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spacetrance

Should I worry about this...

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Greeting Community,

I am a recent first-time jumper. Since my tandem in July I have found that everything related to skydiving fascinating and boarder-line addicting. It is suffice to say that my first jump messed me up (figuratively) . I have watched any and all skydiving videos that I can find on the Internet. I have found that malfunction and emergency procedure items of great importance lately.

My first jump was at a high traffic DZ in the Dallas area. I have been determined since then to get my A license. I did find the "assembly line" process of my tandem as "not personable" and searched elsewhere to get my training. I found a small dropzone that has a tandem progression course that I really like on paper.

They do jumps Level 1-3 as tandem, somewhere during the Level 1-3 jumps I will be required to do 10 minutes of tunnel time training at the Dallas iFly. Then jumps 4-7 are done with an instructor flying with me and/or holding on to me. After passing level 7 I will be free to jump solo.

Due to the nature of skydiving and the fact that I have a wife and 4 small children and due to the fact that I value my life... I am approaching (or trying to approach) the area of safety with a high level of scrutiny.

I first showed up at the dropzone unannounced just to see things... I spoke to the owner and liked what I saw. It was a Thursday so there wasn't any action.

The next day I showed up for my ground course. There was MUCH more to observe on Friday.

I love my assigned instructor. He is VERY one-on-one with me. He spent A LOT of time with me. Way more time then I expected. We did the first jump course, and even though we will not be jumping Level 1 until next week he went over the jump with me a lot of times... He said we wont stop "dirt diving" today until I get it right 1 time. Then on jump day I have to dirt dive it correctly 3 times in a row. He stressed to let someone know if I don't feel right about anything...

My concern comes from the packer and rigger. I seem to want to sugar coat the rest, but I'm going to be straight up...

I suspect illegal drug usage with the rigger. My suspicion comes from my background. He blatantly admitted that he drink scotch, which doesn't bother me but it was something else, mostly his eyes and demeanor. I also understand that is just a suspicion and I don't perceive it as a fact.

The young guy packing was teaching some other young guy to pack... which to me seems a far stretch from 'under the direct supervision of a FAA licensed rigger'.

Lastly, the dropzone isn't a USPA dropzone.

So I have thought thru this a lot. I don't want to jump to a different instructor at a different dropzone... but if I should now would be the time to do it.

What would you do?

Some of my thoughts... Ask the packer if he has read the sigma manual. Ask if they do drug tests.

As I write this... the answer seems obvious. Your input would be appreciated.
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Scientist and Physicist still do not understand gravity... Jumping out of an airplane is my attempt to help them in their quest to explain gravity.

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Ok, I get the impression that I am being accused of being a "troll". Well not entirely sure what that means...

Most of my concerns come from the latest Lodi incident...
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Scientist and Physicist still do not understand gravity... Jumping out of an airplane is my attempt to help them in their quest to explain gravity.

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exactly...

Your post sounds a LOT like a lawyer fishing for information.
Parachutes can malfunction and skydiving is not a safe sport. There is a reason for all the paperwork, people die doing this and you need to accept that. If you are an actual student it is best to understand this up front.

A slow canopy downsizing progression and conservative choices are the best ways to minimise risk.

Once you have packed a parachute a few hundred times it is just a routine you follow so even "if" some packer was high or hung over they are probably going to do an OK job.

If you are still not happy go to another DZ where the packers don't look stoned and the DZ has a USPA membership

Another alternative is go do a Static Line course where any kid/hippie/pet can pack your main parachute and then there are no worries about riggers watching the process...

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I am not a lawyer fishing for information... Instead I am a beginner that absolutely loved my jump and can't wait to get further into the sport and displines. Thank you for the real reply... On one hand I think I may be being overly critical, but like the video and my instructor said... If you have a concern let it be known, it's better to be on the ground wanting to be in the air then be in the air wanting to be on the ground.
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Scientist and Physicist still do not understand gravity... Jumping out of an airplane is my attempt to help them in their quest to explain gravity.

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A USPA A license enables you to jump at any dz in the USA and a whole ton of them outside the US. All of your student jumps must be made under the supervision of a USPA instructor to get that license. If you want to jump at any dz other that one that has you asking questions, you need a USPA license.
Regarding the rest of your questions, ask the dz, either the owner/manager or talk to the rigger you spoke with before. It's certainly possible to mis-read someone you don't know.

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I suspect illegal drug usage with the rigger. My suspicion comes from my background. He blatantly admitted that he drink scotch, which doesn't bother me but it was something else, mostly his eyes and demeanor. I also understand that is just a suspicion and I don't perceive it as a fact.



You can suspect all you want, but without proof; you'd be tarnishing someone's reputation. He may be a great rigger and just an asshole. I know two or three of those, but would go to them before the friendly, smiley, newly-minted Rigger.

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The young guy packing was teaching some other young guy to pack... which to me seems a far stretch from 'under the direct supervision of a FAA licensed rigger'.



This means nothing. We don't know the circumstances. It could have been one person teaching a newbie some techniques for slowing the opening, just getting some more practice, etc.

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Lastly, the dropzone isn't a USPA dropzone.



This means nothing. There are both great USPA DZ's and great Non-USPA DZ's and vice versa. And, at the Non-USPA DZ's - the Instructors are usually USPA members and have their certifications/ratings through the USPA. I know of one small non-USPA DZ that hasn't had a fatality in 20 years.

My turn:

Do you have enough life insurance to care for those four kids through college before engaging in a "high-Risk" activity (as defined by the insurance companies) and are you sure there's not an exclusion for such on yours? That should be your first concern - not all the other stuff you listed.
Nobody has time to listen; because they're desperately chasing the need of being heard.

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Do you have enough life insurance to care for those four kids through college before engaging in a "high-Risk" activity (as defined by the insurance companies) and are you sure there's not an exclusion for such on yours? That should be your first concern - not all the other stuff you listed.



Actually I have been to my insurance agent and gone over my life insurance policy. In the state of Texas after two years of the policy being in effect it is 'incontestable'. They actually cover suicide after two years, which I found odd. I am still going to review my long term disability insurance.

I really appreciate the real response... I hope as my post numbers go up and my jump numbers I my "Kick me, I'm a troll" sign on my back will get smaller....
------------------------------------
Scientist and Physicist still do not understand gravity... Jumping out of an airplane is my attempt to help them in their quest to explain gravity.

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This means nothing. We don't know the circumstances. It could have been one person teaching a newbie some techniques for slowing the opening, just getting some more practice, etc.



Actually he was teaching from the ground up. How to stow the brakes, walk out the lines, fold the canopy. And talking about how much time it takes to pack a sigma canopy for him and how much he gets paid per pack. I wouldn't be to concerned about it if i didn't read so much regarding the recent Lodi incident. I even went as far as to skim the packing section of the sigma manual myself after going to DZ.
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Scientist and Physicist still do not understand gravity... Jumping out of an airplane is my attempt to help them in their quest to explain gravity.

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Before I let someone pack my canopy I like to put a mirror under their nose to see if they can fog it. If they pass that it's game on. At that point they are probably going to give me a better opening than I will and they will probably sweat 1/4 as much as I would. If it goes to shit and I have to chop it I will probably only give them two or three more chances before I pack it myself.

Yeah...sometimes people die but it's so rare. From what I read about Lodi it was a completely freak accident so I would not sweat it if I were you. Getting skin cancer walking back to the LZ is a much more realistic issue for my pale ass.

If you are a lawyer PM me because I have several insulation companies I want to sue the shit out of.

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spacetrance



Actually he was teaching from the ground up. How to stow the brakes, walk out the lines, fold the canopy. And talking about how much time it takes to pack a sigma canopy for him and how much he gets paid per pack.

He could have been a coach teaching a new jumper how to pack for themselves. If you're jumping the parachute yourself, there's NO requirement for you to be supervised by a rigger. It's only if you're packing for someone else.

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Sounds like a methodical packer, even if he is not a licensed rigger.
Don't get too hung up on written laws. Yes, most of them were written in blood, but some were written so long ago that the original reasons were forgotten.
Federal Air Regulations (about parachutes) have not been up-dated in decades because of the low fatality rates among skydivers.

If you still worry about packets and rigger's, continue reading packing manuals (for the gear you are currently jumping) and start packing lessons. Learning to pack your own main is part of the process of earning your USPA A License.
Over the winter, you can attend a course to earn your FAA Rigger Licence.

Quit worrying about whether or not your local DZ is USPA-affiliated as long as most of the staff hold Instructor ratings issued by USPA. Some of the best DZs in the USA are not affiliated with USPA.

Finally, if you suspect that the local rigger does too many drugs, graduate as quickly as possible, so that you no longer need to jump gear he has repaired. When you buy your first parachute, have it inspected by another rigger.
As for your local rigger having weird eyes, he reminds me of another rigger who used to sell drugs, but was imprisoned for his sins. He found Jesus in prison, but unfortunately he also found "man love Thursdays" in prison. "man love Thursdays" shattered his sphincter and shattered his sanity.
Rape victims were the first PTSD sufferers analyzed by the pioneering psychologist named Sigmund Freud. The shifty-eyed rigger eventually became a decent rigger and tandem instructor, but he remained permanently dis-trustful of other men.

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From your profile picture i assume you made your first tandem at spaceland dallas. High probability i was out there the same day as you if it was a weekend :)

If you're not keen on this other DZ you're talking about, and are serious about getting an A license, i can recommend spaceland dallas. I recently got my A license from training with them, great group of people.

let me know if you do and i'll make sure to come say hi

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Hey guys I really appreciate your input! It is well received. I will stay at the DZ that I am referring to. I will probably make spaceland dallas my home DZ once i get trained. But not during training, only because It is so busy. This DZ i'm referring is very one-on-one...

I understand that statistically the chance of being in a malfunction that leads to a fatality is VERY low... which sounds good on the surface... unless you are the 1 in 100000. I also understand the relation of skill and knowledge to my safety. Therefore, I am very into learning all that I can. The weather needs to clear up so I can Shut up and Jump!
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Scientist and Physicist still do not understand gravity... Jumping out of an airplane is my attempt to help them in their quest to explain gravity.

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JohnMitchell


He could have been a coach teaching a new jumper how to pack for themselves. If you're jumping the parachute yourself, there's NO requirement for you to be supervised by a rigger. It's only if you're packing for someone else.



Right, in fact I think even a coach can sign some more rigger specific part of the proficiency card (I'm thinking of 3 rings assembly and main closing loop replacement, basically everything that ANY skydiver should be able to know, do, and if you're a coach, show and teach).
At my DZ we have the master rigger teach most of the packing classes and I love them, if we are weathered out I sometime sit down and listen just because I love to listen to him (ok, and see young jumpers struggle lol). But I know that in the off week days, the most experienced packers also teach packing classes, which I think is perfectly fine too (also because I know he makes sure that the packers communicate things the way he wants etc. and really takes time to even instruct the coaches on these things, to make sure that the teaching is as standardized and good as possible, we show right techniques etc.). I am sure most fun jumpers don't even know that he does it. That's OK.

There is more than it meets the eyes at a DZ. And there is certainly more to safety than just blindly following "The Rules", although that's certainly a part of it.
I'm standing on the edge
With a vision in my head
My body screams release me
My dreams they must be fed... You're in flight.

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I would recommend getting your A at Spaceland for the following reasons:

Their A program (STP) is very structured, giving you a set progression with an instructor/coach every step of the way.

By starting there now, you will be more familiar with some of the staff and other jumpers, who will soon be the ones you will be looking to do some jumps with.

They offer free coach jumps up to jump 100 on weekends. After earning your A, there is still a ton to learn and these free coach jumps will not leave you out there on your own.

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spacetrance

... I will probably make spaceland dallas my home DZ once i get trained. But not during training, only because It is so busy. This DZ i'm referring is very one-on-one...



The "level of busyness" really shouldn't matter for students progressing towards their A License. You might have a half dozen or so in the First Jump Class (the classroom part), but that's irrelevant. The jumps will still be very much one-on-one (two on one for the first few).

I jump at a place that runs one Twin Otter, and it turns loads non-stop all day on Saturday & Sunday. 80-100 Tandems isn't unusual. Plus enough fun jumpers & students to keep the plane full (mostly) for all the loads.

I'd call that "busy."

But all of the AFF students are very well cared for. Nothing is rushed or pushed on the pre-jump training (I've seen instructors scratch off a load and re-manifest a load or two later when the student wasn't ready). The post jump debrief is the same way. No student is "ditched" because the instructor is on a short call.

I've never been to SDD, but their reputation is similar. They may be busy, but that doesn't stop them from taking the necessary time and care with their students.
"There are NO situations which do not call for a French Maid outfit." Lucky McSwervy

"~ya don't GET old by being weak & stupid!" - Airtwardo

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You are far away from me so I have no dog in this fight, but I am a DZO at a student-centric DZ in VA. Call me and let's chat. I am glad to talk to you about these things.
Charlie Gittins, 540-327-2208
AFF-I, Sigma TI, IAD-I
MEI, CFI-I, Senior Rigger
Former DZO, Blue Ridge Skydiving Adventures

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I will try to offer up some thoughtful insight as to why people think you're a troll...

I jump at Spaceland Dallas and in my opinion your logic to attempt AFF at another DZ because your tandem jump at Spaceland was "not personable" is flawed and somewhat ridiculous.

When you state an allegation of "I suspect illegal drug usage with the rigger."; it is a very inflammatory remark and you then follow your previous statement with, "I also understand that is just a suspicion and I don't perceive it as a fact." This is a public forum and when you make those allegations, you are treading on thin ice both from a standard of being accepted (by the members of this forum) and a standard by which someone can sue your ass for defamation. So your comments are either extremely ignorant or you're an attorney trying to pull some bullshit bait-and-switch routine.

You didn't necessarily qualify your statement about the packers and riggers as to whether you were a part of the audience receiving instruction or were merely a passerby. So let's assume you were simply leaning in and listening because you were curious. First, at this juncture in your training you don't know enough to know Jack Shit. As such, anything you heard or may have heard or observed or thought you observed isn't your business until an instructor has provided you with the proper foundation to move on to that next level and says, "Listen to him or her, you need to know this." I wouldn't worry about a packer and a rigger until you get to that point in your training... if you make it.

Please, take no offense as I am a skydiver and I am an asshole.

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