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Disciplines

    Skysurfing

    Photo by Andy Boshi.





    Skysurfing is a team parachuting discipline, with each team consisting of two athletes: a Skysurfer and a Cameraflyer. The Skysurfer rides a specially designed skyboard during freefall, sliding, spinning, twisting and yes, surfing through the sky. The Cameraflyer records the performance with a helmet-mounted camcorder but also contributes to the performance interactively --and the team's overall score--through his or her own creative and athletic skills.
    All Skysurfing performances take place in the four dimensional stadium in the sky called freefall. This is the only place where you can fly your body in all three regular dimensions, up/down, left/right, forward/backward, plus the fourth dimension of relative speed. Not even NASA astronauts get to play in four dimensions. In free fall, you can cheat the boundaries of time and space, but only a minute at a time.
    Comparing Skysurfing to other board sports such as snow boarding and skate boarding is a common mistake. About the only shared trait is that all involve some kind of board. The Skysurfer's skills are much more closely related to freestyle skydiving, whose devotees perform gymnastic- and/or ballet-style maneuvers utilizing the aerodynamics created by the "relative wind" the athlete moves through during freefall. Adding a board to the equation, though, is not just a whole other ball game--it's a whole other sport.

    By admin, in Disciplines,

    Sit Fly: How to Move and Dock!

    So, you can sit fly with your friends in a group or fly in a two way. The first step to being a free flier, Congratulations! Once you have reached this level you might ask yourself “what’s next?” Today is your lucky day because this article is for you!
    After you have learned the basic position which we will cover in a second, the skill set you want to learn is 6 points of motion and then docking. This will allow you to interact with your friend in the sky and not just be a base.
    Sit Fly: The Position
    Serving as an introduction to free fly, this position is pretty difficult to get without some instruction. The idea is to sit in the sky just like you are sitting in a chair with a few minor exceptions. First you want to have your legs about shoulder width apart.
    Second, you want to have your heels aligned with your knees as not to catch any air on your shins. The foot should be flat just like if you had it sitting on the ground. It is imperative to have even consistent heel pressure when you sit fly, or you will be on your toes which makes it difficult to improve your mobility. Keep your feet pointing straight forward at all times! In sit fly your body follows your heels and your hips so you need to have a strong platform to work from.
    Third, you must consistently have a 90 degree angle at your hips to fly strait down. Sit up not back. Pretend you have a string pulling your head strait up while keeping that 90 degree angle. Sitting up will then add a quaint arch to your torso which will help you keep from falling back. Lastly, relax your arms so they keep right at head level. Do not press down on your arms in the neutral position. Pressing down the arms is a common fault of most new sit flyers. It causes you to press your torso forward catching air on it and then consequently backsliding.
    If you have problems with the position get some coaching in the wind tunnel, SkyVenture has made learning the sit fly position a snap for the student and the instructor. Let’s move on to movement, shall we!
    Sit Fly: 6 points of Motion
    Speeding up will be the first point of motion we learn. Simply press your heels down while keeping flat feet and having your hips, torso and heels in alignment. It is not necessary to straighten you legs. A small adjustment of your surface area will increase your speed greatly. Practice sitting up against a wall in the sit fly I described above, then by pressing through your heels stand up to a half squat, not all the way up and then settle back down into the sit. Do it slowly, erratic movements usually create horizontal space, so stand up and down smoothly. The reason we try not to straighten are legs at first, is because straight limbs usually create stiffness. In order to keep control of the position you must be supple.
    Slowing down is the next thing we learn. This can be done a few ways. I use them all, so it would be best to learn as many ways as you can. The first way to slow down is to press your arms down. Remember to keep sitting up while you do this or you will back slide from leaning forward. The second way to slow down is to bring your knees in a bit and then flare out your heels. This is my preferred way to slow down. This position increases your surface area a lot because your legs are a larger wing then your arms. This is also ideal because this leaves your arms free to dock or to use sign language to your friend. This position became popular in the wind tunnel because larger people needed to use there legs to keep them off the grate. Lastly if you really need to slow down learn to back fly in the wind tunnel. The back fly position will help you close huge vertical gaps quickly, for example if your friend corks up. A word of caution, learn to back fly with a coach in the wind tunnel before you use it with your friends. Using the back fly position without proper control can cause a vertical speed variation between you and your partner which can cause a high speed collision if you are not careful.
    Moving forward is our next task. Forward motion is the hardest yet most used motion in sit fly. It is technically difficult to learn so it might take some time. It is the most used point of motion because most people are back sliding in sit fly or back slide when they try something new. To move forward, get back in the half squat position or the downward motion. Then press your hips forward as far as you can while keeping your heels shoulder width apart and your feet facing forward. The best way to practice this is on the ground by leaning as far back as you can while free standing. Forward is a balance move that is why it is so hard. It also takes a little momentum in the sky to move forward so you might have to hold the position a few seconds before you actually realize you are moving. Keep those heels down!
    Moving backward is the easiest of the 6 points of motion. Most people are back sliding at first when they learn the sit fly position. To move backwards simply keep in the sit fly position and lean forward a bit. It doesn’t take much to rocket backwards, so immediately go back to the neutral position.
    The last two positions are side sliding left and right. They are tough. We won’t go into them in depth here because that would be a little advanced for this article. Besides carving is much more fun and seems to be a little more useful in every day flying. To carve go forward with a slight turn in your hips.
    Sit fly: Docking
    Docking your friend for the first time is probably the most fun you can have sit flying. This move is tough for some so listen up! First you must get your arms level with what you are going to dock. Move up or down. Then move forward slowly and stop at the target you want to dock so it is just out of your reach. Stabilize your heels by pressing down slightly. This is the key to docking; if you turn while you dock it is probably because your feet slide one way or the other. After you have stabilized reach with your hand up at the target not out. If you reach out your torso will follow and you will back slide, maybe pulling your friend with you. Make sure your arm is 90 degrees from your torso. Try not to shift with your torso. Have your arm and hand move independently of your torso. Fly your hand into the target and then dock the hand or foot lightly. If you grab on too hard you might contort your position so you fly away. Dock lightly. If you feel tension in the dock let go and go back to neutral, breathe deeply and try again.
    Keep in mind that this stuff is not easy for everybody. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or to get coaching. The SkyVenture wind tunnel is also a great tool when it comes to learning these basics of sit fly.
    Steven Blincoe is the Founder of The New School Flight University. He has 4,000 free fly jumps and over 300 hours in the SkyVenture Orlando wind tunnel. You can contact him at 530-412-2078 or info@blincoe.org
    for advice.

    By stevenblincoe, in Disciplines,

    Performing Your Best In Competition

    For many people, there is a lot of anxiety around their personal and team’s performance in competition. Many teams have trained to a high level of performance, only to have their dreams broken by falling apart the day of the meet. There are specific reasons this happens and there is a way to avoid them.
    With proper preparation you can avoid the pitfalls encountered by these unlucky teams. There is also a lot to be done the day of the meet, to ensure you perform your best. In this section we will describe the processes to be followed in training, as well as the basic strategies to be observed the day of the meet, which will help you perform your best.
    It is important to understand that the meet is won in training. On the day of the meet everything must be automatic. You must understand your plan without thought. Your pace, engineering, how all the pictures look, must be second nature. To do this, you need to train in meet conditions for a long period of time prior to the actual meet. You must train at the same speed and intensity you will compete with. You must make no changes in technique even if it is obviously better. Change your game plan from pushing for more speed and better times to one that develops consistency in your performance. Keep detailed records so you will better understand what you are capable of. Remember: if you don’t know it, you aren’t going to learn it the day of the meet.
    The hungrier you are to jump, the better you will perform. As the meet draw is near, the team needs to rest. Make less jumps, take a day off, two or three days prior to the first round. Jump half days for the reminder, just to stay warm. Trim down the intensity, or completely cease, your fitness routines, allowing your body to fully recover and be at its strongest. Take part in healthy distractions. Get off the drop zone and engage in different sports. This will allow your mind to relax, yet keep your mind and body sharp for the meet. It is preferable to do this with your team, keeping that energy consolidated. Do not party, as it is a distraction that will dull your senses and distance you from your connection with the sport.
    The more energy we have, the better we will perform. Unfortunately, we have a finite supply of this precious commodity. There are many things we can do to gather and save energy. Come to the meet prepared. Have a place to stay that will be comfortable to you. Be sure you have or can easily get the food and water that you need. Plan to have all the equipment you may need: creepers, video gear and skydiving gear. Come to the meet early. We need a lot of time to acclimate to an area. We must get used to the aircraft, the drop zone systems, the food, the air and our own operating plan. We do not want any shocks to our system at the day of the meet. Have a specific game plan so that everyone is very clear about what is expected of him. Make it efficient and thorough, so that everything is done with the least possible expenditure of energy. It is best if the team can stick together as much as possible. People feel strong and safe when they are with their team. Know where everyone is at all the time and communicate with each other about where you are going. It will help if the team has a meeting area where everyone spends all his free time.
    During the meet, there is a lot that can be done to conserve energy. It is important that you stay relaxed between rounds or during any weather holds. You can burn a tremendous amount of energy in these times, leading to exhaustion. As you relax, you must stay mentally alert. You must be prepared to make your next round at almost any time. Try reading or playing game-boy but do not sleep, as waking completely from sleep can take more time than you have. Find distractions that work for you. Take care of your diet and be sure to eat many small meals to avoid lethargy. Avoid socializing, as it will sap a lot of energy. There will be plenty of time for socializing at the banquet.
    As the meet draw is near, people experience an unusually high level of stress. This will tend to shorten their tempers and create a general paranoia. Good communication becomes even more critical. Have very regular team meetings, preferably everyday, where one is free to speak their mind. This will alleviate fears and conflicts that could produce major problems later.
    Know the rules. Not knowing the rules at a meet is like going to court without a lawyer. Meets have been won and lost by team’s manipulation of the rules. Remember: it’s not what you do that counts, but it’s what the judges see. You must skydive for them, so train for them.
    Many competitors talk of feeling pressure or stress to such a level as to hinder their performance. This stress is something experienced when we enter into an unknown situation, one where there is a certain element of danger such as the risk of failure. When we sense danger, our body reacts in many ways to prepare itself for fight. A certain amount of this will enhance our performance; too much will negatively influence our best efforts. Much of the time, the stress is allowed to run away with itself. If you can put that energy to use for yourself, it will make you better. The first thing to do is to change what you call it. Instead of calling it pressure or stress, call it energy. Energy is something we think of as controllable. Channel that extra energy to improve your skydiving. Focus it into your anticipation or your awareness. Use it to make you stronger, giving you more endurance and a general feeling of invincibility.
    Confidence is the keystone to performing at your best. When you are confident, your mind and body are relaxed allowing them to perform at their best. Your outlook is positive, keeping you visualizing the correct action. There are a few things that can be done to ensure you have the highest level of confidence possible. First of all, engineer your competition dives so that you are doing things that you have already successfully done in the past. Just knowing that you done this kind of move before, will give you confidence. Be sure you stick to your game plan. It is a common mistake of teams to see their competition doing something, which is obviously better but something they have never done, and change their plan at the last moment. Although the move may be faster, you will be unfamiliar with it and therefore uncomfortable. To do this correctly, you must be aware of what you can do. Train properly by sticking to a plan and keeping good records, and you will know it. With deciding how to do the meet dives, the bottom line is: go with what feels comfortable. Choose a couple of different options, run through them on the creepers, and pick the one that feels good even if it is not the absolute most efficient method.
    Positive visualization is paramount for confidence. When you are reviewing the rounds in your head, see them working perfectly. If your fears intrude and start making you see mistakes, know them for what they are and put them away from your mind. Remember it is your mind, so you are in control of what you think.
    Positive support from your teammates and those close to you, will also help to cover the long way towards building your confidence. A history of positive support will relieve you from the stress of worrying about what these people will think of you if you make a mistake. When mistakes happen, realize that the person is trying his best and support him with positive reinforcement. Remember: his performance on the next round is tied to his confidence, and your success in the meet is tied to his performance. If you make a mistake, realize that you are better than that and go up on the next round determined to do your best. Let the last jump go, so you can focus on the next.
    Most people pile too much pressure on themselves. They are overly concerned with what people will think of them if they make a mistake. They will go into competition with the belief that they cannot make a single mistake. Expecting perfection from yourself, is unreasonable and unachievable. Be OK with making mistakes and be OK with your teammates making them.
    We find it very helpful to look at the meet as a series of one round’s competitions. Whether we are ahead or behind, we go at top speed. We work to not pay attention to the scores and focus solely on personal best each round. The score comes from performing so all your attention should be there. There is no defence in this game and, therefore, nothing you can do beyond to achieve your competition’s performance best. Focus on your own stuff and let the judges decide who won.
    Trust in yourself and your teammates, is a critical ingredient to success. Good trust in the team will save energy and build confidence. Not having to wonder about your teammates, gives you more energy and build confidence. Not having to wonder about your teammates, gives you more energy to spend on yourself. Knowing they will be where they say they will unloads the majority of variables and therefore the majority of worries. Trust is something that must be earned. It is important that during training, everyone practices what he preaches. Say what you mean and do what you say.
    Train to Win. Compete to do your Best.
    Airspeed 4-Way Training Work Book

    ©1998 - Jack Jefferies, Airspeed - All Rights Reserved
    Related Links:

    Airspeed.org
    Tunnelcamp.com
    Mariosantos.com

    By admin, in Disciplines,

    Para-ski

    Para-ski is one of the competitive disciplines in parachuting and the only one to originate outside parachuting. The sport originated in Switzerland in the early 1960’s, when Swiss skiers conceived of para-ski as a form of mountain rescue. The concept was to jump from an aircraft, parachute to an open area near the victim, strap on skis, and evacuate the casualty down the mountain. Original European meets were a timed event which included parachuting onto the mountain, donning skies, and racing a course. Today, the two events are conducted separately. Para-ski international meets and cups have been held since 1964 and World Championships since 1987. Meanwhile, the modern, turbine-powered helicopter has replaced the parachute as the aerial vehicle for transporting mountain rescuers and casualties as well as today’s para-ski competitor.
    Today’s competition consists of giant slalom (GS) skiing and precision parachuting using gliding parachutes. The GS courses are approximately 1,000 meters long with a run time of one minute and average 30-35 gates. Two GS races are conducted under FIS rules.
    Each competitor makes six jumps under FAI rules. Jumps are from 3,000 feet. The target is located in a challenging and sloping mountainside venue; competitors aim for a touch-sensative pad with a five centimeter target center.
    A system of scoring combines parachuting and skiing performance to determine combined individual and team winners.

    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,

    Mixed Formation Skydiving - The Next Big Thing

    Mixed Formation Skydiving Is Ready To Take Over The World
    Andy Malchiodi--neck deep in his multi-hyphenate (medalist/coach/musician/filmmaker) life--didn’t set out to co-invent a skydiving discipline. He just wanted to enjoy competition. Luckily for us, he did it anyway. He’s quick to refuse to take credit for being the first person to combine flat and vertical orientations into one discipline, but there’s no denying that he’s the one who has done the most to make it official.
    The building blocks were there, but Mixed Formation Skydiving (“MFS”) in its current iteration wasn’t even on the radar when Andy’s freefly team, SoCal Converge, was stacking up medals on the competition circuit. From 2008 to 2012, Converge won four U.S. National Championships, took back-to-back gold and silver at the World Championships and racked up two world records.
    “In my years of [freefly] competition with SoCal Converge,” Andy begins, “Even though we were working within an artistic discipline, we really thrived on--and enjoyed training--the compulsory rounds. In those years, the freefly compulsories were essentially 2-way MFS; teams flew two flat points out of a 10-point pool over two rounds.”
    As well as being fun to fly, Andy and his team saw several very compelling elements in these compulsory rounds.
    “We noticed a lot of cool stuff,” Andy explains. “You can train this without a videographer in the beginning--you can just de-brief from your GoPros until you recruit one. You can take it home to a small drop zone with a small plane. People are attracted to the idea of fusing all four primary orientations into one discipline. For those people, it’s a discipline with it’s own identity. And for those who only wish to focus on the vertical, it’s a stepping stone to 4-way VFS.”
    “The beauty of it is the modularity,” he explains. “Even newer skydivers, who aren’t freeflying yet, can do the flat points and grow into it.” To be clear: The advanced class does not do any of the belly or back points, and some of what are considered the more difficult vertical points are omitted from the advanced dive pool as well.
    Clearly, the latter makes MFS a very compelling inclusion into a newer skydiver’s arsenal. With the inclusion of the flat points, 2-way MFS is a discipline unto itself, where the training progression from advanced to open nicely follows a well-rounded skill-building arc. “You might choose to do advanced MFS,” Andy says, “When you’re at a skill set where you can’t quite take on the VFS open dive pool, but you’re interested in doing VFS.”
    “It was initially my hope,” Andy continues, “That advanced do two purely flat rounds and four vertical. The open class would then ‘mix’ them. The current rules are designed, by suggestion of the USPA, to appeal to those who want to use MFS as a method of progression into VFS.”
    In 2011, as Andy and Converge were getting excited about the possibilities of their nascent discipline, the freefly compulsory rounds changed. The rules moved away from speed compulsory rounds and into artistic compulsories, where teams receive four moves to style a routine around.
    “It is pretty different than it used to be,” Andy sighs, “And we weren’t very happy to see that change. We had our reasons for believing it was good the way it was. So I took it upon myself to take that really good stuff and make it its own discipline.”
    Andy had a lot of work in front of him to create an official space for MFS. He took the moves that existed in the pre-2011 artistic freefly compulsory dive pool, brought in several of the points that existed in the wind tunnel competition dive pool (which, at the time, wasn’t as widespread as it is now) and started to work out the details.
    The biggest challenge Andy faced surprised him. MFS is, after all, at heart a formation skydiving discipline--and, in formation skydiving, you cannot have one point that begins or ends with the same grip of another point. “You would think,” Andy muses, “That with multiple orientations--head up, head down, belly and back--that would open up infinite options, and you wouldn’t have a problem creating points that didn’t start or stop with the same grip as another point. It was more challenging than I would have guessed.”
    The tunnel competition dive pool, developed in great part by Arizona-based skydiving legend Jason Peters, included several points that--unsurprisingly, considering its non-FS provenance--did not abide by that FS-specific rule. “At the beginning, if you watched a very fast 2-way tunnel draw,” Andy explains, “It looked like a game of patty-cake, because you would finish one point and then begin the next point with the same grip. Pulling off that grip and going right back to it looked kinda funny.”
    Challenging as it was, Andy stayed the course to, as far as possible, mirror MFS’s rules and regulations to match existing formation skydiving disciplines. He brought a few other top-shelf skydivers to help him work out the engineering puzzle--among them, Ari Perelman and Rook Nelson. The think-tank communicated with the USPA (specifically, James Hayhurst, Director of Competition, and Randy Connell, Competition Coordinator) to get multiple sets of eyes on the points, rules and regulations. With all those collaborators on board, 2-way MFS enjoyed an intuitive and logical evolution as it came into its own.
    With staunch USPA support, MFS made its public debut in 2013. The first test event, at the U.S. Nationals, was “very well attended;” Andy remembers, “Everyone was very enthusiastic about it.” The first official event was MFS’s inclusion in the 2014 U.S. Nationals. From there, the discipline has consistently ramped up with every passing season.
    “It’s easy to see why. It creates very challenging and intriguing engineering dilemmas,” Andy grins, “And there are a couple ways you can slice the onion there.” The training videos say it all.
    Official international recognition is the next logical step, and MFS’s next big push is the one that will send it over the ocean into Europe and Australia. Slotting into place at the IPC level would allow MFS to be included in events like the World Cup and the World Meet, and that’s exactly what its inventors intend for it. So far, the U.S. is the only country with 2-way MFS on the docket--which is stupefying, considering the discipline’s flexibility, portability and low infrastructural requirements.
    “They’re waiting to see how it goes in the U.S.,” Andy says, “And they’re slow to move, but the more competition skydivers who push for MFS at their Nationals level, the closer we’ll get.”
    Interested? Check out the 2-Way MFS dive pool from the USPA website. To learn the MFS ropes, reach out to Andy himself, Jason Peters or Nik Daniel with Axis Flight School.

    By admin, in Disciplines,

    Looking for the perfect team

    You might as well be searching for The Holy Grail.
    How often have you heard of a team who's had a big argument and broken up before, during or immediately after Nationals, having already spent an exorbitant amount of money? Most of the time this could have been avoided by simple communication, honesty and a little bit of compromise from the outset. Instead, the 'volcano effect' takes hold, and petty grievances, built up over the course of the year, come to an ugly head, usually at an important and stressful event - like Nationals.
    Quite often the issue that causes the break-up seems pretty minor a couple of months down the line. But it's an all-too-common practice in skydiving, and one that detracts from teams and individuals being able to perform at their best. Most teams require two years minimum to even scratch the surface of their full potential. It takes time for teams to gel to the extent that they have true communication, anticipation and knowledge of working together. But this all-pervasive attitude, which makes it acceptable to break up a team over somewhat insignificant differences, prevents the sport and individual skydivers from growing and progressing.
    It's the syndrome of seeking the 'perfect' team, and it's become so commonplace in skydiving that we could almost be forgiven for thinking it's acceptable.
    What is 'the perfect team'
    Most competitive skydivers have an idea of what the 'perfect' team is. They look at teams like Airspeed, Deland fire and Sinapsi PD, see these teams communicating and performing well, and make the assumption that to some degree, team members are virtual clones of each other. They never see individuals disagreeing or arguing, and believe these must be 'perfect' teams comprised of 'perfect' skydiving
    individuals with 'perfect' personalities. They imagine how great it would be to be part of a team like this, and that their own problems stem from being unable to replicate this perceived 'perfection' in their own teams.Because of this unrealistic expectation, too many talented skydivers waste their time not training with a team at all. There's nothing worse than not training - in fact, some of my steepest learning curves have come from being part of what could be described as 'dysfunctional' teams.
    In a similar way, teams waste time by constantly replacing 'flawed' team members in search of the 'perfect' team dynamic; instead they should be working together, getting over personality differences to achieve a common goal, which is performing at the team best.
    It may come as a shock but - there is no perfect team!
    The truth is that on any team, individuals have their own ideas, flaws and times of stress - and often disagree with their teammates. Our unique qualities and imperfections make us part of this diverse human race, and differences are inevitable. I can't think of a more diverse group of people than Airspeed 8 - our disagreements ranged from how many jumps to do, to physical training and jumpsuit colours (you should see what we finally came up with in 1996)!
    Despite this, I often hear how up-and-coming jumpers idealise the top teams and think they always get along perfectly with each other. The result is that when a disagreement naturally occurs on their own team, they assume it's an inherent and insurmountable fault in the team - and subsequently break up or switch members. Differences like this are to be expected, and are part and parcel of team training, no matter what level you're at.
    A reply I often hear to this is, 'Yeah, but we're not Airspeed,' - implying it's easier to deal with team disagreements and personality conflicts when you're a professional team; if you have to put up with it for 'work', then somehow, you can. But when non-pro teams nowadays are spending between $5,000 and $25,000 per person per year on this sport - it seems like a few minor differences could be worth dealing with for longer than just one season! More to the point - there's really no alternative, if you want to perform, you have to deal!
    It's easy for teams to think their issues are unique, and that problems can't be resolved because of this; however, the case is most likely that the individuals are not willing to work out their 'unique' issues. Usually the problem is nothing more than the result of someone's need to express themselves, and this, in turn, being taken the wrong way. Problems like this could have been resolved months earlier with the input of a good coach, or by using truthful 'pass the rock' sessions where team members get the opportunity to vent and communicate openly.
    Teams need to realise that what they're going through is normal, and conflict is part of a natural evolution for every team. There is not a single team that does not go through conflicts. The difference between a successful team and a failing team is that the former works out their differences, whereas the failing team does not. It's not a matter of individuals being unable to resolve their conflicts - it's simply that they are unwilling to. Airspeed has gone through few big decisions without some pretty heated opinions being cast around the room.
    Because every team goes through the same cycles of development, it's worth outlining what those cycles are, so they know what to expect. One way of looking at how teams grow and mature is to use Bruce Tuckman's 'forming, storming, norming, performing' model.
    Forming - Stage 1

    The 'honeymoon phase'
    When most teams join up, they all seem to get along - everyone is excited about the new team and keen to get started; this is also known as the 'honeymoon phase'. Most skydivers are jubilant that they actually have a team to skydive with, morale is high, and negative personality traits are kept in check. It's very important in the 'forming' stage to get an experienced coach for guidance and direction. Many teams also benefit from having a team leader, and this is the time to appoint them.
    You should also spend quite a bit of time discussing your goals and aspirations as honestly as possible, as this will avoid problems down the line. There could be nothing more frustrating than being in a team where people have completely different agendas - one wants to take the team to the World Meet and another just wants to get the swoop at the end of the dive!
    Levels of commitment in terms of number of jumps, tunnel, money and time should be discussed as a priority, and while not every member of the team will have exactly the same objectives here, as long as they are in the same ballpark the team can succeed. It's important to come to a workable compromise and move on - rejecting a team whose goals don't precisely match yours, and ending up not jumping, is much worse than doing only 200 team jumps that year instead of the 300 you wanted to do!
    Individual long-term goals can even be different - it's fine if one person eventually wants to become a World Champion, and another just wants to compete for a couple of years before moving on to other things - as long as the collective team goal is agreed upon and compatible for the duration of the agreed term of the team. I refer to this as 'buying into the contract'. The key agreements of this 'contract' are:
    Individuals agree to work together to achieve the common goal.
    Individuals agree to communicate honestly with each other, more commonly known as having regular 'pass the rocks'.
    Individuals value their differences, i.e. they recognise that every person has a different background and personality, and will therefore have different ways of relating and behaving.
    Individuals seek to gain insider learning about their impact on the team, i.e. thinking before speaking and recognising that what they say has the potential to impact the team in a negative (or positive) way. Individuals should be responsible and accountable for their actions and words.

    Storming - Stage 2

    Guess what? The honeymoon is over!
    This is the frustrating stage of learning with the team; individual quirks start to come out and team members vie for position as they attempt to establish themselves. Cliques can also start to form within the team - questions and uncertainties come up and the 'contract' itself may be questioned. This is where most teams sow the seeds of inevitable self-destruction.
    Simply put, this is the stage where arguments might occur over block techniques, individual performance and styles of relating. Even table manners, personal hygiene and fashion sense can all come under attack! It's important to realise that this is natural human behaviour in a goal-orientated team environment. It's also important for individuals and the team to reiterate the goals they set and believe that the team outcome is more important than individual needs. At this stage, outside help in the form of a coach experienced in dealing with team dynamics is invaluable.
    I've heard more times than I'd like to recollect, 'I guess I'm just not a team-player'. I don't believe this to be true. That individual is just not willing to compromise, or never bought into the 'contract' in the first place. People who are described as 'team players' are just more willing than others to suppress their need to be heard all the time. I also believe there's no such thing as a natural team player. Anyone has the ability to become a team player as long as they are willing, at times, to put aside their own ego for the good of the team.
    Knowing that the 'storming' stage is normal and can be overcome by focusing and refocusing on the agreed team 'contract' is critical at this time. There's no knowing when the 'storming' will occur, or how long it will last. However the sooner a team recognises it and then accepts it as normal, the sooner the team will leave this phase behind.

    Norming - Stage 3
    Congratulations - you've got further than most teams and are on your way to performing your best!
    This is the phase where the team has recognised individuality as a strength, and has matured as a group. Commitment and unity is strong. It could feel similar to the 'honeymoon phase', but instead of being based on enthusiasm alone, it marks a time of personal growth and acceptance.
    Roles and responsibilities are clear and welcomed: the team's everyday interactions and dealings have become like clockwork, and the daily training routine, including team meetings and 'pass the rock' sessions, is more instinctive and needs no prompting.
    It's important to realise the individuals themselves have not fundamentally changed, and disagreements will still occur - however teammates have come to understand that having their personal needs met is secondary to team growth. The same disagreements teams had in the 'storming' stage suddenly seem less important and are dealt with more quickly and in a more mature manner.

    Performing - Stage 4

    The fun part!
    In this stage the team has a high degree of autonomy and will be running like a well-oiled machine. The team is able to focus on performance; personal issues that would have held them back previously as a distraction have melted into the background and become irrelevant.
    This is also the phase where individual relationships and trust are consolidated within the group. On a personal level, team members trust that each one will always act for the good of the team - communication between piece-partners is open and honest. In the sky, teams feel that everything falls into an instinctual rhythm, more so than a forced or conscious act. Trust in individuals' ability runs high, allowing team members to be sure that others will also fly their slots with confidence. This in turn allows for faster keys, more confident moves, and ultimately, more points.
    Teams should expect that disagreements will still occur - even arguments - but now issues are resolved within the team positively. It's also important to recognise that just because a team has reached the 'performing' stage, they may not be the 'best of friends' - however teammates trust and respect each other, because of the understanding that they are all focused on the common goal, i.e. the 'contract'.
    This phase is more easily attainable than most people think, or believe. It's the most fun part of training, and the pay-offs are numerous. Individual growth, realisation of your potential, a load more points and the best skydiving you'll ever do are just some of them.
    And it's a choice that anyone can make.
    Gary Beyer was a member of multiple World and National Champion team, Arizona Airspeed, between 1995 and 2002. He has since retired from World level competition and dedicates his time to team and tunnel coaching. www.onthelineskydiving.com
    This article was first published in Skydive The Mag (UK) and is republished here on request and with permission from the author.
    Photos by Mike McGowan

    By admin, in 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,

    Keeping Good Records

    Keeping good records is a hallmark of most successful teams. It has been said that in order to manage success, you must be able to measure success. What this means is that in order to know where you are going, you need to know where you are.
    There are many different details that our team tracks: block times, exit breaks and second point times, which formations we have exited, what cross training we have done and when, meet scores and averages.
    We are diligent with the record keeping, doing it each jump or at least every day. Record each occurrence so that you know how often you have seen any given move, but only pay attention to general trends. Do not get hung up on specific times: they are only a small part of the whole picture.
    Make specific goals around these statistics, what average time or score do we want by what date. Doing this, will go far keeping the team on track.
    Airspeed 4-Way Training Work Book

    ©1998 - Jack Jefferies, Airspeed - All Rights Reserved
    Related Links:

    Airspeed.org
    Tunnelcamp.com
    Mariosantos.com

    By admin, in Disciplines,

    Is Speed Skydiving Boring

    The Sensations
    Speed skydiving in principle sounds like a high-octane, extreme discipline in skydiving. However, when you hear it’s a solo sport, you then think it “sounds boring”. But it is anything but boring and it’s for one simple reason; speed skydiving has a unique adrenaline-filled freefall sensation. It feels like those first few seconds of normal freefall where you accelerate rapidly, but throughout the entire speed skydive.
    Speed skydiving is measured as an average over the vertical kilometer (from 8,858 to 5,577ft). That means if you do it well, you can expect to reach your peak speed at the bottom end of the measuring gate. Some skydivers say it is hard to quantify what normal terminal velocity is, however in speed skydiving it’s definitely more tangible. The sensation is of freefalling seriously fast and that’s slightly scary whilst giving you a big adrenaline rush!
    Who Am I?
    I jump regularly at Skydive Hibaldstow primarily doing FS team camera work and wingsuiting. Although I have never been on the International Speed Skydiving circuit or a speed skydiving training camp, I always try to attend the UK Speed Skydiving Nationals and seminars. I’m not a freeflyer and I’m not even the best speed skydiver, but I have been enjoying it for 9 years.
    Doing It Well
    Doing it well is another matter of course. I have never done an average of over 270mph, whereas Mark Calland (UK jumper) has been over 300mph unbelievably. Speed skydiving requires you to strike a 3-way balance between feeling the airflow on your body, making fine corrections and relaxing. Putting too much input in or being too ridged and it’s all going to go pear-shaped.
    What to wear plays big part of getting a good average. Some speed skydivers like to wear bright red all-PVC spray on gimp-suits. Sorry but that is too kinky for me! If you can handle them, you can get some good speeds. Many more however prefer to wear a surfers rash vest and some jeans. The jeans help to smooth the airflow, provide some good stability and grip.
    A Typical Speed Skydive
    So let me describe a typical speed skydive. I get out of the aircraft between 12,000 to 13,000ft (the same altitude as the 8-way jumpers at nationals) and for the first 15 seconds, I slowly start to build up my speed by going into a progressively steeper and steeper track. After what feels like a long time, I begin to feel the air on the back of my calves. This is when I know I am now in the vertical airflow phase of the jump.
    Around this point, I feel a sudden acceleration and I know I am passing the 200mph mark. It’s almost like I’m passing through a pressure wave and this is common amongst other speed skydivers. For extra speed, I try to flatten my arms by my hips and bring my ankles together.
    Not long after, I pass through the opening gate of the measured kilometer. By then, I am already doing over 230mph. At this measuring phase of the jump, I’m concentrating on stability with every nerve cell in my body. Ideally, I’m trying not to make any inputs in at all. In fact, I’m trying to relax whilst balancing on what feels like a pinhead. Another sensation is like falling through an invisible narrow tube barely wide enough for my shoulders. I’m talking a lot about sensations in this article, but that is one of the big attractions to the discipline.
    Being symmetrical is also very important. A slight hip twist, one leg in front of the other and I can expect radical oscillations. Simply relaxing often cures the problem and I can continue to job of accelerating away.
    The final and most important part of the speed skydive is the deceleration to 120mph! I do this when I hear my two L&B; audibles beeping away inside my Oxygn fullface helmet. For those that don’t know, I’m completely deaf in one ear. So I pack them next to each other. You wouldn’t want to miss your beeps at those speeds.
    Pulling out of a 250mph swoop is not as gruesome as it sounds. You simply arch your body slightly and you begin to peel out into a swoop. As the speed decreases, you then bring your arms in front of you to a normal flat body position. All this takes less than 4 seconds and this makes you realise how fast you were actually going.
    Measurement
    Once you land, you unclip the two L&B; Pro-Tracks (not the ones from your helmet) from you harness lateral straps and plug them into the Jump Track software, which produces neat and tidy graphs showing your performance. In competition, each competitor does 6 rounds and the average of their best 3 go forwards.
    It’s exciting watching the scores come in and seeing your own progression. You would be surprised that being a fatty has little to do with going fast. I’m on the slim side and 2 out of the 5 worlds fastest recorded times have been by other slim built skydivers.
    Safety
    Having a premature opening of your parachute over 200mph is extremely dangerous. In preparation for a speed skydive, I take a fresh closing loop and shorten it to the point where I can only just get the closing pin in. In addition, I make sure I have two audibles in my helmet and I put gaffer tape on the edges of the visor of my full face.
    There should be no more than three speed skydivers on a load to prevent traffic problems. The first and last part of the jump involve tracking and it’s possible to cover large distances quickly. Being able to keep a heading is vital.
    The last thing is that your BOC spandex must be in good condition.
    Summary
    There are very few disciplines where you can feel how fast you are going and that makes it a real adrenaline buzz. Whilst it is a solo discipline, there is a lot of excited interaction and camaraderie between the jumpers at competitions as they evaluate each other’s jumps and acceleration graphs. You can take part without having to do lots of coached training camps. It’s definitely not boring!
    Doesn’t covering a vertical kilometer in less than 10 seconds sound like fun?
    More information:

    1. Speed skydiving seminar at Hibaldstow

    2. ISSA

    3. Larsen & Brusgaard – Kind sponsors of the discipline

    By admin, in Disciplines,

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