Wingsuit Artistic Camp - NSPC, Australia

    Yes, the wingsuiters are at it again - at Newcastle Sport Parachute Club. On the weekend of 21-22 September 2013 Australia's oldest parachute club was the host of one of skydiving's newest disciplines - artistic wingsuit flying. Organised by local wingsuit coach Roger Hugelshofer and artistic competitor Jason Dodunski, the camp focused on building skills for the precise and technical style of flying involved in competitive acrobatic wingsuiting.
    As we all know, wingsuiting is one of the newest developments in skydiving, but competitive forms of wingsuiting are still in their early stages. While much focus has been on performance flying - flying with the goal of achieving the best glide ratio or forward speed, or lowest descent rate, relative work has also been developing in more formalised directions - these being flocking and artistic flying.
    Flocking generally involves a number of people flying together, but competitive artistic flying requires a much higher level of precision. An artistic team is one of three jumpers - two performers and a camera flyer. Points are awarded for achieving moves and docks in the same way as other relative work, but moves include barrel rolls, front loops, and up-and-overs (flying up and over your team mate, then docking on their opposite hand). The camera person is also judged on their ability to keep the subjects in frame, and using creative methods of shooting such as backflying. In fact, camera can be considered to be the most demanding role Since the competition is judged on the footage, no matter how good the performing flyers are, if they move out of the frame 'it didn't happen'.
    Roger and Jason had much advice to give on how the competition works. Fresh from placing second in the intermediate division at the International Artistic Wingsuit Games at Skydive Texel in the Netherlands with his team Jetstream (also including Ben Futterleib and Leon Hunt) Roger is now focusing very much on artistic wingsuit flying in his jumping. Jason also recently competed with Roger, as part of the team Can’t Fly at the Australian Nationals – which they won.
    With generous support from the APF (thanks APF!) the day was planned with the idea of mixing the teams up and allowing everyone to have their turn at performing or flying camera. We were ready at 8.30am and totally amped. Soon we had a load together with the crew all parcelled up into 3-ways, including well known local hardcores Trent Conroy, Dallas Drury, Paul Munro, Sarah Hughes, Zoran Stopar, Jake Bresnehan, Kieran Turner, Jason and myself. Roger was absent for some time but we forgave him eventually as he was teaching two first First Flight Courses.
    After the first load we had a lot of great footage of our three groups, which was then debriefed by Roger and Jason. The initial focus was on ‘simple’ moves like docking and barrel rolls. For the camera person the obvious task is to get both the jumpers in frame, but from there the job takes on a more technical aspect. It’s not as easy as it sounds keeping two wingsuiters in frame when one is falling faster than the other one, then slower, then faster again.
    It is here that repeated jumps with the same teammates really pays off. Like everything else in skydiving, practise really does make perfect, or at least it gets you to screw up less than everyone else does. For the artistic wingsuit flyers it means that they achieve a much greater level of precision – speeding up docks, adjusting to fly more efficiently with each other in order to have more ‘working time’, and being able to learn more advanced manoeuvres like carving, fruity loops, the Howling Hobbit and Jabba’s Moist Sail Barge (actually one of these is made up). For camera flyers it means being able to anticipate their team mates, know how much height they’ll lose in transitions, and adjust their framing accordingly.
    What I like most about artistic wingsuit flying is that it offers a challenging way of flying with precision. Getting into a wingsuit for the first time can be an amazing feeling of freedom, suddenly having the ability to stay up in the sky for twice as long – the feeling of precise control and of the different speeds both forward and downwards that can be achieved can lead a new wingsuiter to think they’ve suddenly found the pot of beer at the end of the skydiving rainbow. However, once beyond the basic safety skills that are needed to complete a Wingsuit Crest (or your local equivalent), it’s easy to lose focus on the more technical and precise aspects of the sport. Just flying along with one or two of your buddies a few metres away can make it seem like you have everything under control – but not until you try and dock with them do you realise that there is a whole new level of skill available to tackle. On top of that, this style of flying is best done in a beginner/intermediate suit as the extent of the surface area on the larger suits means that transitions more difficult – so it’s yet another awesome use for your first wingsuit.
    The recent Wingsuit Artistic Camp was a resounding success for all involved, we all learnt a lot about the discipline, and had a ton of fun. Massive thanks to Roger, Jason and the team at Newcastle Sport Parachute Club for another awesome weekend.
    I’d like to encourage any wingsuiters to give artistic and acrobatic flying a red-hot go. Being able to fly relatively and consistently with someone else is just the beginning. Training for precision by practising docking will translate to tighter, more consistent flocking abilities, and learning acrobatic manoeuvres will also help prepare you for the inevitable moments instability that we must prepare for as wingsuiters (often caused by bad exits). Not to mention, if you practise, practise and practise, there are local and international competitions to win – so get up there and get into it!

    By johnmatrix, in Events,

    FAI World Cup 2014 - Indoor Skydiving Competition

    The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) - The World Air Sports Federation, was founded in 1905. Skydivers from all over the world have been waiting for this moment of recognition where the indoor skydiving collides with skydiving and the indoor sport competition becomes real.
    In November 2014, history was made in the air sports. For the first time ever Indoor Skydiving was recognized as a sport by the FAI and a World Cup was held at iFLY Austin in Texas, USA. Many countries were represented such as Russia, USA, Canada, Mexico, France, Sweden, Czech Republic and Monaco.

    This is also the first time that a junior category has been recognized within the air sport. Aerokart Akademie sent their best flyers, two FS junior teams with flyers ranging from 10 to 13 years old and an average score of 12.8 and 10.7, Akademie 1 and Akademie 2.
    Both teams have been training hard and competed against five other teams in the same division leading the way for the Bad Boys, representing Czech Republic, with a beautiful win of 20.9 average score. Close behind was our USA team Spaceland Lite and Team eXact from Sweden. The podium never looked so good with so much international talent. In the female category, team Aerokart Deep Blue had a smashing victory with a 24.7 average score, allowing the female team from Czech Republic, Hurricane Factory Chicks, to get second place. These girls certainly made an impression with their coordinated jumpsuits and smiles.

    The Freefly discipline, part of the Artistic Events, always amazes the general public with the synchronized movements and sent the crowd rallying with applauses. Not to be surprised, team USA has put an enormous dedication into showing the world their passion for indoor skydiving and created a routine that took the judges off their feet. Team Mandrake, composed of Chris Dixon and Javier Serrano, won Gold with a 65.0 total score.
    Collective, the other USA team followed with the silver and Orion Freely from Sweden took bronze showing the judges’ one of the most challenging synchronized team exits of the competition The Mexican team, Avix, showed to everyone that with love and dedication, being part of the first world cup was an experience of a life time and to not ever be forgotten no matter what place you got.

    If you enjoy a dance routine performed by a single person that is full of emotion and energy; full enough to make your arm hair spike, than you know that the Freestyle category blew away many eyes and made many heads turn. Music choreography and soft dance moves were incorporated to impress the judges and general public. The indoor World Cup hosted seven Freestyle competitors and they all had their unique signature moves. USA was represented by our ‘Golden Boy’ Reese Willson with an total score of 60.4 and a final round flown with his arms inside his jumpsuit to encourage the disabled to participate in the sport! In second place were the famous pointy toes of Mike Silva with team Collective of the USA, followed by the exquisite flying technique of Olga Bakulina and Leo Volkov with the Russian delegation. Following up the Russians was Drew, Man of Steele, of the USA with his shocking triple flips, then the youngest world medal holder in indoor skydiving history Mateo Lumnios with his matching orange shoes. Lastly in the Freestyle category, Lise Hernandez Girouard represented Canada and got the crowd singing to “pretty woman” during of one of her performance rounds.

    Three countries were represented in the VFS category, USA, Poland and Mexico. SDC standard held their world class status with an average score of 24.3, sharing the podium with team Fly Definition in second place and Avix from Mexico in third. SDC Standard teammates Mickey Nuttall, Will Pesek , Rook Nelson and Jason Peters set the bar really high for anyone that would like to take their World Champion title away next year!
    A few years ago Gillian Rayner, the IPC Controller, explored the idea of creating the World Cup Indoor skydiving, working with Axel Zohmann, Director of the IBA, and iFLY Operations Manager, Erin Horton. Modifying the rules of skydiving and adapting them to an indoor 14 foot wind tunnel, we dedicated this World Cup to all future World Champions that will come after this grand year.
    To many hours of flying in the wind tunnel and to leaping into new winds, may this year motivate many of us to train and to empower our community to achieve new flying skills. We raise the glass to the FAI for making this dream a reality for all of the competitors. Here Here!

    By admin, in Events,

    Women's Vertical World Record Camp

    Lately, my mantra has been, “It’s about the journey, not the destination.” It reminds me that I miss the best things when I’m in a hurry. It reminds me to feel the wind on my face and enjoy the company I’m surrounded in. The destination is just a bonus, because when you get there, a new journey begins.
    In 2003, Amy Chmelecki and I set out to gather the best women freefliers to set a Women’s Vertical World Record (WVWR) at Skydive Arizona. We spent a few months putting together our first big-way camps, and taught ourselves all the ‘behind-the-scenes’ work to put on such a feat.
    In those days, there weren’t very many lady freefliers. We had no idea what outcome to expect, but we walked away breaking several records during that event, ending up with a 16-way.
    Now, ten years later, October 24-26, 2013, Chemeleki and Sara Curtis hosted the last official WVWR camp before the official attempts on November 27th – December 1st – again at Skydive Arizona. Thirty girls in total came out from all over the country to sharpen their skills, build their endurance, and train for a goal.

    Chmelecki and Curtis lead the team beginning with 2-plane shots from the get-go. The plan was to launch a 6-way base with 2 breaking in. I helped as plane captain in the trail plane and we worked out our exit order, sight picture, dive and break off. It was a beautiful day and the nerves were setting in.
    The large base proved to be a challenge, but once it built it was solid and the formation would grow. A few jumps later the base peaked and had a hard time holding. At the end of the day, Chmelecki and Curtis were at the drawing board reengineering the dive.
    The second day had better hopes. The girls were riding the wave of energy, being happy for success on one jump, and not on another. The reengineered skydive wasn’t working as best thought. Some dives were clean, others were not. Slots were being switched around. New plane, new exit, new sight picture. The stress and fatigue was settling in.

    Not every dive goes to plan, so being able to cope with the base turning, planes not being tight enough in formation, over floating or breaking off too early, was a great platform of learning. It provided a real perspective on how world record jumps flow. The 138-way co-ed Vertical World Record took 3 days and 15 jumps to achieve. No matter what happened on the last dive, you still had to do your best on the next one.
    The organizers decided to go with a 6-way base on the last day, and use the same formation as the current 41-way WVWR. This seemed to work out a few kinks and the group improved. The last 3 jumps we went to 16,500’ and used oxygen – another great experience prior the record attempts.

    The group consistently built several successful 20+ ways throughout the camp. As I think back about the journey, although we didn’t build 30+ ways, in 2007 the current WVWR record was only 20! We’ve come such a long way and are still growing!

    The desert was turning cool as the sun met the horizon. We went up for our last jump right before sunset. The lead plane was silhouetted as they flew in formation up to altitude. In the trail plane, we put our hands into the center and I said, “this is the last camp before the record. You should be really proud of how far you’ve come to get here. Keep it simple: level, slot, dock. And be safe!” The energy lifted and we went out and had the best jump of the camp!
    It’s been a year and a half of training women getting ready for the upcoming record. It takes a lot of time and money to get to this point in your skydiving career, and the journey isn’t always easy. In August we lost a comrade, Stephanie Eggum, and I think of her often. I think about our journey that has gotten us all together for this common goal. Skydiving has taken away so much from me, but it has also given me so much. Meeting new women in skydiving has inspired me to keep progressing in the sport, the World Record is just a bonus.

    By admin, in Events,

    African Sky Blue - Skydive Diani’s 3rd Anniversary Boogie (Part 1)

    The monkey freezes, holding two pieces of toast overhead like semaphore flags.
    For a moment, nothing happens. We just stare at each other across the patio table: two primates who want breakfast and are a little startled to find that someone with overlapping priorities has added complications to the goal. For a moment, I think he’s going to set them back down, pat them reassuringly with his long, delicate hands and cast a fulsome grin over his shoulder as he saunters bipedally into the bushes. Instead, he lets loose with a cowabunga screech when I start to rise, tucking both slices under one lanky arm as he uses the other to facilitate an impossible leap to the roof above my head. Once up, he pops his face back over the edge. I’m quite sure he winks. He then chitters his way into the enormous baobab that overhangs the packing huts, clearly satisfied with himself.
    My companion at the table pours himself another cup of tea, orders more toast and pats his forehead with a napkin. The first load of the morning is on a 30-minute call, but we’re already tugging at our collars. Diani snuggles the equator, so the seasons don’t dance a spring-summer-fall-winter foxtrot; it’s either pretty hot or really hot, and it’s pretty darn hot already before 9AM on this early-December day. The pressing swelter is making us pay for last night, which was spent at the beach bar next door, with several bottles of Tusker and an ill-advised shot of tequila or two, chasing crabs through pools of lamplight on the velvet sand.
    The heat blossoms up, up, up from where we sit in the sultry seaside jungle, pressing long thermal fingers through the troposphere, summoning a shoulder-to-shoulder crowd of cumulonimbus calvus. These puffy troops stand a daily watch along Diani’s ribbon of powdered-sugar sand; along the impossible blue of the Indian Ocean. Similarly reliable, Kenya’s coastal wind system pumps as reliably as a healthy heart. It pushes consistently and directly down the twelve-mile-long line of the beach, day after day after day.
    When the ten-minute call goes up, I set my remaining toast back down and smile. It’s time to go play.
    My companion and I wiggle into our gear and make our way to the dropzone bus, relishing the little puffs of air conditioning that emit from the ceiling vents. Once our motley bunch of boogiers have boarded, we’re underway: two French freefly medalists, fresh from the Mondial; a South African dropzone owner watching his clever daughter giggle her way through AFF; my curly-haired companion, a beguiling Briton who has taken national gold in freefly and freestyle alike; a Russian instructor who has probably never once frowned; Diani’s resident TIs, who look like two different artists’ renderings of Peter Pan; an international assemblage of fun jumpers, representing a comprehensive gamut of languages, disciplines and gear loyalties. As we cobble together an exit order, we scratch down the gravel road from the stately white house and grounds that comprise the dropzone, starting what I can only properly describe as a ten-minute summary of the African experience.
    The road between the dropzone house and Diani’s Ukunda Airfield is about four and a half kilometers long. That four and a half kilometers starts in earnest with a paved, two-lane road, lined by crayon-box craft stalls and criss-crossed by vervet monkey families. Exuberantly painted tuktuks (“JESUS LOVE! WU-TANG 4EVER! BIG DADDY!”) blast past the bus, signs proclaiming their three-passenger capacity partially obscured by passenger number five’s arm, leg or shopping bag. When we negotiate the sharp turn onto the airstrip road, we’re greeted by a gaggle of tiny children in baggy school uniforms, howling and waving at us through the windows as we bump along. Shiny babies peek shyly from the backs of their mamas who, draped fastidiously in the sherbert wraps of their kikoy, walk with the lulling, rolling cadence of hips that have never been parked at a desk. Imminently pregnant cows march, at their kid shepherd’s behest, to match our forward movement as we pass a series of crumbling tin-roofed shops selling peanuts and airtime; a mission schoolhouse; a braiding salon comprised of a single pink lawn chair; a toilet plumbed directly into the middle of an open yard; a throng of shoeless teenagers in Chinese G-Star polo shirts, singing. The bus driver tries to hurry. I want him to slow down.
    Once we’ve passed the stern-faced airport soldiers and have bundled out of the bus, I lean down to firm my shoelace ties. I’m jostled by a woman dressed in her shiny-shoed Sunday best, as is often the case in Kenyan airports. She has wandered over to poke at the rig on my back.
    “Is this a parachute?,” she asks, as I weave to avoid a more comprehensive probing. When I answer in the affirmative, she shakes her head and smiles the wide, crinkle-eyed, hakuna-matata smile that seems to be the Kenyan default.
    “Say hello to God for me,” she says as she wheels her carry-on through the doors of the tiny terminal.
    As I try to figure out exactly what she meant by that, I hear the Dornier spin up. Another Diani day has officially begun.
    Skydiving, as you can see in the faces of the locals, is a relatively new addition to the list of activities on offer at Diani Beach. In fact, as of my first jump at the dropzone, it had been three years almost to the day since Skydive Diani first opened its doors. Though the country’s history in skydiving goes back a decade, Kenya’s skydiving scene had been categorically temporary--a week-long belly boogie, here or there, hosted from borrowed safari bushplanes in different parts of the country. In 2012, a square-jawed British expat named Gary Lincoln-Hope ended up at one of these boogies--which was, fortuitously, taking place in Diani.
    Gary did his first tandem at age 16. He joined the British army soon thereafter, as a commissioned officer in the parachute regiment, traveling extensively in the process. Though circumstances and conflicting responsibilities prevented him from going through his AFF while he was in the army, it was his first priority when he matriculated. The new skydiver founded a London-based security company and jumped faithfully all weekend long, every good-weather weekend. When he decided to expand his security business to Kenya--a country he’d fallen for during the course of several army training jaunts--he didn’t want to stop jumping.
    “I had been in Kenya for a little when I happened to come to that boogie,” Gary explains, “And I really enjoyed it. It was a huge buzz. I just knew that there should be a drop zone here in Diani. It didn’t hurt that I was really missing skydiving, because there was nowhere to do it in Kenya and I was based in a place with nowhere to jump. Luckily, I was quite entrepreneurial back then. I didn’t really know anything about skydiving, but I had set up a business here and in the UK, and I reckoned I could make it work.”
    Within months, Gary found the house, sourced a 206, rushed through some documentation, put the proper requests through to a somewhat baffled aviation authority and--four weeks later--found himself the proud operator of an active dropzone. By the time 2012 was out, it was all systems go. At the time Skydive Diani opened its doors, Gary himself had 300 jumps. Several thousand jumps and all their instructor ratings later, Gary and the team find themselves flying multiple aircraft from the cute to the huge.
    “Skydive Diani was always intended to be a place to go to jump for fun,” Gary insists, “Fun is now and has always been at the top of the agenda.”
    “I didn’t do it to make money,” he continues “I did it because I wanted to skydive on weekends. But I got a couple of willing tandem instructors to come over. Business was slow at the start, because the difficulty in Kenya is you are not selling tandems; you are selling the very idea of jumping out of a plane.”
    “During that first four months,” he continues, “I was jumping every single load, just to build up my own experience and jump numbers so I could through the rating courses. It’s been a long road, but it has steadily, organically grown to what it is now.”
    Continue reading part 2
    Originally published in Blue Skies Magazine

    By admin, in Events,

    Dubai International Parachuting Championships - Day 5 & 6

    All imagery by Konwent Photography
    FS (previously known as RW) is a classic discipline in skydiving, known and developed for years by those who love cooperation, synchronization and team spirit. VFS can be treated as a modern variant of FS flying, however it is different in almost every aspect. The future of both disciplines will probably not be the same neither.

    Entry level too demanding
    Both FS and FVS are skydiving disciplines where four people have to cooperate really close, get the highest level of precision, mutual understanding and speed. What makes them different is the orientation. Cameraman is part of the team and goes together through all ups and downs. Regardless omnipresent admiration of freefly in general, VFS appears to be less and less popular, belly flyers at the same time are getting stronger.
    - It is very difficult to start a serious training in VFS. Being able to move forward, backwards, sides and turns on a belly is enough to start even the simplest training. VFS is a completely different story, the entry level is much higher and you need to gather five people with required skills in headup and headdown positions. It’s not easy to create a team - claims Karla Cole from 5th DIPC Judges Committee. - I would also say that the cooperation between the team and cameraman is also more demanding. It’s much easier to catch all grips from above, while here cameraman needs to move quickly, needs to know sequences and figures very well to adjust movements and his (or her) own position to show grips to the judges.

    Tunnel future for VFS?
    When you listen well to skydivers’ whispering you’ll hear that VFS will more likely move to the tunnels. What’s interesting is that you can’t say the same thing about FS flying. This classic discipline is growing and in this case tunnels are only improving skydivers’ skills. Many FS competitions take place in the tunnels but outdoor “oldschool” skydiving is still in charge. On 5th DIPC there are 13 teams on FS Open and 8 teams on FS Female. In the same time - we only have two VFS teams (keep in mind that $7000 award will not be given to anybody).
    - Of course freefly is more fun at the moment, but VFS is something really different. People love dynamic stuff, carving around, doing snakes, layouts… - says Benoit Lemay, member of Canadian Evolution team, which compete in both FS and FVS disciplines - I think that either VFS will move to the tunnels, either 2-way VFS teams will start to participate because it’s easier to practice and to organize.

    - I don’t think VFS will migrate to the tunnel and stay there. Tunnels provide great training conditions and these days are more accessible to everyone. - explains Marcin Seń from Almost, polish representation - You don’t have to be a skydiver to train in the wind tunnel, that’s why there are more VFS teams competing in the tunnels than in the sky. And let’s face it, VFS is much more difficult than FS.

    Freefly is about imagination
    Benoit is not the only one who noticed that skydivers are more interested in dynamic freefly than in competing FVS. Also Olav Zipster says that freefly is more about using your body in every way possible than about following formal rules of 4-way flying: randoms, blocks, strong dynamic exits etc. Freefly is more about emotions and imagination, you can do literally whatever you want. It’s like swimming in the air, go faster, go slower, invent new rotations, adjust your movements to what you want to achieve. That’s what counts for example in freestyle, I think this is the future of freefly on the competitions in years to come. - Olav Zipster, freefly legend with 28 years of experience - I think FVS is really difficult to train and it doesn’t really feel natural for freefly to stick to the rules and demanding frames.

    No matter how both VFS teams fly during this competition, it’s difficult to say that the battle is exciting. We can only hope that in next competitions and championships more teams will participate to keep the discipline alive. In the same time in FS competition TOP3 varies from one round to another so we all look forward to the very exiting end of it. Canadian, Belgium, USA - these three teams are working hard for the gold medal.
    - We started with Hayabusa 5.0 which means that we have a new member, Jeroen, instead of Roy who decided to choose professional coach career. We treat this competition as an additional training, but we’re doing good, and hope to win - says David Grauwels from Hayabusa, Belgium FS representation (2nd place after 7th round) - We really don’t have any secret plan, we just verify round after round how it goes and where are our weak points. It’s all about cooperation and trust in the team.

    What’s new in DIPC
    5th and 6th day of the competition is still very windy, so Accuracy was put on hold for the majority of both days. Competitors were able to do only one round in the evening. Everyday there is an air show of Zoltan’s team, Parabatix team and plenty of music, gymnastics and sport performers at the dropzone. Also every day organizers draw 10 lucky winners who get iPads and iPhones 6.
    Today, on Tuesday, Canopy Piloting should start their rounds, but after two first loads organizers decided to wait for better conditions. Afer one day of relax and DISL celebration, all swoopers are ready to show how they perform with speed, distance and accuracy. Looking forward to the real show!
    Current results can be found at both Omniskore's and EAF's websites

    By admin, in Events,

    Skydive Arizona - Christmas / New Years Boogie 2013 Review

    The Christmas New Year's Boogie at Skydive Arizona ran from December 21st to January 1st. The drop zone pulled out all the stops to make sure there was something for absolutely everyone at this year's boogie. The registration fee was only $35 and jump tickets were discounted to $21 for the duration of the event. The boogie fleet included Skydive Arizona's Otters, Skyvans, and the DC3. Burner's Skydive Arizona hot air balloon (High But Dry Balloons) was also available for jumps most mornings and afternoons. The weather was nearly perfect for most of the boogie with afternoon highs frequently reaching the 70s.

    Load organizers from the Arizona Training Center, Arizona Airspeed, and Arizona Arsenal were on hand for the full event for belly flyers and free flyers, and Sean "Monkey" Horton was available to organize wing suits. The drop zone also hosted numerous skydiving events for those who wanted more structure to their jumping days. These events included an AXIS Flight School B-License Canopy course complete with water training; Women's FS Sequentials with Brianne Thompson (AXIS Flight School) and Sara Curtis (Arizona Arsenal); two 4-Way Days and two Big Way Days with Arizona Airspeed; and a Hybrid Day, a Tracking/Angle Flying Day, a Head Down Formation Day, and an Upright Formation Day with Arizona Arsenal.

    The fun continued every night after sunset with free boogie beer for all registered jumpers. To help cut down on drinking and driving, Skydive Arizona offered a free shuttle service for boogie participants every night from Christmas to New Year. Evening seminars were offered some evenings including Canopy Flight with AXIS Flight School, Intro to 4-Way FS with Arizona Airspeed, Big-Way Flying with Arizona Airspeed, Tracking/Angle Flying with Arizona Arsenal, and Basics of Free Fly with Arizona Arsenal. The boogie also offered free appetizers on Christmas Eve at the Bent Prop, a Christmas movie night (National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation), a Hypnotist show, a Skyvan Tailgate party (to celebrate the arrival of Skydive Arizona's new Skyvans number six and number seven), an 80s Dance Party, a bonfire and hot dog roast (an annual Skydive Arizona tradition), and a wish lantern release. The biggest hits for evening entertainment were definitely Casino Night and the New Year's Eve Party. The top prize for Casino Night was a trip to Lost Prairie 2014 or the Skydive Arizona Christmas New Year's Boogie 2014 won by Jesse Williams. Other prizes included SkyVenture Arizona tunnel time, Skydive Arizona jump tickets, Bent Prop gift certificates, a Phantom X helmet from Square 2, a balloon jump from High but Dry Balloons, massages from Toltec Wellness Center, and lots of other prizes from Rigging Innovations, Cypress, Bev Suits, Vigil, UPT Vector, and Icarus Canopies. The New Year's Eve Party included free champagne and a balloon drop at midnight. Select balloons contained even more awesome prizes from the sponsers/vendors already mentioned.

    Overall, a great boogie. Everyone had a chance to relax and have fun but also work on developing their skills in their chosen disciplines. Thanks to all the Skydive Arizona staff for their hard work that made this event run smoothly. And of course thanks so much to the 500 skydivers who came out to play!

    By admin, in Events,

    Skydive Arizona Halloween Boogie 2014

    Photo by Hypoxic Imagine a skydiving vacation over Halloween in Arizona... free registration, discounted jumps, paintball wars dressed in costumes, an off-the-hook costume party, organizers leading your jumps from Arizona Airspeed, Arizona Arsenal and the Arizona Training Center, and jumps from all different kinds of fast airplanes - skyvans, otters and a DC3... Does that sound good? Well, nearly 300 registered participants lived that imagination at Skydive Arizona's Halloween Carnival from October 31st - November 2nd, and if you weren't here - you missed out!
    Skydive Arizona went all out setting up the desert landscape with scrapped vehicles, planes, hay bales and an awesome sound system to set the stage for the Apocalyptic Zombie Paintball Wars! Over 100 jumpers partook in the first annual games winning jumps and tunnel time.

    Photo by Hypoxic Rigging Innovations put up this year's grand prize of a free Curve Container for the costume party. Skyventure donated several certificates for tunnel time, Skydive Arizona donated several jump tickets High But Dry Balloons donated 2 free balloon jumps and the Bent Prop threw in a few gift certificates as well. And that was enough motivation to get people to dress up in clever, bizarre, and detailed costumes.
    A 5-panel judge calculated their scores and awarded these 3 homemade costumes top 3:
    1st Place - Wookie/Big Foot (Casey Vanhyhuys)

    2nd Place - Pixar Lamp (William Cain)

    3rd Place - Magic Carpet Ride (Tomer Falach)
    Other categories winning prizes were Sexiest Male/Female, Best Group, Best Presentation, Best Product Placement and Most Disturbing.

    Photo by Niklas Daniel In conjunction to the Carnival, Sara Curtis and Ryan Risberg led a group to prepare for the Head-Up World Record Attempts coming up this November 20-23. Helping them out flying camera were Sam Baker and Nick Blacksher. The success of the camp was building 22 out of a 29-way.
    Don't miss out on next year's Halloween Carnival! Mark your calendars now, I dare you!

    Photo by Niklas Daniel

    Photo by Niklas Daniel

    Photo by Niklas Daniel

    Photo by Sam Schwan

    Photo by Sam Schwan

    Photo by Niklas Daniel

    Photo by Niklas Daniel

    By admin, in Events,

    African Sky Blue - Skydive Diani’s 3rd Anniversary Boogie (Part 2)

    Continued from Part 1
    Steady and organic as it has been for three years running, the growth for this particular event is a little more along the “exponential” lines. The biggest boogie Diani had seen before this particular crowd descended was made up of around 30 people; today, almost a hundred jumpers are thronging about the place. They’re poured out in ones, twos and threes on the pillows heaped on princely carved daises. They’re queueing up for smoothies at the bar--a converted Volkswagen bus, painted a cheerful robin’s-egg blue. (The van’s side roof has been removed to reveal a seemingly indefatigable blender and its winking operator--Jimmy, a Kenyan with light eyes, a quick wit and international schooling who’s just about to start on his helicopter pilot’s license.) Two dropzone dogs chase wayward monkeys up the treetrunks. A local taps an endless stack of coconuts with his practiced machete, revealing the restorative nectar inside for the jumpers rustling back in from their beach landings. A dozen packers, tidily kitted out in their official Skydive Diani shirts and swoop shorts, busily compress a steady stream of nylon under thatch roofs. It’s busy here.
    Not too long ago, this wide lawn would have had a population of perhaps four, give or take--and, reliably, one of those residents would be Ingvild Finvåg.
    Ingvild’s Viking-blue eyes and honey-blonde, Disney-princess locks announce her provenance with rigorous clarity, even if the mildness of her Nordic lilt does not. Her polished manners and peach-cheeked smiles belie the steady, bulldog resolve that has placed her squarely next to Gary at the heart of the Diani operation.
    Ingvild did a handful of skydives in her early 20’s, but it didn’t quite take. Seven years later, she moved to Mombasa from Oslo to work the volunteer circuit; this time, it snagged her thoroughly. She landed from her first Skydive Diani jump and essentially never left. Ingvild started her AFF in earnest a week later, logging a hundred jumps within that first season, then quickly going on to earn her TI and AFF instructor ratings. As it turns out, hers was one of the first tandems Skydive Diani had ever done.
    “I just hung around, jumping all the time, and built up jump numbers,” Ingvild remembers. “I just wanted to be around the drop zone.”
    Ingvild initially picked up a gig as the dropzone’s marketing liaison; now, she’s General Manager. On this particular afternoon, she’s ensconced at the front desk, working out the details of the catering for tonight’s Christmas party as she scruffles Bonbon, her roly-poly, lambswool dog. Next to Ingvild, Aaron Kitchener--an old friend of Gary’s, who co-runs his Kenyan security firm--is pitching in to run the manifest and make sure the bottomless coffee and tea urns stay full. When the final load goes up, Aaron ambles out from behind the desk, summoning the ground crew to help him unbox, unwrap and light dozens of oil lamps, all in the DZ’s signature blue. By the time the sunset load comes whooping down, the lamps are casting warm pools of light at the feet of the lawn’s tall palm trees, guiding the way to the free beer.
    If this isn’t paradise, I don’t know what is.
    We hear the Christmas party before we see it.

    Kenya Defence Forces Parachute Display Team by Joel StricklandAs we stroll down the long driveway towards the boutique hotel Gary and Ingvild have arranged to host the shindig, the happy chitter of a hundred giddy skydivers comes through the trees to announce that we’ve come to the right place. When we enter the venue, we’re stunned: this is an actual-factual Christmas party, not a cobbled-together skydiverly simalcrum. It’s a pressed-tablecloth affair, with roses and candles and African-themed Christmas crackers at every place setting. Skydivers swish about in showy dresses and ironed collars. Solicitous waiters work their way through the constellation of tables like fish in a reef, wine bottles dipping this way and that. We’re seated with the Kenyan Defense Force parachute demo team, a decorous foursome who, as we draw them out, set about showing us smartphone photos of their farms and families. We work our way together through a splendid little buffet, watching luminarias twinkle around the pool as we tell our stories.
    As we tuck into our Christmas pudding, a representative of the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority makes his way to the front stage, attired in what must be his full traditional kit. As he sings the dropzone’s praises and hails the rich future of Kenyan airsports, jumpers pepper his speech with happy hoots and hollers. The phenomenon seems a little new to him, but he rolls with it, eventually passing the mic to Gary, who delivers an emotional brief history of the place before introducing a live band.
    In a handful of minutes, the dance floor is pumping and the pool is splashing. At one point, Jarrett Martin takes advantage of a suitable path to take a flying roll into the deep end. By the time I call it a night, I’ve already written off tomorrow morning.
    Fair play.

    Image by Mikael Soderberg It’s certainly not the only morning that we happily write off over the course of the ten-day event. Gary and Ingvild have planned get-togethers for every night we’re together there, and none of them are missable moments. From the outdoor cuddle-puddle movie night to the jump-in “invasion” of the island at the far border of the marine reserve, these are one-event-per-boogie special, but they’re happening every time the sun goes down.
    There’s the pizza night at the fancypants resort down the road, for instance.
    After we pass through the massive wooden gates, staff in crisply pressed uniforms with crisply pressed hellos lead us past a succession of rose-petal fountains. Somewhere back beyond the second or third swimming pool, we’re established family-style at long tables and presented with pizzas that would pass the muster of any Italian expat. Someone unfurls a projector screen and hits play on the day tape, which revolves on the axis of some gorgeous flying by Airwax--the French team--as they spin around the tropospheric ballroom with consummate grace. The dazzling footage has the knock-on effect of reminding us that we’re here for skydiving, after all. Several of us immediately order water.
    On another evening, we pile into the Dornier for sunset inhopps to the Tiwi rivermouth. The takeoff timing leans heavily towards the late side for this strictly VFR airstrip, so we hardly get a peek at the low, golden sprawl of Mombasa and its interwoven estuaries before we’re scrambling out the door.
    The exit rush and the sudden fall of darkness has me a little discombobulated when I land, so I’m nowhere near prepared for what happens next.
    As I’m scrabbling up my lines and putting together what just happened, a group of Kenyans marches up from the treeline, surrounding me and the jumper I landed with. Dozens of them. Before I can respond to their sudden arrival, they start singing. And hugging us. And hugging each other. And dancing. And suddenly, we’re spinning in a vortex of big gospel voices, heads thrown back, pouring bouncing, burnt-sugar Swahili into the twilight sky.
    They eventually let us go after hauling us back in for just one more selfie; just one more enforced nuzzle into a rotund grandmama’s rooster bosom; just one more high five for somebody’s shy preschooler. They wave until we’re hundreds of feet farther on our way towards the barbecue Gary and Ingvild have set up on the banks.
    As I tromp through the rivermouth dunes towards the glow of headlights and smiling faces, I can’t help but thinking there’s no place like this one. I can’t help counting the days until I return.
    And next time, I’ll order extra toast for the monkey.
    Originally published in Blue Skies Magazine

    By admin, in Events,

    Babes in Boyland: Skydiving Chicks Rock Boogie

    It isn't news that women who skydive are exceptional creatures, and most of the sisterhood is hip to this fact. So, to celebrate their common bonds, many of them travel from far and near every fall to the Skydiving Chicks Rock Boogie, at Skydive Elsinore in Southern California. Wicked fun skydives and even wilder festivities with some exceptional ladies are the custom and with a 50-50 ratio of ladies to men, the guys are equally stoked to have so many skydiving babes in one place. This annual celebration boasts a bigger turnout each year as most participants agree, "Chicks Rock Boogie is the best boogie EVER!" Of course this is subjective, so here's a look at what went down at the 6th annual event, September 29-October 1, to cause such a groundswell.
    The long-anticipated bash was heralded by the Women's Head-down World Record camp Thursday, September 28-29, led by Melissa Nelson and Amy Chmelecki. The camp focused on building a solid foundation of head-down skills in small, relaxed, intimate skydives. Participants ranged from intermediate to advanced freeflyers, and learned how to fly each slot launching a 4-way flower, float, dive, the importance of keeping heads on level, docking, breathing and goal-setting. Personal and group improvements, and the feeling of solidarity created a contagious excitement between the women.
    With their beautiful smiles and calm ways, Melissa and Amy were friendly and easy to get to know. Their Zen-like quality in the air encouraged others to relax, and get the most from the skydives. The most interesting and effective bullet in their presentation-"Fly like you're the sexiest woman in the sky!"
    The pulse quickened as skydivers and vendors rolled in throughout Friday. Elsinore's reputation for its' sensational and friendly vibe could be sensed just by looking around: gorgeous mountains to the East and West, clear blue skies, and cushy, reclining couches near shady trees on an emerald lawn for socializing and relaxing between jumps. Jumpers were greeted by cheerful office staff and volunteer, Tanya Porter, who came prepared with her characteristic homemade cookies, Go Fast drinks, stylish T-shirts, and goodie bags to dole out at registration. Tanya is one of those women who always has a smile and treats for everyone on the dropzone.
    Jumpers' material cravings were fulfilled by a variety of vendors and sponsors on site: Performance Designs to demo canopies, Vigil USA for AADs, Velocity Sports, Relative Workshop, Liquid Sky Jumpsuits discounts, Ouragan Suits discounts, Altimaster altimeters, Bliss Therapeutic Massage services, Matter Clothing, Go Fast energy drinks, Elsinore Gravity coaching, and Elsinore Freefly School coaching. And for those needing a different kind of rush, expert body-piercer, Moo, needled in on willing participants.
    Friday morning, load organizers wasted no time getting creative with skydives that combined fliers of all disciplines and skill levels. The world-class talent available to jumpers contributed to their excitement as skills improved with each jump. For freeflyers, jumpers could choose from Amy Chemelicki, Melissa Nelson, Andy Malchiodi, Andrew Staich and Danilo Dadic. Formation skydivers stayed sated with Lou Ascione of Elsinore Gravity, Brianne Thompson, and Marie Harrell. Wingsuiters could demo one of Tony Suits new wingsuits with organizer Jeff Nebelkopf. Most everything in between (hybrids, sequential hybrids, rodeos, and hybrid-rodeos) could be handled by the multi-talented Melanie Curtis and Steve Simar. If you can dream it, they'll try it at Chicks Rock! Like jumper Christine Freiherr's hybrid idea that turned into a successful 4-way open accordion hybrid with two hangers turning points.
    Friday wound down with a barbeque, kegs and a riveted audience in front of the big-screen. The night' feature: a best-of compilation by legendary freefall videographer, Tom Sanders, and the premiere viewing of Andy Malchiodi's newest release, "The Remedy", featuring all the big-way freefly sequential events of the last two years, plus Andy's Accuracy & Swoop Tips-a gasper for sure!
    From dawn Saturday until the wee hours Sunday morning, Skydive Elsinore was a glowing, bubbling cauldron of activity. Load organizers hustled to keep up with the planes and maintain variety. Lines for manifest grew as jumpers got a taste of what Chicks Rock is all about-ridiculously fun and exciting skydives with women in the spotlight! Jumps stayed spicy and varied with tube jumps, tracking pylon races, multiple-point freefly jumps, lots of hybrids, Pink Mafia Sister initiations, 4/6/8+ way RW, plus Skysurfer hybrids, tracking dives, head-down pylon races, Marianne Kramer's bittersweet glitter dive, and plenty of "chica-ways" (all-chick skydives), including memorable all-chicks sunset tracking loads with all the ladies in, smiling and stoked to be sharing the love with their sistas. There was such an intense excitement around the dropzone that few noticed when the Skyvan literally blew up after one load. No one seemed to mind having just three Otters flying back to back all day long.
    Saturday's sunset load was a hit and chug flown by the DC-3. The long ride to altitude on the DC-3 was made memorable as the sunset's orange-pink glow filtered through the small windows casting a cinematic light on the restless jumpers. Spectators waiting in the landing area belly laughed their way through the hit and chug comedy show, starting with Jonathan Tagle shaking the waiting cans of beer in the peas, to jumpers spraying themselves with exploding beer as fierce competitors plowed them over to get their own. That's "just the way they roll" at Skydive Elsinore.
    As the last jumpers landed during the sunset on Saturday, Jeff Nebelkopf drew a grand, circular crowd as he fired up his chainsaw and set to work carving an ice-sculpture shot-luge in the form of a muscular man's torso for the ladies to get their lips on. Saturday's Night Swoop Demo was a sure crowd pleaser with fresh kegs handy pond-side and shows from Isaiah McCauliffe, Andy Malchiodi, Chris Johnston, and John Hamilton. Then, in grand finale fashion, J.C. Colclasure and Jonathan Tagle performed a perfect 2-way, eliciting a thunderous roar from the audience! Event staff were challenged in keeping the audience a safe distance from the edge of the pond during the demonstration. And it grew even harder when announcer, Steve Simar, declared above the applause, "And for our Finale: Andrew Staich will be confidently swooping NAKED for all you ladies (and gents)!" Just, Wow! What a great pre-dinner appetizer! Surprised chicks stared with mouths agape and eyes glued to Staich's long, smooth swoop. And, no, he didn't get wet.
    Then, hungry skydivers relaxed together over a delicious, catered dinner of roast chicken before donning sensational Rock Star costumes to kick off the Saturday night theme party in grand style. Everyone played the part, with lots of Rock Star attitude, wigs, big coats, makeup, tight clothes and skin! Partiers got in the groove with Jell-o shots concocted by the amazing Rosa Alva (yet another skydiving chick who rocks) to benefit breast cancer. Rosa has this attractive perennial exuberance and energy. She organizes and participates in fundraising for medical charities like Locks of Love, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation and the National Philanthropic Trust Breast Cancer Fund. Skydivers spent nearly $450, in one night, on her Jell-o shots!
    In addition, partiers enjoyed scintillating body shots, cool shots flowing down the male torso ice-luge, landing in eager ladies lips at the happy trail, and a variety of kegs loitering in the four corners of the bar. Moo kept the dance floor packed until 2AM with favorite rock star tunes. Others kept warm around the fireplace catching up with old friends and making new ones. It's easy to do at Skydive Elsinore.
    Sunday was a slow morning for lots of skydivers, but there were enough die-hards to get the first load up by 8:30. Another DC-3 load went up on Sunday, and many skydivers who jumped it Saturday enjoyed it so much they came back for more. Sunday afternoon's raffle winners collected all sorts of prizes that make skydivers smile. Two otters flew all day long, and were still packed come sunset. Both sunset loads were hit-n-chugs!
    Jumpers relished the beautiful scenery up high with mountain terrain and ocean horizons to the east and west and gorgeous Lake Elsinore below. Video and stills were the name of the game, on the ground and in the air, because everyone knows if there's no video, it didn't happen! Pat Newman faithfully collected footage of the antics for the Chicks Rock DVD and Skydive Elsinore website. (They're all about pictures; helps recollect the insane, foggy moments.)
    Melanie Curtis, event organizer at Skydive Elsinore, really knows how to throw a swingin' shindig that attracts confident, adventurous babes like herself: offer a variety of activities, skydives, stunts, food, liquor, music and eye candy! Outgoing and energetic, she's a natural at helping you feel like part of the family. Her passion for teaching and talent for putting jumpers in the right slots, make organizing successful, multi-disciplined skydives look easy. From the myriad of crazy faces she has for any camera nearby, to her witty and hilarious commentary, Melanie is always making those around her laugh.
    Boasting hundreds of participants from all over the US and as far as Japan, and 127 loads, this year's Chicks Rock Boogie was the most exciting and successful yet. The weather was perfect, and there were no major injuries, despite a few nail-biting landings. DZO's Karl Gulledge and John Hamilton were truly unique in their friendly and dedicated approach to ensuring everyone had an enjoyable experience. Bottom-line: You're missing out on one of the friendliest, most exciting skydiving boogies around if you haven't been to the Chicks Rock boogie held each year at Skydive Elsinore.
    The countdown to next year has begun…. Will you be there?

    By admin, in Events,

    The 12th Annual St. Patrick's Day Celebration Boogie

    All Imagery by Raymond Adams What: Fitz Boogie 2015
    Where: 168 Paulk Park Rd.
    Fitzgerald,Ga 31750
    When: March 19th - 22nd
    Why: Great People, Great Vibe, Great Skydives
    The St. Patrick’s Day Celebration Boogie is one of the few stand alone, off DZ, events left. It was born from the original idea Chris Spence had for a backyard boogie, originally held in Bolingbroke,Ga for several years on New Year’s and July 4th. Spence had access to a private airstrip across from his house and would bring in a Cessna 182 for the small events. After a day of jumping there would be food, a bonfire and the occasional adult beverage.
    After several years, the event grew too popular to continue at the house. A new location was sought out and RoamingDZ was born. The event was held once in Perry,Ga. before the idea for the St. Patrick’s Day Celebration Boogie came along shortly followed by the connection to the Dublin,Ga. location. The event thrived for many years in Dublin with attendance growing to over 350 by the third year. That same year the line-up of aircraft included two Casa's, a Caravan, a Pac-750, an Alouette helicopter and a Hot Air Balloon.
    Tragedy struck the 4th year of the event when a canopy collision claimed the lives of Bob Holler and Danny Page. The decision was made to relocate the event after this tragedy as local politics made it impossible to enjoy the boogie as in previous years. If not for the support of many of Spence’s skydiving friends this would have been the end of the event.
    The St. Patrick’s Day Celebration Boogie was held the following year in St.Marys,Ga and stands as the only event Spence has ever held on an active DZ.
    Which brings us to the current location in Fitzgerald, GA. Suggested by a friend while driving around Georgia looking for a new location, Spence went to check out what was said to be the perfect place to have a boogie; and sure enough, it was.
    The boogie venue boarders the east side of the Fitzgerald Municipal Airport and their 3000ft turf runway that doubles as the landing area for the skydivers. The area, known as Paulk Park, which includes a reception building that houses registration for the event, as well as check-in for the tandems and a full kitchen to keep all the jumpers well fueled. There are 25 full hookup RV slots as well as plenty of room for camping, on site showers, a washer and dryer, and a 10 acre swoop pond.

    A large 40x80 packing tent is set up as well as private group/packing tents.
    Pre Boogie starts on Monday the 16th this year with early arrivals and a fun laid back atmosphere through the setup. You can choose from cooking out with friends, hanging out around the campfires or heading to town for some good eats. We'll have a list of the best places to try.
    The official start of the boogie is Thursday morning, but with this year’s response we might be able to get a few loads in the air on Wednesday. The boogie generally starts out kind of mild as people begin to arrive as they can, with Friday night bringing a huge influx. By Saturday morning registration is typically well over 200 and I highly expect it to approach 300 this year.
    Over the years the event has acted as a meeting place for members of Dropzone.com, and there is currently a thread in the forums where users who plan to attend this year's event can place their name. Currently, there are more than 20 site members who plan to attend the 12th Annual St. Patrick's Day Celebration Boogie

    What's in store for this year?
    So far the aircraft line-up includes: the Twin Otter from Skydive Atlanta, the Beech 99 from Skydive the Farm (this may to turn into an Otter), a JetRanger helicopter and a Hot Air Balloon. It's possible a third aircraft will be added.
    We generally have organizers for most disciplines, and if you can't find an "organizer" I guarantee you can find someone to jump with because that's the kind of jumpers that come to Fitz.
    Nightly bonfires are an annual tradition. Thursday night tends to be pretty laid back. Friday night features Robby Rob and friends on the mic for entertainment, kind of an open mic/bonfire sing along. Saturday night will have a live band, St. Patrick’s themed party costumes, the ever famous/infamous Stupid Human Skydiver Tricks and a manufacturers sponsored fund raising raffle.
    Thanks goes out to the following manufacturers for providing raffle donations:
    Aerodyne - $1,300 off a complete system

    Chuting Star - to be announced, plus swag

    Square1 - Gift Certificate and swag

    Para-Gear - 2x $25 Gift certificates, plus Swag

    Bevsuits - 25% off a Bevsuit

    Compass & Crow Studios - $100 & $75 Gift Certificates!

    Cookie - 50% off a G3 helmet voucher

    iFly - Voucher for tunnel time good at any location

    Peregrine Manuf. - $250 of upgrades / options on a new Glide

    UPT - 2x 30% off base, 15% off options certificates

    Sunrise Manufacturing - 2x 50% off Base price on a Wings

    Mountain Khakis - to be announced.
    Proceeds will be going to a breast cancer organization, yet to be determined. More information can be found at http://FitzBoogie.com/

    By admin, in Events,