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Adrian Nicholas Proves Da Vinci Chute Works

More than 500 years after Leonardo da Vinci sketched his design, a Briton has proved that the renaissance genius was indeed the inventor of the first working parachute.

Adrian Nicholas, a 38-year-old skydiver from London, fulfilled his life's ambition to prove the aerodynamics experts wrong when he used a parachute based on Da Vinci's design to float almost one and a half miles down from a hot air balloon. Ignoring warnings that it would never work, he built the 187lb contraption of wooden poles, canvas and ropes from a simple sketch that Da Vinci had scribbled in a notebook in 1485.
And at 7am on Monday, over the Mpumalanga province of South Africa, Mr Nicholas proved in a 7,000ft descent that the design could indeed be looked upon as a prototype for the modern parachute.
Yesterday he said: "It took one of the greatest minds who ever lived to design it, but it took 500 years to find a man with a brain small enough to actually go and fly it.
"All the experts agreed it wouldn't work - it would tip over or fall apart or spin around and make you sick - but Leonardo was right all along. It's just that no one else has ever bothered trying to build it before."
Mr Nicholas, who holds the world record for the longest free fall at just under five minutes, was strapped into a harness attached by four thick ropes to a 70ft square frame of nine pine poles covered in canvas. He was then hoisted by a hot air balloon to 10,000ft above ground level.
The balloon dropped altitude for a few seconds, to enable the parachute to fill with air, and the harness was released, allowing the parachute to float free.
Surrounded by two helicopters and two parachutists, Mr Nicholas fell for five minutes as a black box recorder measured the 7,000ft descent, before he cut himself free and released a conventional parachute. The Da Vinci model, which has more in common with sail technology than with the modern-day parachute, made such a smooth and slow descent that the two accompanying parachutists had to brake twice to stay level with it. It had none of the sudden plunges and swinging associated with modern parachutes.
After being cut free, the contraption floated to the ground with only minor damage on impact.
Mr Nicholas, a former broadcaster who has made 6,500 skydives, said: "The whole experience was incredibly moving, like one of those great English boy's own adventures. I had a feeling of gentle elation and celebration. It was like floating under a balloon.
"I was able to stare out at the river below, with the wind rattling through my ears. As I landed, I thanked Leonardo for a wonderful ride."
The contraption, which has seen two aborted attempts to fly over Salisbury plain in Wiltshire earlier this year, was built by Katarina Ollikainen, Mr Nicholas's Swedish girlfriend.
Following Da Vinci's design for a four-sided pyramid covered in linen and measuring 24ft square at the base, Ms Ollikainen used only tools and materials that would have been available in the 15th century, apart from some thick balloon tapes to stop the canvas tearing.
Although there was little demand for parachutes in the 15th century - and it was the Frenchman Louis-Sebastien Lenormand who was always credited with the first parachute jump after he leapt from a tree with the help of two parasols - Da Vinci gave specific instructions for his design.
He wrote beside his sketch: "If a man is provided with a length of gummed linen cloth, with a length of 12 yards on each side and 12 yards high, he can jump from any great height whatsoever without any injury." Leonardo's inventions By Helen Morris Aereoplane Numerous machines using bird-like wings which could be flapped by a man using his arms and legs - although most were too heavy to get off the ground using manpower alone. Encompassed retractable landing gear and crash safety systems using shock absorbers
Helicopter Prototype featured a rotating airscrew or propeller powered by a wound-up spring
Armoured car/tank Powered by four soldiers sitting inside. Problems included its thin wheels and large weight, which would make it hard to move
Diving Several different suits, most with a diver breathing air from the surface through long hoses. One imagined a crush-proof air chamber on the diver's chest to allow free swimming without any link to the surface
Robot First humanoid robot drawn in about 1495, and designed to sit up, wave its arms and move its head via a flexible neck while moving its jaw
Machine gun His innovations to create rapid fire led to the Gatling gun and the machine gun
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By admin, in News,

Landing Fatalities in Florida and Montana

Panama City Beach Florida
PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. Minnesota National Guardsman killed in skydiving mishap: A Minnesota Air National Guard technical sergeant was killed after landing improperly during a skydiving jump.
Benjamin A. Freeman, 31, died Tuesday after jumping from an airplane 3,000 feet high near Eagle Air Sports, a small airport near Panama City Beach.
Jennifer Collins, a spokeswoman for the Bay County Sheriff's Office, said human error appeared to have been the cause of the accident.
"The parachute deployed normally and he was doing some simple maneuvers," she said. "There was nothing odd with the plane or the equipment. He was an experienced jumper."
Freeman, a full-time guardsman, was stationed at nearby Tyndall Air Force Base, where he was part of an alert detachment of the Minnesota Guard's 148th Fighter Wing, said Maj. Don Arias, a spokesman for the 1st Air Force at Tyndall.
Ground crew members such as Freeman are on permanent status at Tyndall while pilots rotate from Minnesota. Freeman had recently moved here from Tulsa, Okla., where he had been with the Oklahoma Air National Guard, Arias said.
His wife and child were at the airport at the time of the accident.
The Air Force Office of Special Investigation and Bay County Sheriff's deputies were still investigating.
Chico Hot Springs Montana
A Great Falls skydiver who did a trick turn to pick up speed as he was coming in for a landing at Chico Hot Springs Saturday died of multiple injuries after hitting the ground.
Philip Moore, 39, and an experienced jumper, suffered multiple traumatic injuries when he landed hard in a field near the horse barn about 2:30 p.m., said Park County Coroner Al Jenkins. Moore was participating in an annual Chico jump meet.
He died aboard a Life-Flight helicopter taking him to St. Vincent Hospital in Billings.
"This is a terrible tragedy at a really positive and high-energy event, and everybody is just sick," said Colin Davis, Chico's general manager.
The accident happened as Moore was coming in for a landing, said sky diver Chris Trujillo of Casper, Wyo., who witnessed Moore's jump.
"Everything looked normal until the last few seconds," Trujillo said.
Moore was coming down under a full canopy, and as he made his final approach, he did a hook turn. A hook turn allows a sky diver to get a little more speed and sets him up for a fast approach on landing.
"He didn't recover from the hook turn fast enough," Trujillo said. "There may have been turbulence in the air."
He described the winds as "light to moderate, well within the safety range" for sky diving. He speculated that circular winds may have complicated Moore's landing.
"It's one of those fluke things that just happened," he said. "We've made thousands of skydives here."
After Moore's hard landing, two doctors, who happened to be driving by the resort, gave Moore CPR and attempted to stabilize him until emergency medical technicians arrived from Emigrant and Livingston. The Life-Flight helicopter was called.
At least 60 sky divers from throughout the nation were attending the annual event. Sky divers stopped jumping for a while after the accident, but resumed about 5 p.m., Davis said. Plans are to continue the meet Sunday.
An investigation is under way by the coroner and Park County sheriff's deputies. Jenkins said he is awaiting the results of autopsy toxicology.

By admin, in News,

Skydiver Wins Lawsuit Against Teammate

CALGARY, June 26 (Reuters) - A Canadian skydiver who was knocked out by a teammate during a jump, then plunged nearly half a mile (more than half a kilometre) to earth, was awarded C$1.1 million ($748,000) in damages by a judge who ruled the teammate was negligent.
Gerry Dyck, an expert who had made about 1,800 jumps before the 1991 mid-air accident, sued Robert Laidlaw, charging the team member failed to take proper care to avoid the collision that caused him severe brain injuries and ended his career.
The case raised questions about how much risk one can expect in an inherently risky sport, and included expert testimony from a veteran Hollywood stuntman known for his work in several James Bond movies.
In his 19-page decision issued late last week, Alberta Judge Peter Power ruled Laidlaw violated well-established safety procedures by failing to keep a proper lookout for Dyck while manoeuvring his body in preparation for opening his parachute.
"The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff which was breached by the unchecked turn into the plaintiff's air space," the judge wrote. "This act, which was foreseeable, was negligent and resulted in substantial harm being inflicted on the plaintiff."
Dyck's injuries were severe enough to prevent the 43-year-old former surveyor from holding a job ever since.
"The judge found that this is not a sport about people falling from the sky like flies, it's a sport that's highly regulated, that's highly controlled in terms of procedures and prescribed practices," Dyck's lawyer Greg Rodin said on Monday.
During the trial in Calgary this spring, the judge heard the eight-person team jumped out of a plane at an altitude of 12,500 feet (3,800 metres) on May 5, 1991. The members went into formation to perform manoeuvres while free-falling above the farmland near Beiseker, Alberta, 47 miles (76 kilometres) northeast of Calgary.
The jumpers were to perform manoeuvres until they fell to 3,500 feet (1,067 metres), then "track off," or steer away, so they could open their parachutes.
As they opened their chutes, Laidlaw's elbow hit Dyck in the head, knocking him unconscious and causing the two men's parachutes to become tangled.
At about 2,200 feet (670 metres), Laidlaw managed to free himself and land using his reserve chute. But Dyck, out cold, remained entangled and plummeted to earth, sustaining severe brain injuries and broken bones in his right arm.
Laidlaw had testified that as he moved away from the centre of the formation, he lost sight of the other jumpers in his peripheral vision, indicating to him that he was sufficiently clear of his teammates.
Testifying on behalf of Laidlaw was B.J. Worth, an expert skydiver and stuntman, who co-ordinated and performed aerial stunts for numerous motion pictures, including such James Bond films as "Tomorrow Never Dies," "Goldeneye," and "License to Kill."
Worth's testimony did not convince the judge, however.

Dan Downe, Laidlaw's lawyer, said he was surprised by the ruling, and was reviewing it to determine whether there were grounds for appeal.
"We were quite confident that the trial evidence indicated that Laidlaw did not make any turn prior to collision, and he was the only eyewitness because Dyck was rendered unconscious," Downe said.
Rodin said Dyck was pleased with the result because it proved his right to compensation after nine years, and that he believed the skydiving community would "benefit from a decision that holds jumpers accountable for their conduct in the sky."

By admin, in News,

Safety Board Cites Probable Cause of 1998 Plane Crash That Killed Five

An airplane crash that killed a pilot and five skydivers in Grain Valley in 1998 probably was caused by preflight errors that led to a loss of oil and to rod failures in the engine, according to investigators' final report.
A report released over the weekend by the National Transportation Safety Board concluded that the pilot, David G. Snyder of Independence, inadequately prepared the single-engine plane before the flight. No safety board spokesman could be reached for comment on Sunday.
Leaking oil apparently led to overheating and engine failure, the report said. The oil filler tube was missing and screws were either missing or loose. Connecting rods in two of the plane's six cylinders were found unattached to the crankshaft.
Shortly into the flight, which originated at Independence Memorial Airport, Snyder told air traffic controllers he was canceling skydiving operations. Witnesses reported seeing white and black smoke and hearing a banging sound from the plane.
The 1979 model Cessna 206 crashed and burned at the East Kansas City Airport in Grain Valley on March 21, 1998.
Skydiving passengers who were killed were Marion C. Rudder, 47, of Oskaloosa, Kan.; John H. Schuman, 47, of Lawrence; Kenneth L. Buckley, 50, of Independence; Paul Eric Rueff, 32, of Kansas City, Kan.; and Julie L. Douglass, 24, of Kansas City.
Snyder, 55, was the registered owner of the plane. He obtained his commercial pilot certificate in 1971 and was rated to fly by visual flight rules, which he was doing on the day of the crash.
Snyder was flying for the Greater Kansas City Skydiving Club, which was based at the Independence airport. The club does not have a listed telephone number, and its officers could not be reached Sunday.
Chris Hall, president of a separate operation in Lee's Summit called Skydive Kansas City Inc., said he frequently gets calls from people trying to locate the former Independence outfit.
The safety board's finding of probable cause differs with a theory propounded by Kansas City lawyer Gary C. Robb, who represents the families of four of the dead skydivers in a lawsuit against the engine manufacturer, Teledyne Industries Inc.
Robb contends there were metallurgical faults in the engine's connecting rods. Robb could not be reached Sunday, and the status of the lawsuit could not immediately be determined.
Robert Cotter, a local lawyer representing Teledyne, has said the crash was a result of maintenance problems.
Federal Aviation Administration records show that a certified mechanic had declared the aircraft and its engine airworthy four months before the crash. Work was done on the plane's cylinders and rings one month before the crash, and work was done on the oil pump one week before the crash. A second certified mechanic declared it airworthy at that time.
Investigators looking at the wreckage found that the engine and the left side of the fuselage, including the wing and strut, were covered with oil film. A metal oil filler tube, the piece to which the oil cap connects, was missing and the screws that would have connected it were not found.
In addition, five of six screws connecting the rocker-arm cover to cylinder number 6 were missing, and the sixth one was loose.
Holes were found on the left crankcase near cylinders 2 and 6, the two in which the connecting rods were unattached.
"The engine's internal components suffered damage typical of oil loss and heat distress," the safety board report states.
The fatal flight took off with a full load of passengers shortly after 5:30 p.m. on a Saturday. Snyder made contact as "Skydive Six" with air traffic controllers and apparently left his radio microphone on, or it was stuck in the on position.
About eight minutes after Snyder indicated he was going to climb to 11,000 feet above sea level, the controller reported hearing, "What the hell was that?" In his last transmission Snyder announced, without explanation, that he was canceling the jump.
Radar indicates the highest altitude the plane achieved was 5,200 feet above sea level or roughly 4,400 feet above the ground. Witnesses eight miles northeast of the Grain Valley airport reported seeing white and black smoke trailing from the plane.
A witness two miles north of the airport reported hearing a banging sound. At the airport witnesses saw flames from the engine licking the windshield.
The plane clipped some trees just south of the airport. Its right wing struck the ground, and the craft cartwheeled and burned.
Buckley, Rueff, Rudder and Schuman all were experienced skydivers. Douglass was to make her first jump.
Ron Sharp, who was president of the Greater Kansas City Skydiving Club, said a few days after the crash that the Cessna 206 had been in the air several times already that day.
At one point the engine became flooded and the plane was allowed to sit awhile. Later, after the battery was recharged, another pilot took it up for a test flight, Sharp said. Then Snyder took off with his passengers.
"It sounded good," Sharp said at the time. "It sounded perfect."

By admin, in News,

2000 Skydive America Palm Beach Space Games # 8 Report

Space Games # 8 took place at Skydive America Palm Beach Florida, from the 28th January to the 6th February. Everything went very smoothly with all the Games. More precision and control was requested for the Races and as expected everybody's flying skill level was much higher then previous Space Games. Beautiful. Once again a big thank you to our sponsor Skydive America and Larry Kerschenbaum for hosting the event at its beautiful location and putting up all the prize money for the events and developer of the Space Games, Olav Zipser! Here are the Results:
Atmosphere Dolphin Challenge:
Started with the Atmosphere Dolphin Challenge this time, 31 competitors from (USA, Italy, UK, Germany, Finland, France, Canada, South Africa, Macedonia, Venezuela) Double elimination One on One Tournament style event. Names were drawn randomly the day before starting the competition. Believe in fate or not, to me it is one of the must fun part of the all Games: the Drawing from the hat. He He, it gives you the chills and butterfly and is kind of magic that moment where they pick your name and now they pick the next name..apprehension, phew!!, who is it gonna be ??? It's funny how the Fate Plays it's own game and make you meet specific persons along the Race !!
2 racers exit the plane with the ball master who is filming the race. They need to perform specific maneuvers in a specific order next to the spaceball and in between each maneuver, point at the spaceball at grabbing distance.etc This time even more precision was requested to all Free flyers in order to get their points: be in the picture with full torso, head and hips, pointing to perfection, don't cross over the other competitor airspace. Fast yes.but super precise that was the winning key decision on who was the winner was first left to the competitors themselves no matter what the rules would say. If the racers could not decide between themselves who was the winner, the decision was then left to the judges who would apply the rules systematically.
Everything went smoothly and most of the times competitor would find the winner by themselves. Judges ended up being called only for very tight races. The nicest way to actually understand how the Competitors get along during the races, basically see who had to meet who and so on would be to see the bracket itself.
These are the final results!
1st Place : Jon De Vore 3000,-$
  2nd Place : John Matthews 1500,-$
  3rd Place : Steve Utter 900,-$
  4th Place : Filippo Fabbi
  5th Place : Mike Ortiz, Stefania Martinengo
  6th Place : Olav Zipser, Eli Thompson, Bruce Graybill, Mike Swanson
  7th Place : Jim Oreilly, Rob Silver, Matt Nelson, Kevin Sabarese, Mauro Tannino, Janine Hill 8th Place : Teppo Heikinnen , Timmy Wardensky, Goran Lazarovsky, John Skinner, Max Cohn, Francisco Neri, Emannuelle Celicout, Joe Josephs
  9th Place : Lucky Mike, Dave Brown, Stan Gray, Micheal Sandner, Dave Padijasek, Nathan Gilbert Special special Thanx to all the people who helped so much to get this Game going without whom this race would have not possiblytake place :
AD Challenge Space Ball masters cameraflyers : Timmy Wardensky, Francisco Neri, Steve Utter, Teppo Heikinnen, Stefania Martinengo, Janine Hill, John Shoffner, Filippo Fabbi, Mike Swanson, Mauro Tannino, Bruce Graybill, Olav Zipser, John Matthews, John Skinner, Jim Oreilly, Rob Silver, Stan Gray, Lucky Mike

Outside cameraflyers : Brad Chatellier, Steve Utter, Larry Kerschenbaum

Judges : Roger Nelson, Gordon Craig
Freefly Indy 500:
32 Competitors. Actually a few of them left the Competition after the 1st round giving a forfeit as the AD Challenge the Freefly Indy 500 is a double elimination One on One style Event. Again winning key was: super fast but precise and more than anything aware of how your track was set. As a matter of fact some of the fastest people lost their races as being very fast but didn't take enough precautions in making sure that they got the gate or the eclipsing of the ribbons attached to the foot of the Pylons. Other people had different approach in the game sacrificing some of their speed to make sure to get the gate and eclipse the ribbons in a clear way. As the race is judged through the 2 pylons camera views, racers had to consider carefully the different perspectives of the shooting angles, in case the 2 pylons would have not be perfectly on level.
In this Game, as in the AD Challenge decision on who was the winner was first left to the competitors themselves, no matter what the rules would say. If they could not come up with a winner by themselves accordingly, then judges were called to make the decision applying the rules systematically.
A new element in this edition of the Free fly Indy 500 compared to the previous Space Games Events was that for each single race the 2 competitors had to flip a coin to decide which direction to go around the track: left or right.
The final results!!
1st Place Olav Zisper 3000,-$
  2nd Place Jon De Vore 1500,-$
  3rd Place Mike Swanson 900,-$
  4th Place Steve Utter
  5th Place Colon Berry, Mauro Tannino
  6th Place Rook Nelson, John Matthews, Teppo Heikinnen, Brad Chatellier
  7th Place Max Cohn, Michi, Janine Hill, John Shoffner, Francisco Neri, Filippo Fabbi
  8th Place Dave Padyjasek, Stefania Martinengo, Jim Oreilly, Dave Brown, Lucky Mike, Tim Wardensky, Bruce Graybill, John Skinner
  9th Place Emannuelle Celicout, Joe Josephs, Larry Kerschenbaum, Rob Silver, Goran Lazarovsky, Kevin Sabarese, Mike Ortiz, Nathan Gilbert, Special Special Thanx to all the people who helped so much in getting this Game going, without those friends this race would have not possibly taken place:
Pylons Cameraflyers: Kenny Cosgrove, Brad Chatellier, Timmy Wardenski, Francisco Neri, Dave Padyjasek, Stefania Martinengo, Max Cohn, Kevin Sabarese, Mike Swanson, Filippo Fabbi, Dave Brown, John Schoffner, Janine Hill, Teppo Heikinnen, Michi Sandner, Mauro Tannino, Steve Utter, Olav Zipser, John Matthews, Rob Silver, Larry Kerschenbaum, Nathan Gilbert, Bruce Graybill, Emanuelle Celicout.

Outside Camera: Brad Chatellier, Steve Utter, Olav Zipser, Larry Kerschenbaum, Filippo Fabbi
The Bermuda Triangle Tracking:
Here the race is a One on One Single elimination style event. Anyone is welcome to test their tracking skills in this event and the race is judged by
competitors as to who was ahead at opening time. The only fast rule in this event is that competitors have to be open by 3000 ft!
The final results!!
1st: Olav Zipser $ 500
  2nd: Dave Padyjasek $ 300
  3rd: Dave Brown $ 150
  4th: Rook Nelson, Mike Swanson
  5th: Bruce Graybill,Teppo Heikinnen, Lucky Mike Pantall, Kevin Sabarese 3 way Freefly Open:
11 Teams. For the 3 Way Freefly Open teams had to present a video of their best Compulsory Round and a video of their best Free Round. Compulsory Round consisted of 9 basic moves to be repeated in order in the 45 seconds. The moves were: 360 turn, 360 loop, weedeater (done simultaneouslyby the 2 team members without the camera) Under over, 3 carves, 69, Foot to foot, Mind warp, Vertical Compress. Best Teams performed 18 points in the 45 seconds.
Free round was judged on Camera Work/ Photography, Technical Skills, and Artistic Overall Impression. Most of the Teams presented very technical flying combining it with Artistic Choreography. Very Nice and Interesting stuff: speeds changing from belly to vertical to fast tracking to fast transitions and difficult docks.
Flyboyz won with a very nice Choreography and excellent interactive team flying, the musical rhythm and perfect synchronization is what characterizes this team.
Team Skyfly (Olav Zipser, Rook Nelson and Mauro Tannino) and Team Modern Skyflying (Mike Swanson, Filippo Fabbi, Olav Zipser)both presented very technical dives showing all flying dimensions in a nice fluid combination, which didn't lack rhythm!
2 teams distinguished themselves presenting 2 dancing style routines mixing free flying and freestyle together in a nice Choreography: French Connection (Emanuelle Celicout, Max Cohn and Steve Utter) and team Sky (. Both Teams presented a nice fluid and elegant Choreography with
technical speed changing and new original moves. Again, all teams distinguished themselves for different elements, technicality and originality of certain moves.
1st Flyboyz (Fritz Pfnur, Mike Ortiz, Eli Thompson) 4500,-$
  2nd Skyfly ( Rook Nelson, Olav Zipser, Mauro Tannino) 1800,-$
  3rd Modern Skyflying (Mike Swanson, Filippo Fabbi,Olav Zisper) 900,-$ Best Camera : Fritz Pfnur (Fly Boyz) 180,-$
  Best Tecnicall Tied : Flyboyz, Sky and the Juice 60-$ per Team
  Best Artistic : Flyboyz 180,-$ Special Special Thnx to the Judges in the 3 wayFreefly Open as we know is a very tiring and hard job.
Camera/Photography : Janine Hill, Tim Koranda, Roger Nelson

Technical : Kevin Sabarese, John Schoffner

Artistic : Chad Jonosky, Joel

By admin, in Events,

Search for missing BASE jumper comes up empty

HANSEN -- His friends warned him not to jump. It was too dark. The wind wasn't right. The water was too high.
But 29-year-old Roger Butler, an experienced BASE jumper who once parachuted from the Stratosphere hotel tower in Las Vegas, apparently died Sunday after jumping from the Hansen Bridge and disappearing in the water.
"All of them tried to talk him out of it, but he had to do it," said Cpl. Daron Brown of the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office. "The guy was experienced, but he made a bad choice."
With the help of a brand-new underwater camera, search and rescue teams from Jerome and Twin Falls counties continued searching the frigid Snake River Monday for signs of Butler and his parachute, but the search was called off as sundown neared. Water flow at the Minidoka Dam was stopped late Monday to lower the water level and aid searchers when they continue this morning.
The counties don't know the cost of the search.
Butler, who had made more than 600 BASE jumps, spent Sunday with three friends parachuting from the Perrine Bridge, a popular spot for BASE jumpers because it is legal to jump there. BASE stands for building, antenna, span and earth.
In October 1999, this same group had parachuted with a woman the day before she broke her back in a jumping accident at the Perrine Bridge, said Nancy Howell, spokeswoman for the Twin Falls County Sheriff's Office.
The group was headed back to Ogden, Utah, Sunday before stopping at the Hansen Bridge, where jumping also is legal. With his friends videotaping, Butler jumped from the west side of the bridge and glided toward the water without a hitch, but he ran into trouble after hitting the river, Howell said.
It wasn't immediately clear what happened, but shortly after landing in the water Butler and his chute disappeared below the surface. Neither has been seen since, she said.
Butler was not wearing a life jacket, and he was jumping into a highly inaccessible area of the Snake River Canyon, Brown said.
"BASE jumping is like whitewater rafting," he said. "It's a self-saving sport. You can't expect to jump off a bridge and have someone come and save you."
Butler's taste for daring jumps was passed down from his father, a parachuter for 30 years, said Paul Butler, an uncle who drove to Twin Falls after the accident.
Roger Butler watched his father nearly die in a 1998 parachuting accident that almost cost the older Butler his leg. But a year later father and son were parachuting together again during a Fourth of July celebration, Paul Butler said.
"He just loved to do this," Paul Butler said of his nephew. "He loved to fly."

By admin, in News,


There is a considerable amount of chatter about “valved” parachutes going around these days. Many skydivers believe that airlocked parachutes are the way of the future, while others see the introduction of this new technology as a temporary fad. In this article I will discuss the pros and cons, as objectively as I can, to this new development in parachute design.
Simply put, an “Airlock” is a system designed to contain the internal pressure of a ram-air canopy, and therefore its airfoil shape. In short, the air goes in, but it doesn’t go out. If the wing’s shape is not reliant upon the relative wind (created by airspeed), then the performance range is consequently expanded and enhanced in every respect. In addition, the theory holds, such a self-contained airfoil will not distort or be otherwise adversely effected by turbulent flying conditions.
Parachute designers have worked towards the goal of a valved parachute since the very birth of the ram-air canopy. Domina Jalbert, the man to whom credit is given for developing the world’s first ram-air canopy, was among the first to design such a system. Although his “valve” didn’t exactly revolutionize the industry, the spirit of Jalbert’s concept of a self-contained airfoil continued to possess (and obsess) the minds of inventors worldwide. Some twenty years later, I too got enthralled with this quest.
I got involved with the airlock project as the result of a near-fatal collapse of my para glider in 1993. From my wheelchair, I began designing various systems to keep the air in the wing, with mixed success. I built scores of miniature parachutes, experimenting with every type of valve I could imagine. I discovered that regardless of the type of valve, I had to retain the leading edge “scoop” of the airfoil in order to maintain adequate internal pressure. I realized that there are many ways to achieve this end, but found only one method that stood head-and-shoulders above the rest. So I brought my idea to the only person I could think of that might be crazy enough to actually build it: Tony Uragallo. He hired me on the spot.
Tony and I did extensive research on the valve concept over the course of three years. Some of our designs were incredible, while others weren't worth the fabric we built them out of. It was an age of synthesis, a time of wild creative genius and misdirected insanity. We eventually developed a product that we were proud of, and marketed it as “The Jedei”. As expected, the market received it with mixed emotions. Now that there are literally hundreds of these canopies flying all over the world, the pros and cons of valved parachutes have become much more readily observable. The safety and performance advantages of the design seem to be very well received. Pilots of valve parachutes have observed significantly longer landing surfs, even without dangerous acceleration maneuvers. This is due to the lack of “wing shrinkage” as the airspeed decreases. Furthermore, owners report that the wing feels far more stable in turbulence, exhibiting little or no span wise compression, even in the nastiest of conditions. The most exciting news is what has not been reported: there have been no documented canopy collapses due to turbulence whatsoever...Not One.
Clearly the primary objective has been achieved. Consequently, a valved-parachute “cult” has formed; a sector of the skydiving population that refuses to jump anything that isn't valved. Supporters of the movement shun the use of “open-celled” parachutes in much the same way as early Zero-P jumpers avoided F-111 canopies. Although the supporters are adamant, they all have reported similar shortcomings to the airlocks.
The disadvantages to the design seem to be born of the same attribute that attracts airlock customers in the first place... the air doesn't come out of the wing, whether you like it or not. For instance, after landing on an excessively windy day, you may be in for a bit of a fight if you haven’t developed a technique for “downing” the parachute. No one has reported any injuries as a result of being dragged after landing, and the hassle is something the owners seem to be willing to trade for the performance gains. The bottom line is: "would you rather have a bit of struggle with getting the air out on the ground, or a whole lot of struggle getting it back in during flight?"
The drop zone packers usually have a bone to pick with the airlock concept as well. As the air tends to stay inside the wing longer, the airlocks sometimes require an extra step in the packing process. Most packers have adapted a technique of laying the parachute in a side-pack configuration, and then rolling their bodies across the canopy from tail to nose. Once most of the air is out, the parachute packs up the same as any Zero-P canopy. Although the packers’ gripe is valid, one must keep in mind that if it were solely up to the packers, we’d all be jumping F-111 parachutes.
Lastly, there is the issue of cutaways. It is true that a few people have lost their valved canopies after cutaways. An undeniable side-effect to the airlocks is that the parachute can sometimes drift further after a cutaway than an “open-cell” canopy. This is usually not the case, but the possibility does exist. Interestingly, all of the despondent owners have replaced their lost parachutes with new valved canopies, an unarguable sanction of the technology.
The final question still remains: “Is it all worth it?”... Is the theoretical safety margin afforded by parachute valve systems worth the new problems that they create? The fate of the airlock parachute remains in the hands of the skydiving community... the future is still to be decided. The airlock may be just another passing facet of the “Techno Fad”, or a permanent feature of the sport that will develop into the industry standard. As always, the direction and nature of the accepted technology is determined solely by the consumer, not the inventor.
Brian S. Germain
April 8, 1997
Also known as a competitive freeflyer and lecturer, Brian Germain is the CEO of BiG Air Sportz, a new Colorado-Based parachute manufacturer. An avid skydiver with over 5000 jumps, Brian is the sole Patent holder on the “AirLock”, (U.S. Patent 5,573,207).
The airlock technology is currently available through BiG AiR on a limited basis, and will shortly be available from Performance Designs, Inc., and Precision Aerodynamics, Inc once PD's exclusive license expires. Although the airlock technology available from BiG AiR is arguably significantly different from that licensed to Performance Designs, Precision has decided to wait until the expiration of PD's license (July 31) to release BiG AiR's line of canopies in the U.S.
Subject: Airlock Article by Brian
Date: 11/08/1999
Author: Zenfreefall

By admin, in Gear,

Spot Cleaning of Nylon Parachute Fabric

The following is presented as a public service. It is copied directly out of a handbook from Performance Textiles, Inc. which I obtained at the 1999 PIA Symposium in San Diego.
This information is intended as helpful suggestions. Performance Textiles makes no guarantees of results and assumes no obligation or liability whatsoever in connection with this information. For that matter, neither do I, but with all of the questions asked about cleaning parachutes, I wanted to get the best information available out to the public.
Most stains can be avoided by immediately wiping the stained area with an absorbent cloth or paper towel. Always handle the fabric carefully and treat the smallest area possible. The following cleaning procedures have been used successfully to remove stains from coated and non-coated parachute fabrics:
Stain Type: Food, soda, catsup (kethup for most of us), mud, dirt, sweat.
Procedure: Use clean water and a sponge gently. Rinse area thoroughly with clean water. NEVER USE FULL STRENGTH DETERGENT.
Stain Type: Mustard, red clay, blood.
Procedure: Use a MILD detergetn. Let it sit on the stain 3-5 minutes, then sponge gently and then firmer if needed. DON'T use bleach as it can (my comment as a chemist...WILL) affect the fabric strength, finish, and color. (My comment....Can you say turn it into tissue paper quality?!!!)
Stain Type: Motor oil, hydraulic fluid, grease, exhaust and demo smoke.
Procedure: Allow to sit on stained area for 1 minute and work into the stain with a sponge. Then gently and carefully clean and rinse as above. Be aware that staining chemicals and cleaning agents can affect fabric strength, finish, and color. (In this paragraph, they left out the comment about what to use. Presume they mean mild detergent again.)
DO NOT USE FLAMMABLE SOLVENTS SUCH AS GASOLINE, ACETONE, MINERAL SPIRITS, PAINT THINNER, ETC., as they may damage the fabric or fabric coating and other components.
WARNING: If the fabric shows any sign of (excessive) wear, fraying, or a cut, scratch, or tear, do not use the parachute. (My comments: I added the word excessive. Gee whiz...if we followed this protocol, we'd have very few jumps on our parachutes because they all have some minor stuff as they age. That's one reason why a rigger should check the systems out routinely!)

Never use bleach or products containing bleach. Contact the original parachute manufacturer for any problems associated with the parachute.
One final sentence from the pamphlet: Cleaning may be more harmful than the spot!
Stay safe out there.
Blue Skies & Safe Dives from Mike Turoff,
Co-author (with Dan Poynter) of Parachuting, The Skydivers Handbook, 7th ed.
Instructor and Tandem Examiner, Jump Pilot
Subject: Spot Cleaning of Nylon Parachute Fabric
Date: 1999/10/30

By admin, in Gear,

How To Select The Right Canopy For You

In this article we will explore some of the questions you might ask when you go shopping for a parachute. While this advice is intended primarily for the novice jumper--just off instruction to one hundred jumps or so -- instructors may also wish to take note. As instructors we are often asked by our students, for advice on what kind of equipment to purchase. I always try to advise as if I were counseling a family member. “If you were my little brother or my little sister I would recommend the following.” Especially when I am in a student/instructor situation, I feel responsible for this fledgling until he is well on his way.
Picking the right parachute is more complex than you might imagine. With well over 200 main canopies to choose from, this decision can be harder than buying a house. Today, there is a huge spectrum of canopies, from extremely high-performance parachutes to downright sluggish ones. There are some excellent selections for the novice and intermediate jumper in the mid to lower performance range. Let’s begin by defining some key terms for the uninitiated.
High Aspect Ratio: The span (width) of the canopy is more than twice the chord length (straight line measurement from front to back) or greater than 2:1 aspect ratio.

Low Aspect Ratio: The span of the canopy is less than twice the chord length or less than 2:1 aspect ratio.
Elliptical High Aspect: As its name suggests, the elliptical canopy has tapered wing tips that significantly reduce wing tip vortices, thus reducing induced drag. When heavily loaded, this type of parachute goes very fast. The landing and stall characteristics are not as forgiving as a straight wing. It is only for the highly experienced skydiver with appropriate accuracy skills.
Dynamic Flare vs. Steady State Flare
There are two ways to land a parachute. More commonly in the past, the two methods were referred to as the “steady state flare” and the “dynamic flare”. The dynamic flare is one in which the brakes are applied, close to the ground or at the last moment at a toggle application rate of 1 foot per second. This is not a rapid movement -- it is really quite slow if you think about it. This maneuver converts downward and forward speed to vertical lift and diminishing horizontal glide. It should eventually result in a “tippy toe” landing. This maneuver, under a small canopy (meaning more than one pound per square foot of loading), almost anyone can do -- when the winds are up. In zero wind conditions the same maneuver requires years of experience, hundreds, perhaps thousands of jumps and a fabulous understanding of a particular canopy’s flight characteristics.
The steady state flare is what is commonly used by practitioners of precision accuracy. You do not have to be a highly experienced accuracy jumper to use it, as it is a very forgiving technique. You must have a canopy of adequate square footage, however, and it generally works better on the thicker airfoils (accuracy canopies, demo canopies, some student canopies). In a steady-state flare the application of brakes is done more gradually, can be initiated at a higher altitude, and generates a minimum of lift. This is in opposition to the dynamic flare which generates a great deal of lift. The goal is the same with either technique. The last six inches above the ground should look the same: forward speed is virtually eliminated, and the parachute is brought straight down.
The Pros And Cons Of Zero-P
Zero Porosity fabric is impregnated with a silicone-based product that makes the fabric more resistant to wear and aging. This coating is what makes the fabric feel so slippery.
The “Pros”
The “Pros” of Zero-Porosity fabric include a better resale value, because the canopy will retain its original flight characteristics longer. But resale value, I try to stress to all canopy shoppers should be the last parameter. Buy what is right for you now. Choose the colors that you like. Go for the size and model that best suits your present needs. Zero porosity does not improve canopy performance as such. It only improves the longevity of the canopy. That is a big plus. However...
The “Cons”
It is harder to pack. You can sugar coat it a lot of ways but the fact is, the slippery, slimy feeling fabric is more difficult to keep under control, especially for the novice just learning to pack. Zero-P packs “bigger” because you can’t get as much air squeezed out of the pack job as you can with F-111. You will take longer to pack. At this stage of the game you want to keep up with the loads -- make more jumps in a day and not be fatigued. Your energy is better spent learning to skydive, rather than wrestling with your pack job.
Canopies made from F-111 cost less. Considerably less. You can get many happy years of use out of your F-111 canopy, provided there is enough square footage over your head to start. Accuracy parachutes are made of F-111 because it allows the parachute to “bleed air” and sink better. This is something to bear in mind if you plan on doing a lot of demo jumps into tight areas!
Line Drag vs. Pack Volume
When should I choose Dacron? When should I choose Micro or Spectra line? Dacron lines provide greater parasitic drag, helping the canopy to shut down easier. Note that I speak in a positive light about this parasitic drag. In many cases it can be a good thing. Students would likely benefit from Dacron lines, as they often have trouble slowing down enough or at the right moment. Micro line or Spectra line reduces pack volume -- as a container manufacturer I love that aspect. I will grudgingly accept Dacron on my accuracy canopy to help control forward speed, however, and would recommend it to some young jumpers (under 200 jumps), for the same reason.
Micro lines do not cause hard openings. Loose, short line bites, oversized rubber bands or Tube Stows, or otherwise improperly stowed lines cause hard openings. Consistently soft openings are commonplace on many micro-lined canopies. Likewise, hard openings are easily achievable with big, fat Dacron lines, if improperly stowed.
Thick Dacron lines do not necessarily mean stronger lines. Jump Shack uses 1500 lb. Spectra on its’ Tandem canopies. There is nothing with greater tensile strength in use, in the parachute industry today.
I almost always recommend Micro or Spectra on reserves. It is stronger. It reduces bulk in an area where space is at a premium. You may want to fit an AAD in the reserve container later on. Because your reserve is most likely a relatively low aspect 7 cell, excessive forward speed is not a problem. The reduced line drag will enhance the performance of your otherwise low-performance canopy.
Winds And Field Elevation Change Everything
Ask yourself this question: “Is it predominantly windy where I jump? Is it rarely windy where I jump?” If you are lucky enough to jump in Hawaii where it is absolutely beautiful, but windy most of the time, you can get away with a smaller canopy. You may in fact need a higher aspect canopy to survive if you are a lightweight. You don’t want to risk blowing off the DZ, after all. If it is only sometimes windy at your Drop Zone, and mostly calm, anticipate having to judge the distance of your glide on those low wind landings.
Also consider Drop Zone elevation, and density altitude in the Summertime. Your parachute is going to display decreased performance capability at airports above 2000 feet, and on high temperature, high humidity days (the air actually gets thinner). You will have more difficulty stopping your canopy. The higher the elevation of your drop zone, the more square footage you should have. Otherwise anticipate a longer distance to bleed off forward speed. Above 2000 feet is where this factor becomes very evident, but I can feel the difference when I go away from DeLand, elevation 80 feet, and jump in New England at about 500 feet.
Surprised is the student who makes his first 8 jumps in a 7 - 10 mph breeze, on a 288 sq. foot canopy, then suddenly finds himself off instruction, with no radio, on a windless day, with a 190 sq. foot demo canopy. Don’t let it happen to you -- unless you have endless desert stretched before you, free of barbed wire fences. This brings us to another important point -- drop zone location. In conservative New England (God love it), where the drop zones are small and the obstacles many, novices are generally guided toward canopies that are adequately large and docile. Whether it is done consciously or not, I have witnessed that the square foot per pound ratio (important! not the pound per square foot ratio) amongst young jumpers in that region is about 1.5, which I think is perfect. If you jump in a congested area, or one with many obstacles on or near the Drop Zone, you are generally better off with a relatively low-performance canopy. Don’t buy the argument about not being able to “get back” to the Drop Zone on a long spot day. Keep in mind that even todays “low performance” canopies could fly circles around the parachutes that we used 15 or 20 years ago, and we used those parachutes for demos, for accuracy, for students...
Take The Conservative Approach
Fifteen to twenty years ago, instructors were jumping parachutes that were not significantly different from those of the student. Giving advice was easy. You could go round or you could go square. If you were a big fella, you jumped a T-10. If you were a lightweight you could have a 28 ft. flat circular. If you had some money to spend you could get a ParaCommander. If you really wanted to go out on a limb you could have a Cloud or Paraplane (the latter not all that low in performance)! The point is, most of the canopies were relatively low in performance, or sufficiently high in square footage (or area).
If I am speaking on the phone to a potential buyer, I always inquire about his age, physical condition, weight, and experience. I also ask where he jumps to get an indication of field elevation and prevailing conditions.
Because many of us have fantasies of being a Sky god or a World Champion of some sort, we have a propensity to project this onto our students, giving advice with this in mind for one and all. We forget how many years it took to achieve our present status. We forget that many are in this sport just for fun! We should remind ourselves and our students, that there is plenty of time to learn, and there should be no rush. The instructional community seems to have no problem with telling the new jumper to sit down on a windy day so that he can jump tomorrow, rather than risk a bad landing that will put him out for three months. Likewise we should be telling them to take the conservative approach to canopy selection. We must assume that the novice jumper is going to make a mistake at some point, so why not let him do it on a big, forgiving canopy?
Before you shop, talk to a few people, including your instructor, and some of the older, more experienced skydivers on your Drop Zone. Be careful not to let a salesperson dictate what you should buy. Because, while most retailers out there are reputable and knowledgeable -- they have a tendency to want to sell you what is in stock.
A Formula To Go By
Most manufacturers of parachutes speak in terms of pounds per square foot. For example, if John weighs 200 pounds and jumps a 97 sq. ft. canopy, he is loading it at 2.06:1 or 2.06 pounds per square foot of canopy.
When you go shopping for a canopy, you should think in terms of square feet per pound of your body weight (i.e. you weigh 200 pounds and you have 0 - 20 jumps). Using the following chart, multiply your 200 pounds by the 1.75 sq. ft./pound recommendation for your number of jumps, and find that you should be jumping a 350 sq. ft. canopy.
The following numbers are general guidelines from a conservative point of view. They are based largely on my own personal experience as an instructor, and active competitor, with 20 years of experience, flying canopies in every size range. For tandem jumping, I prefer the 400 square foot range. For accuracy, I jump a 252 to 259 square foot canopy, and for style, RW and everything else, I use a 107 square foot elliptical. So you see also, that different jobs require different canopies! Also remember -- there is an exception to almost every rule. For example, not all 7 cells are low aspect. The new Triathlon is a recent exception to that old rule. Not all reserves are 7 cells. There are 9 cell reserves, even 11 cell reserves. There is such a thing as thick Spectra line, and rather thin Dacron suspension line. There are a lot more exceptions where those came from.
Number Of Jumps Appropriate Square Footage Aspect Ratio : 1
1 - 20 1.75 sq. ft. / lb. <2.0 : 1
21 - 50 1.65 sq. ft. / lb. <2.0 : 1
51 - 200 1.50 - 1.35 sq. ft. / lb. 2.0 to 2.5 : 1
201 - 1000 1.30 - 1.10 sq. ft. / lb. 2.0 to 2.8 : 1
1001 - ? 1.10 - 1.00 sq. ft. / lb. >2.8 : 1
Some interpolation will be required here. Round the figure up or down as much as 15% to find an existing canopy size.
We know that highly experienced jumpers can and do exceed the one pound per square foot maximum as prescribed by most canopy manufacturers. This is one of the benefits as well as one of the hazards of living in a free society. We just have to be sensible about such freedoms.
A jumpers’ age and physical condition must also be weighed into the equation. Ask yourself honestly,
Am I athletic and limber? Can I run off excessive forward speed from a small, high aspect ratio canopy on a high-density altitude, no wind day? Am I simply in good physical condition? (Perhaps you can’t run as well or as fast as you used to.) Am I in fair physical condition? (I don’t want to have to run at all.) Or am I in poor physical condition (Lacking in strength and muscle tone, not very flexible)? If you are a “1," eventually when you have gained experience, you will be able to jump the sportiest of canopies. If you are a “2,” you may want a high aspect canopy, but with square footage in the 1.35 to 1.15 range. If you are a “3” or a “4,” consider a low aspect canopy, as well as abundant square footage.
The Step-Down Method
Spend your first two years or first 500 jumps on a canopy that is 1.5 square feet per pound in relation to your body weight. You should be completely comfortable in any situation or meteorological condition with that canopy before you graduate to the next size down. Then spend a year-- or 300 jumps-- whichever comes first, on the next size down the canopy, and so on.
Riding The Clutch
Fly with a little bit of brakes. It is OK to fly leaning on the toggles a bit. We do not have to be in full flight all the time until landing -- especially when there is a lot of other canopy traffic in the air. I routinely fly my Stiletto 107 in 1/4 brakes when on a large RW load or when picking my departure point to land in the pea gravel area. In a congested situation, one has to get in the landing queue (ahead of the big floater, behind the hot little 99 square foot canopy). The main reason for flying with a little bit of brake applied is to provide for more forward speed in the event you misjudge and find yourself short of your targeted landing area. You now have a little “extra gas”. Additionally, if you’re “steep” (high and close to your target), it is OK to apply some brake and sink till you reach the desired angle of attack.
Timing the flare is infinitely critical. Learning this skill simply takes a number of jumps to perfect. I think it is probably harder to master than the basic freefall skills. Some jumpers have a natural “feel” for this. Others may take hundreds of jumps to learn it! Most skydiving schools do not spend enough time on canopy control. More emphasis should be placed on canopy control in the post-instructional period. Teaching drop zones might consider a five or ten-jump “stand-up accuracy” course before graduating that student. Abundant square footage will provide for a greater margin of error until you develop the necessary canopy control skills. There are canopies out there for you.
If you have under 200 jumps you should allow yourself ample square footage, seriously consider low aspect, and resign yourself to a medium or large sized container. There is plenty of time to work your way down in size of canopy. No one ever screwed themselves into the ground because they were jumping a canopy that was too large.
Nancy J. LaRiviere
USPA/ I, Tandem Examiner
Pilot, COM, MEL
Senior Rigger
May, 1995
© The Jump Shack
Reprinted with permission

By admin, in Gear,

Top Ten Misconceptions About Zero-P Canopies

A while back, I overheard a bunch of people discussing their lative merits of different types of canopies and materials for low-time jumpers. I heard some interesting misconceptions about what's dangerous and what's not, what works and what doesn't. In the interest of getting some discussion going, I figured I'd-list my top ten misconceptions about Zp canopies:
1. Zero-p canopies are dangerous.
Zp canopies have gotten a bad reputation over the years, since most hp canopies are made of Zp fabric. However, this does not mean that hp fabric itself is dangerous - it just allows smaller canopies to land well, and so is often used for smaller, high performance canopies. A large 9 cell Zp canopy is just as safe a sits same-size F111 counterpart.
In fact, it is often safer. Zp fabric keeps air from escaping though the top and bottom skins of the canopy, and thus allows better canopy pressurization at a given airspeed. This helps prevent canopy collapse in bumpy winds. In addition, the Zp fabric allows the airfoil to be a bit more efficient, and thus allows you to slow down a little more before landing. During a landing in a bad area (a power station, for example) that slower speed can be a life saver.
2. Zero-p canopies are harder to land than F111 canopies.
Not at all. In fact, the opposite is often true. Zp canopies have more lift during the flare, and that extra lift can be used to slow yourself to walking speed before touching down. F111 canopies, especially old ones, often can't do that any more -they become so porous that they stall before slowing you down enough. Often, you will see people with older F111 canopies doing all sorts of tricks to get good landings - front rise ring, taking wraps on the brake lines, and turning low. Generally, such maneuvers are not required with Zp canopies.
This year I watched maybe 200 landings at bridge day. Conditions were not great - zero wind and an uphill landing. The people who got the best landings were the people with fairly new(i.e. not porous) F111 canopies and the people with Zp (Triathlons, Sabers, even a Stiletto or two). The people with the ragged old Cruise lites and Pursuits were slamming in hard. The canopies simply did not have enough lift left to slow down the jumper before landing.
3. F111 canopies are a good choice for a first canopy.
Well, yes and no. A good, fairly new F111 canopy, loaded correctly, is indeed a good first canopy. However, you have two things against you:
Few people sell good, low-time F111 canopies anymore. Most have 500-1000 jumps on them, and at that age, they become difficult to land. A larger canopy will not be affected by this as much as a smaller canopy, so size matters. A pd230 may still land you well after 1000 jumps, since its forward speed is low to begin with. A PD150 with 1000 jumps will be very hard to land without injury for most jumpers.
  It's hard to resell F111 canopies, for the very reason mentioned above. They are generally retired after about 500-1500 jumps, do you're paying about $1 per jump for them. Zp lasts much longer - you can easily get 2000 jumps out of a Sabre 150 with an occasional line replacement. This ends up costing you around $.60 a jump. 4. Zero-p canopies open really hard.
This rumor came about mainly because of the performance of the Sabre and the Monarch, two popular Zp 9-cells. It is no longer true. The Sabre was tamed by a larger slider, and mods exist for the Monarch. Newer Zp canopies, like the Triathlon, open quite reliably and comfortably. Some new Zp canopies, like the Stiletto, Spectre and Jedi, are designed to snivel for a longtime, and give extremely soft openings.
This was a boon for cameramen, who need soft openings due to all the weight on their heads.
Of course, there's a trade off between too little snivel and too much. But there are Zp canopies available that open at nearly any rate, from rapid to very slow. Packing is an important part of that scale, and between canopy selection and packing technique there should be a wide range of openings to choose from.
5. You have to get a smaller canopy to get better landings.
Not true. Many people start out on old F111 canopies, and simply assume that to get nice, soft, swooping landings like the pros, they need a small canopy like the pros. The truth is that nearly any Zp canopy will land you well, if you fly it correctly.The technique you use depends on the loading, as listed below:
6. You need to get a smaller canopy to go faster.
While it's generally true that smaller canopies go faster,there are many other options to increase your speed and turn rate without taking away wing area. Wing area is all you have keeping you in the air, and taking it away decreases the canopy's "forgiveness", or tolerance for mistakes. Some ideas for increasing speed/maneuverability without sacrificing area:
Canopy choice. The Silhouette, for example, is designed to be a faster large canopy. A 170 should give you nearly the same forward speed as a Sabre 150, with the extra forgiveness that the larger size entails.
  Pilot chute. The single best thing you can do for your medium / high performance canopy is to get a collapsible pc. It will do wonders for your glide, forward speed, and flare. I highly recommend this as a first step, before you get rid of that old, doggy canopy. Even older F111's can benefit from this.
  Slider. Figure out how to stow your slider somewhere. There are many different types of collapsible sliders, and they affect performance two ways - by reducing drag, and by allowing the risers to spread out more. Avoid stowing it on your jumpsuit, though - this can prevent a cutaway if you have a problem later, and has led to a few serious injuries.
  Riser tricks. Mini-risers reduce drag a bit, but not a whole lot. Separate riser-keeper rear risers allow the toggles a bit more freedom, and distort the canopy a bit less when you flare, allowing a little more flare power. Front-riser handles allow you to easily add front riser, a good way to increase your speed when trying to buck a headwind (for example.) 7. You should never, ever turn near the ground.
This is a good rule of thumb for your first few jumps.However, there are times when turning near the ground is necessary, and all jumpers should know how to do this safely. Basically there are two ways to turn low - the braked turn and the flare-turn. Practice these! Both allow radical turns without a resulting dive towards the ground. Many jumpers have been killed when they found themselves flying downwind or towards an obstacle on final, and tried to turn without using these tricks.Depending on the canopy, you can safely make a 180 degree turn as low as 50 feet - if you've gotten instruction on how to do it and practiced it up high.
8. Skydive Chicago puts first-time jumpers on tiny Sabres.
Not quite, but close. They put first-time jumpers on Mantas(or have them do tandems) for the first few jumps, then transition them to hp canopies. And interestingly, there have not been more injuries as a result. I think this is because many new jumpers learn bad habits on Mantas, and these bad habits are difficult to unlearn. At Skydive Chicago, they transition early on, and get good instruction on how to fly the newer hp canopies.
This is a good model for transitioning ourselves. Whenever you're going to make a significant canopy transition (i.e.smaller, square to elliptical, etc.) get instruction! It costs little to badger a more experienced jumper or instructor into watching you land a few times, and the advice you get can be invaluable later.
9. 7 cell canopies are dogs.
Not any more! The Triathlon and the Spectre are both high performance Zp canopies, and are good choices for jumpers buying their first Zp canopy. The big difference between 7 and 9 cell canopies is aspect ratio - which is just the relationship between wingspan and front to back size. 7 cells have ar's around 2.5 to1, and 9 cells are around 3 to 1. Generally, a higher ar has a better glide ratio, but that's about the only hard-and-fast difference. Zp 7-cells can go as fast, land as well, and plane out as far as their 9-cell counterparts, if they are loaded correctly. They are a bit more forgiving at similar loadings, and are thus a really good choice for a first Zp canopy.
10. It's really hard to pack Zp fabric when it's new.
Sometimes this is true, but not always. "South African" fabric, such as the material they use in the Triathlon, is pretty easy to pack from day one. It doesn't seem to last quite as long as the more slippery PD material, though.Some canopies, like the Silhouette and the Turbo-z, mix F111 and Zp material to make a canopy that flies well and is still easy to pack.
But even a brand new Sabre is manageable, if you work at it.The psycho-pack is a good way to control an unruly canopy, and there's at least one gadget out on the market that helps you pack slippery canopies.
Copyright ©1997 Billvon Novak, Safety and Training Advisor

By admin, in Gear,