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Disciplines

    Learning to Fly With Weights

    With today's fast fall rates, weights are essential for lighter weight jumpers. Small jumpsuits are not enough, especially when jumpers in the base are also wearing smaller jumpsuits. There is nothing more embarrassing than making a nice swoop to your slot only to pop three feet above everybody else when you break for the second point. Been there, done that.
    But it is not as simple as just slapping on ten pounds of weight and swooping. There is a learning curve involved. Jumpers wearing weights for the first time face the fear of going low. They have to learn how to fly with the extra ballast. They have to learn how to fly like a heavier jumper. That means they have to set up a little higher on approach. They also have to stop a little sooner then they are used to doing. Maybe for the first time, they have to fly cautiously. And some jumpers have to learn how to use different amounts of weight for different sizes of formations. It is a challenge, but one you have to face head on if you want to get invited on the good loads.
    For jumpers wearing weights for the first time, the roles can suddenly be reversed. The big boys in the base might get their chance to watch the lightweights sucking air as they go low. (I'm sure this puts a little smile on the big fellas' faces.) But don't fret. Show the big boys how quickly you can pop back up and get in. For those of you who have never had to worry about going low, here's a little primer.
    If you go low, move away from the formation and turn sideways to the formation. While keeping the formation in sight, lower your head and spread your arms and legs out as far as possible to assume a flat stance. Push down on the air as much as you can with your hands and feet. Crunch your gut muscles if you have to. Hold this position until you are far enough above the formation to make a good approach. (Forget the old 'hugging the beachball' theory. That actually lets air spill out all around you.)
    Let's say you made it in and you're fairly proud of yourself. You glided smoothly into your slot without having to fight to stay down with the formation. Of course, you had to watch your altitude. No more approaches from below the formation. The weights kept you honest.
    Now it's time to move to the next point. When you let go, you feel like you're in sequential heaven! You don't have to swim and flail to stay down with the big boys. You simply move laterally to your next position. What a treat!
    But don't get too cocky just yet. The next point is a "floaty" one. The big boys in the middle quickly build a 4-way compressed accordion and you are moving around to pod the end. "What happened?" you think as you sink two feet below your slot. Whoops! You've never had to watch your altitude this closely before. "Hee-hee!" go the big boys again as they watch you recover (again).
    But you're a good jumper and it only takes you a second to pop up and move into your slot. You tell yourself that you'll watch your altitude a little closer on the next move, and you do. The last point is a round and you feel like one of the big boys as you meet them in the center and don't have to work to stay down with them.
    "Piece of cake," you think to yourself. As you track off, you feel some of the old cockiness returning. But the cockiness starts to fade after you land and start wondering if the big boys will let you jump on the next load with them. Well, don't worry about it. You might not be ready for another big-way just yet. In fact, your next step should be to check out the weights on some smaller formations, preferably 4-ways. Remember I said that some jumpers have to use different amounts of weight for different size formations?
    So don't rush things. Check out the weights on several smaller ways. Depending on how often you make it out to the DZ, this could take several weeks, even months. Just remember that you are learning to fly all over again. You might have gotten into some bad habits by flying like a lightweight. I know I did. I had gotten used to diving down and not stopping until I was level with the formation. Then I'd make a perfectly level approach from where I had stopped. Boy! Did I ever get my wake up call the first time I tried this with weights.
    Another factor to consider is where to wear the weights on your body. From my experience, vests seem to work better for women and belts for men. It's just pure physiognomy. Women are typically lighter in the upper torso area, men in the hip area. But this isn't a hard and fast rule. Take me for instance. I wear both a vest AND a belt, but I only carry three pounds in the vest, whereas I carry six in the belt, nine pounds in all.
    What works for one person may not work for another. A couple of guys at my home DZ wear about ten pounds in a belt. All I know is that without the weights I wouldn't be jumping on the hot loads at my DZ. I wouldn't be doing hot 4-way either. I'm sure if you talked to my DZ's head organizer, he would tell you that I have made great strides in my performance since getting the weight thing figured out. It was hard work but it was darned well worth it. I know I'll be in some of the hot skydives in the year-end videos!

    By elightle, in Disciplines,

    Improving Your Sequential Skills

    I've seen a lot of skydivers who want to improve their sequential skills but don't quite know how to go about it. They jump their butts off but never seem to get any better. They learn just enough to dive down and latch onto somebody, but that's about it. Somehow, they fell through the cracks when it came to learning the basics.
    I blame some of this on experienced skydivers who don't take the time to work with up-and-coming skydivers. I blame some of it on the speed with which we whisk jumpers through our training courses. I blame some of it on the instructors for not making sure students can perform basic freefall maneuvers. And I blame some of the students, themselves, for not asking for help.
    So, for those of you who may have fallen through the cracks or want to improve your flying, here are a few simple ways to tune up your freefall skills.
    Learn to Calm Down
    You can't enjoy or concentrate on a skydive unless you are calm. There is no magic formula for achieving calmness -- it is just something you have to do on your own.
    Exercise, proper rest and diet can help, but inner calmness is something you have to find within yourself. Just try to leave your troubles behind when you come to the drop zone. Focus on enjoying your day of freedom.
    Breathe -- take slow deep breaths both in the airplane and in freefall. Stay mentally focused but relaxed, not tense.
    Learn to filter out distractions right before and during the skydive. There are a lot of distractions on a skydive (people talking in the aircraft, the sound of the engines, the wind, your fear of forgetting a point, and yes, even your fear of falling). With practice, you can learn to filter out distractions. Think about your skydive and how good it will feel once you're in the air.
    Establish a Good Fall Rate
    Before you can do anything related to sequential, you must fall at just about the same speed as the other jumpers. Before you find yourself floating on a big-way sequential dive, check your fall rate on a smaller one. Do a simple 4-way maneuver (star to open accordion and back to a star, for example). Monitor who is falling faster or slower.
    Try to find a common fall rate for your group. Heavier people, or faster fallers, should wear a jumpsuit with a little extra fabric to slow down their fall rate, and slow fallers should wear tight suits and weights.
    Finding this common ground is sometimes easier said than done, especially if you are jumping with different groups. But try to work out the fall rate first before moving on to more advanced moves.
    Start Small and Get Coached
    Practice 2-, 3- and 4-ways instead of trying to get on the big-ways right off the bat. If you're a student or just getting into formation skydiving, this is what you should be doing anyway. If you have been jumping for some time but are still having problems, you might have to swallow a little pride and go back to the basics.
    In either case, get an experienced skydiver to coach you and your group. Don't waste time floundering around by yourselves. Get your jumps on video if at all possible. Make each jump count.
    Practice! Practice! Practice!
    Try to make several jumps with the same group, and make as many jumps as you can back-to-back. Even if you can't afford to jump every weekend, lump several jumps together when you can jump. Skydiving is no different than any other sport -- you have to practice to be good.
    Give Yourself Time to Learn
    Don't expect to fly like a pro in one or two weekends. If that were possible, you wouldn't see 4- and 8-way teams making 10 jumps a day every weekend all summer long.
    Tell your friends you're taking some time away from big-ways to work on smaller formations. Don't worry, they won't make fun of you. They'll probably respect you for trying to improve your flying skills. They might even be a little envious that you're doing something they might need but are too proud to try. Better yet, some of them might join you.
    Skydive in Your Head
    When you can't practice for real, go through skydives in your head. I do this a lot, and for good reason. I live in Ohio where it's tough to jump during the winter.
    So I do a lot of mental skydiving. I go over 4-way block sequences. I design skydives, then go through them in my mind.
    After a day of real jumping, I always review the day's jumps during the drive home. It's the same thing football and basketball teams do after a game -- they review the game film. Speaking of videos, they are wonderful training tools, but they cannot substitute for instant replay in your head.
    Which brings up another point -- always get a debrief after the jump. A good coach or organizer always does this. It helps you remember the skydive better, especially the parts that need work.
    Enjoy the Skydive!
    Last but not least, enjoy the skydive from exit to landing. Feel the formation leave the plane as one coordinated unit. Ride the exit and smile as you look for the first key. Then feel yourself glide, relaxed and controlled, to the next point.
    Keep that smile and relaxed control as you go from point to point. At breakoff, contain your enthusiasm until you clear and pull. Then hoot and holler if you want. It's your skydive!

    By elightle, in Disciplines,

    Starting a FUN 4-Way Team

    Many formation skydivers cannot afford a thousand training jumps a year. Some can't jump every weekend. Some are married with children. Some are students. Some live in the cooler climates and can only jump six months out of the year. Yet they dream about jumping on a 4-way team. They try not to get their hopes up though. They figure that only single people or those born with silver spoons in their mouths can afford it.
    But that way of thinking is changing. More and more, jumpers on shoestring budgets are finding ways to compete on a recreational basis. They are starting to realize that they don't have to spend a lot of money to learn 4-way. Granted, they probably won't compete with Airspeed or the Golden Knights, but they can still challenge themselves and have a lot of fun in the process.
    So for jumpers who want to jump on a fun team, here are some suggestions for getting started:
    Do you have the time?
    Are you willing to commit the necessary time to the team? Things like work, family commitments, and other hobbies have to be taken into account. You might have money to burn, but it won't matter if you're a Boy Scout troop leader most weekends. If you have a spouse or significant other, will they agree to your being gone on weekends?
    But don't let the term "fun team" fool you. It can actually be more challenging to coordinate schedules for a fun team than for a serious team. With a serious team, members are usually committed to practicing every day of every weekend. With a fun team, however, members must determine which days on which weekends they're going to practice. It takes a little more juggling.
    Do you have the money?
    Time and money are the big commitments. Even if you can spare the time, can you spare the dime? Okay, corny rhyme but you get the point. Don't get your teammates' hopes up if you know you won't have the money. Also make sure your spouse or significant other knows how much money will be involved.
    Can you take criticism?
    Some jumpers don't like the pressure of competing but perform admirably on recreational jumps. On a team, both your RW and interpersonal skills are constantly under scrutiny. Your every move is going to be caught on video. As coach and friend, Woody (John Woode) always says: "The video doesn't lie." Jumpers who don't like to be under the microscope might want to think twice about signing up for a team.
    Find jumpers who can agree on common goals
    Once you decide you have the time, money, and tough skin, look for other jumpers who can agree on common goals for the team. Your personalities can be as different as night and day, but you can still jump together if you agree on common goals for the team. For example, if two team members want to practice full-time, buy team jumpsuits and go to the Nationals, while other members only want to practice two days a month and forget the Nationals, compromise might be difficult to reach. Teams in this situation might want to think about forming two teams, one serious and one just for fun.
    Ask around and you will find that you have more in common with other jumpers than you think. Most jumpers have jobs, families, and hectic schedules. But that's the beauty of a fun team - it lets you schedule training around everybody's life, not the opposite.
    Tip: Find a couple alternates who can fill in when regular members can't practice.
    Set team goals
    Once you find jumpers with compatible goals, schedule your first meeting. Find a setting for the meeting where everybody can relax and take as much time as they need. Agree to meet as a team at least twice a month.
    At this first meeting, agree upon basic goals for the team, such as showing up for practice on time and notifying the team if you have to miss a practice. Elect a team captain and somebody to create a team-training schedule. Ask team members to provide a calendar of their availability for the entire season, along with contact information (phone numbers and email addresses). Schedule another meeting to distribute the schedule and clear up any discrepancies.
    Determine the cost
    In one of your first meetings, map out a team budget and agree upon how each team member will pay. Let's say you want to make 100 training jumps, attend four meets, and go to the Nationals. Here is an estimate of what it might cost (per person) based on figures from the 2003 jump year in the US.


    100 Training Jumps @ $17/jump (including video)
    $1700


    4 Regional 4-Way Meets (6 jumps each @ $21/jump)
    $504


    Team Jumpsuits (optional)
    $325


    Registration for the 4 Regional Meet
    $100


    U.S. Nationals (10 jumps @17/jump)
    $170


    Registration for U.S. Nationals (per person)
    $60


    Transportation and Food
    $500


    Total
    $3359


    Competition is not for the feint-hearted, even when it comes to money. But most DZO's give teams a discount on ticket prices if the team trains at that drop zone and buys tickets in bulk. If each team member purchases just 50 tickets to start the season, the DZO collects $3400 up front (at $17 a ticket). It's money in the bank for the DZO and a commitment to the team from each jumper.
    Tip: Set a deadline for collecting money for jump tickets from team members.
    Get good coaching
    Many DZ's have an RW organizer or coach who is willing to offer advice to new teams. Normally, this kind of advice is free. Even if the coach charges a small fee, it is worth it because it will save you many jumps flailing around by yourselves. Coaching is also available at most local competitions to help teams work out exits and engineer skydives. They can also help with the mental side of skydiving such as how to conduct team meetings and how to mentally prepare for the skydive. So don't be afraid to ask for help. You're only cheating yourselves it you don't.
    Keep a team notebook
    In the pressure of training, it is easy to forget what you've learned. This is where a team notebook comes in handy. You don't have to write down everything, just a few reminders about how to do a particular move. Then when you're scrambling to dirt dive at a meet, you can refer to the notebook to refresh your memory. Make a page for each random and each block (currently, there are 16 randoms and 24 blocks in the 4-way dive pool).
    Tip: Create the notebook on a computer so you can print a copy for each team member.
    In Summary:
    There is more than one way to start a team, and the suggestions offered in this article might be old hat to experienced competitors. But for jumpers new to 4-way, they provide a good starting point.
    If you get nothing else out of this article, remember this. Team jumping is a commitment of time, energy, and money. It is a group effort. Everybody has to be dedicated, committed, and focused. They have to be able to perform under pressure. They have to be able to get along with people. And, most of all, they have to believe in what they're doing. If you are willing to do all this, then what are you waiting for? Go find yourself a team!
    © January 5, 2004 Edward E. Lightle

    By elightle, in Disciplines,

    Getting Into BASE

    For BASE jumping information, BASE jumping articles, photos, videos and discussions visit BASEjumper.com
    This article was written entirely by Tom Aiello, BASE 579. Tom has made over 500 BASE jumps in the past 30 months, from more than 100 objects. He is not an authority or expert of any kind on BASE jumping or any other type of parachuting, so all his advice should be taken with a grain of salt. Copyright 2002. Permission to reproduce and distribute in this exact form only is hereby granted.
    Virtually every time I tell someone that I'm a BASE jumper, their first question is "how could I get into that?" After answering that question dozens of times, I decided to write it all down, so that I can avoid repetition induced laryngitis.
    There are as many different ways of getting started BASE jumping as there are jumpers. But, after some soul-searching, some discussion with friends, and some internet research, I've decided that the course I wish I had followed, and the one I've tried to set people on, goes something like this.
    Check the Fit
    BASE jumping is not for everyone. Give yourself a long hard, look, and decide if BASE really fits you. It's virtually impossible to objectively evaluate yourself, so it might be helpful to have a (close and tactful) friend help you with this step.
    Does BASE jumping fit your physical abilities? BASE is not really about personal fitness (although it helps) or athleticism (which only comes into play in advanced sub-disciplines). In BASE, the important physical abilities are reaction time, coordination and balance. Evaluate yours. It may be helpful to ask some of the following questions: If you are sitting at a desk, and knock a pencil off, do you pick it up off the ground, or did you catch it in mid-air? When you spill a bottle of beer, do you have to get up and get a new one, or do you right it before you've lost most of it? How often do you trip or stumble?
    Does BASE jumping fit your mindset? The best BASE jumpers are organized to the point of anal retentive. They also have an intellectual curiosity about almost everything. Have you ever wondered how the reserve system on a skydiving rig works? How many times did you trust your life to it before you starting wondering? Are you always trying to find a pull-up cord to close, or do other people ask you for them?
    Do you make correct decisions in pressure situations? BASE jumpers need to react quickly, and correctly, in life threatening situations. Have you ever been confronted with an oncoming car in your lane? How did you react? Did you have to think about it, or did it just happen for you?
    BASE will best fit a person who is intellectually curious, has good reactions, responds quickly and correctly (without having to think during the emergency), has excellent coordination and is highly organized and detail oriented. You can definitely still be a BASE jumper who has trouble with one or two of these things, but if you are weak in most of these areas, BASE is not a good sport to take up.
    Make the Decision
    Make absolutely certain BASE is really what you want. This sport is dangerous, sometimes illegal and very addictive. It will take over your life. I would never advise someone to get into it (and I have found it to be the most rewarding experience of my life). In my short time in this sport I've seen two life flight helicopters from the outside, two more from the inside, the back of a police car, several broken bones and a funeral. I've also spent three weeks in Intensive Care and 18 hours in neurosurgery. Are you sure you really want to do this?
    There are lots of different reasons to get into BASE, and I have given up trying to decide which are the "right" ones. The important thing is that your reasons are important enough to you to outweigh the potentially enormous costs of BASE jumping. Unless you are a NASCAR driver, BASE is by far the most dangerous thing you will ever do. Statistically, you have something like a 5% chance of dying by the end of your BASE career. Worse, your chance of serious injury (think hospital time) is more like 95%. I know three BASE jumpers with more than 500 jumps who have not spent serious time (more than a day or two) in the hospital due to BASE accidents. Even they agree that it is just a matter of time until they are seriously injured. If you are not ready to die BASE jumping, you are not ready to BASE jump.
    Go to this web site: http://juliabell.home.att.net . Read the entire thing. Seriously.
    Still want to be a BASE jumper? Then read on...
    Do Your Homework
    Next you need to find out everything that you can about BASE jumping. Talk to every BASE jumper you can. Read every article you can find about BASE, rigging or weather. Get on the internet and find everything you can about BASE (there is a whole lot more than you'd think). I have included several of my favorite references at the end of this article, but there are many, many more.
    Get Your Head Straight
    Now that you've made the decision to jump, make sure that you have the right mentality. There are two important pieces of that mentality that will keep you alive in this sport.
    Never do anything that doesn't feel right to you. If you're not ready for something, don't do it. We all determine our own learning speeds, and there is no way to know in advance what you'll be comfortable with. Don't be pushed into doing things you're not ready for by overeager partners or teachers.
    Never be afraid to back down. It takes far more courage to back off the exit point than to jump. There are definitely times when it is right to back off, and knowing when to heed that little voice in your head is critical to your survival. This sport is very, very serious, and taking it lightly will hurt, maim, or kill you in short order.
    The rest of your mentality you'll develop as you go, learning from other jumpers, from experience (both positive and negative) and from the rest of your life.
    Tell Your Family
    It is the responsibility of every BASE jumper to tell their family that they are involved in BASE, that they understand the risks, and that they have chosen to take those risks.
    Sit down with your family and talk to them about BASE. This is obviously an extremely difficult proposition. Facing your family with your decision to engage in a life-threatening activity cannot be easy. However this discussion is important both for you and for the sport of BASE jumping.
    An honest, open discussion with your loved ones will make them feel more included in your decisions. They will generally be more impressed with the maturity and thought that has gone into your decision to jump. This can help avoid the arguments, tantrums, and guilt trips that might otherwise be thrown at you by family and friends who don't understand your activities.
    An explanation, by you, that you understand and accept the risks involved, will help prevent your family from attacking other members of the BASE community in the event of your injury or death. There have been far too many cases of the families of dead jumpers accusing, confronting, suing and even prosecuting other jumpers as a result of fatalities. Don't let this happen to your friends.
    Write a letter to your friends and family, to be opened in the event that you die BASE jumping. In the letter, explain why you have chosen to take up BASE, what you hope to get from BASE jumping, and why you are willing to risk death for it. Give sealed copies to (at the very least) your family and your BASE mentor. Do this to defuse any conflicts that might arise from your death.
    Make the Skydives
    First, make at least 200 skydives. You need to make these skydives in order to practice accuracy, tracking and canopy control skills. You also need to establish a general comfort level with parachutes, free fall, and split second decisions. The skydivers who are best prepared for BASE generally jump large, 7 cell, F-111 canopies, have had a number of malfunctions and responded correctly, and are comfortable with multiple skydiving disciplines. If your only focus is BASE jumping, don't succumb to the temptation to become canopy swooping freeflyer. Instead, focus on CRW and Accuracy as your skydiving disciplines.
    To practice tracking make entire skydives in max track. Don't count on the limited tracking on break off, or on the balanced tracking of a tracking jump. Make the whole dive tracking as hard as you can, with camera and coaching if possible, and work on getting the most lift, and the most drive out of your track.
    For accuracy practice, it's best to use the canopy that you intend to BASE jump with. Try to set up low (under 500 feet), to simulate the BASE environment. Don't forget to make approaches cross- and down-wind as well, since you will often have to do this while BASE jumping.
    For canopy practice, you should make some CRW jumps (on a CRW canopy) and then do some canopy drills on your intended BASE canopy. CRW is a great way to learn canopy flight characteristics in tight spaces before you get into the BASE environment (and CRW with your BASE canopy is an excellent drill-after you've learned some CRW skills).
    Be sure you've made several night jumps during your skydiving career. In many places, BASE jumps are made almost exclusively at night (to avoid arrest, incarceration, and gear confiscation), and comfort with flying and landing your canopy at night is essential to survive these jumps.
    Make some jumps on your BASE canopy to learn its performance envelope. Pay particular attention to riser input, practicing riser turns and riser flares. Make sure you practice your riser turns before popping your toggles-that's the way you'll have to do it to avoid smacking the side of a cliff one day. Obviously, you'll want to practice them after grabbing the toggles, as well.
    Find a Mentor
    While you are learning to skydive, you will doubtless meet skydivers at the drop zone. Try to find and meet the local BASE jumpers as well. Your goal should be to find someone with 200 or more BASE jumps, who you think will be a good teacher, and whom you get along with. You also have to trust them with your life (that is what you will be doing, after all).
    Get a BASE Rig
    Now, with proper canopy skills and an instructor, you need to find a BASE rig. Your best bet is to buy a new, Velcro closed, BASE specific rig from a major manufacturer, and put a real BASE canopy in it. You can also find good used gear (check the classified ads on the BASE board: www.blincmagazine.com). The key is to get actual BASE specific gear. Lots of people will try to sell you converted skydiving gear (Ravens, Cruiselites, Pegasus's, etc). Avoid this and get real BASE gear. Everyone has different preferences in gear, but the key is to find actual, purpose built, BASE gear.
    Take a First Jump Course
    So, now you have the pre-requisite skydiving skills, an appropriate rig, and you've found an instructor. Time to go jumping, right?
    Wrong. Now it's time to get to work. Before you can make your first jump, you still have to learn basic rigging and packing, dead air exits skills, and simple ethics. There are two ways to do this.
    The simplest is to cough up US$1000 or so, and take a first jump course from one of the major gear manufacturers. Since most of us don't have an extra grand to throw around, we tend to try to skip this step. I don't recommend this. It really is worth the money to get qualified, professional instruction. You wouldn't try to make your first skydive without paying for instruction, would you? Even if you had a friend who swore he "knew all about it", and could easily "take you for a jump."
    First jump courses are also available from various BASE organizations around the world, such as the Australian BASE Association (which maintains a database of qualified instructors in Australia) and the Norwegian BASE Association (which has classes available at Lysefjord in an attempt to minimize accidents at that popular site). If you have the money, though, my preference would be to take your course from an American manufacturer, as their "teaching object" (a 486' bridge over water, with a huge grassy landing area) is generally the safest for a first time jumper. There is a similar object in Southern Europe, and Robert Pecnik offers a First Jump Course there.
    Lots of people try to save some money by getting their friends to "teach" them. This is a bad idea for several reasons. First, you don't know that your friend really has the qualifications to teach. Second, you don't know that he's really motivated to do a thorough job teaching. Sure, he can get you off for that first jump, but what did he teach you about dealing with your unstable launch on jump number 12? Third, you will learn more if your First Jump Course is not taught by the same mentor who guides you through your next 20-50 jumps. Finally, these "informal" first jump courses can drag on for weeks, months, even years. If you contract with a real business, you know the exact dates of your course, and you can plan for it.
    Watch Some Video
    Now that you have an idea of what a BASE jump ought to look like, get your hands on some BASE video. The best video for this is the "Lemmings Exits" series from Bridge Day (http://www.lemmingsvideo.com/). Try to get several years of "Lemmings Exits", and whatever other BASE video you can find. Watch the video, preferably with your BASE mentor. Evaluate each jump. The more errors you can see before jumping, the more likely you are to avoid them yourself.
    Get Started
    Now you're ready to start jumping. After your First Jump Course, you should have a solid knowledge of gear, rigging and packing, some theoretical knowledge of malfunctions and solutions, and a practical set of launches to work from.
    The next step is to get home and make as many jumps (in as short a time) as possible with your BASE mentor. Ask as many questions constantly. Try to learn as much as you can. Once you feel comfortable (and so does your mentor), start branching out and jumping with other people. Ask them the same questions (they may have different answers). Watch different people pack. Watch different people jump. Always ask why things are done a certain way.
    Keep Learning
    Now that you have 20-30 jumps, and can hang with the local crew, you can consider yourself a solid beginner. There is still a lot more to learn, see and do. Never stop learning. In addition to being a good way to stay alive, it's one of the most rewarding things about the sport.
    Some Resources
    First Jump Courses:
    Consolidated Rigging

    4035 Grass Valley Highway

    Auburn, California 95602

    530 823-7969

    530 823-7971 fax

    cr@crmojo.com

    http://www.crmojo.com
    Basic Research

    236 East 3rd Street, Unit C

    Perris, California 92570

    909 940-1324

    909 940-1326 fax

    br@inland.net

    http://www.basicresearch.com
    Morpheus Technologies

    5107 Lantana Street

    Zephyrhills, Florida 33541

    813 780-8961

    813 788-7072 fax

    morpehustech@earthlink.net

    http://www.BASErig.com
    Robert Pecnik

    robert@bird-man.com
    Australian BASE Association

    Tom Begic

    Director of Safety and Operations

    tombegic@hotmail.com
    Must See Web Sites:
    http://www.basejump.org Click on the "Articles" link, and read ALL the "Must Read" articles.

    http://www.blincmagazine.com Pay special attention to the "Knowledge BASE" and "BASE Board" sections.

    http://www.crmojo.com Especially look through the "Articles" section of the "Library".
    Books:
    Understanding the Sky. Dennis Pagen. Sport Aviation Publications; ISBN: 0936310103; (February 1992): Buy this book. Read it, then keep it. You'll want to read it again when you have around 100 BASE jumps, and then again around 500 jumps. Each time, it will become more useful.

    Groundrush. Simon Jakeman. Jonathan Cape; ISBN: 0099232618; (July 1993): The first (and so far only) book ever published about BASE jumping.

    Album of Fluid Motion. Milton Van Dyke. Parabolic Press, Inc.; ISBN: 0915760037; (May 1982): The most valuable picture book I've read. You may not understand why it matters at first, but once you start jumping cliffs and buildings in wind, the basic concepts in this book become invaluable. Don't worry about the technical jargon-just look at the pictures.
    BASE Gear Manufacturer Web Sites

    http://www.crmojo.com

    http://www.basicresearch.com

    http://www.BASErig.com

    http://www.vertigobase.com
    Used BASE Gear Classifieds On Line

    http://www.basejumper.com/
    Other Informational BASE web sites of interest

    http://www.basejumper.com

    http://www.vertical-visions.com

    http://juliabell.home.att.net

    http://www.bridgeday.info

    http://www.thebasepoint.com
    And one inspirational web site:

    http://www.yosemite.org/vryos/
    © Copyright 2002 Tom Aiello. Permission to reproduce and distribute in this exact form only is hereby granted. Please address any questions, comments or corrections to the author at tbaiello@mac.com.

    By admin, in Disciplines,

    My First BASE Rig

    For BASE jumping information, BASE jumping articles, photos, videos and discussions visit BASEjumper.com
    This article was written entirely by Tom Aiello, BASE 579. Tom has made more than 500 BASE jumps in the past 3 years, from over 100 objects. He is not an authority or expert of any kind on BASE jumping or any other type of parachuting, so all his advice should be taken with a grain of salt. All opinions are those of the author only. By making any fixed object parachute jump, you are taking your life in your own hands, and accepting responsibility for any possible outcome. Copyright 2002. Permission to reproduce and distribute in this exact form only is hereby granted.
    So, the time has come to buy your first BASE rig. You've made the skydives, practiced your canopy control, and have an experienced mentor to keep you out of trouble. But what rig should you buy? If you have less than 30 jumps, here are my recommendations (more jumps than that, and you're on your own).
    The really critical thing is to buy purpose-built BASE gear. Lots of people have been BASE jumping with converted skydiving gear for a long time. It is time for this to stop. Skydiving gear is very dangerous for BASE jumping, and has caused, and continues to cause, fatalities, especially among beginners, in the BASE world. Please don't become a statistic.
    The guiding principle for selecting a first BASE rig is "Keep it Simple." If you are faced with a choice between a simpler and a more complex option, always choose the simpler one.
    In this article, I will focus on stock (non-custom) gear from major manufacturers, which is what the majority of first BASE gear purchasers must choose from. Note that I will pick and choose from various manufacturers. If you want to take advantage of the "package" prices offered by most manufacturers, you will not have this option. If you are doing this, I strongly recommend selecting your canopy first, and letting that choice determine your package. In the end, it is the canopy that will make or break your system. The container is, in the words of one BASE jumper, "just the garage you park your Ferrari in."
    Canopy
    Not Optional: Tailgate
    It is absolutely mandatory that any BASE canopy deployed with the slider removed or tied down use a tailgate. The tailgate is reefing device developed by Basic Research to promote nose first inflation, and reduce the incidence of line over malfunctions. Under no circumstances should a beginner jump a canopy without a tailgate.
    Option: Secondary Inlets
    Several BASE canopies (FOX Vtec, Flick Vtec, Blackjack, Troll) are now available with secondary (bottom skin) inlets. These additional inlets provide faster inflation, give rear riser response earlier in the inflation sequence, and can help keep the canopy inflated in some emergency situations (such as an object strike pinching off the nose). They slightly increase pack volume, especially on the canopies (Troll, Blackjack) where they are covered with one way valves to retain the canopies original flight characteristics. They may also create some poorly understood, but relatively undesirable phenomenon, such as opening backsurge in deep brakes. There is no real consensus in the BASE world on the suitability of secondary inlets for beginners.
    I believe that beginners should avoid canopies with bottom skin inlets. There are several reasons for this. First, no beginner should jump a system that has poorly understood effects of any kind. Second, a beginner should not be jumping objects in which the advantages of secondary inlets are critical (for example, opening very near to an object). Third, secondary inlets add expense to the canopy (especially the one-way valve systems, which are generally superior to the open vents). My recommendation is to avoid bottom skin inlets until you know enough to want them for your particular (advanced) jumping style.
    Option: Multi Bridle Attachment
    The multiple bridle attachment is available on FOX canopies from Basic Research. Essentially, the multi replaces the standard, single bridle attachment point with a line cascading to four separate attachment points (one in the standard location, one near the rear of the center cell, and one each on cells three and five). The objective is to reduce center cell stripping (the center cell pulling out of the free packed canopy on deployment), and thereby improve opening heading and consistency. While the theory is sound, I am not convinced of the practical benefits, especially at subterminal airspeeds. Given that, I would not recommend the system for a beginner, as it adds both complexity and price (US$150) to the parachute system.
    Option: ZP/Composite Topskin
    Most BASE manufacturers offer topskins made either wholly or partly of zero porosity material. There are several advantages to this configuration, including better flight performance, stronger flare, and faster openings. Unfortunately, there is one big disadvantage-packing. When you are learning to pack for BASE, there are enough difficulties and distractions without throwing in another one. I'd recommend that a beginner get an all F-111 canopy, for simplicity and ease of packing, which translates into better opening heading.
    Recommendation: Ace, all F-111, Consolidated Rigging
    My favorite all around BASE canopy is the Ace, from Consolidated Rigging. The Ace airfoil (which is identical to the Blackjack) has tremendous control range, giving both very high and very low speeds. It flares quite well, although you may have to adjust toggle settings for your personal arm length and preference. It also opens (the real issue in BASE canopies) faster, cleaner, and more consistently than any other unvented canopy on the market. In my opinion, the best canopy for a beginning BASE jumper is a standard, all F-111 Ace.

    Avoid: Any Skydiving Canopy, Unvented Troll
    Do not jump any skydiving canopy (PD 7 Cell, Raven, PD Reserve, etc) in the BASE environment. This is an archaic practice that should be stopped. With real, purpose built BASE canopies available, there is virtually no reason to ever leave a fixed object with a skydiving canopy on your back (and the few reasons that do exist-salt water landings, gear confiscation-are pretty much inapplicable to a beginner). Don't kill yourself trying to save a few dollars. Buy real BASE gear.
    I personally have had very bad openings on my Troll (Atair Aerodynamics). My openings have been wildly inconsistent, and included unacceptable snivels, end cell closures, and asymmetric inflation (leading to off-heading openings). As a relatively experienced jumper, using every technique I can think of, including those recommended by the manufacturer, I have been unable to achieve consistently good openings in my jumps (just under 100) on this canopy. Although the Troll's flight characteristics are fantastic, the openings make this canopy unacceptable for a beginner.
    Container
    Velcro or Pin?
    The first thing you have to decide is if you want a Velcro or pin closed container. For a first container, get Velcro. Velcro rigs are simpler, cleaner, and easier to pack and use. Pin rigs are advanced gear, because you must have your pack job dialed in to achieve the correct pin tension, because many acquire adjustment for various altitudes, and because it's harder to close a pin rig without disrupting your pack job. The only case in which you should consider a pin rig for your first rig is if you are an experienced wingsuit pilot determined to jump right into wingsuit BASE. Velcro rigs are unsuitable (and very dangerous) for wingsuit flights. However, Velcro rigs are well proven for delays from 0-15 seconds, so any non-wingsuit jumper should definitely start with a Velcro closed BASE rig, regardless of their intended objects and delays.
    Option: Alpine
    Basic Research offers a built in climbing harness as an option on their BASE rigs. I have owned a rig with this option for some time, and have found that I rarely use it. For the extra cost and complexity (the extra buckles have some small potential to confuse the uninitiated), I'd definitely skip this option.
    Option: Saddle Bags
    Saddle bags are built in "pockets" sewn onto the leg straps of the rig's harness. These can be handy for stashing bits of rescue, first aid, or climbing gear, or just as a place to put your camera after shooting exit shots of your friends. I also have this option on one of my rigs, and while I do use it, I haven't found it indispensable enough to recommend it. For a first rig, avoid the saddle bags.
    Option: B-12's
    B-12's are the snap closures on old-style skydiving leg straps. They can be extremely useful on some relatively advanced jumps (those where room to gear up is limited). However, the use of B-12's with a hand held pilot chute (which is the proper beginner deployment technique) has caused at least one BASE fatality. If you do use B-12's on your BASE rig, be sure that you always snap your leg straps before removing your pilot chute from the bottom of container (BOC) pouch. In the interests of simplicity, this is another option I'd leave off a first BASE rig.
    Option: Stainless Steel Hardware
    Following the popularity of stainless hardware in the skydiving world, most BASE gear manufacturers now offer rigs with stainless hardware, both in the harness geometry and the three ring system. Unless you know that you will be making a large number of water landings, there is very little reason to add the expense of stainless hardware to your rig.
    Option: Sorcerer
    The Sorcerer is a two parachute BASE container manufactured by Vertigo BASE outfitters of Moab, Utah. Although some skydivers will like the extra confidence of a second canopy, the truth is that the Sorcerer is really an advanced trick rig. Advancing technology has made BASE gear so reliable (statistically more reliable than skydiving reserves), that adding a second canopy really gives very little additional insurance. In addition, the two canopy system is a poor choice for beginners because (a) it makes them less likely to pay the proper level of attention (meticulous) to their pack job, (b) it may make them overconfident, even in situations where the Sorcerer's second canopy (which deploys admirably quickly, in less than 150' under ideal conditions) will have insufficient altitude to inflate, (c) the system is more complex, and a beginner should use the simplest system possible, (d) it is cumbersome to carry around a second canopy you never use, and (e) The extra bulk of large canopies tends to make most Sorcerer jumpers use canopies that are significantly undersized for BASE landing areas, which could be a very costly and injurious problem for a beginner. Note that some skydivers may feel that having a "reserve" is worth the cost. However, the second canopy on a Sorcerer is no more a "reserve" than the first. Any BASE system, properly assembled, maintained, and packed, will open more reliably and consistently than any skydiving reserve system. Jumping a Sorcerer isn't like having a reserve-it's like having two reserves. Save the Sorcerer for advanced trick jumps (like BASE fun-aways), when you are more experienced. For now, stick with a standard BASE system.
    Option: Para-pack
    The Para-pack is specialized BASE rig that allows you to stow gear (camping gear for long approaches, for example) between the back pad and the pack tray. The rig is remarkably clean, and maintains tension over the pack tray quite well. However, unless you have a specific need for this type of expedition jumping, there is no need to spend the extra money (it's something like US$500) and deal with the extra complexity of the system.
    Option: Hook Knife
    Originally, a hook knife was considered mandatory equipment for BASE. However, as gear technology advanced, and it became clear that the incidence of slider up line over malfunctions was extremely low, hook knives started to be left off of BASE rigs. However, there have been at least three documented cases of slider up line overs in the past two years, and one of them required the use of a hook knife to clear. Even if this happens on only one in 1000 jumps, it is worth carrying a hook knife for the other 999. Since the cost of a hook knife is quite low, and there is no inconvenience in carrying one, you should purchase a hook knife with your first BASE rig.
    Recommendation: Vision, Gravity Sports Limited
    My personal favorite Velcro rig is the Vision, from Gravity Sports Limited. The Vision was designed, built, re-designed, and re-built by Dennis McGlynn while he was jumping very aggressively. Everything about this rig screams "ease of use." It is incredibly simple, it is very comfortable, and it absolutely minimizes distortion of your pack job, both on the way into, and on the way out of, the pack tray.
    Secondary Recommendation (Pin): Gargoyle, Morpheus Technologies
    If, and only if, you are an experienced wingsuit pilot intending to take your wingsuit to the cliffs as soon as possible, you should skip a Velcro rig (very dangerous for wingsuit jumps due to the potential for a premature deployment) and go straight to a pin rig. It would be far better to buy a Velcro rig and become an expert BASE jumper before launching your wingsuit. However, if you are dead set on moving straight to wingsuit flights (which I do not recommend), you will need a pin rig. My favorite pin rig is the Gargoyle, by Morpheus Technologies. If you are jumping a wingsuit, you will definitely want the dynamic (open) corners option. The Gargoyle has superb pin protection (better than any other two pin rig), does an excellent job of maintaining pack symmetry both into and out of the pack tray (it is probably the best of the pin rigs in this critical area), and can be closed exactly the same at any altitude (reducing complexities that could be troublesome early in your BASE career).
    Avoid: "Home Made"Rigs
    Many jumpers (including myself) begin their BASE careers using "home-" or "rigger-made" BASE gear. Unfortunately, many of the minor manufacturers who produce these rigs are so far out of the main stream that they make rigs with design flaws (minor or major) that have long since been worked through and eliminated from the rigs built by major manufacturers. Avoid purchasing a rig from a friend, or your DZ rigger, and instead purchase your gear from a major manufacturer. In general, if you cannot buy a real, purpose built, BASE canopy (Ace, Blackjack, Mojo, FOX, Flick, Dagger or Troll) with your rig, from the same shop, you should look to purchase the container elsewhere.
    Avoid: Unstiffened Side Velcro
    Some older Velcro rigs have unstiffened side flap Velcro. Examples include early Odysseys and Reactor 3's. Unstiffened side flap Velcro can shrivel with the shrivel flap during a head down deployment, and should be retrofitted with a stiffener to prevent a pilot chute in tow malfunction. All major manufacturers have rectified this design flaw, and will retrofit older rigs to eliminate the problem.
    Pilot Chutes
    Eventually, every BASE jumper accumulates a large collection of pilot chutes for various delays. As a beginner, you will need to acquire at least three. To paraphrase my BASE mentor, you will need one PC each for terminal jumps, really low jumps, and everything else. In general, that means one 32-36" PC (terminal), one 46-50" ZP PC (low) and one 42" ZP PC (everything else). Unless you live in Norway or Australia, you will quickly find that the 42" ZP is your workhorse PC, and that you leave it on your rig for everything from 2-6 second delays. Later on, you will want to fine tune your PC's for your delays. For example, one manufacturer recommends a set of four PC's (32", 38", 42", and 46") to cover all possible delays. When you are starting, though, you can save money (and simplify your systems) by going with just three-little for terminal, big for go and throws, and 42" for everything else. Just about everyone uses ZP material exclusively for BASE PC's. In some cases, F-111 can have advantages over ZP, but all your subterminal PC's ought to be ZP in the beginning.
    Option: Bridle Attachment Point
    There are several different configurations possible for bridle attachment on a pilot chute. The standard configuration used by virtually every BASE gear manufacturer (CR, BR, Morpheus) allows the jumper to asymmetrically attach the PC to the bridle. The older style of attachment (Paratech Rigging) is far superior, as it makes an asymmetric attachment (which greatly contributes to orbiting, and hence degrades heading performance on opening) virtually impossible. If at all possible, order your PC's with the older "loop" style attachment point.
    Option: Apex Vents
    Some manufacturers are now offering pilot chutes with mesh vents at the apex. The purpose of these vents is to dampen the oscillation inherent in a pulled down apex round (like a pilot chute), as well as reducing the orbiting that often results from a vigorous PC toss. This is one of the few options that I would strongly recommend for any jumper, even a beginner. The vents really don't create any added complexity packing, and really do help improve opening heading (which suffers dramatically from oscillating and orbiting pilot chutes). Vented pilot chutes are not recommended for low freefalls with very short (less than one second) delays, as they do inflate slightly slower than unvented PC's.
    Recommendation: Apex Vented 42", Consolidated Rigging
    My favorite 42" PC is the A-V pilot chute from Consolidated Rigging. The CR A-V series, in addition to the apex vent, has a slightly oversized topskin, which contributes to stability.
    Recommendation: 36" F-111, Basic Research
    For terminal delays (without a wingsuit-wingsuit PC's should be slightly larger), the standard BASE PC is either a 32" ZP, or a 36" F-111 PC. For a beginner, I would recommend a 36" F-111 PC, as F-111 PC's appear to be more stable than ZP (even vented) PC's, and the advantages of ZP (faster inflation) should not matter to a beginner at terminal (no beginner should pull low enough that the PC inflation time difference becomes important).
    Recommendation: 48" ZP, Basic Research
    For low, hand held deployments, I prefer the Basic Research 48" ZP PC. BR does not put a handle of any kind on their 48", which is mandatory for hand held deployment. Further, they do not put any kind of cap or vent on the PC, either of which could slow inflation, and cost critical feet at low altitudes.
    Avoid: The Hook, Gravity Sports Limited
    Gravity Sports pilot chutes have the load tapes applied on the block, rather than the bias of the ZP material. This allows the pilot chute to stretch and deform, both over time with wear, and instantaneously during each deployment. This can result in asymmetries and oscillation, both of which can degrade opening heading.
    Risers
    Although almost all BASE specific risers meet certain criteria (type VIII, LRT style toggles, etc), and you should be fine sticking with whatever riser and toggle system comes standard with your first rig, it is slightly better to purchase toggles and risers separately, to allow a wider choice in available options. If cost is a primary consideration, just go with the standard setup. But if you have a bit more money to spend, consider ordering exactly the riser setup you want.
    Not an Option: Mini-Risers (Type 17)
    Occasionally, skydivers (and one German BASE manufacturer) will attempt to use mini-risers on a BASE rig. This is totally unacceptable. Mini risers have failed in actual use, and if that were to happen on a BASE jump (more likely than on a skydive, as BASE openings are harder), you would be lucky to survive. Under no circumstances should a beginner (or any other BASE jumper) use equipment with mini-risers.
    Option: Pin v. Cloth Toggle Stubs
    BASE toggles are available with either standard (stiffened cloth) or metal pin toggle stubs. The standard stubs are generally preferred. Although the metal pins have virtually no chance of toggle hang-up, the incidence of hang-ups on the cloth stubs (with the thick Dacron lines used for BASE canopies) is near zero. Also, the metal pins tend to wear the brake settings more quickly, and are slightly more likely to prematurely release ("blow" a toggle) during the opening sequence.
    Option: Mini Rings (RW8)
    Most BASE gear manufacturers offer mini three rings, either as an option, or standard equipment. Since the manufacturing tolerances for these rings are tighter, and there is no disadvantage in using standard large (RW1) rings, avoid mini-rings on your first BASE rig. If possible, you might wish to use large tandem strength (RW10) rings, which are available from some manufacturers.
    Option: Big Grab Toggles
    Several manufacturers now offer stiffened toggles. These go by a variety of names, including "Big Grab" and "EZ Grab". Although the best way to avoid object strike is to correct heading on risers, there are some situations in which a BASE jumper wishes to release the toggles immediately, with no hesitation and no fumbling. Stiffened toggles are designed to make this much easier, and generally work in that regard. They do make packing marginally more difficult, and for that reason, should be avoided by a beginner. However, like line release toggles, this is a piece of equipment you should consider adding quite early in your BASE career. If cost is a major issue (you don't want to spend the extra money on a second set of toggles), it is possible, but not recommended to start with big grab toggles.
    Option: Integrity Three Rings
    BASE risers are now available in both standard three ring and reversed (integrity) configurations. Most BASE jumpers consider the reversed (integrity) three ring to be standard equipment for BASE. Integrity risers are marginally stronger than standard risers, but are also a bit more difficult to manufacture properly. Since a standard type VIII riser has never failed in actual use, either riser set up should be fine for a beginner. The standard set-up (with a grommet through the riser) is probably more familiar to a beginner, and is definitely more field tested (there have been two reported incidences of unintentional riser release on BASE jumps-although the cause is undetermined in both instances, both releases occurred on integrity style risers). On balance, the standard three rings are probably a slightly better option for a beginner.
    Option: Line Release Toggles
    Several BASE manufacturers now offer toggles that can release the control line, allowing a jumper to clear a line over malfunction without resorting to a hook knife. These line release toggles are the best currently available line over clearance technology. However, the extremely low occurrence of line over malfunctions in the BASE environment, combined with the added complexity of the line release toggles, indicate that beginners should avoid their use. Although they may become standard equipment for BASE, they are not yet sufficiently proven to recommend their use to a beginner. As an aside, in the event that you do choose to purchase line release toggles with your system, I would strongly recommend a toggle with a one handed operation (such as Vertigo BASE Outfitters' WLO [What Line Over?]), rather than a toggle with a two handed operation (such as the Gravity Sports Supertoggle. All things considered, though, a beginner should avoid adding this extra complexity to their system until they are comfortable with their basic equipment.
    Recommendation: Standard Three Rings, Standard Toggle, Morpheus Technologies
    My favorite standard riser is the one manufactured by Morpheus Technologies. Essentially the same as the risers made by BR or CR, Morpheus' standard riser is a non-integrity three ring, with the LRT toggle system, and RW10 (tandem) three rings.
    Stash Bag
    Option: Waist Band
    Some manufacturers (Vertigo BASE Outfitters, Gravity Sports Ltd) offer stash bags with waist bands, either permanent or removable. For technically difficult approaches, or just for longish hikes, these waist bands are an absolute life saver. Since they are generally removable, and add negligible bulk, they are highly recommended for all jumpers.
    Option: Waterproof Material
    Some manufacturers offer stash bags made of waterproof material. Whether you decide to use one will depend on your jumping environment. If you live somewhere that it rains often, you will find the water protection well worth the investment. However, if you live in a dry area, or frequently need to wad up and pocket your bag quickly, you may find that the extra bulk of the waterproof fabric makes it more trouble (and cost) than it is worth. I know that my waterproof stash bag (Gravity Sports, Ltd) more than paid for itself the first time I had to swim across a creek to reach the trail and hike back to the car (my rig stayed completely dry on my back).
    Option: Cliff Pack
    You may want to consider adding a heavier cliff pack to your gear collection. A cliff pack is a backpack, sized to fit your rig, protective gear and a bit more, with a decent suspension for hiking, and which can be collapsed into a waist pack for jumping. Although most modern jumps do not require this gear, there are certain areas with long hikes (Norway comes immediately to mind) where a cliff pack will significantly improve your hiking experience. Although you probably won't need one initially, if you are planning a trip to a site with long hiking approaches, definitely consider purchasing a cliff pack.
    Recommendation: Heavy Duty Stash bag, Gravity Sports Limited
    My favorite stash bag is Gravity Sports' heavy duty stash bag. This bag is burly, will take tons of abuse, has no plastic buckles (which can break at inopportune moments), and compresses moderately well. If you have a chance to pick one of these bags up, grab it.
    Avoid: Stash bag, Paratech Rigging
    I had very bad luck with my Paratech stash bag. The fabric was too light, and the bag survived very few jumps. In addition, the cord lock that closed the bag kept sliding open, so I had to stop every few hundred yards to verify that my gear was still in the bag.
    NOTE:
    My recommendations have evolved considerably during the course of this writing. Although the basic equipment I recommend for a beginner (Ace in a Vision) is the same, my views have changed as to several options (Big Grab Toggles, WLO toggles, Integrity Risers) for this writing.
    Resources

    BASE Gear Manufacturers
    Consolidated Rigging

    4035 Grass Valley Highway

    Auburn, California 95602

    530 823-7969

    530 823-7971 fax

    cr@crmojo.com

    http://www.crmojo.com
    Basic Research

    236 East 3rd Street, Unit C

    Perris, California 92570

    909 940-1324

    909 940-1326 fax

    br@inland.net

    http://www.basicresearch.com
    Morpheus Technologies

    5107 Lantana Street

    Zephyrhills, Florida 33541

    813 780-8961

    813 788-7072 fax

    morpehustech@earthlink.net

    http://www.BASErigs.com
    Vertigo BASE Outfitters

    P.O. Box 1304

    Moab, Utah 84532

    435 259-1085

    adrenaline@vertigobase.com

    http://www.vertigobase.com
    Gravity Sports Limited

    10472 Iris Road

    Truckee, CA 96161

    530 582-4747

    530 582-4345 fax

    gsltd@jps.net

    http://www.gravitysportsltd.com/dennis/
    Leading Edge BASE

    1425 Century, Suite 100

    Carollton, Texas 75006

    972 245-5300

    972 245-0598 fax

    info@leadingedgebase.com

    http://www.leadingedgebase.com
    Paratech Rigging

    6416 Cardinal Road

    Vernon, British Columbia

    Canada V1H 1W3

    250 260-8053

    paratech@paratechrigging.com
    Used BASE Gear Classifieds On Line

    http://www.blincmagazine.com/cgi-bin/forum/dcboard.cgi?az=list&forum;=classified&conf;=blinc

    http://www.dropzone.com/cgi-bin/classifieds/page.cgi?g=BASE_Gear%2Findex.html&d;=1
    BASE Gear Reviews

    http://www.blincmagazine.com/reviews/Gear/
    © Copyright 2002 Tom Aiello. Permission to reproduce and distribute in this exact form only is hereby granted. Please address any questions, comments or corrections to the author at tbaiello@mac.com.

    By admin, in Disciplines,

    BASE jumping injuries and treatment in the field

    For BASE jumping information, BASE jumping articles, photos, videos and discussions visit BASEjumper.com
    You just landed after throwing a double gainer from a cliff in Moab. Adrenaline surges through your system as you think of the amazing visuals you just saw. As you gather up your canopy, you pause to watch the next jumper exit. After a short delay, he tosses his pilot chute and the canopy deploys offheading. He takes evasive measures but the strikes the wall repeatedly. After finally getting the canopy turned away from the cliff, he lands hard on the talus and tumbles to a stop thirty feet below and doesn't move… Now the real adrenaline kicks in. What do you do?
    Download this Article
    Introduction
    The scenario above is a severe one, but all too possible. In the hazardous environment we know as BASE jumping, we often place ourselves in situations which may result in our injury or death. Due to the inherent risk involved with this activity, every time we jump there is a possibility that something will go wrong. Fortunately, the most common BASE injuries are relatively minor and having a basic knowledge of first aid can help dramatically. With immediate care you can reduce the lasting effects of many injuries, and the time it takes to recover. Another goal is to improve the comfort level of the injured. The scene of an accident is not the place to be thinking about learning lifesaving skills. Preparing yourself ahead of time will make you a more confident jumper and knowing your partners have the same skills will go a long way if you yourself happen to be the one needing help. For the purposes of this paper, I have tried to explain thing in layman's terms wherever possible and assume that you have taken a basic CPR course. (Call the American Red Cross or go to www.redcross.org.)
    Assessment
    This is where you size up the situation and the extent of the jumpers injuries. This is a process you will use for serious injuries. Your basic assessment should take about one minute. Not slow enough to waste valuable time, but not so fast that you miss important signs. Your minute will be divided into two phases: the Primary survey or ABC' s (15 seconds), and the Secondary survey (45 seconds).
    Primary: Establishing the severity of the situation.
    Make the scene as safe as possible. Move anything that may be a risk to you or the injured and get hysterical people out of the area. Send someone for help.
    Airway. Make the jumper has an airway. If they can talk to you, they have an airway. If not, check yourself. Use the head tilt/chin lift or a jaw thrust. (These techniques can be learned in a basic CPR course.)
    Breathing. Are they breathing? Put your ear to their mouth/nose area and look for the chest to rise and fall. If no breathing, revert to your CPR training.
    Circulation. Do they have a pulse? If not, start CPR. Is there profuse bleeding?
    Deformity. Are there obvious injuries?
    Expose. Weather conditions permitting, remove the clothes of the jumper (cut preferably) and cover with blankets as needed. Hypothermia is a possibility now and you need to be aware that the jumper may go into shock. Secondary:
    Eyes, ears, nose, and mouth:

    Eyes; in sunlight, cover the eyes then uncover them and see if the pupils react. At night use a light to check.
    Ears; is there any fluid coming out? Don't try to stop drainage.
    Nose; any bleeding?
    Mouth; look for blood or broken teeth. Teeth can be a choking hazard so remove loose, broken pieces.

    Neck: Can you see any obvious deformities?
    Chest: Can you see any section of the chest that moves opposite the rest when the patient breathes? (Broken ribs) Is there any tenderness?
    Abdomen: Is there any tenderness or does the abdomen seem more rigid than normal? (Internal bleeding) Are they trying to keep you from touching them?
    Pelvis: Any tenderness? Can you feel bones rubbing or grinding? Someone with a broken pelvis will sometimes feel like they're, "falling apart."
    Arms: Do you see any obvious fractures? Can you feel any bones grinding? Can you feel a pulse in the wrist? Check circulation by pressing on the fingernails and seeing how fast they get red underneath. Try this on yourself for a comparison. Can they feel you touching their hands? Can they move their arms? Have them squeeze both of your hands at the same time and feel if one side is weak.
    Legs: Do you see any obvious fractures? Can you feel bones grinding? Can you feel a pulse behind the ankle? (Check behind the big ball on the inside of the ankle.) Check the nail beds. Can they feel your touch? Can they wiggle their toes? By now, you should have an overall impression of how severe the jumpers' injuries might be. Now you can plan the best course of action for the rescue efforts. Redo this assessment every 3-5 minutes until EMS personnel take over. Be sure to report these findings to EMS personnel as it will provide useful information to them.
    For a quick set of field vital signs:
    Check the pulse and count beats per minute.
    Approximate blood pressure can be obtained without a stethoscope or BP cuff.
    A cool trick: If you can feel a wrist pulse, the systolic pressure is about 80. If
    you can feel a pulse on the inside of the arm where the bicep and tricep meet,
    it's about 70. If you can only feel it in the neck, it's about 60.
    Check breaths per minute. This may not mean much to you but if you can provide EMS workers with a sheet of vital signs detailing every five minutes in the past half hour, it can increase your friends' odds of surviving. This is because it shows the "trend" of vital signs and can give valuable clues about the condition of the jumper.
    Shock
    Shock can have several different causes but the likely causes in our situations would be trauma to the nervous system, or loss of blood. Shock occurs when tissues and vital organs are not getting enough oxygen from the bloodstream.
    Symptoms of shock include:
    Pale, cool, clammy skin
    Restlessness
    Nausea/vomiting
    Rapid breathing
    Drop in blood pressure The first step in treating shock is to stop blood loss. Then, cover the jumper with a blanket. As long as injuries don't prevent you from doing so, elevate the feet about 8-10 inches over the heart. They may get thirsty but try not to give anything to eat or drink. If there may be a long delay until help arrives, you can give small amounts of water at room temperature. Even if a jumper doesn't display symptoms of shock, treat for shock anyway. They might not be in shock yet.
    Bleeding
    There are three types of bleeding: capillary, veinous, and arterial. Capillary bleeding is the oozing blood you see when you skin your knee. It is minor and not life threatening. Veinous bleeding is blood from a vein. It is dark red and flows out of the wound. Arterial bleeding is pretty obvious since there will usually be an arc of bright red blood spurting out of the body. Arteries carry lots of blood and arterial blood loss can be immediately life threatening.
    Stop the bleeding:
    Apply pressure directly over the wound. If you have a clean dressing,
    use it. If you don't have something sterile, use what you have. A shirt or towel will work. If the wound gets dirty, we can treat it with antibiotics later.
    If direct pressure fails to stop the bleeding, combine direct pressure
    with elevating the wound over the heart.
    If the bleeding still hasn't stopped, apply direct pressure to a pressure
    point. There are eleven pressure points on each side of the body.






    If all else has failed, use a tourniquet. The decision to use a tourniquet
    is a serious one. This will completely stop the blood supply to the extremity involved and may result in that limb being amputated. Use it in a life or death situation. To apply a tourniquet:
    Wrap a band around the limb. Preferably, use something flat and at least one finger wide. A strap from a stashbag will work.
    Tie it in a knot around the limb.
    Lay a stick or similar object directly on the knot and tie another knot over it.
    Twist the stick to tighten the band. Twist it until the bleeding stops.
    Tie the stick in position.
    Record what time you applied the tourniquet and once it's on, DO NOT remove it.
    Femur Fractures
    The femur is the long bone between your hip and knee. Alongside your femur, lies the femoral artery. The femoral is one of the largest arteries in your body and cutting it can result in bleeding to death very rapidly. For this reason, proper attention to femur fractures is extremely important. Fortunately, the femur is a serious chunk of bone so it takes a lot of force to fracture it.
    If you suspect that the jumper has a femur fracture, you must not let them attempt to walk on it!
    After the thigh is injured, the muscles will spasm. If the femur isn't there to support the muscle, the sharp bone ends can cut muscle tissue, nerves, and the femoral artery. The way to prevent this is to apply traction in the long axis of the bone. The easiest method of applying traction is to use a traction splint. (The Kendrick traction splint™ is a very BASE friendly item to have. It costs about $100 and folds into a pouch that will fit inside a hip pouch or cargo pocket. If you were sitting there with a femur fracture I could offer you one for a couple thousand dollars and you'd accept.)
    To apply traction, pull straight on the ankle. Imagine trying to stretch the leg and make it longer. You will need to keep constant traction until an actual traction splint is available. It is very important that you never let up the tension or else serious damage may result. If the shoe comes off, the resulting rebound will be excruciating and bad things will happen. For this reason, remove the shoe on the broken leg. The jumper won't be walking anyway.





    Splinting
    Splinting is not really a science. When a bone breaks, the ends are usually very sharp. When these sharp edges move around, you can damage muscle tissue, nerves, and blood vessels. In order to prevent this, you splint the affected bone to immobilize it. Sometimes, you use whatever is available.
    There are two classifications of fractures, closed fractures and open fractures. Closed fractures include any fracture where the bone does not break the skin. In such instances, proper treatment includes immobilizing the fracture and seeking medical attention. Open fractures occur when a bone breaks through the skin.
    Signs of a fracture include:
    A bone end sticking out of the body,
    A grinding feeling at the site of the suspected fracture,
    Deformity of the limb,
    Loss of ability to move the limb,
    Loss of pulse or sensation,
    Muscle spasms. Your first step in treating a possible fracture is to stop and take a deep breath.
    Few fractures are life threatening unless they are mishandled. If there's no apparent life threatening injury, the best approach is a slow methodical one.
    Cut away clothing from the area and control any bleeding. If you find an open fracture, treat it like any other wound.
    Generally, you don't want to attempt to straighten out a broken limb. Don't try to realign the bones yourself. There are exceptions to this. If the limb has no pulse or is losing color, you may need to reduce the angle of the fracture to restore circulation. If you need to transport the jumper over rough terrain, a limb sticking out to the side will make things difficult. In these situations, not splinting would be more dangerous. IF YOU DECIDE TO ADJUST A FRACTURE, keep in mind that the sharp end can do major damage to the surrounding tissues so limit movement as much as possible. Also, have someone hold the jumpers arms so you don't catch a right hook.
    The goal in splinting is to immobilize the bone that is broken. You should try to immobilize the joint above and below the fracture.
    Find something to use as a splint. Most sites where we jump are in wooded areas so there is usually a variety of sticks and branches to choose from. If possible, pad the splinting materials with a towel or shirt to take up the space between the limb and the splint. This will also improve the comfort of the jumper. Use your imagination and you can usually come up with a splint for most fractures.
    Forearms can be fractured when you try to catch yourself during a less-than-graceful landing. Fractured forearms should be splinted with a natural curl of the fingers. Place a roll of gauze, or something similar in the palm of the hand. This will go a long way to improve comfort.
    If you suspect fractured ribs, you can pad the chest and gently wrap it. Placing the arm on the affected side into a sling helps. Try so calm the jumper and have them sit down until help arrives. Limit movement since a fractured rib can puncture a lung.
    If you suspect a skull fracture, DO NOT place pressure on the head. Monitor level of consciousness and do not give morphine!
    Joint injuries
    Damaging joints is a constant threat to BASE jumpers. Ankles are the most frequently injured joints skydiving, BASE jumping, and most sports. There's a saying that goes, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." This applies to us because it is pretty easy to reduce the number of ankle injuries. Wearing an ankle brace is an easy and effective measure to prevent hurting your ankles in a sketchy landing. They're available at any sporting goods store. A simple low-grade sprain can keep you grounded for a weekend. A serious sprain can keep you from jumping for a year or longer.
    If you break a bone, it will usually heal stronger than it was before you fractured it. Ligaments, tendons, and other soft tissues may never completely recover from injuries. Ask anyone who's been jumping for a few years.
    If a jumper injures a joint in the field to the point that it will not bear bodyweight, you should treat it as a fracture until an x-ray can prove otherwise. Splint it and proceed to the nearest hospital for evaluation.
    All Sprains can be treated with the acronym, R.I.C.E.
    Rest: stay off the affected joint and give it time to heal.
    Ice: apply ice, cold packs or frozen vegetables to the joint. Peas work well because they will conform to the shape of the joint. Just don't eat them after several freeze/thaw cycles.
    Compress: wrap the joint firmly but not too tight. An ACE wrap can is ideal. If your fingers or toes turn purple, it's too tight. If you squeeze your nail-beds, the color should return immediately. If not, re-wrap more loosely.
    Elevate: Kick back and have a cold one. Try to keep the injured joint at about heart level. This regimen can be supplemented by taking Motrin (ibuprofen) or Aleve (naprosyn). Follow dosing directions on the package. Both are anti-inflammatories and will help with the pain. If this treatment isn't working, it might be a good time to see a doctor.
    Summary
    This paper is by no means, a complete set of first aid information for the BASE jumper. In addition to reading this paper, I highly recommend enrolling in a CPR class, a basic first aid course, and an EMT Basic course. Most junior colleges offer an EMT course and CPR is usually included. These classes will show you how to approach an injury and decide on the most appropriate course of action.
    First aid is a skill-set we hope to never need. The harsh reality of our sport is that there will be more injuries, and there will be more fatalities. Hopefully someday BASE jumpers will stop being injured and killed. Until that day comes, we all need to know what to do when accidents happen.
    ---Dexterbase
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    By admin, in Disciplines,

    BASE Jumping

    Photo by Jussi Laine

    BASE jumping is the sport of using a parachute to jump from fixed objects. "BASE" is the acronym for the four general types of objects participants jump from: Buildings, Antennae, Spans (bridges) and Earth (cliffs).
    BASE jumping is arguably one of the most dangerous and extreme sports on the planet, with a high potential for injuries or fatalities. We do not recommend BASE jumping to anyone. If you are a highly experienced parachutist and are interested in BASE jumping, seek guidance from an experienced BASE jumper in your area. Otherwise, don't do it.
    For more BASE Jumping information, visit the following sections on BASEjumper.com:
    BASE Jumping Articles

    BASE Jumping Forums

    BASE Jumping Gear

    BASE Jumping Photos

    BASE Jumping Videos

    By admin, in Disciplines,

    Swooping

    Photo by Paige Macdonald

    Blade Running involves a jumper flying an open parachute through a slalom course between and around wind blades. For years this relatively unknown discipline was practiced mainly down the slopes of snow covered mountains.
    Recently however with the development of high performance canopies swooping has seen somewhat of a spike in popularity as these canopies now allow pilots to "run the blades" on courses layed designed on level ground surfaces, ponds and lakes.
    Swooping requires exeptional canopy control skills and is only for experienced canopy fliers.

    By admin, in Disciplines,

    Canopy Relative Work



    Photo by Pat Hayter

    Canopy Relative Work (CRW) may be described as the intentional maneuvering of two or more open parachute canopies in close proximity to, or contact with one another during descent. The most basic maneuver in CRW is the hooking up of two canopies, one below the other. This formation, known as a "stack" or "plane"(the difference between a stack and a plane is the grip on the parachute), is the most common maneuver in CRW.
    There are two major categories of CRW formations:

    Vertical formations : Canopies are either stacked or planed one beneath the other. All grips should be on the center cell.
    Off-set formations : one or more docks and grips are on end-cells. These formations include diamonds, boxes and stair-steps.
    USPA BSRs recommends a beginner should have the following qualifications before engaging in CRW:

    At least 20 jumps on a ram-air canopy.
    Thorough knowledge of canopy flight characteristics, to include riser maneuvers and an understanding of relative compatibility of various canopies.
    Demonstrate accuracy capability of consistently landing within five meters of a target.
    Initial training would be conducted with two jumpers - the beginner and an Instructor experienced in CRW. The instructions should include lessons in basic docking and break-off procedures as well as emergency procedures.
    USPA BSRs has the following recommendations on equipment:The following items are essential for safely doing CRW:

    hook knife -- necessary for resolving entanglements
    ankle protection -- adequate socks prevent abrasion from canopy lines. If boots are used, cover any exposed metal hooks
    short bridle cords -- short, single attachment point bridlecords are essential to reduce the danger of entanglement. Retracting bridle pilot chute systems are desirable
    cross connectors -- are essential for building planes. These should be connected between front and rear risers only.
    The following items are strongly recommended for safely doing CRW:

    altimeter -- provides altitude information for dock, abort and entanglement decisions
    protective headgear -- must allow adequate hearing capability for voice commands, in addition to collision protection
    soft toggles -- provide less possibility of entanglement than hard toggles and better flight control
    trim tabs (go toggles) -- helpful for equalizing decent ratesand increasing control envelope
    cell crossporting (two rows) -- is recommended (when doneper manufacturer's specs) to minimize the likelihood of canopy collapse
    cascades -- recommended to be removed from the two centerA lines.


    By admin, in Disciplines,

    Formation Skydiving



    Photo: Brent Finley

    Free Flyers would call Formation Skydiving "belly-flying", with the earth always below, and the skies above. Formation Skydiving is much more than this, and entails quite a long history. Already in the 70's, freefall veterans experimented for a long time to hook up two people while falling straight down. Currently, the span of Formation Skydiving begins with a two-way and ends with a 246-way as the official world record. It's a social affair in the air: skydivers are holding hands and legs and both at the same time to build all kind of different formations of all sizes. Organizers and coaches are engineering the puzzle. Formation Skydiving has two different areas: recreational skydiving, also known as fun jumping, and the competitive arena.
    Recreational Formation Skydiving
    Bellyflyers meet on all kind of different occasions to build their formations in the sky. They are filling their local jump planes on the weekends, as well as weekday sunset loads, to the maximum capacity. As the number of bigger events with larger aircraft continues to grow, they meet with skydivers from all over the country, sometimes all over the world, to build their formations up to the present potential. The current world record is a 300-way formation.
    Formation Skydiving Competition
    More ambitious bellyflyers are sharpening their flying skills at training camps and go out to compete. Formation Skydiving has become a very well organized competition arena. Regional leagues and meets are offering competitions for all performance levels over the whole season. Nationwide championships bring the best teams of the country together (such as the National Skydiving League Championships and the U.S. National Championships). The national champions of all countries in the world compete each year at the World Cup or at the World Championships. The best teams of the world are invited to compete at the World Air Games. Formation Skydiving is slowly forging its way to becoming a part of the Olympic Games.




    Photo: Brent Finley

    The Formation Skydiving competitions are recognized by the IOC (International Olympic Committee) and sanctioned by the FAI (Federation Aeronautique Internationale), the IPC (International Parachuting Committee) and by the USPA (United States Parachute Association) in the United States. The sanctioned competition disciplines are: 4-Way 8-Way 16-way.
    Competition teams perform up to six rounds per day at the competition. After exiting the jump plane, all teams have a certain amount of time available (4-way 35 seconds, 8-way and 16-way 50 seconds) to perform the same pre-determined sequence of formations and maneuvers. The team with the most accumulated points wins the round. At a competition, all teams must perform between six and ten rounds. Each competition round has a different sequence of formations and maneuvers. Freefall videographers are filming the performance and deliver the footage to the judges for evaluation. The major events have live broadcast of the freefall and live judging.




    Photo: Brent Finley

    U.S.A. and France have been the dominating the nations in Formation Skydiving. The 8-way discipline has never seen a different winner than the U.S. 8-way team in the history of 8-way competition. In 4-way, U.S.A. and France have been taking turns in bringing home the gold medal. Only the Swiss 4-way team "Blue Magic" has interrupted this series once in 1983. The French national team is holding the world record in 4-way with 36 points in 35 seconds. The U.S.A. is holding the world record in 8-way with 31 points in 50 seconds.
    Twenty years ago, the world record holders in 4 way were scoring 8 points in time, and no one would ever have believed that our sport would have advanced to currently scoring 36 points in time. This rapid progression is testimony that formation skydiving is truly a professional, athletic sport with highly trained athletes, and is a skill that can be developed and cultivated like many other professional sports in our culture. We all look forward to where our sport will take us in the future. Until then, the belly flyers continue to train hard, compete well and enjoy the journey.

    By admin, in Disciplines,

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