Adrian Nicholas Proves Da Vinci Chute Works

    More than 500 years after Leonardo da Vinci sketched his design, a Briton has proved that the renaissance genius was indeed the inventor of the first working parachute.

    Adrian Nicholas, a 38-year-old skydiver from London, fulfilled his life's ambition to prove the aerodynamics experts wrong when he used a parachute based on Da Vinci's design to float almost one and a half miles down from a hot air balloon. Ignoring warnings that it would never work, he built the 187lb contraption of wooden poles, canvas and ropes from a simple sketch that Da Vinci had scribbled in a notebook in 1485.
    And at 7am on Monday, over the Mpumalanga province of South Africa, Mr Nicholas proved in a 7,000ft descent that the design could indeed be looked upon as a prototype for the modern parachute.
    Yesterday he said: "It took one of the greatest minds who ever lived to design it, but it took 500 years to find a man with a brain small enough to actually go and fly it.
    "All the experts agreed it wouldn't work - it would tip over or fall apart or spin around and make you sick - but Leonardo was right all along. It's just that no one else has ever bothered trying to build it before."
    Mr Nicholas, who holds the world record for the longest free fall at just under five minutes, was strapped into a harness attached by four thick ropes to a 70ft square frame of nine pine poles covered in canvas. He was then hoisted by a hot air balloon to 10,000ft above ground level.
    The balloon dropped altitude for a few seconds, to enable the parachute to fill with air, and the harness was released, allowing the parachute to float free.
    Surrounded by two helicopters and two parachutists, Mr Nicholas fell for five minutes as a black box recorder measured the 7,000ft descent, before he cut himself free and released a conventional parachute. The Da Vinci model, which has more in common with sail technology than with the modern-day parachute, made such a smooth and slow descent that the two accompanying parachutists had to brake twice to stay level with it. It had none of the sudden plunges and swinging associated with modern parachutes.
    After being cut free, the contraption floated to the ground with only minor damage on impact.
    Mr Nicholas, a former broadcaster who has made 6,500 skydives, said: "The whole experience was incredibly moving, like one of those great English boy's own adventures. I had a feeling of gentle elation and celebration. It was like floating under a balloon.
    "I was able to stare out at the river below, with the wind rattling through my ears. As I landed, I thanked Leonardo for a wonderful ride."
    The contraption, which has seen two aborted attempts to fly over Salisbury plain in Wiltshire earlier this year, was built by Katarina Ollikainen, Mr Nicholas's Swedish girlfriend.
    Following Da Vinci's design for a four-sided pyramid covered in linen and measuring 24ft square at the base, Ms Ollikainen used only tools and materials that would have been available in the 15th century, apart from some thick balloon tapes to stop the canvas tearing.
    Although there was little demand for parachutes in the 15th century - and it was the Frenchman Louis-Sebastien Lenormand who was always credited with the first parachute jump after he leapt from a tree with the help of two parasols - Da Vinci gave specific instructions for his design.
    He wrote beside his sketch: "If a man is provided with a length of gummed linen cloth, with a length of 12 yards on each side and 12 yards high, he can jump from any great height whatsoever without any injury." Leonardo's inventions By Helen Morris Aereoplane Numerous machines using bird-like wings which could be flapped by a man using his arms and legs - although most were too heavy to get off the ground using manpower alone. Encompassed retractable landing gear and crash safety systems using shock absorbers
    Helicopter Prototype featured a rotating airscrew or propeller powered by a wound-up spring
    Armoured car/tank Powered by four soldiers sitting inside. Problems included its thin wheels and large weight, which would make it hard to move
    Diving Several different suits, most with a diver breathing air from the surface through long hoses. One imagined a crush-proof air chamber on the diver's chest to allow free swimming without any link to the surface
    Robot First humanoid robot drawn in about 1495, and designed to sit up, wave its arms and move its head via a flexible neck while moving its jaw
    Machine gun His innovations to create rapid fire led to the Gatling gun and the machine gun
    To see more of the Guardian Unlimited network of sites go to http://www.guardian.co.uk

    By admin, in News,

    Landing Fatalities in Florida and Montana

    Panama City Beach Florida
    PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. Minnesota National Guardsman killed in skydiving mishap: A Minnesota Air National Guard technical sergeant was killed after landing improperly during a skydiving jump.
    Benjamin A. Freeman, 31, died Tuesday after jumping from an airplane 3,000 feet high near Eagle Air Sports, a small airport near Panama City Beach.
    Jennifer Collins, a spokeswoman for the Bay County Sheriff's Office, said human error appeared to have been the cause of the accident.
    "The parachute deployed normally and he was doing some simple maneuvers," she said. "There was nothing odd with the plane or the equipment. He was an experienced jumper."
    Freeman, a full-time guardsman, was stationed at nearby Tyndall Air Force Base, where he was part of an alert detachment of the Minnesota Guard's 148th Fighter Wing, said Maj. Don Arias, a spokesman for the 1st Air Force at Tyndall.
    Ground crew members such as Freeman are on permanent status at Tyndall while pilots rotate from Minnesota. Freeman had recently moved here from Tulsa, Okla., where he had been with the Oklahoma Air National Guard, Arias said.
    His wife and child were at the airport at the time of the accident.
    The Air Force Office of Special Investigation and Bay County Sheriff's deputies were still investigating.
    Chico Hot Springs Montana
    A Great Falls skydiver who did a trick turn to pick up speed as he was coming in for a landing at Chico Hot Springs Saturday died of multiple injuries after hitting the ground.
    Philip Moore, 39, and an experienced jumper, suffered multiple traumatic injuries when he landed hard in a field near the horse barn about 2:30 p.m., said Park County Coroner Al Jenkins. Moore was participating in an annual Chico jump meet.
    He died aboard a Life-Flight helicopter taking him to St. Vincent Hospital in Billings.
    "This is a terrible tragedy at a really positive and high-energy event, and everybody is just sick," said Colin Davis, Chico's general manager.
    The accident happened as Moore was coming in for a landing, said sky diver Chris Trujillo of Casper, Wyo., who witnessed Moore's jump.
    "Everything looked normal until the last few seconds," Trujillo said.
    Moore was coming down under a full canopy, and as he made his final approach, he did a hook turn. A hook turn allows a sky diver to get a little more speed and sets him up for a fast approach on landing.
    "He didn't recover from the hook turn fast enough," Trujillo said. "There may have been turbulence in the air."
    He described the winds as "light to moderate, well within the safety range" for sky diving. He speculated that circular winds may have complicated Moore's landing.
    "It's one of those fluke things that just happened," he said. "We've made thousands of skydives here."
    After Moore's hard landing, two doctors, who happened to be driving by the resort, gave Moore CPR and attempted to stabilize him until emergency medical technicians arrived from Emigrant and Livingston. The Life-Flight helicopter was called.
    At least 60 sky divers from throughout the nation were attending the annual event. Sky divers stopped jumping for a while after the accident, but resumed about 5 p.m., Davis said. Plans are to continue the meet Sunday.
    An investigation is under way by the coroner and Park County sheriff's deputies. Jenkins said he is awaiting the results of autopsy toxicology.

    By admin, in News,

    Skydiver Wins Lawsuit Against Teammate

    CALGARY, June 26 (Reuters) - A Canadian skydiver who was knocked out by a teammate during a jump, then plunged nearly half a mile (more than half a kilometre) to earth, was awarded C$1.1 million ($748,000) in damages by a judge who ruled the teammate was negligent.
    Gerry Dyck, an expert who had made about 1,800 jumps before the 1991 mid-air accident, sued Robert Laidlaw, charging the team member failed to take proper care to avoid the collision that caused him severe brain injuries and ended his career.
    The case raised questions about how much risk one can expect in an inherently risky sport, and included expert testimony from a veteran Hollywood stuntman known for his work in several James Bond movies.
    In his 19-page decision issued late last week, Alberta Judge Peter Power ruled Laidlaw violated well-established safety procedures by failing to keep a proper lookout for Dyck while manoeuvring his body in preparation for opening his parachute.
    "The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff which was breached by the unchecked turn into the plaintiff's air space," the judge wrote. "This act, which was foreseeable, was negligent and resulted in substantial harm being inflicted on the plaintiff."
    Dyck's injuries were severe enough to prevent the 43-year-old former surveyor from holding a job ever since.
    "The judge found that this is not a sport about people falling from the sky like flies, it's a sport that's highly regulated, that's highly controlled in terms of procedures and prescribed practices," Dyck's lawyer Greg Rodin said on Monday.
    During the trial in Calgary this spring, the judge heard the eight-person team jumped out of a plane at an altitude of 12,500 feet (3,800 metres) on May 5, 1991. The members went into formation to perform manoeuvres while free-falling above the farmland near Beiseker, Alberta, 47 miles (76 kilometres) northeast of Calgary.
    The jumpers were to perform manoeuvres until they fell to 3,500 feet (1,067 metres), then "track off," or steer away, so they could open their parachutes.
    As they opened their chutes, Laidlaw's elbow hit Dyck in the head, knocking him unconscious and causing the two men's parachutes to become tangled.
    At about 2,200 feet (670 metres), Laidlaw managed to free himself and land using his reserve chute. But Dyck, out cold, remained entangled and plummeted to earth, sustaining severe brain injuries and broken bones in his right arm.
    Laidlaw had testified that as he moved away from the centre of the formation, he lost sight of the other jumpers in his peripheral vision, indicating to him that he was sufficiently clear of his teammates.
    Testifying on behalf of Laidlaw was B.J. Worth, an expert skydiver and stuntman, who co-ordinated and performed aerial stunts for numerous motion pictures, including such James Bond films as "Tomorrow Never Dies," "Goldeneye," and "License to Kill."
    Worth's testimony did not convince the judge, however.

    Dan Downe, Laidlaw's lawyer, said he was surprised by the ruling, and was reviewing it to determine whether there were grounds for appeal.
    "We were quite confident that the trial evidence indicated that Laidlaw did not make any turn prior to collision, and he was the only eyewitness because Dyck was rendered unconscious," Downe said.
    Rodin said Dyck was pleased with the result because it proved his right to compensation after nine years, and that he believed the skydiving community would "benefit from a decision that holds jumpers accountable for their conduct in the sky."

    By admin, in News,

    Safety Board Cites Probable Cause of 1998 Plane Crash That Killed Five

    An airplane crash that killed a pilot and five skydivers in Grain Valley in 1998 probably was caused by preflight errors that led to a loss of oil and to rod failures in the engine, according to investigators' final report.
    A report released over the weekend by the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the pilot, David G. Snyder of Independence, inadequately prepared the single-engine plane before the flight. No safety board spokesman could be reached for comment on Sunday.
    Leaking oil apparently led to overheating and engine failure, the report said. The oil filler tube was missing and screws were either missing or loose. Connecting rods in two of the plane's six cylinders were found unattached to the crankshaft.
    Shortly into the flight, which originated at Independence Memorial Airport, Snyder told air traffic controllers he was canceling skydiving operations. Witnesses reported seeing white and black smoke and hearing a banging sound from the plane.
    The 1979 model Cessna 206 crashed and burned at the East Kansas City Airport in Grain Valley on March 21, 1998.
    Skydiving passengers who were killed were Marion C. Rudder, 47, of Oskaloosa, Kan.; John H. Schuman, 47, of Lawrence; Kenneth L. Buckley, 50, of Independence; Paul Eric Rueff, 32, of Kansas City, Kan.; and Julie L. Douglass, 24, of Kansas City.
    Snyder, 55, was the registered owner of the plane. He obtained his commercial pilot certificate in 1971 and was rated to fly by visual flight rules, which he was doing on the day of the crash.
    Snyder was flying for the Greater Kansas City Skydiving Club, which was based at the Independence airport. The club does not have a listed telephone number, and its officers could not be reached Sunday.
    Chris Hall, president of a separate operation in Lee's Summit called Skydive Kansas City Inc., said he frequently gets calls from people trying to locate the former Independence outfit.
    The safety board's finding of probable cause differs with a theory propounded by Kansas City lawyer Gary C. Robb, who represents the families of four of the dead skydivers in a lawsuit against the engine manufacturer, Teledyne Industries Inc.
    Robb contends there were metallurgical faults in the engine's connecting rods. Robb could not be reached Sunday, and the status of the lawsuit could not immediately be determined.
    Robert Cotter, a local lawyer representing Teledyne, has said the crash was a result of maintenance problems.
    Federal Aviation Administration records show that a certified mechanic had declared the aircraft and its engine airworthy four months before the crash. Work was done on the plane's cylinders and rings one month before the crash, and work was done on the oil pump one week before the crash. A second certified mechanic declared it airworthy at that time.
    Investigators looking at the wreckage found that the engine and the left side of the fuselage, including the wing and strut, were covered with oil film. A metal oil filler tube, the piece to which the oil cap connects, was missing and the screws that would have connected it were not found.
    In addition, five of six screws connecting the rocker-arm cover to cylinder number 6 were missing, and the sixth one was loose.
    Holes were found on the left crankcase near cylinders 2 and 6, the two in which the connecting rods were unattached.
    "The engine's internal components suffered damage typical of oil loss and heat distress," the safety board report states.
    The fatal flight took off with a full load of passengers shortly after 5:30 p.m. on a Saturday. Snyder made contact as "Skydive Six" with air traffic controllers and apparently left his radio microphone on, or it was stuck in the on position.
    About eight minutes after Snyder indicated he was going to climb to 11,000 feet above sea level, the controller reported hearing, "What the hell was that?" In his last transmission Snyder announced, without explanation, that he was canceling the jump.
    Radar indicates the highest altitude the plane achieved was 5,200 feet above sea level or roughly 4,400 feet above the ground. Witnesses eight miles northeast of the Grain Valley airport reported seeing white and black smoke trailing from the plane.
    A witness two miles north of the airport reported hearing a banging sound. At the airport witnesses saw flames from the engine licking the windshield.
    The plane clipped some trees just south of the airport. Its right wing struck the ground, and the craft cartwheeled and burned.
    Buckley, Rueff, Rudder and Schuman all were experienced skydivers. Douglass was to make her first jump.
    Ron Sharp, who was president of the Greater Kansas City Skydiving Club, said a few days after the crash that the Cessna 206 had been in the air several times already that day.
    At one point the engine became flooded and the plane was allowed to sit awhile. Later, after the battery was recharged, another pilot took it up for a test flight, Sharp said. Then Snyder took off with his passengers.
    "It sounded good," Sharp said at the time. "It sounded perfect."

    By admin, in News,

    Oliver Furrer's Project "Time Zone 2000" Stopped

    Oliver Furrer's project "Time Zone 2000" was reaching for a dream that skydivers has held forever, to stay in the air for as long as possible, see the earth from above and fall slower.
    The X-World Champion in SkySurfing attempted to brake Joe Kittinger's record from 1960, of 4 minutes and 33 second. After years of preparations, it appeared as everything was ready to go. The goal was to get above 36000 feet (11000 meters) using a hot air balloon, leaving Oliver with the possibility for more than 5 minutes of freefall over Switzerland wearing his WingSuit.
    Furrer trained with the Swiss airforce to prepare himself mentally and physically for the jump.
    Baloon pilot Hampi Arnold had to make special modifications to the balloon to make it possible to reach their desired altitude of 36000 feet. To prove the freefall time Oliver had a DV-camera sewed onto his suit, and was carrying a data logger from Airtec, to document the movements during the jump.
    The group experienced an adventures test flight to 30668 feet (9350 meter). The low temperatures (minus 56° C) froze the propane gas on the burner, and droped twice burning into the basket. Communication problems and a top-line on the baloon that burned down prevented them from climbing any higher.
    With a different concept and after an hour of oxygen pre-breathing, the team were finally ready on June 3rd 2000 for the attempt to set a new record in freefall time. Again the team was confronted with several problems. A big temperature inversion stopped the balloon at 29520 feet (9000 meters) and they couldn't climb higher. Oliver was forced to leave the basket earlier than planed and exited at 24272 feet (7400 meters). With considerable less altitude than planned Oliver did his best, and got 3 minutes 47 seconds of free fall time.
    "Time Zone 2000"-project was made possible only due to the help of friends and sponsors. Another interesting story has been written in our lovely sport. Unfortunately Oliver has to stop this project for good, due to technical problems, and lack of money.
    For a full report on Oliver's jump visit his web site at: http://www.posx.com/projects/wingnews.html

    By admin, in News,

    Belgium Students do Emergency Exits as Planes Left Engine Catches Fire

    A Nomad jump plane had to make an emergency landing last Tuesday at the Begian DZ Leopoldburg after the left engine burst into flames.
    The plane was on jumprun to drop the 12 static line students that were on board. After dropping 3 or 4 students, there was a sudden explosion of the left engine and it started burning. The instructors on board dropped the remaining students, while the pilot was performing the emergency procedure.
    There was no panic on board and both the instructors and pilot did an excellent job. The pilot managed to land the plane safely in a nearby field. The left engine is completely burned and there is probably some structural damage to the wing.
    Translated from http://www.xs4all.nl/~jjacobs/vvp/mededeling.html

    By admin, in News,

    Norwegian Skydiving Student dies in Hospital

    A skydiver (21) passed away in hospital following serious injuries sustained in a May 7 accident at Rygge Parachute Club (Norway). Reserve canopy fired into main and entangled. The student skydiver impacted under spinning canopies and was airlifted to hospital with critical injuries. All Norwegian student rigs equipped with an FXC automatic opener is grounded pending further investigations.
    From http://www.skyshop.net/

    By admin, in News,

    Jump Plane Crashes at Skydive Breitscheid in Germany

    A jump plane crashed at Skydive Breitscheid in Germany after dropping eight jumpers. On board were the pilot and a second person. The pilot crashed with the plane and the wreckage totally burned out. The passenger who was also wearing a parachute (it's not known whether it was skydiving gear or a pilot rescue rig) jumped from the crashing plane but fell to his death.
    No further information the accident is available at this time.

    By admin, in News,

    Pilatus Porter crash at Moorsele in Belgium

    MOORSELE - A Pilatus Porter crashed on Sunday afternoon Mach 12, 2000 at a military airport at Moorsele in Belgium. All eleven people on board which included ten skydivers and the pilot were injured of which three critical. Shortly after take-off the plane reached an altitude of thirty meters before crashing to the ground and landing on it's belly. The cause of the accident is still unknown. Several people witnessed the incident and rushed to the scene to assist the victims.
    The fire-brigade erected a tent at the scene to treat the injured and curious bystanders were kept at a distance.
    Frans Deruytter from Brugge was one of the many witnesses: "I come here regularly on Sunday afternoons and always fly with them. Today was an exception as I took an earlier flight to tend to some other obligations I had. When I think that I could have been sitting in the crashed plane myself..."
    Dieter Derez, a fourteen year old from Heule was one of the passengers. According to is mother Dieter has been waiting for five mounts to make a tandem jump. Due to the good weather on Sunday his wish was to come true. "Of course I was watching the plane as they took off. Suddenly it plunged to the ground. I never want to live through something like that again, the uncertainty." Except for pain in his head and back, Dieter is fine.
    Another witness, Freddy Vandecappelle from Izegem said: "When I saw it plunge to the ground, I feared for the worst." An inspection team was on its way to inspect the wreckage to try an determine the cause of the accident. The airport controller Roland Nuytten says he doubts that it was pilot error. "Eric Vits is one of five full-time professional pilots and has a lot of experience."

    By labrys, in News,

    Accident Report - Chris Gauge

    On Wednesday, February 9th 2000, Chris Gauge had a fatal accident at TRAIN IN SPAIN, Aerodromo Sierra Morena , E-23710 Bailen.
    Exiting the DZ Twin Otter from 4000 m at aprx. 17:50 hour to perform a solo skysurf training jump Chris Gauge failed to open either main or reserve parachute of his own Tear Drop Parachute equipment and died on impact.
    His exit was observed by other skydivers and reported to be normal. He was waving up towards the following group. Just before impact he was seen from the ground flat spinning at high speed while his fallrate appeared slow and the noise was similar to that of a helicopter.
    His parachute was equipped with a CYPRES automatic opening device, However the Cypres did not activate the reserve parachute.
    I suspect that Chris Gauge went unconcious during his jump, possibly due to his fast spinning, and therefore was unable to determine opening altitude and to deploy his parachute. Furtheron I suspect that his fallrate was abnormally slow due to his fast spinning, he was jumping his normal surfboard which has a length of approx. 1,60 m. That could be the reason that the Cypres did not fire.
    Chris Gauge:

    32 years old, British Citizenship, member of the British Parachute association, 3100 jumps, known as an expert on the surfboard, British National Champion 1999 skysurf, World Meet 1999 skysurf 8th place.
    Jan Wildgruber

    DZ Operator

    By admin, in News,