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  1. I am looking for a dz near San Francisco where I can reenter the sport and find a group of low pressure RW jumpers for some pickup jumps on a semi-regular basis. Research indicates that I should consider Skydance and Byron but I have not found any threads more recent than 2009. If you are a regular at these dropzones or have jumped there recently, I would love to hear your feedback on them. If you prefer not to post openly, feel free to PM me. Any opinions and observations are most welcome, including those related to other dropzones in the area. Thanks all!
  2. Fiona organized my first jump at the Skysisters boogie in 2007. I told her that I had not jumped in over three months but she put me on a starcrest jump. I was not sure that I could handle an 8 way but she was confident that I could and I believed her. I was the fourth person in the base, opposite her. I approached so slowly to avoid going low. I will forever remember her sweet smile as I approached, beckoning me to take my slot. When I finally did, she beamed and I felt a sense of accomplishment like never before or after. Fiona embodies everything that is good in skydiving. She loved the sport, shared her knowledge freely and just made every jump really fun. My deepest sympathies go to her husband and the Australian skydiving community. Fly free and I hope to meet you in the base again one day.
  3. Toogoolawah, aka Ramblers, is the dz to go to in QLD. I've only been there for boogies but they have events quite often. If you want to stay on the dz, their facilities are top rate as dzs go. If not, and you don't want to drive all the way back to Brisbane, I recommend Esk (10 min drive) over Toogoolawah. I love this dz. I wish I could go back. Email me if you want more info. Also, check out the Aussie forum for more info.
  4. In addition to the other excellent advice given, please consider dedicating your next jumping day to canopy work. A lot of dropzones don't do hop-n-pops for licensed jumpers on weekends but you can do a solo with a high pull. Use the time to practice specific skills but above all, use it to unlearn your fear of canopy flight. I've been through a similar situation where a few bad landings lead to growing fear which lead to worse landings which lead to greater fear, etc. I was able to work with a canopy coach who had me execute drills on slow flight, fast flight and accuracy. The fast flight drills (a series of hard spirals) helped snap my fear. I won't recommend specific exercises to you as I am not qualified. Focusing on canopy control for a few jumps and learning my canopy's flight characteristics helped me break the vicious cycle.
  5. I jump a Pilot 150 loaded at 1.15. It regularly takes at least 800 feet to open, as measured from wave off to fully open canopy. This is about the same as the Safire 2 you were jumping. I suppose the canopy could be packed to open quickly but Pilots are not generally known to be quick opening canopies, as I recall.
  6. I am about to sell my rig and have purchased all components of the new rig except for the AAD. I currently have a Cypres with 3.5 years of life left. I prefer to keep the Cypres and move it into my new rig. However, a rigger suggested that it is easier to sell a complete rig instead of the components. In your opinion, is it much harder to sell a rig minus the AAD than a complete rig? I want to sell the rig as quickly as possible but I have to decide whether to buy a new Cypres now. The container is a Racer so I will sell it with the Cypres two pin cutter, if that helps facilitate the sale. Thanks in advance for your opinions.
  7. I'm posting this thread to get some feedback on my actions and share my experience for the sake of learning. The jump was a 28 way from two Otters with the balance of the planes filled with tandems, fun jumpers and a student. My tracking line and designated opening altitude (3000) brought me back to the dz too high. From the moment I opened, I experienced strong turbulence the whole way. Since I was too high, I went as far off the line of flight as I deemed safe to lose altitude. However, this brought me further over the trees, where the turbulence was stronger so I made gentle S turns instead of spiralling because of the turbulence. I reentered the pattern at 900 and at about 700, while still over trees, I experienced lift for the first time. I was later told by others on the jump that we hit a thermal. It was a most unusual feeling as my canopy absolutely stopped descending. If I gained altitude, it was minimal but my forward progress also slowed down dramatically. I felt like I was just hovering and experienced a true WTF moment. With too much altitude, in the middle of the pattern and the runway rapidly approaching, I decided to take a long crosswind leg instead of crossing the runway on downwind and crossing back over on final. I did manage to note that on my long crosswind, there were no canopies very close by but I still hated to do that. This left me in the not-so-great position of going long on final when the winds on the ground were quite strong and having to land closer to the trees than I would have preferred. As I turned onto final, my glide was exactly what I expected it to be until I was halfway across the field. At that point, I felt like I hit a wall of air that caused me to land perfectly straight down. I had never before landed completely vertically before. I landed fine and had a nice, long walk back to hangar during which I decided that I would sit out the next jump. I have no doubt that this final decision was right for me and others on the jump since I was rattled by the experience. I think I handled the situation reasonably but I welcome feedback on this.
  8. Surely you remember the trouble I had in Pattaya?? You already know you are not the only one in the world with this "issue". What made the difference for me is that a videographer at Cross Keys took pity on me and showed me an alternate method of bagging that I have never seen anyone else use. My own pack jobs are still not the fastest and my openings are not always spot on perfect. Yet, I can bag it every time on the first attempt and still haven't had a line twist or cutaway. Let me know if you want me to try to describe it for you if you are really that desperate. Else, you could downsize to a sub-100 canopy in your own container. (Just kidding!! )
  9. I've checked in my rig on numerous international flights in various countries through assorted airlines. I never locked the suitcase. Maybe I've been lucky but I have never had a problem. OTOH I had a pair of nice sunglasses removed from their case in an ordinary checked in bag...
  10. The Malaysia tunnel is not very strong. I'm not sure that it would even support freestyle. If you go to Arizona, there are freestyle coaches who can work with you in the tunnel and in the air.
  11. If you feel you are not getting enough canopy control training during AFF, I recommend you voice this concern to your instructors. The economic reality is that sometimes canopy control can take a back seat on a very busy day when instructors are doing back-to-backs, if that is the case. Regardless, pursue your instructors for personalized assistance. -If possible, go to the dz on a weekday armed with beer, Red Bull, donuts etc. With fewer students, the instructors can spend more time addressing your canopy control. -Video of your landings is a simple, inexpensive method of learning. This might address your early/late flare issues. -Review the landing pattern prior to a jump carefully with an instructor. Use a flight planner to draw it out, observe the landmarks, ask about how to modify the plan if conditions change between takeoff and approach, ask where your holding area is. -If you can observe a load or two of landings with an instructor prior to jumping, this should give you an idea of where to set up so as to avoid downwind landings. Downwind landings are something you will want to learn to handle eventually but I think it is too early yet.
  12. I asked that question at the Perris Big Way Camp. The organizers and more experienced jumpers uniformly answered that there is no formula. The advice, for me, was to start with five lbs. (I had previously never jumped with weights) and adjust accordingly.
  13. I recommend Skydive New Mexico. I passed through there and had a most enjoyable day. They have a couple of 182's and the landings are fast, if you like that kind of thing. Really cool bunch of people: made a visiting New Yorker and Londoner feel very welcome.
  14. I can't think of a better way to run a marathon but maybe you should wait until you complete it to celebrate?
  15. If you're going to use Excel as a database, do not leave any blank rows or columns, including a blank row after the header. Else, Excel will not recognize it as a db. This will lead to problems with sort, filter, graph, etc. On Sheet 2, combine the information on the second section with the first section.