IS 180. I am assuming your hands are busy with the toggles, so we can’t be pushing any buttons. The computer offers to ADJUST HEADING UP…pause for 2 seconds…..ADJUST HEADING DOWN….pause for 2 second….ADJUST HEADING UP….pause for 2 seconds. During this time your spotter tells you, Your landing heading needs to be 135. You wait until you hear ADJUST HEADING DOWN, and give a puff, HEADING 165, puff again, HEADING 150, puff again, HEADING 135. With no more puffs coming for a couple of seconds the computer assumes you are happy with the heading and starts directing you to the entry point. Of course you would have to be very well practiced on such a system before using it. Some would say it would be too complicated to use. But I continue with my concept………

Even if you are not dead over your landing pattern entry point, at 900 feet you start your downwind leg. The computer reports (over and over) DOWNWIND, Altitude, STEER 10 RIGHT, DOWNWIND, Altitude, STEER AHEAD, ……time passes…….APPROACHING BASE…..TURN RIGHT TO BASE, STEER 40 RIGHT, STEER 20 RIGHT, STEER AHEAD, BASE, Altitude, STEER AHEAD, APPROACHING FINAL, TURN RIGHT TO FINAL, STEER 50 RIGHT, STEER 20 RIGHT, STEER AHEAD, 200 FEET, STEER AHEAD, 100 FEET, STEER LEFT 10, 50 FEET, goes to tones as you approach flare point. At this point you could get a tone for decent rate or one for distance to ground. But it would be easy to get input overload if you tried to do both. I you assume you got a proper cue to flare at the right height, you are into your flare and the rate you are flaring might need adjustment based on your decent rate. But one might work just as well at the other.

On my second jump I could not see the details of the ground very well and I almost was tricked into flaring way too high. When I got to the point I was sure I was not being tricked I was almost too low and I flared like crazy, swung forward, and was gently set on my butt. If the urgency of the situation had not been clear to me, I would have hit pretty hard. However it is done, you need to be adaptive during the flare. I don’t know much about managing as a blind person but I have seen examples of sonar type “glasses” that a person can wear. From what I understand they might give you pretty good feedback on your impending contact with mother earth. But a similar feature could be designed into the instrument package as well.

While all of this sounds pretty complicated, this is the type of project college students do all of the time. It would be interesting to contact MIT and CalTech to see if they thought this would make a good research project for a student. You might get a system developed for free, and you the test dummy. (joke)

One more thought. In my AFF training we used a classroom altimeter that looked real but was in fact a timer with a “second hand” that clocked at the rate of freefall. Imagine you and a student are developing this system. The computer software could be written to have a ground training mode and a normal flight mode. In normal flight, the altitude changes as you descend. In ground training mode, altitude changes could be simulated by the passage of time. So, you get the thing turned on, you get in a large field and start running the program. You are directed to the holding area, onto landing pattern, ete. You could “land” into a wall or some other obstruction that would represent Earth. Anyway just a crazy idea you can ponder.

Dan T.


Mills

Nov 6, 2011, 1:06 PM
Post #19 of 23 (2613 views)
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Re: [dthames] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

thanks Dan for that great bunch of ideas. I've tried facebooking the blind jumper mentioned above and talking to people who run dropzones but haven't had much luck. I really appreciate this reply. The trouble is, the schools I've spoken to see training me as a risk so aren't as proactive at brainstorming techniques for me to pass, or they just forget about my phonecalls altogether. The glasses thing woulnd'woulnd'would not be able to sense things that far off. I think it only works up to 10 feet. I like your idea; it could work with beakons on the ground. They have audible altimeters and the ipod/iphone has great gps apps. I read the blind guys already skydiving just use radios and get guided in by their spotters. Thanks again, and if you have anymore tips, or know anyone pls send them my way.


dthames  (B 37674)

Nov 6, 2011, 1:25 PM
Post #20 of 23 (2611 views)
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Re: [Mills] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

I am prone to motion sickness and was dropped by the DZ where I started my AFF training. I passed two for two on the jumps but because I got sick, they see that as additional risk.

A coworker that I know has been jumping for more than 20 years and he also had motion sickness problems when he started. But he got over it.

I have not given up.

Dan T.


adagen

Nov 6, 2011, 4:06 PM
Post #21 of 23 (2602 views)
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Re: [dthames] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

I don't have much experience, but my first thought was that while you might be able to develop reliable technology that would work for a blind skydiver in isolation, it doesn't deal with the fact that other people are using the same space so there is a collision risk. Detecting and predicting the behaviour of others is probably orders of magnitude more difficult than working out the landing pattern.


cjg  (Student)

Nov 7, 2011, 6:04 PM
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Re: [adagen] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

Now this is a freaky idea ..

But thinking about it further , The tech exists to do this.

Why not avoid the audio cues , as they could get confusing and are slow .. just the 3 seconds it takes from when the computer decides to say "TURN LEFT" till the time when the word LEFT comes out of the speaker could be important ..Why not use a simple vibrating ring on an ankle .. it can become second nature.
Similar to this

https://www.noisebridge.net/...ro_Anklet_Directions


If you really are serious about developing this , may I suggest the arduino platform as a quick prototyping / development platform. It uses a language called processing to build the programs. http://www.arduino.cc/

There are MANY MANY gps modules that you can get , as cheap as 25 bucks for a basic nema unit that can output postion updates at 10 times a second and can interface with the micro controller easily.

One wensite that I like to use for electronic experiments is www.sparkfun.com Great little company.

As for separation and collision avoidance , you could always use similar technology to tacas and request that any / all divers on the jump carry a basic transponder. While not ideal , just saying that it could be arranged.


http://en.wikipedia.org/...ion_avoidance_system


Now I am not an experienced skydiver ( Still a student ) but I do have a bit of experience with embedded systems and purpose built hardware. The basics of what you are suggesting are very very doable .. But really .. the thought of a blind skydiver scares me..

I would see this tech used to augment an approach. Not to be used in IMC or by a blind diver.


RedRogue  (Student)

Jun 11, 2012, 12:22 PM
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Re: [peregrinerose] Any Tips/pointers on how blind jumpers can jump solo? [In reply to] Can't Post

Hello, I am looking into finding an instructor that would be willing to teach me how to skydive. I have a rare eye condition called aniridia, which basically means I don't have the eye color so extremely light sensitive. So I would need to wear tinted goggles or helmet when jumping. I'm completely blind in right eye and have 2400/20 vision in left eye, vision is blurred but can see well enough see another person in front of me and during my first tandem was able to tell where I was in relation to DZ. My bf who is licensed went over with me the aerial of the DZ and I was able to memorize what was around the area (golf course, etc.).
I live in Baltimore and am really interested in finding an instructor to help me get my license so I can begin this hobby with my bf. If anyone can help me find an instructor close to me I'd appreciate it.

Thanks,
Faith



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