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  1. I can fill in a little more of the history. Skydive Arizona moved from Coolidge to Eloy in April of 1991, and that's when I became increasingly involved in management and Safety and Training. There had already been some experiments with skysurfing, and I put together the 1993 meet because I realized there were enough skysurfers out there, and why not do it? We were trying to raise our profile; 1993 was when we hosted our first World Championships in FS, too. I had already met Pete McKeeman, who had started the World Freestyle Federation. His main goal was to get skydiving on TV and he succeeded to some extent with the WFF. He had word that ESPN was looking for sports to put into a new extreme sports show and was trying to sell them on Freestyle. At the '92 WFF meet in Eloy, Bob Hallet put on a display of skysurfing. The ESPN guys were kind of funny, they looked like college football coaches and knew NOTHING about skydiving. But they liked the look of skysurfing! Pete took me on as safety/loadmaster/cat herder for the X-Games, and I worked five out of six of them. (The first one, over the spectacular setting of Newport, RI is one of the best skydiving memories I have, and I've got a lot!) Don't forget that the X-Games Skysurf team was awarded an Emmy for the aerial photography one year. Besides the team camera flyers, a lot of the jumps had outside freefall camera, and the Eagle Cam chase helicopter delivered more spectacular footage. When skysurfing was cancelled, Pete gave us the word like this: "The executives say we're the best team they have worked with, but we just don't sell Slim Jims and Mountain Dew." Skysurfing was driven almost entirely by television. The famous Pepsi Goose commercial, shot over SDAZ with Troy Hartman, made it all the way to the Super Bowl. Almost everyone taking it up hoped to score on TV. But it never became popular with skydivers in general. I once took a phone call from a journalist looking for a story on skysurfing and she asked me how many people did it. "Oh, worldwide, maybe thirty." "What, I thought it was really popular! Is the small number because it's really hard, or really dangerous?" "No. Most skydivers see no reason whatsoever to tie their feet together with a stick. That really interferes with what you can do." I'll end with some safety comments. In all the jumps I was present for, the only serious injury was when Patrick de Guayardon and Eric Fradet did a tandem board jump. It got a little sketchy, so they decided to cut away. One system released slightly before the other, then the second system only released one binding, which pretty much tore up the knee of the victim. But he eventually got away clean. The biggest concern was boards falling on something - farmers, airplanes on the ground, cars, whatever. Not as bad as a skyball, but they would definitely do damage, even with a pilot chute to slow them down. But the perception was interesting. At the X-games immediately after that year three competitors died in non-Skysurf accidents, the whole crew was taken into a meeting by Pete, saying we would be asked about it. He made it clear that he couldn't tell us what to say, but he asked that we try to explain the circumstances did not involve skysurfing. But it was kind of weird. When we mingled with people from other events and they found out we were from the Skysurf unit, they were like "Wow, these guys are REALLY extreme. I only broke my arm in the half pipe." When the X-Games dropped Skysurfing, recruitment largely stopped. The media moved on to other fads for commercials. You can't run a Nationals or World Meet without at least 30 plus competitors in an event without losing a lot of money, so I was one of the voices begging USPA and the IPC to drop it. They did, and that pretty much killed Skysurfing. By the way, at the World Championships in Eloy where Eric Fradet won gold (after being second so many times in so many meets) I checked with the French Head of Delegation about something I suspected should be brought to the attention of the crowd at the awards ceremony. He was then, and still is as far as I know, the only person to ever win gold at the World Championships in two totally different events: 4-way Open and Skysurf. Bryan Burke, now retired from SDAZ
  2. I've been working for some time on getting a waiver from the FAA to allow foreign jumpers to use their gear as accepted in their country of origin. Currently the FARs require that if any component has a TSO, it has to be maintained to US standards and packed by an FAA Rigger. You can read more here: I could use some help from this forum. As far as I can learn, the US is the only country that holds the pilot accountable for inspecting the equipment for compliance with the FARs, and is apparently the only country that does not allow visiting experienced jumpers to use their gear as approved in their home country. I've studied the documents of parachuting federations around the world and the US definitely seems to be an outlier. Please contact me at my personal e-mail, bryantburke at Hotmail dot com, and put something like Foreign Gear in US in the subject line. What I'd like to know is - Visiting the US with your gear after 2001, did drop zones require you to be in compliance with the FARs, or accept you and your gear as approved in your country? Please share your experience including the drop zones and time frames. Do you know of other jumpers who visited the US with their own gear and had problems related to the American rigging/packing requirements? Do you know of any country where the pilot is specifically named as a responsible party for ensuring jumpers are in compliance with equipment regulations? In almost every other country the Chief Instructor or their designee has this job. Does an ETSO or JTSO have the same legal status with the FAA as a US TSO? As far as I can tell almost all European and South African rigs have a TSO to make them legal in the US market. How many harness/container and canopy makers are out there building stuff with no TSO? Thanks in advance to anyone who can help me with this project. Bryan Burke STA at Skydive Arizona
  3. I've been an STA since they were ASOs. For the last dozen years I've been keeping records of all of our reserve rides, injury accidents, and even most incidents that could have resulted in accidents. And, unfortunately, a number of fatalities. I agree with the people who say the amount of data isn't really enough to draw firm conclusions, but I think there is enough to suggest some things. Before I go into some examples, let me mention an area where accident reporting has done some good and I think we can learn from it - skiing, specifically the work of the National Ski Patrol to collect and analyze accident reports. Two examples that really stand out are binding/boot interactions and ski pole design. In the first case, when rigid plastic boots became the norm and bindings were not very good, there were a lot of leg fractures at the boot top. Bindings got better, and then the injury trend (over years, mind you) moved to torn ligaments in the knee. Bindings were releasing in most falls at this point, but not in backwards twisting falls, where the toe piece failed to release because they had only been designed to release sideways, and there was insufficient pressure on the heel piece to release. The answer was to design toe pieces that could release from upward pressure as well as sideways. People still get leg injuries in falls, but the bindings improved dramatically over twenty years in response to information about how legs were being injured. With the case of ski poles, in the early 60s they were still basically cross country poles, with a webbed basket base and a thin handle. Besides the baskets catching on things like branches, there were a lot of eye injuries when people fell against the pole and the handle penetrated the eye. That's why all poles now have a top of the handle that is too big to penetrate the eye, and the baskets are designed not to catch on stuff. How does this apply to skydiving? As an example, my data suggests wingsuits are more likely to have malfunctions. How do I know? If they make about seven percent of all jumps but are more than ten percent of the reserve rides, maybe there is a corrollation. I'll wait a couple of years and see. Does it matter? Maybe. Even if they don't get hurt they are more likely to lose a main. And does the type matter? I don't know yet, but this year we're starting to collect that. I can say that the single highest cause of reserve rides at Skydive Arizona is high wing loadings on elipticals. (Of course, nobody jumps elliptical canopies at low wing loadings.) The second biggest cause is toggle problems. Premature releases, mostly, but also knots or similar problems from the loose lower section getting caught on the toggle, guide ring, or around the riser. This was a virtually unheard of malfunction when we still used velcro to secure the toggle and steering line loop. So if you don't want to ride your reserve, jump a seven cell at a moderate wing loading and get an extremely secure toggle system. These are very clear choices that would reduce our reserve ride rate by a lot. But many people weigh the cool factor of the fast canopy over the reserve ride factor. Twice (in a couple million jumps) we've had canopy lines half-hitch around a side container flap during deployment, creating an un-releasable main malfunction. In one case the reserve inflated but was slowly choked by the main, resulting in two badly broken legs. In the second case the free-bag and pilot chute spun up with the streamering main, but somehow the reserve made it out of the bag and opened in time. Frankly I thought I was going to watch the guy streamer in. When I saw the free-bag and pilot chute almost hidden inside the main lines and fabric, it was just a miracle the reserve got out cleanly. Both times, ten years apart, had the same configuration: worn pull-out deployment system AND the same container model where the side flaps are squared off at the bottom rather than angled or rounded. Does this make it a bad system? Not really, in fact it is very popular. But not the one I would chose because this is not how I want to die. Another interesting statistic: women are less than half as likely as men to die in a skydiving accident. Changing attitudes would save a lot more skydivers than changing gear. All that stuff about too small a sample, constant changes in gear... that is true. But we might be able to draw at least some conclusions. However, there's another problem that hasn't been mentioned. I have the data to determine what the main, reserve, and container distribution of Skydive Arizona's boogie population is, over many years. I have their jump numbers, preferred discipline in the sport, gender, and age. I have the accident reports and reserve ride reports. What I don't have is the time to put it altogether, and we can't afford to hire someone to do it. It might never be put to use because of that. But I keep it anyway, in the hope that someday I'll be able to use it, or find an eager student wanting to do a dissertation on skydiving accidents. Bryan Burke S&TA at Skydive Arizona
  4. For base866, I have six rifles, two pistols, and a lot of reloading gear. That does not mean I oppose background checks and magazine capacity limits, and depriving people with documented social and mental disorders of their weapons. Read the 2nd Amendment. Note the capitalization of "Militia." Then, noting that the 2nd Amendment is an amendment to the body of the Constitution, go to the body. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 15. As with skydiving, for life in general I'm all about risk management. In these interesting times it seems to me important that we evaluate every element of our lifestyles and social affiliations based on reasoned analysis of how we got here, where we are going, and what are the consequences of our actions. There are people who deny climate change is a problem. I think any reasonable human being should give this some thought because the consequences are so significant. I like the attached video because it is so simple.
  5. By Bryan Burke, Safety and Training Advisor Image by Serge ShakutoIn March of 2017 I posted a review of a canopy collision that took place at Skydive Arizona on December 30, 2016. The post included two videos, one shot by a participant in the collision and one shot by an outside observer. The videos make it pretty clear what happened and I hoped they would spur discussion about traffic management. If you have not read the thread in the Incidents Forum and watched the videos it might be helpful to do so before reading on. Before going on, though, let me caution the readers about a few things. One, some of the comments to my post are stated in a way that suggests the commentator knew what was actually going on in the heads of the two who collided. We don't know, and this kind of baseless assertion seriously diminishes the usefulness of the Forum. Two, if you watch closely there was traffic to both right and left of the overtaking canopy. Lens distortion makes it hard to know just where it was in the final seconds before the collision, but it may have affected the decision making of the top canopy pilot. We could argue endlessly about whether or not the top pilot could have avoided the collision. The fact is that he did not come up with a solution to the problem fast enough to avoid it. Three, the landing area is tight even without heavy traffic. Nevertheless, this collision could have occurred anywhere because it essentially was caused by one parachute turning into the path of another, which is the ultimate cause of almost every canopy collision. Finally, Skydive Arizona does have a lot of guidelines because we have a lot of visitors from drop zones that apparently don't. Breaking the rules isn't a grounding offense in most situations. In this particular case I doubt if either collision participant was actively thinking about those guidelines. In all likelihood the bottom jumper let established habits override the guidelines, and the other was trying to deal with that. I found it worrisome that several people staunchly defended the concept that "Low Canopy has Right of Way" overrides all other considerations under canopy. In this case the low canopy was almost entirely responsible for the collision and the event never would have occurred if that person had flown in a safe, predictable manner. I want to review the concept of Right of Way and challenge whether it is even a useful or safe idea to teach in skydiving when expressed as an absolute. If we are going to retain the concept we need to understand the origins and the exceptions. Technically the term Right of Way has nothing to do with navigation by boat, car, parachute, or other conveyance. It is a legal term to describe access to property. For example, if my land is surrounded on all sides by someone else's land, I can be granted a legal Right of Way to my land. Similarly, if tradition allows the public to cross private land at a specific place, a Right of Way exists. At some point the phrase was adopted to nautical traffic, although technically the proper phrasing is "give way" as "In situation X, vessel 1 gives way to vessel 2." But to be absolutely clear, the rules about who gives way in traffic have a lot of exceptions, all based on common sense. Ultimately they are intended to minimize confusion and de-conflict traffic problems, but they are not in any way absolute rules. Here are some examples: A powered vessel gives way to a sailing vessel. Unless the powered vessel is actively fishing, or needs a deep channel that the sailboat does not. And any sailor with an iota of experience and common sense knows that sailing a yacht in front of a massive container ship is a sure way to be run down, regardless of your unpowered status. Between two sailboats, the default rule is that a vessel on a port tack gives way to one on a starboard tack. For those who aren't sailors, that means if the wind is coming over your left side, you give way to a boat that has the wind coming over its right side. In fact this is probably where the phrase "right of way" comes from because the boat on the starboard tack is to the right of a line drawn back to front through the boat on the port tack, and vice versa. Eventually this was applied to cars: if two cars were approaching a crossroads, the one to the right had ‘right of way.’ Obviously this didn't work very well with cars, or we would not need four-way stop signs or roundabouts. But for the purposes of this discussion, we're much more like sailboats than we are like cars or powerboats. To further confuse things, if we go back to sailing there are many more exceptions to the rule. A windward vessel gives way to leeward. Shallow draft gives way to deep draft in a narrow channel. An overtaking vessel gives way to the slower vessel, ideally passing to the rear if they are on different courses. But most importantly for applying these guidelines to skydiving, the vessel being overtaken is obliged to maintain course and speed, or if it must maneuver, clearly signal its intention! Parallels in skydiving would be that a canopy over open area should give way to one over obstacles, higher to lower, and so on. But regardless of the guidelines, it is understood that the root rule is all flight in the landing pattern must be predictable! Without predictable flight no set of guidelines or rules can prevent collisions. This collision came down to that: an unnecessary and unpredictable turn into the path of an overtaking canopy. Let's also get over the idea that all parachutes are similar in handling characteristics and therefore a blanket rule can keep them safely separated. For example, USPA asks Group Member Drop Zones to separate "high performance" landings from - presumably - ordinary landings. What does that mean? A Valkyrie at 2.4 on a straight approach is going as fast as a Sabre 2 at 1.2 coming out of a 180. It's too much to ask skydivers to sort themselves by canopy type, wing loading, and flying style other than by a general designation of high performance landing areas. In Skydive Arizona's case, we limit one landing area to turns of 90 or less, and nowhere do we allow turns over 180. (Except when the jumper exits on a pass dedicated to HP landing.) However, we do ask that people refrain from S turns or flying at an angle across the final approach. This is something we should expect of everyone, and if everyone does it, there should be minimal problems with a fast parachute finding a clear lane next to a slow parachute. In the collision in question, the low parachute failed in the most basic of navigation duties: maintain course and speed and make your intentions clear. This is a cultural issue. Older skydivers or those taught by older skydivers may have been taught that right-of-way is absolute, taught without the essential caveat “maintain course and speed, make intentions clear.” It may also involve drop zone culture; wide open DZs without much traffic seem to neglect canopy control skills and DZs where people don't travel much may spend little time teaching their jumpers what to look out for when they visit a big DZ. We used to teach people to fly in deep brakes and perform S turns to fine tune their landing point. Now we know this is dangerous in traffic and we don't teach it any more. There is no reason a big seven cell can't safely land in the same area as a tiny, ultra-high performance canopy, but not when using obsolete rules of the road. The low person does not have the right to turn into the path of an overtaking canopy, period. Finally, low or high, never assume you know where all the traffic is. The assumption you should make is that there is overtaking traffic above and behind, in your blind spot, and you must fly predictably to minimize the chances of them colliding with you.
  6. Skydive Arizona probably has the largest data base of reserve rides in the world -several years of trying to get details on every reserve ride at the busiest DZ on the planet. Two things stand out. One: spinning line twist malfunctions are the single biggest cause of reserve rides. The probability of this malfunction goes up geometrically with wing loading. SLT malfunctions are very rare below about 1.4. Two: the second biggest cause of malfunctions at SDAZ is brake problems. Stuck toggle, brake fire, brake line tied to toggle, guide ring, hand, etc. These often result in SLT malfunctions. Premature toggle release was virtually unheard of before Velcro-less systems. Get a very solid toggle retention system on your risers. Bryan Burke STA at SDAZ
  7. While it isn't perfect, here's a useful rule of thumb. For every thousand feet above where you are used to jumping, or for every ten degrees F above what you are used to, you are downsizing about 3 to 4 %. So if you normally jump close to sea level in 80 degree temps, and you go to Moab at the same temps, your 150 square foot canopy just downsized itself to a 120. Sea level, 80 degrees, Eloy at 100 degrees, you just lost 15% of your normal wing. (1,500' elevation plus 20* temp change) So be conservative, do everything higher, sooner, and slower.
  8. Try sitting back by the door and mounting the GPS on your arm closest to the door. That has worked well for me. If you aren't leaving first, see if you can work it out where you can stay in a position that lets the GPS have a look outside as the others exit. But yeah, until the FCC allows civilian aircraft to install repeaters, like the military does, you'll lose a lot of GPS runs.
  9. I'd love to see some tracks that show horizontal speeds and distances. Vertical is pretty easy to calculate but horizontal is largely guesswork. My best guess is the horizontal speeds are in the following general area, but I'd love something better than my guess! Formation Skydiving, 0 to 20 mph due to drift from asymetrical formations or body position. (eg, backsliding) Freefly: 0 to 30, same causes. Tracking: 30 - 60 based on my own experiments over our big grid here on the ground of miles and section lines (1/4 mile). Angle flying: 20 to 40, really getting into guessing here. Wing suits: 50 to 80. That's why I contend that angle flyers could very well cover more ground under canopy than in freefall, totally erasing horizontal separation. And I have to agree with other posters who don't trust trackers to stay clear of the jump run. I once watched a national champion freeflyer lead a group straight up the jump run. In Ampuria, the only tracking dives are ones led by members of Babylon, perhaps due to this but also due to the headaches drop zones get when trackers and WS jumpers land out all the time. Let us know what the GPS shows! Bryan
  10. I'm glad this topic has come up. As an S&TA at a very big DZ, we've seen a lot of problems. In fact, this is an even greater freefall puzzle than the exit order debate brought on by the advent of freeflying over a decade ago. The current problem is even more perplexing when you blend tracking, angle, and wingsuit jumps on a single load, and add the fact that a lot of inexperienced jumpers are attracted to this new facet of the sport. I've been talking to other DZs and will submit a couple of articles to the Safety Section, requesting as well that a new category be created, "Tracking and Angle Flying" or something like that. One will address the exit issue in detail, and the other will consider related problems such as the disproportionate number of freefall collisions and out landings associated with all types of horizontal flying. In my opinion, there is a good reason that angle flying should almost never exit first, and it's not what you might expect. If you time a lot of angle flying videos, it is clear that the fall rate is essentially the same as freefly. This means that when an angle group exits before belly flyers, between the fall rates and climb out time for the second group, an angle group could be open up to 30 seconds before the following belly group. This is more than enough time for a typical modern canopy (going 50 to 60 feet per second) to fly under the belly group no matter how far off the line of flight the angle flyers go in freefall. I now believe angle flying (aka atmonauti or tracing) should exit in the same order as freeflying, and have a built in angle component that is always 90 degrees to jump run. Which way this component goes must take into account trackers and wing suits on the load. Tracking is very different from angle flying. Again, timing the videos the freefall time is very similar to belly flying. The big exception is inexperienced trackers, especially on their backs. Therefore, tracking is OK to exit first, but only if led by an experienced tracker and in a direction well away from the line of flight. No low timers (say, sub -500 jumps) should ever be allowed to lead tracking dives, and no jumper of any experience should be allowed to lead on the back unless they are mirrored by an even more experienced tracker flying as co-pilot. Bryan Burke S&TA at Skydive Arizona
  11. The apples/oranges problem has always plagued this debate. Over the last three decades I've been intrigued by various attempts in the academic world to come up with meaningful ways to measure risk in sports and compare those to other quotidian risks. One method has been to try to equate participant days or hours. For example, if we call a skier participant day 5,000 feet of vertical skied, and a skydiver particpant day 40,000 feet of vertical, is that meaningful? Another method has been to evaluate casualties based on "lifetime participation" which is sometimes defined as 25 years in the sport. Using the latter, mountaineering above 7,000 meters is hands down the most dangerous sport in the world, with about a 25% casualty rate over the last 30 years. But wait! 30 years ago hang gliding would be among the most high risk sports in the world. Now it is tolerably safe. Skydiving has undergone a similar transformation, the ratio of deaths per 100,000 jumps is far better now than it was a mere 15 years ago. Yet it might turn the other way soon, for reasons I'm not going to get into in detail. Hint: complacency due to very high equipment reliability, and complacency due to the new demographic of incoming skydivers combined with the rapidly expanding variations of freefall. So... it isn't really possible to quantify our "safety" effectively against other activities, although I can say for a fact that in my time in the sport about 80 people I know have been killed skydiving, and in the same time frame about four have been killed in car wrecks - that I know of. I'm sure several more died in cars that I didn't hear about, whereas I hear about all the skydiving deaths. Still, what haunts me is that we KNOW what kills skydivers, even if the direct causes shift with advances in equipment, training, and culture. What is not happening is addressing those known risks effectively. We could cut skydiving fatalities by 80% in one year if the whole community would agree on some basics, but nobody seems to want to go here due to our culture of individual choice. Strict liimits on downsizing and wing loading. Endorsements by qualified instructors before any new freefall activity such as tracking, wing suit, or angle flying. Complete segregation of HP flight from normal traffic. RSLs and AADs mandatory. Our society is one in which stupid, ignorant, or self destructive behavior is not restricted beyond a point. On the one hand, I sort of like that. On the other hand, from a business standpoint there's a fine line between imposing regulation that I know will be effective, and creating an atmosphere that stifles individual expression. Safety is a very elusive concept, and just as with cars and government surveilance, there's a constant balancing act between too much and not enough. Just don't ever tell you Mom that driving to the drop zone is more dangerous than skydiving. It's wrong to lie to your Mom. Bryan Burke
  12. TK has a pretty good grip on the legal aspects. Earlier someone asked if any "experts" could inform the discussion. I don't know if I'm an expert, but I'll bet I've pumped at least a million gallons of Jet fuel into Otters, Skyvans, King Airs, Porters, and Westwind Beeches. At Skydive Arizona we've done about 2.5 million jumps out of our turbines, at an average of about 1.4 or 1.5 gallons per jump, not counting ferry fuel and boogies away. The majority of that fuel was put on with engines running. We have never had an incident worse than a minor spill from nozzle/intake problems. When turbine aircraft started to show up in skydiving fleets, they were often operated by people who didn't really know what they were doing, but did know about the expese of starting/stopping engines to fuel. I was one of those ignorant guys, many times I fueled while skydivers boarded, or while nobody was at the controls, or the plane wasn't grounded. We never had any problems, but if people are still doing this it signifies the drop zone has a culture of ignoring known safety practices. As more operators got turbines, more questions arose as to safety and procedures and we started to learn better practices. The NFPA does in fact limit hot fueling, last time I checked it was helicopters only at a very slow rate. I actually talked to the guy there who was in charge of code revisions and explained our situation. (This was back in the early 90s.) He basically said that a procedure had to be pretty much foolproof for them to consider a revision. In other words, unless a King Air could be safely hot fueled at night, in an ice storm, with 70 mph winds, by a moron, it wasn't going to happen. So, USPA and PIA drafted their own guidelines. IF the fire authorities accept the alternative guidelines, it's legal. If they don't, it isn't. That's why some drop zones can do it, and some can't. So much for the regulations. Now for the safety. Although static electricity hasn't proved to be a big hazard in the field, it's a potential one, so you should ground the plane and fuel system. If the pilot gets out for a break, the cockpit should have someone else in it throughout the fueling who knows how to operate the brakes and knows the fire drill. The fueler should follow the same procedure every time and be trained to watch for trip hazards, kinks in the hose, people approaching, etc. They also need to know about flow rate and nozzle compatibility to avoid spills. We often travel with our own nozzle on the boogie circuit to make sure there is one that works for our planes if we're using someone else's fuel system. I disagree that props should be feathered. It's much more comfortable and safe (in terms of breathing) for the fueler if they are not, and if there is an eruption of fuel (say, stuck nozzle or something) the prop wash will hopefully keep it away from the engine intakes and exhausts. Skydivers should stay well back until the fueling is complete. The plane should be positioned to minimize or eliminate any possible traffic around the props. Fuel contamination has killed a lot more skydivers than fueling fires/explosions, so if I were you I'd worry a lot more about how the drop zone tests, stores, and handles their fuel than I would about the actual fueling process. I could go on with details, contact me at SDAZ if you want. For those of you with the strident posts... you're the reason a lot of people in the sport who actually do know both the theory and practice don't bother spending time on It just happened to be overcast in Eloy today, the only reason I was cruising the forum. I hope this will slow the ranting a bit. Bryan Burke S&TA at Skydive AZ
  13. Hi Nigel, I've made a lot of jumps with a Garmin Foretrex and with a Garmin 72 in a special pouch. Here's a few tips. You can't lock onto the GPS satellites in a plane unless you are right by the door or under a windshield so the reciever can "see" satellites during the climb to altitude. Metal blocks the signal. If you lose the signal you will need to re-acquire it under canopy. Give your landing area a simple name so you can "go to" it quickly once the GPS comes on. Personally I don't think wearing a Foretrex is going to present any more of a snag hazard than an altimeter, but I'd suggest not having it on your pilot chute hand just in case. To calculate air speed I would fly a four sided box and average the ground speeds. Eloy is layed out in a nice checkerboard so it's easy to go almost exactly 90* to each new leg, but you can do that with the heading indicator as well. Wait for the canopy to stable out after the turn and you'll see the speed stable out as well. About ten seconds per leg is enough. The difference in speed due to density altitude is significant. Just as you see higher freefall speeds at 10,000 than you do at 4,000, you'll find the same under canopy. Most people will be surprised at how fast they go, even with brakes set at deployment configuration. When I first started playing with canopy performance numbers I realized I needed a way to record stuff, so I had a pouch made to hold an audio recorder on my bicep. I could observe a number and then turn and talk into the recorder. With the wind noise your mouth needs to be close to the mic. I finally got a Flytec 6015 to get better numbers on airspeed and glide ratio, and have the machine do the recording. Flytec's US rep, Steve, was extremely helpful and I'm confident I'll get some great data once I figure out all the bells and whistles. As soon as the busy winter season is over I plan to get that in the air on a lot of different canopies! If anyone visiting Eloy wants to learn more about this project, say hi when you are visiting! I'll need some advice on how to convert all the data to standard pressure and altitude so it can be used for meaningful comparisons. Bryan Burke STA at SDAZ
  14. Sad to say, the DC-3 is NOT going to fly by the time the boogie comes around. It is getting a new motor (OK, a rebuilt motor) and that is behind schedule. Sorry, Bryan Burke S&TA at Skydive AZ
  15. Since Skydive AZ has a concern about the Argus, I spent some time with a container manufacturer who was at the meeting referenced by the Sunpath bulletin. His remarks were pretty much identical to what is revealed in the Sunpath bulletin. From what I can gather, the cutter manufacturer designed their device for severing reefing lines on cargo parachutes. These would likely be different materials, under different loads and geometries, than a reserve closing loop. Argus bought the cutters as stock items. Why? One reason could be that CYPRES would have patents on all of their proprietary technology, so to avoid a patent infringement Argus probably had to use a different cutter design. They couldn't afford to develop their own cutter and just picked out something they thought would work. The fact that the cutter manufacturer will no longer have anything to do with Argus suggests they have decided that their stock cutter is not appropriate for the Argus application. The main thing is that the potential failure mode for these cutters is due to the blade not always being able to fully cut the closing loop, depending on the geometry of how the blade hits the loop, tension on the loop, and possibly other variables. That means the loop can be partially cut without the rig owner knowing it. This can have two results: the reserve could fire at any time when the loop eventually fails from being partially cut, or the rig can effectively be locked closed if the cutter is at the top of the loop and seizes on it. Then even pulling the ripcord manually won't deploy the reserve. Skydive AZ currently bans the Argus whether or not the rig maker OKs it for the simple reason that if the loop has been partially cut, it could open any time, including during the climb-out. That could take down an entire Otter. We view it as no different than having a main closing loop that is too long or worn. The rig might be TSO'd and in date, but it's not safe and it is not right to expose everyone on the plane to an unfortunate purchase decision by an individual skydiver. Skydive AZ and USPA are going to be considering the implications of SDAZ's ban on the Argus as it affects competitors at the National Championships a few weeks from now. I'll try to keep the community informed. Bryan Burke S&TA/Meet Director, SDAZ