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  1. Nah, people were saying the same thing 30 years ago. I think this is due to some people having to subconsciouly fool themselves that it is perfectly safe in order to do the sport. It is part of a "cannot happen to me" mentality. So all incidents cannot be due to chance, the skydiver must be at fault, so that "it cannot happen to me". It is why if a parachutist makes a mistake and injuries himself some people react with anger, as it contradicts their requirement that what they are doing must be perfectly safe.
  2. neilmck

    Family and friends advice

    Non-parachutists never understand why we do it. It is easiest to just lead a double-life and keep your weekend thing secret.
  3. Hell, I can beat that, you should try cycling on a cycle path. I used to cycle into work in central Paris on a cycle path but finally threw the "towel in" on Monday after finding my hands were still shaking when I was sitting at my desk. Between mindless pedestrians on their smart phones and dangerous junctions at every side-road it was one of the most terrifying things I have ever done. I now cycle on the road with the traffic. To highlight the difference between real and perceived safety you can look at the results of a conference on cycle path safety: On an amusing point, my work provides me with life insurance, covers my salary if I'm ill etc. I checked with the insurance company if I'm covered for parachuting, turns out I'm not covered while I'm in the aeroplane but once I jump out I'm covered.
  4. neilmck

    Extreme engineering

    The only parachute manufacture I know of in France is Zodiac Aerospace, part of Safran. A few years ago Zodiac bought Parachutes de France who were working on sport parachutes. However Zodiac now appear to be concentrating on the military market (both round and square chutes). They do development work at Plaisir in the Parisian region.
  5. I guess it comes down to in what country and what DZ you jumped at. (The Pond was a lot bigger then). At then end of my time on rounds I did jump at a DZ with new sport chutes and the landings were considerably softer. I have recently returned to the sport after a 25-year break and it is a lot safer than before. Better kit, doors on planes, RSL, AAD, flight patterns and stricter regulation all play a part. However, even though it is safer the sport still involves jumping out of an aeroplane leaving you with only 60 seconds to live, spending the first 45 seconds playing around and enjoying yourself and only when you have 15 seconds left to live do you start doing something to save your life. If anything goes wrong you only have a handful of seconds to sort it out. I agree the sport is dangerous and pretending it isn't is tempting fate.
  6. neilmck

    Electric jump plane

    A coal/steam powered aeroplane was actually invented in France in 1890 and flew before the Wright brothers. It turned out not be very practical so never got past the demo stage. You can see it at the Musée des Arts et Métiers in Paris: Translated link to French Wiki entry One of the nice ideas in its design is the air-cooled condenser on the steam output allowing the water to be reused.
  7. You can add to that the fact that 30-odd years ago skydiving use to hurt. As a student parachutist one would jump worn out modified ex-World War II C9 round chutes. Every landing felt like someone hitting you with a lump hammer. The pain on every jump helped reinforce that skydiving is dangerous, you need to be careful up there.
  8. neilmck

    DZs in Europe

    My understanding is the French Parachute Association brought in the rule after a "request" from the Minister of Sport to do something to reduce the number of accidents. At the same time rules were brought in regulating low-hook turns so that they are done in a dedicated landing area. While I imagine not everyone is happy about it, I personally have not heard anyone complain about the rule. I used to jump in the UK 25 years ago before I stopped jumping, at the time low-hook turns by inexperienced jumpers were very popular. I started jumping again here in France 3 years ago and on the DZs I jump at, swooping is fairly rare. I don't know if it is the DZs I jump at or if the French just pop down the Alps when they need a thrill and leave swooping to non-mountinous nations.
  9. neilmck

    DZs in Europe

    You can calculate the minimum canopy size you are allowed in France at this link: You need to enter your naked weight (Poid nu) in kg and the number of jumps (saut) you have. For example, if you weigh 85 kg and have 252 jumps your minimum canopy size is 199 square feet.
  10. neilmck

    Getting back into skydiving

    I stopped in 1992 when I got married. 25 years later my daughter wanted to do a tandem, so I decided it was time to restart skydiving again and it would also give me a chance to check out the local DZ to see if it was safe enough to let my daughter jump there. I turned up one Saturday morning at the DZ naively with my old kit and asked the head jumping bean if I could do a jump. I was told no one jumps round reserves any more and my kit was missing some letters like RSL and AAD; he gave me the address of a parachute museum in Strasbourg that I could donate it to . Then he asked an older instructor to explain to me what had changed over the last 25 years and check that I still remembered what to do and in one hour or so I was jumping out of the aeroplane 4 months later my daughter did her tandem and the DZO was happy to let me to follow her out the door. Best ever! Been back for two years now, the oldest jumper on the DZ has just had her 80th birthday, so I reckon I have another 30 years skydiving in front of me.
  11. From 3 to 4 hours each way depending on traffic.. I live near Paris France. The international airports have sucked up the airspace over the last 20 years.