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  1. I am not really sure how you went from “how do I get on jumps with other people that will help me improve my skills” to “how do I get coaches to jump with me for free.” I don’t know of a single coach or instructor who thinks of information alone (i.e. talking about something on the ground while they’re either waiting for the load they’re on or while drinking beer at the end of the day) as a commodity only to be given in exchange for cold hard cash. That’s not the nature of this sport; if I ended up at a dz where this was how it was I’d leave and find somewhere else to jump. Jumps are a different story, because they cost time and money, but again, I don’t think the OP was asking about how to get a coach to do a bunch of jumps with him for free so he could work on specific things. I’m also not a coach (yet), but I’m happy to do two-ways (or three-ways) with freshly A-licensed jumpers, video them, etc. People jumped with me when I was at that point, so I try to give back where I can. To echo the other answers to the OP’s question: at any given weekend at most big drop zones there will be plenty of skydivers with a range of experience and abilities; you’ll probably find people to jump with if you ask! Even if someone has other stuff going on, they might be able to point you in the direction of some other new jumpers that you can do a two or three way belly jump with.
  2. I wouldn’t buy something with that much of a potential difference without at least trying it on (but ideally jumping) it first. If you are sitflying, the leg straps might start to slide down on your legs. Having a freefly bungee should prevent them from sliding all the way off (and you falling out of the rig!), but it’s still not at all pleasant or fun to try to fly like that. Also, it probably will be a lot more difficult to use harness input to fly your canopy (at least, that was my experience).
  3. I jump a Safire 1 and all but one of my openings have been super soft and generally on-heading. I love it. I am loaded fairly light (about 1.12-1.15), but that shouldn’t really affect it. So, not sure what is going on with the OP’s canopy, but in my experience the Safire doesn’t slam people.
  4. “I am writing to inform you that...” is unnecessarily redundant. Obviously you’re writing to inform me of something — I’m reading a letter from you. That said, it doesn’t really annoy me — but it *is* something I consciously avoid when writing letters to others. Then again, being the kid of a journalist/editor, making things as concise and precise as possible has been ingrained in me for most of my life.
  5. This thread is a prime example of why I discuss downsizing with experienced people who I trust and who have actually seen me fly, rather than on dz.com.
  6. I have less time in the sport than you so I'm not sure how valid this is but I'd caution against setting hard deadlines for yourself (i.e. I should be flying a XX square foot canopy by the time I'm at XX jumps, etc). Downsizing isn't a race -- as the saying goes, "it's the journey, not the destination." And that journey will be a lot more fun if you don't hurt yourself. I'm not by any means saying you're going to (so please don't read it like that). Everyone's learning curve is different in this sport. I have no idea where I'll be 100 jumps from now, much less 500. Don't focus so much on the long game that you miss opportunities along the way. Fly the crap out of your current canopy until you're bored with it, and then talk to people about downsizing.
  7. Also, it's fair to say that climbing Everest (or any other 8000m peak, really) represents a pretty elite level of mountaineering that most people will never engage in. I don't know what the skydiving analogy would be, but I do remember them mentioning at Safety Day this year that a significant percentage of the skydiving deaths in 2018 were D-licensed jumpers. It's probably fair to say that with most "adventure sports," the more advanced/technical you get, the lower the margin for error and higher the consequences are. And then there's the "the more times/longer you do something, the more likely it is that eventually, something bad will happen."
  8. I would say if they have student jumpsuits available, use one of them hold off on buying a custom/new one until you figure out what kind of skydiving you want to focus on (freeflying, RW, etc). If you're a bigger dude and you want to do RW jumps, you'll want something with more surface area to slow you down so you can stay with the group. Conversely, if you're pretty small/light, you'll want something pretty form-fitting so you can fall fast enough to keep up with the group. Once you get your license and start jumping with other people of all shapes and sizes, you'll get a feel for how your fall rate is and can make an informed jumpsuit choice at that point
  9. In mountaineering/backcountry skiing people talk about danger and events (usually avalanches, but theoretically it could apply to anything) in terms of both probability and consequence. Almost everything in skydiving would fall under the "high consequence" category, regardless of how rare it is (or who's fault it is -- jumper, packer, another jumper, etc). If two jumpers collide under canopy, (not super common, but it does happen), does it really matter who's fault it was? It's a dangerous, potentially fatal situation for both of them -- including the one who theoretically wasn't at fault. We're all human and none of us are infallible, and you can't really treat real situations involving real humans like some numerical model you whipped up on Mathematica or something.
  10. I don’t think a tandem is necessary before AFF. I went into it with no tandem or tunnel time — if I was to go back and do it all over again I’d do a short tunnel session first, just to be comfortable with what arching feels like in freefall, but wouldn’t do a tandem. That said, if you’re on the fence about whether or not you really want to skydive, and just want to experience freefall without having to worry about doing a bunch of skill things, then sure, do the tandem. But if you’re pretty sure you want to go all the way with it, then it’s not really necessary. Once you get licensed, that $220 will go a lot further
  11. Well, the American Alpine Club publishes “Accidents in North American Mountaineering” annually — though according to that micromort list, saying “skydiving is less dangerous than mountaineering” doesn’t really mean squat. Skydiving is dangerous.
  12. Even with analysis of the Flight Data Recorder from the Ethiopian Airlines flight pending, I'd still be really hesitant to get on a 737 MAX right now. I think a lot of people were willing to dismiss the Lion Air crash due to their less-than-stellar safety record and the information about issues with the MCAS on previous flights that came to light after the crash. "Ok, they made a plane with some software issues, they made those issues public, and a budget carrier chose not to do anything about these. But none of the carriers I fly on would do something like that -- they have their stuff together for sure!" Ethiopian Airlines are much more reputable and have a good safety record, so, unless it turns out to have been caused by a bird flying into the engine or something completely unrelated, the second crash raises the question "Ok what else did they screw up with this? Does the thing they said to do to work around the MCAS issue not actually work? Did they try to do something to fix the MCAS issue and inadvertently cause another software issue?"
  13. I don't think used gear depreciates quite that much, generally, though it depends on how much wear and tear you put on it.
  14. Yeah, in regards to the landings/PLFs -- what was the 190 that you were demoing? Different canopies definitely fly/flare differently -- my no-wind landings were awful until someone told me that the canopy I was using (Pilot 168) was more suited to a two-stage flare. I would say IF you choose to jump the 170, find someone who has flown that particular canopy and ask them about how it flies/flares/etc.