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  1. I can't believe that it is an FAI/IPC event. It has nothing to do with either parachuting or aeronautics. That's an incredibly ignorant comment to make. It has quite a lot to do with both.
  2. Just lost a long-time friend to a prop strike a few weeks ago. One of my first flight instructors was missing an arm from a prop strike. A DZO I worked far a few years back walked face-first into a (fortunately stopped) Caravan prop and almost broke his nose on the sharp edge. You can never be too careful around props.
  3. Great tip, thanks - didn't know about that site. Yes, there is always stuff that isn't in the books, but I'm not looking to jump or service any of these things, just some historical info to cite.
  4. A friend of mine is doing a PhD. on skydiving safety, and has asked me for help on some historical stuff. I've contributed what I remember, but it would be helpful to have some actual datasheets. If anyone has any such docs on old gear, like Paradactyls, Thunderbows and similar stuff, would you be willing to send me scanned copies of it? Weight, pack volume, limitations - anything like that. I realize lots of these things were not built by companies with bureaucracies and the resulting paper trails, but most of the manufacturers at least sent a few photocopied pages of recommendations when you bought one of their items. Email is [email protected]
  5. I started flying with Radek several years ago. I was an experienced jumper at the time, but that's of very little account in a tunnel. I would recommend that you build up in small sessions at first - if you hit an intensive camp with little tunnel experience, you will likely be overwhelmed and much of your money will be wasted. A camp is useful once you have more time under your belt, but it's an overload for a beginner. I generally try to fly two sessions of ten minutes (5x2 minutes), with at least an hour break between. That seems to give me the maximum benefit for time and money spent. And Prague is great - the tunnel is one of the best AND cheapest around, and city accommodations are excellent.
  6. Glad to help - it can be frustrating when you're starting. No, there is nothing wrong with touching the wall or the net. I often intentionally put people on the net at first. They're still flying, with their body carrying most of the load. The net only provides a very small portion of the lift, but gives them a stable reference point, to keep them from wobbling until they get their bearings. You can still turn and move while in contact with the net, but it gives you solid feedback about where you are, and whether and how fast you're moving. Once the coordination and proper control movements are established on the net, only a very small increase in power is needed, and the student is flying at around a meter in height, but in full control, because he learned it all properly while having his belly in contact with the net. There is no need to start high above the net. Quite the opposite - you should increase altitude only after you are fully comfortable with your ability to control every aspect of the type of flying you intend to do during that session. The airflow is the same at all elevations, up to the height where the tunnel starts widening, and extra altitude does not increase anything except your chances of hurting yourself. Same with the wall - your goal should be to fly precisely enough to not need to push off it, and you should be careful of making movements that cause you to strike it hard, but there is nothing wrong with using it to push off, when you are learning a movement and accidentally slide closer than you intended. The only thing I would caution you about is try to avoid GRABBING the net. It's tempting, but putting your arm down for a grab changes your body position, and may well aggravate the mistake in body position that caused you to want to grab the net in the first place. You can also catch your fingers in the wires and twist or even break them. Fix the problem in your flying - don't try to drop anchor.
  7. I coach tunnel flyers, although I am not an employee of a tunnel. A few things that I have observed and experienced, maybe they'll help you. 1. Two shorter sessions per visit are lots better than one longer one. I recommend people get two sessions of ten minutes each (5 x 2 minutes), with about an hour or two break between. You fly some stuff, watch the videos, talk with your coach and think about it a bit, rest a while, then try it again right away. If you don't get the chance to repeat a session again immediately, while the 'feel' is still fresh in your head, much of the effect of the coaching will be lost before you get in the air again. 2. You should mix coached flying and solo flying. Get a coach to walk you through some stuff, then practice that for a while by yourself, until you 'own' it, then go on to more coaching again. If you do all your flying only with a coach, you'll get too dependent on having him with you. If you do all your flying without a coach, you'll spend a lot of time (and money) flailing, trying to figure things out. A good coach will actually recommend that to you. When he recognizes that you've generally got the hang of a certain move, he'll tell you to go practice it on your own, and come back for more coaching when you've got it down, or if you get stuck on something. A coach that wants you to fly with him all the time is more concerned with his own wallet than your flying. 3. Use the spotter when you're solo flying. The guy in the door is your spotter, not your coach. Your coach is in the tunnel with you, the spotter is just there as a safety. But many times the spotter is also an experienced coach, and is generally only glad to help you a bit. For example, when I was learning head-down, there was a period of time when I could fly head-down (somewhat, anyway), but had trouble getting into the position without a reference. I'd ask to spotter to just hold my hand (literally) as I went inverted. It wasn't to keep me stable, but just a reference point, around which to pivot, often more just a finger or two. Wave them in occasionally to fly with you as well. They're often bored, and would just as soon put in a few turns in the air, even with someone less experienced than they are, and you will frequently get a few tips from them as well. If they don't want to fly, they'll just shake their head no. Don't be hurt or upset if that happens, or drill them about it afterwards - maybe they're tired, resting up for something they're going to fly next, don't have their gear on properly for an actual flight, or any number of things that have nothing to do with you. Just go on with your flight, and sometime in the future, don't hesitate to invite them again. I regularly invite the spotter to come in and play with me - sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. It's all good. 4. Swap coaches around. Everyone has a different style, in flying, in teaching, and it's good to get more viewpoints. As a complete beginner, it's probably better to stick with one guy that knows you at first, but as soon as you get reasonably comfortable in the air, and the staff is happy that you're likely not going to hurt yourself, mix it up. Again, a good coach will even recommend that, especially if he sees that you're stuck on something. If he knows that another coach is particularly good at a certain move, he will recommend that you put in a few sessions with the other guy, to move you past the roadblock. If he gets offended that you want to fly with other people as well, he is by definition (mine, anyway) not a good coach. A good coach wants to see you advance, and will recommend whatever it takes to make that happen. 5. Make sure that you understand not only what you are supposed to be doing, but what you are doing wrong. I had a hell of a time getting my head around back layouts, for instance, despite the coach demonstrating it over and over. He'd demonstrate how to do it, and I'd (I thought) follow, except that I continually ended up slamming upside down into the opposite wall. Turns out I WASN'T doing what he demonstrated, and I couldn't spot my own mistakes on the videos. What you THINK you're doing, and what you practice outside may have very little to do with what you actually perform in flight. I now take a fairly brutal approach with students - if I demonstrate a few times and they just can't seem to get it, I grab them and force their body into the proper position. Had one about a month ago, that kept flying with his ass in the air. Signals, videos and bench practice weren't having any effect, so I pushed him down to the net, knelt on his butt and pulled his knees up into an arched body position. Worked - he simply hadn't realized what the position was supposed to feel like in the air. Once I forced him into it, he did fine from then on. 6. Make sure you're rested and relaxed before you fly. If you're tired, on edge or simply have your mind elsewhere, you're not going to get much out of it. Turn off your phone while you're still out in the parking lot and FOCUS! 7. Pay attention to what you're doing, but don't take it too seriously. It's supposed to be fun, after all, and if you're obsessed with your mistakes, you may lose interest in flying, as it just becomes too much like work. Even when I'm working on learning something in particular, I usually beat it up for four turns, then devote the fifth to just playing - head-down carving, swooping down to the net, snake - just basic moves, that I already know how to do, but not really practicing anything in particular. Welcome to the sport, and have fun.