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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,

    Plane Crash Kills 5 in Kauai

    Just a week after the plane crash at Parachute Center near Lodi which resulted in a Cessna 208 upside down in a vineyard, another crash has occurred. This time however, with tragic results. A Cessna 182H jumpship from Skydive Kauai in Hanapepe (Hawaii) crashed early on Sunday morning shortly after take-off.
    All five individuals on board the aircraft died, with four being pronounced dead on the scene while another was taken to hospital, though was also later pronounced deceased. On board were two instructors, two tandem passengers and the pilot. At the time of publication most of the names of those involved had not been released to the public, with the exception of Enzo Amitrano, one of the two instructors on board.
    A witness to the incident claims that the aircraft had left the runway when shortly afterwards problems with the engine were experienced. The pilot is then said to have attempted to bring the plane back towards the runway when flames began to come out of the engine as it descended rapidly.
    There are some conflicts in media reports as to whether the fire began during the descent or only after impact, regardless the aircraft did catch alight and firefighters had extinguished the fire withnin an hour of the incident.
    According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the pilot involved was not familiar with the aircraft involved. Though it is not yet clear what role this may have played in the incident.
    Our thoughts go out to the loved ones of those involved.
    Discussions about this crash can be had in the incidents forum.

    By admin, in News,

    Jump Plane Crashes Near Lodi

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

    By admin, in News,

    Formation Flower Power At Inflight Dubai As Girls Storm To Scrambles Crown

    Competing for the first time as a team, the all-girl foursome of Shavon Simpson, Kim Myers, Kristen Johnson and Nada Almarr powered to the top in the 4-Way Formation Intermediate Category at the second 2016 SandStorm Scrambles event at Inflight Dubai.
    The foursome – the only all-girl group in the 16-team competition open to both Intermediate and Rookie skydivers – produced a stunning final jump to snatch the title after a closely-fought battle saw the four-round competition go to the wire.
    Combined together by the event judges in order to represent a spread of ability, the girls adopted the team name ‘The Mighty Morphing Flower Arrangers’ and certainly blossomed as a 4-Way Formation team scoring 87 points to win by seven from runners-up the ‘E-Lemon-ators’, featuring Gabor Molner, Iurri Railean, Alexander Staschenko and Janina Huschle (80 points).
    Also scoring 80 points but given third place due to an inferior top scoring round were Glen Lowerson, Clare Greenwood, Emma Merritt and Cornelia Mihai (‘Break Like The Wind’).
    “As we hadn’t flown together before and were the only all-girl team in the competition, it certainly went better than we expected,” said a delighted Shavon Simpson. “The great thing about competing with people you have never flown with before is you learn, you adapt and you have fun.
    “Obviously there is pressure on you as you’re not competing with your usual team-mates and you don’t want to let anyone down but it is a great format.”
    Staged in inflight Dubai’s 5.03m x 20.73m indoor tunnel, the two-category event saw competitors combined into teams by highly experienced judges and SkyDive Dubai instructors Eliana Rodriguez and Alena Chistova.
    Competition was fierce throughout as the teams performed a number of formations in the tunnel under the watchful eyes of both Rodriguez and Chistova. Going into the final round, the eventual winners were lying in third place but produced a near-flawless final performance to score 30 points – the best of the night – and take the title.
    “I don’t think any of us were breathing on that last jump,” added a delighted Simpson, who helped her team to the winners’ cheque of AED 16,000. “We knew we had to score well if we were going to win so we stayed completely focused on getting a big enough score. Fortunately, it paid off.”
    In the 4-Way Formation Rookie category, victory and the first prize of AED 12,000 went to the ‘Dutchy’s’ team of Ahmad Abdulla Hashim, Pablo Rua, Sioned Taylor and Nawaf Alawadhi on 57 points, seven ahead of the ‘Heroes and Zeros’ team of Abdulla Aldosari, Sean Hahessy, Andy Salisbury and Khaled Mahdy (50 points). Third place went to ‘Chitty Chitty Bust Bust’ comprising Khaled Abduljalil, Ana Fratila, Karim Madour and Margo Weber on 47 points.
    “A big thank you to everyone for making it an exciting competition,” said Meet Director Ian ‘Freddy’ Macdonald. “The Scrambles format is one of our most popular events and we look forward to staging even more indoor tunnel flying competitions in the near future.”
    SandStorm Scrambles Results 4-Way Formation Intermediate
    1. Myers/Johnson/Almarr/Simpson 87.00

    2. Molner/Railean/Staschenko/Huschle 80.00

    3. Lowerson/Greenwood/Merritt/Mihai 80.00
    SandStorm Scrambles Results 4-Way Formation Rookie
    1. Hashim/Rua/Taylor/Alawadhi 57.00

    2. Aldosari/Hahessy/Salisbury/Mahdy 50.00

    3. Abduljalil/Fratila/Madour/Weber 47.00

    By admin, 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,

    Best Skydive Ever!

    This is a story from around a year ago when I decided to go skydiving in Australia. That day I was skydiving at Byron Bay a very nice and beautiful place to skydive, I recommend if you like to skydive and travel this is a must. The day started out really slow as the night before I was at a party with some friends. I had a headache so I just took some Advil and went on my way to the skydive spot. That day I had decided to do the 14,000 ft skydive. I talked to my instructor who was named Cody. The time was nearing until we were to start our adventure and get in the plane. It was time to get in the plane and my headache was starting to get worse. By the time we got over the drop zone I was feeling absolutely terrible. I had to throw up and my head was throbbing. We jumped out and I passed out because of all of the air pressure. We free fell for around 2 minutes, at least that is what Cody told me. But, Cody did not know that I had passed out until we had landed on the ground.
    He found out when we landed that I had passed out because I was not able to support my own weight with my legs because I had passed out. When I fell on the ground I hit my head and I started to bleed really badly. From what Cody told me I was immediately rushed to the hospital. When I woke up from my coma the doctors told me that I had gotten a concussion and that I had to take a ton of safety precautions for the next two weeks. That news really stunk as I was set to be in Australia for five more days and I had saved all of the most exciting stuff for the last two days.
    A few weeks after this incident I decided to go back to Australia to do everything I missed out on the first time I went to Australia. I decided I would go skydiving again, I decided I would go back to Byron Bay. I made sure that I would have the best experience by going to bed early and eating healthy. I did all of this to make sure that I would have one of the best skydiving experiences ever. In the morning I ate a very good breakfest in preparation for my takeoff at noon. When I went back to Byron Bay I found out that my instructor was again Cody, how ironic. We got in the plane and started to takeoff. When we got to the jump height I looked down at the scenery below. It was beautiful it was one of the nicest and prettiest places on the Earth. We got to the drop zone and I was ready to jump. We jumped out and all I could focus on was the beautiful scenery that I was falling down into. We pulled the parachute and I just floated down into paradise. And that was the story of my best skydive ever.

    By MattyBWrites, in News,

    Worlds Longest Touchdown Catch (VIDEO)

    Just before the Super Bowl 50 yesterday, an ad was aired on CBS that no doubt had a lot of skydivers sitting back going "Hell yeah". For those that jump, and happen to be a fan of football, the two and a half minute video was a hybrid of awesomeness. As 7 skydivers (Marshall Miller, Steve Curtis, Jesse Hall, Travis Fienhage, Jonathon Curtis, Chris Argyle, Mike Chapman) in full football gear begin a game at altitude.
    Using people jumping out of planes to sell products is nothing new, but this project seemed distant from the generic mid-air product placement. Instead, we got to see what it would be like if a group of skydivers exited the plane and engaged in a game of in-flight football.
    The cinematography was excellent and it's not too often we get to see aerial footage shot using the illustrious Red Dragon, filming at 6k.

    "A huge thanks to Pepsi and Papa John’s for supporting us in creating this epic moment!


    A huge thanks to the Whistle Sports team for all their support on this project. Whistle Sports is made up of sports creators, brands, leagues, teams, events and athletes who make content for the new generation of fans.
    Music is called 'The Darkness (Remix)' by Built By Titan.
    Film by Devin Graham and Tyson Henderson

    Produced by Carter Hogan

    Edit by Tyson Henderson using Adobe Premiere Pro CC
    Sound Design by Dan Pugsley
    Aerial Cinematographer: Jon Devore
    Super thanks to Temp Media for providing the amazing aerials with the C-130. They were all captured on the Red Dragon in 6K with the Shotover.
    If anyone is interesting in aerial services they can go to our website www.temptmediafilms.com
    Skydive Team - These guys are AMAZING athletes and were complete ninjas in the sky!
    Marshall Miller

    Steve Curtis

    Jesse Hall

    Travis Fienhage

    Jonathon Curtis

    Chris Argyle"


    A behind the scenes video was also made available on youtube, and can be watched below...

    By admin, in News,

    Skydive Arizona Event Updates

    Skydive Arizona began in the early 1990s when formation skydiving was dominating the scene and freeflying was just starting to become popular. Skydive Arizona has been the training grounds since then of fostering a great skydiver because of the weather, on-site wind tunnel, and access to multiple turbine aircraft. The DZ is thrilled to announce exciting changes to some of the classic events for the 2016 season!
    Skydive Arizona has retired some long-standing traditional events such as the Valentines 4-Way FS Meet and Turbine Madness. The Valentine’s 4-Way FS Meet was a staple of a formation skydiver’s experience. However, with the access to turbines and tunnels, the event saw a decline and decided to retire the event. The Turbine Madness will now focus on the Challenge which will also see a few new additions.
    Airspeed Big Way Camp
    Changes to current, annual events: The Arizona Challenge organized by Arizona Airspeed for formation skydivers will add Arizona X-Force organizing a Vertical Sequential Challenge. The Freefly Money Meet which was a scrambles-style event, is now the MFS (Mixed Formation Skydiving) Money Meet. The MFS style event is meant to be a platform for National competitors to train.
    MFS Money Meet
    All boogies that Skydive Arizona hosts (Easter Boogie, Patriot’s Boogie, Halloween Boogie, Thanksgiving Boogie, and the Christmas Boogie) will continue to include camps in various disciplines.
    An incredible new event is slated for this November 3rd – 6th called, The Wingsuit Rally. The format of the event is to be an educational extravaganza from First Flight Courses to preparing for Wingsuit BASE to seminars, suit demos, state records and more. Wingsuit coaches that have confirmed include: Katie Hansen, Scotty Bob, Doogs, Taya Weiss, Jay Moledzki, Travis Milke, Petter Mazetta, and Matt Frolich. Vendors are still confirming at this time.
    Wingsuit Rally
    Upcoming Events:
    Airspeed Big Ways -- Registration: $50/person (February 12-14)

    MFS Money Meet -- Registration: $200/team (February 20-21)

    VFS Challenge -- Registration: TBD (May 28 – 30)

    Patriot’s Boogie -- Registration: $25/person (July 2-3)

    US Nationals (October 19-30)

    Halloween Boogie -- Registration: FREE (October 29-30)

    Wingsuit Rally -- Registration: $50/person (November 3-6)

    Thanksgiving Boogie -- Regisration: FREE (November 24-27)

    Christmas Boogie -- Registration: TBD (December 24 – January 1)

    Collegiates (December 28 – January 2)
    For detailed event information, go to www.SkydiveAZ.com/experiened/events.

    By admin, in News,

    The Road to 100 Dropzones - 77 and Counting

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

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

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

    -Blue Skies-

    By admin, in News,

    The Journey of an AFF Student - Part 5

    This article follows a previous article of an AFF journal submitted by John McDarby. We hope sharing this series of articles detailing the experience of his journey may be able to provide some insight into those looking to do their AFF course, while also entertaining those who have been through the process.
    AFF5 – Saturday 8th August
    What an awesome jump!!
    Got down to the DZ for 8am and was straight onto the manifest - I got on load 2 for 9am – what a start to a Saturday!
    Delighted with myself.
    Got given the same instructor with whom I did my AFF4 repeat with.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    By admin, in News,

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