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    The Journey of an AFF Student - Part 4

    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.
    AFF4 – Saturday 13th June
    Well, that was quite the weekend of ups and downs.
    Failed AFF4 on Saturday (they don’t call it failing as its all learning each time) so repeated it on Sunday and got through, just about!
    Saturday was an odd one - my first proper experience of loss of altitude awareness - total loss.

    I'm down to one instructor now instead of two - we had a perfect exit but then entered into a spin (not a crazy one) which the instructor corrected - as it happened, I was oblivious to it - how? I don’t know, because it looked quite hectic on the video afterwards. My log book entry from the instructor states “John was a little over whelmed on this one”
    That is the understatement of the year, I feel.
    So by the time we were all steady and my instructor came around to the front, we'd lost most of the freefall time - but I didn’t cop it – the dive plan was, once we were steady, he’d come round the front and we’d kick off from there – but by the time we were stable and set, it was too late – for some reason, I seemed to have had that point as my trigger to start work, rather than watching the alti all the way.
    So, I checked my alti now and we were at 5500ft - deployment height - I nearly had a heart attack - normally I’d have seen 9, 8, 7 etc on the way and I’d be well aware that 6 was coming, lock in, 5500ft deploy - this was the first time I missed ALL of that - I deployed just after 5500ft and had a super canopy down - I cursed for the first minute or two after deployment as I knew I’d failed, utterly - I didn’t do one single task for the jump - it was referred to afterwards as a "brain fart" where the brain just shuts down with the overload of tasks to do - there was never any danger as such as I copped it on time and everything was fine - but my instructor said he was giving me another two seconds before he dumped me out himself if I hadn’t done so.
    On the ground as I gathered up my canopy and walked over to my instructor, the two of us just started laughing "Johnny, what the hell just happened there - what were you doing?"

    I had no idea - I just phased out – I can't fathom it - but I was told it happens to everyone at some stage, it’s just a case of when - it’s one of the reasons students have to deploy so high - it gives that margin for precisely what just happened - we deploy at 5500ft whereas experienced divers deploy at 3000ft or so - that gives them another 12 seconds of freefall - so there was never a danger on my jump - it was just a case of "Johnny, get your head in gear"
    There was the opportunity to go again later and rectify it but I really wanted to sit down with a beer and think about what had happened and why.
    I needed to analyse it and make sure it didn’t happen again.
    One of the things I came up with was that my previous "jump" was the tunnel - and that was two minutes at a time - perhaps my brain thought I had that amount of time rather than 45 seconds – I’m not sure - it doesn’t explain the total freeze and lack of one single task being completed, however.
    So I went back the next day to jump again - I couldn’t let that go until next weekend as it would have gotten bigger in my head all week.
    Wonderful jump - loved it and passed it...
    AFF4 Repeat – Sunday 14th June
    I got a different instructor whom I'd never met before - a really nice chap who trains the army jumpers - I told him what had happened and that I didn’t care in the slightest if I passed today or not - all I wanted was to jump and "get back on the horse" and be totally in the zone with my alti – that’s all I wanted.
    He was good with that but at the same time "let’s plan on passing the jump and doing everything we're supposed to do, right"
    So we dived it on the ground, all was good, climbed, perfect exit, a little longer than I would have hoped to get stable but we got there.Then he let go and came around the front, face to face and off we went with our tasks - just a couple of 90 degree turns.
    I have never seen me check my alti so many times! He said I was fixated with it and that I need to find the middle ground between Saturday and Sundays jumps - but boy did I know what height I was at the entire jump.
    I thought I’d failed it to be honest as I didn’t do a 100% right turn but he told me in the debrief that I was good to pass as once I was stable, I was rock solid and the turns were perfect - but I didn’t think so once I'd deployed - but honestly, I didn’t care - I had a super canopy down - couple of spirals again and got myself into the landing pattern real nice - came down a bit fast but not heavy - skidded onto my butt as usual - I can live with that!
    I met up with the usual lads back in the hanger and had about 15mins before debrief - got a cuppa and moaned about how I'd failed it yet again - but that I was just happy to have jumped after the fiasco of the day before - then I was called for debrief and he said it up front immediately that I'd passed - I nearly fainted - and then he proceeded to go through the video and explain why - and he was right I feel, he could have failed me too but it would probably have been a bit mean - either way, I do the same jump again for AFF5 but this time with full 360 degree turns – I’m fine with that.
    My goal for today was just to jump again and be altitude aware - I got that AND I passed, so it was a double bonus and I’m delighted with it.
    I was very comfortable going up in the plane - no willies at all - and I was sitting on the floor again as we were first out - it’s a different position and takes getting used to - when the door opens, you're kneeling right beside it looking down 13,000ft - you truly have to block it out.
    And as you're first out and the plane is making its pass, you can't hang around as the people behind you also need to get out close to the DZ.
    So there really is no hanging about - door opens, assume the position, exit - it all takes about 5-8 seconds - You cannot question it - just do it.
    Which is good too, as it doesn’t leave time for the brain to start thinking “why am I doing this?"
    I'm now really starting to enjoy the canopy - both rides this weekend were great fun - I think my brain said "feck it, you've failed both jumps, just enjoy the ride down" which I really did - nothing too exciting but a couple of spirals and really working out the landing with the wind directions etc.
    What a view when the door opens eh?
    You can see my red runners right beside the door - I had a quick peek down but then looked away - it doesn’t help looking down at that – he he.
    You can see the number of times I’m checking my altimeter - like a watch on my left hand.
    I was all over it this time.
    And you can see, once I got stable, I was very stable - it was just getting there.
    And then I put in a decent left turn - I had time to turn back but I just locked in on the alti and left it at that.
    Loved under the canopy again this time - a real mellow buzz - so much more relaxed than I have been.
    I actually look quite relaxed during the freefall there too.
    Part 5 will be published shortly, keep an eye out on the dropzone.com homepage to follow John's journey through AFF

    By admin, in News,

    The Journey of an AFF Student - Part 3

    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.
    AFF2 – Sunday 10th May

    Awesome - even better than awesome.
    That’s the best jump ever.

    Better than the tandem and miles ahead of AFF1.
    Very nervous during the climb - I was surprised how much so - much more so than AFF1. My instructor spotted this and told me to slow my breathing, deep breaths and just relax.
    Once we got to "2mins to door" I was actually in great form and ready to nail it.

    I got a super exit, good COA and then a 90 degree left turn, then a bit of forward tracking. All good and a nice, clean deployment - mellow canopy ride down and soft landing skidding onto my butt, not a bother.
    The wind was a different direction, southerly and our landing area is E-W so it means we're landing short ways rather than with the length of the runway.

    That just made me a fraction more nervous coming in - but even short ways, there was tons of room - which my instructor told me afterwards and I agreed - it won’t be a concern the next time.
    All in all, I am utterly delighted with that jump - it was fantastic!
    Damn, this is fun.
    AFF3 – Sunday 24th May

    I had almost zero nerves on the climb – very strange – if on a scale of the dentist 100% being dentist scared, on AFF2 I would have been about 35% - nice and nervous but not wetting myself – for this, I’d say I was about 5% - I was very confident that I knew my job and what was required – “now just do it”.
    Again, my instructor said during the climb “just do your job – nothing else” – it’s all very matter of fact – there is no pissing about when it comes to the task at hand – there is lots of laughing and messing – it’s a fun sport after all – but when you’re one on one, its do it by the numbers and do it right.
    When you go to the door “ok John, to the door please” you already have switched off all thoughts of “Jesus man, I’m jumping out of a plane” you just shuffle to the door and get into position and then start your drill – it’s that simple – in fact, it’s kind of surreal – you’re not really there – it’s like you’re looking at yourself from a distance or something – maybe like being a soldier where they just follow orders without question.

    I think, once you get on the plane, that’s it – you’re not coming back down in it – I think if you did, you’d have to leave the club – nobody would rip you to your face because you can’t really laugh at someone for NOT leaving a plane – but you’d definitely be the talk of the hanger – for five minutes anyway until they all rip on someone else – haha.
    So we exit, get stable and after a short time, my reserve side instructor backs off, I’m still steady, then main side pulls away. I make an unintentional left turn which I work out and bring back.
    Then the guys come in again for deployment.
    Deployment was fine, did my 4 count and looked up – total line twists – oh no – I don’t need this. There was no mistaking it. It was exactly as we’d been shown in class. I didn’t panic or freak out. That’s not really my nature in any situation. And I’ve been in some snowy mountain situations that were not pleasant.

    So I did exactly as I was taught to do. I commenced my post deployment checks – canopy, cells, lines, slider – all good. Check for line twists, full on twists. Damn. I’m not sinking or spinning in any dramatic fashion, I’ll come back to them.
    Harness checks – all good. Quick look around for traffic, all clear. Now, let’s deal with these twists.

    I wasn’t happy with them and I wished they hadn’t happened on just my third jump – but they had, and I needed to deal with them, and now.
    Reaching up with both hands, I grabbed the lines by groups and began pulling apart. A little movement but needs more. I tried again but this time along with some kicking in the opposite direction.
    Moving...moving...and we’re clear! I popped into the normal position and all was good above me.

    Releasing the toggles, I performed a couple of flares, determined we were all good, and my first “major drama” in skydiving was passed!
    In hindsight, it was good that this happened as it demonstrated to me that the instruction is good and to be taken as fact. That if you do what you are taught to do, you will reduce the risk and make a favourable outcome more likely.
    If I thought AFF2 was good, then this was miles ahead!
    So much so, that I went and bought the hardback logbook, goggles, helmet, altimeter and gloves!
    I’ve now made the commitment!
    Part 4 will be published shortly, keep an eye out on the dropzone.com homepage to follow John's journey through AFF

    By admin, in News,

    The Journey of an AFF Student - Part 2

    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.
    Image Credit / Link Sunday 26th April
    Well, that sure was something else. Nothing like the tandem at all - totally different.
    Really weird but, I had no fear whatsoever - it was all "focus on the tasks" I just didn’t have the time to fear.
    I was nervous going up and one of the instructors saw it and told me to smile - that it forces you to be happy and helps get rid of nerves – it works!
    He then told me to close my eyes and visualise the dive from start to finish - that really was a good idea and I shall continue to do that
    Then at about 11k feet the pilot gave a two minute notice for the door.
    Everyone started doing high fives and fist pumps to each other - it really was awesome.
    Eight of us squashed into a ford fiesta (or tiny car of your choice), all about to jump from 12,000ft - it felt very special - like I was part of a very elite club that nobody else knows - it felt great.
    My two instructors and I were last out as we were deploying highest. Two head down flyers went first as they would be the fastest fallers and lowest deployments. Then 2 sit flyers, then a solo guy with about 20 jumps - he was just chilling out – we have become good friends since and he has helped me, mentally on many of my subsequent jumps
    Then us...
    I had no nerves at all - I just kicked right into my routine and thought of nothing else
    I actually didn’t even see the ground until I deployed - head up, looking at the horizon all the time - you don’t look down ever – In fact, it wasn’t until my first consolidation jump that I had both the time and the peace of mind to have a look about.
    So I did the exit, really well - I was delighted with that – we were stable faster than I expected.
    Then I did my COA - circle of awareness – check heading, check altimeter, check left instructor, check right instructor to ensure we're all set and ready to begin tasks - all good, let’s do it
    Then began my 3 practice touches - check alti, arch, reach for pilot chute handle, squeeze, recover.
    Do that 3 times to show that you know where the pilot chute for deployment is and that you can get to it yourself and that you actually have the wherewithal and you’re not phased out.
    Sensory overload is a big one on AFF1 so perhaps my previous tandem helped with this.
    That’s all that is required of AFF1 to pass, that and the actual deployment - and I did it with about 2000ft to spare - that’s about 10secs of freefall - the instructors said to me afterwards that they deliberately kept throwing hand signals at me for those 10 seconds to see how I would react to being overloaded.
    I got some of them but I missed some too - just too much information coming at me - but that wasn’t part of the dive - it was just extra stuff
    My main side instructor said afterwards during debrief "ah, you just ignored me - I saw you looking and just rolling your eyes"
    Ha ha – there is probably an element of truth in that.
    So I "locked in" at 6000ft and then deployed at 5500ft - and then it’s the longest 4 second count in your life Count 4 thousand and look up and hope to goodness it’s all there and looking good - which it was.
    I chilled then for a moment to let the adrenaline settle and then commenced my checks – I should have done them immediately but I was really overwhelmed to say the least - I’d guess I was about 3-5 seconds at most before I did my harness checks and twists checks – all good, phew!
    Next up, I released the toggles for steering and pulled 3 good flares to get a feel for it, as instructed.
    Then a quick alti check - just about 5000ft - Jesus, it’s a long way down when you’re hanging there alone.
    So I pulled a hard left and dived down to the left, then another to the right, then a few circles around - all to get a feel for the canopy as I need to know how it will handle when coming in to land
    It was very stable and comfortable and turned when I asked it to – as I discovered later, of course it was stable, it was 260sqft – Godzilla could have jumped this canopy..
    At about 3000ft the radio came crackling in my ear with the instructor telling me directions – I’d forgotten about those guys – lovely to hear a guiding voice right now.
    But it cracked out at about 1000ft and I couldn’t hear him – however, I already had my flight plan worked out
    Be over the hanger at 1000ft, then downwind along the tree line to 600ft then hard right 90 degrees and down to 300ft across the wind then 90 degrees into the wind for final approach – we had been through that on the ground and I’d watched a bunch of jumpers before me to see it in action.
    It was really bumpy and I got thrown about but it was all about keeping it steady with minimal inputs under 300ft - just go straight and let it fly itself down.
    The instructor said afterwards that no other students would be flying today and that it was right on the edge for students but that my (cough), mass, was an advantage for such conditions!
    So I landed on my feet, all excited and relieved but then a gust of wind grabbed the canopy and I was on my butt and dragged backwards - I got it sorted and that was it, gathered it up and walked over to the hanger - where a bunch of them laughed at me and took the piss - but in a friendly way.
    One guy came up to me "what number AFF was that?" I told him number one, and he stuck his hand out for a shake "welcome to the club, man"
    I felt so chuffed.
    I was part of an elite club.
    Brilliant, brilliant experience.
    Then one of my instructors went through the video with me pointing out both good and bad things of the dive
    He got some other students over to view it also as they were unable to jump due to the wind
    Then we got the creepers (like skateboards) out and we (4 students) started to practice AFF2 dive flow - It’s much the same but with some added turns - which are new to us.
    We will have to do 90 degree turns both left and right - then a kind of "head first" position a bit like superman but hands back (later to be informed, tracking) and then back to standard stability and recover.

    I wasn’t ready to do it again today even if I could - too much information to take in and I want to do the dive over and over first because it’s hard to think when in freefall - it’s so extreme.
    Things need to be more instinctive first for me.
    Next weekend looks like a wash out.
    So hopefully the week after.
    But oh boy, what a buzz - I may well have found what I was looking for.
    Part 3 will be published shortly, keep an eye out on the dropzone.com homepage to follow John's journey through AFF

    By admin, in 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 [email protected], 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 [email protected]

    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,

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