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A Brave New Tunnel World

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

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

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

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

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

By nettenette, in News,

Performance Designs closes out the PD Bullseye 2019 competition at Skydive DeLand

Performance Designs hosted the PD Bullseye Sport Accuracy series across the US and Europe this summer. The competition visited 5 countries, 9 dropzones and met over 400 skydivers. This series was a chance for people with under 500 jumps to test their sport accuracy and become better canopy pilots. The 23 finalists traveled to Skydive DeLand on December 6th to meet each other, the PD team, train with Flight-1 and then compete for the chance of becoming a PD Sponsored Athlete. After an exiting competition the winner was announced: Paul Winner from Skydive Orange. Second place was taken by Lori Patalocco from Skydive Spaceland Houston and Third place by John Victor from Skydive Spaceland Dallas.


“I felt that going into the competition, I had a chance. I’d put a lot of time into working on canopy skills this year. Then you get to the finals, start meeting the competitors and you realize that everyone has been working hard and the pressure was on. This event was incredible and thanks to PD for coming up with an idea that made so many people focus on their canopy piloting. What's next for me? I got my coach rating this year, and want to continue working with new skydivers and keep progressing on my free fly skills. Canopy wise, I’m hoping to attend an FLCPA event this coming year. I'm proud of myself and all the competitors for all the hard work we put going into this competition. I'm honored and excited about the amazing opportunities that our ahead for me.” - Paul Winner, PD

Bullseye 2019 Winner
Congratulations from Performance Designs to all the finalists for their hard work and enthusiasm for becoming better canopy pilots. Stay tuned for more details on PD Bullseye 2020.
“We’re super excited about how the 2019 PD Bullseye season turned out. Loads of newer jumpers discovered and were excited about developing their canopy flight skills in a fun and competitive environment. It was great to see this series work and create greater enthusiasm in our community for safe and fun canopy flight. Learning to fly and land your canopy well is cool, and we’re glad we’ve been able to do a little part in promoting that.”


Albert Berchtold, PD Marketing Manager

By Administrator, in News,

The 2019 Malfunction & Incidents Collection

We recently posted an article showcasing some really sweet videos to get you amped to hit the sky. The reality however, is that not every jump goes as planned. Sometimes you find yourself victim to a bad pack job, bad technique or failed equipment. The collection of videos below are some of the malfunctions that made their way onto Youtube in the past year. Use these videos to learn from other's mistakes, look at how others reacted to their incidents and how it affected their outcome. While some malfunctions one can laugh about later, others should serve solely as a lesson to other jumpers.
From the uploader: "On my first jump with my Strix i had a toggle fire and needed to cutaway! Not the best body position and pitched with some speed. This is the only way that my great SABRE 1 wingsuit canopy can get into a diving spin."
From the uploader: "After an uneventful jump, on deployment one of the riser covers of the Wings rig did not release, leading the PD 90 to deploy unevenly and start violent spinning behind the neck of the jumper. He was about to cut away the wing and pull his reserve when the riser cover released. The jumper checked his altitude, reasoned he had altitude to keep working on it a bit longer and then untwisted. He landed back at the dropzone exhausted and shocked, then switched container manufacturer as soon as he could."
From the uploader: "Bag lock is a b*tch, especially on a tandem skydive. This TI and passenger were in the saddle by 1650 feet."
From the uploader: "A skydiver has some heavy line twists on opening, which he fights all the way down to his hard deck before cutting away and deploying his reserve parachute -- which also opens with heavy line twists. Yikes!"
From the uploader: "Skydiver rides his reserve parachute safely to the ground after a canopy malfunction!"
From the uploader: "A pilot chute in tow malfunction is never fun, especially when you try to manually deploy your main parachute and end up flipping onto your back with a mess of lines wrapping around your leg. That’s exactly what happened to this skydiver. He pulled his cutaway, deployed his reserve and crossed his fingers that the reserve would clear the ball of $#!t above his head."
From the uploader: "This jumper deployed their main, saw a malfunction they could not recover from, and cutaway. Their three-rings separated but a line got caught and the main parachute remained connected to the container. While attempting to clear the line entanglement, it appears the jumper pulled on their RSL and extracted their reserve pin; giving them a two-out. The jumper flew the reserve and, twenty seconds before safely landing their reserve, the main finally released."
From the uploader: "As they exited the plane this jumper’s deployment bag came out of their container and gave them a horseshoe malfunction. They realized their pilot chute was still in the BOC and deployed it in an attempt to remedy the situation. Unfortunately, the pilot chute failed to extract the main, resulting in a SECOND malfunction! This time the jumper was faced with a bag lock. They cutaway their main, regained stability and deployed their reserve."
 
From the uploader: "After an uneventful wingsuit flight this jumper deployed his main and found himself with a line over that sent him spinning. Unable to fly the canopy, he cutaway and – after dealing with some line twists – landed without further incident."
From the uploader: "This skydiver pulled at 4k feet to get comfortable under canopy again -- it was their first jump after a 4 month break from skydiving. Once they deployed, they checked their canopy and thought it was an end cell closure, but quickly realized that it was actually a line-over. They began pumping the risers to clear it and continued to do so until they reached their decision altitude. The jumper claims they were preparing to cut away when they did one last pump of the risers and cleared the line-over."

Top 10 Skydiving Videos of 2019

Ever tried searching "skydiving" on Youtube? It's a mess, between a million Fortnite videos and vlogger's first tandem jumps it's a nightmare finding quality content on the platform. So we've made it a bit easier for you by running through the last year of skydiving footage and selecting a few of the best videos we could find, so you don't have to wade through the crap. Below is a list (in no particular order) of some of the best skydiving videos we came across during our search, whether it be quality camera work, the vibe of the video or something that makes you want to get up in the sky. We've intentionally omitted a number of wingsuit videos as we'll be bringing you a special collection for those soon. If you have any additions drop us a link in the comments and we'll put together a part two with your suggestions.
1. Eye Candy
This video is just awesome to watch! Nothing too crazy taking place, but the camera work provides some truly awesome eye candy. Who wouldn't want to skydive after watching this?
2. The Highest Swing
Everyone loves balloon jumps, right? Well we've got a balloon jump and a swing jump in one on this. A cool watch for sure!
3. Sister's By the Sea
We're a sucker for boogie footage. There's something about the community vibe and the awesome sunset jumps that make boogie compilations some of our favourites.
4. A Compilation
Alright, enough with the malfunctions for now - this is the only compilation in the list, this video showcases various jumps, some of which are definitely worth being reshared. While this video was uploaded this year the compilation itself uses clips from a number of jumps spanning over a few of the recent years gone by.
5. The Story of Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld
From the creator: "In 1992, professional skydiver Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld boarded a plane for a routine training jump. Six weeks later, he awoke from a coma to discover that a terrible accident had crippled his body and shattered his dream of becoming a World Champion."
6. Ballistic 2019
Skydive Burnaby in Canada hosted Ballistic 2019, a new skills camp. Overall this video just has some cool flying scenes that will make one want to get into the air.
7. Invasion 2018
Despite the date on the title, this video was uploaded in early January and showcases some awesome scenes out of the Invasion boogie at Skydive Sebastion.
8. FAI World Indoor Skydiving Championships 2019
We can't just neglect our tunnel rat brothers and sisters. This year's FAI World Indoor Championships showed just how far the sport has come in the past decade. 
9. Maja Kuczynska - Unstoppable
One of the coolest videos of this year that incorporates both indoor tunnel flying and skydiving. A question often asked, is how do experienced tunnel flyers handle their first few skydives, and are they able to easily translate their skills from the tunnel to the sky - this video answers that question.
10. Skydiving Onto a Motorbike
From the creator: "Incredible footage shows an Australian skydiver jumping out of a plane to land on a fast-moving motorbike in New South Wales.
Skydiving instructor Scott Hiscoe performed the high-adrenaline stunt with Red Bull motocross athlete Robbie Maddison over the skies of Wollongong.
In what was reportedly an Australian first, the pair achieved the stunt on their third attempt.
Mr Scott said: “It was always going to be a challenge with a lot of things having to line up to be successful, but who better to do it with than Robbie Maddison? Pulling this stunt off over my own hometown of Wollongong made it even better.”

By Meso, in General,

4 Upcoming Halloween Boogies

Skydive Arizona - Halloween Boogie (25 - 27 Oct 2019)

No registration fee - discounted $22 lift tickets
Organizing by Arizona Dream, AZ X-Force and Arizona Airspeed
Crazy 8s event brought to you by Arizona Anthem
Canopy training by Justin Price
Nightly Entertainment and Free Boogie Beer!
Annual costume contest with Epic prizes! Free Curv container for Best Costume!
Sugar skull face painting, Hot air balloon jumps, DC-3 jumps and more!
Skydive Sebastian - Halloween Boogie (2-3 Nov 2019)

NO registration fees!
What you'll get:
*Wicked FF, RW, Angle, and WS organizing
*costume jumps
*tricky contests
*spooky games in the air & on the ground
*treats from our sponsors
So book that flight or make it a roadtrip, and don't pay any registration because its all on us!
Keep an eye out over the next two weeks while we announce all the s͏p͏o͏o͏k͏t͏a͏c͏u͏l͏a͏r details about LOs, events, sponsors, and prizes!
Spaceland San Marcos - Halloween Boogie (24-27th Oct 2019)

"Two Otters and a Super Caravan to keep your happy butt in the air!!! We're filling in our list of organizers.
Here's what we have so far....
Freefly - David Lange, Carly Barto, Konstantin Petrijcuk, Tyler Perkins
Belly - Louis French, Scott Latinis, Doug Feick, David Bowen
Wingsuit - Anthony Kimball Zoo dives, contests, shenanigans - Brian Casserly (AKA Pussfoot)

Saturday night entertainment - Derek Lewis - https://www.facebook.com/FiveMinuteParty-116054008418316

Saturday night - Costume contest!! It's easy to play! 1) dress up 2) show up 3) impress the judges....you can win free jumps!

Register at https://sanmarcos.skydivespaceland.com/shop/event-registration/2019-san-marcos-halloween-boogie/
West Tennessee Skydiving - 28th Annual Halloween Boogie (25-27 Oct 2019)

Inverted Biplane Jumps, $100 a slot, $50 for video Michael Mullins Super King Air, 7 min to 14,500ft -$26 a slot (half price early bird special if you manifest before 8 AM)
-Helicopter Jumps Coach Jumps are always free to students who are trying to acquire thier USPA "A" License
-Balloon Jumps
- $150 Rental gear is not available for balloon jumps. Must have USPA A license
Registration will be $35 this includes 5 raffle tickets (you can purchase as many additional tickets as you want) Dinner, free beer, and free Jell-O Shots!!
The winner of the costume contest on Saturday evening will receive one weekend of free jumps courtesy of West Tennessee Skydiving (does not include gear rental) Mark your calendars guys and don't miss out! Let's have us another amazing boogie this year!!!

By Administrator, in Events,

Welcome to Paradise. It’s Called Mayotte

Thanks to Vewuha Parachutisme, Your #SkydivingVacationGoals Just Upleveled
Got the almost-wintertime blues? If you’re in the northern hemisphere, that’s a very likely yes. Don’t despair, dear reader. We’re here to push a few daydreams your way. Perhaps, we’ll even put a brand-new DZ on your bucket list: One where you can jump onto a sandbar deep in a turquoise expanse of ocean, then hop on a boat and pootle back to an island, then wiggle into a swimsuit and make friends with sea turtles, then tuck into a beach barbecue with a bevy of new friends. Can you think of a sweeter escape from your snow shovel? Yeah… neither can we.
The sandbars and sea turtles in question are, interestingly, technically located in France -- albeit a very remote handful of France. They’re in the island country of Mayotte -- part of the Comoros archipelago, located in the northern Mozambique Channel off the coast of Southeast Africa. You’ll find it on the map tucked between Madagascar and Mozambique. Mayotte was purchased by France in 1841, becoming an overseas department of the country significantly more recently (in 2011). These days, it’s touristed mostly by French sunseekers and scuba divers; soon, with a lot of work and a little luck, it’ll be on the sport-skydiving map.

There is, of course, a story there.
The story starts, as so many good stories do, in Africa. It involves Karen and Steve Saunders, two adventuring British jumpers who enjoy power-couple status: Karen, as a well-known BPA Advanced Rigger and Examiner (well known as the rigger behind Tom Cruise in his latest Mission Impossible Film “Fallout”; as well as a popular FS coach); Steve, as the owner and principal instructor at Complete Skydiving Solutions. (Steve has been a skydiving instructor for many years, a BPA instructor examiner and -- notably -- one of the few expats to hold S&TA Status with the USPA.)
Steve and Karen were working at a dropzone in Kenya in December of 2018 when they met a Comorian tandem instructor named Anly AD. After a few weeks sharing the dropzone life, Anly approached Steve and Karen. He told them he was keen to eventually get a full-time dropzone going in his home country, but that he was (wisely) going to start by planning destination events. He was already all-in committed to the task, having already started to work his full gamut of connections to lay the groundwork. It already had a name: Vewuha Parachutisme. And he wanted their collaboration.
Before these conversations, neither Saunders had heard of Mayotte. It’s off the general tourist map, after all, mostly drawing outside interest for its unspoiled coral reefs, not its sky.

“We thought -- okay, that’s a nice dream,” Karen says, “and then we looked it up. We were floored.”
When Anly asked if Karen and Steve could be available to come out in March of 2019 to help with Mayotte’s first contact with skydiving, they couldn’t agree fast enough. When they landed, their initial impression was in perfect alignment with the photos they’d seen.
“When you’re there, you can hardly believe how beautiful it is,” Karen enthuses. “You just stand there in awe. Volcanoes -- craters -- lakes -- jungle -- beaches -- it is phenomenal.”
They couldn’t stand around for long, of course. Anly had laid all the groundwork he could, but the trio had their work cut out for them. There was no skydiving infrastructure in place. In fact, the country had never seen a single recreational skydive.
The dropzone is based on the country’s single municipal airport: the airport code for which is, charmingly enough, “DZA.” Anly had partnered up with a little flying school based on that airfield, renting a secure space. The first big task, then, was going to be educating Air Traffic Control -- working skydiving operations smoothly between the six-or-so jets a day coming in and out, as well as the military and general aviation workload, none of which had any experience accommodating skydiving. The learning curve was steep, but Steve’s previous experience proved invaluable; under his tutelage, DZA’s ATC learned the system and figured out the delicate timing. Once ATC was on board, the crew tackled the rest of the logistics head-on.
This first event was, in essence, a debutante ball to introduce skydiving to the island of Mayotte. Knowing how challenging it was going to be, Steve, Karen and Anly paced themselves. They organized five or six loads a day to facilitate specialist tandem jumps for regional dignitaries and military officials onto Mayotte’s surrounding islands and sandbars. To add a fun dimension to the challenge, Sébastien Chambet (and the rest of the French freefly team GoodVibes) joined the madness to shoot documentary footage for the French tourist board. The far-flung landing areas required significant boots-on-the-ground work to manage; some of them required hour-plus retrievals; the variables were stacked like Jenga pieces.
 
Luckily, Karen and Steve are stone-cold pros -- and decidedly British.
“Those were long days,” Karen grins, “But we just packed up a bunch of flags, tents and coffee and got it sorted.”
The team’s efforts were rewarded with resounding success. The team celebrated the excellent first impression they’d made with a sunset skydive into a remote, uninhabited island for a barbeque, a super-memorable party and an overnight tent-camp on the beach.
This coming spring -- exact dates to be announced -- will see Mayotte’s first skydiving invitational event. The event itself will be hosted by Anly the DZO, with safety overseen by Steve and Karen, organised by world-class skydivers Milko Hodgson and Sian Stokes. A dozen experienced jumpers will be invited for a week of jumping and exploring, staying among the island’s small selection of boutique hotel properties and sampling the hiking, dining and watersports that make up Mayotte’s idyllic tourist landscape. (Let your thoughts wander to a leisurely afternoon swim with dolphins and turtles, and you’ll have the right idea.)

As if the nascent Vewuha Parachutisme didn’t have enough unique characteristics already, there’s another important one to consider: In a region that has historically seen dangerous, unethical skydiving operations set up by greedy expats, it stands tall and proud.
“Safety is already a foundation of the culture here,” Steve notes, “because this is the owner’s home, and it’s his priority. He is not money-oriented. He’s passionate about bringing skydiving to his own country, and he wants to do it right.”
As Anly and the Vewuha Parachutisme team make ready for the coming year -- and continue to lay the groundwork for a permanent dropzone -- they’re getting more and more excited for the place’s potential.
“This is the kind of place you really have to see to believe,” Karen grins. “It is beyond incredible.”

By nettenette, in General,

Eloy World Cup 2019 Results & Gallery

The FAI World Cup of Formation Skydiving and Artistic Events was held at Skydive Arizona during early October 2019. Teams representing 16 different countries spent the week competing in Formation skydiving (4-way, 4-way Female, 8-way and VFS) and Artistic Skydiving (Freestyle and Freefly).
The event opened with a memorable ceremony featuring RedBull pilot Kirby Chambliss and the Women’s Skydiving Network debuted their first all-female demo team who jumped into the event with 20’ x 30’ flags and smoke.
After the opening ceremony and official draw, it was down to business as all the competitors prepared for the week ahead. The next few days were full of action as each team demonstrated their skill and sportsmanship through each round of competition. Luckily, good weather meant for a speedy competition and all events were finished by October 11th. With a full day to play before the closing ceremonies, competitors and local skydivers got together in a 10-way speed scramble competition. One round incorporated a jump from Skydive Arizona’s venerable DC-3!
The awards ceremony the night of October 12th was one to remember. With over 400 guests, the hangar was vibrating with excitement and enthusiasm. Gold medals went out to the French Freestyle team as well as their 4-Way Female team. USA took gold home for 4-Way open and VFS. Norway received a gold medal for their Freefly team and Russia for 8-way FS.
All disciplines will have their chance to compete again at the next FAI World Cup which will be held in Norway during the month of August 2021.
All photographs were taken by Bruce Griffith, while scores listed below have been gathered from results.worldskydiving.org






 




























Wingsuit Skydiver Saved by AAD After Collision (Video)

The following video was posted on social media last week and shows a harrowing scene of a wingsuit jumper suffering a collision shortly after exit. The collision appears to knock the jumper unconscious, as he then begins to spin uncontrollably as he descends in freefall. The spin amplifies the lower he gets - until finally his AAD activates and saves his life by crucially firing while he is seemingly unconscious.
You can follow or contribute to this conversation in the following forum post:
A forum post from a Dropzone.com user has shed some light on the situation...
 
"If I remember correctly group of 4. Leader fumbled exit a little. The 2&3rd guys start flying the planned direction right on exit. The 4th guy has the time and awareness to see the leader and starts diving to the leader. Guys 2&3 now correcting from intended flight path toward leader, intercepted by guy number 4. None of them are new guys. Super lucky that the guy who had the AAD fire walked away with no major injuries. The guy who hit this guy is a good friend of mine and is very heads up and a skilled 4-way flier with more WS jumps than FS. The example here is that if it can happen to guys like him it can happen to you." - Slimrn
The topic of AADs can sometimes be a controversial one, many experienced jumpers believe they don't need them and some even view dropzones that have AAD requirements negatively. However, this event goes to show that sometimes the AAD can play a crucial role in saving your life, especially in the case of midair collisions which result in a loss of consciousness.

Cookie G4 Skydiving Helmet Review

Review by Joel Strickland
Cookie Composites are quick to admit that there was a fair element of luck involved in their success with the G3. At the time of release in the early teens, the tunnel industry was exploding - and the full face helmet was crossing over from the province of close-in disciplines where you need to be extra careful about catching a knee or an elbow in the face - to pretty much everyone. Flyers were after a greater level of comfort while training for extended periods of time indoors while retaining a level of communication akin to open helmets. People wanted to be able to see each other’s whole face - and with the G3 you could. Skydiving soon followed suit, because you could now wear your cool sunglasses underneath your lid and see all the big grins in the pictures and video.
While lucky with the timing, Cookie had purposefully pulled off a crucial victory with their product - it occupied a particular sweet spot between form and function that appeals greatly to skydivers. The G3 was desirably fancy - but not too posh or too shiny to the point where it stood out as worthy of mockery. A few scratches and a couple of stickers later, and it had become (in the most positive of terms) part of the furniture of skydiving. While there were functional alternatives available, the G3 became iconic - as much so as the L+B device on your wrist or the Cypres unit in your rig.

Over the last few seasons there has been a growing grumble in our sport about the level of protection offered by helmets specifically designed for flying. The biggest and most successful company is always going to be the softest target for conversations about the actual value a helmet with no impact protection material has for your brain in an accident, and the G3 has come under fire against new offerings from competing companies that have been through tests and carry a certification. The concerns over safety are certainly valid, yet these conversations would often neglect that for a very long time we were all basically completely fine with what was on offer, and from day one - if we had been genuinely more concerned about safety over comfort and style - everyone single one of us always had the option of wearing a $20 Protec just like we all did when learning to skydive in the first place.
In the meantime, Cookie Composites have quietly and diligently created the G4 - extensively researching every single material and design element to give us what we have been asking for. Instead of rushing something out, Cookie worked alongside others in the industry to help develop a brand new rating with the specific requirements of both the skydiving and tunnel environments in mind.

While purposefully retaining the same balance of form and function, up close it is clear that it is a complete redesign - applying many lessons learned from its predecessor. Here are the main differences that you likely care about the most:
Recessed Visor: High speed flying combined with any looseness in the springs could create a distracting visor vibration on a G3. The new design has the visor recessed to fit flush all-round with the shell to eliminate this effect. It also looks great.
Audible Pockets: While perfectly fine for a lot of people, many of us with funny shaped faces were squeezed by our audibles despite any amount of wiggling. Cookie have rebuilt the pockets - and now they fit into the shell with zero intrusion into the space where your head is supposed to be. Now I can jump with two sets of beeps, hearing them perfectly yet feeling nothing - unthinkable for me previously with even the largest G3.
Metal Springs: With the old design, over time the rubber springs would stretch out and require replacing - a process that even the most generous can only describe as a pain in the ass. While Cookie took steps to remedy this with good post-purchase support, they were always going to be searching for a new system. The G4 visor mechanism has done away completely with the rubber and now uses a metal spring arrangement that should eliminate the maintenance routine.
Rear Protection: While maintaining the same general look, the new shell goes down a little further at the back to offer some more coverage in a sensitive area. This does make the hole where you put your head a wee bit smaller, and changes slightly the familiar back-forward motion of putting on a G3, to something more akin to donning a motorcycle helmet.
Impact Rated: Now there is deformable material inside. The big design battle Cookie faced was to create a helmet that would pass the crash tests while always remaining something sleek and light that skydivers would embrace as the right thing. The G4 is a little bit bigger and a little bit heavier than the G3 - but comparing them with one in each hand there is really not much in it. With the redesigned interior allowing a bit more space around the ears, it does feel like a bigger helmet when you first wear it - but that is coming from someone who has been wearing a G3 for work since the day it was released.

The unsolved problem (for now) is that while the Cookie G4 as sold qualifies for this new rating specific to skydiving, the tests are very precise indeed. As soon as you make any modifications at all to the weight or shape you are no longer using the helmet that has been qualified - you are using something else. The truth is that the myriad what and where of how we mount cameras makes practical testing out of reach. Along with impacts, a part of the new rating are thorough snag tests - and adding even the smallest, sleekest camera mounts would fail them.
The question we now face is that is it safe to assume that a helmet designed from the ground up with impact protection in mind going to provide a greater level of protection in a crash regardless of where you stick a camera on it? I know what I believe.

The driving force behind Cookie Composites - Jason Cook and Jeremy Hunt - speak passionately about their company and their products. A quick hello turns into two hours of sharing their experiences creating the G4. The lessons from the previous design have been studied, revised and thoroughly applied - along the way investigating and investing in all manner of materials, theories and processes to make it the best it can possibly be. Cookie’s success this decade has given the company the knowledge and the practical means to deliver a new product that should occupy the same place in our sport that its predecessor has done for many years. Their visual presence and the level at which they support our sport can make Cookie Composites can seem like a big company, but at a basic level it is still a handful of skydivers tinkering around in a workshop, putting in a great deal of time and effort to make something that works the best for their friends and their community around the world. Long may it continue.
Does the G4 live up to the hype? Yes. Yes it does.

By Meso, in Gear,

Introducing The Kraken

“She’s a wing of legends. The Kraken is the ultimate 'party in the front and business at the back', she's super responsive and holds tight when pushed hard. She is the canopy equivalent of Che Guevara, Marilyn Monroe and Brian Jones all in one. The Kraken is a must have for any wingsuiter and will have the pilot grinning ear to ear as they fly back to whatever landing area they can make it to. Kidding. Kinda.”
We have released the Kraken, finally! Designing the Kraken was a long process because it was new to us: the Kraken is our very first wingsuit specific parachute. Traditionally NZ Aerosports has focused more on flight performance than on opening a canopy in a wingsuit wake. So it took us a few years, but ended up with a very technical end result: a canopy full of cool features and ideas that makes it very different from any existing wingsuit canopy. The result is a low bulk, long lasting canopy with very reliable and stable openings that lands like a dream.
Typically, canopies low(er) in aspect ratio and ellipticity (fat 7-cell canopies) have better heading performance, and stability in flight. The problem with this is that wings shaped like this are not exactly renowned for their glide performance and sharp handling. The solution to this problem was a combination of ideas floating around the head of NZ Aerosports’ aeronautical engineer Julien Peelman, and the production and test jump team. We looked to our deep understanding of modern day wings, aerodynamics, and type of ingenuity that produces world class skydiving parachutes – our trademark.
Key features of the Kraken
3D Designed: We are now using Catia V5 to design canopies. This is one of the most advanced 3D CAD softwares available. It gives us more freedom to design the canopy down to the finest details and helps generate the most accurate panels possible. The result is a more accurate shaping, a smoother surface, and better aerodynamic efficiency.
CFD Tested: The Kraken shape has been tested using CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics), which gives us, among other things, a better understanding of her behavior in turbulence and during recovery.

Photo Chris Stewart
Anticipating the zag: First debuted in our Crossfire 3, The Kraken is designed so its panels are designed directly in the shape they will have during flight by taking into account the Zig-Zag distortion. This spreads the load evenly through the fabric and makes the wing more structurally efficient.
New Rib Shape: The Kraken has benefited from research on rib shaping that was originally used to design our new range of hyper-performance wings, Petra and Leia.
New Crossport Design: Crossports have been strategically placed in the Kraken to have the least influence on the upper surface shape while allowing a good air circulation between the chambers. They are bigger toward the center of the canopy to help with symmetrical openings. They have also been designed with an elliptical shape that optimizes their area while reducing the upper surface distortion.
Powerband: We've added the split leading edge Powerband to all our new canopies since we pioneered it with Petra. It allows us to better control the aerodynamic shape in the nose area, which prevents parasitic drag.
Curves in the right places:
We’ve realised that by sewing our reinforcing tape in parabolas (arcs) on the ribs, we spread the load applied to the top surface more efficiently, meaning less distortion and a more efficient top surface.
Don’t say slit:
We’ve put a vent on the lower surface to help promote fast center cell inflation. This means better, more on heading openings in the messy wake of a wingsuit. It’s not a gaping hole like a BASE vent, it’s a… horizontal opening... that seals after full inflation.
There’s a hole in my slider?!:
We became so fond of vents that we put one in the slider! We found that by creating a channel for the air to go straight through, we reduced the crazy oscillation often seen during parachute openings. Those oscillations can contribute to off headings etc, so that’s nice!
Big holes:
To help out its closest neighbors, the crossports leading from the center cell to the closest outboard cells are enlarged. Promoting symmetrical central inflation means promoting on heading openings!
Keeping it short:
Shorter lines mean more flight stability, and easier rectification of any pesky line twists – both good things for the whole wingsuit deal!
High-tech, low bulk:
Because it’s 2019, we haven’t used untreated cloth (F-111) for our wingsuit canopy. Instead, we’ve tracked down a low bulk ZP (treated with silicone) fabric, and used that for the majority of the wing, with the Powerband and top center panel made out of standard ZP for extra longevity.
Riser equality:
We’ve included a bit of internal structure that means your bridle will load both your risers more evenly during the early stages of deployment. Because of how it looks, we’ve called it the ‘Bow-tie’ – and as we all know, equality is classy!

Photo Chris Stewart
Little tail thingys:
Mini-ribs in the tail of a canopy sharpens its profile, which reduces drag and increases glide performance by “a lot more than we thought”.  This translates to more fun in the sky, and a better flare on the ground. 7 cells are not usually known for their amazing flare power, so it all helps!
Improve your pull-out game with a snatch:
Symmetry is good, and so it is with your pilot chute. We’ve discovered that using snatches help with our wingsuit openings, so we have stocked up on them and highly recommend to purchase one with all Kraken purchases!
Inward Rotated end cell:
While most ribs are perpendicular to the lower surface, the end rib is rotated inward to reduce the size of the end cell and prevent it from losing its shape. This reduces tip vortices and induced drag.

Photo Chris Stewart
New line trim:
Despite being a relatively docile canopy, the rectangular planform has been compensated with a trim just a notch steeper than you would think. This helps with up wind penetration, fun and is one of the reason for the great flare.
New Stabilizer shape:
The shape of the stabilizer has been modernized to prevent it from flapping too much in flight. It also helps the slider to sit in the right position. Custom Sizing The Kraken is available in any size between 119 and 189 so that you can get the perfect wing loading for you at this stage in your canopy progression.
See the Kraken’s key features interactively on Emersya: https://emersya.com/showcase/5GFIH0C9Q0
Key flight characteristics of the Kraken
Openings The modern day wingsuit is capable of  incredible glide, but this efficiency brings its own set of complications when designing a parachute to match. The biggest factor is the turbulent wake formed behind the wingsuit – right where the parachute is deployed. Kraken openings are quick but not hard – you’ll feel inflation immediately. The vent helps control the heading. Once the center cell and adjacent cells inflate, the canopy slowly pressurises with a predictable reliability. The Kraken will sail on level seas even with linetwists! Inputs Intuitive and precise, each input delivers a predictable response. From opening to landing the Kraken is a confidence builder. Toggles Big inputs will produce an immediate response - the pilot will feel in control from first point of contact.
Stall point
The slow flight characteristics were a very important design factor for the Kraken, so there is plenty of warning before she stalls, and will recover to normal flight in an easy and stress free transition when slowly letting the toggles back up.
Rear risers
There’s lots of feel and response – the Kraken has fantastic glide! Milk those rears and disprove the myth that all wingsuiters land off! Front Risers F is for fun! Yep, the Kraken can dive!
Performance
The Kraken has loads of zip! Fly her nice and slow for those busy landing patterns when you want lots of vertical separation. Or dive her at the ground and drag some turf. There’s plenty of fun to be had!
Recovery Arc
The recovery arc is longer than typically experienced with similar 7 cell designs. For someone who wants to have their cake ( a nice sensible wingsuit canopy) and eat it too (swoop the shit out of it), then go go go! Flare The Kraken has a wide range of performance, the flare is one of the most important aspects - she wont disappoint. Those nil wind tiptoe landings will feel very natural. More information available from:
 

By Meso, in Gear,