Voyages of a Skydiver

    Captain’s Log 2010, 0210, Manifest asks for proof of currency and jump numbers, along with the reserve data card from my rig…These are the voyages of Average Skydiver.
    Many of us grew up hearing a similar introduction to Star Trek episodes, as required by Starfleet Command. A captain’s log is nothing more than a logbook chronicling the journeys and adventures of a spaceship, boat, airplane, or other craft that carries persons or cargo.
    Logbooks are the basic standard of proving jump numbers in the world of skydiving. Jump numbers are a basic indicator of skydiving experience. A logbook may also be a means of keeping track of where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and who you did it with. Logbooks may be fun, or they can be boring.
    Skydivers are required to keep a logbook of sorts at the least until an A or other beginning license is achieved that indicates the “student” status has passed. Many dropzones require a written logbook if a visiting jumper wishes to jump. The logbook not only demonstrates the number of jumps, but should indicate skydiver currency as well.
    If the goal is to become an instructor of sorts, logbooks must be kept until 500 or even 1000 jumps, depending on where the skydiver lives. Riggers are required to keep logs of reserves packed, and it’s a good idea to keep a log for any major repairs done to any skydiving equipment for purposes of “present recall." The same can be said for keeping student logs, or at the least, logging information about students you've taught. Something may come up later in their jumping career. Remember your Coach course?
    Logbooks might be as simple as a logging audible that keeps track of jumps and as complex as handwritten journals that contain every last detail about each jump, and everything in between.
    A logbook is a journal of skydiving history. For some, bragging rights related to jump numbers may be enough. For others, recalling who was on a jump, the type of jump, the formations achieved, length of freefall, and much more become part of the bigger picture.
    Every AFF instructor learns how to fill out a logbook with encouraging information and reinforcement of a student jump while providing “code” so that any subsequent instructor has some information about the strengths and weaknesses of the student. Students will generally improve faster if provided specifics in their logbook, and the logbook will serve as a historical record of their first jumps.
    Logbooks also preserve records for those that come after someone has retired or deceased. A most special moment was at the memorial service for Gary Douris, where some of his logs were brought out for the attending public to view. Howls of laughter rang across the courtyard at S’nore as people read log entries saying that “So and so had been grounded” and “XXX couldn’t arch but he deployed OK, so he was ready for a longer delay."
    Samplings of logbooks can be seen here, courtesy of Eike Hohnendahl and myself.
    Some folks have expressed shock and awe at Eike’s logbooks, which are as meticulous as the man himself. Each jump is logged for place, date, exit point, landing point, participants in the jump, any exciting or interesting moments in the jump. Also included are copies of any payment for a jump, type of main used, and any special equipment used. In many cases, photos of the jump are also included. These logbooks take time, time that most are probably not willing to put into logging each jump. The skydiver making 15 jumps in a day likely isn’t able to log with such tremendous detail.

    Some skydivers may wish to only keep jumps logged in an electronic logger as mentioned above, and never enter data into any computer or logbook. This is perfectly fine too.
    A famous logbook entry, referred to as the “P-51” entry, is named for the kind of pen used to fill in the logbook with false/padded jumps.
    Although meant in fun, inflated jump numbers are no joke. Lying in a logbook is predominantly a game of lying to yourself, but may carry over into falsification of records, if the logbook is being used to affirm and prove jump numbers for the purposes of achieving ratings or participation in an event. Ultimately, falsified logbooks impress only yourself and no one else.
    My own method has been to keep a detailed record of every jump using the L&B; Jumptrack software, until I became an instructor. I keep a separate log of students and the type of instructional jump ie; Coach Jump, AFF jump, Wingsuit FFC, Wingsuit Coach, etc. The Instructional Logbook is kept in paper form, and in most instances I ask the student to sign the logbook, simply because I enjoy re-reading the logbooks at later points, and being able to show students “lookie here, remember when you did your AFF Cat D jump with me? That was a fun ride, yeah?”
    When choosing a logbook, consider how you’d like to log jumps. If you like to write, be sure the logbook has enough space and is comfortable to write in. Do you want to be able to put photos in the logbook? Be sure it’s large enough to hold those photos. If electronic logging is preferred, there are several applications available, including software as simple as Excel or other database software. Software tools like Paralog and Jumptrack interface directly with electronic loggers such as the Neptune, Altitrack, or ProTrack altimeters/audibles. Some logbooks allow for the import of GPS data for tracking jumps, wingsuit flights, or long distance canopy flight. The logging software may display a graph of exit point, speed, deployment, and offer fields to store indexed data such as total freefall time, type of skydive, aircraft used, etc.
    No matter how jumps are logged and chronicled, it’s a good idea to keep a logbook for at least the first 500 or 1000 jumps, if ratings are to be achieved. If nothing else, logbooks can provide great entertainment during the off-season or after a day’s jumping has occurred. They’re a great place to store phone numbers, email addresses, photos of special jumps, and to remember all those “beer” experiences.
    And when you're sitting around on a dark windy day with nothing to do but make up lies (No sh**, there I was) and drink beer with friends, a well-kept logbook will only add to the fun.

    By DSE, in Gear,

    USPA & PIA Team to Revise FAA Repack Rule

    Re-run with USPA permission.
    After years of effort by USPA and the Parachute Industry Association, the FAA has approved a new final rule that will lengthen the parachute repack cycle from 120 days to 180 days. The final rule appeared in the Federal Register last month, and will take effect on December 19, 2008. The effort had more twists and turns than a funneled 20-way, but the change happened when PIA and USPA joined together and finally convinced the FAA to grant a 180-day repack cycle.
    USPA initiated the first run at the change in 1998 when its board of directors approved a motion authorizing USPA to petition the FAA for the rule change. At the time, the FAA was preparing to revise Part 105. However, the FAA declined to include the lengthened repack cycle as part of its Part 105 revision in 2001, saying the initiative didn't have full industry support.
    In early 2005, Allen Silver, a well-known rigger and PIA’s Rigging Committee chair, initiated discussion with the FAA about accepting a petition for an exemption that would allow a 180-day repack cycle. Getting FAA agreement, PIA and USPA formed a task group to develop the petition language. This resulted in an effort in which all aviation groups, whose pilots used emergency parachutes, including the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association, the Experimental Aircraft Association and the Soaring Society, among others, to join PIA and USPA in jointly petitioning the FAA for an exemption to the regulations addressing those parachutes. The exemption requested a 180-day repack cycle for the emergency parachutes worn by pilots, as well as the sport parachutes used by skydivers. The joint PIA-USPA petition was submitted in July 2005. Ironically, while the FAA saw good cause for a lengthened repack cycle, the agency said its own rules prevented it from granting an exemption to so many beneficiaries; exemptions were intended for small groups. The FAA denied the petition for exemption.
    However, acknowledging the support of so many pilots, riggers and skydivers, the FAA declared that it would publish its own Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to lengthen the repack cycle, which it did on May 22, 2007. At urging by USPA and PIA, nearly all of the hundreds of comments to the docket were in favor of the proposal. The end result is a final rule published this week granting the lengthened repack cycle.
    "This result shows what can happen when two organizations like USPA and PIA decide to work together on common goals," said USPA Executive Director Ed Scott. "We look forward to doing even more together for the benefit of skydivers." PIA President Cliff Schmucker said, "The 180-day repack rule change is a fine example of what PIA and USPA can accomplish working as one. Together we will endeavor to continue improving safety for parachute users.”
    For answers to frequently asked questions about the new Rule, please visit either the USPA or PIA (.pdf) online.

    By admin, in Gear,

    NeoXS from Parasport - Review

    Powerful, small, and flexible, the new NeoXS from Parasport is the newest product in audible altimeters available to skydivers. If you’re a freeflyer, wingsuiter, speedskydiver, or a relative work skydiver, you’ve probably already recognized the need and value of a trustworthy audible.
    Slightly smaller than other audible devices, it is also slightly thicker. The casing is a combination of heavy-duty cast aluminum and plastic. The NeoXS fits inside of any skydiving helmet set up for an internal audible, and with a little work can be made to fit on the outside of any helmet set up for external mounting. Although there is no cradle currently available for the NeoXS, it should be easy to mount on goggles if jumping without a fraphat or helmet.
    The Right Stuff-
    Heavy and tough, this is one tool you won’t have to worry about dropping on the floor. The test unit sent to me survived several drops from an 8’ height onto carpet, linoleum, and concrete without missing a beat. The aluminum case is available in multiple colors, making it easy to spot in a gear box or bag, or on the ground at the DZ. It also makes it easy to engrave your name and license number for quick identification and loss prevention.
    With three alarms for freefall and three alarms for swooping modes, the NeoXS may be set up for any skydiving discipline. Alarms may be set to various volume levels, and you’ll want to be exceptionally careful with the highest levels of volume. This small package is LOUD when set to the high-volume setting. On one jump, I used standard foam earplugs to see if I could hear the device at full volume, and the cutting pitch and squeals easily penetrated the foam ear plugs. This can be of significant benefit to hard-of-hearing skydivers or for those that like to wear earplugs in the aircraft, and would prefer to leave them in during freefall.

    The NeoXS is slightly smaller than most audibles, but not significantly so. It'll fit the audible pocket in any skydiving helmet. Skydivers that enjoy multiple disciplines will appreciate the various profile modes the NeoXS offers. Going from a tandem to an AFF to a wingsuit jump? No problem. This unit stores up to four profiles, allowing very rapid switching from one profile to another. Simply push the joystick three times to enter "edit" mode, move the joystick to the left to change the profile, and put the NeoXS back in the audible pocket. The audible always resets automatically but can be manually reset.
    Another benefit is the always-locked modes of the unit, making it impossible to accidentally change profiles when the unit is left in a gear bag.
    The unit may easily be reset for new MSL altitudes, simply by entering the configuration mode and using the joystick, reset the zero point of the device.
    What You'll Love (in a nutshell)
    3 freefall signals
    3 canopy warnings
    countdown timer
    real time altitude display while climbing to altitude
    simplified programming of warning altitudes
    4 user programmable profiles
    Can be set EXTREMELY LOUD (user selectable volume)
    May be programmed during climb to altitude
    It's heavy (durable aluminum). It won't crush in your gearbag
    The Not-So-Right Stuff-
    The owners manual could use some improvement. It’s not immediately clear how to program the profiles, or which profile is being used. Actually programming the unit makes the profile modes perfectly clear, however. The same may be said for swoop modes. Better diagramming might alleviate this small concern, or perhaps some on-line help. Once the programming dialog is accessed, the procedures for setting altitudes become readily self-evident.
    The only major concern with the unit is that the small joystick sits slightly higher than the recessed area in which the joystick is mounted. The recessed area makes it obvious that the manufacturer wanted to prevent the joystick from being accidentally knocked about, but the joystick does slightly protrude above the recess.

    The joystick is marginally elevated. Initially, this suggested a problem, but in working with the unit in real-world situations, it is not an issue due to the unit always being locked. Three button pushes are required just to unlock the unit, and then the joystick is used to enter programming modes.
    The unit also offers no backlight, making it difficult to set up for night jumps or in those wee hours of the morning. The LCD is clear and textually driven, however.
    What You Might Not Love
    Owners manual is weakly written
    Joystick button is slightly higher than body/recessed space
    No backlight for night-time programming
    It's heavy, weighs nearly double compared to other audibles (I personally like the heavier weight.)
    General Comments:
    Although the owners manual could use some improvement, the only real challenge encountered was figuring out how to unlock the unit. (This is achieved by repeatedly pressing the joystick until the lock icon first flashes and then turns off.) A quick glance at the owners manual was required to determine how to unlock the unit after a few minutes of trying to do it by instinct.
    Once I’d unlocked the unit, I put the manual down to see if I could self-start the programming procedure based. I could, and it was very instinctive once I’d reached the unlocked stage.
    The four main menu options are Profile, Swoop, Alarm, and Configure. Programming for Meters or Feet display is offered in the Profiles menu, with three altitudes available. Additionally, unique volumes may be programmed for swoop alarms vs freefall alarms.
    Alarm altitudes cannot be programmed lower than a subsequent altitude, thus preventing accidental programming errors.

    The NeoXS is easily opened with a normal screwdriver. No special tools or jewelers-sized screwdrivers are required. The unit does not need to be opened to change batteries (you can see the battery door in the housing), I simply like disassembling things to see what they're made of. The reason for the weight is obvious; this is not thin, easily crushed aluminum.
    *(Opening the NeoXS will void your warranty, do not try this at home, kids!)
    The alarms are varied, allowing for each alarm to play a distinct tone and pattern, thus eliminating confusion about what alarm is for what altitude.
    As a side note, I wouldn't mind seeing a manufacturer develop personally-created alarms such as one recorded by a user. Wouldn't it be cool to hear your own voice at the third warning saying "Hey buddy, it's time to pull?" All that would be involved is either a USB connection to a computer, or a microphone built into the audible. It would be difficult to output audio frequencies that cut through the noice properly, yet wouldn't a voice be more fun than a screech? But I digress...
    In evaluating the unit, the joystick could not be accidentally moved in “real-world” scenarios, but in putting it in the helmet and using fingers to move the unit around, I was able to “accidentally” hit and move the joystick but could not affect the programming modes, as the unit is virtually always locked. It is impossible to leave the unit unlocked, as it returns to a locked mode 30 seconds after programming input is ceased. Therefore, it’s impossible to accidentally change the modes by moving the unit around inside a helmet pocket or other location.
    The unit uses one CR2430 battery and offers a very long life. These batteries are easy to find at most any grocery or large retail store.
    All in all, I like this little audible. After having used it for a little over a month, I feel pretty good about the quality, durability, design, and how it functions. I’d first seen it when it was announced at Reno PIA 2007 when Paulo from Parasport overheard me complaining about a particular audible I had (A Cool n' Groovy Fridge Company audible) and its lack of adjustable features. When he set the NeoXS to screaming, it had everyone anywhere near covering their ears, it was so loud. The fact that it can be taken down to a nominal level is great for those that still have fully intact hearing. Levels may be checked on the ground, so it's not an exercise in aerial experimentation to determine which volume levels are best for you.
    At $170.00 USD, the price is right too, and makes it an accessible cost point for most any skydiver.
    Overall, this is a very tough, well designed and manufactured tool for skydivers and from my perspective, should be part of any consideration in purchasing an audible altimeter.

    By admin, in Gear,

    Leadership change at Aerodyne

    Newarc AS announces the following changes to Aerodyne Research effective 12 May, 2008. Bill Legard has been appointed President and CEO of Aerodyne Research, manufacturer of the Icon container system, Smart reserve, and an array of cutting edge main canopies.
    Mr Legard has extensive management experience in Fortune 500 companies, leading business units with sales from $20 to $250 million. He holds a BA in Economics, and an MBA in Finance, both from the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Bill has also been an active skydiver and competitor for many years, with regional and national medals and several world records in freefall relative work.
    Under Mr Legard's leadership, the Aerodyne group will continue to bring innovative products and services to forefront of the parachute industry. Aerodyne is committed to continue to grow its business globally.
    Mr. Edward Anderson, who had served as President and CEO, has announced his resignation. He will be working with Mr Legard to assure a smooth transition of leadership and to ensure that our customers, distributors, and suppliers continue to receive quality support and service.
    Ole Petter Hjelle, Chairman of Newarc AS.
    (Dr. Hjelle is chairman of the Norwegian holding company that owns Aerodyne Research, and captain of the Norwegian 4-way team Arcteryx.)

    By admin, in Gear,

    Atair's EXO-Wing, the World's Smallest Human-Piloted Jet

    Atair Aerospace (Atair) was chosen by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art to display two of its real-world innovations alongside high-profile superhero collections from Hollywood and the fashion industry. The Met exhibit includes Atair's EXO-WingTM, the world's smallest human-piloted jet airplane.
    Brooklyn, N.Y. May 14, 2008 -- Atair Aerospace (Atair) was chosen by the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art to display two of its real-world innovations alongside high-profile superhero collections from Hollywood and the fashion industry. The Met exhibit includes Atair's EXO-Wing™, the world's smallest human-piloted jet airplane. Exoskeletons for increasing human capabilities were once the subject of fictional comic book writers; now it has become real technology to enable human flight. This futuristic aircraft is constructed from advanced aerospace composite materials. The twin micro-turbine-powered EXO-WingTM is so small and lightweight that a human wears it like a backpack.
    The Met is also displaying Atair's AeroSuitTM, an engineered bat-like flexible wing suit constructed with advanced composite textiles. This high-technology garment allows a skydiver to glide to a target miles away from the drop point. The arms and legs of this garment include inflating webbed panels that form the elements of a wing which dramatically improves the aerodynamics of a skydiver, providing a safe and extraordinary flight experience. Both innovations are made from a new generation of composite textiles pioneered by Atair which are engineered to perform under extreme conditions.
    "I am a born and bred New Yorker and the Metropolitan Museum is one of the city's greatest assets," said Dan Preston, the CTO and Founder of Atair. "I am honored to be included in this exhibition and I am fascinated at seeing a parallel between fictional superheroes and the real technology we are developing." Although Atair has developed similar advanced products for its military clients, it declined to comment when asked for further details on its government projects.
    The exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art features approximately 70 ensembles including movie costumes, avant-garde haute couture, and high performance sportswear to reveal how the superhero serves as the ultimate metaphor for the ability to transform the human body. The exhibition will run from May 7 through September 1, 2008.
    Headquartered in Brooklyn, N.Y., Atair Aerospace (Atair) is a high-technology prime defense contractor dedicated to modernizing military and government logistics by creatively solving complex aerospace and engineering problems that integrate the state-of-the-art in parachute designs, and guidance, navigation and control (GN&C;) systems. Atair's inventive products include the Onyx™ precision-guided parachute system, the Long Endurance Autonomous Powered ParagliderTM (LEAPPTM) UAV, the CircinusTM GPS-Integrated Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU), the Heli-ChuteTM, and 3DZTM Composite Parachute Technology. Atair's pioneering spirit and creative approach to research and development has resulted in contracts with the U.S. Army, DARPA, NASA, NRL, NSW, the Government of Israel, and many large defense contractors.
    For more information, contact Rick Zaccari at or visit the Atair Aerospace website at www.atairaerospace.com.
    Note: Atair's claim to having the "World's Smallest Human-Piloted Jet" may be questioned by the people at Birdman. Check out our article about the "First jet powered Birdman flight" ~ Ed

    By admin, in Gear,

    Strong Saves Small Irish Dropzone

    Imagine as a Dropzone Operator waking up at 7:30am on a sunny summer morning to discover that the dropzone has been broken into by thieves in the middle of the night and that all your student equipment is gone!
    On the morning of June 1st, 2007 Skydive Ireland received a serious blow when all of our student equipment was stolen in the middle of the night by thieves leaving us grounded and unable to take our customers skydiving. All of our Solo Student rigs and all of our Tandem equipment was gone just like that without trace leaving us completely disabled with very little options. I mean let's face it, in our industry the option of taking a trip to the local adventure store to replace your stolen parachute equipment just simply does not exist. Irish winters are really long and here we are having just arrived at the peak season of summer with the sun shining and an empty gear room with no manufacturers nearby and no friendly dropzone to offer assistance in our time of need, it is well and truly at that point you say to yourself…. We're F**ked!
    This is the type of scenario you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy and this disaster threatened the DZ's very existence since we were a new DZ and only a few months old at the time. We tried to remain composed and think of a clear plan of action to recover from this situation with our first instinct to go on the search for our brand new equipment that was lifted in the wee twilight hours of a summer's morning. The police were dispatched but the real truth of the matter was that the equipment was gone and our worst fear was that this was a specifically targeted job since no other valuable equipment was stolen. Whoever did it knew what they were coming for. There were mixed feeling as we found it difficult to believe another Skydiver could possibly be behind this hit. We figured if it was regular thieves that they would have found more value in expensive wide screen televisions and other similar types of equipment that would sell very easily on the street. With only two skydiving centers in Ireland who were these people planning on selling stolen student parachute equipment to?
    Having come to terms with the mornings events and dealing with the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach I knew that we had to figure a solution fast and turned to the Skydiving Industry for support. What I suppose was the standard thing to do I did and that was to call the manufactures of the brand new equipment and surely they would be willing to use their resources to rescue us. The Tandem rigs we had were Paratec Next Tandem since we are based in Europe I figured it best to deal more locally for my Tandem gear. So calls were made to Paratec and the situation explained and the consequences of what would happen to us were easily understood. In naive hope I never thought that there would be an issue of support but I was greatly disappointed beyond words to be told by Paratec that there is no equipment they could dispatch to us to assist their customer and fellow skydivers recover this emergency and that they cannot part with their one and only Tandem Demo rig. I wasn't impressed.
    A cold chill rand down my back with the shocking realization that we were now isolated from other Tandem Equipment Manufacturers who were now all based several thousand miles away and now in the month of June the parachute manufacturing industry was in peak demand with typical 12-14 week delivery schedules. I hurried to dropzone.com in desperate search of some used Tandem Equipment in the classifieds but there was nothing there that was suitable or easily accessible. The other dilemma of course was that all of my Tandem Instructors were rated under the Vector Tandem program so we didn't exactly have the option of just going with any Tandem rig that was available. I'm sure you can start to appreciate the nightmare situation we were now facing and running out of options.
    It was time to revert back to the manufacturers and try to plead for their understanding to help them understand how serious this situation had escalated. I mean seriously, does it get much worse than this?
    I made the best move as a dropzone owner that I have done to date. I picked up the phone and called Strong Enterprises based in Orlando Florida. I was greeted by a very friendly Sales Manager named John Makoski who immediately begin to work a plan to dispatch replacement equipment without delay to get us back in the air. I mean this guy dropped everything he was doing and put Skydive Ireland on his highest priority and he just couldn't believe that something like this happened to us. It was due to his concerned response to our situation and seeing lighting speed response to getting this situation under control that I was finally able to regroup and feel the weight of a thousand elephants lift right off my shoulders. Here was a manufacturer who I had never bought a single piece of equipment from or never benefitted their business in any way begin to treat my small company like I was their biggest client.
    Within a few hours John had gotten approval from Mr. Ted Strong who everybody knows is the owner of Strong Enterprises and was authorized to immediately dispatch 6 Dual Hawk Tandem Systems from their large inventory of stock and make the arrangements to get them to Ireland without delay. I couldn't believe it! This was incredible and I just couldn't express how grateful I was to be picked up in the hand of this Parachute Manufacturing Giant and begin to feel that everything was going to be alright.
    Then suddenly I had an anti climax when I realized that none of my Tandem Instructors were certified to use the Dual Hawk Tandem. With this piercing feeling in my brain another whole began to bore deep when I thought to myself that perhaps this company might take advantage of me and demand a higher than normal sale price since I didn't have any other choice and finally I began to wonder how am I going to afford 6 new Tandem Systems in light of our break in and something I haven't mentioned yet was that our stolen equipment was not even insured. This is not good.
    So now I am wondering how this is going to pan out and that I still have to get 6 Tandem Rigs each weighing about 65 lbs to Ireland as fast as possible and at a price I could afford and then find someone who could just fire up a Dual Hawk Instructors Course to get us rated to use the equipment. This is when Mr. Tom Noonan, Strong's Tandem Course Director was introduced to me and in a friendly and supportive voice over the phone said that he had taken the initiative and booked flights direct to Ireland and will personally deliver the equipment and spend the time here to qualify all of my Instructors on the Dual Hawk Tandem and that they will provide the new equipment to me at a hugely discounted price and that they will allow a few months for me to be able to pay for the vast majority of it all!
    If any of you reading this has ever experienced an immense rush of extreme and unquantifiable feeling of gratitude, relief followed by a dash of excitement and an overflow of amazement at this level of concern and support it was actually quite hard to digest and realize that these guys were willing to do all of this for me. What an incredible level of customer focused service. This is mind blowing stuff and every Dropzone Operator should be seriously paying attention to this. I can honestly say that this is something I have never heard of another manufacturer do in this type of situation in my 13 years of Skydiving. Lets be honest and say that this was a huge risk for Strong in that what if I went bust because of this situation and was not in a position to repay them for their equipment and I had it in Ireland. But they weren't one bit concerned about this and only cared about getting my little DZ back up and running and the deal Tom made with me was that I would have to buy him a few pints of the black stuff in an authentic Irish pub. That was an easy deal to agree I can tell ya!
    It wasn't long before I was at Shannon Airport shaking hands with the man who flew through the night across the broad Atlantic loaded with Parachute Equipment for delivery and to provide immediate expert training and certification on the Dual Hawks to get us back in the action. This was now all starting to feel very surreal. With his surname being Noonan and being from Boston it was evident Tom was from Irish descent and had always looked forward to visiting his ancestors home. As we sat in a typical Irish Country style pub with symbols of the old Irish culture and harder times of the past it was about 7:30am it was time to start cashing in on our deal. So I ordered a few pints of the black stuff and Tom, Darren and myself toasted to a new chapter and to recovering Skydive Ireland and feasted on a full Irish Breakfast till we were as fat as cows.
    Now beginning to show signs of a long night spent travelling and with a fully loaded belly and a nice few pints of Guinness we headed back to my house so Tom could refresh and get some sleep. Darren and I unloaded the car and all our new gear was in black gear bags and it felt really good holding Dual Hawk Tandem Parachute Systems in my arms and feeling like everything is getting back on track. I don't think I will ever be able to explain the feeling accurately enough so I won't even try or I'll end up just babbling. So with Tom now out for the count I was anxious to try on our brand new Dual Hawks so we pulled out two of them and immediately begin to start dissecting the rig to discover it's features and to see how it feels. As a certified parachute rigger for more the n10 years I immediately begin to admire the workmanship of this parachute system and to examine its components which at first glance had me realize this was not just another Tandem System. With features such as the dual loop main canopy closure to prevent a nasty horse-shoe and the anti-line dump line stows. Even the fine detail of the position of the RSL to deal with a possible riser breakage to avoid a premature reserve deployment. I really liked the feature of the Master 400 sqft Reserve canopy which is comforting to know this canopy is thoroughly designed to meet the most demanding Tandem nightmare. One of the really exciting things about it was that they were all equipped with the brand new development from Strong which is the superb all ZP material SET 366 Main Tandem Canopy configured with Single Brake setup. I was not getting really buzzed about flying this new toy.
    It was obvious that this rig was built for Tandem Skydiving from the ground up and was rugged to last the test if time. We now had a serious set of kit that made our stolen Tandem Systems look like plain old modified sports rigs. I couldn't get over the size of the Drogue and what I immediately liked was the simplicity of the main and reserve deployment sequences. On our other Tandem Systems there seemed to be a confusing amount of handles which offered a great risk of causing the Instructor confusion in a high stress situation. I had always thought the more handles the better because of more options but then thought that simple is better given the statistics that ALL Tandem Fatalities were due to Instructor error. I was now keen to complete the Strong Tandem Instructor Candidate Course which for us would be the cross over from another Tandem Rating so it meant less jumps to become certified on the Dual Hawk then if we were starting out as new Instructors.
    Later that day when Tom arose from the dead we made a plan to get going the next day with the Course Material and waste no time in getting it completed. Throughout the course I found Tom Noonan to be an excellent Examiner to work with and what was most apparent was that not a single ounce of ego was present in his natural ability to make a person feel comfortable and help us understand the functions of the Dual Hawk and was patient with all of our questions and comparisons and scenarios with the what we had been used to jumping and now getting excited about jumping the Dual Hawk. I was anxious to feel what freefall will be like with the position of the Drogue attachment at the base of the Reserve Tray unlike the Vector 2 style system which gives a really nice position in freefall and makes for an excellent Student freefall position for the Video and Photos. I can honestly say from going as passenger that the Student Harness is the most comfortable out of all the harnesses which makes for some very happy customers. Tom did an excellent job at completing the course qualifying myself and my Instructors. He worked very hard and was very committed to his very high standard of safety and awareness and we all learned a lot of valuable skills and information from him. He is a true professional and loves what he does and I was glad that with his proud Irish heritage he was able to visit Ireland and Skydive at my DZ with beautiful views of lakes and mountains Tom became attached to the place and has since returned again to Ireland to spend time with us doing further training to qualify a Strong Tandem Examiner to make us more self sufficient.
    Tom has become a great friend and I will always be grateful for what Strong Enterprises did for my dropzone. Without them we were well and truly hammered. I could spend a few paragraphs telling you what I thought about the other manufacturers lack of support in our time of need but it would just simple take aware from the value of this story but what I will advise from our experience is that when choosing your equipment especially when you're living depends on it is imperative you choose a manufacturer who can back you up when the shit hits the fan. I have only good things to say about the Dual Hawk and with almost a year of full time jumping the Dual Hawk and sweet soft opening of the new SET 366 and zero cutaways I can only say you will look long and hard for a Tandem System of this caliber. Once you see past the fluff of the other Tandem systems with other manufacturers competing to be the most inventive it stands to this day that the Dual Hawk is the most proven Tandem system in the world and was designed by a great man who was the true pioneer of Tandem Skydiving, Mr. Ted Strong.
    Thank you all the Team at Strong Enterprises in Orlando Florida. You saved our bacon and have been a huge source of support and inspiration to my dropzone and you are to be applauded for your concern and the dropzone rescue operation you handles so professionally and I hope one day I can repay you.
    I am glad to report that some of our stolen parachute equipment surfaced in Eastern Europe in the country of Lituania which we were able to retrieve. The gear had been in use at a Skydiving Center and when I discovered this I made contact with the Dropzone to inform them they were using stolen Parachute Equipment. Investigations are pending to source that carried out this terrible crime and to ensure they do not do it to another dropzone again.
    Blue Skies,

    David Byrnes

    DZO - Skydive Ireland


    By admin, in Gear,

    The Tonfly Camera Converter

    Action sports camera helmets are more than just protective gear that hold a camera, they're tools of the sports trade and action videographer. Just any old helmet can be used to hold a camera, and many videographers do exactly that. For those that are a bit more serious about their action photography, a helmet designed specifically as a camera mount system is needed. Tonfly is the newest player in the camera helmet manufacturing world.
    Hailing from Slovakia, this small manufacturer may be new, but they've researched the needs of the typical action sports videographer very well and offer a wide lineup of products. The staff at Tonfly are predominantly from Italy, and the design of the helmet is Italian.
    In this review, we'll look at a Tonfly Converter (CC1), which I purchased specifically for the purpose of wingsuiting.
    The Tonfly Converter is brilliant in its design, given how the camera mounts to the helmet, and we'll examine those features in a bit. First we'll dig into the very important features like the fit, design, and safety functions.
    The helmet fits well. It's quite thin, and one of the lightest helmets in its class. It's also very sturdy in spite of the thinness of the helmet. The helmet slips on easily, and is snug all the way around for an average head-type. I have a ponytail, and this helmet doesn't lend itself well to my hair being tied up inside the helmet without the helmet being too tight. People with shorter hair won't have this problem, of course, and Tonfly do offer various sizes.
    The Tonfly Camera Converter helmet is one of the most innovative designs available to action-POV camera operators today.
    Light-weight, strong, form-fitting, and comfortable, this helmet offers the most peripheral eye-space of any helmet in its class.
    Another favored aspect of this helmet that is easily overlooked, is how far back the side of the helmet is cut. The sides of the helmet allow for much greater side-to-side vision than most camera helmets do, and this is particularly an important feature when flying camera for tandems when others may be joining in. Freeflyers will enjoy the wide peripheral view as well. Ski goggles will fit well in this wide-view cut, as the sides of the helmet won't interfere with the larger goggle sizes.
    Built in pockets can hold audible altimeters for the skydiving videographer. The audible pockets come pre-cut for the typical sized audibles. A small bit of gaffers tape will hold the audible altimeter in place until the foam lining is replaced with the audible device in the pocket.
    The Tonfly Converter comes with the audible pocket already cut to fit most popular audibles. (Photo)
    A cutaway system is critical for many action sports, particularly for skydivers. This allows the helmet to be immediately removed/cut free from the body in the event of an accident that involves some sort of entanglement. The Tonfly cutaway system is a bit different than most as it has the cutaway handle facing upwards, which feels very natural and ergonomically placed. Unlike other cutaway systems that use looped nylon to release the latch, the Tonfly system uses a metal button that is drilled out. On initial inspection, this was a concern, but the truth is that the cutaway system works and feels no different from any other cutaway system. The metal containment system may even last longer.
    The Tonfly cutaway system is unique in placement and method, but works identically to any other cutaway system. (Photo 1, Photo 2)
    What makes this helmet truly unique is the way in which the camera mounts are inserted. Entirely flush with the helmet, the receiver side of the mount is installed so that if there is no camera mounted, the helmet can be completely flat (Tonfly provides small inserts that stick out approximately .25, but are smooth and pose no snag hazard). With the camera box mounted to the side of the helmet, the camera box is flush to the helmet and poses no snag hazard. I ran a bit of Spectra line over the edge of the helmet and there was no sticking/locking point of the line due to this very tight connection.
    The mate point for a still camera is identical, however the top of the helmet isn't as wide as a Canon Rebel XTi, so it is possible, although not likely, that a line could snag in the area where the top plate isn't as wide as the camera body.
    Another aspect of the Converter Camera mount is the ability to rotate the camera box in small degrees to compensate for head position when freeflying, doing tandem camera, or RW work. Each of the base ring (male ring) has a series of small holes drilled to fit a pin in the insert link (female receiver side), that is spring-loaded. The spring is very tight, there should be no worry that the pin will release on its own.
    Note the spring-loaded pin in the female/helmet side of the connection, and note the three drilled holes in the male insert. These holes allow for user-positioning of the camcorder or still camera mount. (Photo 1 , Photo 2)
    The pin isn't entirely responsible for holding the base ring. there is a rotational cuff that holds tight when the male ring is inserted in the female receiver plate, and it requires a full 90 degree turn of the male ring to remove the camera box or stills mount from the system, assuring that even in the event of a pin/spring failure, the box or still mount would not separate from the helmet. The pin is released by pulling back on a small nylon loop found at the back of each of the camera mount plates.
    Tonfly has responded to another potential snag point problem with remarkable simplicity. Many camera helmets have a possible snag point in the ladder/clip attachment at the chincup. This leads some videographers to cut the ladder strap short, which is no big deal, other than it sometimes affects the ease of attachment on some helmets. Tonfly have addressed this challenge by opening up the chincup, allowing for any excess from the ladder strap to be concealed inside the chincup.
    Any excess from the ladder strap fits neatly inside the chincup. (Photo)
    The Flaws:
    The helmet isn't entirely perfect and some changes could be made on the part of Tonfly, or perhaps by users themselves. For example, some of the options Tonfly offers could be more readily identified as "important." For instance, most buyers should want the Carbon Look finish or at the very least, ask for a lacquer coat. From the model I received, it became immediately apparent that the finish will scratch quite easily, and all I was doing was mounting a Schumacher removable ringsight bracket. Drilling a hole for the HypEye Mini cable further demonstrated this.
    Mounting the Schumacher articulating arm, I realized just how easy it is to scratch the flat finish. (Photo)
    Another aspect of the helmet that users will want to be mindful of; until the helmet is worn in, a small amount of silicon lubricant will help with the mating of the insert ring to the receiver plate. On my helmet, I found that the pin release loop is a touch small for my large fingers. Using a pencil or pen inserted to the loop helped me get a better grip on it. I'm sure once the spring is more worn in, it won't be quite so difficult.
    Small challenges aside, the Tonfly helmet is very well designed for skydiving and other action sports, offering a width of view and light weight that is very impressive. With prices ranging from around $500.00 USD to as high as $750.00 with all options, these helmets are investments rather than frivolous purchases. Until the dollar rises again, it'll be a while before they're competitive with helmets manufactured in the USA in terms of cost.
    Congratulations to Tonfly for a very well designed, well-built helmet. This is one camera helmet model that any POV sports photographer should consider when choosing a helmet mounted camera system.

    Check out the YouTube stream that shows how the Tonfly Camera Converter works. Built for:
    Ski photographers
    Rock Climbing
    Chase bicycles
    Mountain cyclists
    BASE Jumping
    Ground launching
    Other hands-free sport photographer Rock on!

    -douglas spotted eagle
    For more reviews, video, audio, streaming and surround training visit VASST

    Tonfy CC1 website

    Write your own review of a TonFly helmet

    By admin, in Gear,

    NeoXs - The new audible altimeter by Parasport

    Introduced last February at the 2007 PIA Symposium in Reno, the NeoXs Audible Altimeter is finally available!
    The new Parasport audible has been designed to be inserted directly in the inner pouch of a helmet
    without requiring any option. The small size and the reduced thickness of the aluminium case of this instrument allows a perfect fit in almost every helmet, full face or open face.
    The wide size LCD is protected by a polycarbonate screen thick enough to avoid damages to the display. The NeoXs offers up to 7 distinct alarms with different powerful audible signals:
    3 alarms for freefall warning altitudes
    3 alarms for canopy warning altitudes
    1 countdown timer The freefall warnings are set with 100 feet (25 meters) increments. The canopy warnings are set with 10 feet (5 meters) increments.
    The loud alarms can be adjusted to be clear in any condition. Freefall alarms and canopy alarms have different volume settings too.
    The NeoXs is easily programmable on the ground or while climbing to altitude. Even easier to switch among the 4 customizable preset user profiles, storing warning altitudes for different uses (formation skydiving, freefly, tandem, AFF, and so on).
    By using its intuitive user interface and the ergonomic Navigation Switch you can easily control all the functions of the NeoXs.
    The NeoXs is currently available in 3 different colors: Lava Red, Aluminium Grey, and Night Black.
    For any further information or documentation do not hesitate to contact us.

    Microprocessor based audible altimeter
    Wide size LCD
    Intuitive user interface
    Ergonomic Navigation Switch
    Aluminium case
    Real time altitude indicator
    Up to three separate freefall altitude warnings
    Freefall warning altitude set with 100 feet (25 meters) increments
    Freefall altitude warnings go off only at freefall speed
    Up to three separate low speed altitude warnings
    Low speed altitude warning set with 10 feet (5 meters) increments
    Powerful audible signals, distinct and easily recognizable
    Countdown timer
    Up to 4 customizable user profiles
    Self-calibration (manual reset allowed) self-test, no power-on, ultra-low consumption
    Easily programmable on the ground or while climbing to altitude
    Batteries: 1 x CR2450
    Size 39 x 55 x 12 mm
    Available in Lava Red, Aluminium Grey, Night Black

    By admin, in Gear,

    Service Bulletin - Quasar II

    SERVICE BULLETIN #26 - ISSUE DATE: April 18, 2007
    SUBJECT: Quasar II, P/N115100, Quasar II Trainer P/N115102,
    Military Quasar II P/N 115103.
    Quasar II Reserve pilot chute launch under conditions with main canopy still in
    main container.
    IDENTIFICATION: All Quasar II harness/container systems. Including both
    Quasar IIs with ‘Flinger/PRO’ (Positive Reserve Opening) assembly installed as
    original installation or modification, and those without.
    STATUS: Mandatory removal of ‘Flinger’/PRO assembly and replacement of
    inner sub-flap with pilot chute Base Plate and pilot chute before next jump.
    BACKGROUND: Recent on-the-ground activations of several Quasar II reserve
    containers with the main canopy still in the container, showed slow or impeded
    pilot chute activation. There have been no reports of in-air incidents. Repeated
    tests with the main tray open and riser covers off (simulating an open main to
    reserve cutaway), resulted in clean reserve pilot chute deployments clearing the
    reserve container. Further testing revealed the steel ‘Flinger’/PRO assembly may
    take a set beyond the designed acceptable range, restricting movement of the side
    flaps and reserve pilot chute.
    SERVICE BULLETIN: As a precautionary measure, Strong Enterprises requests
    that all Quasar II systems be returned to Strong Enterprises for modification, that
    Removal of the steel ‘Flinger’/PRO assembly.
    Top sub-flap replacement (improved with a Base Plate.)
    Pilot chute replacement. STRONG ENTERPRISES


    ORLANDO, FL 32837

    Tel 407 859 9317

    Fax 407 850 6978


    Download the Service Bulletin (PDF)

    By admin, in Gear,

    RSL Removal on the Javelin/Javelin Odyssey

    This letter dated February 27, 2007 from Sun Path Products, Inc. addresses the issue of Reserve Static Line Removal on the Javelin/Javelin Odyssey. Download the Letter from SunPath.

    Reserve Static Line (RSL) and the Javelin/Javelin Odyssey
    Reference: This letter supersedes SPP letter regarding removal of the reserve
    static line (RSL) dated 16 May 2005.
    1. Is the RSL a part of the TSO’ed components of the system?
    2. Can any or all of the RSL components (RSL lanyard, hook Velcro on
    reserve riser, guide rings on pin flap and main riser RSL ring) be
    removed from a Javelin/Javelin Odyssey without voiding the TSO?
    YES, however the FAA determines this to be an "alteration". This means
    that only a master parachute rigger can perform this action. (Ref. AC105-2c)
    Once the master rigger removes the requested RSL components, the
    alteration must be noted on both the packing data card and the master
    parachute riggers log book.
    3. Does removal of the RSL void the TSO?
    YES, this only applies if someone OTHER than an FAA master parachute
    rigger or foreign equivalent removes any RSL components, or the removal of
    the components is not logged on the packing data card.
    4. Who can pack a reserve in a Javelin/Javelin Odyssey without a RSL?
    As long as a master parachute rigger has indicated the removal of the
    components, (i.e. lanyard, rings, Velcro) on the packing data card, any senior
    or master rigger or foreign equivalent can repack the reserve.
    5. Who can pack a main in a Javelin/Javelin Odyssey without a RSL?
    As long as a master parachute rigger has indicated the removal of the
    components, (i.e. lanyard, rings, Velcro) on the packing data card, any senior
    or master rigger or foreign equivalent, anyone under the direct supervision of
    the afore mentioned or the person making the next jump can repack the
    5. If I am a senior rigger and I get a Javelin/Javelin Odyssey to repack
    that has any or all RSL components removed, what do I do?
    The senior rigger will need to check the packing data card to see if the
    appropriate entries have been made. If yes, then the rig is "legal" to be
    packed by a senior rigger. If not, the rig will need to be taken to a master
    rigger who can approve the alteration and note the removal of the
    components. The master riggers data card/log book notation is only
    certifying the alteration.
    6. Who is authorized to remove the RSL and when?
    Only a Master parachute rigger or foreign equivalent can permanently remove
    the RSL components thus altering the TSO’ed system.
    The user can "disengage" the RSL lanyard by disconnecting the snap
    shackle, if in an emergency situation or to avoid a possible emergency
    situation ONLY. The owner/jumper (unless a master
    rigger) is not authorized to permanently remove the RSL lanyard.
    Sun Path Products, Inc. position on the removal of the RSL components remains
    unchanged. "Permanent removal of this part is highly discouraged and NOT
    recommended". However we do acknowledge situations that the user may wish
    to have the RSL components removed from the system or not have the system
    installed with the components at all. Therefore this guidance should serve as
    reference for fielded systems as well as new assemblies.
    Systems manufactured after Feb 2007, come with the RSL/Collins lanyard as
    standard items. This incorporates the Marine eye reserve ripcord, Curved
    Reserve Pin with lanyard and the RSL/Collins lanyard.
    The Skyhook can be added by the manufacturer as an option by adding the Red
    Skyhook lanyard to the RSL/Collins lanyard and corresponding skyhook on the
    reserve bridle.
    An alteration to the RSL/Collins lanyard on the post Feb. 2007 rigs will require a
    terminal pin reserve ripcord which must be replaced with factory TSO’ed
    components only. *** (reference Pg 6. of the Javelin/Javelin Odyssey Owners
    Manual Rev. 2 Issue 01 March 2007)
    Download the Letter from SunPath
    Dave Singer


    Sun Path Products, Inc.
    Derek Thomas


    Sun Path Products, Inc.
    Sun Path Products, Inc. * 4439 Skydive Lane * Zephyrhills, FL33542
    Phone 813-782-9242 * FAX 813-788-3057 * www.sunpath.com

    By admin, in Gear,