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Your First Reserve Ride - Laying The Foundation

Michael Huff has a hard time saying goodbye.

Photo credit: Michael HuffAre you ready to be alone in the sky with a malfunctioning parachute and two little handles?
Though there are skydivers with thousands of jumps who have never experienced the fun of a cutaway, don’t be fooled: it’s not a question of “if,” it’s a question of “when.” Don’t feel ready? You’re not alone – but there are a number of proven ways to boost your confidence (and, therefore, safety).
1. Stay Current
I know. It’s not your fault. Your home DZ is seasonal – or it’s far away – or it’s a tandem factory that keeps sullen fun jumpers on the ground.
Whether it is or isn’t your motivation that’s the problem, the fact remains: long lapses between jumps are dangerous. They dull skills, heighten apprehensions, create a sense of unfamiliarity with aircraft and degrade the muscle memory you have carefully built around your gear, which is of vital importance in the event of a reserve ride.
It’s vital to your career as a skydiver – especially, at the beginning – to make the effort to jump every couple of weeks. Make the effort and get up there.
2. Prepare
The USPA Skydiver Information Manual puts it rather dryly: “Regular, periodic review, analysis, and practice of emergency procedures prepares you to act correctly in response to problems that arise while skydiving.”
Rephrased in a slightly more compelling manner: practicing might save your life, especially if you’re a newer skydiver who isn’t quite as accustomed to the stresses of freefall as an old-timer. Here’s a two-item to-do list to tip you in the right direction:
Deploy your reserve for every repack. Have you ever deployed the reserve for your current skydiving rig? If not, the result may surprise you. You’ll learn the direction of pull for your gear, as well as the force you’ll need to exert. If your rigger watches the process, he/she can watch the deployment and identify potential problems. Even if you have deployed your own reserve, a repack is an unwasteable drill opportunity.
Practice emergency procedures in your DZ’s training harness. (You may feel like a dork, especially if you’ve already been skydiving for a little while. Go on a quiet weekday and do it anyway.)
3. Do The Little Dance
Before each and every jump, the USPA advises skydivers to “review the procedures to avoid emergency situations and the procedures to respond to emergencies if they occur.”
This doesn’t have to mean poring over your SIM like you’re cramming for a test. It does, however, require a little bit of work before every jump--just to make sure that your muscle memory is fresh and your brain is prepared for puckersome eventualities.
Touch your handles in sequence before you enter the plane. It is not beneath you. Being blasé about basic safety doesn’t make you more awesome. If you ever happen to share a plane with an energy-drink teammate or a world-class coach, watch ‘em closely and you’ll see what I mean.
Check that your reserve handle is seated, while you’re at it. A loose reserve handle can deliver a reserve ride without the fun of a malfunctioning main – and you don’t want that, do you? Right! So: now you’ve done what you can to be ready for a potential reserve ride on any given skydive. Next time, we’ll talk about what to do when your main decides to give you the pop quiz.

By nettenette, in Safety,

How To Organize Your Sky

7 Expert Tips For New Skydivers to Get the Most Out of Load Organizers

Remi Aguila organizing a festive Christmas-boogie jump at Skydive Arizona

Photo by Alex SwindleThe portrait wall next to manifest is confusing for a brand-new skydiver.
Who are all those people, anyway, with the smiling faces and the discipline names printed in all-caps underneath them? What’s an “Organizer,” really? If you don’t know the etiquette, it can be a little daunting to get on those loads without fear of a forehead-slapping faux pas.
New skydivers, make no mistake: you are invited.
Remi Aguila has been organizing belly jumps at one of the biggest, busiest dropzones in the US – Skydive Arizona – since around 2008. Since then, he has organized thousands of skydives for jumpers of all levels, nationalities, aptitudes and proclivities. You can be certain he’s seen your kind before. Here’s what he says you need to know to have a successful experience in the organized sky.
1. Don’t be shy.
“Newbies have this tendency to find me in the bar after the day is over and say that they wanted to get on a jump but that they didn’t want to intrude; didn’t want to ‘ruin the skydive.’ That’s missing the point entirely, guys. If there are organizers on your drop zone, go talk to them. Maybe the jumps they’ve currently got going aren’t a great match for your skill level, but a good organizer will find a way to get you in. Most organizers will be happy to split groups into smaller factions that fit more of the jumpers’ goals. They’ll be happy to design a jump for people with less experience – but you have to ask.”
2. Know who you’re talking to.
“An organizer is not the same thing as a coach. An organizer’s job is really to get people jumping, and to make sure that people who want to jump with other people can find somebody to jump with. Organizers exist because, even though there’s a lot of casual organizing that goes on between jumpers, most people like – to a certain degree – to be told what to do. An official organizer can facilitate that without being too authoritarian, but still the presence of an organizer on a jump puts a nice bit of structure into the mix.
A dropzone representative usually hires the organizers at any given DZ. Basically, that hiring manager looks for people that hold a coach rating, that demonstrate skill in their chosen discipline, that have a friendly attitude and that show a solid record of experience in smaller formations. (Most organizers end up doing between two- and eight-way jumps.)
Don’t get tripped up by the specter of compensation, either. I have never been on a drop zone where somebody who was called an organizer was expected to be paid by the jumpers. There may be some out there; I don’t know. However, I have been jumping for 25 years, and I have never come across a dropzone where somebody who was called a load organizer was expected to be paid directly by the jumpers. At boogies, you generally pay an extra fee to cover the load organizers in general, but you won’t be paying for slots or paying organizers as you would a coach.”
3. Communicate clearly.
“You need to start the conversation; the organizer probably won’t approach you first. When you do, introduce yourself confidently. Tell the organizer your skill level and your experience. Tell them what you want to learn.
I don’t personally know a single organizer that’s going to turn a newbie away out-of-hand. They may, however, tell them that – at the moment, at least – there are too many people on a given jump, or that the jump sits outside of their current abilities, and it wouldn’t be appropriate for them. That said: if you’ve made it clear that you’re new and you’re looking for a jump you can join, then you’ll be on their radar.”
4. Get the timing right.
“Where I jump – at Skydive Arizona, in Eloy – showing up on a weekday is your best bet if you’re fresh off student status. It’s a lot less busy, and organizers will more often have the time to do one-on-ones or two-on-ones with new jumpers. You may even get lucky and score some free one-on-one, non-structured coaching from them, whether that’s belly or freefly. Personally, I think that’s a great way to get some foundational experience.
For instance: If it is a very quiet day and somebody approaches me, I’ll certainly ask what their experience level is, but it’s not going to be a deciding factor as to whether or not I’ll jump with them. If we’re doing one-, two- or three-ways, it doesn’t really matter what the experience level of the person is. They’re going to get on the jump, and they can expect much more feedback than they’d receive on a busier day.”
5. Be honest.
“As an organizer, it’s important for me to get a realistic idea of a jumper’s skill level and general awareness level. When you tell me how many jumps you have, I need you be honest about it. If you have 20 jumps, say you have 20 jumps. There’s no point in misrepresenting yourself. If you have 20 jumps and 3 hours in the tunnel, be clear about that. Jump numbers are no longer the absolute measure they used to be, with the introduction of tunnels. However, somebody with 20 skydives is going to have a different skill and awareness level than someone with 200.”
6. Be open.
“If you’re a brand-new skydiver, there’s a good chance that you don’t know what you want to do on the jump. A good organizer will have a few basic jumps that are two-ways and three-ways that are ready-made for people that don’t have a lot of experience. These tend to be kind of coachish and workshop basic skills. That’s what really you should be doing at this point.
For these jumps, we tend to focus on basic turns, slides and levels. The aim is to keep it fun, but also to add factors that build on the basic freefall skills: like procedures for exiting the plane and for separation.
Some people expect a full-on coach experience, and other people just expect a smile and a high-five. I advise shooting for the middle of that scale.”
7. Ask for feedback.
“Immediately after the jump, approach your organizer for a quick debrief. This is key to your development as a skydiver. Make it specific: ‘What do you think I should improve? What do you think went well? What do you think didn’t go well?’ This debrief may not involve video; it may just involve some basic feedback on how the exit went, what aspects you can work to improve and general notes on the jump flow.
On busier days and on bigger jumps, it’s going to be a little more challenging for your organizer, because he or she might have 20 people that want notes. When that’s the case, it’s incredibly hard to give individual feedback because of the number of people we’re looking out for.
Always ask. The worst an organizer could say (and I would be very surprised if they did) is that they’re sorry; that they have to run to another load. In that rare case, just brush it off and try again next time. We’re here to facilitate your experience, after all – and to help you have the most fun you can have in the sky.”

By nettenette, in General,

Plane Crash Kills 5 in Kauai

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

By admin, in News,

Jump Plane Crashes Near Lodi

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

By admin, in News,

The Other Certification Every Skydiver Needs: A WFR Card

Image by Juan MayerIt happens so fast.
You’re coming down from a great jump. You land, laughing, and whip around for the imminent high-five with a huge smile on your face. That smile drops right along with the friend framed in your view. Something happened in those last few feet of flight--you don’t know what, but that triumphant swoop turned into a spectacular case-in, and your friend’s screaming, and you’re running towards him at top speed, and his leg is at a crazy angle, and there’s blood. Lots of blood.
What the hell do you do now?
Wouldn’t you like to have a plan?
Even if you have no intention of becoming a medical pro--or even a uniformed first responder--you can get a short education that might make you the deciding beneficial factor in someone’s very worst day...maybe even yours. This curriculum is comprehensive and practical, integrating the essential principles and skills required to assess and manage medical problems you might come across, especially but not specifically in isolated and extreme environments. It doesn’t have a name that implies its usefulness for skydiving, sure--”Wilderness First Responder” sounds like a course built just for Search-and-Rescue burlies--but hear me out. You need this. Here’s why.
1. Help is not always immediately at hand.
Wilderness First Response certifications are meant to be used in earnest when the caregiver and receiver are essentially stranded in remote circumstances. While skydiving drop zones aren’t generally beyond the furthest reaches of civilization, they’re never in the center of it, either. Response times are not, as a rule, immediate.
Any medical education is of enormous benefit, of course, but--for a regular-strength skydiver--the ROI of a WFR is pretty damn dead-on. The WFR course is about intelligent, informed self-reliance in the absence of immediate help. In the wilderness setting that the course was designed around, the priority is to figure out whether you can semi-self rescue, to assess what additional resources you need, and to methodically stabilize yourself and/or others until the cavalry rolls up. In the dropzone setting, this training is just as useful.
2. Whether or not you’re trained, you will always be the first responder to your own injuries. Make those early minutes count.
If you end up injured during an emergency landing that’s outside the drop zone--and you don’t have a charged, functioning method of communication--then you’ll be waiting for help to find you. If you happen to be conscious in that interim (hooray lucky you), WFR training will give you a method for understanding your injury, stabilizing it and tracking its progress for later reporting. Without training, you’ll likely just lie there, terrified, in blinding pain--or make your injuries worse with incorrect responses.
3. You should be off the list of dead-weight liabilities and on the list of assets.
Skydiving is a sport that demands proactive personal responsibility in the context of a mutually supportive, risk-educated community. We all understand this. That said: While a WFR certification does not confer the knowledge of a full EMT, it makes the bearer a much stronger member of the greater support team.
A baseline education in first response moves you from a gasping member of the horrified crowd to a literate, assisting partner in incident management, though your role in the moment will, in all statistical likelihood, be quite procedurally basic.
4. You should dial up your powers of observation.
We’re not just talking about cardiac arrest and gaping wounds, here. WFR training will help you recognize subtle symptoms in a way that could help you change the outcome. Dehydration? Hypoxia? Heat illness? These are real-life dropzone problems, and your awareness could make a big difference in someone’s day.
5. You’ll get important certifications.
Successful completion of a WFR course will generally earn you a two-year Adult & Child CPR certification as well as the obvious Wilderness First Responder certification. This may or may not be an important piece of paper for you in a technical sense, but current CPR certification makes you a secret superhero in a world where lives are often saved by trained, responsive passers-by.
5. It’s a really good time. Seriously.
Wilderness First Response courses are generally administered in, predictably, wilderness settings. I did mine with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) with the full majesty of the Yosemite Valley as the backdrop. My partner did his in the Grand Canyon country of Flagstaff, Arizona. WFR courses are offered in highly visitable settings all over the States--indeed, the world--and y’know what? There are few better-invested ways to spend a week in nature than learning life-saving, life-changing skills in a close-knit group of fellow adventurers.
Y’know, like the close-knit group of fellow adventurers with whom you share your sky--and who are counting on you to be the best team member you can possibly be.
Live up to it.

By nettenette, in Safety,

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

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

2. Molner/Railean/Staschenko/Huschle 80.00

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

2. Aldosari/Hahessy/Salisbury/Mahdy 50.00

3. Abduljalil/Fratila/Madour/Weber 47.00

By admin, in News,

Seattle Resident Becomes First Female Level 4 Indoor Instructor

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

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

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

2014 Silver : 4-way dynamic advanced IBA tunnel championships

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

2011 Participant : Freestyle Nationals (British)

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

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

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

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

2009 Gold : Freestyle Nationals (British)

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

By admin, in News,

Aerodyne Release Pilot7 Canopy

Aerodyne recently announced the release of their new canopy, the Pilot7. This new main, which was initially developed with wingsuiters in mind, is a 7-cell variation of the popular Pilot canopy which Aerodyne have sold for over a decade. The original Pilot canopy is in fact the company's most successful product, with the 9-cell elliptical holding an average rating of 4.67/5 based off 69 votes in our gear section.
Aerodyne say they found their design for the Pilot7 heavily influenced by the strengths of the initial Pilot, and wanted to ensure that the new canopy lived up to the expectations set by its older sibling.
Something for Everyone
Both beginner flyers and experienced wingsuit pilots have reportedly demoed the Pilot7 with great results and public feedback as to the performance of the canopy. The company claims the Pilot7 provides 'superbly consistent openings', while in flight offers the pilot something fun and agile, while still remaining stable and easy to fly.
"It has a flat glide and a powerful flare, likely more so than any 7-cell you’ve experienced.", claim Aerodyne.
It was clear that solid, reliable openings were a key factor for this canopy during development, and testimonials from those who have been demoing the Pilot7 seem to confirm that Aerodyne have really hit the nail on the head with regards to the reliability of openings.
While the focus of the Pilot7 was wingsuiting, Aerodyne say they expect that the canopy may become popular in other demographics of jumpers. Due to forgiving openings, handling characteristics and low pack volumes of the canopy, it could serve as a great choice for all skydiving skill groups, however could prove especially useful for beginner skydivers.
The standard version of the Pilot7 will come in ZP, while there are also the options for Aerodyne's honeycomb low pack volume ZPS and their new UltraLPV material.
"This builds the top skin and stabilizers from ZPX, and the ribs and bottom skin from FX-11 (the low pack volume material used in the SmartLPV). We use the ZLX lines to create an amazingly low pack volume canopy."
Available sizes: 117, 137, 147, 167, 187, 207, 227, 247 sq ft.

By admin, in Gear,

The 6 Laws of Exit Order You Really Need to Know

Image by Joel StricklandDoes exit order seem like some kind of obscure semi-religious ritual? Do you go through the motions without really understanding the moving parts?
If so, yikes--but you’re certainly not alone. Luckily, understanding the logic behind the order is a pretty straightforward affair, and the entire sky will be better off if you wrap your head around it. Ready? Okay. Commit this to memory.
1. In the name of science, get the $#&$ out.
It may seem like hollow tradition to hustle out the door on exit, but it’s not. As a matter of fact, there are serious calculations behind the art of exiting the plane efficiently. On a calm day, an aircraft on jump run covers around 175 feet per second of flight (that equates to a mile every 30 seconds or so). Translated into stopwatch terms, that means that--on that same calm day--no more than 60 seconds can pass from the moment the first jumpers leave the airplane to the moment the last jumper exits.
For practical purposes, taking into consideration how much ground the average square canopy can cover, every jumper in the plane has to be out during a two-mile jump run. If they don’t, some are bound to land out (or a chilly second pass is going to be served up to the sulky remainder).
2. Don’t mess up the pilot’s math.
If your group is about to be the first big handful of meatballs out of the plane but you suddenly split up into smaller groups, you’re messing with the pilot’s chi. After all, the jump pilot has more to calculate when he/she turns on that little green light than you might realize. He/she has to calculate about how much time each group will take to exit, and make sure the green light goes on at the correct distance from the DZ to accommodate the aforementioned 60-second countdown.
As a rule, the group that will have the slowest climb-out should leave first. Big group? Light goes on farther out from the DZ to allow for a slower climb-out. Little group? The light goes on closer to the DZ.
How can you help? Jump the plan you give manifest, and the pilot can give everybody a good spot.
3. Jealously guard your real estate.
If you’re a Big Sky Theory kinda jumper who assumes vertical separation is going to save you from a meat-traffic collision, you are not working from scientific facts. Horizontal separation is the only separation that really counts up there, so make sure your group has a chunky slot of sky all to yourselves.
Never place big bets (like: your continued existence) on your fellow skydivers pulling at the altitude they swear by. A tiny brainfart (or a big malfunction) will eat up that vertical separation before you can say “what happened to pulling at 3,500, toolbox?!.”
4. Horizon-pointing belly buttons go behind downward-pointing belly buttons.
When freefly folks get out first, they tend to become part of an undelicious freefall sandwich. Here’s why: On a typical skydive, a pair of freefliers will clock a 45-second freefall and open at around 3,000 AGL. Let’s say that pair is followed by a belly group with a 10-second climb-out.
This is going to sound like a math word problem, but bear with me: If one of those freefliers has a canopy with a 30MPH forward speed (which will move forward at around 45 feet per second, assuming little-to-no wind), opens 30 seconds before the belly group and turns right back toward the DZ, the variables are stacking up for a collision. Those 30 seconds of flight will drive the freeflier forward by about 1,300 horizontal feet--a measly 400 feet from the middle of the belly folks, which a solid six-second track can cover. If you add wind to the equation and the RW group gets blown even further into the path of the freefly pair, the likelihood of a meetup gets even uglier.
When freefly groups get out after belly groups, the picture gets a lot healthier. The fast fallers get their horizontal separation, predicated on their shorter climb-out and faster descent rate. Wind becomes a positive safety factor instead of a negative one; slower fallers simply blow farther away.
5. With longer flights comes greater responsibility.
Tracking groups, high pulls and wingsuits get to snuggle with the pilot (and/or the tandem pairs) in the way back of the plane. Why? First off, they’re mobile: if they’re doing it right, they’ll use all that horizontal power to get the hell away from jump run--and get back from a longer spot.
If they’re not doing it right, however, they’re fully within their capability to truck through everybody’s personal piece of sky on the way down. The moral of the story: longer freefall (or, in the high-pull case, general airtime) requires greater awareness and responsibility on the part of the nylon pilot.
6. Don’t be the heat-seeking meat missile.
That’s the bottom line, really. Everybody in the sky is counting on you.
(Me, for instance.)

By nettenette, in Safety,

Jumping at a New DZ: Your Battle Plan

Photo by Jeff AgardJust moved across the country? Heading out to boogie in a strange new land? Impromptu road trip? If you’re not used to jumping at new-to-you DZs, reorienting yourself to a new conveyor-belt-to-the-sky is a bit daunting. But never fear, brave adventurer: if you walk in knowing what you need to do, you’ll be golden. Here’s a checklist to help make the process a little easier on you.
Before you arrive:
1. Do a preliminary scan for unpleasant surprises. Find out as early as possible if the dropzone (or the specific event you’re planning to jump) has special requirements that could keep you on the ground.
2. Budget. Get pricing on jump tickets, DZ accommodation and registration fees. This is a good time to check the jump-ticket refund policy and find out if there are extra charges for credit cards.
3. Ask about facilities. If you’re going to be squaring up to swampy summertime port-o-lets, miles-off RV hookups, co-ed showers (rawr) or anything else outside your comfort zone, you’ll want to know as early as possible so you can make a battle plan.
4. Make sure you’ve packed all your documentation. At the very least, you’ll need an in-date reserve repack card, your parachuting organization ID and your logbook. In some cases, you’ll also need your AAD travel documents and proof of medical insurance, too. Travel insurance is never a bad idea, either.
When you arrive:
1.Get the lay of the land. You’ll be spending a lot of time in the hangar and in the waiting areas, so get oriented. Pick a prime spot for your gear (hopefully, near an electrical outlet). Find the bathrooms and the fridge. Identify the load monitors, if there are any. Find out if there’s a separate window for manifest, or if the main office does it all.
2. Rock up to the office. Fill out the waiver, get a gear-and-paperwork check and buy your tickets.
3. Get briefed. You’ll likely be pounced on when you land in the office, but just in case: Pin somebody down to give you a complete briefing of the dropzone’s map and rules. Do not get on the plane without a briefing.
Get clear on the manifest procedure. It seems like every DZ on the planet does this differently, and it can really get in the way if you’re not on board. Are you going to have to pay in advance, pay as you go, or pay at the end of the day? How does the ticket system work?
Learn the exit order and separation rules. Many drop zones have very specific procedures in place, while others assume you should know where you belong. Watch how the local jumpers organize themselves, and ask lots of questions if you don’t get clear instruction.
Check out the satellite map. You can expect a dropzone representative to use an overhead map of the dropzone and its surrounds to brief you. The rep will describe how to use recognizable landmarks to spot the dropzone from the air and review landing area obstacles, power lines, bodies of water, nasty neighbors, turbulence, the “beer line” and uneven terrain. Use this time to memorize your outs.
Find out if there’s a special hard deck for this DZ. If there is one, it might be (way) higher than your personal hard deck.
Check out the wind indicators. Find them on the overhead map, then peek at them in person while you take yourself on a tour of the main (and alternate, if applicable) landing areas. If there are tetrahedrons, ask if they’re trustable or if they’re “sticky.”
Know the landing pattern. Landing patterns are not the same across dropzones, ranging from first-one-down-sets-it to a regular Busby Berkeley choreography of established patterns that never, ever change. Until you’ve internalized the unique rhythm, it’s best to give the main landing area a wide berth for your first handful of jumps at a new DZ. Make sure you know the rules and areas for swooping and hook turns, whether or not you plan to do them. (Don’t be the big canopy that tugboats lamely across the zoomy canopies’ path.)
Figure out the loading procedure. Find out how the calls are announced and where you need to be to hear them. If there are shuttles to the plane, you’ll need to know what the call is to be on the shuttle. If there’s a retrieval from the landing area, make sure you know where it is (and hoof it over there right after touchdown). 4. Get on a load! Make an organizer friend (or be your own organizer friend) and keep an open mind about what jumps you want to do.
5. Buy the good beer to share at greenlight. It’s basically, like, a housewarming that you throw for yourself. You’ll feel at home before you know it.

By nettenette, in Safety,