Felix Baumgartner Sets Skydiving Record

    All eyes were fixed on Roswell, New Mexico on Sunday, where skydiver and BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner took part in one of the largest skydiving record attempts in history. The mission, named 'Red Bull Stratos' saw Baumgartner raised to heights in excess of 120 000 feet via the use of a helium inflated balloon which was towing a 1400kg capsule. The mission, which was originally announced in 2010 had seen its fair share of ups and downs, the initial launch schedule was for 9 October 2012, but due to weather and communication issues it was postponed until the 11th of October. Things didn't go as planned on the 11th either, when despite ideal ground level winds, the winds between 700 and 800 feet were gusting too strong for a launch, which resulted in the helium balloon being blown over during the inflation process. The event was then rescheduled for 14 October, where a window in the weather conditions were seen, and the team of Red Bull Stratos were remaining positive for a launch.
    Baumgartner has been a controversial figure in BASE jumping, where he has been accused of going against the general BASE ethics involved, and seeking media attention as opposed to keeping objects off the presses.
    During the morning hours conditions were marginal, with the 700 ft winds remaining the area of concern. The mission was put on hold once again for several hours, but winds co-operated and at 15:25 GMT and the broadcast began to stream live. The team looked to take advantage of the weather conditions and aimed for a quick launch, which occurred successfully shortly after the broadcast began. As the balloon and capsule ascended some concern was raised when it approached the 30 000 ft mark, when Felix was being taken further east than expected due to the winds at higher altitude, though these concerns were alleviated somewhat later on after he had passed the jet stream and winds began to swing back towards the west as he ascended.
    Some Quirks on the Way Up

    Further concern were raised as he passed the 100 000 ft mark, when the visor of his helmet was having issues in regulating temperature. This caused enough concern for the team to consider alternative options with regards to the mission, with the option of Baumgartner descending with the capsule as opposed to performing the jump, not sure whether jumping with the error would cause a significant safety hazard. The decision was that due to the possible hard landing that could be experienced in the capsule, despite the capsule being lead down by a parachute, the best option would be for the jump to progress as planned.
    On the ascent, the landmark numbers were that of Joe's 1960 record jump as well as the record for the highest ever manned balloon flight. At the height of 112 000 ft, the Redbull Stratos youtube channel was reporting over 4 500 000 users live streaming the video, with the event going viral over social networks.
    The capsule began to slow down in ascent speed at around 123,000 ft as expected, but soon the ascent speed began to rise rapidly, going to a speed of 10 meters per second. This was cause for some concern and the balloon had to be vented, as Felix approached a height of 128,000 ft, 8000 ft higher than the desired exit altitude. The balloon then slowed down in the range of 127 500 ft and the checks began.
    Col. Joe Kittinger at Ground Control

    At the request of Felix, Joe Kittinger would be handling all the ground control communication with Felix during the mission. Joe, now 84 years of age was a career military officer and a former Colonel in the United States Air Force. Prior to this mission Kittinger held the world records for the highest skydive, fastest and the longest skydive. In the year 1960 Kittinger performed a skydive from the height of 102 000 ft, an amazing accomplishment, especially for the time. This record held strong for over 50 years, until Sunday 14 October 2012. Kittinger's flight was not without it's own set of hiccups too, during his record setting skydive, a tear in his glove caused his hand to swell up to twice the size, due to the amount of pressure at those heights.
    The checks began as the balloon's ascent slowed down considerably and by the 21st check, Felix began to depressurize the cabin to 40 000 ft and confirm a suit inflation, this check was successful and moved them onto the next item, which was depressurizing the capsule to ambient pressure at a height of 128 000 feet. The world at this stage was hanging on the edge of their seats, as Felix depressurized further and the balloon began to descend. At 127 500 ft the door was opened and Felix began to move towards the front of the capsule, the earth's curve clearly visible on the cameras. The balloon ascended again a bit to a height of 128 000 ft, when his chute was confirmed as okay to jump... Then after a couple more checks - he was off!
    Controlling the Spin

    The exit was un-dramatic, flat and stable, exactly as planned. With so little air up there any instability on exit could lead to an uncontrollable spin or tumbling descent. After reaching speeds beyond 690mph Felix suddenly started spinning and you could almost hear the world hold its collective breath until he brought it under control what felt like too many seconds later. Maximum speeds quickly reached over 720mph, but were also quick to decelerate as the air thickened. During the freefall stage Baumgartner went on the radio saying that his visor was starting to fog up, but this was shortly before he had to open his chute, was ended up not being an issue. Felix Baumgartner had hoped to reach super sonic speeds, to gain the record for the longest freefall time and to break the speed of sound. Unfortunately for Felix, his freefall time did not exceed that of Kittinger's, but he now holds the confirmed record for the highest ever skydive, and while not yet official, his top speeds are also estimated to have set records. Given Kittinger's large role in this mission, one may say that it is only fair that his record remains at least partially intact.
    The day was without a doubt one of excitement, expectation, success, but also quite possibly disappointment for some. There is no arguing that this was by far the most watched live skydiving event in history, drawing more than 7,000,000 viewers from around the world live to YouTube alone, while millions more watched the event live on television.
    Our congratulations go out to Felix Baumgartner on his accomplishment, as well as to Kittinger for his work at ground control, not to mention all those involved with the Red Bull Stratos mission in one way or another.
    Update: The post-jump press conference has released the official record statistics from the jump. Felix jumped from a height of 128 100 feet and had an official freefall time of 4 minutes and 20 seconds. The real surprise was the official records for the maximum velocity achieved, while original estimates were indicating that Felix reached a maximum velocity of 729 mph, this ended up being very conservative with the official finding concluding that in fact, his maximum velocity was an outstanding 833.9 mph, or 373 m/s, meaning that Baumgartner reached Mach 1.24 during his jump. This means that Felix has become the first human to go supersonic during freefall.

    By admin, in News,

    Skydiving Video Games

    With the recent release of Grand Theft Auto V, we've decided to take a look at some of the video games out there that offer players the ability to skydive in their gameplay. While dedicated skydiving games are few and far between and mostly awful, there are some big budget games out there that provide in game base jumping or skydiving. The introduction of these activities usually take place during missions when playing the single player campaign or story modes. Other games tend to introduce the activity only when playing multiplayer.
    Grand Theft Auto (Series)
    The GTA series is perhaps one of the most controversial video games series made to date. The game has seen protests, attempts to ban sales and mothers up in arms over the content. In a game where you run the streets killing, hijacking and beating anyone who you come across, it's easy to see why. For those who are less inclined to rob stores and toss dollars at pixelated strippers, the game also offers some great aviation related missions.
    Parachuting was introduced into the game with the release of GTA: San Andreas in 2004 but was then not present in the retail copy of GTA IV. Later the GTA IV expansion, "The Ballad of Gay Tony" reintroduced the parachute and fans were once again finding buildings to base jump off of. In the latest release of the game, GTA V once again offers players the ability to skydive and base jump. The parachuting gameplay is introduced in the story line when one of your characters is required to undergo aviation training (airplane, helicopter and skydiving) in order to complete one of the missions. You begin by having to land on a moving target, so essentially your first handling of the canopy is an accuracy jump. You will also then be able to make jumps with your parachute outside of that mission training, whether you're hijacking an aircraft to jump out of, or finding a building to make a base jump from.
    When it comes to the skydiving gameplay, you're able to track during freefall and once you open your canopy (rather hard usually too), you're then able to navigate with regular turns or sharp turns - and flare for your landings. The canopy design is somewhat disappointing with what someone on our social media page aptly called an "Air-Unlock" canopy, with both front and back of the cells being open. There is a slight delay on the canopy opening, as to be expected for realsm, but it still opens quick enough for you to get some fair low jumps in.
    Finding locations that are high enough to base jump off of is a challenge sometimes, but rewarding when you find that perfect exit point and maybe do some proxy tracking. While this game extends so much further than just skydiving, the gameplay of the skydiving make it one of our top recommendations. As stated before, this game is definitely not for the sensitive type.

    Videos of Skydiving and Base Jumping in GTA

    Saints Row (Series)
    Another game aimed at the maturer audience, Saints Row offers gamers the chance to do some couch base jumping. Skydiving and base jumping have been available in the series since Saints Row 2, but only in Saints Row The Third did the gameplay of parachuting become really fun. The 2013 release of Saints Row IV also saw the act of base jumping and skydiving being kept. The base jumping in Saints Row The Third is somewhat similar to that of GTA San Andreas, where the canopy is quick to open. In fact it becomes a little bit annoying just how quick they open, you are able to base jump off 50 foot objects with ease. The skydiving experience otherwise is quite standard, you're able to track your player before pulling and then control your canopy once it's open.
    Unlike GTA, where your jumps are either mission related or purely because you want to throw yourself out of a plane, or off a building or cliff side - Saints Row The Third allows you to set a target once you have jumped, and steering your canopy so that you land as close to that mark as possible will earn you reputation in the game. Saints Row IV, which was only recently released also allows for naked base jumping.
    If you're looking to perform dirty low jumps, buying Saints Row The Third is definitely a good option. The game is now quite old and you can pick it for quite a reasonable price.

    Videos of Skydiving and Base Jumping in Saints Row

    Battlefield 3
    If you're looking for some skydiving game action without the senseless street violence or sexual content, then Battlefield 3 may be better option. While the Battlefield 3 campaign mode was entirely too short and didn't include skydiving in it, the multiplayer mode which is still played by thousands of people offers the ability to also both skydive or base jump. Unlike the previously mentioned games where you are in an open world environment and can joy ride to your exit points, Battlefield 3 is an intense military combat environment where you are taken on fire and in turn having to protect yourself when you are mobile. There are a good number of exit points in the game should you choose to base jump, depending on the map you're playing.
    Unlike Saints Row and GTA, Battlefield 3 is set in first person view. Personally I always find first person views much more appealing, as I find that they tend to be more immersive.
    There are a few large cliffs in Battlefield 3 that allow for impressive freefall times. If you have a few friends that also play the game, it is easy to arrange with them for some 3 or 4 way base jumps - or go extreme like the video below with a 64-way! With Battlefield 4 coming out in a couple months, there is still a lot up in the air about just what gameplay will be included in the new release. At this stage we will have to wait and see what they do with regards to the skydiving and basejumping in the game.

    Videos of Skydiving and Base Jumping in Battlefield 3

    Base Jumping
    Base Jumping is a game developed by a small company called D3, though judging from their websites the name is in the process of being changed. The difference between this game the games listed above, is that this game is a dedicated BASE game, where all the focus is on the sport and not on the strippers or on shooting the enemy. Here you will be presented with exit points and a challenge for that exit point. It's been a while since I played this game, but I remember it being a little confusing to navigate at first with regards to the menus. However the gameplay is good fun and if one is looking solely for a dedicated base jumping game. It's definitely worth giving Base Jumping a try.
    The "Pro Edition" is still receiving regular updates and fixes, so the game may well be better than when I had last given it a go. You can view the development update information and more information about the game itself at the development page.
    It also appears the company may be working on a skydiving game similar to Base Jumping.

    Videos of Base Jumping

    Go! Sports - Skydiving
    The Go! Sports game series has been somewhat of a disappointment with difficult to use controls and usually extremely repetitive gameplay. Go! Sports Skydiving tends to slot in with the other Go! Sports titles, but does offer a few redeeming qualities that distance it from games in the series like Go! Ski.
    The game offers two general modes, there is formation skydiving where you control your model into the position to fill a formation and then there is the landing mode, which is pretty much accuracy landing. In the formation mode, while the concept doesn't seem too bad - there are several issues that cause controlling your player to be extremely frustrating at times when using the required SIXAXIS controls. The game is not unplayable by any means and can still offer the gamer some fun, but apart from the tough controls - this is the kind of game that can get old fast. The only thing that will keep a user playing is the fact that there is an online ranking system. But given the good price, it is definitely worth considering giving a go, there isn't much to lose.

    Videos of Skydiving in Go! Sports - Skydiving

    Which of the games listed above is your favourite for your bedroom skydiving experience? And if you know of any other skydiving or base jumping related games, let us know in the comments below. We'd love to give them a try.

    By admin, in News,

    Out of the East (Yin Yu's Story)

    Yin Yu Is In Your Sky, And She’s Bringing China With Her
      If you don’t know about Yin Yu yet, take note: You will. (You’ll probably meet her as “Daniela,” the name she goes by in the States.) Yin’s rarefied position as one of the only Chinese athletes teaching skydiving to a Chinese student base has put her at the forefront of a growing wave that’s getting ready to engulf the world in new licensees. Her business--AUV Skydiving--has already graduated more than 50 Chinese skydivers, and the waiting list is growing at an exponential rate.
    “They know the US gives the best skydiving education,” she says, simply, “so they want to come over to the US to learn how to skydive.”
    In a lot of ways, this story starts when Yin moved to the U.S., 10 years ago. For the first couple of those years, Yin lived in Atlanta. She did her first tandem skydive at The Farm (now Skydive Spaceland Georgia) and started her AFF there. Distracted by a heavy academic schedule, she didn’t finish. When Yin moved to Chicago to earn her Master’s degree (quickly followed by a high-powered internship and job), she found what she still refers to as her home dropzone at Skydive Midwest.
    “The major reason I wanted to learn to skydive,” Yin explains, “was that I felt under too much pressure from balancing hard work and cultural differences. Being a Chinese person in America is challenging. The conflict of the culture is the hardest part. There is the overall feeling, all the time, on the inside: No one really gets me. I’m just sitting in the corner, wishing someone could talk to me and understand me.”
    With jumps tucked here and there within a packed schedule, it took Yin three seasons to earn her solo skydiving license.
    “When I first finished my 25 jumps,” she explains, “I wasn’t able to find someone to teach me how to pack, because everyone was in the sky and I could only come on the weekends. So it took me forever. I had 60 jumps by the time I completed the packing course, so I just applied for a B license. I never had an A license.”
    “I teach almost ½ of Chinese skydivers to get their A license,” she laughs, “but I never even had an A license.”
    Yin’s whopping market share is motivated by a whole range of factors. The first of these, of course, is that the cultural differences between east and west loom large for skydiving students even more than most. Learning to skydive is a highly stressful proposition, and navigating its exacting, immediate requirements at the same time as navigating the subtleties of a new culture has proved preventively overwhelming for many would-be students. Yin seeks to change all that.
    “The US is very straight-talking,” she says. “You just tell people what you want. In China, people always talk in a circle to get to the point. And that’s just one of the differences. Chinese students can only really learn from a Chinese person. So I bring them in and teach them in the way they need--a way they can understand--because it is so stressful to do learn how to skydive. You can’t go over the barrier of the fear and stress and the barrier of the culture. Once Chinese students have a teacher who speaks to them in a language they can understand, both literally and culturally, they get confident and then the connections can happen naturally.”
    “In China, education is also very different,” she continues. “I went to university here, so I understand very well that the American teaching style is really open. When you bring questions to school, the answers might vary. In China, you sit in the classroom simply learn what the teacher tells you. I try to combine the two methods so my Chinese students are comfortable, but they are better prepared to deal with the differences when they set out on their own.”
    Yin brings the hard-earned lessons of her own student days to bear in her instruction. It was way back in those days that she initially decided on this path, in fact: When she saw the occasional Chinese skydiving student struggling in a system that wasn’t built to facilitate them.
    “For example: when you see a student flare too high, you tell students ‘Hold it!’ But if you say that another way--like ‘Don’t let go!’--they might be confused and freeze. Even though it means the same thing, switching words forces the student to process because they have to translate between English and Chinese.”
    “Before I was an instructor, I saw many things like this happen,” she continues. “I tried to help interpret but, at the end of the day, I decided I should probably be an instructor and stop that from happening in the first place.”
    She couldn’t help but notice some sticky equipment issues, too.
    “I am small,” she grins. “I was even smaller when I started 10 years ago. I was 100 pounds with a 260-square-foot canopy. I constantly had bruises all over me.”
    “I also had an experience with a cutaway that was very informative,” she adds. “I learned that the equipment was not designed with Asian people’s bodies in mine. Asian people are much smaller; their arms are shorter than what we think. We have to cut away a little more forward and harder.”
    They also have to communicate a little differently, which gets in the way--especially in the vulnerable beginning. Yin notes that Chinese students are really nervous about responding in English. They do speak English, but they are reliably shy. If you’ve ever learned another language, you can empathize: It’s not necessarily that you don’t understand; you get nervous for freeze up.
    “At a drop zone, a lot of the instructors will question a Chinese student to find out if they can do an action and think that the answer they receive means ‘no,’” she says. “When that student talks with me, It’s clear that they understand exactly how to do the action, but with English instructors--even if the student does speak English--there is this disconnect. American students will pretend to understand. Chinese students simply don’t fake understanding as well.”
    When she decided to create AUV Skydiving, Yin was no stranger to business ownership. She’s been in business before: a smoothie shop; a magazine; a stage design business. She was raking in a six-digit, salary, but she wasn’t finding joy. She was never able to see her parents in China.
    Interestingly enough, she already had a solid audience for her marketing when she launched the endeavor. As it turns out, Yin is something of a celebrity. In addition to several other entrepreneurial ventures, she was a songwriter. One of the songs she wrote “got her name out there,” as she wryly notes. Chinese students recognize her as the song’s writer--and, more recently, as the Chinese girl who wingsuited over Everest--so when she opened her doors, there were already faces pressed to the glass. She left her other work a year and a half ago to go full-time with AUV. It’s not just the AFF students, either: In 2013 and 2014 alone, Yin brought over 1,000 Chinese people to the States simply to experience tandem skydiving and the iFly wind tunnel. (She’s also the first Chinese AFFI certified by both China Aero Sports and the USPA, the first Chinese examiner candidate.)
    Yin’s next project is to solve the problem of where those students can go when her two-week AFF camp complete. In China, as you may or may not know, there’s almost nowhere to jump. There are no commercial dropzones. For now, Yin’s students usually come back to the States to jump; this year, she’s organizing a group skydiving mission all over the U.S.
    In the meanwhile, she’s starting to lay the groundwork In China for commercial dropzones to operate. In this author’s opinion, this is where it gets really interesting. Slowly by surely, Yin is making inroads, consulting with other Chinese entrepreneurs who are interested in opening dropzones. She’s also working on a education program for US instructors who want to go to China and teach skydiving skills and operating.
    “There are a bunch of [Chinese aviation owners] coming to talk to me, saying they want to start a dropzone and asking me how,” she says. “I’ve been working for dropzones for 7 years, so I can help them. I am building a team as well, to teach people how to start a dropzone. I’m getting my examiner rating, too.”
    “Three major things are always on my mind,” she states. “I want to bring very advanced skydiving education to China. I want to bring USPA standards and practices to China. And I want to bring serious skydiving competitions to China. If China gets in, it will take half of the business of the world. When China decides to do something, there is no stopping it.”
    “In China, everything is possible,” she adds. “It just comes down to the way you present things, and what kind of connections you have.”

    By nettenette, in News,

    The Legend of Roger Nelson

    Roger Nelson: If you're a skydiver, chances are you've heard the name. If you're not a skydiver, chances are you've watched one of the few movies that were inspired by this man. While the tales of Roger's life have been passed around to keen ears, mostly between jumpers, as a kind of folk lore, the words that have been spoken have often been words bound in mystery. The lines between truth and exaggeration, as with most stories passed through word of mouth, can get a little blurry at times. However there is no doubting the colorful nature of Roger Warren Nelson's life.
    Skydiving Career
    Roger began skydiving in 1971 at a dropzone in Hinckley, Illinois. He was always a bit of a rebel and never quite fitted in with the then aesthetic standard that prevailed within the skydiving community at that time. In the beginning of the 70s recreational skydiving was still in its early days, with many of the then participants coming from military backgrounds, and both Roger and his brother Carl stood out from the crowd. It's said that the term 'Freak Brothers' which was given to both Roger and Carl stemmed from their less than ordinary presence at the dropzone.
    As skydivers, Roger and Carl were pioneers. They both laid the groundwork for what is known today as Freeflying. At the time, skydives were done belly down, in a standard practice, but the 'Freak Brothers' threw a spanner in the works when they started what was then known as 'freak flying'. Freak flying was the Nelson brother's own unconventional freefall style, which was described by Roger in 1978 as any body position that saw the flyer's stomach facing up and their back down, towards earth. So while Olav Zipser is recognized as the father of freeflying, the 'Freak Brothers' were already laying the groundwork for unconventional freefall positions years before. In the mid 1970s the brothers started a "zine" called the Freak Brother Flyer, which ran from 1973 until 1976.
    Freak Brothers became more than just a term for him and his brother Carl, after a while Freak Brothers became an organization and a community with thousands of followers around the world. The Freak Brothers Convention was later organized with the help of Jeanie (Roger's wife) and Carl. These boogies were some of the largest around at the time and drew in over 600 passionate skydivers.
    In 1979 the Freak Brothers suffered the loss of Carl, who died in a skydiving accident. From 1986 to 1989, Roger ran the Illinois dropzone "Skydive Sandwich". Later in 1993, he went on to found Skydive Chicago, which is now recognized as one of the world's leading dropzones.
    Roger spent much of the 80s partaking in world records, while spending much of the 90s organizing them. Between the years 1999 and 2002, he won 2 silver and 2 gold medals as Captain of the Skydive Chicago STL 10, in the 10-way speed event.

    The Other Side of Roger Nelson
    What separates Roger's story from the average accomplished skydiver's, is the other side of his life. While Roger was a well loved individual with much support, particularly in the skydiving community, during the 1980s, he was dealing in some rather shady operations, to put it lightly. Roger used aircrafts to smuggle drugs into the United States, while also working as an informant for the US government. After he was arrested in 1986 on charges that included racketeering, conspiracy to distribute drugs and currency violations, his life would become a enveloped in court dates and uncertainty. He pleaded guilty and in 1987 was sentenced to 10 years behind bars, but was released after serving half of his prison sentence.
    After his arrest, Roger called out the DEA on not acting to tips he had provided them, that would have helped capture Carlos Lehder, who at the time was considered one of the largest cartel leaders in the world. Despite the information Roger provided to the DEA with regards to being an informant, the DEA would later shrug it off, saying that Roger had not played any significant role in slowing down the influx of drugs into the United States.
    In 2003 Roger was killed in a canopy collision incident.
    There was more to Roger than just criminal controversy and skydiving, he was also a family man. His eldest of two children, Melissa recalls in a recent piece of writing, how her and her father wouldn't always see eye to eye, but in his death, has come to realize the leadership he instilled in her. She continued to say how her father had taught her to stand on her own feet, and create her own legacy as opposed to living in her family's.
    Sugar Alpha
    This is all but just a fraction of Roger's life and the reality is that it's hard to summarize such an eventful life. Roger and Melissa have authored the newly released book entitled "Sugar Alpha: The Life and Times of Senor Huevos Grandes". A description of the book offers some insight in what to expect:
    "Skydiving and drug smuggling pioneer Roger Nelson lives life out of the box. Fueled by a love for adrenaline and adventure, Roger goes after everything he wants with gusto. But now Roger is ready to retire from smuggling. With a parachute center to run and a family to raise, Roger knows it is time to stop the cat-and-mouse games he has been playing with the authorities for years.
    He and his longtime partner, Hanoi, plan one final run to Belize, where they intend to fill their Douglas DC-3 with enough cannabis to set them up for life. But then Hanoi dies in a plane crash in an attempt to make some "legitimate bucks" flying fish in Alaska while they wait for the growing season to end.
    Left without a partner or plane, Roger remains determined to return to his family for good. To do so, he decides to stay true to himself and follow through with his retirement run. Roger must rely on a colorful cast of characters and the most unlikely airplane for a gig ever-Sugar Alpha, the legendary DC-3 with the secret fuel tanks and not-so-secret paint job-to help him complete the most daring run in the history of smuggling."
    With extremely positive early reviews, this book is a must for any skydiver, though you definitely don't have to be one to enjoy it.
    Get your copy from Amazon.com

    By admin, in News,

    Formation Skydiving Mobile App

    Times are changing and technology continues to evolve in almost all aspects of society and it's no different in the world of skydiving. Over the past few years, with the popularization of smart phones, there has been a large shift in focus to the presence of information on mobile devices. While skydiving related mobile applications have remained fairly few and far between, apps such as the 'Skydive Log' (an app which is essentially a mobile log book) has seen success within the skydiving community and in future I suspect that as our dependency on mobile electronics grow, we will see more and more of these concepts ported from pen and paper onto mobile devices.
    Which brings us to the topic at hand...
    A new Android application has been released, that will see you able to plot out your formation skydives quickly and easily, by selecting them from a list that reaches in excess of 1000 formations, from 2-ways right up through until 20-ways, providing assistance to teams developing and learning sequential formations.
    The application was developed off information published in Mike Truffer's "The Book of Skydiving Formations". The book, which includes a chapter on organizing formation skydives, provides an extensive list of over 1000 different formations, varying in difficulty. The Book of Skydiving Formations is also available in an 'iPad Edition' and ebook form.
    While the full application is available off Google Play for $10, a free 'Lite' version is available for download. We decided to take a look at the free version and give it a bash, looking at how well the app runs, interface design and usability.
    First off, the size of the application is fairly large with the paid version totalling 29mb. For users with newer smart phone models, or using external memory sources for applications, this should not be a problem at all, though for people using Android devices with limited storage space, 29mb could cause some problems.
    After closing the small popup notification which lets you know that you are using the free version and that the paid app contains far more formations, you are greeted with a screen displaying a total of 5 (for the free version) thumbnail images, each showing a different formation. By default the application displays 8-way formations, though on the bottom left you are able to change this and select your desired formation size. Each of the formations listed has a unique name to them, which is displayed directly under the main image of the formation, in the center of the screen.
    You then work at selecting your desired formation sequence. Simply navigate to the formation you want to start with, and click on the "Add Point" button on the bottom right, this will then log that formation as point #1. Navigate to your next intended formation and perform the same procedure, clicking on the "Add Point" button, this will lock in a second formation. You can then continue this procedure for however long your desired sequence is, on the bottom right there is also a counter which lets you know how many points are in your current sequence.
    When you have finished selecting your dive and its related points, you can then click on the button on the far bottom left which is labelled "View Dive". This will then list a descending display of the formation points which you logged for your sequence.
    The interface and application in general is simple, which has its pros and cons. There is no need for the application to be complicated, its job is simple and it does it well, but one thing that was noted to be lacking during the testing was the ability to save a sequence. Without this ability one is reliant on re-creating the sequence each time they want to view it after having closed the app. While we are not sure whether this is available in the paid version, our assumption is that it isn't. This is only the first release of the application to know knowledge, and as such there are likely going to be updates in the future, and if there is one thing I'd like to see in that update it's the ability to save and load formation sequences after you have created them. The usability seems fine and everything is easy to navigate and understand, as it should be. There were no crashes during testing, which was done on a Samsung Galaxy Gio.
    Overall the application may definitely be able to help one out, and for $10 it's not a bad deal either. You are always able to download the free version from the Google Play store and give it a try, if you like it, you'll want to purchase the full version with the complete list of formations. Due to limited downloads and the recent release, there is no consensus yet, on how valuable the average user finds the application.
    Currently this application has only been released for Android devices, there is no mention of whether there is intent in a possible iOS release in the future.
    Editors Note: After publication, we were contacted by the developer of the application and told that future releases shall include such functionality as saving and loading dives, as well as the ability to edit points in a dive.

    By admin, in News,

    The Physics of Freefall

    Without an atmosphere we would continue to accelerate during free fall to ever increasing velocities until we impacted mother earth. Without an atmosphere our parachute would of course be worthless. Hence a soft landing on the moon requires retro rockets to decelerate to a soft landing while parachutes have been used to help decelerate the Martian landers in the thin carbon dioxide atmosphere of mars.
    In the absence of atmospheric drag we would experience a linear increase in velocity with time as described by:

    Where ln is the natural logarithm base e and cosh is the hyperbolic cosine function.
    We can now evaluate eqns (10), (11) and (12) for various times over the free fall period to obtain the acceleration, downward velocity and the distance the skydiver falls. These results are tabulated in Table (1) and corresponding plots are illustrated in Figs (1) through (3).

    Eqn (11) was used to calculate the plot in Fig (1). We note that as we exit the aircraft at t = 0, our initial acceleration is 32 ft/sec^2, (gravity rules). As the opposing aerodynamic drag force increases with our increasing free fall velocity, our downward acceleration decreases. We see from Fig (1) that our acceleration diminishes to about half of it’s initial value after 5 sec of free fall and all perceptible downward acceleration has ceased after 15 or 20 sec.

    Our free fall velocity was calculated from eqn (10) and is plotted in Fig (2). It steadily increases over the first 5 seconds of free fall from zero to nearly 90 mph. During the next 5 to 10 seconds our acceleration diminishes significantly as we approach terminal. It is the post 10 sec period of the skydive when our sensation of falling is replaced by the feeling being suspended and cradled by the pressure of the wind.

    Eqn (12) was use to calculate and plot the free fall distance. It is apparent from Fig (3) that we fall only about 350 feet in the first 5 seconds and at least twice that far in the second 5 seconds.
    Beyond 10 seconds the plot is nearly linear as we approach a constant terminal velocity. Fig (3) confirms our often used rule of thumb “we free fall about 1000 feet in the first 10 sec and another 1000 feet for every 5 sec thereafter”. Comparing the distance at 25 sec with that at 20 sec in Table (1) we see a difference of about 860 ft, a bit less than the rule of thumb value of 1000 ft. The 1000 ft per 5 sec of free fall at terminal is only precise for a free fall rate of 1000 ft / 5 sec = 200 ft/sec or 136 mph rather than 120 mph used in this example.

    Hopefully this example and discussion may provide some insight to those who are mathematically inclined and curious about the “whys”.

    By admin, in News,

    Skydiver Suffers Seizure During AFF Jump

    Christopher Jones, a 22 year old from Perth, Australia - has found himself in the spotlight of news agencies over the past 24 hours. On 1 March 2015, Christopher uploaded a video to Youtube of him suffering a seizure during his 5th level of AFF training at WA Skydiving Academy. According to him, the video was originally recorded about 3 months ago but due to travelling, he only got around to uploading it now. Within 24 hours of uploading the video had received over 2.5 Million views and been picked up by news centers around the world.
    In the video, you can see Christopher Jones being assisted by his instructor, Sheldon McFarlane - as he gets his foot placing in the right position for his exit. After exiting the aircraft, he is seen establishing his body position and things seem to be going well, but soon Mr Jones, who was described by the Dropzone Chief Instructor as "The perfect student" up until this point, begins to lose control of his body position.
    Instructor Heroics Gets Main Deployed at 4000 feet
    McFarlane, who while unaware of the fact that the problem was a siezure, could see that Mr Jones was in trouble, and began an attempt to get close enough to him so that he could help in the release of his parachute. After a failed first attempt, Mr Jones is seen gaining speed, plummeting towards earth. Despite the difficulty in catching up with the student's speed, McFarlane then managed to grab a hold of him and release his [parachute, at around 4000 feet.
    When interviewed about the incident, McFarlane stated that even though he knew that the AAD would deploy, he wanted to ensure that the student had as much time under parachute as possible. This proved to be a wise choice and Mr Jones regained consciousness at 3000 feet, allowing for him to gain control and in turn safely land his canopy.
    While AADs deploy vast majority of the time, there have been incidents where the AAD has failed, and getting the chute deployed manually will almost always take preference over relying on the automatic activation device.
    Questionable Medical Clearance
    Mr Jones has had a history of seizures in the past. Originally wanting to become a pilot, Jones had to put that dream aside due to his epilepsy.
    A doctor-issued medical statement is required before one is able to begin AFF training. Mr Jones' specialist gave him the all clear for his training, with Jones not having suffered any seizures for four years prior to this incident, a subject that has caused some debate of its own, with many doctors feeling as though skydiving would be an activity that no epilepsy sufferer should partake in, due to the risks.
    Unfortunately with the occurrence of this incident, he will no longer be able to continue his skydiving career, for obvious reasons.
    While seizures can be unpredictable and occur at any time, stress is thought to play a role in many cases. Naturally undergoing a skydiving program where not only are you aware of the safety risks, but also have the added pressure of passing or failing your level progression, stress will almost always be heightened.

    By admin, in News,

    Polish Skydiving Plane Accident Kills Eleven

    A plane crash near Topolów, Poland this weekend killed eleven people and left one seriously injured. Shortly after departure from Skydive Rudniki, given the statements of witnesses on the ground- it would appear that the plane began experiencing problems, with reports of strange noises coming from the engines. The twin engine Piper Navajo aircraft was carrying 11 skydivers and the pilot when it crashed.
    There were conflicting reports with regards to the final moments before the crash, with some saying the plane caught fire on impact, while other witnesses were quoted saying that the plane caught fire moments before impact, when it was seen flying close to the houses.
    Another quote from a witness suggested that some of the skydivers may have tried to exit the aircraft prior to impact.
    At the time of publication, there was no official cause of the accident. Though some news reports indicated that the plane was over capacity.

    By admin, in News,

    Luke Aikins Planning No-Parachute Jump From 25 000ft

    Luke Aikins may not be a household name like Felix Baumgartner or Jeb Corliss, but he has been instrumental in the development of several high profile stunts and well known skydiving events. Born into the skydiving world, it was almost natural that Luke would go on to follow in his family's footsteps. Over the years he has amassed over 16 000 jumps, while also establishing himself as a skilled BASE jumper.
    He worked directly as a consultant with the Red Bull Stratos team, acting as a vital aspect in the highly publicized Baumgartner jump. Luke is also one of the safety and training advisers for the USPA, and helped in creating the Red Bull Aces wingsuit event.
    However Luke is now looking to emerge from the background and place himself at the center, by making a jump from 25 000ft, without the use of a parachute, in the project titled "Heaven Sent".
    The idea relies heavily on his skills as a precision flyer, requiring unbelievable accuracy in order to land in a 100x100 foot net, which will be suspended above the ground. In the first video teaser for the event (above), Luke goes on to mention that while the size of the net may seem large, from the point of exit, it would not even be visible.
    This would not be the first jump where a skydiver has exited the plane without a parachute, with motocross legend Travis Pastrana being one of those, who famously exited shirtless, drinking a can of Red Bull. However, the big difference here is that in other occasions of "parachuteless" exits, the skydiver was then grabbed in freefall and still landed under a canopy, or placed their rig on while in freefall. With Luke Aikins, there will be no one and nothing to catch him, except for the hundred foot net, and Luke will be exiting from more than twice the height.

    By admin, in News,

    Canopies for Kids

    Put simply, skydiving is the act of jumping out of a perfectly good airplane and performing aerial maneuvers in free fall before landing by parachute. However in the eyes of Canopies for Kids founders Matt Kuikman and Taryn McKay it was so much more than that. It was an opportunity to combine the sport they love with a cause that they were both passionate about. All they had to do was incorporate a few teddy bears.
    Matt and Taryn launched Canopies for Kids in the Spring of 2012 with the mission of providing skydivers with the opportunity to take stuffed teddy bears along for their skydive. Their organization uses this experience to position those bears as "The Bravest Stuffed Teddy Bears in the World" which are then given to sick children in hospitals. Their hope is that these special bears will help provide kids with the hope, support, and courage they need in their fight ahead and in their journey towards living a happy and healthy life.
    Participating in a Canopies for Kids jump is rather easy. You simply show up to one of their partnered drop zones and purchase a Canopies for Kids kit on top of your jump fee. Their kits are just $20 and include a Canopies for Kids teddy bear in a plastic bag flight suit and an envelope containing a card with a heartfelt message to the child in the hospital which each skydiver can sign and personalize. The costs of shipping and handling are also included, as well as a built in $5 donation to the Children’s Hospital. Recently they also added a Sponsor a Bear program in which individuals who don’t want to jump themselves can purchase a kit and donate the bear to go skydiving with another skydiver who is selected by the drop zone.
    After the bears have jumped they then make their journey to the local Children’s Hospital that the DZ is partnered with. Throughout the entire process the bears need to remain in their plastic bag flight suits. The reason for this is because some of the children these bears are intended for may have compromised immune systems; therefore it’s important that they remain as sanitary as possible. The hospital will then deliver the bears and their cards to the kids in a manner that they see fit.
    Canopies for Kids is presently located in Chicago, Illinois. In their first year of operation they partnered up with Skydive Midwest and the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital. They had over 70 bears jump with minimal marketing and exposure. As the 2012 season rounded out, Canopies for Kids began to gain increased publicity thanks to a documentary being done about them by an organization called Bus 52. That documentary can be found below on Youtube.
    Since the release of the documentary, the Canopies for Kids story has started to spread even further. Their founder Matt was recently interviewed on Skydive Radio and they are presently hoping to expand their operation to drop zones all over the United States. The organization is in the process of finalizing a partnership with a drop zone on the East Coast and will also have a presence at the upcoming 10th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Boogie in Fitzgerald, GA. They are even working with a few individuals to build affiliate operations in other countries.
    If you or your drop zone would like to learn more or get involved with Canopies for Kids you can visit them on the web at www.canopiesforkids.com. You can also find them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/canopiesforkids or follow them Twitter at www.twitter.com/canopiesforkids.

    By admin, in News,