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News

    The Last Frontier

    Down For 50 Jumps Alaska, And Annette O’Neil Tries to Rise to the Occasion
    Image Credit: Melissa Dawn Burns When I grapple my way out onto to the float, I notice two things immediately.
    First: It’s impossible to maintain a relaxed attitude while sitting on the pontoon of a floatplane in full flight. My mental image of myself doing this is going to take a major revision in the translation to reality.
    Secondly: My pilot chute has never felt so vulnerable in all my jumps. For almost the entirety of this once-in-a-lifetime skydive, as I keep a resolute smile trained on the camera aircraft flying next to us, a sepiatone clip plays over and over in my head: A pinch of (actually very securely and conscientiously packed) fabric managing to wiggle itself out of my (actually tight-as-a-new-pair-of-jeans) BOC and bolt mischievously between the pontoon and the step, deploying my beautiful new Crossfire one last time as we spiral, nose-first, into Alaska’s forested wetlands.
    But I digress.
    Before we came to Alaska, we were warned.
    “Ah, mosquitoes: Alaska’s state bird,” said one. “They don’t bite you. They carry you home and feed you to their children.”
    “You’re only there for five days?!,” breathed another. “Good luck with that. You should have planned on at least a week. You’ll never get a break in the weather.”
    “A college kid just got eaten by a bear while he was running a half-marathon out there in Anchorage,” chimed in another. “It chased him off the trail and into the forest. He was calling his mom as it was running him down.”
    Since my previous knowledge of Alaska was gleaned almost entirely from the Calvin & Hobbes ‘Yukon Ho!’ collection and a single viewing of Grizzly Man, I’m a receptive audience. I decide not to go for runs.
    When I arrive in Anchorage, I walk through a neighborhood from my airport hotel to a car rental storefront. The gardens, clearly nothing more than a salad bar for the local deer population, have been scrupulously stripped of anything edible. The one with remaining flowers is surrounded by a high fence. A woman crosses in front of me, walking her toy yorkie. She is carrying bear spray. I speed up, having no toy yorkie to cast off as bait.
    Image Credit: Melissa Dawn Burns When I get to the rental place, they issue me a Subaru. Clearly, they assume I’m not messing around.
    And clearly, we are not.
    The next morning, we—myself, my Down For 50 co-adventurer, Joel, and Brett, along for the ride on this particular state’s adventure—are on the road, bound for the town of Talkeetna. Ah, Talkeetna, Alaska: the acknowledged “doorway to Denali,” home to a heterozygous mix of hippies and lumberjacks, a private pilot mecca. The latter becomes evident even miles away, on the long road into town. The traffic overhead, after all, is significantly more congested and varied than the traffic on ground level. I’m glad I’m not driving; I’m transfixed looking out and up, checking out the rush hour trucking over the trees.
    Soon, following the instructions given in a flurry of arranging emails, we wind through a series of deeply wooded roads to arrive at our pilot’s lakehouse/hangar/office/flight school/community hub. The pilot himself, Don, is an affable fellow with a handsome mustache and the air of a man you’d immediately trust with your life. In fact, I do: When he suggests that we head over to the airport to conduct a quick aerial requisition of the available parachute landing areas “in the Breezy,” I immediately offer myself up. We hop in the rough-and-ready fuel truck (okay: the rusted-through blue pickup with a tank of AV gas in the bed) and off we go.
    The airfield is, to put it mildly, a candy store.
    All manner of aircraft sit gamely waiting, lined up as tidily and fetchingly as pretty ladies in an Old West brothel, all waiting expectantly for a pilot. Don and I cruise along in front of their expectant glass faces. Will we hop into the shiny red one? The bare-metal number that looks like it’ll have a sign on the door that says “silk scarves required”? The race-car-faced green-and-white one with its dancing shoes on and the freshly-chamwowed gleam?
    What’s this blue thing?
    As I’m wondering what I’m looking at, we pull to a stop. I take a closer look. This aircraft—I’m finding it difficult to call it a “plane”—is a robin’s-egg-blue latticework of metal with a wing laid across the top. There’s a prop. There’s an engine. There’s a Wizard-of-Oz-style picnic basket strapped in for storage behind an open, park-bench seat. It looks like the pilot is meant to perch on a piece of wood that sits directly in front of that.
    Suddenly, I realize that Don’s walking right towards it.
    Oh. The BREEZY.
    That looks pretty breezy, alright.
    Don hands me a motorcycle helmet and a bib jumpsuit “so he doesn’t have to worry about me.” I sit down on the park bench. I fasten the single lap belt as fastidiously as I can manage. Then, as Don works the engine like a lawnmower, I read the little metal placard fastened to the seat in front of me. It says, “Passenger warning: This aircraft is amateur-built and does not comply with the federal safety regulations for standard aircraft.”
    For some reason, that’s all I need to start enjoying myself. As we taxi out, I’m smiling so hard in my helmet it hurts a little.
    Twenty minutes later, I’ve found Jesus. I’m reeling from the feeling of being in the dead-on sweet spot of everything I love about flying and motorcycling and adventuring, all bound up into one ugly-ass not-quite-aircraft. We rode the river like a track day. We bounded over forested hillocks and gravel outcroppings and one enormous, out-of-place old satellite dish. We buzzed the lakehouse, waving at my astounded companions. As we land, I decide I might not be bluffing about wanting my fixed-wing license anymore. I tell Don.
    “Oh, you don’t need a pilot’s license to fly this thing,” he grins. “I can get you checked out on it this afternoon.”
    I backpedal. Hard.
    When we arrive back at camp, it’s late. It doesn’t look late, but it is late. Don, the pilots and us jumpers congregate on the dock, four floatplanes bobbing cheerfully around us, and go over the flight plan. As it turns out, they want to do our jump as a stacked formation—each of us in our own chariot—with queenly Denali throwing her white skirts around in the background. There will be a photographer (my preternaturally gifted, multi-hyphenate wonder of a friend, Melissa) passenging in a camera plane, ready to capture it. Our flight instructors thrill to the plan. I am assigned the one that’s mostly purple, bedecked with little hippie daisies. I am much pleased.
    After the meeting, Joel and Brett and I trundle up to the room that Don has graciously offered us, with its wide deck overlooking the twilit lake and the visiting pilots trading stories around the fire pit. We (very ineffectually) close the shades. We try to rest. Tomorrow’s a big day.
    Image Credit: Melissa Dawn Burns The night segues seamlessly into the morning. I wake when my sleep mask shifts and the 4:30AM sun sears my eyelids. Brett wakes when I bump his shins, hanging over the padded arm of the loveseat upon which he reclines. Joel is already up.
    Coffee in hand, we meander down to the dock under a cloudless, bluebird sky. There’s a four-month-old Bernese-Blue Heeler mix rolling around the lawn, doing its best to learn how to be a dog, its fur bunching adorably in handfuls, waiting to be grown into. Two chubby golden retrievers stalk fish offshore. Two pigs, wire-haired and curious, wander over and present themselves for belly rubs. We kit up.
    Taking off from water is a new experience entirely. It’s smoother than I think it’ll be, as the glassed-off lake is feeling nary a tickle of wind this fine, blue morning. Before I know it, we’re tooth-and-clawing our way up to six grand.
    “I forgot how pretty it is from up here,” my pilot smiles when we get to around four. I, for myself, had forgotten that most people—especially people around here—don’t blow through four grand like the front door on a cold night.
    Once we’re up at six, we circle, building the formation. Let’s be clear: these are really, really good pilots, but they’re not formation pilots, and there’s most certainly a trick to it when you’re wrangling low-performance aircraft that were made to do nothing of the sort. With the door open, six thousand feet over Alaska at the entrance to glaciertopia, it is cold. The twenty minutes it takes them to get together has me clinging to the back of the passenger seat like it’s a lover returned from the wars. I hope my hands still work when it’s time to get out.
    Image Credit: Down For 50 Which, coincidentally, it is.
    I see Melissa’s plane figuring its way alongside us. I uncertainly stick out a foot and screw it down onto the sandpaper surface of the step. Then I offer my body up to the full blast of the relative wind and lunge for the strut. I get a purchase. I, ungainly, perch. I’m doing it.
    There’s a yoga to staying here, one iron grip around the strut, the other hand “casually” in my lap, my brain stuck firmly to my pilot chute. Most of me aches to tumble into the familiar arms of freefall. The rest of me grabs that part of me by the cheeks and shouts into its face: For chrissakes, woman, pay attention to this and here and now, because it has an expiration date that is less than a minute in the future and this is what you came for.
    I heed it.
    Suddenly, I can see. I see the red and white camera airplane, framed by impossible mountains. Denali, of course; Mount Huntington; Moose’s Tooth; Little Switzerland. I see a sky of a blueness Alaska pretty much never sees, yet here I am, sitting in it. I see Melissa, concentrating behind the winking black eye of her lens. I can’t see them, but I feel Joel and Brett, doing their own pontoon yoga practice behind me and above me. I see so much of what I love about being in this world, hanging here and now in the suspended animation of complete attention.
    And then there’s the landing area below—a cleared construction pad, tucked up next to the Talkeetna airport runway. My pilot nods. I had planned some sort of fanfare for this exit. As it stands, however, all I can manage is a dizzy-eyed smile and a bog-standard hop. My pilot hollers to watch me go. She’s never seen anything like it before.
    When we land, parachutes slung over shoulders, I’m exhausted with the effort of committing it all to memory. I decide to walk back to the FBO and let it all process—Don’s generosity; the force of the community here; the entirely new sensations of flight. It overwhelms my hardware.
    It’s only later, as we hunch over plates heaped with pancakes, that I happen to glance at the collection of grinning pilots clustered in black-and-white on the Talkeetna diner wall. It crystallizes what I’m feeling: The momentum of a long tradition. Those smiling faces, proudly next to their planes, captured over the entire history of aviation, seem to prove that this place—Alaska, the last frontier—was created by and for adventure. Alaska turns energy to adventure like some sort of spiritual chlorophyll. Every single one of these guys grew tall, strong, enduring lives with the force of that alchemy. Alaska pushes out the envelopes of the willing like leaves bursting from ever-lengthening branches. This is its job.
     

    It does it well.

    -----------
     
    Down For 50, the first 50-state skydiving road trip accomplished in a single journey, is happening from May to October of this year. To follow the journey, to check out when it’s coming to your state or simply to help out (thanks!), visit downfor50.org.

    By nettenette, in News,

    Vigil Service Bulletin - 19 April 2018

    Issue Date: 19 April 2018

    Bulletin Number: PSB-01-2018

    Subject: Firmware Update and High Altitude Jumps

    Status: Mandatory Prior to the next jump with any aircraft altitude exceeding 27,000 ft MSL

    Identification: All Sport Vigil II and Vigil 2+ with firmware versions 05.05, 05.06, 06.01, 06.02
    This product service bulletin does not apply to Military Vigils
    Background: Due to an internal calculation algorithm, units with firmware versions 05.05, 05.06, 06.01, 06.02 will enter protected CTRL-ERR mode when the measured pressure is less than 300 hpa. (Approximately 30,000 ft MSL).
    Compliance: Vigil II & Vigil 2+ (does not apply to Military Vigils).
    All Vigil II and 2+ units with firmware versions 05.05, 05.06, 06.01, 06.02 MUST be updated to a new firmware version.
    The current firmware version MUST be checked in the info menu during the startup of the Vigil. (See Road Map - Parameter Sequence Flow Chart in the User's Manual).
    Compliance Date: Compliance is the mandatory before any jump during which the aircraft is anticipated to reach, or reaches, any altitude above 27,000 ft MSL. DO NOT MAKE ANY JUMP IF THE AIRCRAFT, AT ANY TIME ON THE FLIGHT, EXCEEDS 27,000 ft MSL WITHOUT HAVING FIRST FULLY COMPILED WITH THIS PSB.
    For all users NOT making, or planning to make a jump with an exit altitude above 27,000 ft MSL, or planning to make a flight above 27,000 ft MSL, compliance is still mandatory for all affected firmware versions, however compliance may be at the user's convenience during any repack between the date of this PSB and 31 May 2020.
    This is to prevent risk of possible future high altitude use by a new owner or user, without compliance with, or awareness of this service bulletin.
    Compliance Procedure and Costs:
    Please follow the return RMA procedure online at https://www.vigil.aero/servicing The unit update, maintenance and return shipping from AAD Belgium or Vigil America to the customer will be at no charge to the customer. The shipping cost to AAD Belgium or to Vigil America will be the customer's responsibility. Repack costs and expenses are solely the customer's responsibility. No claims for repack costs and expenses will be accepted. Authority:
    Jo Smolders

    Managing Director

    A.A.D. nv/sa

    Bd.A. Reysers, 193

    1030 Brussels - Belgium - Europe

    Tel: +32.2.732.65.52

    Fax: +32.2.736.06.27

    www.vigil.aero - rma@vigil.aero
    Vigil America, Inc.

    1400 Flightline Blvd., Suite C

    Deland, FL 32724

    Tel: +1.386.736.8464

    Fax: +1.386.736.8468

    www.vigil.aero - candace@vigil.aero
    Distribution of this Advisory Product Service Bulletin shall include, but is not limited to:
    All AAD dealers. Parachute Industry Association. All identified parachuting publications. All identified parachuting Federations and Associations. All National Aero Clubs, Parachuting Section. IPC Technical Committee

    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,

    Bill Booth - 50 Years in Skydiving (Video)

    The ‘father of skydiving’ shares a glimpse into his incredible knowledge. Prepare for knowledge bombs, anecdotes, and entertainment as Bill takes you on a 50 year journey through his experience of skydiving in his renowned ‘History of Skydiving’ presentation.
    Video shared from Skydive The Mag

    By admin, in News,

    Aerodyne Semi-Stowless Deployment Bag Service Bulletin

    Subject: Exchange of Aerodyne semi-stowless deployment bags supplied for Icon harness & container systems.
    Status: Mandatory.
    Compliance: Completed by April 30th, 2018.
    Authority: Gordon Sellers, President Aerodyne Research LLC
    Date of issue: December 18, 2017
    Identification: All semi-stowless deployment bags, with side tuck tabs and magnetic mouth closure, sold with our Icon containers or as a spare part from June 2015 until October 31st, 2017.
    This bulletin does not affect the semi-stowless deployment bags delivered after Nov. 1st, 2017, which have red stow pockets for the magnetic mouth closure system.

    Background
    In 2015, Aerodyne began to offer a semi-stowless deployment bag as an option. In the last year there have been reported irregularities with premature releasing of lines (known as a line dump) where this bag has been in use.
    Aerodyne has thousands of Icons in the field for many years with regular deployment bags using rubber stow bands with no known issues regarding line control during deployment.
    Based on these reports, Aerodyne has performed additional tests on the design of the semi-stowless bag in different conditions. These conditions accounted for a wide variety of variables such as canopy sizes related to the bag size, types of canopy fabrics, types of lines, opening speeds, and more importantly, a variation of canopy packing techniques that we understand are used in the field.
    Through this additional testing we have determined that some of these conditions can exist, causing a premature release of lines from the bag. This uncontrolled deployment of lines may cause variations in opening characteristics, and could lead to lines being caught on the container or jumper.
    As a result of continued development of Aerodyne’s products, an improved semi-stowless deployment bag has been designed which better addresses these issues. These bags are delivered with all new Icon containers where this option is required.
    To increase safety for everyone using the semi-stowless design, Aerodyne wishes to offer every Icon owner to have the latest version of this bag.
    Thus, Aerodyne has decided to offer an exchange program and upgrade all the original semi-stowless deployment bags, and remove the first version of bags from further use. This replacement bag and return shipping to you will be at no charge to the customers, and will not distinguish if the bag is in a rig that is sold second hand. Simply put, if it’s an Aerodyne semi-stowless bag, Aerodyne will exchange it to the new version free of charge.
    Until users have received their new bags and wish to jump their equipment, we recommend that the packing instructions for the semi-stowless bag be noted and followed. We have experienced a variety of packing methods on the semi-stowless bags in the field, and would remind users that free stowing lines in any type of a semi-stowless bag is a technique that requires understanding and attention.
    Action Required
    In an effort to minimize disruption for our customers, we are in the process of manufacturing the new replacement bags and the practical exchange can start from the second week of January 2018. New semi-stowless deployment bags will be exchanged upon return of the original semi-stowless bag.
    To prepare the exchange of these bags, and for Aerodyne to manage the program in the best possible manner, customers must register on Aerodyne’s website. This can be done as soon as possible.
    Actions for customers to take:
    Visit https://www.flyaerodyne.com/registration/ and register your request for exchange. Please note this is important, even if you don’t send in the bag straight away. You will receive an email acknowledgement of your registration. Please keep this for your records. Please print and include a copy of this document when you return your bag for exchange. We will start the exchange process from the second week of January. With about 500 bags in 10 different sizes in the field, bags will be manufactured and made available in the order they are requested. The sooner you send your bag in, the earlier it will be replaced. Bags will only be exchanged upon receipt of old bag. If you have no need for a new bag immediately, please wait a while and let your skydiving friends who are active and maybe in a more jumpable climate get their bags first.
    Exchange Centers
    To aid in the process of distribution, after registration old bags – with a copy of the registration – can be returned to the nearest exchange center to you. Once received we will process a replacement and send within two weeks.
    North and South America (USA Canada, Mexico, South America)

    Aerodyne Research LLC,

    1407 Flightline Blvd, Unit 14, Deland FL 32724
    Europe

    Aerodyne Research Europe c/o Herman Landsman

    Hoofdweg 101, 1795 JC De Cocksdorp, Holland
    Australia

    Mee Loft c/o Koppel Solomon

    84 Park Rd, Woolloongabba, QLD 4102
    Rest of World (Africa, Far East)

    Aerodyne Research Manufacturing

    115 Marshall Drive, Crawdord Factories, Mount Edgecombe, South Africa 4300

    By admin, in News,

    10 Gift Ideas for Skydivers 2017

    We're back again for the 2017 festive season, bringing you some gift ideas for your skydiving buddies or family members. We've spoken to the guys over at ChutingStar and Para Gear, and asked them what they recommend to those looking to fill some the stockings with some skydiving gifts, while at the same time, not breaking the bank.

    Full-Face Helmets - $285-$428
    Get a free ChutingStar Helmet Bag with the purchase of any Full-Face Helmet on ChutingStar.com. Just put both items in your cart and the ChutingStar Helmet Bag will be discounted 100% at checkout! ChutingStar stocks full-face helmets from Cookie, Bonehead and Square1 in all sizes and colors.
    Available at ChutingStar


    Selection of Goggles
    Provide your mate with quality eye protection, with an affordable gift of goggles. Para-Gear offers a variety of skydiving goggles to fit your price range.
    Available at Para-Gear


    Manufactory MX Series Shorts - $149
    MX Series Skydiving Shorts are triple-needle stitched with reinforced seams and bartacks on all high stress areas. A Cordura Nylon exterior with an internal breathable mesh liner allows effortless comfort with structural integrity. Available in 4 colorways in sizes 2XS to 2XL!
    Available at ChutingStar


    Glow Face Alt III Galaxy - $169
    Meters and Black Only. The phosphorescent face provides a background glow to assist in low light conditions. The glow lasts over 2 hours in complete darkness, and is perfect for either night jumps or those sunset loads when it starts to get dark.
    The Glow Face Altimaster III Galaxy features a field replaceable lens. In case your lens gets scratched or cracked you will now be able to replace it yourself instead of having to send it to get serviced.
    Available at Para-Gear


    USPA Skydiving Calendar 2018 - $15
    13 months of incredible 11x14-inch photographs by skydiving's best photographers! The 2018 USPA Skydiving Calendar is the perfect holiday gift.
    Available at ChutingStar


    Cookie G3 Helmet - $379
    Welcome to the G3 headgear, Cookies latest release full-face headgear and a result of significant refinement of the previous full-face headgear.
    The G3 features the original VMech Visor Locking System that works unlike any other in the industry. The system makes for easy opening and positive locking of the headgear visor.
    The visor is 2mm polycarbonate and features a complex curved design for extra strength, unsurpassed field of view and an anti-fog coating.
    The headgear's cinching system is simple and secure, adjustment can be made to customize the headgear fit and once locked down just throw the headgear on and jump.
    Available at Para-Gear


    Parachuting Flipping Santa Musical Christmas Ornament - $24
    This large parachuting Santa Claus sings Jingle Bells while he performs front flips and back flips under a round parachute! The perfect skydiver Christmas ornament!
    Available at ChutingStar


    Power Tools - $19.95
    Want a great stocking stuffer with a low price? Give your loved one a Power Tool packing tool in holiday colors!
    Available at Para-Gear

    Dropzone.com Picks
    In addition to the products above, selected by both ChutingStar and Para-Gear, we've selected some of our own staff recommendations for gifts this season.

    Turned On GoPro Status Indicator - $79
    The first true hard-wired status indicator for extreme sports, tells you the exact status of your GoPro Camera while it’s mounted on your head. Its ultra-bright LEDs shine unmistakably in your peripheral vision: blue for “standby,” red for “record” and yellow for “warning/error.”
    The Turned On device gets your mind back in the game -- and off your headgear-mounted GOPRO® HERO3, HERO3+ and HERO4. As you know, optimal performance in extreme sports requires an absolutely clear head (and nothing good can happen when personal safety takes a backseat to a blinking light).
    Available at Para-Gear

    Aluminum Personal Rig & Helmet Wall Rack -
    $99
    Tired of seeing your spouse's gear lying around causing a clutter? The personal rig &
    helmet wall rack will provide an ideal way to store their skydiving gear in a style way that keeps their helmet and rig up on the wall.
    Available at ChutingStar
    Happy shopping!

    By admin, in News,

    Case Study: How to Make A Really Good Life In Skydiving

    How NZ Aerosports General Manager Attila Csizmadia Found His Niche
    When I talk to Attila Csizmadia, he’s out of breath. He has just finished shaking down his four-year-old son for a set of puckishly “stolen” car keys, and it was a hell of a hunt.
    “Sorry,” he says, “I was running around the house like crazy looking for them.”
    Hidden keys are certainly not the only thing Attila runs after during the course of any given day. Since 2005, he has been the General Manager of NZ Aerosports--the central hub of operations for one of the sport’s most innovative, prolific and beloved parachute manufacturers. This is a dream job for a lot of skydivers, naturally, but it didn’t come easily. Indeed, one can’t help but think that running an office staffed with 30 to 40 staff is excellent preparation for the rigors of parenthood. The four-year-old is one of Attila’s two; the other is 13 years old--not far off from the age Attila was when he first started skydiving.
    “I am not sure if [my sons] will skydive or not,” he muses. “If they want to and they ask me for it, then I’m going to make it happen. It’s up to them.”
    It’s worth mentioning that if Attila’s boys start jumping, they’ll be a third-generation legacy. His own father was a skydiver and, though he stopped jumping when Attila was born, he’s much of the reason that Attila dove into the parachuting industry.
    “He was jumping in Hungary, where we’re from,” Attila explains. “He was old-school, a military guy. As I was growing up, he was in keeping contact with his friends that were still jumping, and they were always talking about skydiving, even when I was a little kid. Then, when I was about 14 years old, I was talking to one of his friends who was still jumping; listening to his skydiving stories. I remember saying--and meaning it--that I could never skydive. But then a friend of mine brought it up. He’d just watched a record attempt or something on TV. He begged me to try it with him, and I agreed. He stopped after five jumps; it changed my life.”
    “For me as a 16-year-old, getting into that group of people was just perfect,” Atilla remembers. “I was in school. It was all boys. I didn’t enjoy it. But then I went out to the dropzone and there was this friendly, crazy bunch. I was like, this is totally me. It felt like coming home.”
    It was 1988. At the time, Hungary was still Communist country. Everyone skydiver in the country jumped really old, really dodgy military gear that was “15 years behind the rest of the world,” and every skydiver in the country knew every other skydiver in the country.
    In 1991, the World Championships were held in what was then Czechoslovakia. They brought out some helicopters for the event, and the German, French and Italian 4-way team all came to Hungary to train.
    “They were jumping these square parachutes that we’d never seen in real life before,” Attila laughs. “These guys were swooping, and we were just, like: what is happening here?! It was like watching spaceships land. We didn’t know what was possible. When these guys came here in these jumpsuits and small gear and like awesome canopy work, we were blown away. And I was inspired to start doing 4-way and competing.”
    A few years of hard work later, Hungary had a young team.
    “Because it was a new sport in Hungary,” he grins, “We won the Nationals pretty easily. Then we were the national team for a long time--almost 10 years. I was burning to get out there and travel and to jump everywhere I could overseas and to get a better rig and just do more.” He split his time between the US and Hungary for about five years, studiously avoiding European winters; he switched his seasonal pattern to Australia when he went to the World Championships there in 1999. To date, in fact, he has competed in no less than seven world championships.
    “The last time I tried it, I couldn’t extend my visa,” he explains. “So there I was, facing returning to the middle of a European winter. I just couldn’t do it; there was nothing for me there.”
    His solution: Hop the channel to New Zealand. He got a work visa and picked up a job at a dropzone throwing drogues and teaching AFF. He soon joined the NZ 4-way team. Everything was going well--but then the tone changed.
    “My boss at the DZ was becoming a real a**hole,” he explains, “And I just desperately wanted to leave, but no one was hiring. Everybody had their staff. I needed to keep that work visa or I was going to be thrown right back to Hungary.”
    As a last-ditch effort, he asked a couple of friends who worked for NZ Aerosports and if they were hiring. They were. It was 2005. Attila went right to work making line sets and cutting canopies.
    “When I started working here, I thought I knew a lot about parachutes because I had been flying them a lot,” he says, wryly. “But when I got into the manufacturing side of it, I realized how little I actually knew. I found it really interesting and wanted to learn more and more.”
    He found a peerless mentor in NZ Aerosports’ legendary founder/mad scientist/gear innovator/party animal, Paul ‘Jyro’ Martin.
    “Jyro enjoyed that I was really interested in this stuff, and he just gave me so much information,” Attila says. “Then the guy who was managing the company at that time left. Jyro asked me if I wanted to do it. Of course I said yes.” It had been just six months since Attila had first accepted the job.
    At the time, NZ Aerosports was a much smaller company. They only made six canopies at that time, and they had two sewing machinists. When Attila started managing, he was still the one cutting all the canopies. As he did so, he’d always have the office phone on him, taking orders; he’d be sorting out emails and charging credit cards with one hand and shipping out the canopies with the other. The work was, to put it mildly, intense. “One of my main tasks,” he laughs, “Was making sure the beer fridge was always full.”
    “At the beginning it was really hard,” he relates. “I didn’t have any background in the business and hardly knew anything about it. English is a second language for me, so that made it a little bit harder too. I had to pretty much figure out everything for myself. At a certain point, I almost gave up because it was so stressful and things were not going really well. But then we pulled ourselves together with the manufacturing and started developing some new canopies. First, we released the JFX. We hired some new people, which brought in a nice newenergy. Then we met Julien [Peelman, Aerodynamics Engineer], and we started working on some of the really new canopies. There was no way I was leaving after that.”
    Now, the NZ Aerosports office buzzes with the work (and play) of about forty people, all of whom report to Attila.
    “It was a big learning curve, figuring out how to manage such a large number of people and deal with personal issues so that they still enjoy working together with all their differences-- the cultural gaps, the religious gaps and the age gaps between them. We have a big range. The youngest [staffers] are fresh out of school, and then we have some 60-something-year-old people working right next to them. We have people from Fiji...Canada...from all around the world, really. It’s like a dropzone.”
    If you talk to anybody at NZ Aerosports, they’ll tell you that much of that vibrant energy came from Jyro’s influence--and, in March of 2017, we lost him. The loss of “the soul of the company” took a massive toll on the community that had formed at his feet, and Attila had to work even harder through his mourning. However, the spirit that Jyro instilled--in Attila, in his team at large and in the business--kept it from coming unglued.
    “It is good to make some money, sure, but Jyro made sure it has never been our number-one motivation,” Attila explains. “You can see that the team is here all day, every day, working hard, and we always wanted to create a really nice environment for them that they truly enjoy working in. Because of that, people don’t really leave here. We’ve hardly changed any staff since I got here in 2005, and I think it’s because this is just a really good place to be. We all really pulled together when we lost Jyro. I think that’s what saved us--the people here, and our customers’ faith.”
    Attila insists that that faith--the passionate support of the NZ Aerosports fan base--is the phenomenon that really drives the machine.
    “I think that people respond to the fact that we are always trying new stuff; that we’re always improving,” he says. “That’s the part that’s interesting for us. We aren’t just developing new products. We actually want to make better products, and so we’re always searching for improvements on the designs. We have like 20 skydivers working here, so it is not just about driving revenue. I think that’s why people relate to it so strongly. This has always been more of a lifestyle than a business.”
    If NZ Aerosports is indeed about lifestyle, Attila is great evidence that they’ve nailed the art.
    “I think I found what I was trying to find in my personal life--a balance between family, the hobby and the business--in NZA,” he smiles. “I think that was always my goal, even if I didn’t know it at the time. Right now I feel that I’m in a really good place, and I’m ready for whatever comes next.”

    By admin, in News,

    4 Reasons You Need to Escape Wintertime and Jump in South Africa

    Exit at Mother City Skydiving. Image by Christopher Teague If the long flight puts you off--or if you’re new to the whole African-continent thing--let me be the first to tell you to get over it and get down here. You’ll be so glad you did. When the skydiving season is literally cooling off in the northern hemisphere, the southern hemisphere is just heating up. And it gets good.
    While December-friendly dropzones in the States tend to be one-trick ponies (I’m looking at you, middle-of-the-desert DZs), their South African counterparts offer more than drafty hangars and lukewarm swimming pools for your landside entertainment. Much, much more. In fact, this author insists that every skydiver in the Northern Hemisphere should get a gear bag together and abandon bad weather for points south. (Spoiler: Sure, it’s about the jumping--but it’s about so much more than the jumping. When it comes to adventures, Africa never disappoints.)
    Reason #1: Trip-of-a-lifetime ways to get your boogie on.
    December is smack-dab in the middle of the summer boogie season in South Africa, so skydivers have even more incentive to book the trip. Skydive Mossel Bay, for instance, is planning some seriously sweet turbine-fueled freefly shenanigans for December 16-31. You can expect gold-medal coaching, all the organized jumps your fluttery little heart desires, a flurry of exotic aircraft, landing after landing on the bay’s powdered-sugar beach and a South-African-style party you’ll be talking about for years (if you register in time). If that’s not enough, point your navel at the ground and make some shapes at the belly-themed JBay Boogie, where you’ll jump with a view of the world-famous righthand pointbreak that is Jeffrey’s Bay. (Pro tip: Book both boogies and bring all your swimwear.)

    View of the Cape Town area, with Table Mountain, as seen from Signal Hill. Image by Bryn De Kocks If you end up in-country in November instead, don’t despair: There’s the Tonto Boogie up in Johannesburg from November 25-27. Sure, there’s no jaw-dropping ocean view--but there are plenty of planes, plenty of organizers, plenty of new friends and plenty of good vibes to make up the difference, and the “braai” (bar-b-que) is legendary AF.
    Reason #2: (You guessed it.) Animals.
    Want to wake up on the right side of the bed for a long day of jumping? Try taking a private open-air shower while listening to lions make big-kitty noises on the ridges nearby. That’s totally possible at Skydive Mossel Bay, which is just down the road from five-star safari digs at Botlierskop Private Game Reserve. If you feel like taking a coastal drive to explore around Mossel, do it with a purpose: You’re just a couple of hours from canoodling with pachyderms at the Knysna Elephant Park.

    African Penguins along the Western Cape coast. If you end up heading inland to do some jumping at Skydive Robertson, take a day to explore the “kloofing” (hiking) around McGregor village, where several beautiful conservation areas provide many miles of baboon-dodging along your route between the various waterfalls and bushman’s caves. And if you’re kicking around Mother City, take a long afternoon to swim with the penguins, go dassie-spotting on Table Mountain or stroll around Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. (Insider tip: Don’t miss the summer concert series.)
    Reason #3: Chain restaurants and sorry Mexican food? Nopey nopey nope.
    The exchange rate is currently favorable enough to turn your dropzone food strategy into a downright white-tablecloth affair, so don’t miss the opportunity. Skydive Mossel Bay sits right next to some of the best beachside braai spots in the country, as well as a couple of standout oyster bars and several coffee shops that are well worth a visit. Skydive Robertson’s choice spot in the Robertson Wine Valley puts a posh spin on the green light, offering up dozens of tasting rooms for your boozy perusal. Then, of course, there’s Mother City Skydiving--which is less than an hour from what is (in this author’s opinion as well as the Telegraph’s) the world’s best city, replete with gastronomic stunners, artisanal cocktails served in suitably slinky venues and pop-up supper clubs.
    Reason #4: You’ve always wanted to.
    You’ve wanted to see Africa for yourself since you first saw ‘The Lion King.’ (C’mon. You know damn well that’s true.) And now, as a mostly-grown-up skydiver, you have the perfect excuse to finally go: Staying current. There’s a nice bonus, too, for the moment: With the exchange rate being what it is, your USD--or GBP, if that’s your thing--are going to go surprisingly far towards those bucket-list African adventures. (Y’know: shark diving; cheetah snuggling; dancing around with the kids in an actual-factual village.)
    ...So it’s settled then. I’ll see you in December up in the big, blue African sky.
    Right?
    Right.

    By admin, in News,

    Insights in Head Up Records - Interview with Fly Warriors

    Last June a new European head up record was set. 43 skydivers (plus 2
    cameramen) in the sky of Empuriabrava broke the previous 21-way record. Fly
    Warriors, a team of 4 talented freeflyers, was behind that achievement. Three of
    them, David Nimmo, Luis Adolfo Lopez-Mendez and Gustavo Cabana visited the
    Belgian sky during the Flanders Boogie. I had the opportunity to interview them
    and get some insight of how this was done. After thanking them for accepting
    the interview, this is how the conversation went like.
    Who are Fly Warriors? Tell me a bit of your history, previous teams, how you've gotten together...Nimmo: Luis and I were both members of Babylon freefly for
    many many years. Around 2015 this was coming to an end, the end of an era, and
    being still very keen to push the sport and not to pull back the reins in and
    slow down, we combined with a 3rd guy -Raph Coudray-. He had just finished competing in VFS in one back to back world championship. It was kind of a natural
    thing forming something together. And then we added a couple of young guys -Leo and Gyzmo- into
    the team with similar ideas and did a 4 way dynamic team, which actually won the
    world championship together. That kind of was the first year. Then Leo and Gyzmo wanted to focus on tunneling. And with Gus, we needed
    video with obviously steady imaging and high quality. His level in freefly has
    improved a lot in the last years, he has put a lot of effort on in, and we
    asked him to join. And that's how we've got on. Real
    professionals, independent, autonomous, all of us doing our own thing, but we
    come together to do advanced and worthy stuff. So these jumps (head up European record) is how we do it.
    Luis: One of the rules to become a Fly Warrior is that you need to be
    over 40 (laughs).
    Damian: So if you guys meet somebody young but really great... he
    simply has to wait.
    Nimmo: Too immature. At 40 you start to be a man maybe (laughs).

    Fly
    Warriors (From left to right: Gustavo Cabana, Raphael Coudray, Luis Adolfo Lopez-Mendez, David
    Nimmo) with the record holders and the rest of the crew. Photo: Mariana
    Franceschetto

    Empuria seems to be
    Europe's skydiving capital. What is the reason for that, what makes it so
    special in your opinion?Gustavo Cabana: Empuria has over 30 years of history and during that time
    they had many events and teams who train there because of the
    weather and the aircrafts. It is just the best place in Europe to skydive, the
    weather, the aircrafts...
    Luis: And the location.
    Gustavo: And the location! The location is incredible. I think it is
    the only dropzone in the world that is in the town. It is not in an airfield,
    in the middle of nowhere, it is really in the side of the town. Every time
    you go away to jump somewhere else and you come back you can't believe that.
    As a photographer to have the chance to jump there, to have the sea, the mountains,
    you know, it is kind of the perfect background.
    You were the
    organizing team for the recent European head up record. Congratulations for
    that fantastic achievement. What drove you to take on that challenge? At which
    point did you decide "we have to do this"?Luis: Nimmo and myself, when we were in Babylon, we were involved in
    other European records, head down. Head up started to wake up and become what it
    is today (with respect to records). So when we went from Babylon to the
    Fly Warriors Nimmo said to me that we should organize a head up record. And so
    we decided to start with the first one, two years ago. We did a 21 way.
    The problem is that the capacity of the planes is
    limited. It is too expensive to have that many planes and to make it happen. So
    being in Empuria with 3 planes made it easier to organize and we decided to put
    the full fleet into work. And then we were thinking in starting a bit smaller,
    but the two camps we organize in Empuria were really good and big and then the
    feedback and registration for the record... we had to tell people to stop,
    there was a waiting list. So we went for go big or go home, and we started with
    slots and 2 camera flyers, which is the capability of the planes.
    Nimmo: We basically maxed it out. To go any bigger we
    would have to find money for other aircraft or another location. Europe or South
    America don't have 5 Twin Otters or 7 Skyvans in the garage like in Eloy. So, it
    is harder go to massiver. Shame.
    How did you
    organize the try-outs to attract jumpers from all over Europe? How was the
    process of organizing the try-outs to select who is going to be part of it or
    not. Was it enough with the camps you had in Empuria, or did you try to have
    other people that you trust to organize some other camps, somewhere else in
    Europe?Nimmo: To try and make it work, there is some smooth out. We had
    different areas within Europe, like the German speaking section, the
    Scandinavians, the English, the French... and for each area we had a team
    captain. He was allowed to do some kind of trials to find out people of
    this area that he would recommend to come to the record. So those 5 guys that
    were part of that team had their job to do in the jump, and also to bring
    people to us. It's helped to some degree but the biggest thing we did was some
    try-out camps last year and 2 camps this year. We had a big interest in people
    wanted to do head up, and we had the capacity maxed out in those camps. Most
    people came from there. It worked out well. The
    dropzone wants to do formation records. That's an offer than other places can't
    do, that's a premium product that we have, and they are happy to that in the
    future. So of course in the future if we can we will keep doing this up to 40
    ways.

    Base exiting from Twin Otter. Photo: Gustavo Cabana

    The level has to be
    super high once you select jumpers in the try-outs. How do you organize the
    jump then? How do you decide who goes in which airplane, who is on base, who is
    gonna sting it...?Luis: We try to find a slot for specific qualities. Maybe you are a
    heavy person and fly strong, so we put you in the base. The first stingers are
    people that can fly fast to get there. And then who closes
    the pod needs to have the ability to grab 2 hands and then give shape to the pod. So we kind of
    assess the people and give them a slot. We also had Antonio Aria taking care of
    the bench. He is a very good organizer and part of the world record crew. And
    in the last world record met with Raph Coudray and David Nimmo in Eloy. So that, combined with
    our experience, the experience of the world record, and Antonio taking care of
    the bench helped us to take decisions. When we needed to have a change we would come to Antonio and
    say "we need a second stinger", and he would say "ok, from the
    bench, this guy is rock solid. Now. Today". Because sometimes you have the
    issue that you know people that are good flyers, but maybe they are having a
    bad week or a bad day. And there is some other people that might not be that
    strong, in paper, but that day they are on and then get on it. We had issues
    with some flyers that were really good, but they had to be cut off, which it
    was a surprise for me, and for sure for him. But then other people did their
    job and at the end it is not a personal thing, we have a job to be done, and is
    to get a record. It is a common goal
    and not a personal goal. Which sometimes people don't understand. At the end,
    after every record I tell Nimmo I won't never do this again -and then we do
    another one-. Because you have 45 people that love you, then 15 that understand
    that they had a very good training with the bench group, and 10 that don't like you
    Damian: I guess it is also difficult if you have the level to be
    there but are kicked out because you are not being consistent enough, I
    guess... you know, it has to hurt your ego as well.
    Luis: That's the biggest problem in skydiving at the end.
    Damian: Ego?
    Luis: Ego. Ego is a bitch. And it can kill you.
    How did you decide
    in other factors like altitude (did you take it as high as possible, decided to
    do something lower...), speed (does the base accelerates or slows down, how
    much...), shape of the formation, number of people on base, number of people on
    base during exit.... How do you decide about all those details?Nimmo: Experience. We have done it enough and we trust that gut.
    The formation is just a standard formation, a round thing with
    round things attached to it. The base of whatever size and then you connect
    pods like doing Lego. So there is nothing really to think about. And with Luis'
    experience and Raph's, we look at people and we decide where they are gonna be.
    Then you make mistakes and they might not be in their best place so you move
    them around. But the most important thing for me is that we had a good base.
    This is the key. If you have planes doing their job, the base doing
    its job then you just have to take the picture. That's it. If the planes make a
    mistake, they are too far away, whatever. The timing of the exit. Or the base
    makes a mistake. Then for sure I guarantee nothing is gonna happen.
    Luis: But everything starts from the number of people we are gonna
    use. Nimmo and myself were discussing for a few months already about how much
    people we are going to have in the base, if it is going to be 6 or 8 or 10. If
    we have enough people to do that base, to do the pods, what is going to be the
    shape... Like he says, we kind of go with the feeling. We can do this and we
    put it on paper. We do on the first attempt what we think is best, and then you
    realize that this person can be better here or there. So you start moving
    pieces around so the structure is more solid.
    Nimmo: We had a struggle with the beat. We did 6 jumps a day, which
    is a lot to 18000 feet. In the 2 and a half days that took us to do the record
    we did 16 attempts. Which is a lot of fucking work. So we really pushed it when
    we had the conditions. We could have problems with the weather... there
    are so many variables.
    Gustavo: The thing with a record is that you need more time, no? So
    why don't you go to 20000 or 25000? The problem when you go past 15000 is that
    there is less oxygen and people are more prone to have hypoxia. For that we use
    oxygen onboard, which helps you to keep sharp. But also because the planes need to climb
    in formation, it takes longer to go up and it is kind of... I think we found
    over the years that going to 18000 or 19000 maximum is a good compromise between
    the effort to climb and what you are going to get for the extra time in
    freefall. Also in the head down and head up world records we went to 18000-19000.

    The challengers getting together during one of the attempts. Photo: Gustavo Cabana

    It took 16 jumps to
    get the formation completed. How was the atmosphere before that? Were you
    absolutely confident you would make it?Nimmo: I mean, yeah. For sure the last 2 jumps... in the last one
    too... we were flying very strong. We knew we would get a record. We started to
    cut. We said 45... now we need to get a result. 44. We didn't get it. 43. Done.

    The head up world
    record is a 72 way, done in Skydive Arizona. Do you see that as an attainable
    number in Europe? Or are we limited because of the size of the dropzones and
    the number of planes there?Nimmo: It is logistics. You need to get sponsors that say "fuck
    let's make this happen, here you have 20 grand, two more planes". Hell
    yeah. But otherwise we have to pay. We, as the flyers. And there is a point
    where you go "I rather spend that money doing other cool shit". The
    record is very cool and it goes in the history books. It is an
    achievement for all the participants. But you are still limited by how much you
    have to pay for that. So yes, it is possible, but you need some extra sponsors.
    Gustavo: 3 years ago we did a world
    record with 106 people (FS sequential). But the thing is that bringing the
    planes there is super expensive. And if that money has to come from the pocket
    of the skydivers... it is too much money. It is really expensive to fly a plane
    to a dropzone.
    Luis: And it was happening, this 100+ way because Dubai helped financially to make it happen.
    Gustavo: If not it is impossible.
    Nimmo: It is possible, but we need someone to support it. But, why not?
    Shall we look? Maybe we get hungry in a year or two.
    Luis: That's why we stopped with the head down once. Basically.
    Nimmo: Logistics. That's about flying at the end of the day. Because
    if you have to choose between logistics and not flying you go "fuck this,
    I want to fly". So there is also that trade off in the equation as well.
    How much you want to work on the ground to make it happen, but all you want to
    do is flying.
    Luis: There is a lot of work behind the scenes. Registrations,
    payments, getting everything done... The good thing about our team is that
    everyone has a speciallity. And we combined them, and we do whatever we do
    strong. We are lucky that we have a very experienced camera flyer plus he is
    really experience with oxygen. So we have that part covered. Nimmo and me don't
    have to think about it. Nimmo has a lot of experience organizing big ways. And that experience helps you to do the
    things. Me and Nimmo are taking care of the administration as well. Receiving
    and sending emails. Nimmo was talking to the captains, I was organizing the
    payments...
    Nimmo: Judges, T-shirts.... Bullshits that are just as important. And
    we all do that without effort. You don't have to grab anyone and tell them
    "do this" like a child. It is just "Hey, could you do this?
    -Yeah, sure". And it gets done. So this
    also makes the team mature enough to realize you have to do something to make it
    work and to do that without having to be hit with a stick.
    Luis: And how it works, I don't know. Because we are 4 alpha...
    Nimmo: Yeah, 4 alpha males, and we don't kill each other, that's rough.
    Damian: That's already an achievement (laughs).
    Luis: That's an achievement right there.
    Nimmo: Because we are more than 40. After 40 you can work together.
    Luis: But I think that's the key, you know? You have things that
    bother you about each other, because we are humans. But we are old enough to
    either talk about it or understand that no one is perfect and you have to deal
    with humanity.
    Initial
    attempt diagram. 44 and 45 were cut off for the final record. One of the mottos
    of the record was "make head up great again". Why did you came up
    with it? When did it stop being great?Nimmo: That was because head up was kind of neglected. Head down
    records started in whatever it was... 21-way in Florida in 2001... when the 1st
    head up world record was in 2015 or something. That's 14 years neglected. For
    no reason. Head down has got massive, 164. Head up was nothing. So I was
    talking with Steve Curtis, a good friend of mine from Eloy. He thought "let's do a 30 way" the first one. They
    did 52! You couldn't believe it! Because it was just left on the
    shelf, blow the dust off and it was ready to go. So make head up great, bring
    it to the level it deserves. It is even more fun to fly, easier visually, it is
    more of human kind of orientation, it is better, for sure, its fun.

    Damian: That's funny that you chose the word "neglected"
    because I had a follow up question that used that word. Do you think it has
    been neglected in favor of head down?
    Nimmo: Head down is easier to build. Head up for sure its hard. You have to get
    in there, be humble and give it a try, and you have to work much harder. But
    visually it is easier, its more natural. People look like human beings not
    assholes and feet (laughs). But to be
    there you have to put a lot of work. Work really hard. But then it is super
    good. And it is so small! There is the 72-way, so we can get a head up record
    every year to get it up to 150 or something. I mean, it won't be like that
    but...
    What was in your
    opinion the biggest challenge of the record? What's the part that you've found
    more difficult? Was it the flying, finding the right people, nothing of it was
    really a challenge?Nimmo: The whole thing is this one big fucking package. So you just
    have to do it all. Was this harder than that? It doesn't matter, you have to do
    it anyway.
    Luis: The situation with the record is that it doesn't matter if we
    flew 42 way for 20 seconds and one person is missing. There is no record. Or 43
    flew for one minute but the camera didn't work, you know? Or 2 planes were
    super good and then one plane just lost it and people don't arrive. So at the
    end everything has to work, like Nimmo says. The pilots need to work together
    so we have a good drop, then the base has to be solid and then from there you
    start to construct. The camera needs to be in the right place, take the right
    shot so the judges can validate it. So, I would say, there is nothing more
    important than other things, because without the pilots we could not do it,
    without the base we could not do it, without stingers we could not do it,
    without the second stingers we could not do it, without the pod closers as
    well, without the cameras you can not, without the oxygen....
    Nimmo: Just before, until
    Sunday it was fucked up weather. And then hallelujah, we had blue sky. We were blessed with the
    weather. Again, that's another factor and you can't control it. But it would
    have been very frustrating that being the fucked up. But it wasn't.
    Luis: And then everyday you need a lot of work after the jump and
    before the jump. At nights, Gus can tell you, how much work he has to do to
    prepare the planes to be ready to go.
    Gustavo: Yes, because after every couple of jumps we need to exchange the
    oxygen bottles. Attach them to the plane, the regulators. And sometimes the plane runs out of oxygen,
    and people are waiting... It is kind of stressing, but at the
    end of the day you have to do it, and when it works it is very satisfactory.
    I was on the boarding area with my rig and I had to
    check and make sure that every airplane had oxygen to go up. Because I've been
    in many occasions in other records when you go to altitude, and they cancel the
    jump because one plane run out of oxygen. And we had all to come down. It
    happened many times. Minimum 4 times in 4 different events.
    Damian: It has to be frustrating.
    Gustavo: Specially if you are the responsible for that. Everybody
    wants to kill you (laughs).

    43-way formation completed. Photo: Gustavo Cabana
    Who do you think is
    going to organize the record that will break yours? When and by how much? If
    that happens!Luis: What do you mean? In Europe?
    Damian: Yes.
    Luis: We will try to organize all the records in Europe.
    Nimmo: This is the best you could do. So if somebody wants to do it
    again... well, show me. In the history of records normally the dropzone or
    group that organized the previous one they do it again. The Arizona crew do the head up records.
    Rook Nelson does it with the head down records. Not because nobody else can do it,
    but because these guys really do it. If Rook said "fuck head down I am not going
    to do it" for sure someone will pick it up and try to run with it. But
    then, they don't have the experience. So it also makes sense to go with the
    guys who have done it once, twice, or five, six times.
    If somebody else tried to organize it I would never try to do anything against it, you've got to
    respect it. But the record is coming together, unified. We have to work
    together or we are going to get nothing. Unified, together, big. Not your own
    little shit.
    Question for Gus.
    The record is 43 people, plus cameramen. Gustavo, you were the wizard behind
    the lens -with Will Penny as second cameraman-. You were also in other records.
    How did you live each one of them?Gustavo: I always think that the cameramen are under pressure, but
    not the same kind of pressure as the participants. Normally in a record we
    have several cameras, so if one fucks up, the other one can have the shot. But
    in the formation if one fucks up there is no record. Our pressure is more about
    trying to be happy with us, with our job. The participants need to do their job
    to get the record, and I feel like I need to take the best picture I can to be
    happy with me. Also, I've been involved in records since many years, and what I
    like about them is that everyone come together, to do something together. It
    is not like in a competition where people compete against each other, and some
    are going to be happy and some are going to be losers. And not only jumpers,
    also people on the ground are helping you, your wife, your girlfriend, your
    boyfriend, whatever, are there to help you to make it happen. The feeling you
    have when is done is very unique. The feeling of unity and working together. I shoot almost every
    discipline in skydiving: Belly, canopy formation, head down and head up. And at
    the end I think that everyone has his own pace and feelings, but one feeling
    that for sure is great is that you are taking a picture of the best skydivers
    at that time in history. And it is a very good feeling to be part of that. It
    is cool. Everyone there worked hard to be there. It is not like "I want to
    do a record because I want to be cool". No, you need to work your ass off
    to be a record holder.
    European HeadUp Record 43 Way, June 23th 2017, Skydive Empuriabrava, Spain from Gustavo Cabana
    Assuming each one
    of these records is special, what made this one special for you?Gustavo: For me the most important record is the next one. It is not
    like this one is special, and the other one was less special. The record
    happened and it happened, it is in the past. Now you are looking forward to do
    something more. I think all of us are looking for that, looking to improve, to
    do it better, or bigger, or whatever, but looking forward, not backwards.
    Damian: Do you still see room for improvements, seeing that you are
    current record holders, that you have so much experience, and you are among the
    best in the world, do you still see room for improvement for what you do? Gus
    behind the camera, you guys load organizing...
    Nimmo: 100% man
    Luis: 100%
    Gustavo: If not you quit.
    Nimmo: We don't know shit. 20000 jumps and we feel like we know
    nothing. Sure.
    Luis: I learn everyday, even in these events (boogies). From the
    people, what I am doing. How did it work? What line I chose? Why I did that?
    How can I make it better, get it tighter? And that's how we do it, we think how
    to improve it, make it better, more efficient, we can dive better, we can build
    better, how can the base fly better, how can we fly better. Everyone for sure
    is looking at themselves in that video. And you are like "ok, I could have
    done this better, I shouldn't have gone that far, I need to do it earlier, the
    transition later". So I think everyone is criticizing themselves. At least
    me. I am looking at myself. I am looking at the picture, but I am looking at
    myself to see if I did a good job. How can I do it better next time?
    Nimmo: When you stop that shit you are getting old, and next step is
    death. So I am not going to stop that (laughs). You must keep doing this or you
    die.
    Luis: Or retire.
    Nimmo: Or retire. Play golf or some shit.
    Luis: And then you think about your swing (laughs).
    So, after this
    record, what is next? Is there any other challenge in the pipeline? Or are you
    taking a break? Was it enough for the moment?Nimmo: We never take a break, we are constantly freeflying and along
    the way we do these things. What is the next thing? I don't know, but there is
    always something coming up.
    Luis: I would say that record wise probably Nimmo would like to go to
    the next head down record. Not me, I don't like head down
    anymore. But for head up, when they decide to organize another world record I
    think we are going to put an effort, probably the whole team, to go there and
    be part of it.
    Damian: I suppose that being the organizers of the European record
    it is kind of natural for Fly Warriors to be part of the world record if
    they organize it somewhere else.
    Luis: Yes, well, we did a try-out camp for the world record in
    Empuria. In partnership with Steve Curtis, Sara Curtis and Antonio Aria.
    We saw how they organize it, and they saw us. And I think we've learned a lot. And they invited us to go there and help them organize. I didn't go, because I had other priorities financially at that moment, but the dropzone supported us. Nimmo and Raph went there and they were part of the organization of the world record. So I think that yes, we are going to be involved as Fly Warriors, even if it is only one or two.
    Gustavo: Or 4
    Nimmo: Gus shot the fucking record. So it was 3 out of 4 of us in the
    record. I still like head down. Raph has lost a bit of the interest in big
    stuff. You've done it, you've done it. But there is always another one to do.
    You can always go a little bigger. Same shit, different day. Make it a bit better.
    I missed one and wish I've gone. So if they do another one for sure, I'll try
    to go. If I am not broke I'll go.
    Gustavo: The plan I think it is 200 for the head down next year. And
    the following year they are going to do a 100 for head up, for sure. One thing
    funny about freefly is that they never did a round number. In belly it was 100,
    200, 300 and 400 which is the last one. But in freefly they went with 108,
    one hundred forty something, 164?. I hope this time they will do a fucking 200 and fucking
    100. Why they can't be like the normal people? (laughs). Hopefully, let's hope
    for the best.
    The last question:
    Would you like to say something that I haven't asked about?Nimmo: We've been talking for a long time here. It is good that we
    are finished (laughs).
    Gustavo: It is the longest interview ever (more laughs).

    By admin, in News,

    Swoop Freestyle FAI World Championship Program

    When Copenhagen hosts parachuting's inaugural Swoop Freestyle FAI World Championship August 25th & 26th, not only will it set the scene for the best athletes in the world but turn one of the oldest and most historic European capitals into an urban sports festival.
    Combining world class sport with DJ's, live music, street food, air shows and various activities for all ages, will create a great festival feel around the World Championships. It is expected that over 200,000 spectators will visit the event at Peblinge Lake, downtown Copenhagen during the two event days. It will be possible to try tandem jumping over the city, bungee jumping, virtual reality parachuting and running across the lake in Fun Ballz.
    "We want to create a festival feel around a world class sport by offering a host of activities and giving the audience a full Swoop Freestyle event experience. With different activations and touch points, the spectators will get opportunities to connect with the sport in an engaging way. We believe that by mixing world class sport with, great activities, music and street food, it will set the scene for future events in major cities where a broad activation is key," says George Blythe, CEO of A. Sports, the organizer of the Swoop Freestyle FAI World Championships.
    Adrenaline packed sports festival in the heart of major cities
    By taking the sport of parachuting, which is usually performed in small air fields, and bringing it into major cities, it gives the host city and local partners a great opportunity to work with potential clients and businesses.
     
    Highlights from the 2016 CPH Invitational  
    "With the help from one of our partners, all spectators can download an app and send out their own live feed experience with a chance to be featured in different videos with other spectators both on the big screen at the venue and at the live feed going out to millions around the world," George Blythe adds and points out the mission for Swoop Freestyle: To build a world championship series in major cities worldwide such as Formula 1.

    "The Swoop Freestyle FAI World Championship 2017 will not only be the first ever World Championship in urban parachuting in the heart of Copenhagen – it will also form the basis of a genuine festive celebration combining sport and spectators with a festival of side activities embracing the championship – an approach which is typically Danish," says Lars Lundov, CEO, Sport Event Denmark, the national sporting event organization that partners the event.
    THE ATHLETES:
    18 pilots from 10 different countries and with a total of 150,000 jumps between them:
    #1 Curt Bartholomew, 31 years old, USA, 8000 jumps
    #2 Nick Batsch, 35 years old, USA, 8500 jumps
    #3 Claudio Cagnasso, 28 years old, Venezuela, 6500 jumps
    #4 Ian Bobo, 46 years old, USA, 20000 jumps
    #5 Cornelia Mihai, 32 years old, UAE, 10000 jumps
    #6 Pablo Hernandez, 31 years old, Spain, 15000 jumps
    #7 David Ludvik Junior, 38 years old, USA, 16000 jumps
    #8 Marco Fürst, 26 years old, Austria, 4000 jumps
    #9 Tom Baker, 27 years old, USA, 7000 jumps
    #10 Chris Stewart, 28 years old, New Zealand, 7000 jumps
    #11 Aurel Marquet, 34 years old, France, 2900 jumps
    #12 Ulisse Idra, 27 years old, Italy, 7000 jumps
    #13 Jeannie Bartholomew, 36 years old, USA, 4000 jumps
    #14 Max Manow, 28 years old, Germany, 5000 jumps
    #15 Mario Fattoruso, 30 years old, Italy, 6000 jumps
    #16 Christian Webber, 30 years old, Denmark, 3400 jumps
    #17 Abdulbari Qubaisi, 29 years old, UAE, 6300 jumps
    #18 Travis Mills, 35 years old, USA, 13500 jumps PROGRAM - FAI Swoop Freestyle World Championship 2017:
    Friday August 25th - Swoop Training and Swoop Night Lights
    3.00-3.30pm (15.00-15.30): Highlights from 2016 on big screen
    4.00-6.00pm (16.00-18.00): Swoop Training - Round 1 and 2
    6.00-6.15pm (18.00-18.15): Fly Boards show
    6.15-9.00pm (18.15-21.00): Swoop Sessions, live music
    9.15-9.45pm (21.15-21.45) - Swoop Night Lights (airshow with night jumps, lighted suits and pyro) Saturday August 26th - Swoop Qualifying of Swoop Finals
    12.00-12.30pm: Swoop Sessions, live music
    12.30-12.45pm: Fly Boards show
    1.00-3.00pm (13.00-15.00): Swoop Qualifying, Round 1 and 2
    3.30-3.45pm (15.30-15.45): Show with wingsuits, BASE and Acro paragliding
    4.00-6.00pm (16.00-18.00): Swoop Finals, Round 1 and 2 + medal ceremony. Who will be the first world champion?
    6.15-9.00pm (18.15-21.00): Swoop Sessions live music, and meet'n'greet with the athletes Other activities both days:
    Tandem jumps over Copenhagen (For booking link and prices - click here)
    Water blob (rental)
    Floading couches (rental)
    Fun ballz (rental)
    Virtual Reality parachuting (rental)
    Bungeejump (rental) FAI Swoop Freestyle World Championships 2017
    Training and Swoop Night Lights Friday August 25, Qualifying and Finals Saturday August 26 2017.
    Location: Peblinge Lake, Queen Louise's Bridge, central Copenhagen.
    18 parachute pilots from 10 countries.
    It's the first swoop freestyle world championships ever in freestyle swooping (canopy piloting), sanctioned under the FAI, Fédération Aéronautique Internationale Website and social media:
    Website: http://www.swoopfreestyle.com
    Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/swoopfreestyle/
    Instagram: instagram.com/swoopfreestyle
    Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/1888604534750053/  

    By admin, in News,

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