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News

    Wind Tunnel Listings Added to Dropzone.com

    Image by iFly Austin We would like to introduce the latest addition to Dropzone.com, our wind tunnel listings! We’ve been working hard at gathering information on all the active indoor skydiving venues from around the world, resulting in a list of 26 wind tunnels, spanning 12 countries, making it the most comprehensive and up to date list of vertical wind tunnels online.

    We have modelled the indoor skydiving section on that of our dropzone database, allowing you to review your experience, in turn helping others in choosing the best places to indoor skydive, and focusing on allowing you to quickly and easily find venues using GPS plotting.


    Users will be able to find detailed information about each dropzone in the listing, including time block pricing, training pricing, technical information and contact details.
    Indoor skydiving has become an essential part of competitive freefly training and continues to provide a platform for the evolution of body flight. With the continued growth of the sport, and the establishment of new tunnels, the future of indoor flying is looking extremely bright.
    We welcome and encourage users who have flown at any of the wind tunnels to submit a review of their experience. Should you know of a wind tunnel that is not listed in the database, you are able to submit a listing yourself, or contact us via e-mail and we will add the listing for you.
    Our database will continue to be built on and maintained by both dropzone.com and the respective owners and staff of the tunnels. If you are a staff member of one of the tunnels listed in our database, you can claim the listing.
    View Wind Tunnel Listings

    By admin, in News,

    Poorly Packed Parachutes - A Personal Story

    While some see skydiving as an activity that leads to death, others have quite the opposite experience, where they find life. There are countless stories from individuals who found that skydiving saved them from themselves, offering both a community and a purpose. Andrew Goodfellow is one of those people, and he recently submitted this piece which details his venture into the sport.
    I found skydiving on the run. Ten years of addiction, depression, self-loathing, countless failed relationships, a broken engagement, two suicide attempts (one near success), and the ever-present aching loss of a sibling, left me with a lot to run from. But for a long time, it felt as though I had no one and nothing to run to that could save me from myself.
    Almost overnight, skydiving filled a void that nothing had ever come close to filling. At its best, it’s the most pure and vital experience I’ve ever known. Totally thrilling and deeply fulfilling. And at its worst…well I had already tried that route twice…so I figured at least this way I’d part with the world on better terms.
    What I found in skydiving was more than I expected. Friends, community, support, inspiration, excitement, challenge, and pride.
    The rewards were all around. But I also came to realize how many crucial life lessons were on offer at the DZ. Skydiving is a great teacher. Its lessons are vital. Its truths are fixed and inarguable. It is indiscriminate. It is generous and unforgiving – rewarding and punishing in near equal measure.
    It teaches patience and perseverance. It fosters trust and forges self-reliance. It provides constant proof that learning is a perpetual process; perfection does not exist. All are fallible; none invincible. It necessitates calm under pressure. It demands you walk the fine line between confidence and recklessness. It requires you to train and focus and prepare. And then begs you to accept that which lies outside your control. Perhaps most importantly, it forces you to make hard decisions. It teaches you to recognize that crucial moment when the best course of action – the only choice that will save you – is to give up fighting, swallow your pride, and cutaway.
    Many of life’s toughest moments feel like a really slow opening, a line-over, a two-out, toggle fire. Blistering uncertainty meets coursing fear, raw emotion and instinct. And above all, a defiant will to survive. Looking back, I’ve had a lifetime of low-speed, high-speed, and total mals. Situations I found myself in – whether of my own doing, or simple tricks of fate – that called for precise and efficient emergency procedures I either couldn’t muster or was yet to learn. Without knowing it, I’ve spent a long time sacrificing altitude for stability in one form or another.
    My experiences in the sky have been exotic and intoxicating; yet not without great peace and tranquility. There is a magnetism about skydiving that consumes those it attracts. The primal, electric surges of dopamine and serotonin that flood your brain in freefall lay shame to any narcotic high I’ve ever known. This cannot be overstated. And the constant evaluations of risk and reward are, in themselves, a thrilling version of chicken that each of us plays against ourselves on every jump – at the intersection of the familiar and the unknown.
    One quickly realizes, as did I with much dismay, that the phrase “mind over matter” could scarcely be applied as accurately to another pursuit. All the strength and speed in the world won’t help you swim your way back into that plane once you’ve left the door. And good luck muscling your way to stability or control. Abandon hope, all ye who enter here. The sky will disabuse you of many formerly held convictions in a matter of seconds, as it calls to you with its Siren’s song. Welcome to your second adolescence. There is much to learn.

    By admin, in News,

    Point Break Remake Trailer

    For those skydivers old enough to remember the early 90s, they will also surely recall the movie Point Break. Released in 1991, Point Break was centered around a group of surfers who robbed banks while wearing masks of ex-presidents. An undercover agent, Johnny Utah, was sent in to the world of the 'ex-presidents' as they called themselves, to gather information. Johnny Utah however, finds himself forming a bond with those he is trying to help apprehend.
    Despite the scenes of surfing and action, the movie has been best known for the skydiving scenes, which while certainly not the best, were some of the most memorable to viewers. It was clear that story and script were never high on the priority list, and the film focused almost entirely on the action sequences, of which there were quite a few.
    Point Break was the kind of movie you either bragged to your friends about loving, or the guilty pleasure movie that you kept in an unlabelled VHS container and only watched once the kids and wife were asleep.
    Well, good news for fans of the original movie is that the ex-presidents are back, and this time they're at least twice as extreme and in 3D. The remake of Point Break is set for release later this year (25 December) with the first official trailer now released. In the 24 years that have passed since the initial movie release, the ex-presidents have evolved to not only be surfers and skydivers, but masters of almost all extreme sports, from motorcross and snowboarding to BASE jumping.
    The movie will be released in RealD 3D, so you can make sure that you feel immersed through the likely unrealistic and exaggerated stunts (assuming they stick to the original formula). And who wouldn't want to experience quotes like "The only law that matters is gravity" in surround sound. It's not clear yet how the plot of the remake will differ from the original and which scenes will carry over, but from the trailer we can already know to expect some tracking and BASE jumping, and one thing is for certain, dropzones are likely to experience higher tandem requests in the first quarter of 2016.
    Jokes aside, it's difficult to gauge what to expect from the remake, and perhaps it seeks to give us just that which it did over two decades ago, this time without Swayze and Reeves - but instead with more stunts, more sports and more over the top action.
    Are you going to be adding this to your watch list, or to your avoid list?

    By admin, in News,

    In-Flight HUD to Assist Wingsuit Pilots

    Vancouver, Canada – 18th October, 2012 – Recon Instruments, award winning innovator of Heads-up Display (HUD) technology for action sports, is excited to announce the limited release of an innovative HUD designed specifically for precision human flight. Flight HUD is available to pre-order from Recon Labs.
    Recon’s HUDs have already revolutionized the way wingsuit pilots Jeb Corliss and supermodel-adventurer Roberta Mancino fly by delivering flight-critical data, direct-to-eye. Via the suite of onboard sensors the HUD, originally designed for snow sports, has been customized to display glide ratio, speed and altitude via a micro LCD screen sitting unobtrusively inside the pilot’s goggle.
    To guarantee production, Recon Instruments has set a requirement of 250 pre-orders of the bespoke HUD, available on Recon’s special projects website, Recon Labs. The website has been launched especially for such projects, allowing Recon to respond to demand for special case HUDs from different sports communities.
    Click here to hear what Jeb Corliss has to say about how Flight HUD has made him a better pilot.
    Tom Fowler, Chief Marketing Officer of Recon Instruments added, “We are inundated with requests from athletes and participants from a wide variety of sports to create bespoke HUDs for their specific use. Flight HUD is Recon’s first special project whereby a certain number of pre-orders will unlock a special production. We are really excited to be able to offer human flight athletes the same information traditional pilots have been using for decades and know this breakthrough will re-define their flying experience.”
    Flight HUD is available from labs.reconinstruments.com for $299USD for the first 250 pre-orders and $349USD thereafter. Price includes Recon Ready goggles.

    By admin, in News,

    The Road to 100 Dropzones - 77 and Counting

    I often get asked by Whuffos "Why do you jump out of planes?" At first it's always fun to say "Because the door was open" and after a few laughs I try to explain. I try to explain the 60 seconds of absolute peace. That 1 minute that nothing else matters and you're 100% focused on the moment and what you're doing. To a non jumper that explanation isn't ever really good enough I feel, and often refer to the cliche quote of "To those that jump, no explanation is necessary, and to those that don't, no explanation is possible" Because it's the closest thing to the truth.
    I feel lucky to be apart of a community of amazing people! People that put aside status, careers, race, politics and are so excited to share the amazing sport of skydiving with new jumpers like myself. I didn’t know that about skydivers when I did my first tandem jump, nor did I know that I would end up traveling all over the US, meeting people from all walks of life, people I would end up calling friends and my sky family. However, one thing I do now know, is how thankful I am to have started this journey.
    Everything started for me on October 14th 2013 and the set of upcoming random circumstances would lead me to so many different Dropzones around the US, which resulted in me being asked to write this story.
    I was working in an industry where it was common to work really hard for 4-5 months and then take a couple months off. Right after my work season ended I decided I was going to skydive. A decision I arrived at due to various circumstances I found myself in. I was previously in the army and broke my foot the week before airborne school and always regretted not being able to jump and be apart of an airborne unit in the army. A few years after that I was working on my pilots license at a very small airport in Goshen Indiana that had a small skydiving operation on the other side of the field. Other than hearing "Jumpers Away" and making sure I didn't hit any of them while practicing take off and landings I never made it over there, even though I told myself repeatedly that I would try. Then a couple years later I met a guy by the name of Tim Kelly, randomly on a cruise ship and he had just started his skydiving training a few months before and was so excited to share with me his excitement and how awesome the sport of skydiving was! These events always left me wondering if I would take the time away from flying and scuba diving to start a new hobby.

    Getting Licensed
    So there I was in La Porte, IN several years later and woke up one morning and decided today is the day! I'm gonna jump out of a plane! I called all the Chicago DZ's and none of them could take me because I weighed 260 lbs. so I called around the Indianapolis area and it was the same result. A friend told me "I think they jump over in Plymouth call them" At this point I was pretty discouraged, but I had already made up my mind that somehow I was going to do a skydive! I couldn't believe that all the big operations couldn't accommodate me, but somehow the little DZ 25 min down the road might be able to. I called them up with my situation, desperate to jump, and the DZO said "Come on in. We will take a look at you and depending on your height and build we can take you if it's safe to do so".
    Dropzone #1!
    I hopped in the car alone and drove straight to the DZ! After arriving a gentleman named Steve Verner came over and after weighing me and sizing me up decided that it was no problem. The main parachute was rated for our combined weight and he was more than confident (with over 10,000 jumps) to safely take me on a tandem skydive. I was beyond stoked! And started filling out paperwork, watching the mandatory videos and soaking up every bit of instruction Steve was giving me.
    The plane ride up consisted of Troy the DZO and Pilot on that day, Steve my Tandem Instructor and his wife Jenny the videographer. It was a 20 minute ride of smiling, while also refreshing everything I had learned on the ground. I was very impressed at all the attention that was put into safety! 10,000 feet, door opens, head back followed by 40 seconds of amazement! As soon as we landed I said I have to learn how to this! I don't care what it takes, let's get started!
    That day I filled out a USPA membership application and scheduled ground school, along with my 2nd mandatory tandem, which I scheduled for the next day at the same DZ (Plymouth Sky Sports). After completing my ground school and 2nd tandem the next day I bought my first Cookie G3 Helmet. I was also measured and even ordered my first jumpsuit. I was already committing to the sport after only 2 jumps! The Dropzone would be closing for the winter 2 weeks later and the upcoming weather wasn't looking great either. I would have to wait until the next season or travel somewhere warmer to continue training, which is exactly what I did!
    Dropzone #2
    I called several Dropzones in Florida because I was told that with my weight and being a student, I would need a 300 sq ft Canopy to start my training (300lb Exit weight). After about my 5th call the Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales Florida, they told me to come on down! They had a rig that would fit me and instructors to provide the training. 1 week later I rented a small 1 bedroom house in Lake Wales and walked into the DZ to fill out paperwork. After spending a few days on a weather hold I decided to drive up to Deland and order my first container from Mirage. Apparently most people don't order their first rig until they know they are going to make it through the training, but I was committed and in my mind there was no turning back! The manager measured me and helped me design my custom green and black colors and then the wait would begin!
    2 days later after a very successful AFF Level 1 skydive and a very bad no flare/no wind landing that left me wondering if I could even stand up or wave my arm to ensure my instructor I was ok (as he pleaded with me over the radio). As I heard the words "Holy Shit Bro, are you alive?" coming from a golf cart that was approaching me, I learned there was a lot more to skydiving than simply jumping out of a plane. Yes, I was alive. It was while being driven back to the hangar on the golf cart that I learned the importance of a flare. 6 hours later while in the emergency room at the VA hospital in Orlando I would also learn that a mans ACL doesn't agree with 300lbs falling from the sky without a proper flare. A lesson I wouldn't forget.
    Dropzone #3
    4 months later I was fully healed up and working in San Antonio Texas. This is where I would resume my training at Skydive San Marcos. My new rig was completed and I showed up at the DZ looking like a seasoned pro in my bright colored jumpsuit, helmet and new rig (but still had no idea what I was really doing). They would confuse me for a licensed fun jumper who was waiting to fill out a waiver when I was really there to start with my 4th overall jump and only my 2nd solo! After telling them an interesting story and that I was actually brand new they paired me up with 3 of the most amazing instructors I have met to date. Hank, Kevin & Pun. These were the guys that would train me now that I was healed, give me my confidence back and nurse me through 3 months of weather holds and countless times riding the plane down with other students, due to the winds kicked up too high. I stayed at San Marcos through jump 15, when a new Dropzone opened not far down the road. I ended up taking a trip there with some of my new skydiving buddies to check it out.
    Dropzone #4
    I decided to continue my training at Skydive Lonestar because at this point I was on coach jumps and they would allow me to use the new rig I had sitting in my car. Something the other DZ wouldn't allow me to do per their rules. This would save me gear rental fees and allow me to start getting comfortable in my own rig. The Dropzone had only been open a week and I would be their first AFF student. The staff and DZO was amazing, salt of the earth people. For days and days they would send the Otter up with only 6 or so people just so new guys could jump and I could keep training. I would always be grateful for this and wouldn't realize until later how rare it was. I would complete another 5 jumps there before moving to Houston.
    Dropzone #5
    I moved to Houston and Skydive Spaceland would become my new home for a while and 5 jumps later I earned my A license! It felt great to finally be a real skydiver because it had been 9 months, 5 Dropzones, several instructors and 1 injury later that I was finally able to achieve this goal. I would then learn the meaning of "BEER!" As I got my A license and stamp at Skydive Spaceland. I would learn that tradition again a few weeks later when I would biff my landing and my cutaway handle would be pulled between myself and the ground while sliding 10 feet across wet grass. (I guess that doesn't happen a lot and I have yet to see it happen again) It was apparent when the skydiver picking up his canopy 30 feet from me yelled "How the fuck did that happen! I have never seen a reserve pilot chute pop out while someone was sliding across the ground before! I bet you owe beer for that one!” Needless to say the gas station down the street would get to know me well in those first weeks.
    Dropzones 6-77
    Over the next year while traveling all around the country for work and taking some trips, going hours and even hundreds of miles out of the way just to jump at a new Dropzone I would figure out why I was traveling to all these DZs. I loved to jump, as anyone that completes training does I'm sure, but I found that in all my life that skydivers was the most interesting and awesome people that I have ever met. They are the only group of people (besides poker players) that you could sit amongst people without worrying about class, race, work status and discuss something you truly loved and share stories and drink beer and it would never get old. A member of the PD factory team would jump with you just to help you learn, guys and girls with thousands of jumps would share there knowledge and not make you feel inferior; But instead would share their experiences to help better everyone around them. I figured as long as I was traveling anyway I would make it a point to go to as many Dropzones and boogies and I could and seek out these amazing people to hear there stories and learn from them.
    Heading For 100
    It was probably about Dropzone 20 or so that I was jumping with new friends and the fact came up on how many DZs I have been to. It wasn’t strange to me to travel all over the country for work or to find new dropzones because i desperately wanted to keep jumping! However to my new friends that always jumped at the same DZ since they got licensed they found it very interesting because in a lot of cases 1 plane is all they knew. I met 100’s of people that had only jumped from a 4 person Cessna and nothing bigger. I decided then that since I was able to travel, that I was going to make it a goal to visit 100 Dropzones and try to jump at as many as I could, and from as many different planes, helicopters and balloons that I could. I knew weather would play a part and some places would only take tandems, but I was gonna do my best and just have fun with it. I started taking the "Selfies" next to the DZ sign early on to document my journey. Several years earlier I drove to all 48 continental states and did the same thing. A lot of people watched my journey on Facebook and thought it was fun, so I thought it would be a good idea for skydiving as long as I was out here doing it anyway.

    More of Justin's images can be seen on his Dropzone.com profile
    Common Questions
    Now I could write pages and pages about my experiences, stories, boogies, jumps etc etc. But as I travel and people find out that I have jumped so many places and will continue to I get a lot of the same questions which I'm always happy to answer and still developing new answers as I jump. So I wanted to share a few of those Q&A;'s at the request of Dropzone.com and because I know I had a lot of the same questions about different places.
    1. What's the nicest Dropzone you have been to?
    That's a hard one to answer because there are a lot of nice DZ's. However my personal choice is CSC (Chicagoland Skydiving Center) Their facilities are amazing, all there rental equipment is top notch. The staff there go above and beyond to welcome new people to the sport and they have the nicest gear shop and restaurant in the country in my opinion. It was pretty much built for skydiving. The DZO is one of the friendliest guys you would wanna know. I don't just mean a friendly skydiver but Doug is just a pleasant friendly person in general and his attention to detail in running his operation is second to none. All of these things make it the nicest facility that I have had the privilege of jumping at.
    2. What's your favorite Dropzone?
    Always a difficult one to answer because it's really a 6 way tie for different reasons and the people that jump and work at these Dropzones make them a great time not only to jump at but to also hang around and have fun. They also all have a very high level of respect for safety and people willing to help you learn from your mistakes when you mess up. Those would be Skydive Windy City in Michigan City, IN. Skydive Spaceland In Texas, Chicago Land Skydiving, Skydive Chicago, Skydive Lonestar and Skydive San Marcos. I have jumped at these places more than any other and I have good friends at each of these DZ's which makes them really fun to jump at when I can.
    3. What's the best view?
    For me that's a tie between Skydive Utah & Skydive Windy City. Utah has these amazing mountains and the view of the Great Salt Lake. Growing up and living most my life in the Midwest I don't get to see mountains a lot and certainly not jump near them so Utah is amazing. I also love Skydive Windy City. I consider this my home Dropzone (formerly Plymouth Sky Sports) and between all the trees that surround the DZ and the view of Lake Michigan and the Chicago City Skyline on clear days it makes it a beautiful jump!
    4. What's the best gear store?
    Well in my mind there is no contest and that's Rock Sky Market. They are located at ChicagoLand Skydiving Center and literally have everything a skydiver could want in stock and probably with several different colors to chose from. I have purchased almost all my gear from Steve and Jenny since day one when they were selling t-shirts and pull up cords out of the corner of a hanger in Plymouth and they are the best people to work with. Not only are the knowledgeable on so much with years in the sport and well over 10,000 skydives between them but they have first hand knowledge on most of the products because they jump almost daily and use them. Between everything being right there to buy that day, there knowledge and the excellent customer service it's no contest in my mind.
    5. How many DZ's have you jumped at in 1 day?
    The most different Dropzones I have jumped at in 1 day is 3 and all 3 was in different states. I started off at Skydive Midwest in Wisconsin for a fun jump and then went down to Chicagoland Skydiving Center in Illinois to buy a helmet case and jumped there then on my way home I jumped at Plymouth Sky Sports in Indiana. That was an exhausting day.
    6. What's your favorite boogie?
    This is always a tough question but the 2 that come to mind are Summerfest and Couch Freaks. I don't know if they will hold the Couch Freaks boogie in Fort Dodge again and I might have attended the last year for it but I had a blast! Just read the back of the boogie tickets and you know you're in for one hell of a ride! I really hope they have that boogie again because the stories from the old timers there about the start of big event skydiving are second to none. As a new jumper at the time I attended I really got an education! Summerfest is also amazing with the amount of planes that come in you can really jump as much as you want. From the fireworks and glowing wing suit flights to the dinner time meals and dancing into the night. Summerfest at Skydive Chicago is really a top notch boogie!
    To finish things up I’m really thankful for all the friends I have made along my journey and hopefully will continue to make. All of these opinions are of course my own, and being so new in the sport I’m sure they will continue to change as I learn and grow. I hope to hit 100 DZ’s and a few more boogies before summer is over. I hope in writing this article that the 1,000’s of jumpers who are in there comfort zone of 1 DZ will get out and experience some new DZ’s and make some new sky family. I haven’t had a bad time yet and all dropzones are welcoming to new jumpers I have found and are excited to share there stories and there sky with you! -EFS-
    Justin Baker B-40015

    -Blue Skies-

    By admin, in News,

    The Journey of an AFF Student - Part 2

    This article follows a previous article of an AFF journal submitted by John McDarby. We hope sharing this series of articles detailing the experience of his journey may be able to provide some insight into those looking to do their AFF course, while also entertaining those who have been through the process.
    Image Credit / Link Sunday 26th April
    Well, that sure was something else. Nothing like the tandem at all - totally different.
    Really weird but, I had no fear whatsoever - it was all "focus on the tasks" I just didn’t have the time to fear.
    I was nervous going up and one of the instructors saw it and told me to smile - that it forces you to be happy and helps get rid of nerves – it works!
    He then told me to close my eyes and visualise the dive from start to finish - that really was a good idea and I shall continue to do that
    Then at about 11k feet the pilot gave a two minute notice for the door.
    Everyone started doing high fives and fist pumps to each other - it really was awesome.
    Eight of us squashed into a ford fiesta (or tiny car of your choice), all about to jump from 12,000ft - it felt very special - like I was part of a very elite club that nobody else knows - it felt great.
    My two instructors and I were last out as we were deploying highest. Two head down flyers went first as they would be the fastest fallers and lowest deployments. Then 2 sit flyers, then a solo guy with about 20 jumps - he was just chilling out – we have become good friends since and he has helped me, mentally on many of my subsequent jumps
    Then us...
    I had no nerves at all - I just kicked right into my routine and thought of nothing else
    I actually didn’t even see the ground until I deployed - head up, looking at the horizon all the time - you don’t look down ever – In fact, it wasn’t until my first consolidation jump that I had both the time and the peace of mind to have a look about.
    So I did the exit, really well - I was delighted with that – we were stable faster than I expected.
    Then I did my COA - circle of awareness – check heading, check altimeter, check left instructor, check right instructor to ensure we're all set and ready to begin tasks - all good, let’s do it
    Then began my 3 practice touches - check alti, arch, reach for pilot chute handle, squeeze, recover.
    Do that 3 times to show that you know where the pilot chute for deployment is and that you can get to it yourself and that you actually have the wherewithal and you’re not phased out.
    Sensory overload is a big one on AFF1 so perhaps my previous tandem helped with this.
    That’s all that is required of AFF1 to pass, that and the actual deployment - and I did it with about 2000ft to spare - that’s about 10secs of freefall - the instructors said to me afterwards that they deliberately kept throwing hand signals at me for those 10 seconds to see how I would react to being overloaded.
    I got some of them but I missed some too - just too much information coming at me - but that wasn’t part of the dive - it was just extra stuff
    My main side instructor said afterwards during debrief "ah, you just ignored me - I saw you looking and just rolling your eyes"
    Ha ha – there is probably an element of truth in that.
    So I "locked in" at 6000ft and then deployed at 5500ft - and then it’s the longest 4 second count in your life Count 4 thousand and look up and hope to goodness it’s all there and looking good - which it was.
    I chilled then for a moment to let the adrenaline settle and then commenced my checks – I should have done them immediately but I was really overwhelmed to say the least - I’d guess I was about 3-5 seconds at most before I did my harness checks and twists checks – all good, phew!
    Next up, I released the toggles for steering and pulled 3 good flares to get a feel for it, as instructed.
    Then a quick alti check - just about 5000ft - Jesus, it’s a long way down when you’re hanging there alone.
    So I pulled a hard left and dived down to the left, then another to the right, then a few circles around - all to get a feel for the canopy as I need to know how it will handle when coming in to land
    It was very stable and comfortable and turned when I asked it to – as I discovered later, of course it was stable, it was 260sqft – Godzilla could have jumped this canopy..
    At about 3000ft the radio came crackling in my ear with the instructor telling me directions – I’d forgotten about those guys – lovely to hear a guiding voice right now.
    But it cracked out at about 1000ft and I couldn’t hear him – however, I already had my flight plan worked out
    Be over the hanger at 1000ft, then downwind along the tree line to 600ft then hard right 90 degrees and down to 300ft across the wind then 90 degrees into the wind for final approach – we had been through that on the ground and I’d watched a bunch of jumpers before me to see it in action.
    It was really bumpy and I got thrown about but it was all about keeping it steady with minimal inputs under 300ft - just go straight and let it fly itself down.
    The instructor said afterwards that no other students would be flying today and that it was right on the edge for students but that my (cough), mass, was an advantage for such conditions!
    So I landed on my feet, all excited and relieved but then a gust of wind grabbed the canopy and I was on my butt and dragged backwards - I got it sorted and that was it, gathered it up and walked over to the hanger - where a bunch of them laughed at me and took the piss - but in a friendly way.
    One guy came up to me "what number AFF was that?" I told him number one, and he stuck his hand out for a shake "welcome to the club, man"
    I felt so chuffed.
    I was part of an elite club.
    Brilliant, brilliant experience.
    Then one of my instructors went through the video with me pointing out both good and bad things of the dive
    He got some other students over to view it also as they were unable to jump due to the wind
    Then we got the creepers (like skateboards) out and we (4 students) started to practice AFF2 dive flow - It’s much the same but with some added turns - which are new to us.
    We will have to do 90 degree turns both left and right - then a kind of "head first" position a bit like superman but hands back (later to be informed, tracking) and then back to standard stability and recover.

    I wasn’t ready to do it again today even if I could - too much information to take in and I want to do the dive over and over first because it’s hard to think when in freefall - it’s so extreme.
    Things need to be more instinctive first for me.
    Next weekend looks like a wash out.
    So hopefully the week after.
    But oh boy, what a buzz - I may well have found what I was looking for.
    Part 3 will be published shortly, keep an eye out on the dropzone.com homepage to follow John's journey through AFF

    By admin, in News,

    Jump Plane Crashes Near Lodi

    A Cessna 208 was left upside down in a field just off Jahant Road, near Lodi Airport on Thursday 12 May when the aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing. While it is unclear what caused the emergency landing and no official statement on the cause has been given -- the following was posted on the Dropzone.com forums.
    "One of my friends was on this load. Apparently they opened the door at 1000 feet and smelled fuel, everyone sat down and clipped in, then the engine failed and the plane landed upside down after clipping a nearby SUV.
    This is just what I heard, not confirmed"
    The owner of the dropzone had told the media that while they still weren't certain of the exact reasons behind the failure, he could confirm that the propeller had stopped spinning, forcing the landing.
    The plane was being operated by Parachute Center and there were eighteen individuals on board at the time of the crash. Thanks to the effect use of restraints in the plane, despite the fact that it was lying upside down, all eighteen passengers walked away from the incident without injuries.
    However, it was not only the passengers aboard the Cessna that found themselves subject to the situation. While making the emergency landing the plane just clipped the tail of an SUV with two individuals inside. Thankfully it was merely a small nick to the vehicle and both the driver and passenger of the vehicle walked away with nothing more than a bit of shock.
    Showing that nothing can keep a dedicated jumper out of the sky, several of the passengers aboard the crashed plane returned to the dropzone to continue jumping, just moments after the crash.
    Discussions on this incident are currently taking place in the Plane Crash - Lodi 12 May 2016 thread.
    Update: 16 may 2016
    Footage has now been released from inside the aircraft which can be viewed below:

    By admin, in News,

    Ricardo Sa Freire - Developing The Cookie FUEL

    Cookie Composites was founded in 2003 by Jason Cook and Jeremy Hunt, in Australia, with the focus of manufacturing high quality skydiving head gear and accessories in small series. In 2006 the company decided to invest in their industrial design department. Since then new methods of product development and manufacturing were introduced, improving the products and allowing the brand to grow. Today Cookie's products can be found all over the globe.
    Ricardo Sa Freire is one of the creative minds behind the very successful Cookie FUEL helmet. The talented industrial designer has been working with the guys at Cookie for almost a decade, having designed gear items that can be found in thousands of skydivers' inventory. We caught up with Ricardo to find out exactly what went on in the design and development process of the Cookie FUEL helmet.
    Dropzone.com: When you were approached by Cookie to do this design, what was the high-level brief? In a nutshell, what did they want in terms of design, cost and market positioning?
    Ricardo: I've had the opportunity of working with Cookie for the past eight years and together we have developed several products from helmets to accessories. All projects start the same way, we observe things. The market, the users, materials, new trends etc. Once we understand these factors we can begin to design something. In the case of the Fuel we knew it was time for us to design a new open face helmet that could provide all the great features it now does. We then set our minds to design the best open face helmet possible. It should be safe in the air, easy to customize and comfortable without forgetting about the aesthetics.
    Dropzone.com: Talk us through the basic phases or steps that goes into designing a new helmet, from the initiation of the project to when the first products roll off the line.
    Ricardo: Whenever you design an object, that will be directly used by a person, there are some steps you need to take. Considering that all your pre-project development is done (research and strategic decisions) you then start the conceptual phase. This is where the ideas and findings you previously came up with are explored. After filtering these ideas it's time to test them through models and prototypes. Once everything is up to our standards we move to pre-production, where we make a final assessment and give the final touches. During the whole process we have constant discussions over the concepts, looks, and solutions. We only move forward once the three of us are satisfied.
    Dropzone.com: When you set out to design the FUEL, did you start from the proverbial "blank canvas" or did you build on concepts that you've looked at before?
    Ricardo: The concept behind the Fuel was something that came up after a lot of talk between Jason Cook, Jeremy Hunt and myself. Way before we started designing it we knew all the features and options the helmet would have. When it came to the helmet's shape and looks we were very open about it, all we knew, was that, it had to tie up with the rest of our range specially the G3. We wanted people to put these helmets side by side and see they were related.
    Dropzone.com: Working with Jason and Jeremy on the project, were there specific areas (build quality, comfort etc) where each individual focused,or was everyone involved with all aspects of the design?
    Ricardo: All three of us have very different skill- sets and expertise, this allows us to cover a lot of ground during the development. Jason and Jeremy have the business/production engineering side of things really locked in. They know if we will be able to produce what we are developing in a realistic way and will also come up with elegant and intricate solutions like the G3's visor mechanism, the Fuel's cutaway chin-strap and may others. They are also skydivers, something I am not. I have been an industrial designer for more than a decade (designing mostly sports equipment) and I am very comfortable designing new products for the skydiving community. But even after learning so much about it by researching and talking to athletes I still trust their judgment when we are exploring options during development.
    Dropzone.com: Is there any added pressure when designing a safety device, where a prototype may fail a strength test and require a change in design?
    Ricardo: Cookie products are not safety devices however we understand the environment in which they will be used. We know how we want something to perform and shoot for that. Most of the times we get a better result than we were expecting but when we don't, we learn from it and come up with a better solution. The Fuel's cutaway chin-strap is a good example. After the concept was turned into a prototype and tested we realized that it held more weight than we expected and took less force to activate. So after testing it many times we realized that that was not ideal and decided to make some adjustments to have it performing exactly how we wanted.
    Dropzone.com: Where did you look for inspiration when designing the Cookie FUEL? And do you find that you are more influenced by natural or industrial elements?
    Ricardo: The Fuel's main design influence is its functionality. Of course we wanted a helmet that looked good but the final shape came from the idea of optimizing the features and comfort. So I wouldn't be able to choose only one of the two options. It is a tool with no unnecessary features like a turtle shell but it was though through down to it's minimal details like a high-tech component.
    Dropzone.com: What are the various trade-offs that you have to keep in mind during the design process? Are there any specific ones you'd call out that was particularly difficult for this design?
    Ricardo: Trade-offs are part of the design process and sometimes they can turn into improvements. During the development of the Fuel we came across moments were we had to choose between two directions but we normally do it after testing both so it never feels like you are missing something. But this also has a lot to do with the fact that we knew what we wanted to achieve from the beginning.
    Dropzone.com: Did you arrive at a bunch of concepts from which you guys chose the final candidate or did you pretty much work on a single design and evolve it to where you ended up?
    Ricardo: We have been working together for so long that we really understand each other and Cookie, as a brand, became what it is today because of this. The earlier projects had a lot of concepts and designs to choose from and that was necessary back then. But nowadays we have really matured in terms of design. We know how a Cookie product looks or should look, so now we focus on making it the best possible. And we will keep doing it.
    Dropzone.com: What, in your opinion makes the FUEL stand out from other freefly helmet designs available on the market?
    Ricardo: The Fuel delivers a lot in a low profile package. It's light, comfortable and allows you to customize it in a very fast and simple way. It is a helmet that will evolve according to your needs. You can choose to mount L&B; or Alti-2 altimeters, side mount Sony or Contour cameras and top mount GoPro cameras by choosing between the classic snap or the snag-free Roller-Mount all this combined with a cutaway chinstrap. The only thing missing was a chin-cup. But I am happy to say that we have just finished the development of a completely new chin-cup and cutaway system that will be presented in the next week or so. We are currently building stock before starting to take orders so keep an eye in our Facebook page for more info.
    Do you own a Cookie FUEL? Let us know what you think of the helmet.

    By admin, in News,

    Plans for Middletown Wind Tunnel Announced

    The expansion of iFly indoor skydiving centers continues, this time with development planned for the Middletown, Ohio area. Start Aviation LLC and iFly Corp recently signed an agreement that would see a vertical wind tunnel build in Middleton. Though the exact location of where the tunnel will be built is still undecided, Middle Regional Airport has been listed as a potential location.
    Start Aviation LLC is the operator of Start Skydiving, a dropzone that has in recent years shown itself to be one of the best in the country, while iFly has shown its dominance in the global wind tunnel market with more than 20 wind tunnels located around the world, and the company continuing to show impressive growth.
    While still in the early stages, aspects of the project have been released; such as the plans for the indoor skydiving location to include a restaurant, classroom and an office.
    With the development of the Middletown tunnel, there will be a total of 15 iFly tunnels in the United States, several of which have been established in the past couple years. With the next closest tunnel being located in Chicago, the city hopes that the new attraction will bring in visitors from surrounding locations.

    By admin, 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,

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