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General

    What You Should Really Know About the First Global Indoor Skydiving Summit

    What Happened? And Why Is It Important That It Did? Here’s the Beta
    The First Global Indoor Skydiving Summit, which took place in Skydive Empuriabrava’s hometown of Castelló d'Empúries, just happened. If you fly in the Windoor tunnel, you almost certainly know that it did. Right? But you might not yet be clear on why that’s important -- or how what happened over those two days in Castelló is going to affect your life as a flyer. 
    Let’s be clear: It was, and it will. When a bunch of profit-minded business competitors and stakeholders with divergent views on how indoor skydiving should develop start building industry consensus for the very first time -- with technologists, engineers, energy experts and athletes in the room -- it’s only a matter of time until that far-off wave hits.
    To understand where this is going, it’s important to understand where it came from: and that’s Roland Hilfiker, CEO of Support Air International, who organized the event. If you think you recognize the name, you’re right: Roland has been in and around skydiving since 1975 in a flurry of different capacities.


    “I was professional at one stage,” he laughs. “I ran the School of Human Flight in Zephyrhills and the Skydive Empuriabrava dropzone afterwards, until the mid-90s.” From there, Roland embarked on a new adventure: in sports communications. He worked within a number of different sports shuttling between international governing bodies, event organizers and rights holders, “basically providing communication support in all its different facets, from television production to communication strategy,” he explains. Among plenty of other things, he’s done quite a bit for the FAI. As chair of the Olympic Coordinating Committee he represented FAI in the Global Association of International Sports Federations and similar umbrella bodies, all the while pitching parachuting/skydiving for inclusion into the Olympic Games from Barcelona 1992 through Beijing 2008. He was on the Olympic Rings jump in Seoul 1988, too. Something which he considers the pinnacle in his active career.
    Even though his lobbying efforts failed to produce results with the International Olympic Committee, Hilfiker managed to get air sports admitted to The World Games back in 1995. He assumed the lead in organizing the first two appearances of skydiving/parachuting (he insisted on the slash to allow for the side-by-side of canopy and freefall events on the program) in The World Games Lahti and Akita. After getting elected Vice President of the International World Games Association, he decided to reduce his engagement for FAI. He received the FAI Bronze medal in 2001 (“for his exceptional and dedicated work in promoting the FAI in the wider sports community and amongst the public at large by campaigning for air sports to be admitted to the Olympic Games”). 
    For all that involvement in air sports, Roland is still relatively new to the tunnel. In fact, he saw his first indoor competition during The Wind Games 2019.
    “I was convinced this is a good way of presenting skydiving,” he muses. “It has a lot of advantages over the traditional sport. Something that could make it a stronger contender for an Olympic bid. But after a little more research, I perceived not just the sport’s strengths - but its weaknesses too. I saw a lack of consistency across a number of areas.”

    What’s the best path to consistency? Well: In the case of a sport that’s fractured across continents, philosophies and party lines, getting everyone together in a room is a great first step. In all those years of working in sport organizations, specifically in the field of communications, Roland had logged a lot of time at sports congresses (“about five in an average year, over 25 to 30 years,” he says), both big and small.
    “After receiving encouragement by the President of the International Skydiving Commission (ISC), Gillian Winter, I thought, ‘why don't you try to organize one yourself?’ 
    “And that's how it came about,” he smiles
    He dove right in, calling the project the Global Indoor Skydiving Summit. Going into it, Roland certainly had a vision.  
    “Obviously, I had my own opinions on virtually all of the different topics I felt needed addressing,” he explains. “I definitely picked these topics based on my 25 years of professional experience. What I was trying to achieve was a more complete analysis of the situation, and to get partnerships going between the most different parties.”
    But not all of it was sailing the calm waters. From the outset, Hilfiker had sought the approval of not only the ISC, but of the FAI as well. In fact, he had met with the highest FAI charges for discussions on three occasions and a final version of a co-hosting agreement was ready for signature in late October 2019. The precise moment the ISC President announced the withdrawal from the project of the body she presides. The disagreement was over the choice of summit topics and the lineup of panelists. 


    “The silver lining of that,” he adds, “is that not being associated with commercial organizations or the world governing body, it gave us a certain freedom to act and speak and go about our business. On the other hand, I did feel bad for FAI and ISC. Both bodies are in dire need to reinvent themselves, passing up on an opportunity to be in on important conversations seems somewhat wasteful.”
    The summit was held alongside The Wind Games, one of the premier indoor skydiving competitions on the world calendar. The Wind Games had attracted 180 competitors from more than 30 countries to the Windoor wind tunnel, right next to Skydive Empuriabrava, and plenty of them were more than keen to join the conversation taking place just down the road.
    The venue was pretty special, too: an old convent, converted into a cultural center. Over two eight-hour days, packed to the gills with sessions, discussions and breakout sessions, participants across the sport -- from manufacturers to owners to representative athletes -- came to collective grips with everything from oversaturation to safety standards to the cost of flying (with a potential BlaBlaCar-style proposal from an enterprising Frenchman). Experts took the stage to talk about how operators can negotiate preferential rates for energy, and technologists (such as the Tunnel Tech EU team, who occupy the very leading edge of advances in tunnel engineering and materials) jumped into the conversation with about new methods to keep energy consumption down. Carbon impact came up, too, of course.
    “People are making efforts to offset the carbon footprint of indoor skydiving,” Roland says, “we need to provide the operators and manufacturers with good data, obtained through a number of channels we have identified so far. That’s the process - and it should continue.”
    “It was not a vacation,” Roland says. “It was for sure a debate. And it was positive! In the end, everyone agreed that we achieved great things.”


    A great example of one of those “great things” that came as a surprise to plenty of tunnel folks: Tunnel Instructor and the International Bodyflight Association made a public announcement of their forward-going cooperation and intention to coordinate their respective work. In essence, what that means is that it’s suddenly going to be significantly easier for a licensed, rated instructor to transfer co-validated ratings between IBA and Tunnel Instructor facilities.  “That was a major breakthrough,” Roland affirms.
    “We’re still working towards a mission statement to guide our continued work from here,” he adds. “We don't know where this is going to take indoor skydiving as a sport, but I personally see this as an open-ended process that provides plenty of space for it to be continued. We could think of it as a think tank -- as a permanent forum for discussion -- and we’ve created venues on the web which will allow us to keep the dialogue going until the next event gets us all in the same room again.”
    There will, then, be a sequel.
    “I've been doing this for well over 30 years,” Roland laughs. “It will take quite a bit more to burn me out.”
    “People at the inaugural Summit said they are looking forward to the next one. I am confident that we will see a lot of progress in the industry and the sport before it takes place,” Hilfiker said. “Indoor skydiving has huge potential to grow and evolve as a sport, a fun activity and as an entertainment for all. In any case, it can be a viable proposition without being part of the Olympic program any time soon.”
    All images courtesy Support Air. For updates on the next Global Indoor Skydiving Summit, visit www.indoorskydiving.vision and/or www.indoorskydiving.stream

    By nettenette, in General,

    The 2019 Malfunction & Incidents Collection

    We recently posted an article showcasing some really sweet videos to get you amped to hit the sky. The reality however, is that not every jump goes as planned. Sometimes you find yourself victim to a bad pack job, bad technique or failed equipment. The collection of videos below are some of the malfunctions that made their way onto Youtube in the past year. Use these videos to learn from other's mistakes, look at how others reacted to their incidents and how it affected their outcome. While some malfunctions one can laugh about later, others should serve solely as a lesson to other jumpers.
    From the uploader: "On my first jump with my Strix i had a toggle fire and needed to cutaway! Not the best body position and pitched with some speed. This is the only way that my great SABRE 1 wingsuit canopy can get into a diving spin."
    From the uploader: "After an uneventful jump, on deployment one of the riser covers of the Wings rig did not release, leading the PD 90 to deploy unevenly and start violent spinning behind the neck of the jumper. He was about to cut away the wing and pull his reserve when the riser cover released. The jumper checked his altitude, reasoned he had altitude to keep working on it a bit longer and then untwisted. He landed back at the dropzone exhausted and shocked, then switched container manufacturer as soon as he could."
    From the uploader: "Bag lock is a b*tch, especially on a tandem skydive. This TI and passenger were in the saddle by 1650 feet."
    From the uploader: "A skydiver has some heavy line twists on opening, which he fights all the way down to his hard deck before cutting away and deploying his reserve parachute -- which also opens with heavy line twists. Yikes!"
    From the uploader: "Skydiver rides his reserve parachute safely to the ground after a canopy malfunction!"
    From the uploader: "A pilot chute in tow malfunction is never fun, especially when you try to manually deploy your main parachute and end up flipping onto your back with a mess of lines wrapping around your leg. That’s exactly what happened to this skydiver. He pulled his cutaway, deployed his reserve and crossed his fingers that the reserve would clear the ball of $#!t above his head."
    From the uploader: "This jumper deployed their main, saw a malfunction they could not recover from, and cutaway. Their three-rings separated but a line got caught and the main parachute remained connected to the container. While attempting to clear the line entanglement, it appears the jumper pulled on their RSL and extracted their reserve pin; giving them a two-out. The jumper flew the reserve and, twenty seconds before safely landing their reserve, the main finally released."
    From the uploader: "As they exited the plane this jumper’s deployment bag came out of their container and gave them a horseshoe malfunction. They realized their pilot chute was still in the BOC and deployed it in an attempt to remedy the situation. Unfortunately, the pilot chute failed to extract the main, resulting in a SECOND malfunction! This time the jumper was faced with a bag lock. They cutaway their main, regained stability and deployed their reserve."
     
    From the uploader: "After an uneventful wingsuit flight this jumper deployed his main and found himself with a line over that sent him spinning. Unable to fly the canopy, he cutaway and – after dealing with some line twists – landed without further incident."
    From the uploader: "This skydiver pulled at 4k feet to get comfortable under canopy again -- it was their first jump after a 4 month break from skydiving. Once they deployed, they checked their canopy and thought it was an end cell closure, but quickly realized that it was actually a line-over. They began pumping the risers to clear it and continued to do so until they reached their decision altitude. The jumper claims they were preparing to cut away when they did one last pump of the risers and cleared the line-over."

    By Administrator, in General,

    Top 10 Skydiving Videos of 2019

    Ever tried searching "skydiving" on Youtube? It's a mess, between a million Fortnite videos and vlogger's first tandem jumps it's a nightmare finding quality content on the platform. So we've made it a bit easier for you by running through the last year of skydiving footage and selecting a few of the best videos we could find, so you don't have to wade through the crap. Below is a list (in no particular order) of some of the best skydiving videos we came across during our search, whether it be quality camera work, the vibe of the video or something that makes you want to get up in the sky. We've intentionally omitted a number of wingsuit videos as we'll be bringing you a special collection for those soon. If you have any additions drop us a link in the comments and we'll put together a part two with your suggestions.
    1. Eye Candy
    This video is just awesome to watch! Nothing too crazy taking place, but the camera work provides some truly awesome eye candy. Who wouldn't want to skydive after watching this?
    2. The Highest Swing
    Everyone loves balloon jumps, right? Well we've got a balloon jump and a swing jump in one on this. A cool watch for sure!
    3. Sister's By the Sea
    We're a sucker for boogie footage. There's something about the community vibe and the awesome sunset jumps that make boogie compilations some of our favourites.
    4. A Compilation
    Alright, enough with the malfunctions for now - this is the only compilation in the list, this video showcases various jumps, some of which are definitely worth being reshared. While this video was uploaded this year the compilation itself uses clips from a number of jumps spanning over a few of the recent years gone by.
    5. The Story of Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld
    From the creator: "In 1992, professional skydiver Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld boarded a plane for a routine training jump. Six weeks later, he awoke from a coma to discover that a terrible accident had crippled his body and shattered his dream of becoming a World Champion."
    6. Ballistic 2019
    Skydive Burnaby in Canada hosted Ballistic 2019, a new skills camp. Overall this video just has some cool flying scenes that will make one want to get into the air.
    7. Invasion 2018
    Despite the date on the title, this video was uploaded in early January and showcases some awesome scenes out of the Invasion boogie at Skydive Sebastion.
    8. FAI World Indoor Skydiving Championships 2019
    We can't just neglect our tunnel rat brothers and sisters. This year's FAI World Indoor Championships showed just how far the sport has come in the past decade. 
    9. Maja Kuczynska - Unstoppable
    One of the coolest videos of this year that incorporates both indoor tunnel flying and skydiving. A question often asked, is how do experienced tunnel flyers handle their first few skydives, and are they able to easily translate their skills from the tunnel to the sky - this video answers that question.
    10. Skydiving Onto a Motorbike
    From the creator: "Incredible footage shows an Australian skydiver jumping out of a plane to land on a fast-moving motorbike in New South Wales.
    Skydiving instructor Scott Hiscoe performed the high-adrenaline stunt with Red Bull motocross athlete Robbie Maddison over the skies of Wollongong.
    In what was reportedly an Australian first, the pair achieved the stunt on their third attempt.
    Mr Scott said: “It was always going to be a challenge with a lot of things having to line up to be successful, but who better to do it with than Robbie Maddison? Pulling this stunt off over my own hometown of Wollongong made it even better.”

    By Meso, in General,

    Welcome to Paradise. It’s Called Mayotte

    Thanks to Vewuha Parachutisme, Your #SkydivingVacationGoals Just Upleveled
    Got the almost-wintertime blues? If you’re in the northern hemisphere, that’s a very likely yes. Don’t despair, dear reader. We’re here to push a few daydreams your way. Perhaps, we’ll even put a brand-new DZ on your bucket list: One where you can jump onto a sandbar deep in a turquoise expanse of ocean, then hop on a boat and pootle back to an island, then wiggle into a swimsuit and make friends with sea turtles, then tuck into a beach barbecue with a bevy of new friends. Can you think of a sweeter escape from your snow shovel? Yeah… neither can we.
    The sandbars and sea turtles in question are, interestingly, technically located in France -- albeit a very remote handful of France. They’re in the island country of Mayotte -- part of the Comoros archipelago, located in the northern Mozambique Channel off the coast of Southeast Africa. You’ll find it on the map tucked between Madagascar and Mozambique. Mayotte was purchased by France in 1841, becoming an overseas department of the country significantly more recently (in 2011). These days, it’s touristed mostly by French sunseekers and scuba divers; soon, with a lot of work and a little luck, it’ll be on the sport-skydiving map.

    There is, of course, a story there.
    The story starts, as so many good stories do, in Africa. It involves Karen and Steve Saunders, two adventuring British jumpers who enjoy power-couple status: Karen, as a well-known BPA Advanced Rigger and Examiner (well known as the rigger behind Tom Cruise in his latest Mission Impossible Film “Fallout”; as well as a popular FS coach); Steve, as the owner and principal instructor at Complete Skydiving Solutions. (Steve has been a skydiving instructor for many years, a BPA instructor examiner and -- notably -- one of the few expats to hold S&TA Status with the USPA.)
    Steve and Karen were working at a dropzone in Kenya in December of 2018 when they met a Comorian tandem instructor named Anly AD. After a few weeks sharing the dropzone life, Anly approached Steve and Karen. He told them he was keen to eventually get a full-time dropzone going in his home country, but that he was (wisely) going to start by planning destination events. He was already all-in committed to the task, having already started to work his full gamut of connections to lay the groundwork. It already had a name: Vewuha Parachutisme. And he wanted their collaboration.
    Before these conversations, neither Saunders had heard of Mayotte. It’s off the general tourist map, after all, mostly drawing outside interest for its unspoiled coral reefs, not its sky.

    “We thought -- okay, that’s a nice dream,” Karen says, “and then we looked it up. We were floored.”
    When Anly asked if Karen and Steve could be available to come out in March of 2019 to help with Mayotte’s first contact with skydiving, they couldn’t agree fast enough. When they landed, their initial impression was in perfect alignment with the photos they’d seen.
    “When you’re there, you can hardly believe how beautiful it is,” Karen enthuses. “You just stand there in awe. Volcanoes -- craters -- lakes -- jungle -- beaches -- it is phenomenal.”
    They couldn’t stand around for long, of course. Anly had laid all the groundwork he could, but the trio had their work cut out for them. There was no skydiving infrastructure in place. In fact, the country had never seen a single recreational skydive.
    The dropzone is based on the country’s single municipal airport: the airport code for which is, charmingly enough, “DZA.” Anly had partnered up with a little flying school based on that airfield, renting a secure space. The first big task, then, was going to be educating Air Traffic Control -- working skydiving operations smoothly between the six-or-so jets a day coming in and out, as well as the military and general aviation workload, none of which had any experience accommodating skydiving. The learning curve was steep, but Steve’s previous experience proved invaluable; under his tutelage, DZA’s ATC learned the system and figured out the delicate timing. Once ATC was on board, the crew tackled the rest of the logistics head-on.
    This first event was, in essence, a debutante ball to introduce skydiving to the island of Mayotte. Knowing how challenging it was going to be, Steve, Karen and Anly paced themselves. They organized five or six loads a day to facilitate specialist tandem jumps for regional dignitaries and military officials onto Mayotte’s surrounding islands and sandbars. To add a fun dimension to the challenge, Sébastien Chambet (and the rest of the French freefly team GoodVibes) joined the madness to shoot documentary footage for the French tourist board. The far-flung landing areas required significant boots-on-the-ground work to manage; some of them required hour-plus retrievals; the variables were stacked like Jenga pieces.
     
    Luckily, Karen and Steve are stone-cold pros -- and decidedly British.
    “Those were long days,” Karen grins, “But we just packed up a bunch of flags, tents and coffee and got it sorted.”
    The team’s efforts were rewarded with resounding success. The team celebrated the excellent first impression they’d made with a sunset skydive into a remote, uninhabited island for a barbeque, a super-memorable party and an overnight tent-camp on the beach.
    This coming spring -- exact dates to be announced -- will see Mayotte’s first skydiving invitational event. The event itself will be hosted by Anly the DZO, with safety overseen by Steve and Karen, organised by world-class skydivers Milko Hodgson and Sian Stokes. A dozen experienced jumpers will be invited for a week of jumping and exploring, staying among the island’s small selection of boutique hotel properties and sampling the hiking, dining and watersports that make up Mayotte’s idyllic tourist landscape. (Let your thoughts wander to a leisurely afternoon swim with dolphins and turtles, and you’ll have the right idea.)

    As if the nascent Vewuha Parachutisme didn’t have enough unique characteristics already, there’s another important one to consider: In a region that has historically seen dangerous, unethical skydiving operations set up by greedy expats, it stands tall and proud.
    “Safety is already a foundation of the culture here,” Steve notes, “because this is the owner’s home, and it’s his priority. He is not money-oriented. He’s passionate about bringing skydiving to his own country, and he wants to do it right.”
    As Anly and the Vewuha Parachutisme team make ready for the coming year -- and continue to lay the groundwork for a permanent dropzone -- they’re getting more and more excited for the place’s potential.
    “This is the kind of place you really have to see to believe,” Karen grins. “It is beyond incredible.”

    By nettenette, in General,

    Jen Sharp Talks About Healthy Skydiving Culture

    It’s Not What You Do (Or the Size of Your Dropzone): It’s How You Do It
    Jen Sharp -- since 2017, the Director of IT for the USPA -- is a woman of note for a long list of reasons. Jen’s a font of wisdom, a truly badass skydiving instructor and a businesswoman of uncommon strength and clarity (proof: she spent 21 years owning a successful small drop zone in Kansas). When she speaks, one should do themselves the favor of listening.
    If you don’t already know her story: Jen has been jumping since she was 18 years old. She opened Skydive Kansas directly after her college graduation, when she had a full-time teaching job and only 300 jumps. (Even then, she’d already been working as a static line jumpmaster, instructor, packer, rigger and radio-wrangler. Supergirl, basically.) Since then, she has traveled extensively as a jumper, an instructor and a public speaker.
    It was 1995 when Jen opened her dropzone: the days of saving up your vacation days for the World Freefall Convention; of spending Friday night to Sunday dinnertime on the dropzone; of single-plane 182 dropzones all over the place and, like, eight places you could go to fulfill a turbine craving.
    The close knit of those intimate little club-format dropzones has, of course, steadily unwound since then in most places. Adding skydiving to the schedule has become much more of a surgical strike: you get to the DZ at 10am and manifest immediately so you can make it to Crossfit by 4. You sift through regional skydiving events on Facebook, few of which require more than a handful of minutes’ worth of planning. You drive hours for a turbine.

    Jen takes on her alter ego, “Stu,” as a student (get it?!) on an AFF eval jump.
    It would be easy to mourn the loss of the small dropzone as an entity -- there are precious few of them left, proportionally to their previous numbers -- but Jen refuses to. For her, the “small dropzone feel” is the culture we should all be striving for, even if there happen to be seven Skyvans in the hangar archipelago.
    “The best vibes are at the places that keep the actual perspective, not just the party line, that we are all just people and all just want to have fun,” she begins. “The ones that embody safety in the active choices to care for each other. The places that assume the best in people. Luckily, that’s really simple to do.”
    Simple? Yes. Easy? Not necessarily, but according to Jen, that’s what we are really going for here: an inviting culture. Example after example proves that business success will follow that beacon significantly more reliably than it will follow volume.
    “What that culture is not,” Jen clarifies, “is the culture of the burned-out tandem instructor, hauling meat; a culture where an instructor never connects with their student; where they don’t even call them students, but passengers. If you call them a passenger, they are one-and-done. They know their place with you. But if you call them a student -- and you truly think of them that way -- the whole dynamic is going to be different.”
    How do you change the dynamic? By changing the way you see the person in the harness.
    “The public we meet is awesome,” she continues. “And we forget that! We totally forget this as instructors -- especially, tandem instructors. We forget that the person we’re taking is amazing. Why? Because they are not on the couch. A normal person is just sitting there on the couch on the weekend or maybe vacuuming or making snacks, drinking beer and watching TV. But this person is okay with being uncomfortable; with putting their life in your hands. They are excited about it, and they are trusting you. That already makes them a really cool person.”

    Doing an interview at PIA 2015.
    “If you want to see the average person, go to Walmart,” she laughs. “That’s the ‘average person.’ The person walking on a dropzone for the first time is not the average person. They are already living on a level that we should resonate with, especially since they’re new and they need our guidance.”  
    For Jen, in fact, the “passenger” moniker is no less than a dishonor.
    “Homogenizing everyone who walks in the door into a ‘passenger’ has a couple of outcomes,” Jen explains. “It burns tandem instructors out. It burns the public out against skydiving when we make the assumption that they don’t know anything. Where did we even get that idea in the first place? Sure, they don’t know anything about skydiving, but they probably know a lot about something else.”
    “When I would take tandem students, I didn’t know who they were, necessarily,” she muses. “I would always ask ‘why are you here today,’ but they weren’t always going to tell their life story. I would find out later that we had just taken a brain surgeon, or the senator from some western county in Kansas. You never know who that person is. They’re just walking around in their sweats because you told them to dress comfortably. So -- if you’re starting to feel the burnout, try allowing yourself to be curious about them. And, if you’re a dropzone owner, strive to instill that curiosity in your instructor staff.”
    Who knows: That curiosity, manifesting as totally authentic friendliness, could end up defining a regional dropzone’s niche.
    “If drop zones realize how many kinds of niches there are to occupy,” Jen says, “I don’t think we’d ever talk in terms of ‘small,’ ‘medium’ and ‘large’ dropzone. You can occupy a really strong, functional cultural niche without being the biggest DZ around, or having the most airplanes, or doing the most tandems. As a dropzone, your niche really comes from whatever it is that you want to bring to the table -- and your resources and your passions -- and you succeed when you fulfill that to the max. I think a lot of places are figuring that out, and that’s contributing to the fact that we now have more of a variety of dropzones than we ever have before.”
    Y’know that bit about a cultural "niche"? Jen insists that it’s not just about feels. It’s about returns, too. A strong niche can turn into a marketing advantage. 
    “Not every dropzone should compete on price,” Jen notes. “It's conceivable for a smaller DZ to actually make more profit by doing less jumps. Profit is not the same as gross.”
    “It’s as straightforward as reaching the fullest manifestation of what you’re capable of doing,” she adds, smiling, “and, of course, always trying to get better.”
     

    By nettenette, in General,

    A Different Way to Boogie

    Will Penny and Johannes Bergfors Want to Take You Places
    First, let’s get one thing straight: Johannes Bergfors and Will Penny don’t necessarily have, like, a problem with tent camping, beer trucks and zoo loads. They like that stuff just fine -- they just do things a little differently, is all. And they do them differently in very interesting places.
    Will and Johannes met at a FlajFlaj event in California a few years ago. Johannes’ video chops attracted Will’s attention. Will invited him to Paradise Portugal to film him and his Flynamic teammate, Yohann Aby, as they trained for the World Championships.
    “I’d never been in a [skydiving] team,” Johannes muses, “And I was interested in how a team at that level went into the training process.”
    True to eager form, Johannes didn’t just film the jumps. He started bringing the camera into the teammates’ daily lives and started interviewing them incisively about their process. He made a documentary about it. (It’s called Work. It’s great. You should watch it.)
    As you might imagine, Johannes and Will worked really well together, right off the bat, and the scope was bound to expand sooner-or-later. That flashpoint moment came along when Johannes saw a photo of a beautiful beach dropzone in Kenya.
    “It was beautiful,” he remembers, “And I wanted to organize an event there because I was pretty sure it was the only way I was going to be able to go.”
    Up until that point, Johannes had been hired by lots of other events as a videographer and coach. He’d even organized “some smaller stuff” in his native Sweden. Along the way, he’d seen what had been done well and poorly. He knew for certain that he needed a co-organizer to pull it off; Will, with their established rapport and Will’s deep connections in skydiving, was the natural choice. Since he’s a South African with extensive connections around the rest of the continent and parents in the hospitality industry, Will had even more vital bona fides for the task -- and, happily, he was keen.
    The pair kept the first event intentionally small -- a beta test, right-sized for a home run. Participants stayed together in a beachside villa, steps from the dropzone. The skydiving was calibrated to be decidedly quality-over-quantity. A top-shelf chef was on-hand to cook every meal. (Johannes was once a chef himself, so he knows a thing or two about that.) They called it “Skyfari”: a nod to its African venue, for certain, but also to its emphasis on exploration over logbook-stuffing. 
    Unsurprisingly, the event nailed its goals. There were already plans being made for the next one by the time the first one wrapped.
    “These are all all inclusive events,” Johannes explains, “where we are focusing on giving inspiring experiences to participants. That is something we are super grateful to be able to do.”
    Since that first Kenyan foray, Will and Johannes have done four other events in this style. The first three shared the Skyfari name; the fourth and fifth, held on Will’s home turf, the southernmost point of South Africa, was called Skydive South Africa: Southern Tip. (Hashtag: #justthetip. Of course.)
    For a little descriptive flavor: the Southern Tip event was a pop-up drop zone in the picturesque little Afrikaaner hamlet of Arniston, where Will’s family connections to hospitality are strong.
    “It is not a place you drive through,” Johannes explains. “It’s a special place, especially for Will, because as he was growing up, when his parents were working in tourism, they traveled around Africa and lived in different places, but they always had their house in Arniston as a getaway.  They would go there for the weekend and spend time there and just enjoy this little gem of a place.”
    “It is also a very special place in the world for many reasons,” he continues, “Did you know that Table Mountain alone has a larger variety of plants than all of Great Britain? The Western Cape plant kingdom takes up the area of ½ a percent of the African continent but it hosts 20% of the species. All of that is mind-blowing to me. On these events, we fill the days with extracurricular activities to enjoy what’s special about the places we travel to. Our participants are really into it.”

    The event logistics, of course, look very different than those of a standard boogie. For Arniston, for example, the event took advantage of a cute little dirt-strip airfield. They brought in a 206, a pilot and ground crew. There were six participants, making a ratio of 1.75 staff to each participant. Accommodation-wise, the event rented a beautiful two-level villa with sweeping sea views from almost every room, facing the sunrise every morning. A private chef cooked for the group three times a day.
    When the group wasn’t jumping onto the most pristine beach of Arniston, they were marauding around the Western Cape with great big smiles on. They went surfing; out for dinner a few times; out-and-about in Cape Town. On one memorable morning, they went horseback riding together on an empty beach. After they cavorted down the beach for an hour or so, they took the saddles off the horses and swam with them. Magic.
    “It is all inclusive from the moment they arrive until they leave,” Johannes notes. “All the experiences are included. Because the conditions in a situation like this are very hard to guess ahead-of-time, we don’t stipulate a certain amount of included jumps -- we say you are going to do up to 8 jumps, but it is not decided if we are going to 6, or 5, or 2, because we cannot guarantee it.”

    “We also tell the participants they have to be ready to go at any time,” Johannes adds. “Because we have a very small margin to play with in terms of weather, airspace limitations and surrounding logistics. We have to be dynamic in decision making. We are constantly armed in the sense that when all of the parameters are on our side, then we are going to strike. As a jumper in that situation, you have to be ready all the time. We are super transparent with all this and explain this very well to the participants, because in a group this small, everybody’s buy-in really matters. And we get it.”
    To roll with those variables, Skyfari participants can’t be fresh off the AFF boat. The event requires each jumper to have at least 500 jumps -- and, on account of the inn-hopps, at least 50 jumps on the canopy they’re flying. Due to the group’s small size, Will and Johannes are able to flex their strategy to fit.
    “The last time it was quite an experienced group; this time a bit less experienced,” Johannes says. “We adjusted our plan. In general, the beaches around Arniston are quite long and wide, but they are super windy.  We can’t $&*% up because there are sharks in the water.”
    These days, Will and Johannes are expanding their horizons yet again. They’re heading to the Maldives for the next one -- and launching an educational project called High School together (an extensive, professional post-jump-course education targeted to the jumper with 20-500 jumps who’s looking to find and fill skills and knowledge gaps). For these two, it’s all about going places -- in the world, in your sports and in your own personal scope -- and the thing they want most is a cadre of keen fellow adventurers along for the ride.
    Take it from Skyfari participant David Beneviste, who has done two events so far:
    “The group and the chemistry we had were incredible,” David says. “We were laughing all the time. And it was an adventure! The more I get to know Will and Johannes, the more I want to go travel with them. Whenever I can swing it, I will certainly do it again.”
    Curious about participating in an upcoming event? Check out https://www.johannesbergfors.com/events for more details.
     

    By nettenette, in General,

    100-Way Canopy Formation World Record Team to Receive 2019 Path of Excellence Award

    The International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame is proud to honor the 100-Way Canopy Formation World Record Team with the museum Path of Excellence Award. The presentation will be made at the 2019 Hall of Fame Celebration at Skydive Perris, Perris, California, on Friday afternoon, October 18, prior to the Welcome BBQ. There will also be a tribute jump honoring the awardee.
    Many groups, companies and teams have played a prominent role in the growth and development of our sport with their exceptional contribution in the form of innovation, performance and/or competitive excellence, leadership, education, safety, sponsorship and/or philanthropy, aviation, design/invention and/or manufacturing, sport promotion, and photograph/videography. The Path of Excellence Award is specifically for entities – groups, companies, organizations or teams for significant contribution(s) of enduring high value to the world of skydiving and is a prestigious award in both name and distinction. Award nominees are voted on by supporters of the museum including ambassadors, counselors, trustees, members of the Hall of Fame, and major donors. 
    On November 21st, 2007 the world’s largest canopy formation was built over the Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales, a record that still stands today. The formation was so large that the Miami Air Traffic Control Center monitored the formation on radar to keep other aircraft from coming into close proximity to the formation. The formation weighed 20,388 pounds and was 290 feet tall and 175 feet wide. In comparison, a 747-400 jet is only 231 feet long and the Wright brother’s first flight was not quite one third the distance as the formation is tall. Even though the 100 way formation was built in 2007, the journey to this record started 6 years earlier.
     It all began at the end of 2001 when Chris Gay was talking to a couple of friends about the last world record of 46 skydivers back in 1994. The conversation started with questions of how difficult it is to organize such an event and ended with an agreement to organize a 50 way canopy formation the following year. Little did they know this would lead to a 5 year road to the 100 way Canopy Formation Largest Formation World Record.
    The first event was in 2002 with the goal of setting a new US record. With the help of Betty Hill of the Florida Skydiving Center and Paul Fayard of Fayard Enterprises, the organizers had an outstanding place to host the event and a great fleet of aircraft to jump from. When not only 1, but 5 50-way canopy formations were built during the same day and an unofficial world record 56-way, it was realized with proper design, training and organization that the elusive triple digit 100 way canopy formation could be possible. The most difficult part would be convincing the canopy formation community that these ideas were necessary. However, following such a successful event gave the leverage and credibility that was needed to convince the community that changes were needed in technique and equipment. Even so it was an uproar when the announcement was made for standard slick jumpsuits, line sets and a given wing loading of 1.30-1.375 based on your position in the formation. It was explained for the safety of the group anyone wanting to be on the 2003 64 way world record attempts would have to sign and abide by a contract. This event was, once again, a complete success of not only multiple 64-way formations in the same day, but a 70-way formation the following day as well. After that success, the group saw the importance of correct engineering of the formation, proper techniques and standardized equipment.
    During the next couple of attempts, the design and engineering of the formation was critical in order to have a stable formation upon its completion. This meant it maybe quasi stable during part of the build and would require the jumpers to learn to fly it during this phase. This was achieved by using tight jumpsuits in the center of the formation and baggy jumpsuits on the outside of the formation. Also, standard line trims and lengths were required. Lastly, learning where to place the older and slower canopies versus the newer or faster canopies. A better way to communicate the starburst breakdown to the jumpers was also needed and for this task Kirk Vanzandt volunteered. Performance Designs help in keeping their PD Lightning demo parachutes available and also assisted with quick turnaround for repairs that were critical over the years and during training and the actual events. Rusty Vest inspected and assessed each Lightning parachute at these events to place each canopy in the best place in the formation based on wear and age. The above changes along with newer training and docking techniques and standard wing loading helped build great flying 81 and 85 way canopy formation in 2005 and a 100 way canopy formation in 2007.
    The 100 Way World Record utilized five aircraft, the first aircraft dropped 9 jumpers from 20,000 feet. The second dropped 27 jumpers from 18,000 feet. The third dropped 29 jumpers from 16,000 feet and the final two aircraft dropped the remaining 35 jumpers from 13,000 feet. The formation took approximately 11 minutes and 30 seconds to build and was held for 12 seconds. It was completed on the fifth attempt and captured on HD video by seven videographers from around the world. The formation consisted of jumpers from 14 countries including 56 from the United States, 7 from Australia, 7 from Germany, 6 from the Netherlands, 6 from Great Britain, 5 from Russia, 3 from Canada, 2 from Brazil, 2 from Egypt, 2 from France, 1 from Argentina, 1 from Belarus, 1 from Belgium and 1 from Finland.
    Special thanks to Kirk Vanzandt, Betty Hill, Paul Fayard, Rusty Vest, and Performance Designs for their support and assistance with this journey to the 100-way. The videographers that captured the incredible images that showcased the 100 Way CF World Record to the world were Bruno Brokken, Gustavo Cabana, JC Colclasure, Norman Kent, Keith MacBeth, Pam Pangburn, and Bryan Scott.
    2002 US Record 50Ways and Unofficial World Record 56Way
    Organizers: Chris J. Gay, Dave Richardson, Mark Gregory
    2003 World Records 64Ways and 70Way
    Organizers: Chris J. Gay, Dave Richardson, Mark Gregory, Mike Lewis
    2005 World Record 81Ways and 85Way
    Organizers: Chris J. Gay, Brian Pangburn, Dave Richardson, Mike Lewis
    2007 World Record 100Way
    Organizers: Chris J. Gay, Brian Pangburn, Christophe Balisky, Mike Lewis
    Since 2010, as part of the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame awareness and fund raising efforts, the museum has held an annual weekend event celebrating the sport and history of skydiving.  “The Celebration is an exciting and prestigious three day event that brings generations of skydivers together. The celebration honors the glory days of our past and showcases the marvels of today’s equipment and skydiving skill of today’s superstars and inspires younger jumpers to make their mark,” said James F. Curtis III, President/CEO of the Board of Trustees for the museum.
    This year’s celebration will feature a 10-Way Speed STAR WARS competition, forums featuring Luke Aikins and Alan Eustace, a Pioneers Lunch sponsored by Strong Enterprises and much more. After a weekend of skydiving activities and non-skydiving activities that has something for everyone, the International Skydiving Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take center stage continuing the tradition of honoring legends, leaders and pioneers of our sport.  This year’s inductees are Irena Avbelj (Slovenia), Chuck Collingwood (posthumous) USA, Kate Cooper-Jensen USA, Patrick de Gayardon (posthumous) France, Alan Eustace USA, John P. Higgins USA, Andy Keech Australia, Tom Sanders USA, Deke Sonnichsen USA, and John “Lofty” Thomas (posthumous) Great Britain. More than 400 skydiving enthusiasts from around the world will be in attendance at the fundraiser which is expected to raise more than $100,000 for the museum.  For more information about the International Skydiving Museum & Hall of Fame and the Celebration Event, visit www.skydivingmuseum.org or contact museum administrator, Nancy (Kemble) Wilhelm, at 407/900-9997 (direct line) or nkemble@skydivingmuseum.org
    Photo by:  Keith MacBeth

    By Meso, in General,

    Shredding the (Adaptive) Gnar

    Rosie Manning Breaks Down Accessibility Barriers in the Tunnel

    Raise your hand if someone you know has been seriously injured on a skydive. Everybody? Right. Now -- keep your hand raised if that inspired you to invent a whole new apparatus to get your friend back into flight mode. I’m willing to bet that very, very few hands have stayed raised. One of them is Rosie Manning’s.
    The first thing you should know about Rosie Manning is that her lissome form and noon-in-July demeanor might easily fool you. She’s sweet almost to a fault -- but then you start to realize that she has you direly outgunned in the brains department. This mechanical engineer can think in circles around most folks (and then take you to the tunnel and fly in circles around them -- but more on that later). If you ask her, she delicately shrugs it off as a survival instinct. 

     
    “When you study engineering as a girl,” she notes, “You’re already in an uphill battle. There were 200 guys and 9 girls in my degree. From day one, I was going against the wind.”
    As it turns out, Rosie thrives against the wind. She and one of the other nine girls in the program (Emily Whatton, a dynamo in her own right) joined the university’s skydiving club. At first, it was a lark, but by year two, both girls were hooked. Time flew. For the fourth and final year, the program participants were tasked with an individual project which made up the bulk of the students’ final grade -- and Rosie knew exactly what hers was going to be. It was that year -- 2016 -- that UK skydiver Ben White injured himself during a swoop. He came out of it alive, but paraplegic. Rosie figured she could use her project to help.
    “I was heavily addicted to skydiving at this point,” Rosie remembers, “and I really wanted to do a project that was skydiving-related. I had an idea.” Rosie sent Ben a message: How interested would you be in letting me design something for you to help you fly in the wind tunnel again? Unsurprisingly, he was entirely up for it. Bonus: Ben himself had studied robotics at university, so the process was uniquely collaborative.
    So far, so good: But there was still a baffled academia who had to buy in.
    “The first time I pitched the idea of the project to my tutor,” Rosie laughs, “He said, ‘Okay, so you’re telling me you want to throw a paraplegic person out of an airplane?’ Um...no. Then I spoke to quite a few of my other teachers about it to get some advice. They all told me it wouldn’t be possible.”
    “I just didn’t listen,” she grins. “I went and did it anyway.”


    Rosie, with Ben’s collaboration, set about designing a brace that would support Ben’s lower body for the purpose of tunnel flying. First problem: the university only allowed for a total project budget of 100 pounds.
    To solve her problem, she asked for help. Rosie went to a long list of orthopedic and prosthetic companies. Finally, she had a lucky break: she got an email back from a company in the UK called TruLife, whose Head of R&D, Shane Nickson, was a keen skydiver. He offered funding and help with manufacturing. TruLife ended up custom molding the carbon-fiber-and-titanium brace to Rosie’s design.
    The second challenge: tunnel time. This wasn’t too tough, luckily, as the owner-at-the-time of the UK’s Bodyflight Bedford was a super-cool guy who was happy to donate tunnel time to the project. Score.
    The third big roadblock was, again, academia. And it was a whopper.
    “We struggled making the project fit the specifications the university wanted,” she explains, “because the university wants you to show your preparation; the calculations; the justifications for all the choices.” In order to meet the requirements, the team had to build an external sensor system that would measure the angle of the wearer’s legs in different orientations: belly flying; back flying; free flying. From that data, they worked out the forces that would act on the wearer’s legs in each position to determine the required strength of the brace.
    “That actually took up a lot of the project,” Rosie notes. “And Ben was a huge help with that because he was a robotics guy, so he knew loads about the programming that was required.”

    After they finished the project -- after Rosie had left university -- she, Ben and two other friends entered the World Challenge in the rookie category.
    “There were only four teams in the category,” she remembers, “but it ended up being this huge battle with another team for third place. We just beat them, and I think the fact that our team beat another team that was completely able-bodied was probably the best day of this whole thing. We went up to collect our medals -- Ben, in his chair -- and we got the biggest cheer.”
    Such a triumphant, happy moment, no? But it came at such a confusing time.
    “To be honest, when I finished my degree, I honestly had no idea what I wanted to do,” Rosie remembers. “I knew that I pretty much hated the first three years of my degree but absolutely loved the final year. If knew that, if I was going to do engineering, it needed to be something I wanted to do -- something sport related -- because that’s what I love doing.”
    “I knew that going into a scheme with a huge company wasn’t for me,” she continues. “It would have been a super easy thing to do. Pretty much everyone in my degree went and did that because it’s the next step in the system they’ve set up for you. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, exactly, but I know I don’t want to do that.”
    So: Rosie and her friend Emily Whatton took off. The pair went traveling for a year with their partners -- also skydivers -- and the tiny amount of money the foursome had managed to save up. While on the road, Emily and her partner were offered jobs as tunnel instructors at Sirius Sport Resort in Finland. Six months later, Rosie got the call and joined them. While there, Sirius backrolled Rosie’s build of another tunnel mobility brace and started welcoming even more adaptive athletes into the bodyflight community, a fact of which Rosie is understandably proud.
    “Currently, there are two separate frames --” she explains, “a smaller one and a larger one, with different-sized straps that can be fitted with either one. If you have someone tall and skinny, you can use the longer frame with the shorter straps, and vice versa. For kids, we use the small frame and the smaller straps.”
    “It was quite hard to build it without really knowing what sizes of people we were going to get,” she adds, “but I was pretty pleased because the system can accommodate anyone from a tiny 8-year-old up to a fairly massive guy.”
    Users report that the biggest challenge for the adaptive flyer is fitting the brace to the body, because it has to go underneath their legs while the flier is seated in their wheelchair. Once they’re assisted from the chair into the airflow, it’s pretty much a snap.

    “[The brace] is at a set angle,” Rosie says, “so fliers with shorter legs have more forward drive and fliers with longer legs have more backward drive for him. That’s easy to manage; we just make sure that, when we brief them, we emphasize that they need to be really relaxed in the arms because we’re going to need to adjust the arm and hand position to counteract any drive that produces. Every [adaptive athlete] we’ve flown with so far seems to take that on board really well, and they fly beautifully.”
    The photos of Rosie’s adaptive athletes really speak for themselves.
    “I mean, it is fantastic,” Rosie enthuses. “I think that flying and skydiving is the greatest sense of freedom you can experience in this life. For an adaptive athlete -- someone that, maybe for their whole life, has been confined to a wheelchair -- it is a feeling that is like no other. Sharing that is super rewarding. I want to do a lot more of it.”
    Rosie recently relocated to work at a wind tunnel in Canada, but she certainly hasn’t abandoned that dream. Currently, she plans on taking her design in two different directions: continual development on the first-timer model, as well as a model designed for the specific needs of adaptive sport flying.
    “We got [Ben White] belly flying and back flying in the current design,” she explains, “but I want it to be able to do more. Ultimately, we want a design that makes freeflying possible. I’m thinking in baby steps -- take it to some low-speed back carving and belly carving; work up from there. I want to give anyone who wants to get involved in this sport  the opportunity to progress in it as well.”


    By nettenette, in General,

    Skydiving + a New Baby? Sure Thing

    Catherine Bernier of Skydive Vibes Shares Her Strategies
    There are as many different kinds of skydiving women as there are women, of course, but -- at least, for me -- there’s something extra-compelling about someone who balances quite as many pursuits as Catherine Bernier, best known for her skydiving information channel on YouTube, does. Of course, she produces all the content for Skydive Vibes as one of Canada’s 14% of female skydivers. She’s also a mechanical engineer, specializing in robots. She’s been a farmer’s partner for 14 years -- they were married in 2016 -- and so lives deep in rural Canada, working on a dairy farm. And, as of May 2018, Catherine is the new mother to a very little tiny peanut. (Her video series about being a skydiving mom is worth a watch.) At the time of our interview, Catherine had decided to use Canada’s “hide inside” season to train for the next Canadian indoor skydiving championships. She’ll be logging an hour of tunnel time per week until the comp in March for the “10-in-10 challenge,” as she calls it.
    Overachiever. much? Maaaaybe. I interviewed Catherine for a Dropzone Marketing blog piece. I didn’t know a single damn thing about her beforehand, but before that conversation was over I was already asking her for another interview. 

    "All my life, I have been pushing my limits,” she explains, “and never stop myself from doing what I wanted, even if it was a predominantly male environment.”
    ... such as, y’know, being a mama. Catherine had been skydiving for six years when she and her now-husband decided to have a baby. Dropping the sport, for her, was never an option -- but she knew she had to frame early motherhood a little differently to make it work.
    “I never second-guessed myself,” she says. “Not for skydiving, and not for building a family, and not for doing both at the same time. I want to prove that, even when you become a mother, you can still aim for your dreams. That being a women -- even a mother -- should never be a blocker to what you wish to accomplish. I have never stopped myself, but I realize that a lot of women do. So I want to use my experiences to share and empower other women to go for it."

    “As soon as I knew that I was pregnant, I decided to stop jumping temporarily,” she explains. “It was the end of the season, so I must say the decision was easier. It also gave me the chance to build the content on my YouTube channel.”
    Catherine kept shooting Skydive Vibes content throughout her belly bump hiatus. Baby Nathan arrived in May, at the beginning of the next skydiving season. While Catherine jumped and shot videos around the dropzone, her mother, her husband or one of her four sisters watched him for her. (Fun note: Her home dropzone has seen so many of its community members become new families that it’s considering adding a child care component.) Catherine plans to use the same general child care strategies for Nathan during the 10-in-10 Challenge, which requires a three-hour drive to and from her closest tunnel.

    “I won’t start working again until after the challenge,” she notes. “During the weekdays I can go up and spend the day there, so I have some breaks between tunnel sessions to make it doable. Right now, it looks like the plan for each day is to fly for 20 minutes, take a half-hour break, fly for another 20, take a half-hour, then fly for a final 20, to make it doable.”
    “Doable,” as it turns out, is the key word. Catherine proves that “doable” is a matter of collaboration, focus and flat-out hard work. So far, she’s managing to pull it off: Balancing helping out on the farm, taking care of a less-than-one-year-old, a challenging career and a progression-focused passion for skydiving.
    “It is so rewarding to be a skydiving mom, for all the aspects of it,” she smiles, “so why would someone stop themselves? Just go forward. That’s all.”
    ---
    To follow Catherine Bernier, check out her channel, Skydive Vibes, on YouTube.

    By nettenette, in General,

    Your Skydiving New Years Resolution: Get Coaching

    New skydiver? Not-so-new skydiver? Rusty skydiver? Supple, current little tiger of a skydiver? Doesn’t matter. If there’s only going to be one skydiving item on your list of New Years’ resolutions, better make it this one: Get coaching. Real coaching. Pro coaching. Regularly.
    Getting coaching to “be a better skydiver” is like going to the gym to “be a hotter human.” Done properly, it’s gonna work--but it’s worth much more than that shiny face value. Which is to say: There are off-label benefits. Professional, reasonably regular coaching is bound to brush up your skills, advance you into new disciplines and polish your performance--and it’ll have some other benefits you might not even see coming.
    It might just keep you in the sport.
    If there’s a jumper who’s immune to recurrency nerves, I haven’t met them. (...Just watch the comments below fill up with bluster. Just watch.) Anyone who’s spent a tall stack of weeks hiding on the ground from the lapse rate is likely to find themselves at least a little at a loss. 
    The USPA defines recurrency by its own criteria, sure--but personal recurrency is often a different beast altogether. No joke: it’s rough to head out for that first jump after your own personal currency threshold has passed, whether yours is two weeks or two months. The most reliable way to avoid the recurrency jitters is by never getting recurrent, and lots of ex-skydivers have done just that.
    The hack: Spend that whole recurrency day--not just the first jump--with a coach. Don’t do it because you have to. Do it because you know that, with a coach alongside you, you’ll feel professionally supported in your effort. Do it because you’ll be able to rebuild your skills much faster than if you were just out there on your own, trying to remember what goes where and how and when.
    It’ll help you to better manage your time.
    Managing the limited time you have available on any given skydive doesn’t come naturally to most people. Evidence: What happens when most jumpers fail to nail the first part of the skydive? They end up confused. Do they go back and work on the first part, or move on to the next part regardless? Everybody usually ends up just making cow faces at each other for a few precious seconds, then rushes to make something happen before *ping!* break-off.
    Working with a coach helps with that. Their job is to help you to pick one thing to work on, polish it up and move on with confidence. (There’s a financial factor here, too: Because you’ll learn more on fewer jumps, you might just end up breaking even, despite adding the cost of coaching into the equation.)
    It’ll help you get into that elusive zone.
    Jumping buddies are wonderful. Obviously. That said: Great coaches are actually magic, and that magic is focus. When you’re working with a coach, you’ll brief the jump beforehand, visualize it together, dirt dive it together, review it in the plane on the way up, jump that h*ckin jump and brief it again in the afterglow. Because you’re paying for the privilege, you’re highly unlikely to be scrolling, winking at manifest or doing acro yoga when you’re supposed to be paying attention to the dive flow.
    The careful, procedural work you do with a coach often defines the difference between a skydive that feels rushed and out-of-control and one in which a lot of learning and growth has taken place. Bonus: Your ability to focus is likely to get a bit more muscular as your flying skills develop.

    Freefly coach Joel Strickland jumps with Zack Line at the Oklahoma Skydiving Center.
    It’ll boost (and/or perhaps change the flavor of) your confidence.
    Just like you, your insecurity loves to prance around in costume. Insecurity can look like fear; like nervousness; like indifference. It can also look like a vaudeville performance of its opposite, true confidence.
    The still, deep waters of true confidence are the source of all the fun skydiving has to offer. Problem: Those waters are well-guarded. Working with a competent, professional skydiving coach often provides the key: because suddenly s/he realizes that they not only can indeed improve but that they are indeed improving on every jump.
    It’s kinda a fireworks show from there. Once a student believes in their ability to make positive changes in their skydiving performance--that everything, from their physical reactions to their fears, can and will be modified and updated when they get guidance and put in the work--it suddenly becomes possible for that student to make mad progress on a shorter timeline than they imagined. 
    It’s a more scalable, check-offable resolution than you might think.
    The more coached jumps you do, the better. (Obviously.) Equally obviously, doing loads of coached jumps isn’t financially feasible for most rank-and-file skydivers. Instead of discarding the idea altogether, make it feasible. Saddling up for a pile of coached jumps every weekend would be spectacular, but making the commitment to yourself to make a couple of coached jumps per month is better than not committing to any at all. 
    Getting regular, professional advice and feedback will contribute mightily to your life in the sky. You’ll be able to pass the knowledge on to the folks you jump with on the regular. And 2019 might just be the year you bust through that next skydiving goal! Bonne chance.
     

    By nettenette, in General,

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