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  1. reyno_gr

    Skydive Taft

    A group of 15 of us flew from the UK to jump at Lake Elsinore, where we faced non stop cloud and limited jumping. One of the locals suggested driving to Taft (I'd never heard of it either) so we got in the cars and drove 3 hours to the DZ (its an hour and 45 minutes from LA). The DZ is on the edge of a desert, with mountains to the south which seem to hold back all the crap weather. Whilst Periss, Elsinore and Arizona were 'clouded out'we jumped everyday (nearly two weeks) and without any weather holds. Its fair to say the DZ is basic (by Periss and Elsinore standards) but it offers shaded packing areas, a pool, bunk house (showers etc), wireless internet and access to a large fridge. There is no 'gear shop', so lost freebags or other spares could result in a short delay whilst new ones are sourced (although the DZ has rigs for hire, so you need not sit on the ground whilst UPS do their thing). There are two aircraft (a Twin Otter which requires 10 jumpers to make a load) and a Cessna 182 (for the quieter periods). Taft (town) is not the liveliest place in the world (it appears to close at 9pm) with little to do if you chose not to jump. However, Bakersfield is only 30 minutes drive away and that offers everything Taft doesn't. So what makes Skydive Taft worthy of a 5 star rating?.....The staff! Dave Chrouch (the DZ owner/manager)and his team are the friendliest and most accomadating bunch of people I've ever met on a DZ. Nothing was too much trouble, and there was no 'skygod' attitude from anyone. Packers, Pilot and Manifest staff ensured that the jumpers needs were met from hoop jumps to high altitiude loads (18k with oxygen). Dave hosted a BBQ for everyone for the departing Brit group that found Taft a week before we did (they'd abandoned Periss too). He also joined us for a night out in the local Thai restaurant (which I recommend), whilst his son Alex packed tirelessly to keep the loads turning. Would we go back? Definitely, in fact we're planning it already. Try and go as a group (that way you can negotiate with Dave for a lower jump rate). Enjoy the rock music from the Otters sound system on the climb to altitude, but don't EVER tune it to Country and Western (unless you want the Pilot to dump you out at 5 grand)! Skydive Taft (and its staff) made our trip. Thanks guys; we hope to see you soon.
  2. I was part of the second group of 20 Skydivers who visited this DZ a month after the first aborted Helicopter Boogie (see reviews below). Having jumped there my opinion is the same as the first two reviews; its an awesome DZ. My mate Ollie jumped a Let, a Brigdyr, an AN2, a Squirrel Helicpoter (a bonus that stopped by to refuel), a ballon and a glider all on the same day. Where else can you do that?!! Prices very good too. Ballon £30, Glider £35 (you get two aircraft for that as the glider is aero towed) Let £12 Hop and pops £6 to £10 dependent on aircraft. DZ staff friendly and helpful. Ammenities good. Beer cheap. Vodka suspect ;-) I'm definately going back!
  3. A guy at the DZ chopped last weekend. I managed to stay up long enough to identify where the main and freebag landed, and he recovered his gear. I got to wondering if there's any 'science' to where the freebag and main land in relation to one another. Is it more likely the freebag will be found between the location of the chop and the main, or further down wind than the landing point of the main? The chop I saw had the freebag landing further up wind than the main (presumably because the bigger surface area resulted in more surface area to blow it downwind). Assuming both blow in a reasonably straight line along the wind line, having knowledge of this might increase the chance of recovering your freebag...? Thoughts?
  4. I watched a guy demonstrate how to 'roll' up a main to fit it in the bag this weekend. He concluded by making the S fold on 'top' of the canopy (so it sat horizonatally across, rather than vertically down the bag - hope that makes sense?). By placing his hand on the S fold he was able to push the canopy further into the bag before closing it and stowing it in the usual manner. It looked an easy way to pack, but left me wondering what does the S fold actually do? What's its purpose in the deployment process or is it merely a method of folding to reduce bulk?
  5. I arrived at the DZ yesterday and immediately put my name on the manifest. About 5 minutes before the kit up call I did a comprehensive check of my rig (first jump of the day). I noticed from the positioning of the closing flaps that the closing loop was a longer than I recalled when I packed it. I tested the pins friction in the loop and having satisfied myself it was okay thought I'd better get a second opinion from a member of the DZ staff. They checked the friction too, made sure the bridle was safely stowed and having confirmed that I was flat flying suggested it would be okay, but would need adjusting on the next jump. With that I put my gear on and had an uneventful jump. Back in the shed I went to adjust the length of the clothing loop and discovered the knot had slipped to the very end of the cord (hence the extended length). The knot was also very easy to undo. A great recipe for a Horse Shoe malfunction. So what did I learn? 1. Check the entire closing loop, not just the loop where the pins goes. 2. If someone else puts a new loop in for you double check their choice of knot. 3. The most important lesson of all. Check your kit BEFORE manifesting, so you won't make bad calls because you don't want to miss the load. My lesson's learnt, hope this might make others think too. Blue Skies.
  6. I just got back from Lake Elsinore where my friend, an AFF instructor, had to flunk a student on level 1. The student repeated the level and sailed through the rest. So take the advice given here... listen to your instructors, relax and have fun. You'll get there. Good luck.
  7. Tdog your explai#nation is the way I place my pin. I suspect having the pin inserted right to left is far more important than whether is 1/2, 2/3 or fully inserted into the closing loop. Judging by the low number of responses I guess it's not that big a deal how far it's inserted (as long as its secure enough to do its job). Maybe the 'experienced' jumper that led me to pose this question was just a wannabe skygod trying to impress a newbie?
  8. Riggerrob. Thanks for the response... with all the views and no responses I was beginning to think it either doesn't matter, or no one knew the answer. Why is 2/3 prefered? What are the down sides (if any) in putting the pin into the closing loop up to the 'eye?
  9. Everyone of the people I watch pack slide the main (curved) pin into the container closing loop as far it'll go (i.e the 'eye' of the pin is effectively touching the closing loop). I over heard an experienced skydiver tell a newbie that this was incorrect and the closing loop should sit halfway along the pin. Does it really make that much difference? And doesn't the former reduce the likelyhood of a premature deployment though the pin being inadvertantly knocked out? Views please.
  10. Jumperconway's post (written whilst I was typing most last response) suggests uneven, upwind, input is not required! So whats the consensus? Flare evenly or more upwind toggle input?
  11. I was at 500 feet crossing the boundary. I had to fly down wind some distance as the boundary comprises of trees and I wan't to avoid turbulance created by them. Its difficult to estimate my height when I commenced the turn but I'm quite happy that the flat turn did not result in signifcant altitude loss. If I'm reading these posts correctly I understand the flare should be a little more pronounced (i.e uneven) in favour of the UPWIND side. Have I got this right?
  12. Jumped last Saturday and (luckily) learnt a lesson without getting hurt. Having exited and completed a successful 2 way I opened on a long spot well up wind of the DZ. I knew getting back was going to be problematic so I flew back in half brakes with my body coiled uo to reduce drag. The winds were approximately 16mph and with this tail wind I made good progress. During this down wind run back to the DZ I identified (and over flew) several alternate land out options. I crossed the DZ upwind boundary at about 500 feet and commenced a flat turn into wind. After a 90 degree turn I realised I wasn't going to get into wind unless I continued turning a further 90 degrees. Not a safe option so I accepted the intevitable crosswind landing. As it was gusty I prepared for a PLF and as the canopy got hit by a gust and tipped downwind (as I flared) I successfully executed a PLF and came out unscathed. Now I learnt lots of lessons from this: 1. During freefall I should have identified my position over the DZ (enabling me an option to pull higher - although we were being followed out by a solo and a tandem) 2. I SHOULD have landed at one of my safe alternatives (off the DZ) but into wind 3. I sensibly didn't continue to turn (hook) to get into wind. My question is two fold. Pulling higher wasn't my plan and given I was being followed out by other Skydivers would this be an acceptable option or is it better to stick to the plan and accept landing off? Secondly as the canopy got tipped by a gust to one side on landing is there anyway of dealing with this? Clearly using the toggles will only induce a turn. Any thoughts please?
  13. Your sinking 'feeling' was right. It was a serious question and apperantly (judging by some of the comments one I should have known the answer too) However, as this information was never imparted to me on my AFF course, and I never received a Cypres manual when I brought my rig (it was second hand) I genuinely didn't know the answer. I haven't come across it in any publication (I've read so far), and as I've always taken off and landed at the same DZ I've never had cause to pose the question till it arose in this forum. Was it missed (by me or my instructors on the AFF course) or am I just dense? At least I know the answer now (and I will get a copy of the Cypres manual too). Thanks for enlightening me.
  14. I never considered that AAD'S would be less than 100% accurate in their activation altitude. A difference of a hundred feet is a sobering thought but I guess the bottom line is at least they get a canopy over your head. Another issue arising from this (and yet another thing I'd never considered - thank god for thought provoking forums) is can AAD's be adjusted (like altimeters) if the emplaning point is different from the DZ (i.e there is an altitude difference between the two) or is there no requirement to do so?
  15. I've just been reading some bits in 'The Skydiver's Handbook' by Dan Poynter and Mike Turoff. It suggests that a main will open within 3 to 4 seconds with a reserve taking slightly less. The book suggests this equates to about 700 feet (assuming the freefaller is at terminal i.e. 120 mph). An expert Cypres fires at 750 feet which, by my logic means that if a skydiver lost altitude awareness and had a Cypres fire they would have about 50 feet to find the toggles and select a safe landing area. Now that's a very small margin!! Is this statement correct or am I missing the point? With regards to aircraft emergencies it suggests that expert jumpers may elect to jump from a stricken plane between 500 and 1000 feet. From a personal point of view the plane would have to be pretty much engulfed in flames to get me out at 500 feet, especially if the reserve takes about 700 feet to deploy (although I accept this assumes terminal velocity not an enforced hop and pop). Any views regarding the accuracy of this information?