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skybytch

crossbraced canopies

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More and more jumpers of whatever experience levels are saying they want to, or have been told they should, buy a crossbraced canopy to make their swoops better/longer. Many of them say that they are very careful jumpers and they only do straight in approaches or 90 degree toggle carves so they think/have been told they'll be just fine on a crossbraced canopy.
If you aren't landing very aggressively - by this I do mean hooking it 180 or more with front risers - and planning to load the crossbraced canopy at 2.0 or higher, why waste your money on a canopy that was designed to be heavily loaded and hooked?? You're NOT getting the kind of landing/flare/swoop that the canopy was designed for if you aren't doing a very high performance approach and loading it at or above 2.0!
If you aren't ready or don't want to land your canopy that way you don't need a crossbraced canopy. Buy something in the Cobalt/Crossfire/Nitron class and learn to fly the shit out of that if you want to be a swooper. After a couple hundred jumps on one of those, after you've learned to perform a very high performance approach, then it might be worth your money to go with a crossbraced canopy.
Just my opinion.... don't be taken in by marketing and don't let someone who just wants your money talk you into something that really isn't right for the way you fly a parachute... Just like I wouldn't recommend or sell a Triathlon loaded at 1.0 to someone with 500 jumps who really wants to swoop, I wouldn't recommend or sell a Velocity loaded at whatever to someone with any number of jumps who never uses their front risers.
*crossposted in the G&R forum*
pull and flare,
lisa
--
What would Scooby Doo?

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I'd throw the Samurai and Vengeance in there as well.
In fact, Brian Germain, to his credit, will not send out Samurai demos to just anyone who asks for one. He generally requires about 300 jumps before you're even allowed to demo one.
"Zero Tolerance: the politically correct term for zero thought, zero common sense."

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In fact, Brian Germain, to his credit, will not send out Samurai demos to just anyone who asks for one. He generally requires about 300 jumps before you're even allowed to demo one.

Just curious, how does he or anyone else in his position know how many jumps you have? 300 is a pretty low number, I would imagine that almost anyone with around 100 jumps could bullshit his way through a quick interview. Am I wrong?

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Its fairly easy to tell from just a few quick minutes if the person is BSing or not. I was talking to him at Lake Wales over Christmas about a totally unrelated issue and he recommened I try a Samurai, he just happened to have one the size of my current canopy, but he was hesiteat at first because he was'nt sure my jump numbers. Once I showed him some video of my canopy and what it was doing on opening, he gave me the Samurai with out another question. One of my friends with only about 225 jumps tried to talk him into borrowing the canopy and Brian refused since my friend could'nt answer the questions to Brians statisaftion.
300 jumps is intermediate in terms of jump numbers. Most people will last till 100, 200 is way fewer, and anything over that is only a small fraction of people. I'm always surprized by the number of HP canopys for sale with low jump numbers compaired to the number of Mid-Proformance canopies with moderate jump numbers. Most people would be better flying a mid-proformance canopy then a HP, but marketing and peer presure force them into getting a canopy thats over their current limits i the hopes that the will "grow" into.
How many times have you seen someone showup with a new canopy thats smaller then anything they have ever jumped and the main reason they got it is because they want to "Swoop" like their more experienced friends?
I want to touch the sky, I want to fly so high ~ Sonique

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In where? with the xbraced category, or the "Cobalt/Crossfire/Nitron" one?


Sorry, wasn't clear about that. The second category, although airlocked ellipticals are probably in a category all their own.
"Zero Tolerance: the politically correct term for zero thought, zero common sense."

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O.k. Lisa.. Food for thought here ;)
Regarding cross braced canopies.. IF you have the money. Wouldn't you agree that a Velocity at 1.7 is a better canopy all around than a Stiletto at 1.7? I'm talking all around performance. What can a Stiletto do at 1.7 that a velocity can't do better?
I put over ten jumps on a fx114. I have made 60 on my Diablo110. The extreme didn't seem THAT much different other than MUCH higher front riser pressure "probably because it wasn't being loaded properly". It didn't seem really ground hungry? No more than my Diablo? At 1.7 they all scream at the ground anyways requiring you to pay damn good attention. The fx114 KICKED the hell out of the bottom end of the diablo at a similar wing loading?! I would think that having that extra control that the extreme gives you would be a good thing not a bad thing. After all even when your feet are on the ground the extreme still wants to fly and the Diablo is DEAD.
I am being a devils advocate here... Give it to me baby!!!!
Blue Skies and Smooth Rides!!

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for one week now you ask about the differeces, adventage, disadv. and other ? between the diablo and cross braced canopy . While you allready flew the Fx 114 or am I'm missing something ( I guss you just want to get some people upset ) , i'ts open forum as they said so good luck
amir
AM67

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Hi Lisa,
Good ideas, in general, but.....
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
"If you aren't landing very aggressively - by this I do mean hooking it 180 or more with front risers - and planning to load the crossbraced canopy at 2.0 or higher, why waste your money on a canopy that was designed to be heavily loaded and hooked?? "
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
When the crossbraced canopies were given their "maximum recommended wingloading" numbers, this was based on landing the canopies without accelerating them (i.e. without hooking/diving, etc.). All these crossbraced canopies can be landed with straight-in approaches at their max wingloadings.
By the way, I land my Xaos-21 78 that way on every landing, (straight-in, about 2.4 lb/ft. wingloading). Why? I'm conservative, not extremely skilled in "higher" performance landings. Quite honestly, I love the speed of the canopy but do not claim to be exceptionally skillful at hooking/diving/front risering, etc.... translate that into... I'm a big wuss and don't like to scare myself.. but I love the speed.
Many crossbraced canopy jumpers land with very little turn or straight-in approaches just like myself... To get speed, go with less drag (i.e. smaller canopy size) I'd jump any other canopy that size if it had the lift to land me as well... problem is, no other canopy can be loaded that high and landed without accelerating it.
Don't shy away from crossbraced because you don't normally perform a "180 or greater", take advantage of this performance even if all of your approaches are straight-in. Experience is needed to fly a faster canopy, but a 180 degree turn to final is not a requirement for flying (or buying/owning) a crossbraced canopy.
My reccommendation for MINIMUM loading on any crossbraced canopy is about 1.7 -1.8 lbs./ft....
These canopies were designed to be heavily loaded. There is not a requirement to hook 'em. (But it is a lot 'o fun!!)
Chris

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Chris,
I know that since you work on the Xaos on a daily basis you are a little more fimilar with it then most others. Would you recommend the Xaos or any other Cross-braced canopy for someone with out High-Proformance canopy time? What are your feelings about low jump number jumpers jumping this proformance level of a canopy? Is the Xaos or other Crossbraced canopy the only way to increase your flare power or make better landings? Specificaly, would the progresssion from a straight in approach in a canopy like a Sabre or a Monarch yield in good landings under a Xaos? Has PA thought about jump number restrictions on the Xaos? Like the old 500 jumps for a Stiletto thing....
I want to touch the sky, I want to fly so high ~ Sonique

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Has PA thought about jump number restrictions on the Xaos?

Yes.
PA says: "Warning! Minimum of 500 jumps experience is required!" Or do they mean 500 jumps on ellipticals...
I think it's not very smart to require a minimum jump number. Everyone knows people with much more than 500 jumps but who have made them in so many years that - you know what I mean, jump numbers are not really representative for canopy flight skills.
And right, PD did require this 500-jump-thing and recognized it doesn't really make sense. Today they recommend that canopy pilots have "considerable experience with fairly highly loaded elliptical canopies" before they move on over to for example the Velocity.
But how to check this out...
--
Perfect speed, my son, is being there. - Jonathan Livingston Seagull

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So Chris... you'd recommend a Xaos at 1.7-1.8 to someone with 200-300 jumps? That's pretty close to the average number of jumps of those who routinely post on these forums. I may be old fashioned, but I just don't think that 200 jumps is enough experience to handle the kind of speed that is produced by a crossbraced canopy. To me that's barely enough experience to safely fly a Stiletto/Cobalt/Crossfire/Nitron at 1.5. I'd be real uncomfortable sharing the air and landing area with someone of that little experience on a crossbraced canopy.
What's wrong with flying a more conservative canopy type and wing loading for the first couple hundred jumps, then going to a more aggressive canopy - like a Nitron, to quote an example from the product line you represent - loaded at 1.5 for a couple hundred to a thousand more jumps and learning to fly the shit out of that before flying the kind of wingloadings you recommend as a minimum for a Xaos?
I guess I just don't understand why the big hurry to go small and extreme. For me the whole point is to be able to keep jumping until after I'm old enough to join SOS... that's a lot of years in which to downsize slowly and become very, very good at flying a parachute.
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There is not a requirement to hook 'em. (But it is a lot 'o fun!!)

If you land straight in every time... how do you know it's a lot of fun to hook it?
pull and flare,
lisa
--
What would Scooby Doo?

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Has PA thought about jump number restrictions on the Xaos?
Yes.
PA says: "Warning! Minimum of 500 jumps experience is required!" Or do they mean 500 jumps on
ellipticals...


Strange.... I know of at least one person with under 300 jumps who has already taken delivery of his Xaos, purchased directly from Precision at 50% off list.
pull and flare,
lisa
--
What would Scooby Doo?

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Lisa, (et al),
Yes we recommend a minimum of 500 jumps for The Xaos-21. I have seen jumpers with less than 200 total jumps fly crossbraced canopies with very nice landings. I have seen jumpers with many thousands of jumps die under x-braced canopies (and high experience jumpers die under even docile canopies). We "recommend" 500 jumps as a benchmark.
For years, progression to a higher performance canopy has been controversial. It was recommended that I complete at least 100 round jumps before I progress to a "square". My, how times have changed.
Judgement can not be quantified. Skill is not a function of numbers.
Last week, I jumped my old Paracommander and one of my younger jumpers at the dz asked if he could put a jump on it. My response was, "You should get a few more jumps on your current canopy, work on your accuracy, then maybe we can put you under it."
It's amazing to see how far we've evolved. I know of a dropzone operator who was chastized for training first jump students on zero-p... (they were elliptical also!). Because he spent more time teaching the canopy portion, he had terrific results. He had transitioned some 40 jump wonders to Stillettos at fairly high wing loadings with virtually no injuries. Are we afraid to progress faster than our teachers. I had over 3000 jumps before I jumped a x-brace.
All too often, we base our students performance on our personal failures. If I broke my leg landing my Pegasus, I certainly would not let my little brother jump a high performance machine like that.
Do I think the "average" 2-300 jump skydiver should have a Xaos/EXTreme/Velocity... ? No.
Do I think every 5000 jump skydiver should be jumping a x-brace..??? HELL NO!!
It's all about training. It's all about judgement.
Chris

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Chris,
you make some good points, but I still have to lean towards Lisa on this one. Mind you that this is coming from the point of view of someone who deals with people ordering canopies on a daily basis. It is not constant, but all to often for my taste that someone calls wanting a canopy that, in my opinion, is way too small for him/her.
I'm sorry, but regardless of how the canopy is being loaded, I will not sell a high performance canopy to a newbie. I understand that there are many people who have started jumping high performance canopies early, but they are not the norm. We are not talking about legal liability here, even though it can come into play, we are talking about moral liability. We are talking to people who do not know what they are doing (still speaking of the true "newbie") and they are looking to us to point them in the right direction. I have not always followed other people's advice myself, and I feel lucky to be alive. The difficulty is trying to communicate that to someone who thinks that because they have jumped and lived 50 times that they are king of the hill. The problem is that people say that they understand, but they don't even know everything that can go wrong. Sure, they can give you a laundry list, but how many of them actually understand the malfunctions, the turns, the dives, etc.? Not many at all.
I completely agree with you that there is a huge difference between jump number and experience. As such, though, we cannot say "oh, ok, you have 500 jumps, you should be on a Xaos". As Bill Von said, there may be a day when Crossbraced canopies are the norm...we're not there, though. We are still in a world where landing a crossbraced canopy and coming in at the speed that 2.0 brings takes skill...that skill comes with experience...experience on high performance canopies, working up to that point.
You are welcome to make the call on what you would like to jump, as you are well experienced...there are people out there, though, that are under the impression that downsizing is going to answer all their questions. It is people like that that we, as a couple of gear dealers fear. I fear being in the air with those people, but more so, I fear for them. The fact is, like you said, in order to fly a crossbraced canopy, you need to load it at almost 2.0. For most people, that is going to mean downsizing a great deal, if they are not experienced in high performance canopy flight, and along with that comes a great deal of danger when something goes wrong (be that opening, flight, landing, being cut off, etc.). If everything goes right, a student could land a small high performance canopy...but things aren't always going to go right. On that same note, I don't see it as a good choice to use the example of a few for whom something has worked as a good point of reference for the rest of the world. Great, someone is getting students on small canopies...I won't sell them one, and I won't sell one to another person who says "hey, I saw that other guy jumping one". They very well may be the exception...I'm not going to risk that, though. It's not fair to betray their trust like that when they are looking to you to help them progress in the sport.
Another issue with downsizing is when there are people who go down more quickly then they should, they will be landing faster, but at the same time, have their longterm canopy skills decline, because they will not have the ablility to fly the shit out of their canopy until much later. This goes for learning most anything...you may memorize the multiplication tables, but if you want to make change for a dollar, you're going to have to learn to add/subtract. You may memorize a few phrases to use in a restaurant in Mexico, but that doesn't qualify you to be a translator. To get truely good at something, you don't memorize it, you learn it from the ground up (i.e.-fly the shit out of your canopy before you downsize).
I don't think that the frustration that Lisa was venting was geared towards people with thousands of jumps such as yourself...the issue for me, is generally that when people are wanting to downsize faster than I believe they should, they justify it with "well, I'm going to come in and land straight". That is when I ask the question, "then why do you want a high performance canopy?". I just don't believe that people should be going to small high performance canopies before knowing the ins and outs of larger ones (which doesn't necessarily mean 270's on landing, but does mean front riser approaches, turns to land, etc)...I stand firm in my belief that that is the safest way to progress.
Steve

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Thanks...I think. :-)
It's all about keeping people safe...unlike myself. There were many points (and there still are) where I didn't know enough to know that I didn't know something. I will speak openly about the decisions that I have made, the mistakes, the low hook turns, the impacts (luckily without injury), etc. The reason we are hired as sales people is because we have experience. Shoot me the day I claim to know everything...until then, though, I hope that us...um...people...can show people a different way (than I took at least) to being impressive canopy pilots, on the smallest hankercheifs possible. :-)
Steve

(Note that I did not...repeat DID NOT refer to myself as a canopy nazi before editing my post)

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I can tell you from experience that the canopy manufacturer's are not overly concerned with jump numbers. A guy that I jump with that had in the neighborhood of 250 jumps and was jumping a Sabre 170 bought a Xaos 108 from precision at the 50 percent off sale. He is a good canopy pilot for his jump numbers and a great guy, fun to jump with and very safty minded, but still they sold him a canopy at those jump numbers allowing him to downsize from a 170 square to a 108 cross braced canopy. I admit I was really worried but, So far he has done well although a couple of weekends ago ( I wasn't there ) I was told he missed being injured or killed by about 6 inches. This was told to me by a couple of people with several thousand jumps that witnessed his landing. This is a fairly conservitive guy. He is intelligent, and flys like I said well for his jump numbers. But He told them at precision he wanted something with more lift on landing then a stiletto 120 and they recomended the Xaos 108 he loads it about 1.65. Like I said so far he is doing ok and I hope he continues to do ok, but the thought really bothers me. Another member of our DZ bought one at the same time. He has over 500 jumps and I thought a little better prepared. But hey I only have a 170 jumps myself and am not trying to judge anyone. I just don't want to see anyone injured.

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uh oh...
Now let me put away my worm can-opener...
I applaud all the hard working skydiving equipment salespeople. I fully understand the nature of the beast. Every day I have to explain to many different callers that a 78 square foot wiz-bang may not be the best choice for their "purchase". (I discovered a while back, never, never say "for your experience level", you'll only challenge the caller to prove his ability over the phone... which is impossible.)
Over the years, it has become evident which dealers take the time to carefully qualify their customers. When a gear salesperson takes the time to inquire about experience, (specifically which canopies you've jumped, not how many times you've jumped...), they are helping you have more fun in this sport by selling you the right canopy. The delima faced by gear salespeople is that they know well that you can call "Fast/Cheap Parachute Sales Co." and if you're a cash buyer, it will be in the mail today. No questions asked.
Take the time to select the best gear. Look sharp by your color selection, not size selection. (Lord, I've seen some pretty ugly custom color choices go out the door!)
Do yourself a favor... select a dealer that you feel comfortable with, take the time to make the right choice. Allow sufficient time (and jumps) to master each step along the way.
Now that I'm politically correct, please do not think "cross-brace" is a satanic symbol. It is a technology that has moved canopy performance another step forward. Commercially available only on the flagship models today, this technology is being evaluated for designs on Tandem and student canopies.
Cheers to all the "canopy nazis" and the jumpers they serve!
Chris

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Cheers to all the "canopy nazis" and the jumpers they serve!

Thanks Chris :)Don't think that I feel that crossbraced canopies are evil - I think they are very likely the next step in canopy development, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see larger ones available in the near future; wouldn't even surprise me to find myself under one (lightly loaded of course...) someday. My concern is with what is available today, and with those newer jumpers who are being told that they "need" to be flying one of them and/or heavily loading whatever they are flying to get great swoops.
I know that a really good canopy pilot can swoop any canopy on the market and do so at some comparatively low wing loadings - I see this at Perris all the time. Examples - camera flier Raoul Gravell flies a Spectre loaded around 1.3, Tony Domenico flies a Spectre loaded around 1.5, Kate Cooper flies a Crossfire and a Vengeance loaded about 1.5... all three get very nice swoops - these jumpers have thousands of jumps and they jump a lot. They've flown higher wing loadings for thousands of jumps.. after a while they got tired of having to run out every landing. For that matter, I managed a couple of really nice surfs on a Safire loaded at about 1.1 - and I am in no way a really good canopy pilot!
Anyone who's been in the sport for at least a few years and jumped at a larger dz has lost friends to canopy accidents, whether because they died or "just" were severely injured and either decided or had the decision made for them (by family, doctors, etc) not to jump again. Those who haven't yet, trust me... it sucks to lose a friend. Higher wingloadings and more aggressive canopies translate into more speed... a mistake made under a fast canopy translates into a much more painful set of injuries.... or death.
I consider each of the people who post here and every person who calls me at work to be one of my friends... that's why I encourage them to be somewhat conservative in their canopy selection and wingloading, at least until they've really learned how to fly a parachute.
And you're right - it's not jump numbers that tell who's ready, it's more what they've been jumping and how they fly their canopy. I have 800 jumps and I'm perfectly happy with my Spectre at 1.0... I know I don't have the skills right now to fly anything smaller or more aggressive. I know there are many jumpers with 200 jumps who can fly rings around me... because they have made a point of learning about canopy flight and they routinely fly their canopies using all of the available control inputs.
But... I still don't think that someone with 200 jumps is ready to fly a crossbraced canopy at 1.8! ;)
pull and flare,
lisa
--
What would Scooby Doo?

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