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News

    Performance Designs gives back to the community

    Performance Designs donates masks to first responders and healthcare workers in their hometown. PD employs just shy of 200 folks in VolusiaCounty. In late March, when the Coronavirus concerns began to close in on the area, PD closed their production facility. After a couple of weeks of planning, they reopened, primarily for the manufacturing of Defense Industrial Base products, and with many new health and safety guidelines in place. Constant cleaning in the factory continues, in addition to other changes in the "new normal" work environment. Many folks working at PD wanted to help the community and do something for local first responders.
    Performance Designs reached out to another local Florida business that manufactures masks and partnered with them. The goal is to support local manufacturing, as well as to provide masks to first responders and healthcare professionals. For every mask sold, a mask is donated. It has been 2 weeks and more than 400 masks have already been donated. PD anticipates many more donations in the coming weeks.


    "Performance Designs is part of the skydiving community, and we're also part of the local community as well. The opportunity to bring those two communities together in this endeavor has been great. Every little bit helps, and we want to do our part."
    - Albert Berchtold/Marketing Manager
    This week they have shipments of masks going across the US as well as Great Britain, France, Belgium, Sweden, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. Mask donations were provided to AdventHealth Foundation (Deland Hospital), Deland Police Department, and Deland Fire Department, as well as local assisted living facilities.

    By Administrator, in News,

    NZ Aerosports Offers "Weatherhold Woogie" For Those Trapped Indoors

    With Covid-19 shutting down cities and even countries around the world, it's not just skydivers who have been affected by the limitations put on both movement and the ability for businesses to operate. We've seen a number of music artists and even actors coming out and offering online forms of entertainment for those stuck under quarantine or even lockdowns. 

    Well now New Zealand Aerosports have decided to offer a little something for the skydiving community. You're likely to be out of luck finding an operating boogie in the current situation, but that doesn't mean you can't still create a bit of a skydiving vibe from the comfort of your computer. It may not quite be the same as partying with all your friends, but it's still cool to see something that can lighten the mood in these otherwise uncertain times.

    Below is the information on this "Woogie" event as sent out by NZ Aerosports:
     

    By Administrator, in News,

    A Brave New Tunnel World

    Luxfly, Tunnel Tech and the Mighty Braffs
    It seems like tunnels are popping up everywhere, doesn’t it? As a dyed-in-the-wool aficionado of all vertically-oriented wind, this can hardly have escaped your notice. Another thing that hasn’t escaped your notice, we’re willing to bet, is that none of these tunnels have popped up within a lunch-break drive of your fine abode.
    Wanna do something about that? Well: As it turns out, you can. And you can do it even if you’re not personally made of money. Want proof? Meet Steve Braff, a true tunnel-building dynamo. He and his wife/business partner, Magali share a deeper history in windytubes than pretty much anyone on the planet -- and now, they’re building Luxfly, the most exciting indoor skydiving wind tunnel project in Europe, using the brand-newest, top-of-the-line-est technology to do so (Tunnel Tech, to be specific -- but we’ll get to that later). Suffice it to say: The Braffs are a good example to follow.
    Currently, Steve and Magali -- collectively known as their vertical wind tunnel consulting business, Starfly -- are keeping busy not just with Luxfly, but with .other tunnels around the world. As a point of note, Starfly is utterly unique -- Steve and Magali are the only people in the world who do this kind of work, helping others to build tunnels. Outside of Starfly, there are two industry operators: the customers, who want to have and operate tunnels, and the tunnel manufacturers, who want to sell vertical wind tunnel technology. Until Starfly, there’s been no one in between to smooth the steep, bumpy road to a grand opening.

    Pretty in pink
    “Right now, we have five projects in process,” he says. “But it varies. Sometimes, we help people out with optimizing their existing tunnels; sometimes, we help them start projects, or assist them in different phases. We work with a group of investors to which we propose our projects. The specific investors depend on the location and the host country. People who want to build tunnels can work with us at every stage. We can do it from A to the end.”
    “Since I was a kid, my dream was always to fly like Superman,” Steve grins. “And that was the only thing I ever wanted to do.”
    Steve started skydiving at 21 years old. He’s celebrating his 23rd year in the sport this year, with around 8,000 skydives, a thousand BASE jumps -- and, very importantly, lots and lots of hours in the windytube.
    “I was always interested in the tunnel flying industry,” he explains. “It always amazed me, what people were doing in there.”
    For a very long time, Steve funded his freefall habit by working at the family company: importing Italian coffee into the Braffs’ native Belgium. One day, after 15 years of working side-by-side with his brother, mom, sister and dad, he decided it was time for a change.
    “I said: You know what, I think I'm going to quit,” he laughs, “And sell air. So I did.”
    “There’s enough money around the world to serve everyone who wants to invest,” he insists. “The issue is that there aren’t enough ideas, or the people with the willingness to push them.  When somebody tells me they’ve been trying [to get a tunnel started] for two years and they can’t seem to get the money together, I just tell them they need to push harder. Never give up.  It only depends on you. The money is there, and you’ll unlock it if you try.”

    Tunnel Tech airducts with Hubble-level surface precision and finishing
    Steve doesn’t want you to think that he’s under the impression that it’s easy to convince someone to invest in something as big as a tunnel. The price tag of a windytube is plenty high for a project that most humans have only seen, occasionally, on TV.
    “You need to transfer your passion to the investor,” he advises. “If you are capable of doing this, then you’re already doing great work on the investment. Even if you have a business plan and you can prove with paperwork that your wind tunnel is going to make a lot of money -- super nice presentations and Excel sheets and all the trimmings -- you still need to make your potential investors believe in it with their hearts. If they don't believe in it with their hearts, they will not invest.”
    “Think about it,” he continues. “You’re asking them to invest millions of Euros in a building with wind blowing at 200 kilometers per hour through the walls. It is crazy. We still run into this all the time when we go to new contractors. Why all of this for a flight chamber? Why all of that construction around it? They don't understand.”
    In 2006, after one false start at a Belgian dropzone, that decision took Steve and Magali to create a truly watershed moment in what the rest of the world knows as “indoor skydiving.” Inspired by the idea that training in the vertical wind tunnel could revolutionize skydiving -- at the time, a very new and unorthodox philosophy -- the pair decided to build the very first vertical wind tunnel facility in Belgium. It was called AirSpace and it was, in a word, visionary.
    “I am a big fan of Apple, and their thing was always to think different,” Steve explains. “And that resonates with us, because it’s really the way we live. We are always trying to improve and make stuff differently; not to be just another tunnel. Our tunnel was a huge success because of that, and because we wanted to do everything we could for the for the flyers.”
    Steve and Magali built “their” tunnel from scratch. To do so, they quit everything else in their lives to focus full-time on creating the facility -- including their home.
    “My wife and myself, we decided we were going to go full on,” he smiles. “We wanted to know everything -- every bolt, every detail -- about our tunnel, and about the industry. So we left our rented house and moved into the contractor container on the construction site. We lived in it for a year. It was a really nice experience, day by day following the progress of construction.”

    Steve and Magali Braff
    Though ‘home’ was technically a shipping container for the Braffs that year, the heart of the idea behind that tunnel -- and, now, LuxFly --  was, charmingly, to make it into as homey a place as possible. The Braffs integrated a cozy lounge bar; as much wood as possible, moving away from the stainless-and-plastic aesthetic that pervaded (and still pervades) the vertical wind tunnel oeuvre; a deep sense of comfort and place.
    “We were insistent that it had to be like a house,” Steve says. “I wanted people to come in and walk around in their bare feet. When I saw that for the first time, it felt like success to me.”
    The year it took to build AirSpace -- still fast for a tunnel project, which is normally it is two years from the point of financing, securing building permits and organizing all the construction to the grand opening -- taught Steve and Magali a boatload.
    “Sure, it was a lot of ups and downs -- a lot of them -- more downs than ups, okay -- but, at a certain point, you have to look at it a bit like the stock market,” he explains. “You need to be patient and you need to keep believing in it. That is your only source of strength. Not depending on anyone. It's yourself; your own belief.”
    The tunnel truly bloomed under the Braffs’ management. This is one couple, however, that doesn’t make a habit of resting on laurels, no matter how comfortable they might be. After a few years, they decided to sell it and move on. It felt like time to grapple with another project (this time, on the border with Luxembourg), and to start helping other would-be tunnel owners with their own projects.
    “We earned a lot of experience over the course of all those years,” Steve says. “We traveled a lot, both skydiving and tunnel flying. We have seen a lot of wind tunnels. We took all those ideas we discovered over the years and we put them into in Luxfly. It's going to be super, super, super special.”
    According to Steve, Luxfly is going to be “the 2020 version of tunnel flying.” The design aesthetic -- still a secret, as of publication -- promises to be groundbreaking. The pair decided to make another, perhaps even bigger change: a total technology rethink. While AirSpace used top-of-the-line-at-the-time German tech (ISG), the Braffs decided to build Luxfly with Tunnel Tech, a multinational vertical wind tunnel technology company that’s making huge strides forward in safety and efficiency.
    “I must say [Tunnel Tech] have blown us away with the quality of their product,” Steve explains. “First of all, I’ve known Slava, the CEO, for many years. When I heard he was making his own technology -- and that they were building a 15-foot with less power consumption than a 14-foot -- I got very curious. Then I started following their projects in Japan, in Moscow and in Korea, and I was totally convinced.”

    The LuxFly structure & the Tunnel Tech machine are ready for assembly
    “It was a risk, of course, because it’s a new company, and it always feels safer to go with a company that has built 15 tunnels versus somebody that has built three,” he continues. “But that’s our history. With Airspace, for example, I think we were the fourth ISG tunnel; perhaps the fifth. So being the fourth Tunnel Tech wind tunnel doesn’t feel so crazy. Tunnel Tech really are rethinking every part of the tunnel -- how we can do better, better and better -- contrasts a lot with where now a lot of manufacturers are now. When you have a certain design that's working and selling, the tendency is to just keep it until people demand something new. Tunnel Tech keeps well out in front of that.”
    With Luxfly’s gala grand opening set for the end of January, Steve and Magali are up to their eyeballs in preparations. They insist, however, that they are always available to help people out -- to make new tunnel dreams a reality.
    “We are passionate people,” he smiles. “We just want to share our love of flying.”

    By nettenette, in News,

    Performance Designs closes out the PD Bullseye 2019 competition at Skydive DeLand

    Performance Designs hosted the PD Bullseye Sport Accuracy series across the US and Europe this summer. The competition visited 5 countries, 9 dropzones and met over 400 skydivers. This series was a chance for people with under 500 jumps to test their sport accuracy and become better canopy pilots. The 23 finalists traveled to Skydive DeLand on December 6th to meet each other, the PD team, train with Flight-1 and then compete for the chance of becoming a PD Sponsored Athlete. After an exiting competition the winner was announced: Paul Winner from Skydive Orange. Second place was taken by Lori Patalocco from Skydive Spaceland Houston and Third place by John Victor from Skydive Spaceland Dallas.


    “I felt that going into the competition, I had a chance. I’d put a lot of time into working on canopy skills this year. Then you get to the finals, start meeting the competitors and you realize that everyone has been working hard and the pressure was on. This event was incredible and thanks to PD for coming up with an idea that made so many people focus on their canopy piloting. What's next for me? I got my coach rating this year, and want to continue working with new skydivers and keep progressing on my free fly skills. Canopy wise, I’m hoping to attend an FLCPA event this coming year. I'm proud of myself and all the competitors for all the hard work we put going into this competition. I'm honored and excited about the amazing opportunities that our ahead for me.” - Paul Winner, PD

    Bullseye 2019 Winner
    Congratulations from Performance Designs to all the finalists for their hard work and enthusiasm for becoming better canopy pilots. Stay tuned for more details on PD Bullseye 2020.
    “We’re super excited about how the 2019 PD Bullseye season turned out. Loads of newer jumpers discovered and were excited about developing their canopy flight skills in a fun and competitive environment. It was great to see this series work and create greater enthusiasm in our community for safe and fun canopy flight. Learning to fly and land your canopy well is cool, and we’re glad we’ve been able to do a little part in promoting that.”


    Albert Berchtold, PD Marketing Manager

    By Administrator, in News,

    9 Dead in Swedish Plane Crash

    It has been a tragic few weeks for the sport of skydiving, as two plane crashes have lit up news headlines across the world. The first occurred just over three weeks prior with the Oahu crash in Hawaii which saw 11 individuals lose their lives when their Beechcraft 65 King Air crashed, killing all on board.
    Less than 3 weeks later there has been an additional plane crash, this time in Sweden, when a GippsAero GA8 Airvan crashed out of Umea airport, killing 9 people. The incident took place on the 14th of July around 2 pm local time.  While little is known about what caused the incident, eyewitness video footage shows the plane descending rapidly, nose first, before crashing on Storsandskar island.
    Eyewitness accounts further stated that they could see jumpers attempting to exit the aircraft while it was coming down.  Another witness was quoted as saying that she had heard a loud noise coming from above before she saw the plane head straight down. Also of note were several witness accounts of the plane missing its wing on descent, with mention of a damaged tail too. 
    The following video was taken by a witness to the incident and shows a brief glimpse of the plane on its way down.
    .embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; } A regional spokeswoman was quoted as stating, ‘I can confirm that all those aboard the plane have died.’
    At this point, very little information is available on this tragic event, and we will update this article with more information as it becomes available. 
    We’d like to extend our condolences to all those involved and their families. BSBD
    For discussions on this incident, please use the following forum: 
     

    By Meso, in News,

    Crash in Oahu, Hawaii Claims 11 Lives

    Featured image credit of ABC News
    On Friday the 21st June 2019 tragedy struck as the worst civilian aviation accident in almost two decades saw the loss of 11 lives when a Beechcraft 65 King Air working out of Oahu Parachute Center crashed on the island of Oahu. There were no survivors of the incident, which took place on Friday evening as the day was drawing to a close.
    The twin-engine aircraft went down around 18:30, on the edge of Dillingham Airfield on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Initial reports suggested that the death toll sat at 9, but this toll had risen to 11 by Monday.
    Among those killed in the accident were six staff from Oahu Parachute Center, as well as once Fastrax team member Larry Lemaster, who was working as an instructor on the jump. Other names released thus far include Casey Williamson, a videographer working for the dropzone, as well as Mike Martin. Aside from those employed by the dropzone, Bryan and Ashley Weikel were also announced among those deceased. Reports state that Bryan and Ashley were celebrating their one year wedding anniversary. No other names had been released yet at the time of writing.
    .embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; } On Monday, investigations were continuing into what had led to the incident. This wasn't the first time the 65 King Air had been involved in an incident, the same aircraft had lost the stabilizer during the crash, though fortunately the individuals on board were able to bail out of the plane without any loss of life. It is unclear yet whether this past crash had any role to play in Friday's tragedy.
    The wreckage of the crash left little hope for survivors as the plane was quick to go up in flames. Reports from the ground claim that the aircraft was in the air briefly before they saw it invert and dive forward towards the ground.
    Unfortunately an already tragic event become worse when inaccurate media reports filtered through and sent the community into a frenzy, trying to verify the authenticity of said reports. One such inaccuracy was that famed cameraman Tom Sanders was amongst those in the wreck, something that has since been debunked.
    Our condolences to all of those involved, and BSBD to those on board when the incident occurred. The families of the victims are in our thoughts and prayers, and we offer further extend our condolences to everyone over at Oahu Parachute Center.
    For discussions on this incident, please use the following forum:

    By Meso, in News,

    Streamlining Ratings: UPT Adopts Sigma

    by Laura Jane Burgess
    Shuffling paperwork, missing signatures, and problematic postal services: with so many moving parts issuing UPT Tandem rating cards has been a time-consuming process. Key word: has. United Parachute Technologies has led the charge in gear manufacturing for many years, and now, it’s leading the way into the digital age of issuing tandem ratings.
    We spoke with the director of UPT’s Tandem Program, Tom Noonan, to get details on the exciting partnership between UPT and Sigma.
    Background
    For those of you out there unfamiliar with Tom Noonan, Tom made his first skydive in 1999, and in the nearly 20 years since then, has acquired around 8000 skydives—6,500-7,000 of which are skydives with him as either the tandem instructor or passenger training someone to be an instructor!
    Having previously worked for Strong Enterprises and Performance Designs, Tom is now in his sixth year of employment with UPT working as their Tandem Program Director.
    How Sigma Entered The Picture
    Tom met Dylan Avatar of Sigma when he presented their Merit issuing platform to the USPA board several years ago. At the time Tom was on the USPA Board of Directors and had a front seat during USPA’s adoption of Sigma to issue licenses and ratings digitally as Merits. 
    Tom says:
    “USPA’s success with [Sigma] with their membership of 40,000 people gave UPT a comfort level that Sigma could handle the…8-10,000 instructors around the world and 400-500 examiners (current or past) or national federation safety officers who we work with. After seeing that the USPA database migration and subsequent user interface was successful, I had high confidence that we would be able to do the same thing on our side with the tandem ratings we issue.”
    Why did UPT elect to move forward with Sigma? 
    After a slight pause, Tom kiddingly replies “[Sigma] gave us free t-shirts…No the real reason/the tipping point for us was when Dylan met with Sheryl Bothwell, our Office Administrator, who is in charge of the rating issuance. Dylan was able to sit down and demonstrate the portal and the process and show how efficient it was going to be from the front office side, and that was really the “closer.”
    How Sigma Will Help
    What problems/pain points will Sigma solve for UPT as it relates to issuing ratings?
    Without hesitation, Tom responds “international delivery.”
    “We probably have 30-40% of our users that are international, which means we’re sending out anywhere from 200-400 international rating cards each year, and we’ve been doing it… as an analog process (postal) in a digital world.”
    Issues with international delivery were multifaceted: “Our international mailing was incredibly problematic. One in that the customer often didn’t receive their card in a timely manner or other times they didn’t receive it at all. It doubled and even sometimes tripled our workload to reproduce these again and again. From a cost perspective, while it wasn’t happening every day, it became more and more of a cost issue and a workflow problem. We were spending too much time re-issuing ratings that otherwise could be digitally accessible.”
    While forgery or someone misrepresenting their ability hasn’t really been the problem, Tom says “there has been an issue with candidates finishing the training process, and their rating application ending up in limbo somewhere, due to application correction issues.”
    “Individuals were going through courses and filling out the appropriate paperwork, which was then sent in. The problem was typically a mistake made on the paperwork. Either the examiner or the instructor failed to sign a necessary line on the log book or were missing a witness signature. Attempts to get additional information in from our instructors, in that capacity, can be challenging at times. So, someone will finish a course and have a paperwork problem, and whether they ignore it or neglect it, then they and the dropzone are missing confirmation that the rating has been issued. The adoption of Sigma’s platform will hopefully facilitate an easier remedy for the drop zone owner and the instructor to know for sure that they have their rating and that it has been issued.”
    Will UPT continue to mail out hard copy cards or do they anticipate phasing these out? 
    For those of you looking to garner UPT tandem ratings in the future, physical cards will be offered as an “a la carte” option and only ad hoc as requested.
     “We will always provide them for the customer if requested to do so. There are people that have always wanted the tactile experience, to have a driver’s license in their pocket or a pilot’s certificate in hand, so we can always provide that. But now that we have the digital format, the workflow on [physical cards issued] will be less than 10%. But for that 10%, we will format the cost as shipping and a small processing/maintenance fee of $10.”
    What about Sigma excites UPT the most? 
    “UPT’s front office is thrilled at the implementation of Sigma issued Merits for UPT tandem ratings. The excitement, in part, comes down to reduced workflow. And any time, we can reduce workflow, we can be more efficient, and if we are more efficient, we can then do more things for the customer and for the instructors. We’d rather spend our time thinking about ways to improve the process…and having more time to do that because we are spending less time dealing with processing issues and mailing ratings. It gives us more time to focus on other parts of the rating application process.”
    Looking to the Future
    Tom sees two potentials for further utilizing Sigma in the future: “one is going to be once the system is in place and running smoothly, we are going to look to use the Sigma platform to institute a hand cam proficiency Merit.” 
    This will ensure instructors have “met the 200 tandem jump minimum, they have filled out our proficiency checklist, and sent it into us. First, before they start using hand cam and every two years as they renew, and two, so [drop zones] will be able to track [instructors] hand cam currency as a Merit.”
    Within the next two years, Tom and UPT are hoping to roll out “some form of a bi-annual review [for tandem instructors] that can be updated, whether it’s a proficiency card or a practical evaluation with an examiner—we haven’t hashed any of that out. But we’ve recognized there is a need to implement something similar to what pilots go through, where every two years the instructors need to validate their credentials. This can absolutely be an additional future merit that would end up living in the Sigma database”
    Tom even had an idea for how Dropzones could further utilize the Sigma platform and Merits.
    “I could foresee Dropzone Owners taking advantage of a Camera Flyer Merit, where it’s simply a qualification card that they are validating they have met the minimum requirements 500 RW jumps 100 camera jumps as one example, so when they have people flying video with their tandem instructors, they have some kind of validation that they have met the minimums”
    The practical takeaway here? 
    These measures and issued Merits are a “liability prevention mechanism for everyone involved in the tandem jump process…making sure you have met those credential verifications only helps assure you have better liability protection in case of an incident or accident”
    Well put Tom, well put. 

    By Administrator, in News,

    Girl Gear Blues? Problem Solved (and Then Some)

    Aeronautrixx Literally Has Your Back
    Life in the sky just keeps getting better for the 13% of us who fly under the influence of two X chromosomes. The latest development? Aeronautrixx -- a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, founded by skydiver//adventurist Karen Woolem. The org’s goal, as Karen puts it, is “providing education, guidance, sponsorship and resources to help women pursue their aeronautical dreams in a fun and safe manner.” Those are lofty goals, indeed, but Karen -- who is as well-organized as she is dynamic -- isn’t the type to shoot low. 
    To understand where Aeronautrixx is coming from, of course, you first have to understand a little bit about its founder. Karen started jumping 28 years ago, led by the example of her skydiver father. She was 15, and they’d make the long trek down to Skydive Paso Robles from the Monterey Bay Area because Paso was the only driveable DZ that would let such a young pup jump. She made a few less than 100 jumps in that first phase and stopped jumping in 1993, when her rig was grounded.


    “The question was,” she remembers, “Do I buy new gear, or do I go to college?’
    Objectively speaking, it wasn’t really a question. Karen was the first in her family to go to college, and she wanted to place her focus there. As it turns out, a full 15 years passed before she got back into the sport, though she made a few feints in that direction. Finally, in 2009, she got recurrent -- at Hollister, where her dad learned to skydive back in 1988 -- and she’s been jumping ever since. Mostly, Karen describes herself as an RW kinda chick. (Fun fact: When I talk to her, she has just returned from skydiving over the Egyptian pyramids.)
    Aeronautrixx, interestingly enough, was born of that other major step forward in female-focused skydiving: the Women’s Skydiving Leadership Network. Back in 2016 (when the WSLN was first officially formed), Karen was selected for the first WSLN leadership symposium. She spent a week at Raeford with the event, soaking up the skills, the vibes and the connections. As part of that program, Karen designed a logo for a WSLN t-shirt. The image was strong, feminine, colorful and balls-out bold. She loved it.
    While a different logo was selected for that original purpose, Karen couldn’t help but realize that she’d created the logo for an effort that was gathering steam in her own imagination. Specifically, she was pondering a personal challenge she’d faced as a female, coming back into the sport: Finding a used container that fit both her and the canopy size she was comfortable with. She’d found it damned near impossible.

    “Finding a used container that fit me was no problem,” she mueses, “but they were all made for sub-100s; for super-swoopers. When I first came back, was under a 170. I ended up having to rent for what seemed like forever. It was so expensive.”
    She realized that there was a solution -- and that she could catalyze it.
    “I knew there were plenty of people out there that have gear to donate,” she adds, “And I thought -- hey! -- if I set up a non-profit, it can be a win-win. People can donate gear that fits smaller people jumping larger canopies -- or any gear they have gathering dust in a closet. Then I can give those guys a tax write-off and get that gear out to women who need it. Now [the recipient is] paying $25 a jump instead of $50 and can take her time to either wait for a long delivery on custom gear or piece together a used setup that fits.”
    “It’s so expensive getting started in this sport,” Karen adds. “Aeronautrixx aims to make the potential financial burden less of a deterrent for women.”
    So far, it’s a home run. Aeronautrixx just got a complete setup donated and matched it with a woman who just graduated AFF. Boom.
    It’s not just containers, either. Karen has partnered up with a craftsman who completely refurbishes and repaints helmets with airplane-grade paint, and those helmets have been gracing the sky in larger numbers with each passing season. In addition to that, Karen is currently working on getting a few complete demo systems co-sponsored with manufacturers.

    Of course, it’s not just gear that makes a skydiver — so Aeronautrixx covers the skills bases, too. These days, Karen is a WSLN mobile mentor, dually based at Skydive Sebastian (near her current home) and Skydive California (near her west-coast roots). For the past three years, she’s been using Aeronautrixx as a platform to host female-focused skills camps and boogies on both coasts. In October, there’s the Unicorn Boogie at Skydive California; in April, there’s the Mermaid Boogie at Skydive Sebastian; this February (coming right up!) there’s going to be a gold-lamé-festooned disco party at Z-hills. 
    The boogies’ shared core value? Bring women together -- from all over -- and encourage growth and fun in equal measure. The response so far has been phenomenal. 
    “I try to get an all-female roster of organizers,” Karen adds, “to show the newer jumpers that it’s not only men that are leading the pack. And I always try to bring in non-local organizers to give the ladies the chance to jump with other females in the sport that they might not get a chance to jump with.”

    The formula is certainly working. At the first Mermaid Boogie, Karen was standing in a packed hangar. Stopping in the middle and looking around, she suddenly realized something amusing.
    “I looked around and it occurred to me, there were no men. We’re turning the Otter with all chicks.” They turned 22 loads that day.
    At the end of the day, Karen insists that Aeronautrixx is about inclusion. Men are welcomed at Aeronautrixx events -- even issued cheeky “man cards” -- and the sea of costume onesies now includes a fair number of male humans. That’s not at all surprising, considering the unequivocal language of the Aeronautrixx mission statement: “We believe that women can be just as, if not more, badass as our male counterparts.” Well-put and well-proven, no?
    ----
    To donate to Aeronautrixx (or get involved with an event or two), visit the org’s website or Facebook page:
    https://aeronautrixx.com/
    https://www.facebook.com/pg/aeronautrixx/
     

    By nettenette, in News,

    How Sigma & Burble’s Tech Are Changing Skydiving

    Written by Laura Jane Burgess
    There’s excited chatter on the mat, the rustle of nylon fabric being packed, the buzzing hustle and bustle of a busy day. Canopies zip overhead. Squinting, mesmerized, though you’ve seen it near a hundred times, you watch the initial glide across the grass, the slide of flat-soled swoopers, and the quick-legged staccato steps as each jumper comes to a stop. You’ve never seen a more perfect day to skydive.
    Waiver signed you file in line behind a queue of shuffling feet and exasperated sighs—a 15-person traffic jam. Daylight’s burning. Loads should be turning. What’s the holdup?
    It’s the fellow at the front. A jumper far from his home drop zone (558.9 miles, ± .1 mile to be exact). His innocent intent was to check in and manifest. Except, he doesn’t have so much as a shred of physical documentation to his name. No logbook to verify currency and no physical, tangible evidence of USPA credentials.
    What’s to be done? His lack of documentation dismissed or ignored? Certainly not. Exhaustive, time-consuming attempts made to secure a paper trail. Undoubtedly.
    If everyone’s lucky, the ordeal will take 10-20 minutes. However, if you consider that at a busy drop zone you’re likely to encounter the same issue any number of times on any given day. The wasted daylight adds up, cutting into profit margins and the amount of time jumpers spend in the air.

    Imagine for a moment that the futile task of trying to sleuth down credentials could be avoided, and the check-in process could be made significantly easier—for everyone involved. As luck would have it, this is precisely what the Sigma / Burble integration aims to do.
    In the late spring of 2019, when the integration launches, skydivers who frequent any one of the many drop zones utilizing Burble software can grant those drop zones access to view their Merits on Sigma. In case you’ve been ignoring those emails the USPA sent you or still feel a little in the dark, Merits aren’t patches to be stitched on a Cub Scout sash. Rather, Merits refer to things like USPA credentials, UPT ratings, corresponding coursework and even your most recently completed skydives. At the close of the day, drop zones taking advantage of the newly integrated systems can send out shareable Merits for completed jumps, whether it be to tandems, fun jumpers, or staff. For jumpers, the Merits can serve as a “digital signature” to verify their most recent skydive. Instead of relying on illegible, potentially forged, physical logbook entries, there will be a traceable, authenticated digital entry.
    Drop zones can also attach video clips and other media to the merit badges. This creates hefty possibilities for Merit use with student training programs. No matter where a student roams (or if their logbook follows suit), instructors at any Burble drop zone can see exactly who and what they are working with.
    For jumpers, the integration process requires no real technical finesse. In around three minutes, skydivers can link their Sigma account to their BurbleMe profile. Jumpers can then authorize the Burble drop zone(s) of their choice access to their Sigma Merits. Every time they check in at the preferred Burble drop zone(s), their Merit information auto-populates into their jumper profile. The result? A streamlined shortcut from check-in to freefall.
    The first time a jumper grants a Burble drop zone access to view their Sigma Merits, they can enable an auto-update feature. From thenceforth, whenever changes to Merits occur, it automatically uploads into the drop zone’s Burble DZM Account and the jumper’s BurbleMe profile. Practically applied, this looks like convenient, real-time access to see as credentials expire, are renewed, or are updated, without the need to request additional physical documentation.
    After the Sigma / Burble integration, drop zones can have instant access to verified information without having to waste time or manpower on multiple sources. After the integration takes effect, staff will no longer need to manually input jumper information or search the USPA database with the Group Member lookup tool. Fewer steps and less manual data transfer mean less opportunity for error. The instant access to verified, up-to-date information, makes it much easier for drop zones to verify the standing of visiting jumpers and instructors in a shorter amount of time. For DZO’s, in particular, this integration offers untold peace of mind: no more worrying about the legitimacy of jumpers on your aircraft, fears of forgery, concerns over invalid credentials, or issues with input errors.
    Come spring 2019, you might catch the audible sigh of relief coming from the staff buried underneath the mountain of (soon to be obsolete) paperwork, see the sheer joy of jumpers spending less time at check-in and more time on airplanes, and agree, with the Sigma / Burble integration, t here’s something for everyone to celebrate!
    Featured image credit: SkydiveTV Vimeo

    By admin, in News,

    Introducing the JFX 2 from NZ Aerosports

    “SAME SAME, BUT BETTER-ER”. The JFX 2. She's kinda familiar, but she has that shiny new kid appeal with her modern flair and style. Powerband, mini-ribs, all the bells and whistles. Take her for a ride, baby!
    We’ve done it again! We released the new version of our beloved JFX canopy, the JFX 2, on the 17th of January 2019. The original JFX was already a great canopy to fly with beautiful openings, great flight and the opportunity to land it gently or with a full-blown hissing swoop. Version 2.0 has not been a radical redesign: the JFX 2 stays true to all the things a canopy pilot loves, but now has all the kickass features they know and want in a modern cross-braced canopy: a powerband, mini-ribs and sail loaded ribs. This canopy is all about cross-braced performance with ease: cranking turns, raging swoops, gentle touchdowns!
    The JFX 2 is the go-to canopy for someone wanting to start their swoop journey, or for someone who wants a “do-it-all” wing with power which will maximise the good times and minimise the risk with plenty of playfulness. This canopy is the smoothest transition into flying high performance, cross-braced wings from an elliptical wing. It can be loaded light of heavy for consistent delivery in flight.

    JFX 2 | Icarus Canopies NZ from NZ Aerosports Ltd on Vimeo.
    The original JFX was the last of our canopies to be designed purely by Paul “Jyro” Martyn’s keen eye and 35+ years of experience. With the JFX 2 we’ve added a touch of fancy French Aerodynamic genius to the mix from our head designer Julien Peelman, and the result means incredible aerodynamics, refined performance and uncompromised aesthetics. Key features of the JFX 2:
    Powerband: debuted on the “Petra”, the Powerband lets us control the shape of the top surface of the wing more accurately, especially at the crucial leading edge where around 90% of lift is made Mini-ribs: These little additions in the tail are also a legacy from the “Petra” and “Leia” canopies. They decrease trailing edge drag, which has the function of increasing glide and flare performance - both things you can never get enough of “Minybrid” construction: A low-pack-volume take on our hybrid construction “Leia” canopies, the JFX 2 pioneers the minimal hybrid (Minybrid) wing. The loaded ribs - the ones the lines are attached to that experience the highest amount of stress and distortion - are made of sail fabric. This reduces rib distortion, helping the wing maintain its shape through all flight profiles, increasing glide, stability and responsiveness 21-chamber design: The JFX 2's sleek fully elliptical 21-chamber design captures the smoothed staged openings of the traditional 7-cell. She's crisp and responsive, yet it does not feel tense and edgy and packs some punch at the bottom end Closed Center Chamber: Inherited originally from the “FX” and “VX”, then redesigned for the “JVX”, the closed center chamber nose was the innovation that allowed cross-braced canopies to become popular by softening the openings, controlling distortion and improving aerodynamics. It's not the latest but probably one of the most important of Jyro's contributions to modern canopy design!
    Images by Chris Stewart/NZ Aerosports
    Key flight characteristics:
    Openings: JFX 2 openings are predictable, soft and not scary! Reliable, consistent and stunning as always, openings are the ace card of this canopy Harness inputs: inputs are light and instinctive, and very responsive. She can be flown entirely on harness with ease - we actually prefer to fly a lot of harness with the JFX 2 Toggles: Powerful and responsive even at the bottom end - even more so than the original JFX Stall point: The slow flight characteristics are hugely improved from the original JFX. The stall point is slower and lower - get plenty of feedback and warning, both on toggles and rears Fronts: Loaded high, lightly and even underloaded; the feedback of the fronts will be great. A bit of slowing down needed before a bigger turn to reduce the pressure on the fronts, but they are very effective for getting into the dive Dive & Recovery: The dive on the JFX 2 is longer than the original JFX, but not as long as on the Leia. With a slow, predictable (and easily adjustable) recovery arc, the JFX 2 is ideal to get those bigger rotations dialled in.

    By Meso, in News,

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