Dwain

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Gear

  • Main Canopy Size
    107
  • Reserve Canopy Size
    120
  • AAD
    Cypres

Jump Profile

  • Home DZ
    Skydive Elderslie
  • Number of Jumps
    700
  • First Choice Discipline
    BASE Jumping
  • Second Choice Discipline
    Wing Suit Flying

Ratings and Rigging

  • Pro Rating
    Yes
  1. Go hang out at any largish BASE boogie - you will be extremely suprised. I've been offered money to pack BASE rigs plenty of times. Other jumpers make money packing BASE rigs at a popular location in Southern Norway. It's becoming more and more common. In general people are becoming less interested in their BASE equipment, and yes, people are getting seriously injured or dying as a result. It's a pretty damn scary trend to say the least.
  2. On a side note, BASE jumping is also following this trend. Most BASE jumpers used to have the knowledge and attention to detail of a senior rigger. Every BASE pack job was treated as the equivalent of a reserve pack job. Nowadays it is very common to see people BASE packing with the same attitude as if they are packing a main. The technical knowledge of the average BASE jumper is fast decreasing. Recently a student BASE jumper who was struggling learning how to BASE pack made the comment: "Perhaps one day BASE will advance to the level of skydiving where there will be BASE packers and you won't need to learn how to pack". That was pretty depressing to hear. (Although this prediction about the sport is probably correct I would personally substitute the word "advance" with "degrade"). I guess it's about laziness - wanting the fun without having to learn the less-interesting components. However, to be my own Devil's Advocate: most drivers do not understand the mechanics of the brakes or steering in their cars and rely entirely on their mechanic. Does that make them bad drivers? Should a driver be expected to have full knowledge and take full responsibility for the mechanics of their car? If not, then by analogy, why should a skydiver be expected to have full knowledge of, and take full responsibility for, their rig? Perhaps many of us (myself included) get far too moralistic about the need for a greater level of gear knowledge among parachutists, when in reality, the general lack of knowledge/interest about parachuting equipment simply reflects our lack of knowledge/interest in other life saving devices that we use on a regular basis.
  3. The late Dr Nik, DJ and I completed BASE in 1 hour 53 minutes a couple of years ago. There was nothing really remarkable or notable about it because the four objects were so close together. During the process we got lost (wasting at least 15 minutes), had to repack one of Nik's rigs and had to wait for a security guard to leave. Plus we had some wind issues with the building which resulted in wasted time as we participated in the: "Is it safe enough to jump?" debate. We were pretty disorganized to say the least. With 4 packed rigs and much better planning and execution you could probably do it in around 1:20 no problem. Less than 1 hour would be possible if everything went absolutely perfect, you drove like hell, had no traffic, and geared up inside the car as you were driven from one site to another. Mostly though it was a pointless pet trick performed to alleviate the monotony of regular BASE jumping (and to annoy the Arizona guys who had just broken the record a week before with 3.5 hours).
  4. The section in this book about his building strike (from the lead up in the stairwell through to walking away) is one of the best pieces of writing about BASE I have ever read. It made my heart race and I'm about as jaded a BASE jumper as they come. Sadly I loaned out my hard cover, autographed copy of this book years ago and it's been lost along the way. Nevertheless, not meaning to request serious copyright infringement (as I probably am), but if someone could post those few pages of the building strike here I'm sure it would be an enjoyable read for many.
  5. Dwain

    open corners

    Open or dynamic corners on a Velcro rig is a very bad idea. It was realized very early in the development of Velcro rigs that the bottom flap needs to be stitched to the side flap for the height of the BOC pocket. The Velcro tab joining the shrivel flap to the bottom flap isn't very secure and can easily come undone if the Velcro is worn or if the rig is squeezed in certain ways (for example when launching into an aerial). If this Velcro tab comes undone with open/dynamic corners then the entire bottom flap can move which will change the location of the p/c. The following scenario (or something similar) is very likely to occur if a large number of Velcro rigs with dynamic/open corners are released to the market: Container/Velcro has 80 jumps on it. Pack job results in a little more bulk than normal in the bottom of the container. Jumper executes a double gainer from a 400' object. As the jumper launches into the first gainer the bottom flap detaches from the shrivel flap, moving the position of the p/c. The jumper reaches into pull, flounders for the p/c and ends up grabbing the bottom flap instead. Jumper is unable to extract the p/c before impact. Imagine trying to grab the p/c in the attached photo if the rig was in this configuration on your back while you were in freefall. This risk also exists with pin rigs and dynamic/open corners, but to a much lesser extent. With dynamic/open corners you need to be even more careful about pin tension on the bottom pin. Not enough tension can potentially be just as deadly as too much tension. It's rare that there is a pure win-win situation when you add technology to BASE equipment. When you invent something to solve one problem, it is easy to inadvertently create a bunch of entirely new problems. Personally I am a supporter of open/dynamic corners in pin BASE rigs, but people who use this technology need to be aware of the additional dangers they pose as well. A total malfunction is always far worse than an offheading.
  6. With many of the new products and innovations, it is becoming less clear where the boundary lies between regular freefall/tracking, wingsuit flying and glider flying. One classic example of this are the "Smoking Pants". With the crotch moved down toward the knees and the inflation of the Pants in this area, what we end up with something similar to the leg wing on a Classic wingsuit (just not as efficient). Also the total surface area of somebody wearing a heavy rain jacket and Smoking Pants would be beginning to approach the surface area of the same person wearing a tight fitting Classic wingsuit. So are the Smoking Pants a really good regular tracking outfit, or are they just a poorly performing wingsuit? In comparison to the Birdman Pantz, the Smoking Pants have the potential to provide more performance simply because they create a larger surface area. Birdman could easily make a higher performing product by adding a small ram-air wing to the crotch of their Pantz (which would be much more efficient than just moving the crotch lower down). However many would argue that this is clearly crossing the line into what is considered a wingsuit (albeit, a wingsuit with very poor performance). So yes, the Smoking Pants (or derivates thereof) can provide better glide when compared to the BM Pantz, however they also provide less glide compared to a Classic wingsuit (which is just as fair of a comparison to make). Perhaps the only truly pure form of human flight is during naked jumps. Naked, lift is generated only with our body and not by any artificial material. Although to be perfectly pure we'd also have to be rigless, as the harness and container interacts with the airflow as well. On a side note: In the history of human beings, has anybody ever efficiently max-tracked totally naked at terminal without a rig on? Perhaps that is one of the few remaining frontiers of true human flight….ha ha. On the other end of the wingsuit spectrum is the Wingsuit vs. Skyray vs. Hang Glider issue. The following question has been frequently raised: Is it fair to compare a Skyray to a Wingsuit? In terms of human flight the makers of the Skyray have stated that the Skyray is indeed human flight and does loosely belong to the wingsuit category, because the body makes up 60% of the total surface area. (Personally I'm a little skeptical of the last piece of that argument as, yes the wing may only be 40% of the total surface area but it is creating a hell of a lot more than 40% of the total lift being generated. In terms of flight the lift that is generated means everything, not surface area). Other people say the Skyray is not human flight and belongs to the glider category. The reasons given are as follows: To be part of the wingsuit category, the human body must form the shape and structure of the wing (although me-thinks even this distinction can start to get slightly blurred when I look at the Mylar ribs in my S4 prototype, especially where the center of the leg wing extends slightly longer than my feet). But back to the original issue at hand: For the sake of comparisons, clarity and communication we tend to need to establish some distinction or categorization. Currently, the two most widely used categories in the world of human flight (ignoring the Skyray for now) are "regular tracking" and "wingsuit flight". If someone does a 28 second track covering 3000' horizontally on a 3000' high BASE jump, will we classify it as a really exceptional regular track or as a really crappy wingsuit flight? So how can we make this distinction? Two suggested examples (of many) are given below: "The Outline of the Human Form", and the "Feeling of the Track". The Outline of the Human Form: With regular tracking the outline of the body in flight must resemble that of the normal human form/shape. Also the range of movement of the body must not be restricted in any way by the clothing worn. Given this distinction the Smoking Pants would fall under the wingsuit category as the torso length is artificially lengthened and doing the splits (or anything even close to it) would be impossible whilst wearing the Smoking Pants in their in-flight configuration. Given this distinction the Birdman Pantz would fall into the category of regular tracking. However, given how close the Birdman Pantz and the Smoking Pantz are in design and performance, separating them into two different categories would be ridiculous. Further problems with this distinction come when you start playing with other things: What if I shove a plastic dinner tray down the front of my jacket, creating a flat rigid surface across my chest? What if I build channels into my jumpsuit which direct the air towards my feet? What if I wear wide shoes that are 5 sizes too big? The Feeling of the Track: Another distinction (albeit a highly subjective one) is the "feeling" of the track. Flying a wingsuit is a totally different sensation to regular tracking. Does tracking with the BM Pantz or Smoking Pants feel closer to tracking naked, or does it feel closer to a wingsuit flight (say a Classic)? This is hard to say as tracking naked feels (OK I've never tracked naked, but I've tracked a number of times at/near terminal wearing nothing but a rig and board-shorts) totally different to tracking while wearing a rain jacket and Tracking Pantz. Also there are times that during a really good track with the Pants, it definitely feels like more like a crappy wingsuit flight. This is highly subjective and very dependent on the efficiency of the individual tracker. In my opinion the above two distinctions are overly simplistic and lead to unfair comparisons. There are no clean cutoff points, but simply a smooth range of products that take us across the entire spectrum from being naked to flying a hang glider and beyond. However (as stated before) we still tend to need to make distinctions and categorizations in the world of human flight in order to avoid being overly verbose. For example: "I did a 32" second track covering 3300' horizontally on a 3000' high BASE jump by increasing my body surface area by 21% via inflatable clothing and also by adding stiffeners to 70% of my torso region. I believe I have set a new world tracking record in the 21%-body-surface-increase-with-70%-stiffened-torso category of tracking". As you can see, it gets rather pointless. In the reality it really doesn't matter what the hell we call it: Tracking, wingsuit flying, glider flying etc. It's all about fun, not semantics. I guess my end point is using simply categorization for direct product comparisons can be misleading. Yes the Smoking Pants may outperform the BM Pantz, however they also suck compared to the Classic. Enough said – let's go fly our bodies…or the stuff attached to them….or….whatever.
  7. Actually the Pegasus used to be a very sought after canopy for BASE. Before BASE specific canopies many people considered it the best skydiving canopy for fixed object jumping. It probably had the best airfoil of it's time. I know a number of people who are still BASE jumping the Pegasus today. Most people primarily use them for water landings though due to the F1-11 porosity but there are people regularly landing them on land. A Pegasus in good condition is still considered a nice canopy for those high bust jumps where gear might be confiscated. I've BASE jumped the Pegasus quiet a bit and it performed great (the lack of re-enforcement was always a concern though). Really nice on-heading rate and opened great slider up or down. I have some fond memories of jumps on that canopy and it's put me down soft in some nasty boulder fields.
  8. Instructions and diagrams: http://www.basicresearch.com/basic_research_owner.htm#fox
  9. Gardner, I used the term "noticeable" as I'm basing this on personal feel, not GPS data. While I do have some GPS data on glide ratio of various canopies, I don't have enough to make quantifiable statements on the effect of difference sized p/cs. Therefore all these comments are highly subjective and should be taken lightly. Firstly, if your calculations are correct you should be able to make the first two landing areas easily (provided there is no wind or sink) regardless of what p/c you are dragging (within reason of course). The third one will be more dependent on canopy but it should still be OK with your Mojo (but not by a huge margin). Flik, Troll, Ace and Blackjack all have great glide ratios (as far as modern day BASE canopies go). A non-Vtec FOX (or Vtec with valves) also has great glide ratio (the standard FOX used to be known as the best BASE canopy for glide a few years ago). Of everything commercially available the Troll probably has the edge in glide as its airfoil is the most advanced (slightly tapered, construction techniques which reduce the deformation of the inflated wing) in terms of an efficient wing when inflated, but only just, and that is when you fly it with the precise combination of riser and toggle input (it's angle of attack is slightly steeper than the Flik and so you need to compensate more with riser and toggle input to make it flatten out). Mojo's and non-valved Vtec FOX's don't give the best glide. The same with Dragon's and Dagger's. Their glide ratio is still acceptable, just not the best compared to what is currently available if you are intent on making distant landing areas. ZP top skin will make a noticeable difference if the canopy ride is long. F111 porosity will also make a big difference (a new F111 canopy will far outglide the same canopy with hundreds of jumps and some water landings on it). The parasitic drag of the p/c will affect your glide ratio to some extent. Once again this effect only becomes noticeable over a long canopy flight. A more noticeable difference is the effect that the p/c has distorting the top skin of your canopy from the bridle attachment point being dragged back. The smaller the canopy and the larger the p/c, the bigger the effect this will have. For example a 48"p/c on a 220 canopy will create noticeable distortion to the top skin and performance will be very noticeable (if you are tuned into the way your canopy performs). A 280 canopy dragging, say, a 38" p/c won't really have any noticeable distortion whatsoever. A canopy with a multi will reduce the distortion as the p/c drag is distributed to two cells (#3 and #5) rather than just the center cell (#4). (Note: The center cell on a multi canopy does not carry any of the p/c drag when in flight as the center multi line and the tail pocket line are not loaded). One extreme example: A number of years ago I did a BASE jump with a 9,000' canopy ride under a Mojo220 (loaded at about 0.77) with a 52" ZP p/c. The canopy was severely distorted during flight. The leading edge of the canopy formed a V shape as the center cell was pulled back by the p/c. This became more enhanced during turns and front riser input (where the airspeed was higher). The canopy still flew and landed OK, but the glide ratio was noticeably poorer than usual. I have experienced (and heard a number of other jumpers commenting on) a difference in glide when going back and forth between a 32" p/c and a 48" p/c (e.g. when everyone jumps Eagles Nest after a day at Kjerag). However, the biggest factor is the possibility of downdraft and cross winds. Even if there is no wind at exit or at the landing area you can sometimes experience downdrafts and cross winds during a long canopy flight in mountainous regions. This is where you can get hosed and end up in the trees. The general rule is to front riser through the down drafts, turbulence and strong cross winds (to minimize your time in them) and fly in half brakes in the updrafts (to maximize your time in them). Try to avoid crabbing in strong cross winds if you can avoid it and just focus on covering the distance while allowing the cross wind push you sideways. Usually the uppers are stronger than the lowers and so you should be able to make it back flying into the wind at a lower altitude rather than crabbing at a higher altitude (this is a very general rule though and following it to the letter will eventually get you into trouble). The higher the wingloading, the less effected you will be by cross winds and downdraft. Glide ratio with a canopy theoretically should remain constant regardless of wingloading provided you are within certain limits. In other words if you have two identical canopies except for size, use the smaller one if there is any question in regards to downdraft, crosswind or headwinds. Use the larger one if you know you are going to get updraft or a tailwind. Also minimize toggle input during the flight. Making a number of small corrections to direction during the flight will eat up much more distance than most people think. If you do end up forced to land in the trees then try to hit the thickest, lowest tree you can find. Don't fly into a spindly one as it will just fold up your canopy and then drop you to the deck. Aim for the center of a thick one (the thicker and the lower the better) and fly straight into it. Flare, legs bent and feet together, shut your eyes tightly as you hit the foliage and then try to grab on to a branch to prevent falling. Getting your canopy out of the tree will be a bitch to say the least, but it's much better than laying broken and twitching at the bottom of a spindly one. Although most people come away from tree landings OK, it is still serious business. JM took a tree branch through the heart during a tree landing on his 300th jump. Aim for the friendly looking ones with bendy branches. In summary, if you are not freefalling the object, and you are worried at all about making the landing area, you have the option of deploying without a p/c and you totally trust your non-pc deployment system (which is another topic entirely), then I would remove the p/c every time. Hope this helps.
  10. Addition to my original post: Inflatable Tracking Pants. This recommendation is somewhat tentative as the technology is still very new to the BASE world. However I have personally witnessed and heard many reports of beginner BASE jumpers using this technology with great results and no problems whatsoever. As long as the beginner has done a number of skydives using the pants to become very familiar with them, then they should have no problems using them on their first tracking BASE jump. The pants will result in the jumper tracking further from the object making an offheading much easier to deal with. At this stage I can see no negatives using this technology for any BASE jumper of any experience level. Bird-Man.com is the only company that sells this technology at this time. The technology was invented by Robert Pecnik (co-owner and Design Director for Birdman).
  11. skreamer: Yes I personally recommend the 5th upper control line for everybody jumping a Vtec FOX. PerFlare: While your results with the multi are very interesting I would say that they are not at all typical or representative of people's experiences with the multi in general. Everyone has different experiences with equipment. I personally have had runs of over 100 BASE jumps in a row on multi equiped canopies without an offheading of more than 15 degrees. I have been told that in every BASE competition since late 1999, the component that judged heading control was won by a multi-equipped canopy (don't quote me on this as I don't have the data). If I was doing a jump where heading was a serious life threatening issue and I had a choice of two identical rigs except one had a multi and one did not, I would use the canopy with a multi (but once again, this is my own personal preference). These things are not proof that multi-equipped canopies open better, but simply the vast number of multi jumps done (estimated at well over 100,000) without widespread reported heading issues (no more than single bridle attachment canopies) are an indication that in general, they do not have bad heading rates. As with all BASE technology, people's individual experiences may differ. When people are having bad offheadings with a particular canopy (and the cause is not obvious) the first thing I tell them is to try is to jump the canopy with a different container. This fixes the problem about 80% of the time. The problem is usually not the canopy, but the combination of the canopy, the container and the way the jumper is packing that canopy into that container, plus a number of other variables (this is where the multi may come into play). Changing just one of those variables usually fixes the problem. The problem often lies with the combination, not with an individual component. If you modify the combination by changing a component and it fixes the problem, then this is not absolute proof that the component was purely to blame. Mac266: Differences between a 36" p/c and a 38" p/c. First I was referring to a 36" small mesh F1-11 p/c versus a 38" large mesh ZP p/c. The 36" small mesh F1-11 p/c will probably pull about the same as a 34" large mesh ZP (but with more stability). Noticeable difference at terminal: You won't usually notice a difference but your pack job will - especially if you are using a single bridle attachment point. The purpose of a pc is to extract the canopy from the container to line stretch as fast as possible while minimizing the destruction of your pack job (center cell strip, end cell slump, tail pocket slump). By using too big a pc you increase your change of an un-predicable opening, offheading and a malfunction (especially slider up line overs). Take two jumpers, identical in every way including equipment, except one has a 40 inch pilot chute and the other has a 48 inch pilot chute. They are both jumping freepacked canopies with a single bridle attachment. They both take a 3.5 second delay. The jumper with a 40" pc will most likely reach full cell pressurization higher (and with less potential problems) than the jumper with the 48" p/c. Although the 48" p/c will extract the canopy to line stretch faster, it will destroy the packjob far more in the process which in turn will mostly likely result in a slower canopy opening. At line stretch, a neater pack job (even tension on all the lines and symmetrical exposure of the bottom skin to the air flow) will usually open faster than a deformed pack job. This same principal applies to using a 38"zp p/c at terminal versus a 36"F1-11 small mesh (or a 32"zp large mesh).
  12. In BASE different people have different experiences that in turn leads them to form different opinions and view points. Tom's article on "My First BASE Rig" is generally an excellent article and my experiences in BASE lend me to agree with most of it. However there are a few points made by Tom that I disagree with, or my preferences vary somewhat. That isn't to say that Tom opinions are wrong and my opinions are right. My intent is simply to give the reader a different point of view (and many different points of view commonly exist in the BASE community). If I do not address a point in Tom's article then by default it means that I agree with and support it. Option: Secondary Inlets Bottom skin (secondary) inlets (also known as "vented canopies") have made a major safety improvement in terms of jumping low objects and also in terms of avoiding object strike under canopy. Bottom skin inlets do not add any complexity to packing or in the use of the rig - in fact the jumper doesn't even really need to be overly aware that they are there (much like they are not overly aware of the load tape configuration in the canopy). The jumper will simply use up less altitude when deploying slider down, and the canopy will respond better (and use less altitude) when the jumper pulls down on a rear riser to avoid an object strike. A vented canopy will also be harder to stall when doing a deep brake approach. These attributes make the canopy more reliable and much easier to use under certain conditions. I therefore believe all beginners should purchase a canopy with bottom skin vents as this will lower their chance of injury. The many beginners/low experienced jumpers I have witnessed using canopies with bottom skin vents have demonstrated excellent control with these canopies and have not experienced some of the problems frequently seen with non-vented canopies. The argument that beginners should not jump objects where object strike is an issue is not valid in the real world. It is not long before the low experienced jumper will want to progress to more challenging objects, and they will often do this without purchasing a new canopy (for economic reasons). It is also better that the progression to more challenging objects be made with a canopy that they have the most experience jumping. Tom states in his article: "They may also create some poorly understood, but relatively undesirable phenomenon, such as opening backsurge in deep brakes. ......no beginner should jump a system that has poorly understood effects of any kind. The back-surge phenomenon is actually very well understood by the manufacturers however a degree of misunderstanding does exist about it within the general BASE community. If a canopy without bottom skin vents has its brakes set too deep it will stall on opening. A vented canopy will stall just as a non-vented canopy will stall if its brake settings are too deep. However if the brakes on a vented canopy are only slightly too deep, then it will surge backwards on opening but not completely loose cell pressurization as a non-vented canopy will (this is better than a regular stall). The issue here is primarily the brake settings - not the bottom skin venting. When the Vtec FOX and the Blackjack (both vented) canopies were initially released to the market, their factory set brake settings were slightly too deep and a back-surge would often result. Thus the fear of "vented canopy back-surge" was first voiced as people didn't equate the back-surge to a stall and simply blamed it on the bottom skin vents. Since then the manufacturers have worked out factory brake settings on their vented canopies and this is no longer an issue. Cons of bottom skin vents: At this date all canopies made with bottom skin vents have valves. (Older Vtec FOX's can be retrofit with a valve). With well designed valves the only cons are the additional cost (which is insignificant compared to the medical cost of a broken bone), and harder openings at terminal velocity. To counter the harder opening at terminal, the use of a small-marquee mesh slider with vented canopies provides excellent results. Most manufacturers will supply a small-marquee slider upon request. Option: Multi Bridle Attachment I have definitely experienced an improvement of the consistency of openings at terminal with a multi bridle attachment. Sub-terminally there is no solid evidence that the multi will improve openings, however there is ample photo and video evidence that shows the multi delivering the canopy to line stretch in a form much closer to how you packed it than when compared to a canopy with a single bridle attachment point (which deforms the packjob significantly during extraction). There is an argument that a packjob that reaches line stretch in a neater configuration may have a lower malfunction rate over the long term (tens of thousands of jumps). I would mainly consider this option if you plan on doing a significant amount of terminal jumps (for example if you live in Norway). The increase in complexity is very minimal and any beginner should be able to grasp it within a few minutes of examining the system (as hundreds of beginners have done so in the past). Recommendation: Flik Vtec by Basic Research or Troll MDV by Atair Aerodynamics These are my two most preferred canopies which are currently on the market by a very long margin. They have superb all-round characteristics and beginners are currently using these canopies with excellent results. Opening heading (both slider up and down), flight and landing characteristics are all fantastic. Both canopy are very easy to use and are very predictable which makes them a great choice for beginners. Avoid: Any unvented canopy, Blackjack If your goal in BASE is to minimize the risk of injury as much as possible by having the best possible equipment, then do not purchase a canopy without bottom skin vents. Un-vented canopies require much more skill to successfully deal with an offheading close to the wall (this scenario happens to everyone eventually). Also the cell pressurization speeds on un-vented canopies are more variable making jumps from very low objects more of a gamble. The Blackjack canopy has flight characteristics that are harder to master and this canopy (although having other excellent flight and landing characteristics) is generally not recommended for beginners. Containers: Recommendation: Reacter 4, Basic Research This is only a personal preference as there are plenty of good velcro rigs out there, however the Reactore 4 (in the loose fit option) is very easy to pack. It was designed to conform to the shape of the packjob, rather than make the packjob conform to the shape of the rig. Because the rig is easy to close there is less chance of distorting the packjob in the process which may contribute to an offheading opening. Secondary Recommendation (Pin): Gargoyle, Morpheus Technologies This is simply the best pin rig on the market, hands down. Pilot Chutes: In addition to Tom's recommendation I also recommend getting an Apex Vented 38" from either Consolidated Rigging or Basic Research. This is the best sized pilot chute for delays in the 4-7 second range (basically anything sub-terminal slider up) and also for all wingsuit BASE jumps. The order in which you purchase your pilot chutes will be determined by the order in which you access different types of objects. For example, if you are going to Norway then you would buy a 36" p/c before you embarked on the trip. If you planning to jump your first 1000' cliff then you would buy a 38"AV p/c. As you jump a wide range of objects you will probably end up owning the following pilot chutes: 48", 42"(vented), 38"(vented), 36"(F111, small mesh). Option: Big Grab Toggles I recommend beginners get stiffened toggles. You loose height under canopy with the brakes set much faster than when the brakes are released and the canopy is flying. It is common to see a beginner (and sometimes experienced jumpers) fumbling to grab the toggles after opening. Stiffened toggles do not require any additional skill to use, they just lower the chance that you will fumble for the toggles and loose valuable altitude in the process. Fumbling for a toggle resulted in a wall strike and severe near-fatal injuries of a jumper with 1,273 BASE jumps. Stiffened toggles may have (by the jumpers own admission) prevented this accident. See attached photo's of the big grabs in use (plus a 5 year old skysurfing photo thrown in for the hell of it).