HPC

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  1. Just talked to Chris - the factory's address is still being used. Presumably he checked on the legality since technically the factory is closed.
  2. I spoke with Chris Dales (Parachute Systems owner) yesterday afternoon for over half an hour, and here is the latest on Parachute Systems and their product line and service. The factory in South Africa is closed. Negotiations are ongoing with a possible new manufacturer for the Vortex harness/container that would be made here in the US (thus removing one of the bigger reasons given by US jumpers for not buying the Vortex). However, COVID-19 has greatly slowed the negotiating process. Chris hopes to have Vortex production resumed in the US by year's end but nothing is certain due to the uncertainties of COVID-19 and the negotiating process. There are no current plans to resume Volt and Hurricane main canopy production, at least not in the US. There's a slight chance of production resuming in South Africa at some point in the future but those plans have a lower chance of panning out compared to the resumption of Vortex production. If canopy manufacturing does resume, odds are that the Parachute Systems Decelerator reserve canopy will not be produced - only the Volt and Hurricane main canopies. Their crossbraced canopy was discontinued a couple of years ago according to Chris. Some good news - regarding support for the Vortex and canopies, Chris still has the equipment and materials needed to support spare parts which include but are not limited to reserve free bag and pilot chute, main cutaway, reserve ripcord, and line sets for the main canopies. Presumably this is why their website is still up despite the factory being closed. Later this year I'll try to get an update and if so will post the latest info. Hope this helps.
  3. HPC

    Merger

    Hi Rob, Just off the top of my head, the Vector doesn't offer chest rings (i.e. fully articulated harness), cut-in laterals, and the reserve pin cover flap uses a tuck tab instead of sliding into a slot at the top of the midflap. I would imagine the tuck tab has a plastic sheet in it, and over time and when flexed repeatedly eventually it will crack. I had that happen to the top of my RPC over the course of a few years. Also, the reserve pin cover flap seems excessively long, at least on many rigs I've seen. Cosmetically, it would be nice to have harness stitching covers on the main lift web above the hip rings and where the chest strap is sewn onto the main lift web. On a positive note, I like the magnetic riser covers vs. tuck tab riser covers. Another good point are the secondary riser covers. I'm not saying the Vector is a bad rig, it certainly isn't and that's supported by the fact that UPT is the largest producer of H/Cs in the world. Having said that, I just think there are a few options/features that, when compared to the competition, need updating. Just my personal opinion/preference.
  4. HPC

    Merger

    Hi Rob, I would agree with your assessment of the Javelin. I would also add that its main competitor, the Vector, is overdue for an overhaul and in need of the fourth generation variant as well. It also has dated features that could use an update, including some cosmetic ones. As noted in one of my previous posts, perhaps the impetus for SP buying/merging with RI is to acquire and later on incorporate some or perhaps all of the features unique to the Curv rig into the next generation Javelin rig. Even the Mirage is already on its fourth generation but it would appear (and I could be wrong) that the two H/C leaders (UPT and SP, respectively) seem to be resting on their laurels and continuing to produce rigs that haven't had any significant updates in too many years. Just a personal observation. Mike
  5. HPC

    Merger

    It's Rigging Innovations' name for their MARD device. What's a MARD? It stands for main-assisted reserve deployment. If you cut away a malfunctioned main canopy the main, as it's being cut away, acts like a reserve deployment system and deploys the reserve. Usually it's faster than the jumper and can make the difference during low-altitude cutaways. Very popular option these days. I'm sure I will be corrected if needed but the MARD is coupled with an RSL (reserve static line) in which a lanyard attached to the main risers will pull the reserve container pin (almost always quicker than the jumper can) to open the reserve container, and the cutaway main will then act as a reserve pilot chute and extract the reserve free-bag from the reserve container, usually faster than the reserve pilot chute can since the malfunctioned main is already creating (usually more) drag and separating from the jumper. Corrections welcomed.
  6. HPC

    Merger

    Yeeeee - ah, baby!! Maybe Sun Path wants to steal RI's mojo!
  7. HPC

    Merger

    The two biggest questions I have are: 1. What is the long-term future for the Curv rig, RI's flagship product? Will it still be produced five years down? Ten years? Fifteen? 2. What is Sun Path's motivation behind purchasing or merging with RI? Is it to eliminate a competitor over time? Or is it to acquire some of the innovative features that are currently exclusive to the Curv, such as the bio-yoke, bio-curv, and grommetless main flap closure system (among other features)? Perhaps this is a precursor to a new generation Javelin rig that may incorporate some or all of the unique features currently available only on the Curv. It may take some years before the truth comes out.
  8. HPC

    Merger

    So it looks like we're in agreement about the Curv's long-term prospects.
  9. HPC

    Merger

    Sale, merger - call it what you wish. My point (and feeling) is that in ten years the Curv won't be in production. Of course, I'm not privy to the contract details so I can't say for certain. No doubt the "merger" contract will specify continued spare parts and support for the Curv for years to come (I would guess at least twenty). It may even specify continued Curv production for a period of time. But after that - who knows. The Q&A gave the same answer to most of the questions: everything will remain the same for the foreseeable future. Very little was actually answered but no surprise there as it's much too early for SP to show its cards. I see this "merger" as a long-term win-win-lose proposition. A win for Sandy and Brenda who get a well-deserved retirement, a win for SP who will get whatever it is they want out of RI, and a long-term loss for anyone who was looking at buying a Curv down the road. That's just my gut feeling. Hopefully I'm wrong, in part because the Curv is in my top three list of favorite rigs. BTW, I think UPT is number one, followed by SP in rig production. I think UPT has around 150 employees to SP's 70-75. Since both companies only produce H/Cs it would stand to reason that UPT produces more rigs. If not then either UPT is very inefficient or SP is very efficient, or both. Just curious - how difficult was it for you to keep this secret?
  10. HPC

    Merger

    Sale, merger - call it what you wish. My point (and feeling) is that in ten years the Curv won't be in production. Of course, I'm not privy to the contract details so I can't say for certain. No doubt the "merger" contract will specify continued spare parts and support for the Curv for years to come (I would guess at least twenty). It may even specify continued Curv production for a period of time. But after that - who knows. The Q&A gave the same answer to most of the questions: everything will remain the same for the foreseeable future. Very little was actually answered but no surprise there as it's much too early for SP to show its cards. I see this "merger" as a long-term win-win-lose proposition. A win for Sandy and Brenda who get a well-deserved retirement, a win for SP who will get whatever it is they want out of RI, and a long-term loss for anyone who was looking at buying a Curv down the road. That's just my gut feeling. Hopefully I'm wrong, in part because the Curv is in my top three list of favorite rigs. BTW, I think UPT is number one, followed by SP in rig production. I think UPT has around 150 employees to SP's 70-75. Since both companies only produce H/Cs it would stand to reason that UPT produces more rigs. If not then either UPT is very inefficient or SP is very efficient, or both. Just curious - how difficult was it for you to keep this secret?
  11. HPC

    Merger

    As you said, the Curv and Javelin are quite different in their design philosophies which makes me wonder why Sandy decided to sell to SP. Perhaps he felt that the basic differences between the two systems is what might keep both rigs in production. After all, it wouldn't make sense for SP to continue producing two similarly-designed rigs. What remains to be seen is whether or not SP will advertise the Curv and if so to what extent compared to Javelin advertising. And if Curv sales remain low compared to Javelin sales will they continue to market the Curv? I wonder if Sandy would have done more to ensure the Curv's long-time survival in the rig market had he first tried to sell the company and keeping it alive as its own entity instead of going for the merger (I.e. sale) with the second largest manufacturer of H/Cs. Maybe they bought out RI so that they could incorporate some of the Curvs many design features and innovations into a future Javelin update without having to pay royalties. I guess only the SP owners know the true motivation behind their decision to buy out RI. As you said, they didn't have to do it. I guess ultimately only time will reveal that.
  12. HPC

    Merger

    I'm skeptical about the continued production of one of the products (hint coming up). Usually when one company takes over another, the products and/or service, and subsequently most of the employees, of the company being taken over are phased out over the course of several years. Not trying to start anything here, but this has been my observation and has been proven time and time again, and in many different industries.
  13. The 500D may be softer but it doesn't wear as well. Wear spots will appear sooner. My first rig was made from 500D cordura.
  14. I understand what you're saying and agree, but most of the ideas and suggestions I've mentioned in this thread really only apply to the Racer, since that rig deviates more from the rest of the rig manufacturers. However, if I come up with an idea that I don't see on any rigs then I would definitely approach the other manufacturers first, as I feel that my idea would at least be given some thought and examined to determine its viability by almost all other manufacturers - except PL. As has been mentioned in other threads regarding the management at PL, it seems that only those ideas that are generated internally are taken seriously. Just my impression, anyway. What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right.
  15. If this is indeed the primary reason the Lolon cables are turning black and need regular cleaning, has any rig manufacturer put anything on their website that recommends jumpers have the inside of their cutaway housings cleaned? Seems like a no-brainer to me. I'll ask about this the next time I talk to someone at RI, or maybe I'll message them via FB. Thanks. Actually, I'd love to see how the Racer is built and see if some of the ideas I have are viable. There's really no reason why PL can't make several changes to the rig that would put it more in line with all the other rigs without taking a step back in safety. For example, if they cleaned their cable housings and lined them with a flexible insert with a low friction coefficient then they could probably either eliminate the need to clean the cables monthly, or at least reduce the need to clean them to once every six months (so that they could be cleaned during the reserve repack cycle). This would allow them to return to Lolon cables instead of the Teflon cables that have had their own issues. I also have an idea for a single-pin design that would make the two-pin cutter optional for those willing to pay extra for cutter redundancy. It would also make the loop adjustment so that it could be sealed, meaning someone would have to break the seal to readjust the loop. And if it were up to me I would go back to offering a standard free bag as an option. I would also offer a MARD, either design their own or look at the various designs introduced by other rig manufacturers and license the one that is the one they believe to be the best and is also economical to license. There's really no reason why they can't make several changes that would eliminate every reason people have made for not buying their rig. Most of them would not require major changes. The only one that would require major changes is the one that would address its dated look. And let's face it, that's the least important criteria (or at least it should be) when deciding on what rig to buy. Someone correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't it PL that used to have ads going as far back as the 1980s saying something along the lines of "when you're going through a grand with nothing out, having pretty gear is your last concern?" The external RPC design itself has its merits and shouldn't be abandoned. What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right.
  16. What was the company's response to the Nova problem? What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right.
  17. On looking at it again it looks more like a Vortex, a little less like a Wings. What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right.
  18. Mike Furry (frequently misspelled on the forum as Fury) owned Django Enterprises in Chamblee, GA for several years. They made five main and one reserve sport canopies at the time they lost a patent infringement lawsuit with ParaFlite regarding the direct line attachment method, which shut them down on November 22, 1983, I believe. After the lawsuit the company was renamed Flight Path International and I believe it was mostly his then-wife Lucia's company, with Mike on board as either advisor, or maybe design engineer. They also renamed all of the canopies after coming out with the flare line attachment method. Flight Path was sold (I don't know which year), and later Mike left canopy manufacturing for harness/container production. Just my guess but possibly the fiasco with the Nova main canopy might have been the impetus to change from canopies to rigs. He co-designed the Javelin H/C. At some point he sold that and started Altico which produced the Dolphin rig. It was built to provide a no (or low) bells-and-whistles, economic rig for jumpers looking for a new, custom rig but at a much more affordable price. He sold that company at some point to the company which I believe today produces the Glide H/C, but the company name became Peregrine Manufacturing, Inc. After he sold Altico I believe he retired or perhaps got into another line of work. I haven't heard what happened to him after he sold Altico. I met him at the 1983 Freakbrother Convention in Freeport, IL. Great guy, very personable. I sometimes wonder how Django would have done had it not been shut down by the courts. I don't think the success of Glide Path ever matched that of Django. It would have been interesting to see how Django and PD would have done in head-to-head competition. Before PD I think that Django was the Boeing of canopy manufacturers. For those few years they dominated the sport canopy market with excellent canopies: 7-cell Pegasus (220'), 7-cell Firefly (172'), 9-cell LR-288 (288' - basically a 9-celled Pegasus), 9-cell Dragonfly (220' - a 9-celled Firefly), and their final main which was also my first square, the 168 sq. ft. 9-celled Bandit (that's the Bandit in my profile pic). This canopy started the trend of the small 9-cell which continues to this day. Even John LeBlanc at PD credits the Bandit as the first small 9-cell that started the trend. They also produced a reserve version of the Firefly. My guess is that had they stayed in business they would have eventually produced a Pegasus reserve - but that's just my guess. Not only did their canopies outperform the competition but they were very competitively priced. If I remember correctly, before Mike got into parachute equipment manufacturing he was a studio musician - I don't remember what he played. I had heard a rumor that Django derived its name from the first letter of each of his kids' names, but Mike told me, if memory serves me correctly, that it was named after a jazz musician, perhaps Django Reinhardt. I welcome any corrections/additions as this is all from memory which isn't quite what it used to be. So to answer your question, in my opinion, yes, Mike did contribute a lot to the sport. What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right.
  19. I'm looking at a pic of a custom Reflex that a (now-deceased) friend used to jump and it has the reversed risers - was this standard or an option on the Reflex? What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right.
  20. Geez, Jerry, I'll bet you know the names of their spouses and kids too! You got that all written down or is that all from memory? But have you noticed that the Fire looks just like a Mirage, right down to the "alien insect" logo? What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right.
  21. Has anyone complained about the Reflex's adjustable loop the way they have the Racer's? What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right.
  22. Actually, a lot of jumpers never get past the Racer's looks to give it serious consideration. Check out LeeroyJenkins' post of 1-6 post #92. I've also seen comments on other threads regarding the dated look of the Racer. But your other comments I've already alluded to in my post of 1-5 post #84 when I mention that a lot of jumpers just buy what everyone else buys - the herd mentality. I think part of the reason is because it saves them a lot of research time. They figure that the majority can't be wrong. Or perhaps they're just afraid to be the first one on their DZ with a rig that no one else there is jumping. Question: Is the Reflex's adjustable reserve loop adjustable without breaking the seal like the Racer's? What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right.
  23. You bring up a valid point. What will happen to the Racer once John and Nancy have left? Look at the Reflex - nobody has shown any interest in picking it up. Not only does it have a poptop, but it adheres more to industry standards with a single pin reserve, Lolon cutaway cables, reserve closing loop that's not adjustable post-pack (to the best of my knowledge) and standard reserve freebag - all of the things that jumpers and riggers complain about on the Racer. And except for the poptop the container looks more like most rigs as well, particularly the midflap and main container configuration (which resembles a Javelin or Infinity), eliminating the "old look" that younger jumpers complain about on the Racer. I have to wonder about the Racer's chances of survival in the rig market after the John/Nancy era ends. What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right.
  24. Until they make changes to the rig to make it more appealing to jumpers (and riggers) there really isn't much point in updating the website. Both are in need of an overhaul. First update the rig, then update the website to advertise the changes. What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right.
  25. Agree 100% from a technical standpoint. From a marketing standpoint, more jumpers want MARDs on their rigs than those that don't. It's just poor marketing not to offer one. Another Racer deviation from the industry standard. I believe PL uses the red teflon cables because they don't require monthly cleaning like the Lolon cables need. In their effort to create a maintenance-free cable, they introduced a new possible failure mode that is probably more detrimental than not cleaning one's cables. While dirty Lolon cables might cause a harder pull than normal, a cracked teflon cable might hang up completely and cause a more severe issue for the jumper to deal with. As I've already mentioned with the speedbag the Lolon cables have proven themselves by every other rig manufacturer. I'd bet that most jumpers don't clean their cables every month as they should, yet how many cutaway issues have been attributed to dirty cables? It doesn't do any good when in trying to address one issue the "fix" creates a (potentially) even worse one. What's right isn't always popular and what's popular isn't always right.