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  1. I may have been the first to jump a Para Commander static line. It was at Orange, Mass.....Parachutes Incorporated. I was still a student on the rope but managed to talk Doug Angel into letting me do a static line jump on one of the rental PCs. Cold day...January or February....thick air....Cessna....exit at 2600 ft agl. It opened perfectly....steered it to the ground, did a plf....and Doug started breathing again. It was definitely the first static line PC jump at Orange...but not sure if it was the first ever. The year was, I think, 1967 or 1968.
  2. I have one rig with and one without. When I jump with the AAD rig I don't give it a second thought once I activate it and check to see if it works. I don't jump with it thinking, "this rig is safer" or "this one will save me". I just jump. The only time I think about it is the next day when I turn it on again during my gear check. It's there--I use it--and that's it. Those who think that skydivers with AADs are somehow counting on it and can be casual about EPs because of it just aren't firing on all eight.
  3. Anyone have any experience with the stowless bags that use magnets? Pros, cons, problems.....anything and everything would be appreciated.
  4. Had to laugh. Jacques was (and I think still is) one of the icons of skydiving. I heard he is the mayor of some small town in California. I once had the priviledge (?) of being pin checked by the man himself at Orange. I made a comment about it to him and, in inimitable Jacques style he just smiled and said, "Nobles Oblige". I laughed out loud. Made the pilgrimage to Orange last summer--kinda like going to Mecca. Walked into the office and there, as big as life, was John Carlson--one of the Orange originals. We reminisced a bit. I had my brand new rig in the trunk but didn't jump--windy I think. Will be making my way across the USA from DZ to DZ this summer. Might be my swan song--might not. Got two months to abuse myself--can't think of a better way.
  5. License D-1 belongs to Lew Sanborn. If that's you Lew--you flew a Norseman on my first static line jump.
  6. Yup--had that in mind as well but am trying to stay north-ish because of the heat in July and August. Midwest has a number of DZs all the way up to Montana. Thought about Kentucky, Tennessee, Ohio.....but still looking. Thanks.
  7. It's an interesting exercise that people should try... What are your priorities for an AAD? Personally, my first one is that is must not fire when it shouldn't. Second is having no unsafe failure modes. Third is firing when it should... those are mine. What are yours? One of my priorities is the ability for ME to set the activation altitude above a minimum. I can't understand why stock units are set to fire at 750 ft. The Vigil II+ can be set higher as I understand. My lowest opening was at 1200 ft way back when. That was pretty damned scary.
  8. I am looking to spend about two months this summer traveling and skydiving. I will probably start in Chicago--but I could be talked into Philadelphia or somewhere in the east. Does anyone have any suggestions for a good itinerary? I don't want to go to any tandem factories or skygod hangouts.
  9. I have mine made for me here in China. They are tailor made by two women who definitely do not work in a sweat shop. Their quality is first class and, in fact, I am having two more made in the next month so when I travel back to the states and Europe this summer I have three--one of fairly heavy poly-cotton and two of lighter weight material. The two I had made fit perfectly and slowed me down just as I had hoped so I could shed the nick of "flying bowling ball". When I looked at the prices for tailor made suits in the states and some of the reviews that crapped all over the supposedly custom made suits--I just had to do it here. Next I am gonna havie a wing suit made. I guarantee it won't cost anything like what they do in the big PX.
  10. If you haven't seen this video you just gotta. https://vimeo.com/96571020 Put on your best headphones, crank up the audio--go to full screen mode and rock on. If this doesn't get you stomping your feet then check your pulse.
  11. Here's what I did way back when. I found a DZ that was run by a club. Great place--but--it was only open on weekends. This was before tandems took over many dzs. I wanted to do a lot of concentrated skydiving because I figured (rightly so) that the only way to get good was to do it a lot in a relatively short period of time. I wanted an instructor--the same one--on every jump. I approached the club and made a somewhat radical proposal. I wanted to rent the whole place for a week. Airplane, pilot, instructor, and someone to pack gear so I could land, debrief and strap another rig on and do it again. To my surprise, they agreed. Not only did they agree--but they were only going to charge me the regular jump rates. I parked my conversion van on the dz and jumped my brains out every day--good weather all week. Sooo..........if you can get that kind of a deal I think you will enjoy a fine week of learning and skygasms. By the way---the club was Connecticut Parachutists in Ellington, Ct.
  12. FYI. I flew both domestically (USA) and internationally with my gear. The flight began in the US and ended up in China. I was reluctant to check my bag (two free checked bags) because it had about $6000 worth of gear in it. I purchased excess value insurance from the airline. Had to explain to the gal behind the counter that there is such a thing. It allowed me to insure the gear to a max of $5000.00 which cost $50.00. Not many people know you can insure your checked bag in excess of the normal airline liability. The maximum "normal" coverage on an international flight is $2000.00 I think.
  13. OOPS--typo. It was Jan. 22, 1967. My bad
  14. Best days of skydiving? As an official old fart I'd say the best days had little to do with the gear--it was the people. There was a camaraderie-- a sense of bon homme that seems to be missing today. Even when the skies lowered, the wind howled and the rain was horizontal we were still there--looking up and swapping stories, talking skydiving. I started in the 60's under modified rounds--then I thought I had died and gone to heaven the first day I strapped a Para Commander on my back. You had to have something like 100 or 200 jumps before they'd let you jump on of those. Cutaways were rare--and dying under a functional canopy was practically unheard of. Mind you--put in 7 or 8 jumps in one day under a round and the next morning it felt like you got hit by a truck. But--we went out and did it all over again. Nobody was ever ever drunk at the DZ--and dope was something jazz musicians did. If you did something stupid somebody would let you know. There were skygods for sure--but we all knew who they were--and we let them hang out with each other until they got bored. There was "The Inn" where Jill (who made me the first ever Martini I ever drank) made your drinks--where you got a good steak at a fair price--and where, if you got too drunk to drive there was always a bunk. The cops knew us--and left us alone--for the most part. There was Fred--who sold his blood to get money to jump. There was Butch who took the time to teach--even nerds like me. There was Sonny who played his sax (Satin Doll mostly) at The Inn. There was Marcia--who I had a terrible crush on and actually got to kiss a couple of times when her BF (a JM) wasn't looking. There was Pam--dear god--Pam--who didn't jump but.......watching her play pool in a tight skirt on a rainy day made up for it. There was Al who was always by the book and by the numbers. There was Cardinal Puff. And of course there was Jacques--who by definition brought a certain air of arrogance to the place--who rode an elephant in a parade in his PI jumpsuit. There was the day when--at last--you had enough money to buy a Para Commander--and choosing the colors became a big decision. There were French jump boots that needed to be broken in--and became the unofficial badge that proclaimed, "I am a skydiver". There was the first static line jump--where you had absolutely no idea what the hell you were doing. Then there was the second jump--where you did have an idea and it scared the crap outta you. The rounds were steerable--sure they were. Wooden toggles--pull hard and it spun you around--slowly--very slowly. PLF was mandatory. AADs were nearly nonexistent. Cutaways only happened if you were jumping a PC and it really really screwed up--with shot and a half Capewells and a belly reserve (look, pull, punch). Dummy ripcord handles--then--one day--a real one. Big debates about whether the ripcord handle should face in or out on your harness. Cross pull vs. righ hand pull. Somehow, most of us lived through it.....and some of us are lucky enough to be still doing it. Thank the gods I am one of those. And thank you to all my instructors, my friends who helped this snot-nosed nerd figure it out. They were--and some still are--some of the finest people I ever met.