The GoHawk - GoPro Expansion Pack

    POA Labs has announced the launch of the GoHawk, an expansion pack for the GoPro Hero4 that adds three new levels of functionality for POV Still and Video photographers.
    The GoHawk adds three new camera ports, allowing the user to connect:
    Remote shutter button. Save time by only shooting photos when you want to. Choose from hands-free mouth switches or a thumb triggered handlebar switch. Works with any 2.5mm remote shutter switch.
    Remote LED indicator lets you know that your camera is on and recording. The bendable indicator can be mounted in your helmet or wrapped around your handlebars.
    Auxiliary USB Power Input for extended shooting - plug into any battery pack and never run out of power again.

    The GoHawk enhances the process of shooting POV photos with your GoPro Hero4. Choose from a mouth-operated shutter button (best for chest or helmet mounted cameras) or a handlebar-mount push button (ideal for handlebar mounted cameras, cyclists, and motorcyclists). Simply plug your switch of choice into the GoHawk and start shooting!
    For still photographers, the GoHawk can be used in Continuous or Burst photo modes to capture the pictures you want, and ONLY the pictures you want. You’ll never have to spend hours sorting through the contents of a full memory card for that one magical shot. If you shoot video, you can easily start and stop recording using any external shutter switch.

    With the bendable LED indicator.you’ll never have to worry if your camera is on, taking a photo, or recording. A blue standby LED lets you know that your camera is on and flashes to let you know when your battery is low. A red record/shutter LED mimic’s the GoPro’s own shutter button lights no matter what mode you’re in.
    No special software is needed to operate the GoHawk. Simply plug it in and start shooting. The GoHawk is perfect for photographers and videographers who value the durability, price, and compact size of their GoPro’s, but need more
    control over how they capture the action.

    For more information, visit:
    the kickstarter page
    If you're interested in backing this project, you can support it on their kickstarter page, which is now live.
    About POA Labs
    POA Labs is a Portland-based product incubator focused on developing new and innovative products that enhance the lives of people who take their fun seriously. We want to enable our customers to do more - do it better, do it easier, and
    do it safer. Have more fun.

    By admin, in Gear,

    Aerodyne Release Pilot7 Canopy

    Aerodyne recently announced the release of their new canopy, the Pilot7. This new main, which was initially developed with wingsuiters in mind, is a 7-cell variation of the popular Pilot canopy which Aerodyne have sold for over a decade. The original Pilot canopy is in fact the company's most successful product, with the 9-cell elliptical holding an average rating of 4.67/5 based off 69 votes in our gear section.
    Aerodyne say they found their design for the Pilot7 heavily influenced by the strengths of the initial Pilot, and wanted to ensure that the new canopy lived up to the expectations set by its older sibling.
    Something for Everyone
    Both beginner flyers and experienced wingsuit pilots have reportedly demoed the Pilot7 with great results and public feedback as to the performance of the canopy. The company claims the Pilot7 provides 'superbly consistent openings', while in flight offers the pilot something fun and agile, while still remaining stable and easy to fly.
    "It has a flat glide and a powerful flare, likely more so than any 7-cell you’ve experienced.", claim Aerodyne.
    It was clear that solid, reliable openings were a key factor for this canopy during development, and testimonials from those who have been demoing the Pilot7 seem to confirm that Aerodyne have really hit the nail on the head with regards to the reliability of openings.
    While the focus of the Pilot7 was wingsuiting, Aerodyne say they expect that the canopy may become popular in other demographics of jumpers. Due to forgiving openings, handling characteristics and low pack volumes of the canopy, it could serve as a great choice for all skydiving skill groups, however could prove especially useful for beginner skydivers.
    The standard version of the Pilot7 will come in ZP, while there are also the options for Aerodyne's honeycomb low pack volume ZPS and their new UltraLPV material.
    "This builds the top skin and stabilizers from ZPX, and the ribs and bottom skin from FX-11 (the low pack volume material used in the SmartLPV). We use the ZLX lines to create an amazingly low pack volume canopy."
    Available sizes: 117, 137, 147, 167, 187, 207, 227, 247 sq ft.

    By admin, in Gear,

    Four-Armed is Forewarned

    Altitude awareness is easily the most important aspect of skydiving and it’s no wonder that audible alert systems were one of the first technological inventions in the earlier days of skydiving. Like most things technical, significant advances have been made, and any device that provides information/feedback during a skydive is a valuable addition to any skydiver’s tool kit.
    Larsen and Brusgaard, the foremost authority on altitude-measuring/awareness devices, launched a new product named the “Quattro,” in early 2014. With four user-programmable altitude notifications/alarms, the Quattro has become incredibly popular.
    It’s important to understand what an audible offers skydivers involved in precision activities. Once relegated only to scream at a skydiver that they’d missed their point of deployment, audibles are now used for indicating user-controlled altitude alarms, while still providing feedback for deployment, hard deck, cutaway, or other altitudes warnings.
    From a wingsuiting perspective, I cannot imagine anyone not owning a Quattro. With the ability to generate seven notifications in flight, wingsuiters have no reason to not be set for exact breakoff points, maneuver points, deployment, entry and exit gate-points for performance training, competition points, and the list goes on and on.
    Wingsuiters fall at different rates, and with radically different wingsuits, everyone has different needs and wants. With this in mind, I’ve put together a few bullet points on where the Quattro benefits wingsuiter pilots.
    COACHING: Frequently, wingsuit coaches have a “no more work altitude” that is different than deployment altitudes. For example, I want students to not perform tasks below 6000’ but frequently continue stable flight until 4,500. As a coach, I want these notification alarms in addition to my own personal alarms of 3,500’ and 2500’ and my hard-deck alarm at 1600’.
    As an FFC/First Flight Course coach, students are given specific tasks at specific altitudes on the climb to altitude. The Quattro provides three “climb to altitude” alarms that a coach might use to remind him of those points where the student should be providing feedback or information. For example, students might be giving a verbal description of the skydive at 5000’ or indicating their countdown and waveoff point at 6,000’. In any event, climb-to-altitude alarms serve a multitude of value.
    PERFORMANCE TRAINING: Wingsuiters competing in FAI Performance Categories need to enter their performance gate at 3000m/9842’ and exit the gate at 2000m/6562’ and while the mandatory Flysight can provide these entry/exit indicators, competitors can benefit from a pre-gate announcement that the Quattro can provide, in addition to deployment indicators.
    ACRO COMPETITION: In Wingsuit Acro, the competition clock starts as the competitors exit. In non-compulsory jumps, synchronization is frequently part of the jump, and having set points for an action, particularly where wingsuiters may not be facing each other (back to back flying), an alarm or series of alarms can provide valuable timing information. The multiple alarms are also good for notifying competitors when they’ve reached their competitive deck, while still providing the “standard” three alarms for deployment, reminder, and hard-deck.
    HIGH ALTITUDE JUMPS: Wingsuiters engaging in high altitude jumps are flummoxed that most audible systems cannot provide feedback above 10,000’. The Quattro is capable of informing the wingsuiter as high as 19,990.
    Although the Quattro offers a broad spectrum of alarm settings, users are not required to enable them, and this is one of the features I appreciate most about the Quattro; users may configure the system to be as personal as needed, turning on/off various alarm points.
    Wingsuiters focused on performance frequently do not want to look at their wrist or chest mount altimeters if they’ve got a good performance groove happening, and full-face helmets often make it impossible to see chest-mount altimeters when in a performance configuration; an audible provides valuable feedback when cranking a chin around to see a visual may have a negative impact on performance.
    The unit allows for offsets, so if the landing area is a different elevation than the point of take-off, audible settings can be user-adjusted if the offset is known. Otherwise, the unit will recalibrate itself every 14 hours to the last MSL point of take-off. Manually zeroing the Quattro is as easy as pressing the center button a couple of times (this is the same procedure for generating altitude off-sets).
    As with previous L&B; products, the Quattro uses a pair of 2325 batteries, easily found at most any electronics store or grocery store that offers a wide variety of button batteries. In my experience, the batteries seem to be good for about 1000 jumps, or about a year. However, the Quattro and Optima seem to be very forgiving when the battery indicator says “replace me.” I’ve tacked on another 300 jumps after the indicator told me I had an empty battery.
    While just about any discipline in skydiving can benefit from the Quattro’s numerous features, wingsuiting is one aspect of the sport that frequently demands “more.” Wingsuiters love data, feedback, and algorithms designed just for them, and the Quattro certainly delivers. It probably helps that some of the folks at L&B; are avid wingsuit pilots, and have taken time out to really dig into what makes wingsuiting and wingsuiters just “a bit different” than other skydivers, and in the Quattro, they’ve really done it well. Although I’m not a speed skydiver, I can only surmise the multiple alarms would also benefit the speed discipline.
    Several helmet manufacturers have recognized the value of L&B; products, and have custom-fit slots for the Quattro (or Optima2, Solo) audible, and some have given exterior access to the audible. One feature I very much appreciate in my Tonfly helmets is that I can access the audible from the outside, letting me know my altitude settings are correct, that my battery is good, and that the unit is active (I frequently turn it off if I’m not going to be jumping for a few days). The unit display turns off after 14 hours, but will reactivate if it senses a climb to altitude. Unless manually turned off, it is always ready to jump. During frequent/daily jump cycles, I don’t bother to turn off my Quattro.
    By the way, for the color coordination-conscious skydiver, these are available with custom-configuration buttons, just like the Optima and Viso.

    By admin, in Gear,

    Introducing The Safire 3 by NZ Aerosports

    NZ Aerosports released the original Icarus Safire in 1999. They followed up in 2001 with the release of the Safire2, and she went on to become their biggest selling mainstream canopy, and one of the most popular beginner and intermediate canopies on the market.
    About five years ago, there began to be rumours of a Safire 3 and Crossfire 3 being developed, but the development of Petra and Leia stole the limelight and the research and development hours, and kept the company preoccupied for a few years. But last year NZ Aerosports started making some noise about them again, and since there's been a few teaser posts on their Facebook page about these new wings.

    Everyone wants to know when the Safire 3 and Crossfire 3 will be released, but the team at NZ Aerosports are staying tight lipped on that one. They have stated that the Safire 3 will be first to go public. And they've released a bit of information about what we can expect to see in the Safire 2's successor. They say they are also working hard on the Crossfire 3 project and that it’s going to be ready later in the year than the Safire 3, but it’s looking pretty good!
    The starting point for the Safire 3 project was reshaping the Safire 2 in the same software and using the same 3D design technique used to design Petra and Leia. They’ve kept the crossport design and repartition the same, to reduce surface distortion and improve load bearing, and the 3D lineset design, which gives a more accurate shape in flight. They’ve used the same elliptical lobe, so the shape of the canopy given by the way the lineset attaches now follows a true ellipse. And they’ve added their statement Powerband that flattens the 3D panels more accurately and reduces fabric stretch to keep the new design true to it’s shape in flight.

    These are some of the design changes you can expect from the Safire 2 to Safire 3:
    New planform totally reshaped through true 3D design
    Proportionally tuned air inlets that open wider in the centre of the canopy and less toward the tips
    New brake configuration, providing a more efficient flare It won't be more 'high performance' than the Safire 2, because it is aimed at the same type of pilot that flies them now, but she will be more efficient and responsive, have a better glide and an even more powerful flare.
    The Safire3 Project: Opening Progression from NZ Aerosports Ltd on Vimeo.
    When the Safire 3 comes to market she will be available exclusively from NZ Aerosports in New Zealand, and NZ Aerosports dealers.

    By admin, in Gear,

    First Look At The Squirrel Swift 2

    Squirrel are soon releasing their Swift 2 and Funk 2 wingsuits, which are now available for pre-orders. We're excited to bring you this first look at the Swift 2.
    Image by Dan Dupuis

    New smaller planform
    New profile
    New leading edge construction
    New arm sweep
    More R&D; per square inch than any suit in its class
    The SWIFT 2 is an entirely new design that brings a higher level of efficiency and performance to the beginner-intermediate class. This is the most balanced and versatile beginner-intermediate design that we have flown, and we think it represents a meaningful step forward in wingsuit design. In the same way that the FREAK has upset the intermediate class market, the SWIFT 2 offers performance and ease of use in a ratio that we think is unique in the category.
    Compared to the SWIFT, the SWIFT 2 has less surface area yet more glide performance, range, and speed. What this means is that the SWIFT 2 is easier to fly than its predecessor, and offers higher performance. This has been accomplished by increasing efficiency in the profile and planform.
    Traditionally, wingsuit manufacturers have added surface area to a design in order to increase “performance”. But, as surface area increases, so does difficulty. Surface area is the one factor in wingsuit design that cannot be cheated: if it’s bigger, it’s potentially more difficult to fly. Our mission at Squirrel is to maximize the efficiency of each design by focusing on glide and speed gains that come as a result of profile improvements and drag reduction, instead of simply increasing surface area. When we increase the performance of a suit without reducing the comfort and ease of use, it can be considered a “free” upgrade. That is the focus of the SWIFT 2.

    Image by Avalon Wolf The SWIFT 2 planform has less arm wing surface at the wingtip section of the span, increasing the aspect ratio and improving handling and ease of use. The wing root chord has been slightly increased, adding range and stability particularly in applications such as flocking. The added surface at the wing root enables smoother pitch adjustment and increases roll stability by supporting the pilot’s CG and hips. This also eases transitions from belly to back fly positions. The leg wing stance is also narrower than the original SWIFT.
    A new arm sweep and leading edge construction, taken directly from the FREAK, has reduced drag and improved agility. The SWIFT 2 feels considerably more compact than its predecessor, or any other wing in its class, thanks to these factors being combined with a profile also adapted from the FREAK. The FREAK profile was chosen for its moderate thickness and excellent behavior across a wide range of speeds.
    Versatility is a key tenet of the SWIFT 2 design. Arm and leg wing pressure can be adjusted via the internal wing zips, allowing a softer and more manageable ride for newer pilots, acrobatic pilots looking for rapid transition and ease in flips where wing area has to be rapidly compressed. With zips closed, the SWIFT 2 delivers the range, performance, and stability needed for high or low speed flocking.
    The SWIFT 2 inlets are adapted from our newest high-performance suits, and feature a more efficient intake with less drag than the original SWIFT. Back-fly inlets are offered as an option, and make the SWIFT 2 a fun and agile suit for freestyle flying and steeper, more advanced, formations.
    Leading edge construction is a complicated matter in wingsuit design. Performance can be enhanced by creating a rigid structure over the arm, but this results in a significant reduction in passive safety. We have focused on this part of our wingsuits since the beginning of our development and we are constantly striving to create the best balance of comfort and performance. The SWIFT 2 leading edge is adapted from the FREAK, and features a grained non-flexible main arm segment with a flexible Glideskin arc at the wrist for BOC and riser/brake toggle access. The interior is finished in Lycra, which provides a smooth surface for skin or clothing to slide across, and houses the optional leading edge foam. Never underestimate the importance of an easy pull and access to your risers. Brake and riser access is a learned skill: practice it thoroughly!
    The SWIFT 2 planform is completely new, and was chosen for its distribution of surface at the wing tip and wing root. Additionally, the sweep and stance are similar to the FREAK and FUNK 2, making the transition to our more advanced suits feel more natural.
    The SWIFT 2 profile is adapted from the FREAK, modified only to fit the smaller planform and shorter chord. Thickness and camber was chosen for stability across a wide range of speeds and angles of attack.

    Image by Luis Lopez Mendez FEATURES
    We believe that all performance-enhancing features in a wingsuit should be standard. If it's important to performance flying or improves ease-of-use, then it's included in the price of your suit. Padded and reinforced foot cavities, chest pocket / belly-cam access, internal pressure-zips, nut-sack storage compartment, mylar reinforced leading edge, and rubber BASE soles are all standard features in all of our suits.
    In BASE and Skydiving, easy BOC and brake toggle access has proven to yield the safest and most reliable deployments. We firmly believe in the mantra, "Keep it Simple and Safe". For that reason, we designed a suit for which arm cutaways are unnecessary, BOC access is clean thanks to the extended wing root that helps to prevent the trailing edge from covering your PC, and risers / brake toggles can be accessed without unzipping. The arm sweep, wrist-cut, and leading edge construction have all been engineered for a balance of safety and performance.
    The SWIFT 2 has an exceptional amount of performance for its surface area. No other suit in this size range delivers as much speed, glide, or range. Ease of use is a critical factor for this class of suit, and the newest pilots will instantly appreciate the SWIFT 2’s stability in an arched position. If you have questions about flying your SWIFT 2 at any level of performance, please don't hesitate to contact us! We are always here to answer your questions.

    By admin, in Gear,

    Parachute Systems Service Bulletin for Vortex Container

    PRODUCT SERVICE BULLETIN 2016-01 (PSB # 2016 - 01)
    ISSUE DATE: 4th January 2016

    SUBJECT: Stainless Steel Mini Base Ring

    STATUS: Ground Equipment Until Further Notice

    Affected Vortex Rigs: To be updated ASAP.
    Subject to a notification on Saturday, Jan 2nd, 2016, from our dealer in Holland that a stainless steel mini base ring presented with a problem on a Vortex container on its fourth jump (DOM October 2014), we are immediately advising all customers with a Vortex that has “DSF” stamped base rings (flip the base ring over and if its stamped DSF) to ground their equipment until we can ascertain which batch is impacted and obtain more detail from the manufacturer. We are diligently pursuing this information in as quick a time as possible. We will post serial numbers of potentially affected Vortex's as soon as we have the manufacturers’ confirmed information and steps that need to be taken to resolve this issue.
    Please be assured that Parachute Systems will make all efforts as quickly as possible to resolve this issue.
    Discussions regarding this issue are being discussed on Parachute Systems' Facebook page.
    This bulletin will be updated as more information on the affected containers are provided.
    UPDATE - Permanent Grounding For All Vortex Harness Containers With DSF Ring

    An update has been provided by Parachute Systems that has seen the permanent grounding of all Vortex containers with the affected DSF ring.
    "While the hardware manufacturers believe the compromised stainless steel ring could be an isolated incident, and expert opinion has confirmed this is very possible, in the absence of being able to test every single ring quickly and efficiently, both companies have decided that they will not risk the possibility of even one Harness Container in the field with a potentially faulty stainless steel ring.
    It has been decided, therefore, that every Vortex Harness Container with the stainless steel hardware as referenced in the Bulletin and stamped “DSF” BE GROUNDED PERMANENTLY"
    This grounding does NOT pertain to the Vortex Harness Containers that do not have the referenced stainless steel hardware per the Bulletin and stamped “DSF">
    It has been further agreed to by both companies, that EVERY Vortex harness container that has the stainless steel hardware as referenced in the initial Bulletin, will be replaced with a brand new identical Harness Container as the original order.
    The replacement phase (VORTEX REPLACEMENT PROGRAM) will commence immediately and the closing date for the receipt of claims under this program is December 31st 2016."
    More information available in the Service Bulletin
    They have also made a recall form Available on Their Website

    By admin, in Gear,

    How To Clean Your Container

    A Spa Day For Your Skydiving Rig
    Image by Andrey VeselovCharlie Chaplin has nothing on you. That landing was nothing less than *art*.
    You managed to use that doofus downwind setup to milk every last opportunity for comedy out of your return to earth. You nailed the exaggerated “uh-oh” expression. You executed the perfect shortbus flare. You transitioned majestically from a banana-peel touchdown to a ten-foot skid through the one spot of mud in the landing area.
    You, my friend, are awesome.
    Now, you’re going to have a nice laundry day. Here’s how.
    Wait for it.
    If you’ve managed to drag your beautiful gear through the mud, you’re going to have to stare at it in shame for a while before you make a move. Wait for it to dry completely -- which may take a couple of days -- then scrub off what you can with a dry brush.
    Take it apart.
    Remove both canopies from the rig. (Do this after performing a practice reserve deployment -- as you always do before a repack, right?) Remove your AAD from the rig. Remove all hardware: reserve handles, risers, RSL, hook knife, etc. If you’re not comfortable doing this yourself, ask for help from a rigger.
    Treat your rig like a dog.
    ...or, at least, like you’re administering a doggie bathtime. Gather a big plastic tub, gentle detergent (such as Woolite or castile soap) and a nylon scrub brush. Fill the tub about halfway with lukewarm -- not hot -- water. Dunk your empty rig and agitate it in the soapy water, but don’t let it sit and soak. After the container is fully saturated, go at it with your scrubber. Repeat the dunk-and-shake cycle. Once your rig is good and scrubbed, empty the tub and refill it with soapless, lukewarm water. Dunk and dunk and dunk, emptying and refilling the tub as necessary, until not even the tiniest hint of soap remains. (Dried-on soap is a filth magnet.)
    ...Or treat your rig like fine lingerie.
    You can machine-wash a rig, but you’d better make sure you act like it’s a set of ridiculously fancy, spendy underthings. (Ridiculously fancy, spendy underthings with hip rings, of course, that need to be strapped up with athletic tape to keep them from denting the inside of your machine…) Put your empty, hardwareless, Velcro-mated rig in a mesh laundry bag and run it with gentle detergent on the delicate cycle.
    String it up.
    Hang your wet skydiving container in a dry place that isn’t exposed to direct sunlight. As you get it set up, straighten every flap and fold to prevent wrinkles from locking in. Keep tabs untucked. If your rig has Cadmium hardware, you’ll need to do a thorough hand-drying pass with a towel at the very beginning to prevent rust.
    Stop time.
    Okay. You can’t stop time. You can, however, encourage the time between cleanings to maybe slow down a little bit.
    After your rig is spotlessly, white-glove-test-ready, make-your-mama-proud clean -- and as dry as the beer truck at the end of the Skydive Arizona Christmas Boogie -- you can apply a single coating of fabric protection, such as Scotchgard, to shield it against redirtying. Check the manufacturer’s recommendation for application before you get all spray-happy. That said, the general advice is to apply three whisper-light coats of protectant, making sure each coat is dry before applying a new one. Make sure you do this in a well-ventilated area (lest you waterproof your lungs).
    Get out, damned spot.
    Keep a baggie of stain-removing wipes in your skydiving gear kit. They’re a lifesaver for little oopsies.
    Take a canopy course.
    ...or start working at a laundromat to save money. Your call, Charlie.

    By nettenette, in Gear,

    What To Ask Yourself Before You Mess With Your AAD

    Image by Ralph Turner You probably have one meaningful interaction with your AAD: you chase the red light.
    Poke, poke, poke, watch. ...Zero. Okay. Off you go.
    Just a quick note, friend: you might want to poke a little deeper. According to the USPA, there have been no less than nine fatalities related to AAD fires at designated firing altitudes that did not result in fully inflated canopies before impact. The point is that these guys chased the red light just fine, but there was likely a difference between what the AAD was told to do and the actual conditions of the jump. A couple hundred extra feet could have made the difference between nine annoying repacks and nine funerals.
    Food for thought, y’know.
    If your equipment is new-ish, your AAD probably has a feature that allows you to change its activation altitude. It’s good to know that feature exists, and it’s good to know how it works -- because it helps you understand that mysterious little whatsit in your rig a little better when you do.
    If you’re ready to explore, do a little introspection first. Here are the important questions to ask yourself before you change the activation altitude on your AAD:
    1.Do you want this to be forever, or just-for-now?
    Most currently manufactured automatic activation devices let you offset the device’s activation altitude to allow for a one-time altitude differential between takeoff and landing area. This will be a factor for you only if you’re making a single wahoo at a dropzone with a significant altitude differential between takeoff and LZ -- or if you’re doing a demo jump with an offset. This method resets when the device turns off.
    If you need a change that sticks around a little longer, don’t despair: both the Cypres 2 and Vigil 2+ have a way to increase the activation altitude until you change it back again. Your owner’s manual will explain how to do this.
    2. What’s the difference?
    The Cypres 2 adjusts in increments of 100 feet, from 750 up to 1,650. The Vigil adjusts in 150-foot increments. For example, if you have a Cypres you’ll add increments +100 feet for a higher landing zone compared to the take-off and increments of -100 feet for a lower landing zone.
    3. When’s it going to give the all-clear?
    When you make a positive altitude correction, the AAD will still disarm at its standard number of feet above the ground zero reference -- the exact same altitude as it does when no altitude correction is set. When a negative altitude correction is applied, however, it will disarm at its standard number of feet above the preset negative altitude correction -- the new landing zone.
    4. How forgetful are you?
    If you’re the type of person to run into sliding glass doors at full clip, wear your shirt inside-out all day and/or infuriate your spouse/partner/lover by brainfarting every single anniversary, beware: Adjusting the activation altitude on your AAD might not be the best idea for total space cadets. To avoid a two-out, you’re going to need to remember that setting and ensure that you’ve got an open, functional main no lower than 1000 feet above it.
    Remember: a slow opening messes with that margin. Think about density altitude, and think about your packing choices.
    Another liability for nutty professors: turning on your AAD in the landing area of one dropzone and driving to another dropzone with a different altitude without resetting the AAD. (Work out how much of a kerfuffle that could be.)
    Finally, balance your know-how with your need. Bryan Burke, Skydive Arizona S&TA; (and über-adventuring renaissance man) has this to say about it: “I’m willing to bet that, for most skydivers, messing around with an AAD is likely to cause more problems than it’s going to solve.”
    5. Which way are you pointing your belly button?
    You may be surprised to know that your body position directly affects your AAD’s activation altitude. AADs work using the metrics of measured air pressure and measured time. Those two parameters allow the little guy to calculate your pretty-much-exact altitude (±3 feet or so) at any given moment as a function of the registered air pressure, as well as your vertical speed related to a pressure variation within a certain period of time.
    But wait! Does that air pressure change depending on where your body has oriented that little AAD? Why, yes. Yes it does, smartypants.
    A belly position puts your AAD in a burble. This changes the atmospheric air pressure registered by your AAD by up to 10 millibars. Interestingly, that works out to a difference of ±260 feet. In an AAD activation scenario, 260 feet is y’know kindof a big deal. The AAD senses that the belly-to-earth jumper is higher than they actually are -- kinda like a policeman working the exit road of a music festival. Be aware.
    6. Why do you even have this little gadget?
    If you have an AAD in order to make your skydiving life painlessly safer, you need to know that it’s not the foolproof set-it-and-forget-it piece of furniture you might think it is. You put so much faith in that thing that you really ought to get to know it a little better. There will, after all, likely be a fatality number ten...and it doesn’t have to be you.

    By nettenette, in Gear,

    Safety in the Sky: A Skydiver’s Defense

    The world of skydiving offers those who choose to take the leap of faith a rush like non-other. The sport has grown far beyond anything its pioneers could have ever imagined. This growth has raised the demand for the establishment of advanced safety protocols in drop zones around the world. Container systems, main and reserve parachutes and basic safety procedures have all made this sport safer for all its users. One particular invention however, stands out above the rest and it is the automatic activation device or AAD for short.
    An AAD is a small, technically advanced device which activates a cutter that severs the reserve closing loop when the user is falling at or greater than a predetermined speed (roughly 78 MPH) and at or lower than a predetermined altitude (roughly 750 feet AGL). The device is equipped with a small computer designed to compute the skydiver’s speed of travel by using the surrounding air pressure. AADs have been common to skydivers for decades but recent years have brought about amazing change to this industry.
    CYPRES and Vigil AADs have become two of the leading manufacturers of AADs in recent years. When turned on, the AADs computer chip uses an advanced pressure monitoring system to determine a skydiver’s altitude and fall rate. If a skydiver passes the predetermined altitude at a faster than predetermined fall rate, the system sends a signal to a small cutter built into the parachute’s container. Once activated the cutter severs the reserve line retaining pin, causing the reserve chute to immediately deploy. Essentially, both CYPRES and Vigil AADs are meant to perform in very similar ways. Historically, each company has built and fine-tuned their respective devices to fit various disciplines in the sport.
    Cypres 2 AAD CYPRES which is short for Cybernetic Parachute Release System was developed by AirTec, a German company founded in 1990. Company founder Helmut Cloth decided to replace the old and faulty technology for opening devices of the time with a more reliable device. The result was revolutionary: the first CYPRES was ready in 1991 and became the first electronic opening device in the skydiving world. Shortly after hitting the market the CYPRES AAD sales grew to nearly 5,000 units per year. Developers continued working hard on making sure all the feedback from its users was implemented into their new products. In a little over a decade, CYPRES AAD sales rocketed to over 80,000 units. Airtec saw the overwhelming demand for their product and in 2007 developed the CYPRES 2. Within two years the CYPRES 2 broke the magic barrier of 50,000 units sold. The successes and reliability of the CYPRES 1 and 2 were celebrated throughout drop zones worldwide in 2011 during CYPRES’ 20 year anniversary. Since then the company has continued to provide a great piece of equipment with the backing of thousands of saved lives all over the world (CYPRES, 2014).
    The Vigil AAD shares many similarities to its competitor and was also designed to add a wider range of safety measures for skydivers. Nearly a decade after CYPRES’ great successes, Vigil was introduced. Immediately after being marketed the Vigil began flying off the shelves in record numbers. Designed by the Belgium company Advanced Aerospace Designs in 1999, the Vigil AAD system offered its users unique patented features. Features such as: a patented cutter device (circular knife) that cuts the reserve loop twice, water resistant technology, and a multimode option which allows for three different modes: PRO – STUDENT – TANDEM, all make the Vigil unique. These features make the Vigil a highly sought after piece of equipment for skydivers of all disciplines but even more so by drop zone management staff wanting to use one AAD for multiple modes of operations. In addition to calculating a skydiver’s rate of travel by using the surrounding air pressure, Vigil also uses an additional activation technique. Once the door opens and you leave the airplane, the Vigil AAD will calculate the time left over before reaching the activation altitude (Vigil, 2014). Since its appearance, the Vigil has sold upwards of 70,000 units and continues to increase sales annually.
    Vigil AAD Aside from their successes, the overarching factor in this equation is the consumer, as is in any supply-demand industry. The initial cost of purchasing an AAD unit is about the same, approximately $1,400. Many consumers view this as a steep price to pay especially when also calculating the maintenance costs throughout the lifecycle of an AAD. The additional cost of ownership includes battery replacement and scheduled maintenance, which calculates to be roughly $75 per year. The Vigil AAD claims to have a 20 year lifespan with no mandatory service requirements. The CYPRES AAD, however, is said to have a 12.5 year life expectancy with required maintenance at the four and eight year marks after activation. Many skydivers take these two factors well into consideration before committing to any purchase.
    Thankfully the CYPRES and Vigil AADs are readily available to ship to locations worldwide. The ease and effortlessness involved with purchasing an AAD makes it very convenient for anyone in the market for one. The decision of which one is the better choice is strictly up to the buyer’s personal preference and skill level. Both CYPRES and Vigil have been tried and proven over many years and thousands of documented lives saved. All in all, the sport is lucky that jumpers have a good choice of automatic activation devices. Few jumpers wore them before they came to their present level of accuracy and reliability, and members of the gray-haired set who still remember friends they lost when no-pulls/low-pulls dominated the fatality reports will mostly agree that the added cost of skydiving due to AADs has been worth it (Parachutist, 2010).
    Thanks for reading,
    Blue Skies!

    By EMarte21, in Gear,

    Fly Gear: The New School of Tracking Suits

    The first tracking suit was a humble thing indeed.
    Invented by pioneers of the tracking discipline in the unforgiving terrain atop Norway’s bigwall exits, the first suits were resourceful repurposings of the stuff they already had on-hand – the rain gear required by Norway’s reliably inclement weather, and the cigarettes they used to while away the time as they waited for it to pass.
    The “big idea” was simple: increase a tracker’s surface area, and he/she can use it to fly longer, flatter, faster and farther from the danger posed by the solid object behind him. With this in mind, someone -- no one quite remembers who -- burned cigarette holes in their waterproofs, positing that enough air would enter the holes to afford meaningful inflation. Somewhat miraculously, it worked. The rest, as they say, is history.
    The first purpose-built version, the original Phoenix Fly tracking suit, was introduced in 2004. Until recently, it has seen little serious competition: suit tracking was born by and for the BASE environment, and non-BASE-jumpers had little interest in it outside of its contested, folk-wisdomy usefulness as a stepping stone to wingsuiting.
    The past year has changed everything. Skydiving and BASE have both seen an unprecedented boom in participating athletes -- as well as a notable rise in tracking as a specialization. Whether the boom owes to a sharp increase in wingsuit-related incidents or to a renewed interest in tracking subdisciplines such as angle flying is unclear, but the empirical evidence speaks for itself. In any case, suit manufacturers have responded with an explosion of new technologies and designs. The new range aims for lighting-fast inflation, foolproof pressurization, optimized lift-drag ratios and multi-orientational usability. In a couple of cases, the designs even introduce wingsuitesque one-piece construction into the mix.
    I five brand-new suits through their paces in both the BASE and skydiving environments to find out which provide an optimum performance in different circumstances. Here’s the rundown on my findings.*
    *You will note that I am one human, and that, while I have quite a lot of time in tracking suits, I am not any kind of god, savant or superwoman. Your experience may vary from mine. Heck, it’s likely to.
    By Joel Strickland
    The Suits
    Phoenix-Fly Power Tracking Suit
    Currently the most popular tracking suit on the market, Phoenix Fly’s Power Tracking Suit is the more powerful baby brother of Phoenix Fly’s venerable and much-beloved Original Tracking Suit. Along with a bigger general profile, the new suit integrates thicker stiffening fabric, additional gear pockets on the jacket, tougher construction, mesh lining and inlets redesigned to deliver quicker pressurization. Aerialists love its forgiving transitions, and the power zone is relatively easy for lower-experience trackers to find (though Phoenix-Fly suggests a minimum of 120 jumps on the Original Tracking Suit before putting on the Power).
    I found the Power Tracking Suit to be instantly comfortable, and its construction to be thoughtful and solid. While the suit doesn’t have the raw power of some of the other new offerings, it’s accessible, predictable and confidence-inspiring – which is probably why so many personal-best tracks have been performed in it.
    Pressurized Tube 4
    The Tube 4’s predecessor, the Tube 3, was a polarizing piece of gear. Trackers either loved or hated it, citing distinct roll-and-yaw wiggliness and unpredictability during the transition. In response, Pressurized redesigned the Tube 4 from the ground up. Features include inflation-staging leg inlets, zipper safeties and a thicker arm profile. Long, strong stiffeners at the front of the calf effectively smooth the leg profile. Backfly inlets are available (though not standard), and zippers aside the leg open up a sizeable extension to the leg volume.
    Given my previous experience with the Tube 3, I was expecting a rodeo when I tested the new suit in the BASE environment. I was shocked by the new suit’s ease of use: it was a baby-smooth ride from the get-go. Though it took a bit of trial-and-error to find the power zone, the Tube 4’s transition was among the smoothest I’d ever experienced.
    I had a couple of nagging issues with the Tube 4’s construction. For one, I found the vent-stiffening material easily malforms – and quickly “learns” the new shape – when the suit is folded for packing. (Overnight storage on a wide-shouldered hanger reduces the problem, but doesn’t solve it; after all, the suit has to go into a stash bag sometime.) Beyond that, I was constantly fighting my suit’s sticky zippers.
    Tony Suits Masai
    There’s no denying that the Tony Masai, wingsuit manufacturer TonySuits’ first tracking offering, is a head-turner. I was the subject of several baffled stares as I marched across Skydive Empuriabrava in it – probably, because the one-piece Masai looks neither like a tracking suit nor a wingsuit but an idiosyncratic combination of both. Where other tracking suits are distinctly baggy, aiming to inflate across the entire body, the central body of the Masai is unusually trim. This decidedly anomalous design inflates via both front and back inlets on a set of tubular fabric “rails” that run from armpit to ankle and down the inseams. The jumper’s rig zips in just like a wingsuit. The Masai comes standard with Cordura booties, stealth-rubber soles, backfly inlets and a humorously roomy zippered pocket positioned right on the seat.
    When I first geared up in the Masai, I was worried about inflation. In other, far looser suits, a slight bend in the limbs doesn’t noticeably deform the inflating portion of the suit; on the Masai, however, slight changes in the articulation of legs and arms pulled the fabric unnervingly taut to the body. When I jumped it, however, my worries were instantly dispelled. While the Masai tended to misbehave in a steep dive, the suit kept its inflation admirably through the rest of the test maneuvers, achieved solid marks for distance and delivered the crispest transition to and from backfly of any tested suit.
    S-Fly Cruise
    Fly Your Body’s first addition to the field, the Cruise, is getting a lot of attention, and not just because it’s the suit that Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet used for their record-breaking freefly-tracking jump from the Burj Dubai. The Cruise is massive, it’s intelligently designed, and it’s delivering eyebrow-raising results from trackers with low jump numbers.
    The suit features several industry-first advancements. Internal airlocks maintain pressurization. Thumbloops on both sides (so they remain available whether you track with palms up or down) keep the arm stable. An integrated deflector improves airflow around the jumper’s rig. The Cruise comes standard with both front and back inlets and removable booties (as well as the option to order rubber with a BASE tread).
    The wide, one-piece design inflates centrally -- very differently from a two-piece design, which is necessary cinched around the waist. (Jumpers can expect this to result in yaw instability during the first few jumps.) The Cruise’s optimal flying technique moves closer to that of a wingsuit than a born-and-bred tracking suit, and it’s a lot for a newer jumper to handle. However, an athlete with some experience -- and the time and willingness to put a few skydives on the suit -- will likely have the same take-away I did: something akin to jaw-on-the-floor disbelief.
    Squirrel Sumo
    The Squirrel Sumo is aptly named: it’s a very burly suit. It’s so voluminous, in fact, that it’s likely to be mistaken for a small wingsuit in a stash bag. The Sumo comes standard with a bevy of thoughtful details: loads of oversized, difficult-to-deform Mylar inlets, a close-fitting collar and cuffs to prevent air escape, three Mylar-reinforced toe tension settings, Cordura reinforcements and brawny industrial-grade zippers. Uniquely, Squirrel’s suit also includes Velcro-fastened stabilizers on the inner leg to prevent its abundance of fabric from jostling out of position on exit.
    All that fabric, flown correctly, delivers rocketship power. My first skydives on the Sumo were gainers from the back of a military Casa over the open ocean off the coast of Panama, and the suit ferried me back to the island landing area with room to spare. I was pleased to see that it was racking up similar distances to smaller flocking wingsuits without much dialing-in.
    In full flight, the Sumo felt rock-solid. As with any other large suit – especially one that inflates as quickly and sizeably as the Sumo – BASE exits proved a trickier proposition, though the field-leading start speed is well worth the effort to workshop. Note: Squirrel purpose-built the Sumo to maintain solid internal pressure in order to outfly aggressive exits in the BASE environment. Because of that laser focus, you won’t find backfly inlets on the Squirrel.
    [Originally published in Skydive Dubai’s now-defunct Dropzone Magazine, Fall 2014]

    By admin, in Gear,