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Introducing The Kraken

“She’s a wing of legends. The Kraken is the ultimate 'party in the front and business at the back', she's super responsive and holds tight when pushed hard. She is the canopy equivalent of Che Guevara, Marilyn Monroe and Brian Jones all in one. The Kraken is a must have for any wingsuiter and will have the pilot grinning ear to ear as they fly back to whatever landing area they can make it to. Kidding. Kinda.”
We have released the Kraken, finally! Designing the Kraken was a long process because it was new to us: the Kraken is our very first wingsuit specific parachute. Traditionally NZ Aerosports has focused more on flight performance than on opening a canopy in a wingsuit wake. So it took us a few years, but ended up with a very technical end result: a canopy full of cool features and ideas that makes it very different from any existing wingsuit canopy. The result is a low bulk, long lasting canopy with very reliable and stable openings that lands like a dream.
Typically, canopies low(er) in aspect ratio and ellipticity (fat 7-cell canopies) have better heading performance, and stability in flight. The problem with this is that wings shaped like this are not exactly renowned for their glide performance and sharp handling. The solution to this problem was a combination of ideas floating around the head of NZ Aerosports’ aeronautical engineer Julien Peelman, and the production and test jump team. We looked to our deep understanding of modern day wings, aerodynamics, and type of ingenuity that produces world class skydiving parachutes – our trademark.
Key features of the Kraken
3D Designed: We are now using Catia V5 to design canopies. This is one of the most advanced 3D CAD softwares available. It gives us more freedom to design the canopy down to the finest details and helps generate the most accurate panels possible. The result is a more accurate shaping, a smoother surface, and better aerodynamic efficiency.
CFD Tested: The Kraken shape has been tested using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics), which gives us, among other things, a better understanding of her behavior in turbulence and during recovery.

Photo Chris Stewart
Anticipating the zag: First debuted in our Crossfire 3, The Kraken is designed so its panels are designed directly in the shape they will have during flight by taking into account the Zig-Zag distortion. This spreads the load evenly through the fabric and makes the wing more structurally efficient.
New Rib Shape: The Kraken has benefited from research on rib shaping that was originally used to design our new range of hyper-performance wings, Petra and Leia.
New Crossport Design: Crossports have been strategically placed in the Kraken to have the least influence on the upper surface shape while allowing a good air circulation between the chambers. They are bigger toward the center of the canopy to help with symmetrical openings. They have also been designed with an elliptical shape that optimizes their area while reducing the upper surface distortion.
Powerband: We've added the split leading edge Powerband to all our new canopies since we pioneered it with Petra. It allows us to better control the aerodynamic shape in the nose area, which prevents parasitic drag.
Curves in the right places:
We’ve realised that by sewing our reinforcing tape in parabolas (arcs) on the ribs, we spread the load applied to the top surface more efficiently, meaning less distortion and a more efficient top surface.
Don’t say slit:
We’ve put a vent on the lower surface to help promote fast center cell inflation. This means better, more on heading openings in the messy wake of a wingsuit. It’s not a gaping hole like a BASE vent, it’s a… horizontal opening... that seals after full inflation.
There’s a hole in my slider?!:
We became so fond of vents that we put one in the slider! We found that by creating a channel for the air to go straight through, we reduced the crazy oscillation often seen during parachute openings. Those oscillations can contribute to off headings etc, so that’s nice!
Big holes:
To help out its closest neighbors, the crossports leading from the center cell to the closest outboard cells are enlarged. Promoting symmetrical central inflation means promoting on heading openings!
Keeping it short:
Shorter lines mean more flight stability, and easier rectification of any pesky line twists – both good things for the whole wingsuit deal!
High-tech, low bulk:
Because it’s 2019, we haven’t used untreated cloth (F-111) for our wingsuit canopy. Instead, we’ve tracked down a low bulk ZP (treated with silicone) fabric, and used that for the majority of the wing, with the Powerband and top center panel made out of standard ZP for extra longevity.
Riser equality:
We’ve included a bit of internal structure that means your bridle will load both your risers more evenly during the early stages of deployment. Because of how it looks, we’ve called it the ‘Bow-tie’ – and as we all know, equality is classy!

Photo Chris Stewart
Little tail thingys:
Mini-ribs in the tail of a canopy sharpens its profile, which reduces drag and increases glide performance by “a lot more than we thought”.  This translates to more fun in the sky, and a better flare on the ground. 7 cells are not usually known for their amazing flare power, so it all helps!
Improve your pull-out game with a snatch:
Symmetry is good, and so it is with your pilot chute. We’ve discovered that using snatches help with our wingsuit openings, so we have stocked up on them and highly recommend to purchase one with all Kraken purchases!
Inward Rotated end cell:
While most ribs are perpendicular to the lower surface, the end rib is rotated inward to reduce the size of the end cell and prevent it from losing its shape. This reduces tip vortices and induced drag.

Photo Chris Stewart
New line trim:
Despite being a relatively docile canopy, the rectangular planform has been compensated with a trim just a notch steeper than you would think. This helps with up wind penetration, fun and is one of the reason for the great flare.
New Stabilizer shape:
The shape of the stabilizer has been modernized to prevent it from flapping too much in flight. It also helps the slider to sit in the right position. Custom Sizing The Kraken is available in any size between 119 and 189 so that you can get the perfect wing loading for you at this stage in your canopy progression.
See the Kraken’s key features interactively on Emersya: https://emersya.com/showcase/5GFIH0C9Q0
Key flight characteristics of the Kraken
Openings The modern day wingsuit is capable of  incredible glide, but this efficiency brings its own set of complications when designing a parachute to match. The biggest factor is the turbulent wake formed behind the wingsuit – right where the parachute is deployed. Kraken openings are quick but not hard – you’ll feel inflation immediately. The vent helps control the heading. Once the center cell and adjacent cells inflate, the canopy slowly pressurises with a predictable reliability. The Kraken will sail on level seas even with linetwists! Inputs Intuitive and precise, each input delivers a predictable response. From opening to landing the Kraken is a confidence builder. Toggles Big inputs will produce an immediate response - the pilot will feel in control from first point of contact.
Stall point
The slow flight characteristics were a very important design factor for the Kraken, so there is plenty of warning before she stalls, and will recover to normal flight in an easy and stress free transition when slowly letting the toggles back up.
Rear risers
There’s lots of feel and response – the Kraken has fantastic glide! Milk those rears and disprove the myth that all wingsuiters land off! Front Risers F is for fun! Yep, the Kraken can dive!
Performance
The Kraken has loads of zip! Fly her nice and slow for those busy landing patterns when you want lots of vertical separation. Or dive her at the ground and drag some turf. There’s plenty of fun to be had!
Recovery Arc
The recovery arc is longer than typically experienced with similar 7 cell designs. For someone who wants to have their cake ( a nice sensible wingsuit canopy) and eat it too (swoop the shit out of it), then go go go! Flare The Kraken has a wide range of performance, the flare is one of the most important aspects - she wont disappoint. Those nil wind tiptoe landings will feel very natural. More information available from:
 

By Meso, in Gear,

Three People Narrowly Escape in Tandem Collision (Video)

Three people were lucky to be left alive after a collision between a TI, tandem client and a cameraman. The incident, which was uploaded to Facebook, shows an initial clip of the cameraman's point of view as he makes contact with the top of the TI's canopy. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the cameraman was supposed to be recording the next tandem but had insufficient exit separation between himself and the previous tandem.
The cameraman involved in the incident commented on the video on social media with the following:
Regardless of fault, this video serves as a good lesson as to why exit separation remains a crucial factor in reducing collisions in flight. There were no reports of serious injury from the incident, which was only inches from a very different ending.
 

Cookie Releases G4 Helmet

After years of research and design, the Cookie G4 helmet is now available for sale. The full-face helmet is certified to Skydiving and Wind Tunnel Helmet Standard XP S 72-600. To achieve this standard, helmets must pass impact and snag resistance testing.
New features
- Ventilation control: The user can now adjust airflow into the helmet using the chin bar actuator (two switches inside the helmet).
- Additional head coverage: The G4 offers more coverage at the back of the head compared to the G3. This is especially appealing to dynamic tunnel flyers.
- Quiet: The new design seals the visor to the helmet for a much quieter flying experience.
- Easy maintenance: The closing mechanism is similar in operation to the G3 but designed to offer little or no maintenance for the life of the helmet.
- Cool: Two rear ventilation ports allow hot air to leave the helmet and the liner is a breathable material, providing a cooler experience.

Color and customization options
The G4 is available for sale in the following matte colors: black, white, dark blue, red, charcoal, tactical green, royal blue, lime green, electric blue, orange, purple, yellow and pink.
Several side plate color and engraving options are available. The G4 side plate has a slightly larger footprint, ideal for custom engraving. G4 visors are tested and certified for optical qualities. They have an anti-fog inside and anti-scratch outside and are available in clear, tinted, and blue-mirrored colors.
Sizing
The G4 is available in sizes x-small through xx-large. Sizing varies slightly from G3,so users should review the sizing chart or try one on before purchase. The G4 retails at $439 USD and is available for purchase at www.flycookie.com or from your favorite Cookie dealer.

Jen Sharp Talks About Healthy Skydiving Culture

It’s Not What You Do (Or the Size of Your Dropzone): It’s How You Do It
Jen Sharp -- since 2017, the Director of IT for the USPA -- is a woman of note for a long list of reasons. Jen’s a font of wisdom, a truly badass skydiving instructor and a businesswoman of uncommon strength and clarity (proof: she spent 21 years owning a successful small drop zone in Kansas). When she speaks, one should do themselves the favor of listening.
If you don’t already know her story: Jen has been jumping since she was 18 years old. She opened Skydive Kansas directly after her college graduation, when she had a full-time teaching job and only 300 jumps. (Even then, she’d already been working as a static line jumpmaster, instructor, packer, rigger and radio-wrangler. Supergirl, basically.) Since then, she has traveled extensively as a jumper, an instructor and a public speaker.
It was 1995 when Jen opened her dropzone: the days of saving up your vacation days for the World Freefall Convention; of spending Friday night to Sunday dinnertime on the dropzone; of single-plane 182 dropzones all over the place and, like, eight places you could go to fulfill a turbine craving.
The close knit of those intimate little club-format dropzones has, of course, steadily unwound since then in most places. Adding skydiving to the schedule has become much more of a surgical strike: you get to the DZ at 10am and manifest immediately so you can make it to Crossfit by 4. You sift through regional skydiving events on Facebook, few of which require more than a handful of minutes’ worth of planning. You drive hours for a turbine.

Jen takes on her alter ego, “Stu,” as a student (get it?!) on an AFF eval jump.
It would be easy to mourn the loss of the small dropzone as an entity -- there are precious few of them left, proportionally to their previous numbers -- but Jen refuses to. For her, the “small dropzone feel” is the culture we should all be striving for, even if there happen to be seven Skyvans in the hangar archipelago.
“The best vibes are at the places that keep the actual perspective, not just the party line, that we are all just people and all just want to have fun,” she begins. “The ones that embody safety in the active choices to care for each other. The places that assume the best in people. Luckily, that’s really simple to do.”
Simple? Yes. Easy? Not necessarily, but according to Jen, that’s what we are really going for here: an inviting culture. Example after example proves that business success will follow that beacon significantly more reliably than it will follow volume.
“What that culture is not,” Jen clarifies, “is the culture of the burned-out tandem instructor, hauling meat; a culture where an instructor never connects with their student; where they don’t even call them students, but passengers. If you call them a passenger, they are one-and-done. They know their place with you. But if you call them a student -- and you truly think of them that way -- the whole dynamic is going to be different.”
How do you change the dynamic? By changing the way you see the person in the harness.
“The public we meet is awesome,” she continues. “And we forget that! We totally forget this as instructors -- especially, tandem instructors. We forget that the person we’re taking is amazing. Why? Because they are not on the couch. A normal person is just sitting there on the couch on the weekend or maybe vacuuming or making snacks, drinking beer and watching TV. But this person is okay with being uncomfortable; with putting their life in your hands. They are excited about it, and they are trusting you. That already makes them a really cool person.”

Doing an interview at PIA 2015.
“If you want to see the average person, go to Walmart,” she laughs. “That’s the ‘average person.’ The person walking on a dropzone for the first time is not the average person. They are already living on a level that we should resonate with, especially since they’re new and they need our guidance.”  
For Jen, in fact, the “passenger” moniker is no less than a dishonor.
“Homogenizing everyone who walks in the door into a ‘passenger’ has a couple of outcomes,” Jen explains. “It burns tandem instructors out. It burns the public out against skydiving when we make the assumption that they don’t know anything. Where did we even get that idea in the first place? Sure, they don’t know anything about skydiving, but they probably know a lot about something else.”
“When I would take tandem students, I didn’t know who they were, necessarily,” she muses. “I would always ask ‘why are you here today,’ but they weren’t always going to tell their life story. I would find out later that we had just taken a brain surgeon, or the senator from some western county in Kansas. You never know who that person is. They’re just walking around in their sweats because you told them to dress comfortably. So -- if you’re starting to feel the burnout, try allowing yourself to be curious about them. And, if you’re a dropzone owner, strive to instill that curiosity in your instructor staff.”
Who knows: That curiosity, manifesting as totally authentic friendliness, could end up defining a regional dropzone’s niche.
“If drop zones realize how many kinds of niches there are to occupy,” Jen says, “I don’t think we’d ever talk in terms of ‘small,’ ‘medium’ and ‘large’ dropzone. You can occupy a really strong, functional cultural niche without being the biggest DZ around, or having the most airplanes, or doing the most tandems. As a dropzone, your niche really comes from whatever it is that you want to bring to the table -- and your resources and your passions -- and you succeed when you fulfill that to the max. I think a lot of places are figuring that out, and that’s contributing to the fact that we now have more of a variety of dropzones than we ever have before.”
Y’know that bit about a cultural "niche"? Jen insists that it’s not just about feels. It’s about returns, too. A strong niche can turn into a marketing advantage. 
“Not every dropzone should compete on price,” Jen notes. “It's conceivable for a smaller DZ to actually make more profit by doing less jumps. Profit is not the same as gross.”
“It’s as straightforward as reaching the fullest manifestation of what you’re capable of doing,” she adds, smiling, “and, of course, always trying to get better.”
 

By nettenette, in General,

9 Dead in Swedish Plane Crash

It has been a tragic few weeks for the sport of skydiving, as two plane crashes have lit up news headlines across the world. The first occurred just over three weeks prior with the Oahu crash in Hawaii which saw 11 individuals lose their lives when their Beechcraft 65 King Air crashed, killing all on board.
Less than 3 weeks later there has been an additional plane crash, this time in Sweden, when a GippsAero GA8 Airvan crashed out of Umea airport, killing 9 people. The incident took place on the 14th of July around 2 pm local time.  While little is known about what caused the incident, eyewitness video footage shows the plane descending rapidly, nose first, before crashing on Storsandskar island.
Eyewitness accounts further stated that they could see jumpers attempting to exit the aircraft while it was coming down.  Another witness was quoted as saying that she had heard a loud noise coming from above before she saw the plane head straight down. Also of note were several witness accounts of the plane missing its wing on descent, with mention of a damaged tail too. 
The following video was taken by a witness to the incident and shows a brief glimpse of the plane on its way down.
.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; } A regional spokeswoman was quoted as stating, ‘I can confirm that all those aboard the plane have died.’
At this point, very little information is available on this tragic event, and we will update this article with more information as it becomes available. 
We’d like to extend our condolences to all those involved and their families. BSBD
For discussions on this incident, please use the following forum: 
 

By Meso, in News,

A Different Way to Boogie

Will Penny and Johannes Bergfors Want to Take You Places
First, let’s get one thing straight: Johannes Bergfors and Will Penny don’t necessarily have, like, a problem with tent camping, beer trucks and zoo loads. They like that stuff just fine -- they just do things a little differently, is all. And they do them differently in very interesting places.
Will and Johannes met at a FlajFlaj event in California a few years ago. Johannes’ video chops attracted Will’s attention. Will invited him to Paradise Portugal to film him and his Flynamic teammate, Yohann Aby, as they trained for the World Championships.
“I’d never been in a [skydiving] team,” Johannes muses, “And I was interested in how a team at that level went into the training process.”
True to eager form, Johannes didn’t just film the jumps. He started bringing the camera into the teammates’ daily lives and started interviewing them incisively about their process. He made a documentary about it. (It’s called Work. It’s great. You should watch it.)
As you might imagine, Johannes and Will worked really well together, right off the bat, and the scope was bound to expand sooner-or-later. That flashpoint moment came along when Johannes saw a photo of a beautiful beach dropzone in Kenya.
“It was beautiful,” he remembers, “And I wanted to organize an event there because I was pretty sure it was the only way I was going to be able to go.”
Up until that point, Johannes had been hired by lots of other events as a videographer and coach. He’d even organized “some smaller stuff” in his native Sweden. Along the way, he’d seen what had been done well and poorly. He knew for certain that he needed a co-organizer to pull it off; Will, with their established rapport and Will’s deep connections in skydiving, was the natural choice. Since he’s a South African with extensive connections around the rest of the continent and parents in the hospitality industry, Will had even more vital bona fides for the task -- and, happily, he was keen.
The pair kept the first event intentionally small -- a beta test, right-sized for a home run. Participants stayed together in a beachside villa, steps from the dropzone. The skydiving was calibrated to be decidedly quality-over-quantity. A top-shelf chef was on-hand to cook every meal. (Johannes was once a chef himself, so he knows a thing or two about that.) They called it “Skyfari”: a nod to its African venue, for certain, but also to its emphasis on exploration over logbook-stuffing. 
Unsurprisingly, the event nailed its goals. There were already plans being made for the next one by the time the first one wrapped.
“These are all all inclusive events,” Johannes explains, “where we are focusing on giving inspiring experiences to participants. That is something we are super grateful to be able to do.”
Since that first Kenyan foray, Will and Johannes have done four other events in this style. The first three shared the Skyfari name; the fourth and fifth, held on Will’s home turf, the southernmost point of South Africa, was called Skydive South Africa: Southern Tip. (Hashtag: #justthetip. Of course.)
For a little descriptive flavor: the Southern Tip event was a pop-up drop zone in the picturesque little Afrikaaner hamlet of Arniston, where Will’s family connections to hospitality are strong.
“It is not a place you drive through,” Johannes explains. “It’s a special place, especially for Will, because as he was growing up, when his parents were working in tourism, they traveled around Africa and lived in different places, but they always had their house in Arniston as a getaway.  They would go there for the weekend and spend time there and just enjoy this little gem of a place.”
“It is also a very special place in the world for many reasons,” he continues, “Did you know that Table Mountain alone has a larger variety of plants than all of Great Britain? The Western Cape plant kingdom takes up the area of ½ a percent of the African continent but it hosts 20% of the species. All of that is mind-blowing to me. On these events, we fill the days with extracurricular activities to enjoy what’s special about the places we travel to. Our participants are really into it.”

The event logistics, of course, look very different than those of a standard boogie. For Arniston, for example, the event took advantage of a cute little dirt-strip airfield. They brought in a 206, a pilot and ground crew. There were six participants, making a ratio of 1.75 staff to each participant. Accommodation-wise, the event rented a beautiful two-level villa with sweeping sea views from almost every room, facing the sunrise every morning. A private chef cooked for the group three times a day.
When the group wasn’t jumping onto the most pristine beach of Arniston, they were marauding around the Western Cape with great big smiles on. They went surfing; out for dinner a few times; out-and-about in Cape Town. On one memorable morning, they went horseback riding together on an empty beach. After they cavorted down the beach for an hour or so, they took the saddles off the horses and swam with them. Magic.
“It is all inclusive from the moment they arrive until they leave,” Johannes notes. “All the experiences are included. Because the conditions in a situation like this are very hard to guess ahead-of-time, we don’t stipulate a certain amount of included jumps -- we say you are going to do up to 8 jumps, but it is not decided if we are going to 6, or 5, or 2, because we cannot guarantee it.”

“We also tell the participants they have to be ready to go at any time,” Johannes adds. “Because we have a very small margin to play with in terms of weather, airspace limitations and surrounding logistics. We have to be dynamic in decision making. We are constantly armed in the sense that when all of the parameters are on our side, then we are going to strike. As a jumper in that situation, you have to be ready all the time. We are super transparent with all this and explain this very well to the participants, because in a group this small, everybody’s buy-in really matters. And we get it.”
To roll with those variables, Skyfari participants can’t be fresh off the AFF boat. The event requires each jumper to have at least 500 jumps -- and, on account of the inn-hopps, at least 50 jumps on the canopy they’re flying. Due to the group’s small size, Will and Johannes are able to flex their strategy to fit.
“The last time it was quite an experienced group; this time a bit less experienced,” Johannes says. “We adjusted our plan. In general, the beaches around Arniston are quite long and wide, but they are super windy.  We can’t $&*% up because there are sharks in the water.”
These days, Will and Johannes are expanding their horizons yet again. They’re heading to the Maldives for the next one -- and launching an educational project called High School together (an extensive, professional post-jump-course education targeted to the jumper with 20-500 jumps who’s looking to find and fill skills and knowledge gaps). For these two, it’s all about going places -- in the world, in your sports and in your own personal scope -- and the thing they want most is a cadre of keen fellow adventurers along for the ride.
Take it from Skyfari participant David Beneviste, who has done two events so far:
“The group and the chemistry we had were incredible,” David says. “We were laughing all the time. And it was an adventure! The more I get to know Will and Johannes, the more I want to go travel with them. Whenever I can swing it, I will certainly do it again.”
Curious about participating in an upcoming event? Check out https://www.johannesbergfors.com/events for more details.
 

By nettenette, in General,

Crash in Oahu, Hawaii Claims 11 Lives

Featured image credit of ABC News
On Friday the 21st June 2019 tragedy struck as the worst civilian aviation accident in almost two decades saw the loss of 11 lives when a Beechcraft 65 King Air working out of Oahu Parachute Center crashed on the island of Oahu. There were no survivors of the incident, which took place on Friday evening as the day was drawing to a close.
The twin-engine aircraft went down around 18:30, on the edge of Dillingham Airfield on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Initial reports suggested that the death toll sat at 9, but this toll had risen to 11 by Monday.
Among those killed in the accident were six staff from Oahu Parachute Center, as well as once Fastrax team member Larry Lemaster, who was working as an instructor on the jump. Other names released thus far include Casey Williamson, a videographer working for the dropzone, as well as Mike Martin. Aside from those employed by the dropzone, Bryan and Ashley Weikel were also announced among those deceased. Reports state that Bryan and Ashley were celebrating their one year wedding anniversary. No other names had been released yet at the time of writing.
.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; } On Monday, investigations were continuing into what had led to the incident. This wasn't the first time the 65 King Air had been involved in an incident, the same aircraft had lost the stabilizer during the crash, though fortunately the individuals on board were able to bail out of the plane without any loss of life. It is unclear yet whether this past crash had any role to play in Friday's tragedy.
The wreckage of the crash left little hope for survivors as the plane was quick to go up in flames. Reports from the ground claim that the aircraft was in the air briefly before they saw it invert and dive forward towards the ground.
Unfortunately an already tragic event become worse when inaccurate media reports filtered through and sent the community into a frenzy, trying to verify the authenticity of said reports. One such inaccuracy was that famed cameraman Tom Sanders was amongst those in the wreck, something that has since been debunked.
Our condolences to all of those involved, and BSBD to those on board when the incident occurred. The families of the victims are in our thoughts and prayers, and we offer further extend our condolences to everyone over at Oahu Parachute Center.
For discussions on this incident, please use the following forum:

By Meso, in News,

100-Way Canopy Formation World Record Team to Receive 2019 Path of Excellence Award

The International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame is proud to honor the 100-Way Canopy Formation World Record Team with the museum Path of Excellence Award. The presentation will be made at the 2019 Hall of Fame Celebration at Skydive Perris, Perris, California, on Friday afternoon, October 18, prior to the Welcome BBQ. There will also be a tribute jump honoring the awardee.
Many groups, companies and teams have played a prominent role in the growth and development of our sport with their exceptional contribution in the form of innovation, performance and/or competitive excellence, leadership, education, safety, sponsorship and/or philanthropy, aviation, design/invention and/or manufacturing, sport promotion, and photograph/videography. The Path of Excellence Award is specifically for entities – groups, companies, organizations or teams for significant contribution(s) of enduring high value to the world of skydiving and is a prestigious award in both name and distinction. Award nominees are voted on by supporters of the museum including ambassadors, counselors, trustees, members of the Hall of Fame, and major donors. 
On November 21st, 2007 the world’s largest canopy formation was built over the Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales, a record that still stands today. The formation was so large that the Miami Air Traffic Control Center monitored the formation on radar to keep other aircraft from coming into close proximity to the formation. The formation weighed 20,388 pounds and was 290 feet tall and 175 feet wide. In comparison, a 747-400 jet is only 231 feet long and the Wright brother’s first flight was not quite one third the distance as the formation is tall. Even though the 100 way formation was built in 2007, the journey to this record started 6 years earlier.
 It all began at the end of 2001 when Chris Gay was talking to a couple of friends about the last world record of 46 skydivers back in 1994. The conversation started with questions of how difficult it is to organize such an event and ended with an agreement to organize a 50 way canopy formation the following year. Little did they know this would lead to a 5 year road to the 100 way Canopy Formation Largest Formation World Record.
The first event was in 2002 with the goal of setting a new US record. With the help of Betty Hill of the Florida Skydiving Center and Paul Fayard of Fayard Enterprises, the organizers had an outstanding place to host the event and a great fleet of aircraft to jump from. When not only 1, but 5 50-way canopy formations were built during the same day and an unofficial world record 56-way, it was realized with proper design, training and organization that the elusive triple digit 100 way canopy formation could be possible. The most difficult part would be convincing the canopy formation community that these ideas were necessary. However, following such a successful event gave the leverage and credibility that was needed to convince the community that changes were needed in technique and equipment. Even so it was an uproar when the announcement was made for standard slick jumpsuits, line sets and a given wing loading of 1.30-1.375 based on your position in the formation. It was explained for the safety of the group anyone wanting to be on the 2003 64 way world record attempts would have to sign and abide by a contract. This event was, once again, a complete success of not only multiple 64-way formations in the same day, but a 70-way formation the following day as well. After that success, the group saw the importance of correct engineering of the formation, proper techniques and standardized equipment.
During the next couple of attempts, the design and engineering of the formation was critical in order to have a stable formation upon its completion. This meant it maybe quasi stable during part of the build and would require the jumpers to learn to fly it during this phase. This was achieved by using tight jumpsuits in the center of the formation and baggy jumpsuits on the outside of the formation. Also, standard line trims and lengths were required. Lastly, learning where to place the older and slower canopies versus the newer or faster canopies. A better way to communicate the starburst breakdown to the jumpers was also needed and for this task Kirk Vanzandt volunteered. Performance Designs help in keeping their PD Lightning demo parachutes available and also assisted with quick turnaround for repairs that were critical over the years and during training and the actual events. Rusty Vest inspected and assessed each Lightning parachute at these events to place each canopy in the best place in the formation based on wear and age. The above changes along with newer training and docking techniques and standard wing loading helped build great flying 81 and 85 way canopy formation in 2005 and a 100 way canopy formation in 2007.
The 100 Way World Record utilized five aircraft, the first aircraft dropped 9 jumpers from 20,000 feet. The second dropped 27 jumpers from 18,000 feet. The third dropped 29 jumpers from 16,000 feet and the final two aircraft dropped the remaining 35 jumpers from 13,000 feet. The formation took approximately 11 minutes and 30 seconds to build and was held for 12 seconds. It was completed on the fifth attempt and captured on HD video by seven videographers from around the world. The formation consisted of jumpers from 14 countries including 56 from the United States, 7 from Australia, 7 from Germany, 6 from the Netherlands, 6 from Great Britain, 5 from Russia, 3 from Canada, 2 from Brazil, 2 from Egypt, 2 from France, 1 from Argentina, 1 from Belarus, 1 from Belgium and 1 from Finland.
Special thanks to Kirk Vanzandt, Betty Hill, Paul Fayard, Rusty Vest, and Performance Designs for their support and assistance with this journey to the 100-way. The videographers that captured the incredible images that showcased the 100 Way CF World Record to the world were Bruno Brokken, Gustavo Cabana, JC Colclasure, Norman Kent, Keith MacBeth, Pam Pangburn, and Bryan Scott.
2002 US Record 50Ways and Unofficial World Record 56Way
Organizers: Chris J. Gay, Dave Richardson, Mark Gregory
2003 World Records 64Ways and 70Way
Organizers: Chris J. Gay, Dave Richardson, Mark Gregory, Mike Lewis
2005 World Record 81Ways and 85Way
Organizers: Chris J. Gay, Brian Pangburn, Dave Richardson, Mike Lewis
2007 World Record 100Way
Organizers: Chris J. Gay, Brian Pangburn, Christophe Balisky, Mike Lewis
Since 2010, as part of the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame awareness and fund raising efforts, the museum has held an annual weekend event celebrating the sport and history of skydiving.  “The Celebration is an exciting and prestigious three day event that brings generations of skydivers together. The celebration honors the glory days of our past and showcases the marvels of today’s equipment and skydiving skill of today’s superstars and inspires younger jumpers to make their mark,” said James F. Curtis III, President/CEO of the Board of Trustees for the museum.
This year’s celebration will feature a 10-Way Speed STAR WARS competition, forums featuring Luke Aikins and Alan Eustace, a Pioneers Lunch sponsored by Strong Enterprises and much more. After a weekend of skydiving activities and non-skydiving activities that has something for everyone, the International Skydiving Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take center stage continuing the tradition of honoring legends, leaders and pioneers of our sport.  This year’s inductees are Irena Avbelj (Slovenia), Chuck Collingwood (posthumous) USA, Kate Cooper-Jensen USA, Patrick de Gayardon (posthumous) France, Alan Eustace USA, John P. Higgins USA, Andy Keech Australia, Tom Sanders USA, Deke Sonnichsen USA, and John “Lofty” Thomas (posthumous) Great Britain. More than 400 skydiving enthusiasts from around the world will be in attendance at the fundraiser which is expected to raise more than $100,000 for the museum.  For more information about the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame and the Celebration Event, visit www.skydivingmuseum.org or contact museum administrator, Nancy (Kemble) Wilhelm, at 407/900-9997 (direct line) or nkemble@skydivingmuseum.org
Photo by:  Keith MacBeth

By Meso, in General,

Shredding the (Adaptive) Gnar

Rosie Manning Breaks Down Accessibility Barriers in the Tunnel

Raise your hand if someone you know has been seriously injured on a skydive. Everybody? Right. Now -- keep your hand raised if that inspired you to invent a whole new apparatus to get your friend back into flight mode. I’m willing to bet that very, very few hands have stayed raised. One of them is Rosie Manning’s.
The first thing you should know about Rosie Manning is that her lissome form and noon-in-July demeanor might easily fool you. She’s sweet almost to a fault -- but then you start to realize that she has you direly outgunned in the brains department. This mechanical engineer can think in circles around most folks (and then take you to the tunnel and fly in circles around them -- but more on that later). If you ask her, she delicately shrugs it off as a survival instinct. 

 
“When you study engineering as a girl,” she notes, “You’re already in an uphill battle. There were 200 guys and 9 girls in my degree. From day one, I was going against the wind.”
As it turns out, Rosie thrives against the wind. She and one of the other nine girls in the program (Emily Whatton, a dynamo in her own right) joined the university’s skydiving club. At first, it was a lark, but by year two, both girls were hooked. Time flew. For the fourth and final year, the program participants were tasked with an individual project which made up the bulk of the students’ final grade -- and Rosie knew exactly what hers was going to be. It was that year -- 2016 -- that UK skydiver Ben White injured himself during a swoop. He came out of it alive, but paraplegic. Rosie figured she could use her project to help.
“I was heavily addicted to skydiving at this point,” Rosie remembers, “and I really wanted to do a project that was skydiving-related. I had an idea.” Rosie sent Ben a message: How interested would you be in letting me design something for you to help you fly in the wind tunnel again? Unsurprisingly, he was entirely up for it. Bonus: Ben himself had studied robotics at university, so the process was uniquely collaborative.
So far, so good: But there was still a baffled academia who had to buy in.
“The first time I pitched the idea of the project to my tutor,” Rosie laughs, “He said, ‘Okay, so you’re telling me you want to throw a paraplegic person out of an airplane?’ Um...no. Then I spoke to quite a few of my other teachers about it to get some advice. They all told me it wouldn’t be possible.”
“I just didn’t listen,” she grins. “I went and did it anyway.”


Rosie, with Ben’s collaboration, set about designing a brace that would support Ben’s lower body for the purpose of tunnel flying. First problem: the university only allowed for a total project budget of 100 pounds.
To solve her problem, she asked for help. Rosie went to a long list of orthopedic and prosthetic companies. Finally, she had a lucky break: she got an email back from a company in the UK called TruLife, whose Head of R&D, Shane Nickson, was a keen skydiver. He offered funding and help with manufacturing. TruLife ended up custom molding the carbon-fiber-and-titanium brace to Rosie’s design.
The second challenge: tunnel time. This wasn’t too tough, luckily, as the owner-at-the-time of the UK’s Bodyflight Bedford was a super-cool guy who was happy to donate tunnel time to the project. Score.
The third big roadblock was, again, academia. And it was a whopper.
“We struggled making the project fit the specifications the university wanted,” she explains, “because the university wants you to show your preparation; the calculations; the justifications for all the choices.” In order to meet the requirements, the team had to build an external sensor system that would measure the angle of the wearer’s legs in different orientations: belly flying; back flying; free flying. From that data, they worked out the forces that would act on the wearer’s legs in each position to determine the required strength of the brace.
“That actually took up a lot of the project,” Rosie notes. “And Ben was a huge help with that because he was a robotics guy, so he knew loads about the programming that was required.”

After they finished the project -- after Rosie had left university -- she, Ben and two other friends entered the World Challenge in the rookie category.
“There were only four teams in the category,” she remembers, “but it ended up being this huge battle with another team for third place. We just beat them, and I think the fact that our team beat another team that was completely able-bodied was probably the best day of this whole thing. We went up to collect our medals -- Ben, in his chair -- and we got the biggest cheer.”
Such a triumphant, happy moment, no? But it came at such a confusing time.
“To be honest, when I finished my degree, I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do,” Rosie remembers. “I knew that I pretty much hated the first three years of my degree but absolutely loved the final year. If knew that, if I was going to do engineering, it needed to be something I wanted to do -- something sport related -- because that’s what I love doing.”
“I knew that going into a scheme with a huge company wasn’t for me,” she continues. “It would have been a super easy thing to do. Pretty much everyone in my degree went and did that because it’s the next step in the system they’ve set up for you. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, exactly, but I know I don’t want to do that.”
So: Rosie and her friend Emily Whatton took off. The pair went traveling for a year with their partners -- also skydivers -- and the tiny amount of money the foursome had managed to save up. While on the road, Emily and her partner were offered jobs as tunnel instructors at Sirius Sport Resort in Finland. Six months later, Rosie got the call and joined them. While there, Sirius backrolled Rosie’s build of another tunnel mobility brace and started welcoming even more adaptive athletes into the bodyflight community, a fact of which Rosie is understandably proud.
“Currently, there are two separate frames --” she explains, “a smaller one and a larger one, with different-sized straps that can be fitted with either one. If you have someone tall and skinny, you can use the longer frame with the shorter straps, and vice versa. For kids, we use the small frame and the smaller straps.”
“It was quite hard to build it without really knowing what sizes of people we were going to get,” she adds, “but I was pretty pleased because the system can accommodate anyone from a tiny 8-year-old up to a fairly massive guy.”
Users report that the biggest challenge for the adaptive flyer is fitting the brace to the body, because it has to go underneath their legs while the flier is seated in their wheelchair. Once they’re assisted from the chair into the airflow, it’s pretty much a snap.

“[The brace] is at a set angle,” Rosie says, “so fliers with shorter legs have more forward drive and fliers with longer legs have more backward drive for him. That’s easy to manage; we just make sure that, when we brief them, we emphasize that they need to be really relaxed in the arms because we’re going to need to adjust the arm and hand position to counteract any drive that produces. Every [adaptive athlete] we’ve flown with so far seems to take that on board really well, and they fly beautifully.”
The photos of Rosie’s adaptive athletes really speak for themselves.
“I mean, it is fantastic,” Rosie enthuses. “I think that flying and skydiving is the greatest sense of freedom you can experience in this life. For an adaptive athlete -- someone that, maybe for their whole life, has been confined to a wheelchair -- it is a feeling that is like no other. Sharing that is super rewarding. I want to do a lot more of it.”
Rosie recently relocated to work at a wind tunnel in Canada, but she certainly hasn’t abandoned that dream. Currently, she plans on taking her design in two different directions: continual development on the first-timer model, as well as a model designed for the specific needs of adaptive sport flying.
“We got [Ben White] belly flying and back flying in the current design,” she explains, “but I want it to be able to do more. Ultimately, we want a design that makes freeflying possible. I’m thinking in baby steps -- take it to some low-speed back carving and belly carving; work up from there. I want to give anyone who wants to get involved in this sport  the opportunity to progress in it as well.”


By nettenette, in General,