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,

    The Power of the Flare

    Squirrel wingsuits just released this amazing video, aimed at illustrating how wingsuits are able to climb in altitude. The concept of wingsuits being able to ascend was disputed by quite a number of skeptics over the past decade, but over the past few years we've seen evidence that not only can a wingsuit flyer gain altitude, but that they can ascend by a few hundred feet. At the time the claims were made, it was probably correct to assume that the wingsuits weren't gaining altitude, but that's only because the performance wasn't there yet.
    Wingsuit performance has seen a massive gain over the last decade with new companies like Squirrel getting involved in the market, and for the most part, dominating it. The increase in competitive wingsuit flying has also meant there is a larger drive for performance increases from manufacturers. Despite being one of the newest comers to the wingsuit market, Squirrel have already asserted themselves as one of the leading manufacturers in the industry and whose wingsuits have seen a number world cup wins over the past few years.
    In the video, a group of wingsuit flyers and organizers are seen plotting their flights and discussing what the risks involved with the jumps.
    The idea behind the video is that they would be using a large canyon in Moab, Utah as a point of scale for their wingsuit ascent attempts. In skydiving, it's generally quite difficult to judge the ascent, if any of a wingsuit flight -- not only because the increase in ascent isn't generally aggressively targeted as a goal, but because there is no static reference to give an indication on the altitude gained.
    The video, which provides some seriously awesome cinematography -- also shows us, for the first time, just how much altitude can be gained by these modern wingsuits. In some cases more than 250 feet were gained. The measurements were estimates based off both camera angle and in some cases GPS logs.

    By admin, in News,

    History of Women in Skydiving

    In celebration of women’s history month we decided to take a look at the role of women in the history of skydiving. Although only about 20 percent of all skydivers are female, women have been there right from the start, conquering the skies alongside their male counterparts.
    As soon as man figured out how to fly, he also had to find a way to save himself if something goes wrong with his flying device; which is why the first parachute jumps were all done from balloons. Some women made a living from parachuting in the early days, doing it not only for the thrill, but also to entertain the crowds.
    First Female Parachutists
    Jeanne-Genevieve Garnerin, wife of Andre Garnarin, inventor of the frameless parachute and avid balloonist, was the first woman to descend under a parachute. She did this on 12 October 1799, from a 900 meter altitude. Jeanne continued to tour with her husband in France and all over Europe, completing many balloon ascents and parachute descents.
    The bug also bit her niece, Elisa Garnerin, who started flying balloons at only 15 years of age and completed 39 professional parachute descents between 1815 and 1836.
    Kathe Paulus was another woman who had a great impact on skydiving as we know it today. In collaboration with her husband, Lattermann, she developed a parachute prototype to make their balloon flights safer. This was one of the first inventions of a collapsible parachute – the parachute was folded and packed into a bag. Unfortunately Latterman died trying out their invention when his parachute failed after jumping from a balloon, but Paulus made it to the ground safely. She improved the invention and made good money from sales during WW1, although she lost her fortune later because of inflation. By August 1914, Kathe Paulus had made about 70 exhibition descents in her safety device.

    Kathe Paulus on a balloon flight
    Jumping from a Plane
    Georgina Ann Thompson, known as Tiny Thompson, became the first woman to parachute from a plane on 21 June, 1913 over Los Angeles. Georgina was destined for a life of poverty, working 14 hour days in a cotton mill before skydiving changed everything for her. She got married at age 12, became a mother at 13 and lost her husband soon thereafter. Georgina was 15 when she first saw Charles Broadwick’s famous parachute show and felt so inspired she insisted on joining his troupe. She soon earned the nickname “Tiny Broadwick” or “Doll Girl” because of her small size and was a great hit at the carnivals. Dressing up in ruffled bloomers, pink bows and ribbons in her hair, Tiny drew large crowds everywhere she went with her daredevil manoeuvres. She was soon approached by famed pilot, Glen Martin, who wanted her for his airplane shows.
    Charles Broadwick developed a silk parachute for Tiny, which was packed into a knapsack attached to a jacket using harness straps. A string was woven through the canvas covering of the parachute and attached to the plane’s fuselage. As soon as she jumped, the cover would tear away and the parachute would fill with air. For her first airplane jump, Tiny sat on a trap seat, outside the cockpit and behind the wing. The parachute was on a shelf above her. Glen Martin ascended to an altitude of 2000 feet, where Tiny pulled a lever, allowing the seat to drop out from underneath her. The parachute opened up and she floated down gently, landing in Griffith Park. Tiny later also became the first female parachutist to land in water.
    In 1914, during a demonstration jump from a military plane that went horribly wrong, Tiny became the first person to do a planned free-fall. During this jump, the line of her parachute became tangled in the plane’s tail assembly. The wind was whipping her around and it was impossible to get back into the plane. Tiny however kept her cool and decided to cut all, but a short piece of the line and plummet toward the earth. Pulling this line by hand, she freed the parachute to open up, demonstrating the principle of the rip cord. By surviving this accident, Tiny showed that it wasn’t necessary for a parachute to be attached to a plane in order to open it. It was possible for a pilot to safely jump from a damaged plane.

    Georgia Thompson (Tiny Broadwick) Through WW1, Tiny worked as an advisor for the U.S. Army Air Corps. During her life, she made over a 1000 jumps from planes and survived several mishaps. She once ended up on top of a train; got tangled up in a windmill as well as high-tension wires. Despite suffering numerous injuries during her career, she lived a long and full life, dying at age 85.
    Women in Skydiving Today

    63-Way Head Down Women's World Record Ever since the first female pioneers made their first jumps, women have been setting new records in skydiving. We decided to compile a list of some of the most impressive female skydiving achievements to date:

    A new world record for the largest female head-down freefly formation was set in 2013 in Arizona, where 63 women linked arms for a minute and a half to hold the formation. The women ranged in age between 20 and 52 years old and reached speeds of over 165 mph as they were falling upside down, head first toward the Arizona desert. Participants came from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, England, France and Russia.

    The world record for the largest all-female skydiving formation is held by 181 women from 31 countries and was set in Perris, California. With this feat, the women managed to raise over $900,000 for the fight against breast cancer. This record will be challenged in October 2014 when an attempt is made to exceed 200 jumpers.

    U.S. skydiver, Cheryl Stearns, holds the record for the most parachute descents by a woman, with a total of 15,560 in August 2003. To date, her total amount of skydives has exceeded 18,000. She is also the Guinness World Record holder for the most jumps in 24 hours by a female skydiver, with 352 jumps in 1995.

    The oldest person to have done a skydive jump is Hildegarde Ferrea, who was 99 years old when she did a tandem jump in 1996, at Dillingham Field in Oahu, Hawaii.

    181-Way Women's World Record
    Skydiving is a sport where female skydivers may be in the minority, but looking back in history we see that women have played a very important role through the years, directly and indirectly to help develop the sport to what it is today. We expect that this is also how it will be in the future and look forward to seeing more achievements and inventions from the fairer sex.

    By admin, in News,

    Introducing the JFX 2 from NZ Aerosports

    “SAME SAME, BUT BETTER-ER”. The JFX 2. She's kinda familiar, but she has that shiny new kid appeal with her modern flair and style. Powerband, mini-ribs, all the bells and whistles. Take her for a ride, baby!
    We’ve done it again! We released the new version of our beloved JFX canopy, the JFX 2, on the 17th of January 2019. The original JFX was already a great canopy to fly with beautiful openings, great flight and the opportunity to land it gently or with a full-blown hissing swoop. Version 2.0 has not been a radical redesign: the JFX 2 stays true to all the things a canopy pilot loves, but now has all the kickass features they know and want in a modern cross-braced canopy: a powerband, mini-ribs and sail loaded ribs. This canopy is all about cross-braced performance with ease: cranking turns, raging swoops, gentle touchdowns!
    The JFX 2 is the go-to canopy for someone wanting to start their swoop journey, or for someone who wants a “do-it-all” wing with power which will maximise the good times and minimise the risk with plenty of playfulness. This canopy is the smoothest transition into flying high performance, cross-braced wings from an elliptical wing. It can be loaded light of heavy for consistent delivery in flight.

    JFX 2 | Icarus Canopies NZ from NZ Aerosports Ltd on Vimeo.
    The original JFX was the last of our canopies to be designed purely by Paul “Jyro” Martyn’s keen eye and 35+ years of experience. With the JFX 2 we’ve added a touch of fancy French Aerodynamic genius to the mix from our head designer Julien Peelman, and the result means incredible aerodynamics, refined performance and uncompromised aesthetics. Key features of the JFX 2:
    Powerband: debuted on the “Petra”, the Powerband lets us control the shape of the top surface of the wing more accurately, especially at the crucial leading edge where around 90% of lift is made Mini-ribs: These little additions in the tail are also a legacy from the “Petra” and “Leia” canopies. They decrease trailing edge drag, which has the function of increasing glide and flare performance - both things you can never get enough of “Minybrid” construction: A low-pack-volume take on our hybrid construction “Leia” canopies, the JFX 2 pioneers the minimal hybrid (Minybrid) wing. The loaded ribs - the ones the lines are attached to that experience the highest amount of stress and distortion - are made of sail fabric. This reduces rib distortion, helping the wing maintain its shape through all flight profiles, increasing glide, stability and responsiveness 21-chamber design: The JFX 2's sleek fully elliptical 21-chamber design captures the smoothed staged openings of the traditional 7-cell. She's crisp and responsive, yet it does not feel tense and edgy and packs some punch at the bottom end Closed Center Chamber: Inherited originally from the “FX” and “VX”, then redesigned for the “JVX”, the closed center chamber nose was the innovation that allowed cross-braced canopies to become popular by softening the openings, controlling distortion and improving aerodynamics. It's not the latest but probably one of the most important of Jyro's contributions to modern canopy design!
    Images by Chris Stewart/NZ Aerosports
    Key flight characteristics:
    Openings: JFX 2 openings are predictable, soft and not scary! Reliable, consistent and stunning as always, openings are the ace card of this canopy Harness inputs: inputs are light and instinctive, and very responsive. She can be flown entirely on harness with ease - we actually prefer to fly a lot of harness with the JFX 2 Toggles: Powerful and responsive even at the bottom end - even more so than the original JFX Stall point: The slow flight characteristics are hugely improved from the original JFX. The stall point is slower and lower - get plenty of feedback and warning, both on toggles and rears Fronts: Loaded high, lightly and even underloaded; the feedback of the fronts will be great. A bit of slowing down needed before a bigger turn to reduce the pressure on the fronts, but they are very effective for getting into the dive Dive & Recovery: The dive on the JFX 2 is longer than the original JFX, but not as long as on the Leia. With a slow, predictable (and easily adjustable) recovery arc, the JFX 2 is ideal to get those bigger rotations dialled in.

    By Meso, in News,

    Australia is getting a Wind Tunnel

    Australia is getting a Wind Tunnel!
    Finally! With almost 40 Indoor Skydiving facilities around the world, for some reason it has taken several attempts over the last 10 years to build a state of the art tunnel in Australia. It came down to a group of courageous guys to spend the last 3 years finding a site, finding the right equipment, getting the best team together, and figuring out an innovative way of raising the funds (listing on the ASX) to make it all happen.
    Danny Hogan and Wayne Jones, both ex SASR servicemen, have done what many people thought was impossible. Indoor Skydive Australia Group (ISAG) successfully listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (IDZ) in January and started construction of a 16.4ft SkyVenture tunnel in February. One of the world’s largest and most technically advanced, the location is part of the Penrith Panthers facility, Western Sydney. It will operate under the global franchise brand of iFLY as iFly DownUnder, which brings unrivalled experience and technology from manufacturing 24 tunnels around the world.
    Launch is scheduled for first quarter 2014, You can keep track of the progress on Facebook/iflydownunder or by registering at iflyDownunder.com.au.
    What does this mean for Australian Skydiving?
    Australia – you go there to see kangaroos, koalas, crocodiles, pristine beaches or that big red rock in the middle of the dessert! It’s known for great walking, diving, surfing and now we can add flying to the list of tick boxes.
    The tunnel will revolutionize skydiving in Australia and turn novice skydivers into awesome skydivers. It will slow down the ‘attrition’ rate of skydivers leaving and introduce new people to the sport. It will become the catalyst for a sporting Evolution in Australia that has never been seen before. It will create an entirely new sport of BodyFlight in its own right and introduce skydiving to those who can’t yet fly - from 3 and up. In summary – it’s a good thing for skydivers, skydive operators and every Australian who has always wanted to fly.
    There are already some amazing Australian skydiving boogies on the map; The Equinox Boogie in Queensland attracts flyers from all over the world, some who come back year after year. Funny Farm is an invitational boogie in the outback which sees international coaches load organising some of Australia’s hottest flyers and the Full Moon Boogie in Victoria is now making a name for itself with Mike Carpenter (Volare) and Mike ‘Friday’ Friedman (Arizona Drive) organising at the event in recent years.
    In addition to the big name coaches, Australia truly does have some of the best scenery around. From unspoilt coastlines with clear blue oceans to forests, gorges and red earth. Combine these with the welcoming Aussie spirit and a wind tunnel and Australia is shaping up to be a great all round skydiving destination. So next time you plan a trip down under, make sure you bring your jumpsuit as well as your thongs!
    Many of the iFLY Downunder team are active skydivers and the centre will be built with skydivers in mind. There will be a skydiver’s lounge if you need to take a break and relax between sessions as well as the usual debriefing video stations and team rooms. Located in Penrith, a suburb in Western Sydney there’s plenty to do around the tunnel, whether you enjoy wakeboarding or white water rafting, need a hotel for the night, a good feed or a day relaxing in the nearby Blue Mountains national park. The team are striving to create a positive learning environment, where all abilities are welcome and where flyers come to meet like-minded skydivers.
    We also need to mention the level playing field that will be created when Australian teams can finally train in an Australian tunnel. The Australian VFS team ‘The Addicted’ completed 11 hours of intensive training with Steve and Sara Curtis (Arizonal Arsenal) and Mike ‘Friday’ Friedman (Arizona Drive) in order to learn the new open VFS dive pool. Team member Lucas Georgiou stated that “a tunnel camp was really the only way we could get up to date with the recent changes”. 8-way team ‘Velocita’ also trained in a 16ft tunnel before the Dubai Mondial, that’s 8 people who now won’t have to pay for expensive airfares abroad to team train. You can expect to see Australia raising its standard in prestigious skydiving competitions around the globe from 2014.
    It’s not just for the top teams that will raise their game using the tunnel. You only need to look at the numbers of new rookie teams taking part to see what influence the tunnel has. In the UK, which currently supports 3 wind tunnels and a fourth one on the way, the numbers of teams competing in the British Nationals has increased each year. 2012 saw a record 54 teams competing in the 4-way alone, bear in mind most of the skydiving season is spent waiting for the clouds to clear!
    iFLY Downunder will hold regular skydiver events, competitions and tunnel camps for everyone from new tunnel flyers to those wanting to work on VFS, 8-way or the new ‘Dynamic’ discipline emerging from Europe. Prices, operating hours and additional information will be released later this year. Anyone wishing to host a tunnel camp should contact holly@indoorskydiveaustralia.com.au for more information and if you hold a current IBA tunnel instructors rating and are interested in moving to Australia please email your CV to admin@indoorskydiveaustralia.com.au.
    Construction Corner

    The Ground Breaking ceremony took place on 4rd March 2013.
    Raybal Constructions are working intimately with Indoor Skydive Australia Group and SkyVenture.
    Early bulk excavation completed and contiguous piling is now well underway with a total of 300 cubic metres of concrete to be poured.
    The facility footprint covers 655m² with an overall area of 2160m².
    Fabrication of SkyVenture components is now into its third month.
    For the latest progress follow us on
    Facebook/iFLYdownunder or register at iFlyDownunder.com.au

    By admin, in News,

    A Brave New Tunnel World

    Luxfly, Tunnel Tech and the Mighty Braffs
    It seems like tunnels are popping up everywhere, doesn’t it? As a dyed-in-the-wool aficionado of all vertically-oriented wind, this can hardly have escaped your notice. Another thing that hasn’t escaped your notice, we’re willing to bet, is that none of these tunnels have popped up within a lunch-break drive of your fine abode.
    Wanna do something about that? Well: As it turns out, you can. And you can do it even if you’re not personally made of money. Want proof? Meet Steve Braff, a true tunnel-building dynamo. He and his wife/business partner, Magali share a deeper history in windytubes than pretty much anyone on the planet -- and now, they’re building Luxfly, the most exciting indoor skydiving wind tunnel project in Europe, using the brand-newest, top-of-the-line-est technology to do so (Tunnel Tech, to be specific -- but we’ll get to that later). Suffice it to say: The Braffs are a good example to follow.
    Currently, Steve and Magali -- collectively known as their vertical wind tunnel consulting business, Starfly -- are keeping busy not just with Luxfly, but with .other tunnels around the world. As a point of note, Starfly is utterly unique -- Steve and Magali are the only people in the world who do this kind of work, helping others to build tunnels. Outside of Starfly, there are two industry operators: the customers, who want to have and operate tunnels, and the tunnel manufacturers, who want to sell vertical wind tunnel technology. Until Starfly, there’s been no one in between to smooth the steep, bumpy road to a grand opening.

    Pretty in pink
    “Right now, we have five projects in process,” he says. “But it varies. Sometimes, we help people out with optimizing their existing tunnels; sometimes, we help them start projects, or assist them in different phases. We work with a group of investors to which we propose our projects. The specific investors depend on the location and the host country. People who want to build tunnels can work with us at every stage. We can do it from A to the end.”
    “Since I was a kid, my dream was always to fly like Superman,” Steve grins. “And that was the only thing I ever wanted to do.”
    Steve started skydiving at 21 years old. He’s celebrating his 23rd year in the sport this year, with around 8,000 skydives, a thousand BASE jumps -- and, very importantly, lots and lots of hours in the windytube.
    “I was always interested in the tunnel flying industry,” he explains. “It always amazed me, what people were doing in there.”
    For a very long time, Steve funded his freefall habit by working at the family company: importing Italian coffee into the Braffs’ native Belgium. One day, after 15 years of working side-by-side with his brother, mom, sister and dad, he decided it was time for a change.
    “I said: You know what, I think I'm going to quit,” he laughs, “And sell air. So I did.”
    “There’s enough money around the world to serve everyone who wants to invest,” he insists. “The issue is that there aren’t enough ideas, or the people with the willingness to push them.  When somebody tells me they’ve been trying [to get a tunnel started] for two years and they can’t seem to get the money together, I just tell them they need to push harder. Never give up.  It only depends on you. The money is there, and you’ll unlock it if you try.”

    Tunnel Tech airducts with Hubble-level surface precision and finishing
    Steve doesn’t want you to think that he’s under the impression that it’s easy to convince someone to invest in something as big as a tunnel. The price tag of a windytube is plenty high for a project that most humans have only seen, occasionally, on TV.
    “You need to transfer your passion to the investor,” he advises. “If you are capable of doing this, then you’re already doing great work on the investment. Even if you have a business plan and you can prove with paperwork that your wind tunnel is going to make a lot of money -- super nice presentations and Excel sheets and all the trimmings -- you still need to make your potential investors believe in it with their hearts. If they don't believe in it with their hearts, they will not invest.”
    “Think about it,” he continues. “You’re asking them to invest millions of Euros in a building with wind blowing at 200 kilometers per hour through the walls. It is crazy. We still run into this all the time when we go to new contractors. Why all of this for a flight chamber? Why all of that construction around it? They don't understand.”
    In 2006, after one false start at a Belgian dropzone, that decision took Steve and Magali to create a truly watershed moment in what the rest of the world knows as “indoor skydiving.” Inspired by the idea that training in the vertical wind tunnel could revolutionize skydiving -- at the time, a very new and unorthodox philosophy -- the pair decided to build the very first vertical wind tunnel facility in Belgium. It was called AirSpace and it was, in a word, visionary.
    “I am a big fan of Apple, and their thing was always to think different,” Steve explains. “And that resonates with us, because it’s really the way we live. We are always trying to improve and make stuff differently; not to be just another tunnel. Our tunnel was a huge success because of that, and because we wanted to do everything we could for the for the flyers.”
    Steve and Magali built “their” tunnel from scratch. To do so, they quit everything else in their lives to focus full-time on creating the facility -- including their home.
    “My wife and myself, we decided we were going to go full on,” he smiles. “We wanted to know everything -- every bolt, every detail -- about our tunnel, and about the industry. So we left our rented house and moved into the contractor container on the construction site. We lived in it for a year. It was a really nice experience, day by day following the progress of construction.”

    Steve and Magali Braff
    Though ‘home’ was technically a shipping container for the Braffs that year, the heart of the idea behind that tunnel -- and, now, LuxFly --  was, charmingly, to make it into as homey a place as possible. The Braffs integrated a cozy lounge bar; as much wood as possible, moving away from the stainless-and-plastic aesthetic that pervaded (and still pervades) the vertical wind tunnel oeuvre; a deep sense of comfort and place.
    “We were insistent that it had to be like a house,” Steve says. “I wanted people to come in and walk around in their bare feet. When I saw that for the first time, it felt like success to me.”
    The year it took to build AirSpace -- still fast for a tunnel project, which is normally it is two years from the point of financing, securing building permits and organizing all the construction to the grand opening -- taught Steve and Magali a boatload.
    “Sure, it was a lot of ups and downs -- a lot of them -- more downs than ups, okay -- but, at a certain point, you have to look at it a bit like the stock market,” he explains. “You need to be patient and you need to keep believing in it. That is your only source of strength. Not depending on anyone. It's yourself; your own belief.”
    The tunnel truly bloomed under the Braffs’ management. This is one couple, however, that doesn’t make a habit of resting on laurels, no matter how comfortable they might be. After a few years, they decided to sell it and move on. It felt like time to grapple with another project (this time, on the border with Luxembourg), and to start helping other would-be tunnel owners with their own projects.
    “We earned a lot of experience over the course of all those years,” Steve says. “We traveled a lot, both skydiving and tunnel flying. We have seen a lot of wind tunnels. We took all those ideas we discovered over the years and we put them into in Luxfly. It's going to be super, super, super special.”
    According to Steve, Luxfly is going to be “the 2020 version of tunnel flying.” The design aesthetic -- still a secret, as of publication -- promises to be groundbreaking. The pair decided to make another, perhaps even bigger change: a total technology rethink. While AirSpace used top-of-the-line-at-the-time German tech (ISG), the Braffs decided to build Luxfly with Tunnel Tech, a multinational vertical wind tunnel technology company that’s making huge strides forward in safety and efficiency.
    “I must say [Tunnel Tech] have blown us away with the quality of their product,” Steve explains. “First of all, I’ve known Slava, the CEO, for many years. When I heard he was making his own technology -- and that they were building a 15-foot with less power consumption than a 14-foot -- I got very curious. Then I started following their projects in Japan, in Moscow and in Korea, and I was totally convinced.”

    The LuxFly structure & the Tunnel Tech machine are ready for assembly
    “It was a risk, of course, because it’s a new company, and it always feels safer to go with a company that has built 15 tunnels versus somebody that has built three,” he continues. “But that’s our history. With Airspace, for example, I think we were the fourth ISG tunnel; perhaps the fifth. So being the fourth Tunnel Tech wind tunnel doesn’t feel so crazy. Tunnel Tech really are rethinking every part of the tunnel -- how we can do better, better and better -- contrasts a lot with where now a lot of manufacturers are now. When you have a certain design that's working and selling, the tendency is to just keep it until people demand something new. Tunnel Tech keeps well out in front of that.”
    With Luxfly’s gala grand opening set for the end of January, Steve and Magali are up to their eyeballs in preparations. They insist, however, that they are always available to help people out -- to make new tunnel dreams a reality.
    “We are passionate people,” he smiles. “We just want to share our love of flying.”

    By nettenette, in News,

    Seattle Resident Becomes First Female Level 4 Indoor Instructor

    Photo credit: Cornicello Photography iFLY Indoor Skydiving and the International Bodyflight Association (IBA) are proud to announce that Catriona (Cat) Adam has become the first woman ever to be certified as a Level Four Instructor/Trainer in the sport of indoor skydiving. Level Four Instructor/Trainer is the highest level attainable under the standards established by the International Bodyflight Association. During the 12 years iFLY and the IBA have been certifying instructors and trainers, more than 650 instructors have met IBA standards for Level One Instructors, and only about a dozen of those instructors were women. Of those Level One Instructors only about two dozen men have gone on to become Level Four Instructor/Trainers. The path to attaining Level Four Certification requires intense training, commitment, experience, the strength and ability to withstand rigorous physical demands of flying, coaching and teaching flyers from first-time flyers to world champions, and the determination to be the absolute best.
    Chris Dixon, Lead Instructor/Trainer at the IBA, said, “At every level, Cat made it clear she could meet or exceed the requirements for advancement; all she needed was the opportunity to excel.”
    iFLY’s current expansion plans have increased the need for qualified Level Four Instructor/Trainers. One of the responsibilities of Level Four Instructors is to teach the new instructors what is necessary to meet iFLY’s expansion plans.

    Photo credit: Cornicello Photography “iFLY is expanding, and we depend on Level Four Instructor/Trainers to teach and maintain the highest level of safety within the instructor group,” said Chris. “While many of us were hoping Cat would succeed, we also knew she and all other instructors would have to meet or exceed the safety standards expected of every other Level Four Instructor/Trainer, no exceptions. All those who know Cat are not surprised she reached her goal of becoming the best, and all of us are thrilled for her, but we also know and respect how hard she worked to master every challenge in the training and certification process. We know she will continue to be the best, share her experience and dedication to safety with others and hopefully inspire more women to join us as instructors! iFLY is better for having her on the Level Four Instructor/Trainer team.”
    “While I am proud of my accomplishment and appreciate the opportunities given to me to advance,” Cat said, “I must admit while watching my first class of instructors I trained working with their first class of first-time flyers, I was like a mama goose nervously watching her fledgling geese fly for the first time. I was also very proud of them and their clear focus on the safety of their new students!”

    Photo credit: Cornicello Photography Cat will continue to train new instructors, help maintain and increase the safety of everyone flying in an iFLY tunnel and continue improving her personal flying skills. To Cat, the sky is not a limit; it represents limitless possibilities.
    Skydiving and tunnel accolades
    2014 Gold : 2-way dynamic advanced IBA tunnel competition

    2014 Silver : 4-way dynamic advanced IBA tunnel championships

    2013 Participant : 63-way vertical world record (women’s)

    2011 Participant : Freestyle Nationals (British)

    2011 Participant : 80-way head down record (European)

    2011 Organizer : Woman’s head down record (British)

    2010 Participant : 22-way head down record (British)

    2010 Participant : 41-way vertical world record (women’s)

    2009 Gold : Freestyle Nationals (British)

    2009 Gold : British National speed (female)
    About iFLY Indoor Skydiving: Austin-based iFLY Holdings, LLC is the world leader in design, manufacturing, sales and operations of wind tunnel systems for indoor skydiving. Under the brand names iFLY, SkyVenture, and Airkix, the Company has flown over 7,000,000 people in a dozen countries since launching the modern vertical wind tunnel industry in 1998. iFLY has 39 facilities operating, 15 currently in construction and another 8 planned to start construction before the end of 2015. iFLY supports and utilizes the safety and training rules set out by the International Body Fight Association (IBA) to ensure safety and progression of the sport of indoor skydiving.

    By admin, in News,

    Saving Veterans With Skydiving

    Image by Quincy Kennedy, Courtesy Skydive Carolina It started with a simple fact: Soldiers are dying--after they come home--from self-inflicted injuries.
    The numbers are seriously disturbing. The veteran suicide rate, according to the Los Angeles Times, hovers a full 50 percent higher than the suicide rate of the general population. Some Veterans Administration studies suggest that up to 22 veterans end their lives every day. Those statistics underline the stark fact that it is overwhelming, for many servicepeople, to successfully make the transition from military to civilian life. The numbers indicate that the social safety net built to facilitate re-integration doesn’t seem to be up to the task. Unsupported veterans are suffering--achingly alone and mortally vulnerable.
    As harrowing as those statistics are, there’s another essential fact to face: one suicide is one suicide too many.
    Skydiver Jim Osterman, a Navy veteran himself, thinks that we--as representatives of our sport--can make a big difference in the lives of veterans. Osterman has been touched by suicide “more times then [he] want to think about.” After losing close military friends to suicide, he was moved to take action.

    Jim Osterman's late friend, Frank in his Marine uniform. “I knew when I got home from active duty,” he explains, “That what was missing in my life was the camaraderie that I had while I was in the service. The [veteran] suicide rate is as high as it is because these guys and gals are coming home and feeling completely alone, even if they actually aren’t in a physical sense. You don’t have that closeness you had while you were in the service. The dropzone community can fill that gap.”
    Osterman’s mission, project and passion is pretty simple: to make skydivers aware of the aching need for community in veterans’ lives, and to ask skydivers to bring as many people to the dropzone as they can.
    “It makes all the sense in the world,” Osterman explains. “Dropzones are very military-friendly. There tend to be lots of military people around, and dropzones generally already have military discounts and events for, say, Veterans Day and Memorial Day. But we need to let our veterans know that they are welcome to the dropzone everyday--not just the major vets’ holidays. Hopefully they will decide to skydive, but even if they choose not to jump, they need to know that they are welcome to come and just hang out.”
    “They need to experience the camaraderie at the heart of it,” Osterman enthuses. “It’s literally lifesaving, in some cases. Pretty much anybody is accepted into skydiving, and it doesn’t matter what your background is--your ethnicity--whatever. It just doesn’t matter. You walk in that door and you are greeted warmly. Veterans need that welcome more than I can say.”

    Jim joins up with a couple of buddies on a leg of his long, long trip. To raise awareness for this mission--and to commemorate the memories of his departed friends--Jim took off on a long-haul, dropzone-to-dropzone motorcycle trip on his Yamaha Raider. Sure, he made a few skydives on the trip, but the jumping always took a back seat to the mission. “I went to several drop zones that I knew I would not be able to jump at,” he says, “Just so I could speak with the owners in person rather than via email or over the phone.”
    Thirty-eight dropzones later, Osterman has spread his message all over the east coast of the US--and so far, he’s been overwhelmed at his fellow skydivers’ receptivity. “It really makes my point,” he says, “That even though they’d never met me before, I was completely welcomed and heard.”
    Interested, but unsure how to help? According to Jim, it’s very easy to get involved.
    “If you’re a skydiver, you can do this,” Osterman insists. “When you learn that someone is a veteran, approach them with an invitation. Let them know that they’re welcome to come out anytime and just hang out--sit on the park bench and watch some swooping, or join the weekend barbecue, or whatever else happens to be going on. Offer them a ride.”

    Lynn Luzynski Gromaski, Steve Luzynski and Karen Luzynski.
    “We’re looking to get these men and women out of whatever isolating situation they might be in and bring them to the dropzone so they can see the camaraderie that we as skydivers share,” he continues, “If we help even one man or woman see that people do care as a society, it will all be worth it.”
    When all was said and done, Osterman had exceeded his 4,000-mile goal by three thousand miles, had personally spread his message to hundreds of people and had earned the hearty support of several dropzones (including, exceptionally, Skydive Carolina). He’s already making plans to repeat the journey on the west coast next year.
    “‘Bring a Veteran to the Dropzone Day’ isn’t enough,” Osterman says. “I want the skydiving community to participate in the mission to bring veterans to the dropzone whenever, wherever they can. It’s not just another day. It’s another place for veterans. We can save lives.”

    By admin, in News,

    Countdown To Luke Aikens Heaven Sent

    When the first astronaut landed on the moon, it was "one small step for man." Now, 47 years later, the next "giant leap for mankind" will be made by a skydiver hurtling 25,000 feet down to earth – without the help of a parachute or wing suit*.
    This first-of-its-kind event will be broadcast LIVE Saturday, July 30 (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed), on FOX, when world-class skydiver Luke Aikins jumps out of a plane with nothing but the clothes on his back and lands safely in the Southern California desert as his family and friends wait for him on the ground. The special will offer an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into Aikins' training and preparation, before culminating in the historic skydive.
    A third-generation skydiver, the 42-year-old husband and father has 18,000 jumps under his belt and helped train Felix Baumgartner for his historic Stratos jump. While he has performed a variety of skydiving stunts for tentpole action films, this will be his most challenging jump ever. By negotiating his fall and landing – using only air currents – Aikins will make skydiving history.
    "Whenever people attempt to push the limits of what's considered humanly possible, they're invariably described as crazy," said Aikins. "But to me, this jump is simply the next logical step in a lifetime of extreme challenges."
    The Stride Gum brand from Mondelēz International, Inc. is sponsoring the historic live stunt experience. "When we first heard what Luke Aikins was going to attempt, our jaws hit the floor," said Bonin Bough, chief media and e-commerce officer for Mondelēz International. "Bringing Luke's vision to life will redefine what's possible for skydiving and stunts moving forward. His focus, courage and intensity inspire us on so many levels."
    "Luke is actually a very down-to-earth guy," said Laura Henderson, global head of content & media monetization at Mondelēz International. "But his thinking is so bold and intense that we all felt this was the perfect event to team up with as we launch our new mad-intense Stride Gum campaign."
    Perhaps no one is better prepared to take on such a challenge than Aikins. In addition to his movie stunt work, Aikins serves as a safety and training advisor for the United States Parachute Association (USPA) as an instructor to the instructors. As the owner of Para Tactics, Aikins provides advanced skydiving training to elite military special forces. He is also a staff member at Kapowsin Air Sports in Washington and has contributed to the family legacy with three world records.
    "Everyone is calling this my 'coming-out jump' – which is ironic considering I've been skydiving since the age of 16," said Aikins. "But nothing even comes remotely close to this. I expect Heaven Sent to change me, skydiving and the future of live spectacles forever. It's going to be mad-intense and I'm thrilled to have Stride Gum on board as my teammate."
    STRIDE GUM PRESENTS HEAVEN SENT will be broadcast live as a one-hour special on Saturday, July 30 (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX.
    Co-created by Chris Talley of Precision Food Works and Amusement Park Entertainment's Jimmy Smith, the event is being produced by Mondelēz International, Amusement Park Entertainment, and four-time Emmy winner Al Berman. In addition to the FOX broadcast, the event will be available via online streaming and pay-per-view around the globe.
    "It's not every day you get a chance to be part of something that's truly historic," remarked Talley. "We're very proud to support Luke in this amazing endeavor. Minds will be blown all over the world when Luke makes his giant leap."
    "HEAVEN SENT is the epitome of what we do at Amusement Park: create a larger brand story that is so compelling, it can't help but become part of the cultural landscape," said Smith. "I've never worked on a project so inspiring and mind-boggling all at the same time. It's one of those events where perhaps over a billion people will remember exactly where they were when Luke made history. Dope!"
    Aikins' leap represents the culmination of a 26-year career that will set a personal and world record for the highest jump without a parachute or wing suit. In fact, it's precedent-setting, since it's never been done before – period (at least, not intentionally). "Of course, this is a personal goal, but I'm certainly not doing it alone or in a vacuum. Beyond all the marketing hype, this is a once-in-a-lifetime feat that has taken the world's best skydiving experts, scientists and engineers many lifetimes to pull off," added Aikins.

    By admin, in News,

    Falling Into Fire - SmokeJumpers

    When I graduated from college I headed west and became a wildland firefighter. Over the course of a decade I fought fire from Arizona to Alaska. During that time I worked fire with a variety of agencies and units ranging from prison crews, BIA crews, and hotshot crews. From time to time I also crossed paths with smokejumpers, and always felt obligated to kick it up a notch when in their presence. That was for good reason, for among firefighters smokejumpers are at the top of the food chain.
    Smokejumpers are often dropped into fires that are too remote for ground based firefighting resources to reach. They are deployed to fires shortly after they ignite while they are relatively small with the intention of putting them out before they grow into large conflagrations. They are left to their own resources to extinguish the fire, hopefully within a day or two of being dropped on the fire.
    If the smokejumpers are unable to quickly extinguish a fire, other resources are typically brought in on the fire within three days. Once other firefighting crews are in place, the smokejumpers return to their base of operations and await another call to deploy quickly on a fire. However, this is not always the case, as smokejumpers have been known to spend over a month on some fires.

    Smokejumpers typically spend several seasons as a hotshot, an elite ground base fire crew, before applying to be a smokejumper. Experience as a firefighter is critical to making it as a smokejumper whereas previous experience parachuting out of aircraft is not a requirement. In a given year, only a small number of those that apply make it as a smokejumper.
    Smokejumpers undergo rigorous training where the washout rate is high, either from injuries or from being unable to keep up with the physical training. Training consists of a large amount of physical workouts which include calisthenics and running. Classroom time is devoted to a range of topics including CPR/First Aid, parachute manipulation, pre-field exercise briefings and post-field exercise debriefings, and tree climbing.
    Field exercises are designed to make the candidate competent enough to successfully handle the diverse number of situations a smokejumper will encounter during smokejumper operations. They include cross cut and chainsaw use, map and compass orientation and tree climbing. Parachute training initially includes mock ups of how to successfully perform airplane exits and landings. Before a rookie smokejumper can make their first practice jump, they must successfully pass through the field exercise training. Rookies must then make a total of 15 practice jumps into a variety of jump spots with each successive jump increasing in difficulty.
    At any point in the training a rookie may be let go if it is determined that they may be unable to meet the challenges of the job. They are constantly being evaluated on their attitude, fortitude, and leadership qualities. Candidates must be self-reliant yet also work well in a team environment. They must also exhibit flexibility and adaptability as they must be quick to adapt to the ever changing dynamics of a fire.

    Dropping In
    The size of the fire and the availability of manpower determine how many smokejumpers are deployed on a fire. A typical jump consists of two to eight jumpers and is usually made between 1,500 and 3,000 feet above ground level. Smokejumpers are used strictly for initial attack on a fire when other resources are not available. The first jumper on the ground takes the role of Incident Commander. This means a rookie jumper could be in charge of a much more veteran crew.
    Parachuting into wilderness terrain is a stressful endeavor unto itself. Landing in an un-scouted forest meadow on the side of a mountain after navigating erratic wind currents is considered a great option. That is the easy part. The challenge is to safely and quickly get the fire under control or out and find your way to a pickup location so that you will be available to do it over again. This translates into long hours working on a fire, often through the night when the humidity rises and the fire tends to slow down.
    Once the fire is put out or other resources arrive to take over, smokejumpers are released from a fire so they may be available as a resource for initial attack on other fires. For a smokejumper, a ride out of a fire by helicopter or on a four wheel drive vehicle is a luxury. Otherwise they must hoof it out on foot. When packing out on foot, they typically carry 100 lbs. of gear or more across rough, trail-less terrain.

    Two types of chutes are used depending on which agency the smokejumper works for. The Bureau of Land Management uses the square or “ram-air” parachute while the forest service employs the round parachute.
    Over top of their fireproof clothing, smokejumpers wear a padded jump jacket and pants made of Kevlar. A motorcycle type helmet is worn with a heavy wire-mesh face mask. Each smokejumper carries a small gear bag containing their water, gloves, fire shelter, hard hat, and other personal gear necessary to keep them active on a fire line for an entire shift.
    Heavier equipment, such as chain saws, hand tools, enough food and water to last several days, and other gear is dropped separately and, like the smokejumpers, as close to the fire as possible without running the risk of having the fire burn it. Becoming hung up in trees is an occupational hazard and one smokejumpers train extensively for. In the event they become snagged in a tree each smokejumper carries a “let down” rope in their leg pocket for rappelling down from a tree.
    Alan Carr is an avid aviation buff that enjoys writing on all aspects of the aviation industry. He currently works with globalair.com to provide resources on aircraft related information.

    By admin, in News,