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  1. robbie_g

    Mirage G4

    I finally got my first rig a few months ago. It's a Mirage G4 with Pilot 168 and PD-R 160. What a great bit of kit! Although 2nd hand and built for someone 5'11 and 12.5 st, It fits on me well enough at 5'7" and 10st, without modification. Reading over the mirage site, I really liked the amount of information about the design and features on the G4. I emailed Mirage about buying second hand and to verify the rig I was looking at and they were helpful and gave quick responses. The build quality of the rig is great, I like the modular design so bits can be easily replaced in the field. The D-Bag design is good. Anti-snag grommets are good. Riser covers and guides are solid. Almost no velcro on the whole rig. Freefly tuck tab handle is secure but still a decent throw. It's comfortable and I'm happy for my first rig. I do not look at anyone else's rig with envy, I love mine!
  2. I've been to Hinton about fours times now, the first was when my girlfriend did her charity tandem. I got three jumps in that day, and enjoyed myself. However, the first descent I did I misjudged the wind and landed just off in the next field. I couldn't spot the gap in the hedgeline and had to pick my way through the bushes. And received a good ribbing for it afterwards! The last time I jumped there, the upper winds really picked up and I did almost the same thing again, so you need to be switched on and aniticipate it so you don't get caught out and muddy! :) The jump ship is pretty good, a PAC750XL which gets to 12,500 fairly sharpish. This place is really big on tandems but there appears to be a regular bunch of sports jumpers there so get in with them and you shouldn't be stuck with people to jump with. They were certainly friendly when I was there, so make an effort to introduce yourself and you'll be fine. Plus, when the day's done there's an honesty bar for £1.50 a drink, can't say fairer than that! Rigging is available through Point Zero. They were recommended to me by the guy I bought my rig off and having met Dave Gould who fitted my RSL, I was very happy with the work and his approach. Take your rig for a reserve repack and they'll do a full main, reserve and container inspection for the one price. It's £40 - £50 depending on whether it's the while u wait option. They will also courier a rig to and from for extra cost. Generally, I like Hinton. It's quite an intimate DZ with a group of regular faces who seem more like relaxed jumpers than hardcore full-on competition monkeys. If you want that, nip down the road for Weston.
  3. Jumpers in the North West could do worse than stop in at Black Knights. Friendly staff for sports and tandem jumpers alike. Facilities include free camping and hot showers, a permanent canteen, enclosed carpetted packing area, lockers for £10/year, video facilities, free wi-fi. Throughout 2006 they've run a 9 place turbine porter with an incredible climb rate and flown by a great pilot. As at Jan 2007 they've got a 10 place Porter but the turbine will be back. The DZ's got a tarmac runway now so wet conditions are not an issue. In heavy rain the PLA can get waterlogged so the runway's a real bonus. The PLA's plenty big so students shouldn't have any problem. RAPS courses are offered at the DZ, AFF is passed on to a partner school in Spain. Views are quite pleasant as the DZ's on the coast. On a nice day the Blackpool tower is visible. Gear hire's a little thin, there's about 3 - 4 freefall BOC kits of about 200 sq ft upwards, mainly furys and mantas. The rigs have FXC AADs on, and round reserves (which could be an unexpected surprise to those expecting a square). The rest of the kit is made up of static line or ripcord gear for the RAPS course. There's pro-tec helmets and chest mount altis. Enough to get newbies up in the air, but not enough to keep you on club gear for that long. There's a regular bunch of freeflyers and a mix of flatflyers, and tandems always operate with at least 3 tandem instructors at the DZ of a weekend and sufficient camera-flyers. Manifesting is good, usually run by the Director, Jeff Illidge. In my experience, sports jumpers can always get in a load, and when it's busy the turnaround is good. He'll give consideration for big groups of sports jumpers, but four-ways are usually the biggest launches from the Porter from what I've seen. The DZ runs occassional packing courses to teach flat packing necessary to pack club gear, subject to demand. Once signed off, packers get £4 a pack job. Coaching availability depends on what you're after. This DZ is the home of Avalore Freefly, who offer Freefly coaching. Neil Henshall is an FS coach there, but ring ahead and check who's around beforehand. FS coaching can be subject to camera jumping for tandems etc so if you want dedication, you may do better elsewhere or with solid prior arrangements. Unfortunately the DZ does not have a bar, but for those staying there are pubs in the local area. There's also a farmshop that does the best steak pies in the region! On site, there's a canteen serving hot food, so you can start the day on a full English. Overall, this is a friendly local, single aircraft DZ operation that's just off the M6 so it's very accessible. It's also incredibly good value for money at £18 a lift to 14,000 ft. Plus, buy ten tickets, get one free. Tickets are transferrable and do not have a lifespan. Personally, I'm grateful that such a DZ exists so close to Manchester! Check it out, well worth the visit.
  4. Hey everyone, thanks a lot for your input, there's plenty of food for thought. Much appreciated. Stay classy! Rob
  5. "I can't tell you anything about UK DZ's I'm afraid." Thanks for the reply! Just to make myself clear, I doubt very much whether we'd do her AFF in the UK. I can't see that being any good for consistency when it comes to weather. It's definitely holiday abroad and hammer the jumping for 10 days. I'd happily take her to Ramblers, but it's probably unlikely we'd go to Australia next year. Still, you never know... Stay classy! Rob
  6. Hi all, My girlfriend recently did her first tandem and, true to form, loved it enough to want to do her AFF and come join us in our great sport! Yay! She received a useful BPA mag outlining the different options etc (well done BPA for such a good read) and we both think going abroad next year is the best idea for weather and a holiday. I did my AFF at Ramblers, Australia, and loved it. When I came back to the UK I had no issues with converting my license, although I did have to endure some intense pisstake by DZ staff as I showed them my AFF video! Ho hum... :) Unfortunately, Australia is probably a bit too far for us to go this time so we're looking for something closer to home. Anyway, this post is to ask for the opinions of experienced British skydivers and instructors on good foreign locations and skydive schools in either Europe or the US. Key points would be: 1) Safety 2) Standard of instruction and DZ 3) Compliance with BPA regs and conversion to BPA license on return 4) Costs While there's plenty of basic info to consider in my girlfriend's copy of The Mag, it doesn't give specifics about any particular places. When she did her tandem, the tandem master advised against going to Florida due to "low standards" and jumpers learning there coming back with a bad rep and maybe having to re-certify. He reckoned there was only one place in Florida that was any good, but he wouldn't tell us the name! I've jumped at Empuria before and know there's British schools out there, but what about the others in Europe? And as Florida would, for a variety of reasons, be very convenient for us, can anyone tell me the names of good DZs to do AFF to BPA standards and good instructors? Thanks in advance for your responses. Stay classy! Rob
  7. I went to Australia for a five week holiday and decided to do AFF as part of my time abroad. I scanned for DZ's and read up on a few in Sydney, Cairns and finally Ramblers. I checked out the Ramblers website and rang them and was booked in. I got out there, had a good time with my mates and moved the AFF back a week to keep drinking! Ramblers had no problem with me doing that, they were very accomodating. They picked me up from Brisbane airport, and by the end of that day I had done two stages of my AFF. The instructors were a good laugh, knowledgeable, enthusiastic and funny. There was a good sense of community, even when it was quiet and there weren't that many people around. The Addiction package AFF course is great because it means you don't sweat doing repeats, and once you've qual'd you've got spare jumps stacked up to consolidate with. There's great facilities and a well stocked bar, and everyone's up for a laugh. Considering that I did not know what to expect, I feel lucky to have picked Ramblers as my place to learn. Everyone I met told me that it's THE best DZ in Australia, and I can see why. I bloody loved it. Thanks to Debs, Steve, Marlies, Tom, Spready, Mutzi, Dave and everyone else I met there. You are all legends!