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  1. MikeJD


    I disagree. Of course the risk adds a certain frisson, but for me the main point of skydiving is to play and perform in an environment that relatively few people ever get the privilege to experience. Flying in the tunnel doesn't just remove risk from that experience - it also removes the joy of exits, chasing a rabbit on a tracking dive, building a big-way, leaving the plane last and swooping to your slot, flying a canopy at sunset... You're right, of course, that it's unrealistic to expect zero fatalities in the sport, and considering what we're engaged in I think statistically the likelihood of being killed doing it is alteady remarkably low. That doesn't mean we shouldn't strive to reduce it further, but the same could be said of road traffic accidents - if we treated driving risk with the same level of respect as we apply to skydiving, I think we'd be saving a lot more lives.
  2. A belated welcome to you, Nabz, and well done on taking your first steps in the sport.
  3. If it is the one that was all over the news yesterday, what puzzled me was why the pilot did not put the hang-glider down immediately. From the videos that I saw, he had numerous clear fields in which to land yet he continued to fly. Jerry Baumchen From what I could gather from YouTube, he wasn't able to descend easily. For one thing, he was struggling a little to fly because with one hand he was holding onto his passenger. I don't know anything about hang gliding, but I assume that if you're being subjected to a lot of lift - which presumably the launch site is designed to give you - then it's actually pretty difficult to go down. Under a parachute canopy, we'd lose height in a hurry by spiraling (unless you're feeling really adventurous and want to deliberately collapse your canopy! ) - I guess a series of hard turns also works for hang gliding, but that would have subjected his passenger to even greater stress. I doubt he'd have been able to hold on if the pilot had started pulling G's.
  4. I can't open that site from the UK - but assuming it's the story I'm thinking of, the passenger showed incredible resilience in hanging on for as long as he did. Mind you, I guess that's why we say 'as if your life depends on it!' In the video (which I saw on YouTube) it looks as though he could have saved himself from any real injury if he'd held on for a few more seconds. But what the heck - he broke his wrist, but did a great job of saving his own life.
  5. This is common practice in the UK (along with flight-line checks, meaning that everyone on the load must be checked out and signed off by someone else before boarding the plane). It's no great hardship at all - just habit, once you get used to it, and it needn't be any real extra effort for the staff if you put the onus on the jumpers to follow the process. Different DZs use different methods. Some have a touch-screen PC at the edge of the landing area so that you can just tap on your name to show that you're back safe. My home dropzone simply has two additional columns next to each name on the printed manifest sheet, for the flight-line check and for signing back in respectively. The jumpmaster checks before the load walks out that everyone's flight-line check has been signed off, and then the manifest board is placed near the entrance to the packing area. When people come back from the load, they put a mark next to their name as they pass (and can put a mark next to the name of anyone else who they know for sure is back). Dropzone management do take it seriously, and will bawl people out if they return to the packing shed without bothering to sign themselves in.
  6. Agreed that the photo isn't 'on message', but it's probably just a candid shot of them mid-conversation. It's easy to forget that people don't grin all the time in real life, as they nearly always do when they're looking into a camera lens.
  7. It sounds as though you're thinking of your exit too much as a gymnastic exercise - it really shouldn't be, especially when you're jumping solo (it could be argued that there are gymnastic elements to larger linked launches, because everyone is aiming to put themselves into their own bit of unobstructed airflow). Perhaps you're subconsciously worried about getting clear of the aircraft, but from a floating position where you're effectively outside already then there's no need. You are in a nearly-ideal place. Present the front of your body to the air and let it cradle you as you step away from the plane and gradually transition into a belly-to-earth attitude. Think about keeping yourself on aircraft heading as you slide down the hill. Maybe you could also review which aircraft handles you are using (inside or outside, if both are available) while you're in the door. Using a rail on top of the fuselage might put you slightly more on your back, but it also gets the maximum amount of your body out of the aircraft and into the wind before you step off. You might be surprised how much of your weight you could take off your feet with the airflow to support you before you even leave the door. You're practically flying already.
  8. Me too - or at least, it rebooted my interest after a short-lived false start in the late eighties. I don't think there's anything embarrassing about it, either - we all need to get our initial kick from somewhere, and if you're still in the sport after all these years then you've long since shaken off your 'movie-inspired tourist' status.
  9. Maybe better with a different director? Kathryn Bigelow is a great director, and of course has gone on to produce some highly praised and very well-known work. I doubt she'd have been interested in revisiting the world of Point Break, and although I'd certainly like to see her take on a Mission: Impossible film I think Christopher McQuarrie has done a fine job with the last two. In general, I don't think we can complain about fakery in the M:I movies - they surely do a lot more 'in camera' than just about any other action franchise you could mention (with the possible exception of the Bourne movies, and I think that series has probably come to an end).
  10. Just to get back to the original topic: I think another good reason to pull both handles is that in a stressful situation like an unrecoverable canopy malfunction you want to have one well-practised procedure that works in all cases. You don't want to be wasting time and mental energy trying to decide which variant of your emergency procedures you should implement.
  11. I was somewhat disappointed with it too, because of the fake elements in the shots - but the thing is, they had no choice but to add those fake elements because they were central to the plot. Overall I thought the fact that the actual jumping was done 'in camera' did do a lot to improve the realism of the scene regardless. And I'm glad they did it for real, because I got a kick out of the extensive and fascinating behind-the-scenes footage even if I was a bit underwhelmed by the final result. For me, the thing about the skydiving in Point Break (1991) is that although it's nonsense in technical terms, the direction, the camerawork and the soundtrack really captured the spirit and the sense of being in freefall - the joy and the freedom of it. I think those scenes should still be celebrated for that alone.
  12. I saw a mouse in my kitchen just recently - first time in many years, but several times during the course of the day, which made me think he must have taken up residency. I'm a sucker for small critters and I hate to kill them, but at the same time I can't have them running around the house, so I set up two traps side-by-side and left it up to fate which of them would catch the mouse. The first was a homemade humane trap comprising a wooden ramp up to the lip of a large glass vase and a smear of bait on the end of some flimsy card attached to the end of the ramp. The second was a good old-fashioned lethal shop-bought trap. At least two weeks on, and I've managed to smash the vase within the first couple of days by knocking it over while walking about. Meanwhile, I've never seen the mouse again. So I'm down a vase, plus the cost of the trap and the bait. I like your cup-and-coin design better than mine. If that vase-ruining, money-wasting little bastard ever shows his face again, I might give it a try.
  13. I don't in any way want to encourage you to downsize. The advice given above is smart advice - after a certain point, reducing the size of your canopy increases the risk to your person. You should stick to what you can safely and comfortably fly and land in all conceivable conditions and circumstances. Having said all that, I just wanted to mention that for me much of the pleasure of jumping smaller canopies isn't about the performance of the canopy at all - it's simply about the convenience of having less fabric to deal with, and that's not an insignificant benefit. Packing is easier. Collapsing, gathering up and carrying the canopy and climbing into the dropzone van after landing are all easier. Having smaller canopies in turn allows me to have a smaller, lighter rig - and that means that I have a better aerodynamic profile in freefall, take up less room in the plane and in the door, and get less sweaty walking around in my kit on a hot day. Of course none of the above will be of any consolation when your pocket rocket is winding up on you during opening, or you're trying to get yourself safely to the ground in a tiny field after a bad spot on a gusty day. I'm just saying, it's not all about performance.