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  1. I haven't posted or even lurked on these forums for a number of years, but I was inspired to share a quick note today. My name is Scott Miller. A couple of decades ago I started something called The Canopy School at Skydive DeLand, which became the Freedom of Flight Canopy School. Later, in collaboration with some awesome gentlemen from the PD Factory Team, that canopy school was transformed into Flight-1. I've been away from the skydiving world for a while, but I still stay in touch with some old skydiving friends and visit DeLand from time to time. I'm always impressed to see what Flight-1 has become thanks to all of the work that Ian, Shannon, and the rest of the crew have done. Back when I was teaching my canopy courses, students would always fill out a registration form at the start of the day. For all of these years, I've had all of those forms sitting in a couple of boxes in a closet. It always seemed worthwhile to keep them around, but yesterday I decided to run them through a scanner so I can finally get rid of the paper copies. Looking through all of those forms—almost 3,000 of them, from 8 years worth of canopy courses—brought back a lot of memories and emotions. It's hard to describe what it was like to look back at all of the DZs that I visited and to see some of the peoples' names on the forms. There was one feeling that percolated to the top, though. Above all else, I felt very, very grateful. I was, and still am, grateful for everyone who supported me and believed in what I was doing back then. I'm grateful for all of the jumpers who signed up and attended my courses. I'm grateful to the DZOs who invited me to come teach at their drop zones. I'm grateful for the local jumpers who did all of the planning, organizing, and coordinating to make the camps happen at their DZs. I'm grateful for the manifestors, managers, and everyone else who made all the moving parts fit together during the courses. I'm grateful for the pilots who flew extra passes at 5000' even though it's extra work, and who were willing to drop people way the hell upwind when we did the "long spot practice" jump at the end of the day. I'm grateful to Bob Hallett for supporting this whole project from the very beginning, and throughout. I'm grateful to all of the Relative Work School, Freedom of Flight School, and Flight-1 coaches with whom I had the honor of working and collaborating. I'm grateful to John LeBlanc for teaching me most of what I know about how canopies really, actually work. Gratitude is powerful. Taking a few moments to be grateful for someone or something—to think and feel a deep, genuine sense of gratitude—can bring so much joy into our lives and put things in a very different perspective. If I could go back in time, back to when I was a kid or even when I first started jumping, and pass myself a note, it would say, "be grateful for the people you have in your life and for the time that you have with them." That's why I'm here today. To share something that I'm very grateful for, and to pass you that note. Be grateful for what you have in your life. Be grateful for the people in your life and for the time that you have with them. Take some time every day to think about what you are grateful for: in skydiving, but also in other parts of your life. Practice a little gratitude every day, and watch it transform your life. Thank you for letting me share this with you today. BSBD Scott
  2. Shake your groove thing, big man! I want to see you in your mumu on the Regis and Kelly show! - Scott
  3. As long as the locking stows remain in place the canopy will stay in the bag until line stretch even if the other stows "dump" prematurely or are free-stowed. You already completely agreed with VTmotoMike08 about this point, didn't you? I believe you also addressed this in your first post: That's why I've specifically been using the term "bag strip" during this discussion rather than "line dump."
  4. Your experience jumping the FX without brakes stowed certainly gives you reason to be skeptical of manufacturers' recommendations, or at least that particular recommendation. Did you really follow it without question, though? Or did you think it over beforehand and decide to follow the recommendation anyway? I'm not saying we should follow anyone's advice without question. I've given careful consideration to PD's recommendations regarding line stow tension and length, and believe they are based on sound theory, supported by thorough testing, and reinforced by feedback from jumpers in the field. I might not be concerned if this was simply a discussion about the benefits vs. risks of double-wrapping. As you pointed out, there are other ways to make tight stows and if someone prefers one of those alternate methods that's fine. I just question how some people can be so thoroughly convinced that the original poster did not experience line dump / bag strip. I also wonder why only one other person addressed the issue of short line stows. A bag lock is a serious malfunction, but hard openings seem far more common. Even the exceptionally hard openings that result in equipment damage or injury seem to occur more frequently than bag locks of any sort. There are some convincing arguments supporting the idea that hard openings can be caused by bag strip, and I'd rather risk a slim chance of having to chop a bag lock compared to the risk of being knocked out under a damaged canopy.
  5. Just to be clear, the information in my last post about double-wrapping was in reference to using standard rubber line stow bands on sport rigs. Also, I personally use large rubber bands most of the time. I don't double-wrap stows on tandems and I believe that UPT specifically recommends against it. I have seen one bag lock on a sport rig that appeared to be caused by double-wrapping, but the jumper was not using standard rubber bands. Can you provide more information about the bag lock you mentioned on the sport rig? Standard rubber bands? Large or small? Size and condition of pilot chute? Was the bag actually found with a "stuck" line stow? Any video of the opening? I've heard one or two other people say they've seen this happen, and use that as an argument against double-wrapping, but I'm not convinced there weren't other factors involved in those cases.
  6. The difference you mention between line dump and bag strip is technically valid and accurate, but since bag strip involves line dump on the locking stows it's probably reasonable to use either term in most discussions of main pack jobs. It could depend on whether you wish to emphasize the cause or effect. About a year and a half ago I saw a video that clearly showed this. The owner of the video offered to make a copy after he landed from his next jump. Unfortunately the tape did not get cued up properly before that jump and the video was erased. I was devastated. There might be numerous other videos out there showing bag strip, but unfortunately it can be hard to recognize. In the video mentioned above the bag strip occurred just before the bag left the top of the frame. If the videographer had been a few feet closer it might simply have looked like a hard opening with no clearly discernible cause. Even during a normal deployment, the time elapsed from pilot chute release to the d-bag opening might only be 0.5 seconds (15 frames of NTSC video). By it's very nature, bag strip could reduce this time even more. If you don't analyze the video frame-by-frame the bag strip might easily be missed. The video I saw had already been reviewed a number of times by several very experienced jumpers who had not recognized the bag strip. It doesn't surprise me that no one has fulfilled your request, although it's unfortunate. I would love to see another example on video, too! But for the reasons I just mentioned, a lack of such video doesn't necessarily tell us much about how often bag strip occurs. Bag strip can cause that type of catastrophic damage, but the severity of the effects might be influenced by exactly how far the bag is from the end of the lines when the canopy dumps out: if the canopy is closer to the jumper when the bag strip occurs it will have more time to inflate before reaching the end of the lines, with potentially more devastating effects. In the video I saw the bag strip occurred relatively close to the end of the lines, and the opening was extremely hard but did not cause injury or equipment damage. As with anything else, there are variables involved and varying degrees of effects. People sometimes describe a quick inflation, where the canopy comes out of the bag normally then goes "whack!" But I've often heard people describe an "instant opening," where the canopy seems to open hard and fast immediately after releasing the pilot chute. Doesn't bag strip seem the most likely explanation for these cases where there's a dramatically reduced time between P/C release and snatch force? That could possibly be a result of bag strip. If the canopy leaves the bag prematurely it probably won't remain neatly on heading while it reaches the end of the lines and inflates. I recognize there are differing opinions about this, but it should be noted that the manufacturer of the canopy in question recommends double-wrapping if necessary to ensure that the stows are tight enough, particularly the locking stows. I've made thousands of jumps with all stows double-wrapped on a wide variety of canopies, including test jumps for that particular manufacturer where the openings were videotaped and analyzed. Many other jumpers and professional packers double-wrap all stows and consider it an important step in minimizing the risk of hard openings. There are also a significant number of people who have eliminated problems with hard openings by double-wrapping their stows. The most effective way to help someone eliminate opening problems is to actually look over their gear with them and then see how it is being packed. Without being able to do this, the first and best piece of advice we can give is to make sure all manufacturer's recommendations are being followed. Mmittelman, you said up front that you usually make your stows short, only 1.5". PD believes that short stows promote line dump and specifically state this in their packing instructions. Your first course of action should simply be to make your line stows between 2.5" and 3" as they recommend, and see if that helps. For more info see
  7. I started skydiving in the era when AADs were still awkward and less reliable, and even after the Cypres became available I made a few thousand jumps without one. A number of those jumps were spent catching spinning AFF students with nothing to protect my cranium except hard-earned skills and a soft leather frap hat. Even without an AAD watching over me, I cheerfully participated in four-ways, eight-ways, and bigger dives that I suspected were going to be complete zoo loads. On the other hand, I've made a few thousand jumps on rigs that were equipped with modern AADs and don't have any tenacious objections to wearing one. Like others who have replied here I can think of at least one friend who was saved by an AAD. I also mourned the loss of a good friend who died because an AAD fired when it wasn't expected to. Making a significant number of jumps without an AAD, particularly when first starting out in the sport, gives someone a different appreciation for the phrase "after you leave the airplane you are dead unless YOU take some positive action." I'm not sure I would have the same appreciation for that concept, or that I would have developed that appreciation as early in my skydiving career, if every one of my jumps had been made with an AAD. People who always jump with an AAD can make a number of very good arguments to support their decisions, and the decision to jump without an AAD is most certainly a serious choice, but the decision to jump with one should be given equally serious consideration. AADs dramatically reduce some risks but increase others and can introduce new complications. These days when someone chooses to jump without an AAD you might find it perfectly reasonable to question that person's decision and scrutinize their motives. Are you just as willing to thoroghly scrutinize someone's decision to jump with an AAD, or even more importantly, your own?
  8. I agree that being a skydiver doesn't make any of us a better person than anyone else on the planet. A good attitude and kind heart are much more meaningful than the length of your last swoop or the number of years you've been in the sport. But you must be a fast learner, dude! I had to do a lot more than just fall out of an airplane 70 times before I really understood that concept!
  9. The Kestrel wind meters are turbine-type (little fan blades). I've also used the cup-type. I've never played with one of the Radio Shack units that Winsor mentioned but they sound pretty interesting - especially if they work well and are reasonably priced. All kidding aside, I don't see anything wrong with your desire to get your own wind meter and check the winds in the landing area, particularly since the DZ doesn't have one available. It can be a great learning tool, especially if you also pay attention to the other things people have mentioned like flags, windsocks, and trees, along with the feel and sound of the wind. Soon you'll be able to relate the effects of the wind to a certain wind speed you've measured on the meter, and probably won't need the meter as much. But everyone learns differently, and some people just want to see a number!
  10. Don't you feel special because you skydive? You're unique, part of an elite group. You're participating in an extreme sport, going against the grain instead of conforming and following the norm. Most skydivers feel that way to some degree, don't we? Why does that all change when we get to the DZ? Why do so many of us instantly turn into 8th graders, obsessed with "fitting in" and "being cool," totally paranoid about what everyone else thinks? I suggest you go to one of those girly fashion stores at the mall and buy a small bag covered in neon blue fur to use as a carrying case for your wind meter. Wear it around your neck at all times when you are not jumping, and check the winds frequently. Remember, you might have to stand out there for a while to read the peak gusts. If someone laughs at you, who cares? You're a skydiver! You have blood of ice and nerves of steel! Enthusiastically give them some s**t right back! And don't forget to feel completely vindicated when a student, instructor, or the most experienced jumper on the DZ comes up to you and asks you what the wind was doing the last time you checked. BTW, I own a couple of wind meters and the Kestrel is my favorite. I don't have a good case for it, though, so let me know if you find a store that has those furry blue bags on sale. - Scott
  11. There are still a few spaces available in the canopy skills courses I will be running at Skydive Greensburg in Greensburg, Indiana on June 9 & 10. If you are interested then please contact Amy Romig at (812) 371-8809 or [email protected]. Information about other currently scheduled courses can be found at - Scott
  12. Check out this document: from this page: The document is from PD's web site but the information applies to any canopy, unless the manufacturer of your canopy specifically provides different information. - Scott
  13. I'm really glad that people are finding the PD packing video helpful. As a few people have already stated, though, packing is something that you need to learn through supervised, hands-on instruction. The video PD offers was never meant to be a substitute for direct instruction. Written instructions or advice can also be helpful, but can't really replace supervised lessons, either. Sam, you mentioned that you're still an AFF student. If one of your instructors gave your packing class, just let him or her know that you need more help. if you paid someone for the packing class then you should have left that class knowing how to pack. Don't hesitate to go back to the person who taught the class and politely let him or her know that you need more instruction. If it was just an informal, free packing lesson from one of the jumpers on the DZ then speaking with your instructor is still a good idea. He or she should be willing to give you more help, or at least direct you to someone else who can. You might certainly find the PD video helpful. Someone at your DZ might even have a copy already. But you still need to have someone supervise and assist you while you're learning to pack. - Scott
  14. As "losty" pointed out, it might not really be accurate to ask who "invented" head-down flight. Like many other aspects of skydiving and life, it would be more accurate to say that head-down evolved from a number of sources. Some friends who spent a lot of time at the Pigeon Forge tunnel during the 80's have credited John Suiter and another tunnel flyer as the first people to master controlled head-down flight (sorry, I don't remember the second person's name). Of course, as "apoil" mentioned, early RW jumpers used head-down "no lift" dives to reach formations quickly. Jumpers who perfected this technique might argue that it actually was controlled head-down flight, although the degree of control they exhibited was arguably much more limited than today's head-down flyers. For many many years (decades, even) classic style jumpers have used head-down dives to gain speed before starting a style series. This maneuver looks virtually identical to an extremely fast falling head-down freefly position except that it is performed on a solo style jump instead of being used to fly relative with other jumpers. I've also heard John LeBlanc talk about doing two-way tracking and "no lift" jumps with Olav Zipser at ZHills or DeLand back in the 80's. Olav is generally credited with bringing modern head-down flying techniques out of the tunnel and introducing them to the general skydiving community, with coining the term "freeflying," as well as helping to promote and develop freeflying into the discipline we see today. Sit-flying also evolved from various sources. Norm Kent, Gus Wing, Rickster Powell, and a few other camera flyers were already known for their sit-flying camera work by the early 90's. Around that time sit-flying RW was often called by the French name, "chute assis," since many people were introduced to it by French jumpers like Phillipe Vallaud. And many years before then, as far back as the 70's if I'm not mistaken, Roger Nelson and others were known for doing RW on their backs or "freak-flying." Chute assis and head-down merged into modern freeflying / VRW. It could probably be said that freeflying also has its roots in freestyle skydiving, developed and popularized in the 80's by Deanna Kent, Mike Michigan, Tamara Koyn, and others. I'm sure that other names and places could be added to the ones I've mentioned here, and I wouldn't be surprised if anyone corrected or clarified some of the dates or order of events. What I've written is simply based on my own understanding and recollection. It would be really interesting if someone wanted to do a bit more research, maybe even interview some of the people involved, and write an article on the history of freeflying similar to some of the historical articles that have appeared in Parachutist recently. This sport has a very interesting history, and I'd love to see more of it researched, recorded, and preserved before too much of it fades into the past. - Scott
  15. If you have two canopies out and it is necessary to cut away the main, there are a couple of reasons why it is recommended to release an RSL if time and altitude permit. For one, there is a general concern that any RSL could potentially, possibly, maybe create a greater risk of entanglement if it is connected. There are also differences in the way RSL's are designed and exactly how they operate on different harness and container systems. The RSL's used on certain rigs have a greater potential than others to create an entanglement if the main is cut away with both canopies out. If you jump with an RSL you might want to talk to a rigger or instructor about dual-deployment situations and how important it is to release the RSL on your particular rig. You might also find information in your harness and container owner's manual. If you feel like you need more information after consulting these sources you could contact the manufacturer of your harness and container system.