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    Ready To Go Skydiving? Helpful Tips For Your First Tandem Skydive

    “I’ve always wanted to go skydiving.” I heard someone say this across a crowded dinner table, and I said, “Oh, me too!” Another person said “Well, you should do it.” It was a challenge that I accepted first in 1994 and 5 times since then. I didn’t expect to do it more than once, but the thrill is just too hard to resist. I have no desire to become a solo skydiver, but I love tandem skydiving — where the professional skydiver does all the work and I just hang along for the ride!
    For my first jump, I really had no idea what to expect. This was pre-YouTube days, so I had only seen skydiving on TV (and nothing specifically about tandem jumping). I knew I would be connected to a professional skydiver, and I now describe the tandem attachment as “you’re wearing the instructor like a backpack.” Here are a few things that will help prepare you for your first tandem skydive…
    Tandem Skydiving Facts
    At most places you must be at least 18 years old (take a valid photo ID), with a weight limit of 225 lbs.
    Loose-fitting clothes are definitely a good idea, as are comfortable, sturdy, fully-attached shoes. No flip flops!
    I recommend choosing a drop zone that supports the United States Parachute Association rules and regulations. You can use their Drop Zone Locator to find locations near you.
    Call ahead for a reservation, if you can. However, larger drop zones try to accommodate walk-ins. Prepare to spend several hours at the drop zone — sometimes up to half a day, depending on the weather and the staffing situation at that site. Feel free to take snacks and bottled drinks (no alcohol), in case vending machines are not available.
    Leave all valuables locked inside your car or with a friend on the ground. There may be lockers for your things, but probably not. There will be a place to leave your car keys. If you wear glasses or contacts, talk to the staff at the jump site to make sure their goggles will protect your eyewear.
    A couple of jumps ago, I discovered I am becoming more sensitive to motion sickness. For my recent jump, I took a non-drowsy Dramamine and that did the trick.
    You will watch a video about tandem skydiving that describes the process you will soon participate in. I have seen several versions of this video. Some of them will be similar to the video you might choose to buy of your own jump. While watching the video (or perhaps after), you will review and sign several pages of waivers — including liability and photograph/video releases. The skydiving liability waivers are pretty serious, holding harmless the obvious suspects (your tandem instructor, plane pilot, owner of drop zone, etc.) as well as some unexpected others (people who made and designed the airplane parts and the farmer who owns the field next to the landing site, in case you land in his field. Seriously!!). Read it as thoroughly as you would any legal document that says you are about to participate in a death-defying jump from an airplane.
    Of course there are risks. Use the Internet to search for skydiving statistics, if that’s what you’re into. Be warned that many statistic sites start off with scary things like skydiving fatalities per year. I know it’s risky, but I have never been overly concerned about it. I guess I buy into the theory that I am more likely to be injured while driving my car to the drop zone than during the actual skydive.
    Once the paperwork is complete, it will be time to pay the piper. Plan to pay around $200 for a tandem skydive, and up to $100 more for extras like video and pictures. Most places will accept payment by cash, check, or credit card, but ask in advance so you don’t show up unable to pay.
    Q: What if you change your mind? A: You’ll need to ask the drop zone’s policy on this. One place I went allowed you to change your mind until you stepped in the plane. Another place gave no refunds after you made the payment. Keep in mind that they can’t make you jump out of the plane. You can get all the way to the open door of the plane and decide you don’t want to do it. In that case, enjoy the rest of your expensive plane ride back to the airport!
    Next, it’s probably time to meet your “jump master” — your very own professional tandem skydiving instructor. All of mine have been guys, so I will refer to the jump master as “he”. He will start to explain the process and your gear. For the record, a tandem jump master has made at least 500 jumps before (and in many cases, several thousand!) and has gone through a rigorous training program.
    The gear you use will depend on your drop zone, but one thing is universal and that’s your harness & nbsp ; I will tell you right now it is uncomfortable. It’s similar to a rock climbing or rappelling harness and is specifically designed to connect you to your skydiving instructor. Just plan on having a wedgie and a tough time breathing. Remember, you want the harness to be tight and secure! It will connect to your instructor in 4 places: 2 at shoulders and 2 at hips, but you won’t “hook up” until right before you jump out of the plane. You will also be given a pair of goggles to wear. Other gear may include a jump suit and a helmet. The helmet is soft-cloth and more to keep long hair from flying in your face than for real protection. As Jerry Seinfeld said: “If you jump out of that plane and that chute doesn’t open, the helmet is now wearing you for protection!”
    In a tandem skydive, the instructor wears the parachute pack on his back. The large parachute is specifically designed for tandem skydiving and can safely hold 2 people. There is also a drogue chute that is deployed immediately after exiting the plane. The drogue will help slow down the descent of 2 jumpers to the more normal speed of 120 mph — which is necessary for the parachute to open safely. The parachute is usually deployed at 5,500 feet. There is a secondary reserve chute, and an automatic activation device (AAD) that will open the parachute around 2,000 feet, if it has not already been opened.
    Once you’re suited up, it’s time to go! I have jumped out of planes about the size of a VW bug and as large as a single-car garage. Smaller planes will require some preparation at the plane, with instruction on how to exit the plane in the air. With a larger plane you’ll walk right in and probably walk right out at 10,000 feet! Regardless of plane size, the ride up in the plane will take about 15 minutes. Enjoy the ride! You will be sitting in front of your skydiving instructor, probably packed in like a sardine along with other skydivers. Try to catch a glimpse of the instructor’s altimeter on the way up — it’s kinda cool to watch it go from 0 to 10,000 feet! (Or higher. My highest jump was from 13,500 feet!)
    On the way up, the skydiving instructor will tell you what you need to do on your skydive. It will go something like this:
    • At around 8,000 feet, the instructor will attach himself to your harness. • At 10,000 feet you and he will waddle your way close to the door. (It is not easy to move with a person on your back!) • At the door, you will cross your arms over your chest, lift your feet and hang (!) from your instructor, and lay your head back on his shoulder. • While you are hanging from your instructor, he may lean out of the open doorway several times to view the ground. • When you are over the drop zone, the skydiving instructor will step (or flip!) out of the plane and YOU ARE NOW IN FREE FALL! Remember, you’re falling at 120 mph. • Try to catch a glimpse of the plane as you fall away from it. It will be the only thing up there to give you the perspective of falling. It actually feels like flying. • You will free fall for 45 to 60 seconds. Try to pay attention to every second of it — it goes quickly! The instructor may do some turns left and right. You probably won’t be able to hear the instructor, but he may try to tell you things by speaking directly into your ear. • During free fall, because of your instructor’s body positioning, your body will be in a back bend (or U-shape) position. Keep your knees bent and your feet up between the legs of your instructor. You will receive a tap on your shoulder, meaning that you can open your arms into a “touch down” position. • Around 5,500 feet, the skydiving instructor will deploy the parachute. Expect a sudden jerk that will actually stop your fall and lift you up for a couple of seconds. You will be reminded how tight your harness is! I’ve heard this described as the “trap door” effect. It is at this moment your brain will think “Hey, I’m falling!” • When the parachute is up (or “under canopy”), your instructor will loosen the 2 links at your hips. This will make you much more comfortable. He will be working on all the gear with the parachute. You will be able to easily talk to each other, and at one point he will say, “Hold out your hands and grab these.” Hold on tightly because these will be the parachute toggles! Yep, you’ll be driving the train! He will need both hands free for a very short time while adjusting more gear. Don’t worry, he’ll take them back. • The ride under canopy will be anywhere from 4 to 8 minutes — depending on the weather, your instructor’s personality and your desire to play around. For me, spinning around up there is the highlight of the ride — almost better than free fall. There’s absolutely nothing you can hit! • You will soon realize that things on the ground are getting closer, which means it’s time to think about landing. Your job will be to pull your knees up to your chest. Your instructor will tell you when. Right before the landing, it will feel like the ground is rushing up at you — because it is! Keep those knees up until the skydiving instructor’s feet land on the ground and he says, “Now, just stand up. Perfect landing! Time to celebrate!”
    Congratulations… You are now a skydiver! A tandem jump can be a one-time thing, or the first step towards becoming a certified solo skydiver. Most drop zones offer accelerated free fall training, if you’re interested. But if not — and you feel the call to jump out of a perfectly good airplane every now and then — don’t say I didn’t warn you!

    By admin, in Events,

    Skydiving – An Extreme Sport

    Skydiving could be a sport that's not as young because it could seem. At the top of the eighteenth century, a European, Andre Garnerin, jumped from a hot air balloon and was thought to be the primary real parachute jumper. Later on jump became necessary for the military and air force. Pilots may appear of a plane and land on earth safely if one thing went wrong. In wars troopers were born off in war zones, typically behind enemy lines. Skydivers also are used once it involves fighting off disasters like bush fires.
    Competitions in jump square measure command frequently. Events embody landing near a target and playacting athletic movements within the air, in addition as flying in formation. within the previous few years another event, sky water sport, within which a board is connected to a jumper, has become fashionable. cluster jump needs a bunch of parachutists to perform figures whereas in free fall.
    A parachuter should check their gear to envision if everything is OK. They perpetually carry a backup parachute with them, simply just in case the most chute doesn't open. Steering lines square measure connected to a backpack. With them parachutists will management their direction.
    Before you jump alone you usually do tandem bicycle jumps with a teacher or Associate in Nursing knowledgeable about jumper. Through such jumps you get accustomed free fall, wind directions and the way to steer. Skydivers should additionally learn plenty of theory. Wind speed and different weather parts square measure vital. Airplanes climb to Associate in Nursing altitude of 7,000 to 15,000 feet (2000 to 4,600 meters) before property out the jumpers. The free fall stage lasts between forty five and eighty seconds. Jumpers reach a speed of up to one hundred thirty miles Associate in Nursing hour (210 kmh).
    Parachuting needs glorious weather. Jumping in rainy weather or throughout sturdy winds is terribly dangerous. Even though parachuting might not seem to be a sport, jumpers should be physically match before they will jump. Despite the very fact that it's going to appear dangerous, there square measure solely a couple of accidents that happen each year.
    One of the world’s most known skydivers is that the Austrian, Felix Baumgartner. In 2012 he set a record, once a helium-filled balloon brought him to a height of thirty-nine kilometers. once he jumped he became the primary person to interrupt the drag in free fall. He safely came back to earth regarding ten minutes when going away the capsule.

    By admin, in Events,

    Simple Tips For a great sport.

    Remember once obtaining a camera onto your helmet needed power tools, fastening irons, hot knives and makeshift camera mounts? Um--probably not.
    It wasn’t see you later past, really, that you just had to own access to a workshop to urge a camera on your head. long ago they were, like, really big, too. And it absolutely was obvious that cameras were issues waiting to happen. Those behemoths could--and frequently did--snap the stuffing’ out of the jumpers’ necks, creating jumpers virtually painfully aware that the camera display further safety concerns.
    With the arrival of the GOP, jumping with a camera began to appear, well, obvious. simply peel off the insufficient sticker on the mount, slap it somewhere on your helmet, clip within the very little plastic sundries and away you go. Set it and forget it! You won’t even grasp it’s there!
    ...Until it decides to urge all immodest Associate in Nursing grab one or two of your lines at an disadvantageous moment, that is.
    Here square measure the key queries you ought be asking yourself before you finish up in an exceedingly spider of your own creating.
    1. Ought to I even be jumping this thing? The SÃO truly recommends that you just be the proud bearer of a C license before you jump a camera, which you’ve jumped everything else on your person a minimum of fifty times before. If that causes you to create an enormous, browned off noise, take into account this: your overall body flight and cover skills got to be on the far side reproach before you add the risks and distractions of a camera.
    2. What am I truly planning to do if it all goes pear-shaped? You’ll got to build a choice regarding what the precise steps you’ll take if a part of your system finishes up snagged on your camera. bear the individual components: bridle, pilot chute, lines, etc. confer with your S&TA; regarding these details to visualize your intuition.
    Perhaps, if your helmet permits, you’ll work it with a cutaway system thus your helmet doesn’t impede your life-saving efforts. That said: confer with somebody WHO has truly had to use a quick-release chinstrap setup below force. Yes, it’s nice that they exist. No, they're not failsafe.
    If you don’t install a cutaway system, you’re planning to have to be compelled to be able to get that helmet off your head yourself. This is, live up to it to mention, not the simplest factor to try and do whereas spinning and plummeting and stuff.
    If you’re convinced your flimsy-seeming very little mount can pop right off once it counts, re-examine. It looks that, a minimum of once you don’t wish them to come back off, those GOP mounts square measure more durable than they appear. (A ton more durable.)
    3. What’s it value to ME to shop for a safer mount? The free mounts that go together with your camera have that one factor going for ‘em: they're, Y2K, free. You don’t have to be compelled to purchase anything. they're gratis. No a lot of exchange of funds concerned.
    Free, however, generally isn’t the thanks to go.
    As present as they need become, the venerable GOP wasn't made-up for parachuting. explore the array of sky-specific aftermarket mounts that aim to eliminate that looming snag hazard. raise the camera flyers you admire what mounts they like (and why).
    4. Am i able to anti-snag myself within the absence of after-market parts? If you only don’t see yourself shopping for an alternate mount, you shouldn’t simply present your hands and leave it to divinity. you ought to still build the trouble to cut back your snag hazards. The SIAM has some recommendation for industrious Dyers:
    All edges and potential snag areas ought to be coated, taped or otherwise protected. Necessary snag points on helmet-mounted cameras ought to a minimum of face far from the deploying parachute.
    A pyramid form of the whole camera mounting system might deflect lines higher than Associate in Nursing egg form.
    Deflectors will facilitate defend areas that can’t be otherwise changed to cut back issues. All gaps between the helmet and instrumentality, as well as mounting plates, ought to be taped or crammed (hot glue, etc.).
    Protrusions, like camera sights, ought to be built to gift the smallest amount potential for snags.
    Ground testing ought to embrace dragging a suspension line over the camera assembly to reveal snag points.
    That last one is vital, thus I’ve gone ahead and place that sucker in daring.
    5. What’s my call altitude? There is little during this life that’s a lot of distracting than obtaining a dangly brake line whorled around your helmet camera and whipping into a brutal spin. The what huh Buckeye State CRAP Buckeye State NO moment turns into get wise OFF get wise OFF get wise OFF and, before you recognize it, your dottier is providing you with the business.
    So: it’s a wise plan to bump your preparation altitude up little massive to grant you longer to disencumber yourself. a lot of variables need a lot of buffer and, build no mistake, that light-weight very little fluff of a sports camera is a further variable to be reckoned with.
    6. is that this factor planning to place ME on the face palm-inducing-incidents list? ...Because that, at the tip of the day, may be a a lot of vital question than “is it on?”

    By admin, in Events,

    World Cup of Indoor Skydiving 2016 - Part 2

    With the conclusion of the FAI World Cup of Indoor Skydiving 2016 we have proved a few things, re-affirmed some others and learned a couple more. The standard of flying on display and the speed at which teams of humans fling themselves around the tube has been of an eye-bulging, jaw-dropping standard throughout. Dynamic teams are separated by the kind of times that require lasers to accurately judge and the 4-Way scores can be upwards of forty points. Juniors in every category across the competition demonstrate that they are skilled and able to step up and battle the grown-ups whenever they choose that they are ready.
    The Dynamic 2-Way competition kicked of with everyone fighting for where they would be seeded into the knockout stage. The eight fastest teams got a buy through the early battles with the exception of the 2015 Suisse 1. Defending world champions Filip Crnjakovic and Fabian Ramseyer made a small early error which snowballed into them performing a whole speed round the wrong way - and subsequently had to work against some strong mid-table opponents to make the finals. Tie-break speed rounds separated the positions at the top - with the Polish Flyspot locals the Vipers taking the gold after sub-one second wins over the French team from Windoor. Special mention should be made for crowd favourites iFly Aspire (Kayleigh and Noah Wittenberg - formerly of Mini Maktoum) and Firefly Singapore (one of which - Kyra Poh - won gold in the Junior Freestyle) as both teams are now competition veterans despite being children - who place among the highest level and are certainly capable of victory.

    The battle raged in the 4-Way Open between Belgium’s Hyabusa and the French team representing the Weembi tunnel (counting a former Hyabusa member among their number) as the two traded rounds until the later part of the competition where the Belgian’s took it. After a slow start the French ladies began to put up scores in the 4-Way Female that would see them place highly in the open category - leaving the two British teams Volition and NFTO to weigh each other up for the remaining positions on the podium. A very healthy turnout of 8 teams for 4-Way Junior saw the Canadians win a gold, with France occupying 2nd and 3rd and proposing that the next crop of French flyers might represent as strongly in skydiving competitions as the current generation. VFS was all about the imperious performance of Mondial champions SDC Core - who intend to continue for for another few trips around the calendar and don’t show any signs of being beaten just yet. However, the young Golden Knights team are looking promising after their battle for Silver with the Russians and have vowed to go hard into next season.
    If they can bring the same pedigree to their new vertical team that the Golden Knights have to their FS interests things might get very interesting.

    The last few competitions have seen indoor Solo Freestyle settle into a legitimate position in the proceedings (and gather a huge number of views with some viral videos) and things are only getting more interesting. The standard of this gathering was high enough that a few mere tenths of points arranged the rankings. Interested competitors now seem to understand that cobbling together your best tunnel moves into a loose sequence is not enough to play at the top - that you have to present all the details properly.
    While not a competition in which music was a part of the rules, many believe it was successfully demonstrated that a well choreographed routine is only added to by a soundtrack - although it remains to be seen exactly how far this element of the format can be taken as the balance between theatre and the parameters actually written down caused some conflict between the judges scores. Leonid Volkov came from Russia with seven separate routines each accompanied by its own piece of music - yet went home with a Silver medal. There is certainly something to be said for that kind of effort and variety but the ruleset does not specify any criteria for rewarding it. He was beaten but one tenth of a point by Finland’s Inka Titto who performed an intricate, technical free round built from the kind of moves the rest of us can only dream of.
    Some scuttlebutt about the nature of the competition - that modern tunnel skills are somewhat overlooked in favour of classical freestyle - can be analysed in the battle for third place. Mad Raven Martin Dedek of the Czech Republic beat young Polish local Maja Kuczyńska to the bronze medal by the same single tenth that decided the top two with a fast, powerful dynamic routine that included enough creative elements and concessions to presentation to secure the win over Maja’s prettier, more classical set.
    This has been the first competition in which the entries in the Dynamic flying category has outnumbered those in the 4-Way open. After some dismissive thinking and comment over the elitist nature of high-end tunnel flying over recent times - that it is solely the province of tunnel instructors and professional coaches - the amount of non-pro and aspiring teams is growing all the time. This reflects the advances we have been making in teaching technique and the accessibility of our sport as a whole. Despite tweaks from one competition to the next - the rules and competition format work with some efficiency, and the rate at which tunnel facilities are sprouting up out of the earth like mushrooms with no signs of slowing down means these world gatherings look set to carry on and continue to grow.
    Full results can be found on the official IPC website at: http://ipc-wcresults.org.uk/
    A wealth of images and more information is available on the WCIS Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=2nd%20fai%20world%20cup%20of%20indoor%20skydiving

    By admin, in Events,

    World Cup of Indoor Skydiving 2016 - Part 1

    Over the last few years - as tunnel competitions have grown ever more popular - it began to look increasingly necessary that some kind of formalisation was in order. A small central element of the involved and interested had been doing a splendid job of arranging indoor skydiving competitions, yet the exponential growth of the industry was bringing with it showdowns of condensing frequency - to the point where it was creating an overall muddle in which not a handful of months would pass without a new set of winners earning a small window of opportunity to declare themselves and be declared the best in the land - right up until the next gathering rolled around.
    Alongside a strong sense of independence from the tunnel community there was a building desire for more intricate and complex measures that could and would validate victory in the form of accepted world champions with trophies and medals and such. Despite the obvious symbiotic relationship between the sky and the tube there was no small resistance to the idea of joining forces with the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, and although it seemed some form of cooperation was a likely outcome - voices could be heard on both sides of the line.
    Maja Kuczynska Perspectives were argued and both had validity. One view held that the FAI was nothing to do with the tunnel (A somewhat ironic switcharoo from the resistance indoor flying was subject to from skydiving traditionalists in its primary years as not being ‘proper’) and that the tunnel community had been doing a bang-up job so far, so what were they really offering other than to assume control over something that belonged to us?
    Yet with the increase in scale across all areas of tunnel business there was the question of the organisational structure that could be offered - was the flying community able to manage all of the bureaucratic considerations for operating what are now truly widespread international shenanigans? Could they create and produce all of the documents suitable and necessary to conduct professional sporting events? The office nitty gritty and the formational nuts and bolts? Who was going to do all that?
    On the other side - throwing in with the FAI meant access to a support structure that has been in place for many years across myriad airborne disciplines - including the ones out there are already related to skydiving. However the FAI might bring with it the problems that have become routine in artistic skydiving competitions - issues with judging, format and structure and an unwieldy ability to change enough and fast enough despite being continually presented and queried about the problems - thus hanging an albatross around the neck of something that is moving too quickly and altering form from one event to the next while still finding its feet and discovering the best way to find out who is the best.
    After some to-ing and fro-ing the result was more-or-less ‘Let’s give it a try and see what happens’. The proof would be in the pudding.
    After a tentative first go at iFly Austin in 2014, the Hurricane Factory in Prague hosted the first formal World Indoor Skydiving Championships a year later with broad success, and now with over 200 teams from 29 countries spread across 4-Way Open, 4-Way Female, VFS, 2-Way Dynamic and Solo Freestyle descending on Poland’s FlySpot on the outskirts of Warsaw - it would seem that the overall appeal has proved the relationship to be valid as the World Cup 2016 gets going.
    Opening Ceremony Notably absent from proceedings is a 4-Way Dynamic competition. 4-Way Dynamic is the most dazzling display of what can currently be done in the tunnel and it is a shame that not quite enough teams were ready for this one - also likely indicative of the combination of high difficulty and a still shifting dive pool that sees teams struggle to commit or even spit up into the 2-Way competition.
    There is also a strong turnout in the Junior Freestyle category, with two thirds as many members as the open version and many kids also present across the belly competition. Everyone has been saying it for years - that the next generation of flyers, raised up in a tube before having anything to do with skydiving would soon be upon us. Well, with some of even the smallest participants electing to fly with the grown-ups and earn their way on a level playing field - here they are.
    Many here keenly feel the absence of two of our best loved and most talented individuals, both of whom we lost to accidents in the mountains this year while pursuing their dreams - Ty Baird, a peerless, perma-smiling ambassador for the sport in general and FlySpot in particular, and Dave Reader - equally influential in quieter ways. The fingerprints of these two are all over the place - not just directly on how people fly by way of their students - but on the evolution of the very techniques we use and also on the composition of some of the elements of the competition itself. They are much missed.
    Each time out things are bit bigger and a little smoother. The rules are starting to settle into a reliable shape, the technological gremlins behind the scenes are becoming more manageable, the live presentation gets a bit slicker and as a result our exposure to the outside world a little wider. There is still some work to do to perfect the system, but everything is only getting better - which just leaves us wondering exactly how many people it might be possible to fit in this room to watch what unfolds over the next few days.
    More information, including the live stream, is available at http://wcis2016.com

    By admin, in Events,

    Coast to Coast Australia

    Pack your bags, quit your jobs... Or just take some annual leave :) It's time to finally make that trip to Australia you've always dreamed of!!!! Coast2Coast is the epic skydiving tour that starts in New Zealand and covers most of the continent of Australia!!! 9 of Australasia's best drop zones in two and a half months of epicness!!! So get your mates together, roll in on your own, buy a van, ride your unicycle... Do whatever it takes to get to Australia for the south of the equator summer!! Starting 4th of Jan 2017 in Taupo, NZ & finishing up in Skydive Territory, NT on the 13th of March 2017. A tour bus will be carting around some of the worlds best to offer coaching at some of the most amazing drop zones in the world! Nick Batsch, TJ Landgren, Nathan Smith & Tyler Romer (Collective Pitch), Scott Paterson(PF), Lawrence De Laubadere, Dan Smith (Focus), Jai Campion(PF), Nathan Brewer, Michael 'Woody' Smart & Terminal Velociraptor and more will loaded up into an epic tour bus and will be covering every inch of the land Down under!! Not to mention some wicked manufacturers getting involved. Too many details to put up here, but this truly is a chance at a once in a lifetime trip that you just have to check out http://www.c2caustralia.com/ Don't miss this, spots at each 4 day mini boogie are limited so get involved and we can get a mega convoy going! Buy a van and jump all over Oz til you can't jump anymore!!! More info and how to book on the site with 7 event and other early bird specials on right now!!!!

    By melonchological, in Events,

    World Parachuting Championships 2016 - Wrap Up

    As the 2016 Mondial draws to a close it has got me thinking about what competitive skydiving means to our community as a whole. Most of the world has little or no idea that the act of falling from aeroplanes can qualify in form and function as a sport - let alone into the myriad ways of counting up points to assess who is the best at all its different disciplines. Many of us begin our careers in this same way - learning to skydive because it is exciting and cool before knowing anything about the existence of a competitive element. During the height of a serious competition it can sometimes seem a long road from those initial intentions of hoofing about in the sky with your friends - serious faces glued to monitors, disappointment in a missed move or a weak round, tension amongst a team, arguments about the rules and controversy over judging. With the pressure on it can be easy to cast an envious glance at the easy body language of the fun-jumper loads sprinkled here and there amongst the motivated and meaningful march of team after team after team.
    Yet competition is a big part is how we evolve. Gathering the most accomplished of our peers into a single place for the purpose of deciding who is best is a huge undertaking - the collected years of refined skill on display at a world level skydiving competition is amazing to witness and the sheer amount of training put into the last week or so here at Skydive Chicago often represents the accumulated knowledge of entire careers in the sky - years and decades - to which the end result of all this is more than simply deciding who is the best. Friendships are made and plans for the future created. Lines of communication are drawn across borders in the skydiving world where perhaps there were none. Skills in every discipline that have been honed to a fine edge over recent weeks and months scatter across the globe as this great swarm disperses - to filter back into the progress of skydiving’s nations, communities and individuals.

    Putting on the Mondial represents a three-year project for Skydive Chicago, and their attention to detail came together with few hiccups. The main issue they have had to wrestle is that the sheer amount of accuracy teams represented meant that despite recognising the task it and going hard from the start they were still trying to get finished after all the other disciplines had long since wrapped up their business. Medal ceremonies were held as the separate competitions ended - starting with the artistic categories, VFS and the eight-way awards first then moving through the others each evening that they finished. There are lot of disciplines at the Mondial which involves much applause, hugs, standing respectfully and proudly for national anthems, and positioning for endless photos. It was an entirely sensible choice to break the awards up over empty evenings as to do it all at once would take a long time indeed - yet this perhaps resulted in a slight sense of fragmentation after the grand communion of the opening ceremony and the weeks proceedings as teams began to scatter once their affairs grew complete. It might have been missing a trick to not keep everyone together until the end - giving the finale a touch more scale and bombast. Yet these are small things in an otherwise impressive undertaking.

    With the end in sight the SDC staff even put in the extra work to bring the banquet and party forward a day to breathe a little room into those tight travel schedules or perhaps allow time to pursue an adventure in the city - for which many are grateful. Many are now in debt to SDC for a free day through which to nurse a hangover brought on by the multiple encouragements of a table-service banquet, a local funk band, the famous SDC fireworks display and Jay Moledzki playing records late into the night.
    So what is next for us? New champions have been created and numerous wold records broken (some obliterated). What we could really use though is some more exposure for our sport. The people of Ottawa and the surrounding communities of Illinois have been as welcoming and hospitable as that for which the people of the United States are celebrated by anyone who has ever actually been here. However despite it being on their very doorstep, when you say “skydiving” and “world championships” together in a sentence there is that familiar battle behind people’s eyes between admiration and incomprehension as they try to commute one idea to the next with no frame of reference. With advances in training methods and equipment skydiving only grows more accessible so the way ahead is bright and clear. That there are places like Skydive Chicago in the world - with the space, support structure and lift capacity to make the demands of a forty-nation get together seem relaxed and efficient means we can plan healthily for the future competitive skydiving - building on our successes and see the sport as a whole continue to grow, educate and amaze people around the world.
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    By admin, in Events,

    World Parachuting Championships 2016 - Day 4 Update

    Henrik Raimer by Daniel Hagström
    There is so much going on across the Mondial proceedings that keeping abreast of everything that is happening is probably impossible.
    As a competitor you are acutely aware of how well you are doing, your personal battles and what is going on directly above and below in your table. You are also probably loosely aware of what is playing out throughout the rest of your category but likely not the specifics. You might have a general picture of how the other members of your nation are doing, discussed in the downtime in your delegation tent. By the time you are reaching across the disciplines to those with which you have few connections the myriad complexities, technical acumen and gatherings of points can quickly retreat into mystery.
    Early call times and some long waits for the right conditions give people a chance to mooch around and learn a bit more about the strange animals on display. An important thing that one can and should take away from this event is that no matter how askance you look at the disciplines somewhat removed from what you do personally, and no matter how much more exciting and important you think your jam is - everyone here is under the same pressure and dealing in equal measures of precision to get the job done.



    Solaris Freestyle by Nicolas Campistron
    At this mid-point through the scheduled days the logistics and weather considerations mean that some disciplines are nearly complete, while some still have the lion’s share to go. The Accuracy area has proven a bit of a draw throughout some long hours when prohibitively low cloud puts paid to any freefall activities - there are something like two hundred representatives doing ten rounds each so they descend carefully from the sky in a seemingly endless precession as human after human plops down onto the pad with a projected sharpened heel presenting a score, most often just a mere couple or few centimetres from the dead centre - which when hit is celebrated with a ripple of applause and a happy squeak from the machinery.
    Formation Updates
    Formation Skydiving is serious business - with a level of skill and technical mastery that takes years to perfect as you evolve through the platforms. Belgium’s Hyabusa have been running away with the open category while a tight battle is playing out in the women’s category between the U.S. Golden Knights and the French ladies with at times just a single point a separating them. Talk of the town here is how much the Qatar team have improved and now throw down proudly in the middle of their peers despite only having become licensed skydivers in 2012.
    French Domination
    The French delegation get good support from their government throughout skydiving and as such their depth of skill is on display across the whole championships. Canopy Relative Work has Frenchies in strong medal positions across the three categories but at this point the exciting part is that both the French 4-way Rotation team and the Qatar 4-way Sequential team have broken world records early on then both proceeded to repeat the feat through subsequent rounds - Qatar doing so a half-dozen times.
    What's happening in freefly
    On the Freefly side of things, local team SDC Core have cleaned up in the business of turning points in VFS - yet despite being far enough out in front for it not to matter were forced to express some concern over a series of busts throughout one round for the same thing over and over which was explained away as them ‘doing it too fast’ even when reviewed on 70% speed.
    In the Artistic categories there is always the thorny issue of exactly what the judges like and don’t like, and the discrepancies between that and the points awarded and the opinions of the flyers taking part. This world meet is turning out to be the same story over again as the consensus of opinion from many of the teams is at odds somewhat with the positions on the scoreboard. However - few would argue that the Russians have been leading the way in Freefly for a few years now with amazing creativity and precision. The truest sign of being on top of the pile in freefly is that a lot of other performances start to look a bit like yours - and the Tunnel Rats influence can be traced down through the scoreboard. Freestyle is another category largely ruled over by the French, with their two teams battling it out for gold and silver by a clear margin. Freestyle is evolving and with a strong showing this year, interest from many other countries and a new generation of born and raised flyers on the way things look to be very exciting from here on.


    German Accuracy by Matthias Walde
    Team dynamics are interesting and complex - there is always a fair amount of conflict and cat-herding even amongst smaller teams, so it is no surprise that the very best 8-way FS teams are military concerns with the discipline and organisation to make it work. On the back of previous victories the Golden Knights are way out in front and show no signs of slipping. For me, the 8-way competition is the most interesting outside of my own as you can kind of make it out from the ground while laying back on an inflatable crocodile in the SDC pond.
    Big numbers in the speed skydiving category
    The biggest surprise of the event so far has come in the Speed category - Sweden’s Henrik Raimer not only broke 500km/h for the first time in an official competition but recorded a new world record with a difficult to comprehend 601km/h. For context - the speediest of the other forms of competitive skydiving operate at around half of that. This is like turning up at the Olympics and running the hundred meters a couple of seconds faster than everyone else. Zoom!

    By admin, in Events,

    World Parachuting Championships 2016 - Introduction

    Photo by Joel Strickland There is much to love about spending time in America. For every little chuckle outsiders have about the way they do things here there is a cultural counterpoint that raises the place above its oddities. For every ludicrous psychedelic foodstuff lining the shelves of Walmart there is a dining experience that you will talk about forever, and for each curious use of language or baffling advertisement there is an example of doing things with such brio and flair it will makes you wish wherever it is you are from was a little more like it is over here.
    It has been a long while since the World Championships was held in the United States. Eloy presented the World Cup in 2005 but not since 1993 has skydiving biggest shown been to town. When discovering a place like Skydive Chicago it seems curious that it has been so long. Rook Nelson’s SDC is a great example of American bigness in the way the space and resources available here are presented. Manicured grass spills out and rolls off in every direction, looking for all the world like it is someone’s job to perpetually ride a mower in the manner of Sisyphus pushing that rock up that mountain. Uniform aircraft proceed in a unbroken cycle around a bespoke creation in a land-load-takeoff cycle eating up the ever increasing demand for lift capacity as one nation after another arrives to shake off the jet lag and get used to the place.
    By Friday the floorspace in the huge hanger is at a premium as there are more than 800 competitors from 37 nations scheduled to arrive from all over the world in time for the opening ceremony on Sunday afternoon. We are a well connected bunch so there is lots of catching up to do - perhaps just days have past between friends and rivals - or there are those have not seen since the last world meet in the Czech Republic two years ago. Teams weigh each other up. Progress is mostly hidden in the sky so much of the judgement is expressed about who has the nicest delegation gear to wear about while on the ground. This is parachuting’s biggest affair so everyone acts like it - style points, swagger, matching colours, matching luggage. The colourful menagerie of the length and breadth of skydiving is present - everything from nations where parachuting is largely a military concern representing proudly in canopy formation work and accuracy jumping, through the storied history and wide appeal of flat flying to the fresh faced kids turing up to throw down the new new way in the artistic categories.


    Photos by Joel Strickland

    Photo by Craig Poxon By the time Sunday morning arrives the place is packed out. A day of heavy rain broke the oppressive humidity of earlier in the week but also flooded out the ancillary dropzone at Cushing Field (‘Swamp’) - so every category is here trying to get in their final practice efforts. Jumping only goes until noon to allow for the briefings and draws and to allow time for everyone to get to town for the opening ceremony. The usually perfectly adequate manifesting software was been set aside in favour of good old paper and pencils for which the result is a gigantic snake of humans at the window putting names in for thirty loads down the line. Pressure builds as we get closer to the start of the competition and everyone is deep in their own affairs - but getting this done should be recognised as no small achievement by the SDC staff as half a dozen aircraft do multiple passes and multiple heights - juggling every single category and jumping everyone safely.
    Some nations present huge delegations for the FAI Worlds using their full allotment of qualifiable teams. France, Great Britain and the USA itself each bring a small crowd to Ottawa Township High School brandishing flags to be introduced and applauded in turn. It is the smaller delegations though that raise the biggest cheers - the UAE has three representatives, Israel two, but the crowd rise to their feet for Cuba and India - nations both with a single member in the competition.

    Photo by Will Penny The UK is not so far removed from the USA - we have been trading culture back and forth for a long time. Even so the images of a thousand movies echo in my imagination as we parade around the local high school football field in our delegation uniforms and it makes me wonder how representatives from more exotic nations find it here. The bleachers, the line of proud veterans with old bolt-action rifles, the national anthem perfectly timed with a formation flypast from the SDC aircraft and an enormous flag demo - Old Glory blazing in the strong afternoon sun. Americans are good at this stuff.
    The competition kicks off in the morning with an early start for some and a more relaxed call of noon for others. For now though we are thirsty and intent on embracing the invitation of hospitality from the mayor and the local community as we ooze out of the school into the town and the setting sun.
    Stay tuned for further updates out of Skydive Chicago by Joel.

    By admin, in Events,

    Skydive Kauai

    After 5 dead from plane crashing, and just a couple weeks since the incident that is still undergoing investigation Skydive Kauai has reopened. http://m.hawaiinewsnow.com/hawaiinewsnow/db_352775/contentdetail.htm?contentguid=t5win1Uh

    By swr1732, in Events,

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