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    Top Skydiving Mobile Apps

    Skydiving Logbook (Android / iOS)
    Skydiving Logbook is an extremely popular application for both Android and iOS devices. The application allows users to log jumps with information such as jump #, aircraft, gear used, type of jump, delay, cutaways, notes and more. A unique feature is the ability to have licensed jumpers sign your logbook entries using the touchscreen. The application also caters for gear related information, allowing you to tie your gear item to their serial number and to set up service reminders on gear items. One is able to sort easily through the display of specific information that is recorded during your jumps, such as total jump counts, cutaways etc. You're able to manage your dropzones and aircraft, as well as setting a home dropzone. Another feature that's offered with this application is the ability to calculate and manage wing load information. The ability to import and export data from the application also means that you can perform frequent backups onto external devices.


    Overall, this application is packed full of features and it's clear that the developer has done something amazing with it, offering a great application to the skydiving community for free, in fact to quote their download page: "This application is free and always will be."
    Price: Free
    Ratings:

    4.5/5 based off 123 votes on Android.

    4.5/5 based off 6 votes on iOS.
    Download: Android: Skydiving Logbook
    iOS: Skydiving Logbook
    Skydiving Draw (Android)
    There are a few apps out there at the moment that cater to formation skydiving, Skydiving Draw is the more popular of the apps available. It allows you to manually create or to randomly generate formation sequences which are then presented in visual form though graphic images.

    The application provides you with the ability to copy and share your formation sequences, as well as the ability to export them as a PDF file, allowing for the easy print of such documentation onto paper, for training purposes. You are also able to save and load your sequences, this is something that while being worked on by other applications for future releases, wasn't yet available.
    Price: $3
    Ratings: 5/5 based off 17 votes.
    Download: Skydiving Draw
    Canopy Calculator (Android)
    This app for Android devices is a small and basic application which calculates canopy size and wing load based off body and gear weight.
    Naturally with such a lightweight application there isn't really too much to say about it, but the app seems very stable on most Android devices and can come in as a useful tool, also at only 80kb in size and as a free download, there is really no reason not to have it.
    Price: Free
    Ratings: 5/5 based off 8 votes.
    Download: Canopy Calculator
    BASEline Flight Computer (Android)
    This application is more of an honorable mention, as the truth is, we really don't know just how well it works. On paper though, this looks to be a great application, if one has the correct mobile device that can support all of the functionality. BASEline Flight Computer is an application which is designed to improve flight performance, offering real-time feedback by both visual and audible means. The application claims that it uses the phone's sensors to determine things like altitude, glide ratio, tilt, speed etc.
    BASEline Flight Computer offers the user the ability to program your mobile device into an audible altimeter. Though naturally one should never rely on your mobile device to act as your altimeter.
    There is also a built in log book which has altimeter and gps recordings.
    IMPORTANT
    It is vitally important to note that this application should not at any stage be used as a primary means for altitude awareness, and to exercise extreme caution when using it in a skydiving or base jumping environment. The maker also strongly recommends that this device only be used with barometric altimeter sensors, which are only available on select few mobile devices. GPS data is not reliable for altitude readings, and even with barometric altimeter sensors, the readings may not be reliable.
    The developer ends the description with the line: "Software is provided "as is," with no warranty of any kind. Skydiving is dangerous, don't be stupid."
    This application has a lot to offer, as mentioned above. The real question is- How well does it work?
    Price: $6
    Ratings: 4/5 Stars based off 1 vote.
    Download: Baseline Flight Computer

    Which skydiving apps have you got loaded onto your smart phone?

    By Meso, in News,

    Inches From Death - Near Plane Collision

    Despite having occurred late last year, a recently uploaded Youtube video showing an extremely close encounter between a tandem instructor, passenger and the jumpship they just exited from, has gone viral. The 4 minute long video (including editing) was shot in October 2014 and shows a tandem instructor, from what has been determined as a Thailand based skydiving operation at an estimated 13 000 feet (a typical exit altitude for tandem jumps).
    Twelve seconds after the TI and passenger exit the plane, the plane comes into view of the camera and can be seen diving quickly in their direction. The camera speed is then slowed down and shows the plane moving closer, with one frame showing the bridle and drogue of the TI wrapped around the wing of the plane.
    It appears as though the drogue bridle was cut when it wrapped over the wing and can be seen waving behind the TI in some of the frames. He then deploys the reserve shortly afterwards.
    The passenger appears for the most part, unaware of exactly how close the pair came to death during the incident, with the video later cutting to text on screen suggesting that the TI had just explained what had happened, while they were under canopy.
    There has been quite a bit of conversation around just how this happened, whether it was purely pilot negligence - or whether perhaps a close fly-by is something that is pre-arranged with the TI and pilot, in order to give the passengers a more thrilling experience. While there is no clear evidence to lead one to make such a damning assumption, several individuals have noted the TI's apparent eagerness to get the passenger to look in the direction of the descending aircraft, even before it has entered the frame of the video. Others are calling the TI a hero for the professional way in which he handled the incident, staying calm and getting both himself and the tandem passenger safely on the ground.
    Regardless of the details behind the incident, it's clear that those involved are lucky to still be alive.
    A discussion about the event is currently taking place in the forums in an incidents thread.

    By admin, in News,

    The Journey of an AFF Student - Part 5

    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.
    AFF5 – Saturday 8th August
    What an awesome jump!!
    Got down to the DZ for 8am and was straight onto the manifest - I got on load 2 for 9am – what a start to a Saturday!
    Delighted with myself.
    Got given the same instructor with whom I did my AFF4 repeat with.

    We did the dirt dive and walk through a couple of times and he just kept telling me to relax and I'd nail it.

    I was very cool on the climb - no nerves really - just the tingles of anticipation.
    Door opened and we were second out - I was much faster getting stable than previously.
    Once stable, I performed my first 360 - then awaited the go ahead for the second in the other direction.

    Upon completion, he gave me thumbs up and for the first time ever, I give out a big smile AND gave him back two thumbs up! That’s how cool and calm and together I was. It’s actually starting to make a bit of sense to me now. Has this clicked?

    This was by a mile, the best jump so far – brilliant fun

    Though, I made a total disaster of the landing - haha.
    Winds picked up then and due to get stronger all day - the whole place was on a weather hold, so I stayed and talked to a few people for a couple of hours and left them to it at 2pm.
    Class!
    AFF6 & AFF7 Qualification – Friday 14th August
    Finally, we got there in the end!
    Had a day in lieu to take from work, the sun came out and the club was open - all the stars aligned.
    It was nice and quiet down there with me being the only AFF student - about 90% tandems and about 5 or 6 fun jumpers - and 1 SL student.
    Did my brief for AFF6 and nailed it - really pumped up for spinning out of control and regaining stability - it’s the first time that I had to prove to myself, that I could get it back - delighted with that.

    Then a bit of tracking. I've never really done the tracking properly before so this was a bit unnerving to be honest - but it worked ok - better than on AFF7 actually, where I didn’t do it very well at all.

    Winds were quite strong, which helped with my very first stand up landing! I actually jumped up after the stand up and let out a yelp, I was so chuffed with it.
    I then had about 45mins until AFF7 came around - this was my first time doing 2 jumps in a day – a big deal for me.
    Quick briefing, head first exit and a backflip - bit of tracking and a couple of turns - “keep it simple” was the key of this one. Simple? Head first and a backflip?? Sweet Lord!
    I’d never done a head first exit and had no idea how to do it “pretend you’re diving into a pool – don’t over think it” simple advice and worked a treat – it was really cool and it’s now my exit of choice.

    Stability was very quick – bit of turn and it was fixed, then onto the back flip and just chill for the rest of it.

    Watching the videos I can see I’m not using enough legs and I’m backsliding, but hey, I’m still on AFF here!
    Made a complete mess of the landing pattern though - was too high on entry and then ended up way downwind and wasn’t making progress back - was pretty much sinking straight, over a tree line - I could see I wasn't making any forward motion so at about 300ft I made the decision to pull out and headed down wind towards a big hay field, turned back into the wind and brought it down, mellow enough landing on my butt (boy am I getting used to that), but it was my first ever out so I was really concentrating on PLF and bales of hay more so than a stand up.
    Got back to the hanger and the CCI said he was watching and that I made the right decision as regards giving up and landing out, but gave me a ticking off for being in that situation in the first place - fair enough, I shouldn’t have been there, I just got it wrong.

    Whatever anyway, I got down safe and had the walk of shame back to the hanger - I was obviously the talk of the place for the two minutes as about 15 people (tandems and fun folk) all applauding and laughing at me Haha - not for the first or last time either
    Then as I was laying out my rig for packing, congratulations for me graduating AFF came out over the Tannoy and I got a round of applause from everyone.

    I felt a hundred miles high and my chest was out – I’d done it
    Epilogue and Next Steps
    I took up snowboarding 15 years ago because “that looks like fun” and I have never missed a season since
    Having travelled across Canada, the USA and Europe in search of powder and memories
    Perhaps this new sport can introduce me to warm, sunny, summertime places that I never normally get to see. Everywhere I go is cold and white. It would be nice to wear shorts and flip flops on a holiday for once.
    AFF and jumping from planes has definitely been my second greatest achievement in life, after quitting smoking.
    It really has been a journey for me - I've learned a lot more about what I'm made of - what goes on in both my head and in my heart.
    I don't want to sound like a hippy, but this has been an enlightening journey so far.
    A skydiver I met on a forum mailed me this upon my AFF qualification:
    “I think you will find (as I have) that skydiving is neither difficult nor is it easy. Looking back on the training and the jumps, I think it's safe to state that every nerve in the body is challenged and tested. Much like the game of golf, skydiving does not define character so much as it reveals what is already there.“
    “So, I think you had a lot going for you in the first place. You just did not know it and now you've found it. “
    I’ve never had such lovely words said to me by essentially, a complete stranger whom I know by a web forum alias and first name only.
    Since completing AFF, I’ve gone on to continue with the consolidation jumps and if I were a betting man, I’d stick 10 bucks on me going on to complete my A licence.
    What does skydiving hold for me? I have no idea. I really don’t. I guess I’ll keep going, one jump at a time.
    The skydiving community are a very friendly and welcoming community and there has been no end of advice and assistance at all times from every angle.
    Whatever I do and however far I go, I must pay that back

    By admin, in News,

    The Old Timers of Kansas and Missouri Skydiving

    A background into the history of the sport, at least in Kansas and Missouri.
    I was online reading some of the history comments posted in 2008 and saw mention of DZ's in Kansas as well as mention of Jim Garrison. I have a few additions to the posts I read from 2008.
    I knew Jim through my dad and I was at the nationals as a spectator. During the nationals Jim burned in with a streamer landing on the blacktop runway and broke his leg, as history shows, it didn’t kill him and he jumped again either the same day or the next day with a broken leg in a cast. When I asked him how he managed to live through that he said with a smile “I did the shit out of a PLF” but that incident made him pretty much legend, at least around here. Jim was D 94 and one of the earliest sport parachutists in America as the number shows. As I said, I met him at the nationals at the old Olathe airport around 1962. I started jumping shortly after the nationals in March of 1963.
    Besides a skydiver Jim was a Deputy Sheriff at that time, I knew him through my dad who also worked at the same Sheriff’s Office, Johnson County Kansas. A couple of friends and I decided it would be neat to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, so we met up with Garrison and others at a private strip near 183rd & Mission Rd in Johnson County Kansas. The club at that was called KA MO. The address at that time would have been Stillwell, now Overland Park or Leawood Ks. I made 8 jumps but lost my nerve when a friend burned in at Hutchinson in 1963. My buddies made one or two jumps and all quit.
    Fast forward a few years, around 1968/69 and I am now a Sheriff’s Deputy on Patrol near Desoto Kansas, I see three parachutes pop open a few miles away. I follow them and find the airport which was just off of Edgerton Road West of Desoto and North of K 10 highway. Walla! Jim Garrison now has a DZ on a 1000 ft + or - dirt strip on a farm. I offered to fly jumpers as I was working on my commercial pilots license and Jim accepted so I became one of his pilots at that time his only pilot other than him. That DZ was pretty neat as when you went out you were free falling over or just South of the Kaw River which gave the DZ some character other than farms and Desoto.
    I don’t remember any aircraft other than the 180 Cessna that I flew and I flew for a couple of years hauling jumpers and pulling the glider. The glider went south or rather down after about a year when a kid stationed at Whiteman did what jet pilots do when they get in trouble. For you non pilots they pull the stick back, if that doesn’t work they eject. He did, it stalled and went straight in from about 100 feet or less, demolished the glider, broke both of his legs and ended his career as a military pilot, bad luck but he lived. I started jumping again as I got to jump free being the pilot but I only logged 50 jumps without incident except for a couple of tree landings. It goes without saying that parachutes at that time were not the quality as they are now.

    When I got my commercial license I quit as I was burned out. I spent ALL of my free time at the airport so I quit jumping and continued working on my pilots licenses.
    There were some really good people in those two clubs and some not so good, I have stories. I was an outsider since I was a Sheriff’s Deputy and the 60's clubbing by LEO’s in Chicago caused many of the younger generation folks to hate cops, they tolerated me because they needed a pilot and they had a connection with the SO through me, they called me frequently even after I left. I lost touch with Garrison after that because the DZ was shut down for non payment of rent, if I remember right. Jim was a hell of a pilot and PC instructor. Jim didn’t quit after the Desoto DZ was gone but I don’t recall exactly where he went from there unless he was associated with another DZ located at the Independence Mo airport, seems like he may have gone there but he may also was at Wellsville Ks. for a while. I was there a few years later but he wasn’t around. Jim would be around 81 now if he is still kicking and as feisty as he was he probably is. Last I knew he was living in the KCMO area.

    By EdH, in News,

    Discussing Jet-Powered Wingsuit Flying With Jarno McCordia

    As one of the most experienced pilots in the world, Jarno McCordia is continually involved with things at the pointy end of wingsuit flight. Following on from providing details about the new wingsuit tunnel in Stockholm, he shares some information about a more personal project that aims to answer a question that continually bothers us as humans:
    “What happens if we strap rockets to it?”
    “In a way this project started back in 2005 when I first saw Finnish wingsuit pilot Visa Parviainen experimenting with the first set of small jet engines. I had been involved in helping him with some media stuff around 2010, and at that point it really sparked my interest. It had always been a secret longing, but at that point I really got inspired to try and turn it into a reality.”
    “Every wingsuit pilot dreams of flying with unlimited range and power - to turn yourself into a true flying machine. Visa took that and turned it into a reality. He worked for years to develop the idea, logging longer and longer flights, aiming for level flight and then the ability to gain altitude.”

    While Jarno concedes that other high-profile projects that utilise similar technology have helped to draw attention to his plans, it has taken a lot of work to get it up and running.
    ‘It took quite a few years, and many dozens of sponsor proposals to finally get the project of the ground. At the moment we are midway into construction on the fuel setup and engine mounts, our software engineer is almost done programming the custom onboard computer that will control and monitor the engines, and provide various safety features related to matching thrust and (automated) startup and shut down sequences.”

    “Engine technology and wingsuit design have both come a long way since Visa's first flights over a decade ago, and it is going to be exciting to see how far we can take it. We have a team of aeronautics designers helping with the engine mounting and fuel setup, and experts in construction making the gear. Visa himself has been involved from the start, providing us with a great deal of knowhow and practical information - as well as showing us his setup and design ideas.”
    Unlike the various rigid wing systems we have seen over the years, your plans appear to utilise fairly standard wingsuiting gear. What have you had to adapt?
    This is one of the main goals for the project. I’ve surrounded myself with a lot of experts in various fields and we are trying to design a set of gear that can be added to any normal wingsuit/parachute system. I will be using a bigger canopy due to around ten kilos of added weight I will have on landing, but thanks to recent advancements in ultralight fabrics and canopy design it will fit into my normal rig.

    So when can we all have one?
    I am not sure that buying a jump ticket and getting on a plane with a tank of Jet A1 strapped to your back and engines blasting super heated exhaust at 600 mph will ever become standard, but for me this is a dream project and I'm trying to get as many knowledgeable and skilled people as possible involved to help it become reality. An important personal goal is to develop a system that is as safe and easy to use as possible, and I think approaching the design process from the point of view of that anyone should be able to use it is a good place to start from.”
    How long until we can expect to see you in the sky?
    “We do have a date we're aiming for in terms of the first flights, but we are keeping that off the record for now. It is crucial to let safety, finalised designs and a thorough testing process dictate when we a ready to go. My biggest wish for the whole project was to make it safe, accessible and of course as awesome as can be.”
    Project manager & Pilot: Jarno Cordia

    Made possible by: IGOFX, AMT Jets, Phoenix-Fly
    Programming & Technical Setup: Martijn Decauter
    Technical Realisation & Construction management: Jean-Louis Becker / NL Ballon
    Aerodynamics Design, Tunnel Testing & Support: DNW Aero

    By admin, in News,

    Why You Should Give Yoga A Chance - Part 1

    Emma Tranter has helped airsports athletes get on--and stay on--the mat for 16 years. You’re next.
    So, full disclosure:
    This author has been practicing yoga for many years. I deeply believe that I couldn’t jump or fly without using yoga as a tool to undergird those activities, but it was so difficult to explain why that I generally deflected the conversation. After all, it used to be that chats involving yoga on the dropzone would end awkwardly (usually, with someone trying to fold themselves into lotus pose and falling off a barstool).
    These days, other airsports athletes tend to be much more receptive--but they often insist they simply can’t do yoga themselves, always calling in one (or more) of these three reasons:
    I don’t have time.

    I’m not flexible.

    I already work out enough.
    But what if I told you that these are all dismantlable barriers? That you can--and very much should--knock them down? And that it’ll measurably increase your sports performance?
    You certainly don’t have to take my word for it. Take Emma Tranter’s.
    Emma is a force of nature in our sport. A longtime-professional-skydiver-and-traveller-turned-extensively-educated-yoga-teacher, Emma has over 16 years of experience melding these two seemly opposing practices (and understands firsthand, the desires, aversions and excuses of the adventure-seeker. If you’ve spent time at Skydive DeLand, you know Emma for her yoga studio: The Yoga Shed, so close to Skydive DeLand that a well-thrown baseball will easily make the journey from the dropzone parking lot to the studio’s front door. Along with running her yoga studio, Emma currently travels the globe from her home base to facilitate Fusion Flow wellness retreats at various wind tunnels around the world, She does this with her twin sister, peak performance health coach, Lucie Charping.
    Arguably, Emma has the world’s most substantial experience in working with airsports athletes as they develop and advance a yoga practice. If anyone can break down the barriers between you and a yoga mat, it’s gonna be her.
    So let’s get started, shall we?
    ALO: Emma, tell us your abridged life story in the sky and on the mat.
    Emma: I made my first jump at home in New Zealand in 1994. I was professionally skydiving for many years--traveling all over the world for the sport. I eventually came to DeLand and stayed.
    I started teaching yoga in 2000, but I was still primarily a skydiver--packing parachutes and coaching at Skydive University and all of that kinda stuff. The balance shifted around 2003, when I completed a thousand-hour course in Precision Alignment Yoga. It was a two year training. It was awesome; I am still with those teachers.
    As the early 2000s went by, I started to get more more dedicated and committed to yoga. I transitioned out of professional skydiving but I stayed very active in the community, and I still fly regularly in the tunnel. The tunnel gives me more space in my life to dedicate to yoga, and teaching yoga is undoubtedly what I am supposed to be doing with my life.
    This is the sixth year of the Yoga Shed. Opening it in 2011 right next to the dropzone just seemed like the most natural choice in the world. I love to teach skydivers; they’re my people. And what skydivers find in a yoga practice is uniquely helpful to them.
    ALO: Does it still feel to you like people in these sports have the wrong idea about yoga?
    Emma: Oh yeah. A lot of airsports people--like the general public, I guess--still have the conception that yoga is about bending yourself into a pretzel or sitting on a cushion and omming. I mean, it is in some practices, but this is a very limited view.
    Airsports people tirelessly seek a state of flow. When you jump out of a plane or off a cliff and you’re not in that flow state, then that’s usually when things go wrong. When things go really right, it’s when your consciousness is in alignment; when you are fully present and not affected by your ego, when you aren’t thinking about what happened before or what’s coming in the future. You are just in that moment. Yoga gets you there.
    Airsports athletes make really good yogis because, once they actually establish the habit, they see the immediate, enormous benefits of the practice. They know what that particular flow feeling is when they meet it on the mat because it’s one of the central reasons they jump. The great news is that--once you’ve got the concentration required, when you can align the body and align the mind--then you start to experience that nowness that we all love in airsports whenever you want to. The trick is just to start doing it.
    ALO: Okay, Emma: I don’t have enough time.
    Emma: The first thing you have to do is be realistic as far as time goes. I always suggest the same question: How much time is realistic for you to dedicate to your health and wellness practices in order to support your flying, your skydiving, your BASE jumping...whatever it is that you love to do? Is it 10 minutes? 15 minutes? Half an hour? Most people will be, like, okay, I could definitely do 15 minutes. I take longer than that in the shower.
    Then I’ll say, “Okay. Let’s make this a 15-minute practice. How many days a week do you realistically think you will dedicate 15 minutes to do this practice? Twice a week? Three times a week? Fifteen minutes, three times a week, is very doable.
    I usually encourage my students to do their practice in the morning, before the day gets going and distractions come along. Can you get up 15 minutes earlier and fit it in before your shower? Do you see that as something that’s realistically possible? The majority of people discover that it’s quite easy to do. It’s more beneficial for people to do a 10- or 15-minute home practice every day than go take a class once a week for an hour and a half.
    When people start with a 10-minute or 15-minute practice and dedicate to it, that practice gradually lengthens in time. Suddenly that 10-minute practice that they were just going to get out of the way is 15 minutes long. And then, a month later, it is 20 minutes long, because they just felt like staying in it a little bit longer. In time, it grows and grows from within. But If you expect yourself to do a one-and-a-half hour practice, three times a week, right off the bat--if that’s unrealistic, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.
    If it’s that easy, why isn’t everybody doing it already? Find out in the next installment--as well as the reason “I’m not flexible” is the worst-ever reason not to take up yoga.

    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,

    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,

    Legendary Author Dan Poynter Passes Away

    World-renowned author and skydiver Dan Poynter (D-454) passed away peacefully yesterday after recently being diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and Renal Failure. While Dan may no longer be with us, his writings and the connections he formed within the skydiving community will ensure his legacy is kept alive for a long time to come. He will be remembered not only for his books, which span more than 35 years and include more than 120 titles, but also for his attitude which drove his success.
    Dan's career began with the management of a parachute company in California, after which he became more involved with the design aspect of parachutes and became a design specialist. An active and skilled skydiver, Dan began to write about his knowledge of the sport with a seemingly unrivaled knowledge, specifically with regards to equipment. In 1972 he released "The Parachute Manual—A Technical Treatise on the Parachute", which is often seen as one of the leading early publications on skydiving gear.
    In 1978 Dan released the original copy of "Parachuting: The Skydiver's Handbook" - a book that has been seen by many as one of the cornerstones of skydiving literature. Unlike some of Dan's other work which was focused more on the technical aspects and aimed towards riggers, The Skydiver's Handbook brought to the table a collection of extremely valuable information and advice for all skydivers, from those just beginning their journey to those who already have several thousand jumps. Dan's publications were not limited to his self-published books either, and his column in Parachutist magazine was always thoroughly enjoyed by many.
    Dan developed a keen interest in hang gliding as well, which lead him to write the book "Hang Gliding" which became a bestseller with over 130 000 copies sold and remains one of Dan's most recognized works.
    The fact that Dan was writing on topics with a smaller audience posed challenges for the writer, who realized his best option in the distribution of his work was to self-publish. Dan established 'Para Publishing', where he would spend years being the sole driving force of the company. Writing, publishing, promotion and even shipping was all handled by Dan, despite the numerous copies being sold.
    His determination and drive in the management of Para Publishing lead him to write a book on his experience, "The Self-Publishing Manual". It also lead to him becoming a well known motivational speaker.
    Dan Poynter had always been ahead of his time, from his early technical books on skydiving equipment right through to his methods of book distribution. In 1996 Dan was already selling information products from his website, something that would only become common place years later.
    His achievements both in publishing and in skydiving will not soon be forgotten, with both his work and countless awards testament to the impact he had on skydivers around the world.

    By admin, in News,

    Research on Injuries Sustained from Hard Openings

    The Neurology Neurosurgical Department of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, under the guidance of Patrick Weldon MD, is conducting an investigation into Injuries Sustained from Hard Openings and is actively researching any skydivers who may have been injured from a hard opening.
    The chief investigating physician in this study is Dr Patrick Weldon, an avid skydiver, videographer, and WFFC Load Organizer. The purpose of this study is to identify the type, extent, and duration of injuries sustained from hard openings as well as long term effects of these injuries with emphasis on recovery, prognosis, and ability to return to skydiving.
    Skydiver cooperation is essential to identify common factors from these injuries, and your participation will lead to better understanding of the dynamics involved in parachute openings. Results of this study could lead to improvement in parachute designs.
    Participants will be under no obligation to travel. Research will be initiated by telephone interviews by a Neurologist or Neurosurgeon. If participant agrees, a physician will review their medical chart and diagnostic procedures (ie. Xrays, CT, MRI etc.)
    Information on any and all injuries sustained from a hard-opening parachute, minor to severe, is desired.
    Please note that this is a medical research study only. Physicians and others involved will not in anyway cooperate with any litigation or litiganous activity. Any attempt to use this information for any lawsuit-based purpose will be denied.
    For more information, or to participate, please contact Dr Patrick Weldon, Department of Neurology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, at (601) 984-5500, fax (601) 984-5503, or via email: Patrick@Flyingthecamera.com
    This study will follow all applicable HIPA rules and regulations regarding medical research and patient confidentiality.

    By admin, in News,

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