DeLand Tunnel Rage - Lives Up To Its Name

    There's good reason why DeLand Tunnel Rage was overwhelmingly voted by 90% of the people present at the U.S. Skydiving Nationals 2000 as Best New Team: They simply blew away their competition in the 4-way Intermediate category to take the gold. They also have a secret: They have less than 100 team jumps together. But by training consistently at SkyVenture, located in Orlando, Florida, these newcomers prove to be an excellent case study of how wind tunnel training can affect overall performance.
    It was only February of this year that Kyle Starck, captain, Thomas Hughes, Glenn Mendez and Eliana Rodrigueze even formed their team. Three of them--Starck, Hughes and Rodriguez--are SkyVenture employees, but as Mendez describes it, "Training in the wind tunnel is the great equalizer."
    Take a cross-section of their own individual skydiving histories, and by no means, do these jumpers post large numbers of skydives in their logbooks any one year. Try a modest couple hundred, if that.
    Hughes, the youngest in the group at age 19, started AFF in February of 1999, only a year and a half before this very competition. But he started working at the wind tunnel the same time he began AFF. He now has 240 jumps.
    Rodriguez, the only female on the team, has been skydiving for about four and a half years and has about 600 jumps. She's been at SkyVenture for over two years.
    Mendez is in his 7th year and counting upwards from 685 now. His father was a jumper back in the late '60s, but went on hiatus until his boy started jumping. Mendez's father came out of retirement to video all of Tunnel Rage's practice skydives all the way up to the Nationals, at which point the team hooked up with cameraman Wyat Dreues from Elsinore for the actual meet.
    Only Starck has cracked the 1000-mark. Both of his parents are skydivers, and he grew up around it. He "allegedly" did his first tandem at age 7 with his father, started packing at 11 and began AFF at 16. He did a bit of RW when he started, but turned into a freefly junkie very quickly. He estimates 1000 of his 1500 jumps are freeflying. But again, he also works at the tunnel.
    Their only competition experience as a team came from three meets within the Florida Skydiving League. But they noted, they performed "not so well." On the other hand, the received second in one, and on another, they lost over 12 points due to video busts. They used the competitions more as a training ground, and they agreed they still had a lot to work out.
    Says Starck, "All the practice jumps before this (Nationals) were pretty rough. We weren't feeling very comfortable with things. We took a big chunk of time and went into the tunnel and worked out a lot of the problems we had."
    Rodriguez adds, "We all have great individual skills, and we had to put it together. It was hard to synchronize at first, we tried to go too fast. We had to get the timing right."
    So for a full month and a half between the last FSL meet and Nationals, they didn't skydive at all--they went into the tunnel instead. "We did nothing as a 2-way, nothing individually, everything as a 4-way," says Mendez. They consulted each other for feedback.
    As a result, "We turned a 15 1/2 average as opposed to a 10 average," continues Mendez. In just six weeks, folks
    They call the solid column of air at SkyVenture, "a phenomenal training environment." And they are excellent proof of their theory and team name. The only thing they were concerned about was their exits at the Nationals. But that obviously worked out.
    So, Starck got a wonderful 22nd birthday present with their win on Sunday, October 1st, and now Mendez's mother has to go up with Starck on her first tandem, per their agreement if they won.
    Hughes says, "All those people who think we have an unfair advantage, we don't. Buy some time in the tunnel, and you'll see."

    By admin, in News,

    Chris Talbert - Golden Knight

    The first time I met him was at the Ranch's bonfire pit, the night before this year's Pond Swooping Nationals. Standing there was a slim, young man with an open, friendly smile and warm eyes, whose speech has such a liberal use of the word "y'all," that I knew it was safe to assume that he wasn't from the area. He introduced himself simply as Chris. It wasn't until well into our conversation that I realized that this was Chris Talbert of the Golden Knights, the U.S. Army Parachute Team.
    Being a fledgling jumper myself, I wanted to be in awe of this man and his accomplishments. Chris, however, is far too down to Earth to allow that. We spent quite some time talking that evening. Actually, I think it would be safer to say that I spent most the time interrogating him, but he answered all my questions with Southern charm and style. Later I found myself wishing I could have taped that conversation, to share it with others like myself who are just starting out.
    When I realized this past Saturday night that Chris was sitting just two seats away from me at our local hang out, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to say hello. By the end of the evening, he had graciously agreed to let me interview him on the record. Given how tight Chris' schedule is, and that on this trip he would only be at the Ranch for one more very busy day of coaching our 8-way team, we decided to conduct this interview via email.
    Name: Christopher Michael Talbert
    Age: 29

    Home Town: Monrovia, Maryland

    Marital Status: Single

    Children: One Goddaughter, that's all

    Year of First Jump: 1993

    Number of Jumps to Date: 3800

    US Army Rank: Staff Sergeant

    Currently Stationed at: U.S. Army Parachute Team, "The Golden Knights," Ft Bragg, NC

    Licenses and Ratings: National Judge

    Awards and Medals: 12 HR Badge, cant find it, don't know the number!
    What made you first decide to join the Army?

    Seemed like the thing to do at the time, the same reason I have done a lot of things in my life! That, and I knew I didn't want to go to college, and was too shy to tell the recruiter to take a hike.
    If you weren't a Golden Knight, what would your duties be?
    Bradley Fighting Vehicle Systems Maintenance manager. That's Army talk for being a tank mechanic.
    What was it that first sparked your interest in skydiving; in trying out for the Golden Knights?
    I was in a leadership course that everyone in the Army needs to get promoted to Sergeant. I met a guy named Matt Hustead who was on one of the demonstration teams. He got me into skydiving and later on convinced me, along with a few other people, to go to tryouts for the Knights.
    Did you do static line or AFF? Where? If the training method were your choice, which one; why?

    I did AFF, it seemed like the easier way to go. And at that time there were 2 parachute clubs on Ft Bragg. Both of them got helicopter support on the weekends from the aviation units. (free jumps from Hueys and Blackhawks) $420 to get your a license, provided you didn't have to redo any jumps. How cool is that? Of course I didn't know it would take me nearly 20 jumps to graduate levels 1-7!
    A lot of jumpers run into opposition from family and friends when they first start skydiving. Did you?

    Not outwardly. I am sure my mom wasn't crazy about me skydiving but she has always strongly supported me in anything I wanted to do. The first time she saw me jump, I had my first malfunction, at jump 87. That was enough for her to see that day, but she has never even hinted that she wanted me to quit.
    When you first started skydiving, did it all come 'naturally' to you, or was there any area that you had some trouble with and needed to work harder at?
    When I first stared skydiving I was 6'1" 165 pounds soaking wet with rocks in my pockets. The only thing that came natural to me was eating and being a skinny geek! Everything else it seemed like I had to really work to figure out. RW has come more natural then anything else, but I still feel like a rookie and have a lot to learn. Accuracy is a big part of GK tryouts, and that was very hard for me to figure out. I finally got it, but it is the aspect of skydiving I have to think about the most to get it right.
    What "mistake" did you ever make that you learned the most from?
    Too many to list I think. One collective thing I have learned from all of them is you have to be able to laugh at yourself, because everyone else is gonna too.
    How many different teams does the Army currently have?
    There is one Army parachute team, with four different teams within the Golden Knights. Two demonstration teams, named the Black and Gold teams. The two demo teams travel in excess of 200 days per year, performing at airshows, civic events and military functions. They are the ones most people think of if you mention the Golden Knights. Then there are two competitions teams: the RW, or 8-way team, and the Style and Accuracy team. Both of whom train on a regular basis at the PK airpark in Raeford, NC. Traveling mostly for competitions, but also for a few training camps during the year.
    What's involved in trying out for the team?
    Its like pledging a fraternity and going through basic training at the same time. It's a high stress environment, yet there are very few hard standards. Jumping skills are totally secondary to attitude, ability and willingness to learn. And to how much of a team player you are. It's usually 6 to 8 jumps a day, 6 days a week, for 6 weeks. Most of the people cut are for attitude, or lack of experience. The latter are usually urged to try again, if they keep jumping and gain some experience.
    How often do slots on the team become available?
    Slots on the competition teams usually come available after a World Meet, which is every odd numbered year for formation skydiving. Slots on the demo teams come available every year, and that's what the people in tryouts are being looked at for. Slots on the demo team. It is possible to go straight to a competition team. Someone has to make it thru GK tryouts first, then if there are comp. team tryouts that year, they are welcome to attend.
    How many applications are received; how many are accepted?
    It varies from year to year, there are far fewer skydivers in the Army then most people think. Roughly 55 to 65 applications are submitted, about a third of those are usually accepted (that's just the trend, not a hard stat.) and about a third of those who are invited to tryout make the team. Usually ends up being 7 to 10 of the applications submitted that actually make it.
    What do the Knights look for in the candidates; how do they choose?
    See the question about what's involved in tryouts, combine the two if you want. Teamwork, attitude, willing to learn, humility, (yes the GK's actually have some humility!) and a good attitude in the face of adversity.
    Tell us about your tryout and how it felt to be chosen.
    One of the hardest things I did in my life. I had to talk myself out of quitting at 4:30 every morning when I was getting out of bed. When it was over I said, "Damn right I made it!" The people who make the team truly earn it, and when you do, you know you deserve it.
    How many competitions do you enter each year?
    As many as the Army can afford. Our budget usually allows for 3 Americas Cups, the US Nationals, and the World Meet, or World Cup, which ever is being held that year.
    How much time do you spend on the road each year?
    About four and a half months collectively, five weeks of which is all in one shot, from mid January to mid March, when all the GK's go to Arizona for winter training.
    What is an average day/week like for you and the team?
    Meet at the dz somewhere between 5:30 and 6:30, depending on the time of year, do physical training for an hour or so, (running, pushups, sit ups, etc. Play soccer a lot as well.) Then start jumping around 8 or 8:30. Make 8 to 12 jumps, debrief and go home.
    Wind tunnels are becoming a very popular training tool for many individual and team jumpers. How do you feel about the use of them? Are they a good substitute for actual freefall time? How do the commercial wind tunnels compare to the one the Knights use?

    I think wind tunnels are great, if you keep it in perspective. They are NOT a good substitute for jumping, but they are great for teaching individual body position, piece turns and developing smoothness and speed. The only wind tunnel I have been to (other than the one at Ft Bragg) is the one in Orlando. With two people in it, it seems comparable to the one here in NC. The one at Ft Bragg can support as many people as you can fit in the column, which is about 12 feet wide. 4 people fit well and can get a lot out of it.
    When you do have a day off, what do you do to relax and unwind?
    What's a day off? Just kidding. I play a lot of golf, spend time with my Goddaughter when I can. A little woodworking as well.
    How much longer will you be on the team; in the Army?
    My time on the team is a bit uncertain, depends on how things go with the US Nationals at the end of September. Then the World Meet. I have 9 years till I can retire from the Army though.
    Do you plan to continue competing even after your time with the Knights ends?
    I hope so. There are a lot of people out there I would like to do a team with someday.
    What plans do you have for once you leave the Army?
    Ask me in 8 and a half years.
    Recently you spent your days off coaching the Fantasy Flyers, the Ranch's 8-way team. What do you get out of coaching? What methods do you use, have you found to be most effective?
    I get a lot out of coaching, mostly just pure fun. I talk a LOT, just ask my teammates. Now someone is going to fly me to another DZ for the weekend and EXPECT me to talk?! How cool is that? I also like to share my knowledge. I have been lucky in skydiving in regard to the people who taught me. Its just my way of doing the same for someone else. Most teams are really eager to learn, and want to know exactly how we (the Knights) do things. I have learned you keep it simple, and try to make very few physical changes. Instead, just change where someone's focus is, or what they are thinking about. Most people, by the time they are on a team know how to move from point a to point b, so I try not to change a whole lot of physical stuff. It's hard to relearn something after so many jumps. On top of all that, I have this golf habit that I have to pay for somehow!
    As a Knight you obviously do a lot of RW. When you're doing fun jumps, do you try any of the other disciplines?
    Recently I was accused of being scared to try anything other than RW. I actually freefly as much as I can. That isn't very often, but I do enjoy it. I just point my head at the ground and smile! That and flying my canopy. I am not a great canopy pilot, but do have a blast with it.
    With the growing popularity of Freefly and Skysurfing, and with all the media interest that's being generated by competitions like the Space Games and the XGames, is the Army likely to start fielding teams for these events? Do you think they should or should not?
    Come on, this is the government. The fighter that was just introduced last year was first designed in like '87? I don't see a freefly or skysurf team in the near future, but I do think it would be a great idea. Above and beyond all else, we are about public relations, recruiting, and competing for the Army. Those are the 3 missions we have to keep up front, along with safety. How many millions of people would get a chance to see something about the Army they never knew, or thought of, if we participated in the X-Games, or Space Games?
    What kind of rig do you jump when you're competing with the team; what do you jump for your personal rig?
    Javelin TJN, Stiletto 120 and a PD 113 reserve, and CYPRES of course. That's my team gear and my personal gear.
    Obviously you've jumped at dropzones all over the world. Are there any that you would consider a particular favorite?
    Every drop zone I have ever jumped at I enjoyed. Hell, I was skydiving and hanging out with skydivers. I couldn't say a favorite though. I tried and can't even narrow it down to four. My home DZ is Raeford, NC. I guess I would actually say that's my favorite. That's where it all started for me, and that's where I have the most friends.
    Is there any one jump in the thousands you've made that really stands out for you as being especially memorable?
    Three that are equal. Flying the American flag into Olympic Stadium in Atlanta in 1996, for the opening ceremonies of the Paralympics. Flying the American flag into the dedication of the George Bush Memorial Library in College Station, Texas, in 1997. Round 10 of 8-way at the 1999 National Championships.
    If you could build a team made up of any skydivers in the world, past or present, who would you include?
    I waited till the end to answer this. Its more difficult than you realize. I have always looked at myself as a little fish, lucky enough to not get eaten in a huge pond. There are several people I would love to compete with. Anyone from the GK's that I have been teammates with gets a standing invitation. Also any past GK's from the 11 straight World Meets they won. AFTER them, any seven (this is MY team, it's gonna be an 8-way team) of the '98-'99 AIRSPEED world champions that would be willing to jump with me. The four members of Deland PD Blue, formerly Deland Genisis, along with John Hoover (my current piece partner on the 8-way team), Solly Williams, and Gary Smith from the '97 South African 4-way team. Or any 7 of Perris Passion 8. Hell, all 8 of them. I can shoot some killer video!
    Because AIRSPEED is a great organization. I have learned a lot from them and I would like to try training under their mind set sometime. The PD guys and Gary and Solly? I have stood on the outside watching those guys work so well together, they have great team dynamics. And Hoover would KILL me if I didn't offer him that last slot! (this is MY team) And Passion 8? If you have to ask, you're either a wuffo, or have never seen Passion 8!
    Who are some of your influences, mentors and idols?
    So many, I don't think I could list them all. My family is my biggest influence. They don't get half of the love and support from me that I get from them; yet they never say a word and just keep on cheering for me. My mentors? If they been on the Golden Knights 8-way team in the past 7 years, they could probably be on this list. Charlie Brown, Eric Hienshiemer, Vern Miller, Trevor McCarthy, Carey Mills, John Hoover, Kurt Isenbarger, Paul Rafferety, Joe Trinko, Craig Girard, Rob Work, Paul Raspino, J.K. Davis. Get the picture? More than anyone though, a guy at Raeford named Kenny Lovett. I think I would have quit a long time ago if it were not for him. Outside of my family, Vince Lombardi is my biggest idol. He is the original tough guy. Ever read his speech about what it takes to be number one?
    Is there any area of skydiving as a whole that you see as needing more attention, anything that concerns you?
    Well safety is always an issue. I get spoiled jumping with the same 8 people all the time. It's very reassuring. People between 20 and 500 jumps are my biggest concern. Freeflyers, bellyflyers, whatever. We need to make sure they are getting worthwhile help in their progression. Not just in flying skills, but SPOTTING (How many current jumpers, less than 5 years in the sport KNOW they can spot an aircraft?) canopy skills, and recognizing the old/bold skydiver theory.
    What advice would you give to low-time jumpers and those still on student status?
    When in doubt, ask the person YOU trust most, your instructor, S&TA;, DZO, whoever. Remember, just because you started skydiving today, or this week or this year, doesn't mean you were born then too. If it doesn't seem right, ASK! A long walk is better than a short crawl.
    And now -- just to see if you've actually read this far down -- What's your favorite color, food, quote and swear word?
    Favorite color? Black and gold....DUH! ...Favorite quote? "You just have to believe," Kurt Isenbarger at the '99 Nationals. Favorite food? My teammates can tell you I am a bitch to my sweet tooth, has to be ice cream or Cinnabon. Favorite swear word? I don't cuss. Just ask my teammates!

    By admin, in News,

    Norge Roi - "Da Base" - It's a Beautiful Thing

    When you're engineering a blueprint to construct a world skydiving record, you have to start with a solid foundation. Roger Nelson, at Skydive Chicago, was building the 300-Way World Record attempt on Chicago native, Norge Roi.
    The objective of Skydive Chicago's endeavor to break its own world record was simple. Position twelve aircraft in formation at 21,000' above the ground. Have 300 skydivers jump out of the airplanes. Then, they will fly their bodies and dock on each other to form a pattern of concentric circles as big as a football field.
    Last, at predetermined altitudes, they will let go of each other, make a 180° turn, place their arms in a delta-wing position, and speed away from each other, deploy their canopies, and land. They have 70 seconds to create the formation while they're dropping through the sky at about 120 mph.
    Norge isn't just a team player, he's a team builder.It sounds scary, doesn't it. Yet, this effort wasn't about fear. It was about discipline, concentration, and team work. That's why Roger Nelson chose Norge Roi to be in slot "001"- the Captain of "Da Base". Norge isn't just a team player, he's a team builder.
    Many of the other 299 skydivers who participated in the World Record Camp arrived with thousands of jumps in their logbooks on August 12 to start building the formation. They were committed to making 24 jumps. But Norge's 6 to 15 person Base Team had been practicing all summer. One member drove six hours to practice each weekend. Another drove four hours. The Base Team had launched nearly 200 times, and successfully completed Da Base 97 % of those times. As a union carpenter, Norge understands the value of a cornerstone. Da Base was the cornerstone of the 300-Way.
    When asked what his duties as Base Captain were, Norge explains, "I was responsible for launching Base on heading, at the right speed, with nice, set back-up plans."
    Da Base grew from 6 to 15 and then to 60 on the record. But, Norge's responsibility didn't end there. He signaled the entire 300-Way skydiving formation when it was time to stop flying and start deploying their canopies. Break-off altitude for this formation was 6,500'. The team member opposite Norge wore his chest-mounted altimeter upside down, so that Norge can read it without turning his head.

    Conversation is impossible in freefall. Nevertheless, Da Base Six: Norge, George Wright, Duane Klinefelt, Christa Cross, Robert Lawton, Doug Durosia, and Mark Folkman communicated. "We had eye signals and head gestures-- we were very intimate with each other. My guys were spotting for me, all around me, watching for me."
    At 6,500', Norge threw out his pilot chute, a piece of fabric that in seconds catches the air, and deploys his main canopy. His pilot chute was the first signal that the dive was over.
    On video, when Norge's canopy deploys, he appears to be rocketing straight up from the center of the formation. In reality, the formation continued to fall while he was suspended above them.
    This is unusual because, at the end of a skydive, most skydivers turn and track away from the formation, for collision avoidance, before they deploy.
    When asked, as the centerpiece of the 300-Way, what he saw, Norge replies, "It was a beautiful thing. It was a trip. I've probably been extracted from 2,000 formations. I watch it every time. It almost looks like I'm taking off from it. It's a beautiful thing, the huge circular platform of colorful human bodies."
    "It's a beautiful thing. It's a romantic thing. Especially the sunset load." Only a very few people in the entire world have seen what Norge saw under canopy high above the formation. He adds, with wonder, "The deployment sequence looked like a fireworks explosion-- people were tracking away, then their canopies opened." Norge nods and repeats, "It's a beautiful thing."
    Norge's aesthetic appreciation may, at first, seem in-congruent. He's an imposing figure in his bright yellow jumpsuit, solid at 6' and 225 pounds. Rugged, with an easy grin that makes him seem much younger than his 45 years, his tone shifts. "I could see everything from up there, and I go into a defensive mode. I look for cutaways, wraps. Because I'm at 6,500', I could spot canopies on the other side of the river. As soon as I landed, I reported them to manifest so the divers could be picked up. I identified my guys by their parachutes. I wanted to know that they were OK. "

    As he continues, Norge softens again. "I was up so high -- I could see the twelve planes lined up on the horizon for the traffic pattern." And again he adds, with sincerity, "It's a beautiful thing. It's a romantic thing. Especially the sunset load."

    He explains, "I set up. I land. Then I reported on who's here. Who wasn't. Then, I went to the captain's meeting for the debriefing."
    Norge was also the Base Captain on the July 26, 1998, 246-Way World Record at Skydive Chicago. He has made nearly 3,000 jumps since he began in 1985.
    Why does he do it? Why does he keep skydiving? He gazes off into the distance while answering, "We're magic people... There's something in our composition... We have a high artistic value... Everybody here has a life wish... The camaraderie inspires me... We experience things that most people never experience... It's a special life... I really feel blessed... Not many people get to do this... Especially at this level... These are some of the best skydivers in the world."
    Roger Nelson was trying to create another world record, and he put a Chicago carpenter in charge of building the foundation. The efforts to break the record concluded on Sunday, August 20th. For more information about the record attempt, visit www.skydivechicago.com.
    Marcelaine Wininger is an instrument-rated commercial pilot, flight instructor, Grand Rapids FSDO Safety Counselor, and a skydiver. Her free-lance writing has appeared in McCall's, The AAA magazine, and Michigan Living, The International Journal for the Fantastic in the Arts, Teaching Theater, Michigan Education Association Voice, English Journal, Midwest Poetry Review, Superiorland, UP Catholic, Above the Bridge , Marquette Monthly and many newspapers. For three years she was a national-level American Red Cross Disaster Public Affairs Officer. In addition, she's an English teacher of at-risk high school students at Houghton High School in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

    By admin, in News,

    Squadron Leader Harry Ward, AFC, Parachutist, Dies at Age 97

    Squadron Leader Harry Ward, AFC, parachutist, was born on June 1, 1903. He died on July 24 aged 97
    IN THE heyday of the travelling air circuses of the 1930s, the former RAF parachutist Harry Ward toured the world, from Ireland to India, astonishing crowds with his death-defying "birdman" leaps from rickety biplanes. In his winged costume - which imparted a measure of control over the freefall - Ward was an early forerunner of today's skydivers.
    Ward's costumes were different from those of his fellow birdmen in one important respect. Far too many of those daredevil parachutists stunned the crowds by making a lasting impression on the ground when their chutes became entangled in fanciful clothing. Ward incorporated a release mechanism into his rig, to enable him to jettison his wings before he pulled the ripcord, so reducing the risk of snagging his parachute. In this way he lived to rejoin the RAF at the outbreak of the Second World War and serve as a parachute instructor.
    Henry Wilfred Ward was born in Hackney six months before the Wright brothers first flew. His first passion was painting and he studied at Bradford School of Art from 1919 to 1921. But he was one of seven children and there was no money to support a struggling artist, so he joined the fledgeling RAF and trained as a carpenter-rigger.
    He later went to the parachute section at Northolt as a packer, and became a parachutist himself when the commanding officer challenged him to jump with a chute he had just packed. He made his first descent from the wing of a Vickers Vimy biplane bomber. When the RAF's crack parachutist, Corporal Arthur East, was killed making a jump, Ward took his place in the RAF's demonstration team. (During the First World War parachutes had been discouraged on the assumption that flying without them "makes the chaps try harder".)
    But when the parachute ceased to be a novelty, the demonstration team was disbanded, and with the RAF in decline as the Twenties wore on Ward left the Service in 1929. On the strength of an RAF driving licence he became a London bus driver, and when the bus company formed its own flying club he volunteered to make a parachute jump at the opening ceremony.
    He was soon earning more from display jumping than from bus driving, so he left his job for the life of the travelling air circus. In the days long before steering toggles he attained a high degree of manoeuvring expertise with a simple 24ft canopy.
    With the circuses becoming less popular as the decade moved towards its close, Ward worked briefly as a mechanic for Imperial Airways before becoming a civilian instructor at the RAF's apprentice school at Cosford. He rejoined the RAF at the outbreak of the war and was soon helping to set up a parachute training school, to produce airborne forces.
    The first aircraft were Whitley bombers, with a hole in the floor in place of the ventral gun turret, through which the parachutists had to jump.Ward produced a prototype helmet, from strips of foam rubber purloined from his landlord's sofa, to afford the troops some protection against the hazards of dropping through the narrow slit. He also helped to prove the feasibility of using barrage balloons for parachutists' initial training.
    He was awarded the Air Force Cross in 1942 and posted to the staff of the Army's 1st Airborne Division. He finished the war as a squadron leader at the headquarters of 38 Group at Netheravon.
    A civilian again in 1945, he managed officers' clubs in Greece and Germany. Returning to England in 1951, he ran a succession of hotels and pubs in Yorkshire.
    He was twice married. His second wife predeceased him, but he is survived by two sons.

    By admin, in News,

    Acampo Sky Diver Dies in Jump

    Nicole Cadiz wanted one more sky dive before the day's end, but she never expected it to be her last.
    The 26-year-old woman died Saturday evening after winds ripped off her harness during a 13,500-foot free fall at the Parachute Center in Acampo, just north of Lodi, according to the San Joaquin County Coroner's Office.
    Cadiz, an experienced parachutist with more than 1,000 jumps under her belt, had executed eight leaps earlier in the day.
    Then, on her ninth just before 7:40 p.m., high-velocity winds snatched her harness and chute off her back.
    Parachute Center owner Bill Dause said Cadiz then attempted, but failed, to get back into her harness, and she plummeted to the ground.
    Paramedics found her in a neighboring vineyard.
    Her new husband, Anthony, was one of seven others making the jump with Cadiz.
    Dause attributed the accident to an unclipped chest strap -- which he could not explain -- and Cadiz's upside-down position in midair.
    "Skydiving is a high-risk act, but with the equipment we have, it's got to be a combination of things that go wrong for that to happen," he said. "It wasn't just that the chest strap was undone, but also her position in the air."
    The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration investigates parachuting accidents, but representatives from the agencies could not be reached Sunday.
    Cadiz, an Acampo resident, worked as a manicurist in Lodi, though friends said her real passion was sky diving every weekend at the Parachute Center, where she first learned the sport seven years ago and became adept enough to work as a sky videographer.
    "She loved sky diving, she was always here," said a 21-year-old friend who was one of seven others with Cadiz on her fatal jump. "She was well-liked by everyone here. Her whole life was this drop zone."
    "It's just devastating, we're all devastated by this," added Jan Davis, who was editing a parachuting videotape on Sunday.
    The last parachuting death in the Sacramento region occurred at the Parachute Center last October when a 23-year-old Orangevale man committed suicide, said coroner's Deputy Al Ortiz.
    Nationwide, 32 of the 3.25 million parachute jumps made in 1997 resulted in fatalities, according to the U.S. Parachute Association, an Alexandria, Va.-based group that sets safety and training guidelines for the sport.
    Some at the Parachute Center were visibly shaken Sunday, but they still moved about the hangarlike building, packing their parachutes and watching others descend from the sky.
    Dause said parachutists understand their sport's inherent dangers and know that tragedies like Cadiz's can happen. Still, their love of the sport compels them to continue.
    "Everybody's sad," he said between flights. "But we've just got to bite our tongues and keep going."
    To see more of the Sacramento Bee, or to subscribe, go to http://www.sacbee.com
    © 2000 Sacramento Bee.

    By admin, in News,

    Tragedy Ends Skydive Effort

    Man dies, another injured after collision
    DAYTON TOWNSHIP -- The death of a Missoula, Mont., skydiver and the serious injury of another Sunday ended Skydive Chicago's attempt to break the world record for the number of skydivers in a free-fall formation.
    Paul L. Adams, 54, died during a mid-air collision with Kenneth Reed, 22, of Holts Summit, Mo., during an 10:30 a.m. jump, the 22nd jump record attempt.
    Reed was taken to Community Hospital of Ottawa, and was later airlifted to OSF St. Francis Medical Center in Peoria, where he remains in critical condition this morning.
    Sunday was the last day for the skydivers to break the record -- they had been attempting since Aug. 13, and had scheduled 24 jumps.
    The accident is being investigated by the La Salle County Sheriff's Department and the La Salle County Coroner's Office.
    "Unfortunately, on this jump, people from two different waves somehow crossed," said Roger Nelson, Skydive Chicago program director and jump participant. "We've had no problem on the other jumps."
    The decision was made after the accident to stop the world record attempt.
    The skydivers began to open their parachutes at about 7,500 feet, according to Nelson. Chutes are opened in "waves," meaning skydivers from the outer, middle, and inner rings of the flower-shaped formation open at different times and altitudes to avoid collisions.
    Adams opened his parachute first, and immediately struck Reed, Nelson said. Reed's parachute opened, and their passengers floated to the ground. Both divers were equipped with devices to automatically open the parachutes at a preset altitude.
    Adams was reported missing shortly after the jump. Each skydiver is required to check in immediately with a captain after landing to maintain accountability in the record attempt. The collision was spotted by another diver, who reported it to a ground medic.
    Adams' body was located by a spotter plane carrying Nelson, who jumped from the plane and landed near Adams' body in a cornfield off the runway.
    Nelson began yelling during the descent that he found Adams, said Sheriff Thomas Templeton. Nelson separated from his parachute and ran toward Adams. Adams was pronounced dead at the scene at 12:24 p.m., said La Salle County Coroner Jody Bernard. An autopsy is scheduled for later today. Bernard did not know if Adams was killed in the collision, but said at a minimum he was knocked unconscious.
    Reed was located before Adams. He was found in a soybean field about 350 yards west of East 19th Road, Templeton said.
    The Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the accident, Nelson said, and examine the equipment used by the skydivers. Nelson said that the equipment Adams used is in perfect working condition, and that the accident wasn't anybody's fault.
    The death marks the seventh since Skydive Chicago moved to its present location in 1993.
    Victim `had passion for skydiving'
    Paul Adams planned to take Amber Taylor and her roommate -- who rented the basement of his Missoula, Mont., home -- skydiving with him when he returned from the world-record attempt in Ottawa.
    "He talked about (skydiving) a lot. He was always trying to get us to go," Taylor said. When they agreed, "he was all excited to take us when he got back."
    She learned Sunday he had been killed in an accident that morning, and it looks like she and her roommate won't be making that jump for a while.
    "It's not because of the accident, really," Taylor said. "It's because he's not here. He was an amazing guy. He treated us awesome."
    Adams, 54, had given Taylor a $70 watch when she graduated from the University of Montana this spring, and he bought his tenants a new refrigerator for their apartment, she said.
    Before he left for Illinois, he was in the yard, excitedly showing the women a diagram of the formation planned for the world-record attempt. He told them he was a little nervous, Taylor said. Adams' ex-wife, Brenda Elvey of Missoula, said skydiving was a natural part of life while they were married, and the two have maintained a friendly relationship since their 1992 divorce. They have two adult children, Beth and Steven.
    Elvey estimated Adams had been skydiving for more than 30 years. When the couple would move to a new town, the first thing he would do is search out the nearest place to skydive, she said.
    "He really loved it. He had a sense of adventure. He had a passion for skydiving, and that probably grew the more he did it.
    "He had had a couple small injuries before, broken bones in his foot and different things like that, but that never seemed to bother him or set him back, or make him not want to do it. He really enjoyed a lot of things -- scuba diving, hunting -- but skydiving was his biggest passion.
    "I think he was very responsible; he wasn't foolhardy. I think he was very much safety first," she said.
    "I think he was a Christian man. He liked skydiving, traveling and he enjoyed his kids."
    Mick Fauske, who worked with Adams at Montana Rail Link, said Adams was "thrilled" to be asked to join the record attempt, and proud he was one of the oldest people participating.
    The two men hunted together, but Adams had never persuaded Fauske to jump.
    "I'm not much of a heights person, but he enjoyed it," Fauske said. " (He liked) the thrill of it, the idea of flying. I know it was his favorite sport."
    Adams had been a railroad engineer for more than 30 years -- for Burlington Northern and Union Pacific before Montana Rail Link formed in 1987 -- and both Elvey and Fauske praised his railroading abilities.
    Elvey said, "I know he could run an engine by how the seat felt. He was a good engineer."
    "He was a really good guy," Fauske said. "He took care of his family. He was a good railroader; he was a good skydiver."
    "He'll be missed," Taylor said. "We're all still in shock here."
    © The Daily Times

    By admin, in News,

    Excerpts from the Navy SEAL Fatality Report

    Harness Container was a Telesis 2, Main was a Navigator 280, Reserve a PD253R
    Training background:
    Deceased was trained by a highly experienced USPA AFF and military instructor. The training was a military exercise done strictly in accordance with USPA guidelines. Deceased had made 5 prior jumps, with good to excellent performance on all jumps, with the exception of a tendency to dip right side low on deployment. This was his second jump of the day. His training records reflected corrective training on body position at pull time.
    Description of incident:
    The AFF Level 6 jump went as planned, with excellent performance by the deceased. He waved and pulled at 4500' as planned. His body position at pull time was right side low due to knee dropped. Deployment appeared to progress normally to the jumpmaster. The jumpmaster did not see full canopy deployment. Deceased was next seen at approximately 2500' with a main/reserve entanglement. He was seen trying to clear the entanglement until impact.
    Post jump inspection found that the cutaway handle and reserve ripcords had been pulled. The kink in the reserve ripcord cable caused by RSL activation eliminated the possibility that the deceased had pulled the handles in the wrong order. The reserve bridle was found entangled with the right main line group. The main canopy was twisted in such a way that it appeared to have hung up on the left (RSL) side.
    Final inspection of the equipment revealed that the slider bumper on the right rear riser may have snagged the reserve static line, causing the dual deployment. Pulling the cutaway handle may have taken away this jumper's only chance of survival.
    To put the jump in the most likely order of events:
    Deceased deployed right side low.
    Right rear riser slider bumper snagged RSL during deployment. Main deployed normally. Reserve partially deployed. Deceased saw main and reserve out, with malfunctioning reserve. Deceased pulled cutaway handle and reserve ripcord. The resulting entanglement was not surviveable.  
    This sequence of events is considered the most likely scenario based on the available information. It should be noted that in this, as is the case of all fatality reports, the person with the most information is unfortunately, unable to provide his or her input.
    It must be stressed that the pull priorities of :
    Pull Pull at the correct altitude Pull at the correct altitude with stability  
    still apply. Stability at pull time great improves the probability of one good fully functional parachute. Sacrificing altitude for stability still is not a viable alternative. Even in an unstable body position at deployment time, the chances of a good parachute are very high.
    A review of different 2 canopies out scenarios, and practicing procedures in a suspended harness, or even a conversation with a very knowledgeable Instructor to review your current philosophy on different 2 canopies out scenarios may be enough to save your life.

    By admin, in News,

    Adrian Nicholas Proves Da Vinci Chute Works

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

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

    By admin, in News,

    Landing Fatalities in Florida and Montana

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

    By admin, in News,

    Skydiver Wins Lawsuit Against Teammate

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

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

    By admin, in News,