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mbohu last won the day on November 23

mbohu had the most liked content!

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  1. I find that there are 2 different types of coaches and prices/business models connected to them: 1. USPA coaches, who, at least at the DZs I know, mostly work with new jumpers. At my home DZ you are actually required to jump with a coach after your AFF is complete, and before you have your A-License. You pay the DZ for these jumps and the coaches get paid by the DZ. These are people with a USPA coach rating, and they may have as few as 200 jumps (or many more). There are generally 2 reasons these coaches do what they do: a) They just like teaching and find it interesting to jump with newbies and challenge their skills that way, and they like being able to do some jumps and get paid a little. b) They want to get an AFF Instructor rating and become a professional skydiver, and this is a great way to get their jump numbers up quickly (which they need for the instructor rating) and make a little money on the side while doing lots of skydiving. These kinds of coaches may do some personal coached jumps that you pay them directly for, but at my DZ that is actually quite rare. They certainly don't rely on that for their primary income. (And since jump-numbers and skill levels vary greatly, you'd want to know a bit more about that specific coach, other than that they have a coach rating) 2. Coaches, who get paid to coach competitive skydiving teams (4-way, 8-way, VFS, etc). They are usually competitive skydivers themselves. They MAY have ratings (USPA-coach, Instructor, etc) but they may NOT have any official USPA ratings at all. Nevertheless they are usually VERY MUCH worth their fees, as their experience comes from their own participation in competitive skydiving. They may coach in the air, in the tunnel, or (most likely) both. They set their own rates and, as much as I can tell, usually charge more than a regular USPA coach would charge to jump with you at the DZ. Their coaching also includes much more than just the jumps (and they may not jump with you at all, but coach on the ground and do video reviews, etc.)--and sometimes you can get some time/advice from them for free. Count yourself extra-lucky, if you do--and show your gratitude however you can (at a minimum, with your attitude towards them! ) Everything else, I have found so far (and at my level and in my locality,) you CAN get without paying for in hard cash--and I don't think that is a problem for either category of coaches--and it makes our sport a welcoming place for anyone wanting to learn more (and builds new friendships as a side benefit.)
  2. The one thing I would say: Depending on the culture at your DZ in Spain, you should be able to get on some good belly jumps with more experienced jumpers, where you can definitely learn something. At my DZ, many moderately experienced jumpers (300+ jumps) are happy to jump with beginners, as long as they feel you are safe, because it can be quite fun and definitely beats jumping alone, when we're not there with a group or team. Some are even coaches and are happy to jump with you (either for free, or may ask you to just pay for their jump ticket) As far as freeflying goes: I can't imagine getting even half decent at freeflying, unless you pay for some coached time at the tunnel (a few hours at least.) Well, you could put up a tent at the DZ and jump every single day, all day long--and you'd still need someone to teach you or at least fly relative to you. In my experience, to really learn how to freefly without serious tunnel time would be VERY challenging. As for angle flying: No matter if you pay or find someone who does it for free, this discipline can be very dangerous if you don't start it the right way. Start with very small groups 2-3 max. Resist going on jumps with others at your skill level for quite a while. 2 people who don't know what they are doing, in the same group makes it really easy to have some serious collisions. Lastly: As a passionate belly-flyer (who also likes freeflying, tracking/angle, etc.--but knows he isn't any good at that yet) I want to say: Take some time to become proficient at belly flying. Be able to dive to a formation and approach it safely. Be able to nail some linked exits. Be able to stay close and on level with a group. Then go ahead and do all the other crazy jumps you want to do. Don't become one of those jumpers who calls himself a freeflier, has over 400 jumps and, when going on a "hybrid jump" with a couple belly fliers, just tumbles out of the airplane, falls below the group or right on top of them, and makes everyone wonder: "What did you do for your last 400 jumps???"
  3. mbohu

    Packing tool

    This makes me wonder which brands of rigs each of you have. I found that there is a big difference in how tension for the closing loop works, depending on where the bottom of the loop is attached. Most rigs have it on the bottom flap, I believe, while others have it on the top wall of the packing tray. In the first case all the tension comes only from the tension the flaps themselves exert (which comes from the pressure of the bag against the walls of the packing tray.) In that case the loop is quite short and there isn't much range between way too tight and way too loose. In the second case, the closing loop also goes around part of the deployment bag and some of the pressure comes directly from the bag pushing against the loop. The closing loop is much longer in this case, and there is some range of length that exerts sufficient pressure. My rig is of the second kind, and I have only occasional experience in packing the other kind, but it seems to me that could be part of the difference you seem to describe (the other part could be how much strength you have in your thumb! )
  4. Cool! I started with AFF at 50 and at 53 am 350 jumps in, participated at my first nationals in 4-way and didn't even place dead last. PLF on your first 20 landings, find a canopy that you like and trust (consistent soft openings would be a good primary criteria) and don't listen to all that "downsizing" talk. --that's about all the advice I have! Oh, and being a bit older may make you less strapped on the $$$ issue, so you can have someone pack your chute when you want to keep up with younger jumpers trying to get on a 20 minute call after landing!
  5. Well, interestingly (not sure if on purpose) neilmck (10th post down) showed a way to delete a post: Simply edit out all the content, except for a period. (this may be frowned upon--but seems technically possible) Of course, now it's somewhat too late, as yobnoc quoted the complete original post 2 posts further down, which can't be deleted, except by him.
  6. mbohu

    Diff between RW & Competition jumpsuits

    I would echo Wendy's advice--although I have to admit I did not quite follow it myself in the beginning. If you just got your A-License, or are still working on getting it, you do not know enough about your own skydiving to be likely to get the right suit. It's not about knowing anything special about skydiving in general, but it's about knowing what kind of skydives YOU want to do, who YOU are jumping with, what your ongoing challenges may be (falling too fast, falling too slow), and so on. RW (or competition) suits will have booties, which are useful (almost required) if you want to do serious 4-way, 8-way or big-way RW--but they certainly aren't necessary to join others on belly jumps and even get on some jumps with more serious organizers (they'd probably be more concerned with grippers, but even those aren't usually necessary) On the other hand, if you also want to try some freeflying, the booties will for sure get in the way (I still have to try to sit-fly with my belly-suit, some day! I'm sure it's fun!) See, if you can get a cheap used suit (maybe with some grippers if you want to do RW, and of a size that helps you with freefall speeds (large and baggy, if you usually fall below the group, tight and slick, if you usually float above them) That should take you through the next 99 jumps. By that time you may know more. Congrats for starting at 50--that's when I started, so I think that's an ideal age for starting to skydive!
  7. Unless you are doing high-performance turns, I would also say that an altimeter for judging turns in the pattern isn't really necessary. I think it's much better to train your eye to judge altitude and turns in the pattern. Get used to what it means for your ground speed during landing at a given wind strength, when you turn higher or lower onto final, and how to do turns that do or do not loose a lot of altitude. I think this is done best visually (and carefully), and not by reading altitude off an altimeter. Personally, I use an analog altimeter (because I feel that the needle gives me a much better sense of altitude during freefall--altitude is an analog phenomena, after all, and I feel it cuts out one intermediate step where my brain has to convert a number into a "delta" function...but I'm sure others would disagree, and of course there are digital altimeters with a needle readout, which are more accurate). Since the analog altimeter isn't very useful in the pattern, I use at least one audible low speed alarm at 700 ft. which lets me know exactly where I am during the pattern. I don't use that alarm to start a specific turn (I may be in my downwind leg, just start it, or have turned to the base leg, depending on wind conditions and many other factors, but I like getting confirmation of how high I really am, and it helped me hone my visual sense of altitude.) Now, in special situations (night jumps, etc.) I may have additional low altitude alerts (at 1000 and 300 ft, for example) to make up for the reduced visual reference (I still don't use them as a signal that I have to start a specific turn, just to know where I am.) So, in conclusion: If you don't have an audible, I'd definitely buy that first.
  8. DZs being harassed and/or shut down by 1. residents (usually just 1 vocal or rich resident worried about real estate values, in a community of 100,000+) 2. Airport Management 3. fire marshals
  9. Everything that everyone else said...and: 1. If you can jump with a group of (at least slightly) more experienced jumpers, let them make you the base. That means you get out first (or do a 2-way linked exit) and they come to you. Then you can focus on doing a formation and staying with it and even turn some points. That will tremendously increase your confidence and teach some basic skills, like keeping the fall-rate aligned with the rest of the group, flying your slot when in the formation, not immediately building up tremendous horizontal distance as soon as you let go of your grips, etc. At this point it's only frustrating to focus on diving to a formation. I'd say that is an advanced skill and not that important right now. Let them dive to you. If you're usually falling faster, and the group has any common sense, you should be the base anyway. (You should never have to try to fly up to the formation. They always should come down to you!) 2. If you can, use your tunnel time wisely. What helped me the most was an actual 2-way belly league, where we competed in 2-way formations in the tunnel. If no one organizes such a league in your area, simply find a friend with similar (or better) skills, go to https://www.tunnelflight.com/competitions/draw-generator , create some 2-way draws and see how many points you can do in a 2-minute segment. If you keep doing that, you'll be surprised how much you will improve (of course, if a coach can watch you and give you tips, that will be even much better!) 3. Look for any opportunity to get some serious 4-way training: Skydive Arizona has a "Rookie Roundup" twice a year for newer jumpers (under 200) where you can fly with some of the world's best; or find a beginner 4-way camp, etc. Like everyone said: At 100 jumps and with your infrequent jumping schedule, you shouldn't be expecting to be much further ahead...YET!!!!
  10. mbohu

    Softest opening canopy

    Are you sure there isn't something else going wrong? I've had my Spectre for close to 200 jumps and my last jump was the first hard opening I ever had on it (and I'm pretty sure I know what went wrong, as I had to pack real quickly between 2 night jumps, wearing my jump suit with tons of lights taped to it, and even while packing I thought: "this doesn't feel right") On all other jumps the openings were super soft and always completely straight and controlled.
  11. mbohu

    Downsizing as a student

    The big bold number represents the average size and the small number in parenthesis is the minimum. So the smallest is about a 210, not 230. I was a bit over 250lb exit weight and they had me start out on a 300, so the chart doesn't really seem that conservative.
  12. mbohu

    Downsizing as a student

    Well, personally I would not buy a canopy, before I have jumped that particular canopy. Why buy something that you think you will be "ready for" at some future time? There are many different types of canopies (apart from the size consideration) and if you haven't jumped them, how would you know that you will like how that canopy behaves? I would recommend starting to try out different canopies when you're at the size that you will want to own for a while, and then purchase the kind of canopy that you like best. That's what I did. Of course, it may be that I am privileged to have a dropzone that had a few rental canopies as well as a guy who was renting various types in my area, but between DZs with rental gear, private renters, other jumpers and manufacturer's demo programs, it should be possible to at least try a few canopies before deciding to buy one, no? I tried a PD Storm, PD Sabre 2 and PD Spectre--all in the same size--and after jumping them it was very clear to me that I liked the Spectre and would not have been happy with the Sabre 2 (which pretty much everyone else around me was jumping.) There was no way I could have made that decision accurately if all I had jumped before were student Navigators.
  13. mbohu

    Container comparison

    I recently actually spoke to a rigger that pointed out one subtle advantage in one feature of the Vortex, when I asked him about downsizing and keeping my current rig: The Vortex has the attachment point of the closing loop at the back wall of the container, so when you close the container, the closing loop stretches over (and compresses the middle of) the D-bag first, before it goes through any of the flaps. This means that the D-Bag puts additional tension on the loop. This should make it generally less problematic to have a slightly smaller than ideal main canopy in the container--when compared to a rig that has the closing loop attached to the top of the container--because in the latter case the only tension comes from the flaps themselves, and if the D-bag is not pushing against them enough, there isn't enough tension. He showed me this and it made sense. (The Vortex isn't the ONLY rig with this arrangement, but it's one of few) It's just interesting because that is a detail, I would never really have considered otherwise.
  14. mbohu

    Container comparison

    I'm certainly no expert, but this sounds more like prejudice to me. Sure, I love my Vortex, and sure, I've not jumped other rigs that much (and the ones I have jumped weren't custom-sized for my body, so it's not surprising they didn't feel as good) But: I've seen and talked to a number of hard-core jumpers, many of them competitive jumpers, who jump Vortexes and not one of them had anything bad to say about their containers. Certainly never heard the words "cheap knock-off" applied to them. (See also various threads here on these containers. Never really see anyone say anything bad about them...)
  15. mbohu


    Stand up landings will come. A canopy course (probably after you completed AFF) will help. Personally, I think it's wise to not try to stand up your landings at first, unless it seems like you're coming in just right. If you take a course, you'll probably change how you're landing anyway. As for the ride up: Take what everyone is saying and combine it into a nice, consistent pre-jump routine: I do this on EVERY jump: 2-3 (or more if it's a complex jump) mental walk-throughs of the jump with eyes closed (include the exit, and canopy-stuff, if you're planning to do specific things under canopy); Relaxing breathing exercise (once or twice): I take a deep breath in through my nose, hold it for a specific count, then release it through the mouth all the way to empty, then hold at empty just a little bit; as I'm letting the breath go I can feel my shoulders relax more (I actually do a sort of mantra in my head, instead of a count--the words "safety" and "gratitude" are part of it...that's just me ) Do 2 gear-check/practice touches run-throughs; At somewhere between 6k and 10k I put my gloves on, helmet on (if not on already) put the visor down & back up (to check it's clear); the rest of the time I joke around or just relax and enjoy the scenery. The consistency of the routine really helps (professional golfers do that too before every shot...) As for how relaxed I want to be: In 4-way FS we call it "On the line"; "over the line" would be too tense; but you don't want to be so relaxed that you're not paying attention and ready to respond in every fraction of a second. Anyway, I think most of this comes automatically if you keep jumping and want to get better and pay attention. Blue Skies!