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News

    Gift Ideas For Late Shoppers

    Got a Christmas bonus that needs spending? Have you left it a bit late in getting your Christmas shopping done? Still need to pick up something for one of your mates or partner? Well if they happen to skydive, we've got a few suggestions for you last minute shoppers in order to make sure the tree isn't left bare this month.

    Skydiving Christmas Cards & Gift Tags ($4-$14)
    Keep the skydiving spirit through the holidays with Skydiving Christmas Cards and Gift Tags! Available individually or in multi-card packages.
    More Information

    Peeksteep Spike Parachute Packing Tool ($20)
    The skydiver's packing tool is now available in 5 different colors! Brighten your skydiver's holiday with a Parachute Packing Tool in their favorite color.
    More Information

    Vented Tropos Arch Goggle ($45)
    The Vented Kroops Arch goggle features a patent pending soft elastomer frame that provides a comfortable, cool, and dry fit on any face size or shape.
    More Information

    ChutingStar eGift Card (Any Amount)
    The ultimate gift for the skydiver in your life that you just can't decide on what they want or need. The perfect last-minute gift too as the ChutingStar eGift Card is delivered immediately via e-mail!
    More Information
    Viso II+ Altimeter ($283)
    The VISO II+ is a digital faced visual altimeter for those skydivers who prefer a digital display over a traditional analog display. VISO II+ is packed with features and is the perfect visual solution for skydivers.
    More Information

    Cookie G3 Helmet ($380)
    Welcome to the G3 headgear, Cookies latest release full-face headgear and a result of significant refinement of the previous full-face headgear.
    More Information
    Other potential gift ideas can include:
    - Skydiving DVDs

    - Clothing

    - Rigging Equipment

    - Sunglasses

    By admin, in News,

    The Journey of an AFF Student - Part 1

    Over the course of the next few weeks we will be sharing the journal of John McDarby, who documented his experience as an AFF student. This journal should allow for new students to get an idea of what to experience during their first steps into the sport.
    Accelerated freefall (AFF) is a method of skydiving training. This method of skydiving training is called "accelerated" because the progression is the fastest way to experience solo freefall, normally from 10,000 to 15,000 feet "Above Ground Level" (AGL).
    “As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster. ...” Ray Liotta
    Goodfellas, I always loved that movie. I guess it’s kind of like living that gangster life for 2hrs which is so utterly foreign to anything most of us would know.
    Skydiving is something I’d always wanted to try, ever since a young age.
    I remember seeing a clip of people in a wind tunnel when I was about 12 or 13 and thinking “I’ve just got to have a go at that”
    But the usual trials and tribulations of day to day living, seemed to perpetually push it out.
    During my twenties, I actually went as far as getting the sponsor forms to do a charity tandem. But that’s as far as it got. It was placed on the back burner for another twenty years.
    One fateful day, a surprise email from my cousins wife arrived. “Can you come up with an idea for you and him to do something different for his 40th” was the request.

    Race car driving? White water rafting? Paintball? All the usual silly ideas we both bounced off each other.

    Then, the light bulb went “ping”
    We booked in for us both to do a tandem – he was as yet, unaware. The day came and the colour drained from his face when informed of the plan for the next few hours. That’s actually on video somewhere and is quite comical. For me, I’d had a month or two in order to come to terms with it.
    As it turned out, the rain came and the gig was off – honestly, I think we were both equally relieved and disappointed.

    We re-booked and again, it was rained off. I decided at that point, if it was rained off a third time, then that was it for me. It was a proper sign that skydiving was not something I was destined to take part in.

    But not this time. This time Thunderbirds were go.
    The day came and we hit the DZ. We signed our lives away, we jumped and we loved it.
    It was a surreal experience and one that I will never forget. No matter how many jumps I ever make through the rest of my skydiving career, I will never forget that first time sitting on the edge, feet dangling.
    On video, my tandem master asks prior to the jump:

    “Will you do this again or is this a one off, tick the box?”

    To which I reply categorically “one time, one time only”

    Yes, let’s see how that worked out...
    I must apologise for the soundtrack. Prior to the jump, whilst at the DZ, we had to select 3 songs from a list of thousands that were to be added to our video afterwards. I was much too preoccupied to choose them so the task was given to my niece of 12 years. “This will be hilarious” was the giggling consensus. And I was informed in no uncertain terms, that I was not to see the track listing until the final product.
    Which was later aired on the big screen in the hanger to much laughter.

    I’m a living joke...

    But...the deal made with my niece was that if she decided to choose the songs, then she would have to do a tandem when she turns 18.

    Aoife, the clock is ticking!
    So that was it. I walked away from a wonderful tandem experience and was determined that if nothing else, I had to complete “at least” one more jump. I couldn’t go through life and not try it again
    Knowing me and how I think, it made sense to sign up for AFF rather than another tandem.
    “I’ll do the ground school and one jump, then reassess” I told myself.
    Multiple emails back and forward to the IPC Irish Parachute Club, had me booked into school for the second Saturday in April – about 7 weeks after the tandem.
    I was hyper and couldn’t wait for the day to come.
    As it approached, the bravado began to wear off and nobody was happier than me that we did not get to jump that day due to weather. We would have to wait for the following Saturday.
    This was something that stuck with me until AFF6. I would never have been upset not getting any of the first 4 AFF jumps on the day. It was a genuine fight with myself to gear up and just do it. But afterwards, it was always such a buzz.
    At times, I even thought “I wish I could just fast forward the jump bit and get to the après-jump buzz” and go home.
    Unfortunately, you have to load and exit to get that.

    Now, I’m really happy and excited during the hour or so prior to kicking off. But that took a few jumps to get there.
    During the next week, I read the SIM twice. I looked at everything there was to see on YouTube. I even had my first skydive dream!
    Figuring that jumping from a plane, this time unattached to someone who knew what they were doing, I thought it best to know as much as I could.
    I did the AFF1 dive flow, over and over again in my head during the drive to and from work. I ran over my emergency procedures again and again. In fact, I still have the laminated cards with the bullet points, sitting on the dash of the car so that I see them every single day. I practice my EPs daily – numerous times.

    Rinse and repeat….always repeat.
    I went through my notes from class – why was I the only person taking notes? I’d never paid as much attention in all my school and college years combined. I asked more questions in that classroom than everyone else put together. This stuff was important and I wanted to know it down here rather than not know it up there.
    And then the day came…
    Part 2 will be published shortly, keep an eye out on the dropzone.com homepage to follow John's journey through AFF

    By admin, in News,

    Para Gear Photo Submissions For Catalog 80

    Over the years Para Gear has used photos from all of skydiving's disciplines. We do not have a preference as far as what type of skydiving photo it is, rather we look for something that either is eye-catching or pleasing to the eye. In light of the digital age, we are also able to use photos that in one way or another may be less than perfect and enhance them, removing blemishes, flipping images, altering colors, etc.
    The following are preferences. However what we prefer and what we get, or choose, are not always the same. If however we came down to a choice between two photos of equal quality, we would opt for the one that met more of our preferences. We typically prefer that the photo be brighter. In the past we have used sunset photos and even a night jump photo, although by and large most of the photos are daytime. We like the subject of the image to have contrast with the background. Subjects that are wearing brighter more colorful clothing usually stand out more. We prefer to have the people in the photo wearing equipment since that is what we sell. Headgear, goggles, jumpsuits, altimeters, audible altimeters, and gloves are all good. We also prefer to see skydivers wearing head and foot protection.
    We do not print any BASE jumping nor any Tandem photographs. No submissions of these will be accepted. We are not interested an any photos of individual or groups of skydivers standing on the ground
    Our basic criteria is as follows:
    Vertical Format. The front and back covers of the catalog are both in a vertical format. We can use a horizontal (landscape) shot, as opposed to a vertical (portrait), and then crop it as long as the image lies within a vertical cropping.
    Photo Quality. The front and back cover shots will be printed as 8 ½ x 11 in 300 dpi format. Any film that can hold its quality up to this size and print dpi is fine. Digital format is preferred. In the event of a final cover choice, we prefer to be sent the original digital image or slide for getting the best quality out of the image.
    Back Cover Photo. The back cover photo is no different from the front except in one respect. We need to have room on the left side of the image for the thumb index. In the past we have taken images and been able to horizontally flip them thereby creating this room.
    Originality. Anything that is original, eye-catching, or makes someone take more notice of the catalog covers is something we look for. It could be a photo from a unique camera position or angle, a scenic skydive, shots under canopy, landings, etc. We look for photos that have not been previously published and most likely would not accept them if they have, as we want a photo that no one else has seen yet. We also do not want any photos that are chosen as the front or back covers to be used for other non Para Gear advertising for a period of one year.
    Para Gear offers $500.00 each for both the front and back covers we choose. Our current deadline for catalog cover submissions is January 11th 2016. Sending sample pictures by e-mail to curt@paragear.com, If you are sending sample digital pictures please note that they do not need to be in a very large format. If we like the sample picture we will then ask you to send the higher quality original. Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions.

    By admin, in News,

    Legendary Author Dan Poynter Passes Away

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

    By admin, in News,

    John Willsey obits

    Started jumping with John Willsey in 1972 at various Arizona DZs after getting my D at Elsinore in 68. We made the first 23 way at Casa Grande in 73. He came to it me on Maui about 12 yrs ago. Never was a nicer guy. Just heard about death Oct 30, 2015.
    Anyone with details can e-mail me at tubem@hawaii.rr.com

    By uspad2410, in News,

    Squirrel Releases C-Race For Advanced Pilots

    Over the past two years, the Squirrel R&D; Team have been working hard on high performance wingsuits for competitive events. Their focus on this segment of the sport began when the first edition of the RedBull ACES was being put together for 2014. It happened to coincide with Squirrel’s development timeline on the Colugo 2, and it provided the team with an excellent opportunity to test the final prototypes against the fastest suits on the market, being flown by the best pilots in the world. In 2014, Andy Farrington won the ACES event flying a race prototype that included a lot of features that went on to become the C2.
    The Squirrel team say that development is a constant. As soon as the C2 was released, efforts began on creating a higher performance race suit that could be used by team pilots in the next ACES event, and other competitive wingsuit competitions. Mainly Squirrel had their eye on ACES 2015. But with the first US Wingsuit Nationals being announced, and the 2015 WWL planned for October, there was more than one reason to redouble efforts on the C-RACE development.
    The first C-RACE suits that were delivered to pilots outside of Squirrel’s headquarters in WA state, USA, went to a few pilots attending the US Nationals. Only a few suits were delivered to pilots going to the event, but 4 of them made the top 10, including Noah Bahnson and Chris Geiler, who took 2nd and 3rd respectively. The C-RACE is considerably smaller in surface area than the designs that have traditionally done well in the PPC format, and the significance of this size difference is important. For a suit with so much less surface to be competing so well in the PPC spoke to its speed and efficiency. Squirrel focused on profile efficiency and stability at high speeds, instead of increasing surface to score well in the time and distance tasks.
    Next came the WWL wingsuit race in China. The final podium saw Noah Bahnson in first overall, and Julian Boulle in second. Both were flying the C-RACE and had fought their way through multiple heats against the Phoenix Fly team pilots at the event, who were flying a clearly excellent new race suit, and flying it well. Relative newcomer, Nathan Jones, impressively took 3rd place flying his Phoenix Fly suit in this event.
    Of all the wingsuit races in the world, only one involves a mile-long slalom course involving 4000 vertical feet of turns, dives, and straightaways. RedBull ACES truly encompasses every aspect of wingsuit flight, and is an incredibly dynamic and challenging environment. Furthermore, it is the only 4-cross event, allowing multiple pilots to race head-to-head, offering the best chances of a fair result (in contrast, PPC competition runs necessarily take place with jumpers flying solo, through different wind patterns and conditions and often at different times, making truly accurate comparisons impossible). Because of this, the 2015 ACES event was the most important to Squirrel. The team made efforts to support as many of the invited pilots as possible, and trained relentlessly for this type of competition – the mission was all-out speed, with precise agility. Four pilots diving through slalom gates that are suspended from helicopters and held taught by 150lb steel weights is not a situation to take lightly. It was critical to design a suit that would not only allow team pilots to overtake everything else, but also maintain agility and precision through a course full of very real hazards.
    In the end, the C-RACE prevailed. Only C-RACE pilots made the final, sweeping the podium. 28 out of the 40 invited pilots at the event were flying C-RACEs. Andy Farrington defended his title as top ACE, Noah Bahnson took second flying the same suit that he flew to podium finishes in Chicago and China a few weeks before, and Matt Gerdes, co-founder of Squirrel and co-designer of the C-RACE, placed third. All three podium finishers were also flying the Squirrel EPICENE main parachute, which was by far the most popular parachute at the race.
    Squirrel says that the C-RACE is available to qualified pilots only, and the design will evolve slowly over the course of 2016. Design features that are tested in the C-RACE will (and have already) trickle down to the other suits in their range.

    By admin, in News,

    Juan Mayer - Behind The Lens

    Name: Juan Mayer

    First Jump: 2000

    Skydives: 10 000+

    Helmet: Handmade

    Cameras: Nikon (Photos), Sony & Panasonic (Video)

    Container: neXgen (Aerodyne)

    Canopy: Pilot 150

    Reserve: Smart 150

    AAD: Cypres

    Wingsuit: Havok Carve

    We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Juan Mayer, one of the most prominent skydive photographers of this decade. From his early skydiving career and his early days in photography to his recently published book.
    DZ: After completing your skydiving course, how long was it before you decided that you'd want to focus on the photography aspect? Was photography something you had interest in prior to becoming a skydiver?
    JM: When I started skydiving, the AFF course didn’t exist in Argentina. I started with the static line course using a reserve canopy mounted on the front. My first teacher, Mario “Perro” Rodriguez, was an amazing instructor! I did 4 static line jumps and the feeling was completely overwhelming. A year later, I came back and continued with the same instructor but this time doing tandems. It was like I discovered a completely different world to photograph and after doing only 70 skydives, I started using a video camera on my helmet. At that time the GoPros, or any of those super small cameras, didn’t exist yet, so it wasn’t that easy. I already knew that I wanted to do skydiving photography but the main reason I started taking videos was because after spending all my money on those 70 jumps, I really needed to find a way to continue skydiving. So, at the beginning I started offering my service as a videographer just for half of the price of my jump ticket.
    DZ: What type of photography did you specialize in prior to skydiving photography, and were there aspects you had learned in those fields that allowed you to bring over into your approach to skydiving photography?
    JM: I was mostly doing wedding photography. Well, the best thing about doing social photography is that it allows you to practice a lot with your camera, then you really get to learn many things about your equipment. With skydiving photography its harder because in freefall we don’t have a lot of time to play with the setups and different lenses. This is why I always recommend learning from other photographers, especially non-skydiving ones and the most important thing is to practice a lot and make a lot of mistakes. It will give you the skills to really know your camera equipment.
    DZ: At what point did you notice that your photography could end up becoming a viable career for yourself?
    JM: That's a really good question, its hard to pinpoint exactly when. The more people asked me for photos, the more it showed me how much they liked them. I then started travelling to countries close to Argentina for different skydiving events. This is when, after almost 15 years in the army, I challenged myself to take a year’s leave without salary, to see if I could pay my bills with skydiving alone. Unfortunately I wasn’t getting the same level of income as I did in the army, but it was enough to get by and it allowed me to continue skydiving. So I quit the army and decided to follow my dreams while making a living out of skydiving photography. But I still remember travelling for the first time outside of Argentina with only 57 jumps. I went to Deland in Florida, and came across the Book of Skydiving Photography by Norman Kent. I remember that moment vividly, loving every single picture I saw and it really confirmed to me what I wanted to do.
    DZ: How did you go from jumping at Aeroclub Lobos in Argentina, to working for one of the largest and fastest growing dropzones in the world, Skydive Dubai?
    JM: It was a very long process and it could take me hours to share all the places and moments (good and bad) I went through before I got my contract with Skydive Dubai. Basically, I was following my heart; doing what made me happy, travelling a lot, learning from other videographers and meeting many good people. Just a few anecdotes, I remember sending hundred of emails to every dropzone around the world asking for a job and one day while driving to Lobos in Argentina I got a call from New Zealand telling me that they needed me to work there, but I had to be there in a week. So, even without knowing basic English I sold my car and moved to New Zealand, a place with a totally different language to mine. I lived there for almost a year, which helped me learn English, not fluently, but enough to communicate with others.
    I also remember going to Brazil to film different events where I met Craig Girard and asking him many times if I could film the AZ Challenge, which was a well known skydiving event at that time. After 3 years of asking I finally got an invitation as a one of the official cameramen, I really couldn’t believe it.
    DZ: What are some of your most memorable jumps with the camera?
    JM: I'm lucky, with so many years of skydiving, to have a lot of memorable jumps. But to choose a few of them, I will say, when I was filming one of my sisters doing her first tandem, it was a very special moment!
    Another memorable jump was documenting an 88 way formation at the AZ Challenge. As I was filming, I watched it being completed and I really couldn’t believe I was there, as a part of that amazing event and capturing it all on camera!
    And a more recent memorable jump, was in Dubai, when I filmed a skydiver that had an accident 7 years ago which left him in a wheelchair. Seeing his huge smile in freefall after 7 years of waiting for that moment was something incredibly rewarding, really hard to explain with words. I felt super lucky to be there with my cameras filming him in freefall, smiling for more than a minute nonstop!
    Over the course of more than 15 years of skydiving, I’ve had a lot of memorable jumps, but this is just why I really love photography, because it allows you to capture those seconds, those special moments, forever!
    DZ: Could you share with us, 3 of your favourite images that you've taken?



    DZ: Are there any specific disciplines that you prefer to photograph and if so, why is that?
    JM: I love to photograph any discipline. Sometimes during simple jumps such as with tandems or AFF students I’ve captured images that have made me super happy. But if I had to choose, I would prefer to photograph freestyle. I really think in our sport there is nothing more beautiful that a girl dancing in the sky!
    DZ: You list Norman Kent as one of your inspirations, and state that it was your goal to take pictures that looked like his. What aspect of Norman Kent's style have you always looked up to most?
    JM: Definitely, like I mentioned earlier, Norman Kent was, and still is, one of my inspirations and like every novice photographer I tried to emulate others, today I think I have my own style. But what I really like about Norman, is that he is not just focused on capturing a zoomed-in, square picture. He is always trying to show the beauty of the sky and how lucky we are as a skydivers to have such a huge and amazing playground, every single day.
    DZ: A topic that is hard to avoid with all fields of photography these days is the relation between art and technology. Do you feel that the internet has been a blessing or a curse with regards to being a photographer, and why?
    JM: Well, when I started skydiving photography we only had film, so we would take a photo, bring it to the store, and then wait a few days until the film was developed. So trying new things and learning different techniques was a long and costly process. We always had to be sure to use the right setup to get a good photo, because we couldn’t try again, especially when filming tandems. Today, with all the digital cameras, we can try as much as we like, which is really good in terms of money and time, but its also true that it makes us more lazy, in terms of preparing the right setups to take a nice photo. Anyways, the relation between art and technology is amazing for us as photographers. Today, within a few seconds, we can share our art and photos freely with million of peoples around the planet, which is a real blessing!
    DZ: You just recently published a book titled "Ultimate High: Skydiving Behind The Lens", could you tell us a bit about the book and what it contains?
    JM: Its a hard cover book with 104 pages of skydiving photography. I always wanted to publish a book with my photographs but wasn’t quite sure how to start so I met with designers and people involved with photography books. It was a very long process, choosing the photos, finding the right text, designs, meetings and more meetings, etc, etc, etc. But after 2 long years of hard work, it finally got published.
    My book contains photos that I took over the years of skydiving in many different places around the world. Most of them being special moments in my life as a skydiver, shared with friends.
    The book also contains narrative explaining my philosophy as a photographer and skydiver.
    DZ: The release of your book is no doubt a milestone in your life, what other goals do you have set which you hope to achieve in the future?
    JM: Yes it’s definitely a milestone! I have many goals, but the most important ones are to continue sharing special moments with friends and taking photos that makes me happy. And to mention a dream, I wish one day I can enjoy the sky with my little daughter doing freestyle! But of course it will depend on her, whether she likes skydiving or not :)
    DZ: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, we always love sharing your images. Do you have any last words for readers?
    JM: Thank you guys so much for giving me the opportunity to show a little part of my passion for Photography and Skydiving! Just some last words, NEVER STOP FOLLOWING YOUR DREAMS!

    By admin, in News,

    Poorly Packed Parachutes - A Personal Story

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

    By admin, in News,

    GoPro Goes Small With The Hero 4 Session

    GoPro announced the latest addition to their line of action cameras this week with the reveal of the GoPro Hero 4 Session. The Session is small, really small -- about the same size as an ice cube and according to GoPro, it has been in development for several years now. With its reduced size, it will allow for easier mounting, especially for those looking for something to strap to their wrists.
    Unfortunately, early reports suggest that the decrease in size does not come without a cost. You should not expect the same recording quality, nor the features that are present with the Hero 4 Silver or Black. In their venture to create their smallest action camera yet, GoPro had to make sacrifices on both fronts and you'll only be seeing still images with a maximum resolution of 8 megapixels from the Session. Being less than 1.5 inches in diameter, it goes without saying that you won't be receiving any touch screen or image preview functionality.
    The cube design features a small LCD screen at the top and just two buttons, the main of which will control all your recording settings and control, while the smaller button is merely a wifi on/off button. Bound to be frustrating to some is that one cannot change between single and burst mode through the camera and requires use of the GoPro app in order to change these settings. There are some positives to mention though, with battery life being one of them. The Hero 4 Session is able to last up to 2 hours while running, better than the battery life seen in the other Hero 4 cameras.
    Recording Abilities
    While one may expect 4k recording from the Hero 4 Session, you're not going to find it. You can however record at a maximum of 30fps at 1440p or 60fps at 1080p. For those looking to get 100fps out of their recording, you will be able to do so at a 720p recording resolution. Overall it is somewhat to be expected, given the size and already clear limitations with the product, however we would have liked to at least see 100fps at 1080p and perhaps 60fps at the 1440p range.
    The reality is still however, that for the most part 4k recording is overkill and for vast majority of uses 1080p will suffice just fine.
    Another potentially frustrating aspect to the Session design is because of the cubed shape, some early testers of the camera found that it was easy to hold the wrong way around without noticing. This is likely not going to be a problem for too many people, who will have the device mounted, but for those going handheld, make sure you don't hold it at 90 degrees, or you'll need to do some post-process rotation adjustments.
    From what we've seen, it appears as though the Session is intended for those looking to create easy and quick HD videos, in the occasional circumstances where the other GoPro models may be too large. Priced at a whopping $400, we are struggling to see too many reasons for the average athlete to opt for the Session over the Hero 4 Silver, which at the same price comes with 4k recording, 4 more megapixels as well as a touch screen.
    It's Not All Doom and Gloom
    Don't get too caught up in the negative aspects of the Hero 4 Session however, it's still an extremely competent looking camera and while the recording quality may not be the best that GoPro has given us, it's more than enough for your average user who isn't looking for the clearest quality around.
    It comes standard with 10 meter water proofing, meaning no extra housing needed for most practical uses.
    The most obvious of the positives however, is the size. Being less than 1.5 inches allows for its use in situations where you may otherwise have struggled. For those who use wrist mounts for their GoPro, the session will definitely serve a purpose. A question that will also obviously come to the minds of many, will be how it compares to the other GoPro series with regards to snag risk.
    While we haven't been able to see first hand how the Session will handle a snag scenario, there is a lot less surface area so the odds of your lines getting caught seem lower, but the way the mount clamp is positioned in relation to the camera itself, it seems that there remains a risk for snagging between the clamp and the camera. This is something that could be helped a lot by the development of custom mounts, which will no doubt be developed some time after release.
    If you're currently an owner of a Hero 3 or Hero 4 and shoot regular helmet mounted video footage, we can't see any reason for you to switch out for the Hero 4 Session, but if you're looking for an extra camera for a wrist mount or another area where size is an important factor, the Hero 4 Session may be worth looking into -- if you're willing to fork out the $400.

    By admin, in News,

    Spectra Ripcord Service Bulletin

    MANDATORY PRODUCT SERVICE BULLETIN FOR SPECTRA RESERVE RIPCORD
    REASON: EXCESSIVE URETHANE COATING
    Spectra Reserve Ripcord
    Part #:

    024 029 001 SPECTRA RIPCORD-24.5"

    024 029 002 SPECTRA RIPCORD-26"

    024 029 003 SPECTRA RIPCORD-27"

    024 029 004 SPECTRA RIPCORD-28"

    024 029 005 SPECTRA RIPCORD-29"

    024 029 006 SPECTRA RIPCORD-30"

    024 029 007 SPECTRA RIPCORD-31"

    024 029 008 SPECTRA RIPCORD-23.5"
    Lot #:

    UPT-2014-01

    UPT-2014-08

    UPT-2014-10

    UPT-2014-11

    UPT-2015-02

    UPT-2015-03

    UPT-2015-03a

    UPT-2015-03b

    UPT-2015-03c

    UPT-2015-03d
    LOT # UPT- 2015-04 AND LATER ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THIS PSB
    BACKGROUND
    The Spectra Reserve Ripcord system has been in the field now for over 5 years. During that time, it has performed as expected; generating consistently low pull forces because Spectra cord has a very low coefficient of friction. (A similar Spectra main ripcord system has been in use for 15 years on our Sigma Tandem systems).
    To prevent minor fuzzing and color loss, and to make the finished Spectra reserve ripcord easier to thread through the housing, the finished ripcord is lightly coated with the same polyurethane compound used by Spectra line manufacturers to increase suspension line life. This process increases housing drag slightly but still keeps it below that of stainless cable.
    It has recently come to our attention that some Spectra ripcord cables manufactured in late 2014 and 2015 were coated with the wrong mix of polyurethane and water, possibly resulting in higher pull forces because of increased housing/ripcord friction. While we believe that this affects only ripcords manufactured from December 2014 to May 2015, we are going to consider all 2014 ripcords suspect.
    While have been no reported hard pulls in actual use, we will replace all affected ripcord cables free of charge. Because this will take time, we have devised an interim solution that will keep all affected rigs in service until the replacement Spectra ripcord can be installed.
    PROCEDURE
    1. The interim solution must be accomplished before the next jump on the equipment.
    2. The replacement ripcord must be installed at the next scheduled repack, no later than December 31, 2015. After this date, all containers with affected spectra ripcords are grounded until the replacement is made.
    Interim Solution
    The rig owner, or a parachute rigger, can perform the procedure; the reserve does not need to be opened. It should take no longer than a few minutes.
    In this video the procedure to complete the interim fix is shown. As noted in the bulletin, these steps are to be taken prior to your next jump and installation of the new spectra ripcord should take place during your next scheduled reserve repack.
    1. Put the ripcord side of the harness over your knee
    2. Remove the ripcord handle from its pocket
    3. Grip the other end of the ripcord just above the pin
    4. Applying moderate downward pressure to remove the slack, slide the ripcord back and forth in the housing for 10-15 seconds at 2 cycles per second. Look at the ripcord pin as you perform the procedure to avoid moving it or breaking the seal. This will smooth the excess polyurethane coating thus reducing the pull force
    5. AFTER performing step #4, spray a one second burst of pure silicone spray (available at hardware stores) into each end of the housing. This will serve to further lower pull forces. We have not tested any other lubricants, so it is important to use only a “pure” or “food grade” silicone spray because other ingredients might damage the bungee cord inside the ripcord. DO NOT spray the silicone before step #4, as this will make the housing too slippery to smooth the polyurethane
    6. Slide the treated ripcord back and forth in the housing under moderate tension 5 times to evenly spread the silicone. Again, be careful not to break the seal
    Although this procedure will restore normal pull forces, it will require periodic re-lubrication with silicone spray at monthly intervals, and it must be considered a temporary solution, to be used only until you install the replacement ripcord cable.
    As a reminder use a Sharpie or similar permanent marker, and put a visible dot on the ripcord data sleeve. This will represent the initial treatment performed in June.
    When you re-lubricate in July, put a second dot on the backside of the data sleeve, a third in August, and so on, until the replacement can be installed. This will allow any jumper to keep track of the monthly lubrication while the interim solution is in effect.
    Replacement
    When replacing the Spectra reserve ripcord, the rigger will reuse your existing handle and RSL pin
    1. Take a clear photo of the ripcord data sleeve. We need to know your ripcord length.
    2. Write down your rig serial number.
    3. Go to UPT Vector for more information on requesting a replacement of the Spectra reserve ripcord
    UPT is working as quickly as possible to build replacement Spectra reserve ripcords, and will get them out as soon as possible. Until you obtain and install your replacement, you may use the current one as long as you follow the directions of the interim solution.
    If you elect to replace the ripcord cable prior to the due date of your next reserve repack, the rigger who did the original pack job, may be able to install it without opening the container. After resealing the container, the rigger must indicate this PSB has been complied with on the packing data card. The original (next) repack date remains the same as it was before ripcord replacement.
    DISCUSSION
    In the US, maximum allowable pull force is 22 pounds (10 Kilograms) with the rigger’s seal in place. This force, measured at the ripcord handle, is a combination of the force required to move the pin, the housing friction, and the force required to break the seal thread. The standard does not specify how this is to be measured, but there are basically only two ways, which could be called “Static” or “Dynamic”. The static force is measured by pulling the ripcord handle very slowly while it is attached to a hand held spring (fish) scale. To measure the dynamic force, where a ripcord is pulled quickly, as in real life, requires a digital scale with the correct sampling rate and peak force recording ability. Our tests using such equipment show that dynamic pull force is often less than half of the static pull force.
    This research confirms an important fact of which all jumpers should be aware: A quick "jerk" on the handle will give a much easier pull than will a slow steady application of force.

    By admin, in News,

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