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  1. Your right about one thing Tomas, everything that you have written thus far is your interpretation. Based on the emails and messages that I have received though, I can't say your interpretation is shared by others on here. As I said in the beginning, you would point/counter point this for all time, and I don't expect to change your opinion or your interpretations. What you seem to have failed to grasp here though is that despite trying to paint us as such, Strong Enterprises isn't the evil empire. We are not quietly plotting how to take over the skydiving world. We don't hide things from the public, to the contrary, as I think many would agree, Mr. Strong has an open door policy when it comes to providing information and assessments. We are a company comprised of many skydivers, run by a skydiver. Your attacks and accusations towards this company and it's people is baseless at best, slanderous at worst. Which all goes back to the original question: "Why not first contact Strong Enterprises directly in the beginning, professionally, as one rigger/instructor to another? And then if you wanted to, take whatever answers/results you got and put them up here for the world to see if it made you feel better. But that wouldn't give you what you wanted. You wanted to try and whip up some global negativity campaign. The internet has a memory Tomas, and if your willing to do this to us, who else are willing to do it to? The skydiving community is small and close knit. Manufacturers, DZOs, instructors, sport jumpers and packers really would be better served if we all tried to work together. What is truly disappointing is to find someone in your position that could have been an example of professionalism, instead of choosing to try and damage a company that has spent the last fifty years working towards making the sport prosper. I mentioned the other manufacturer I contacted directly earlier on. Imagine if used your approach? Do you think I'd be taken seriously then? and now? If this is to be your "cause of the day" Tomas, so be it.....good luck to you and good jumping. Tom Noonan Tandem Director Strong Enterprises P.S.- I got a chance to check out some youtube videos of your dropzone. You are correct, you do not use handcam. I apologize. I didn't see many handles checks though, so perhaps a positive can come out of all your negativity and you can help ensure that handles checks are being done on every tandem jump. Thank you.
  2. Hi Lee, It's not that we are adamant about deploying the reserve before tandem terminal, it's really just a separation of two different topics. - If a tandem instructor exits the aircraft and reaches back to deploy the drogue and either can't find it, or or for whatever remote reason, can find it, but can't deploy it on the first attempt, we want them to make two more attempts, and then, if unsuccessful, deploy the reserve. It's not a fear of tandem terminal, it's a just a matter of having a set (and simple) EP to follow in this highly unlikely scenario. If an instructor continues with a fourth and fifth attempt and so on, they burn altitude, can become disoriented and possibly lose altitude awareness as the dive is going by faster than normal, all events that can put the T/I behind the curve at the bottom end. - We require all of our tandem instructor tandem candidates to make a tandem terminal skydive and perform a series of 360 turns no-drogue to show them tandem terminal is nothing to fear and that they can fly their bodies. While the above two paragraphs may take a slightly different perspective on tandem terminal, it's because there is a difference between having to fly your body to compensate for a bad exit/bad student body position to get stable that may take you more than ten seconds to sort out and being in a full blown emergency situation where you cannot deploy your drogue. Neither one should be occuring with any great frequency, but if/when either does, our candidates have a simple set path to stay on course either way. I hope that explains the issue you brought up. Let me know if I can answer anything else. While I am thinking of it, Bill Morrissey once told me that he and a tandem instructor candidate had a tandem terminal reserve deployment (pre-AAD days) while he was riding on the front. Exited 10,000ft, sitting in under MR425 at 1500ft, they had a considerable time in freefall to build up speed and the MR 425 opened just fine, no damage. Best regards, Tom Noonan Tandem Director Strong Enterprises
  3. You are definitely correct Kaspar, I absolutely appreciate the support. Blue skies, Tom Noonan Tandem Director Strong Enterprises
  4. Hi Kevin, Thank you for your support. Anyone that I have ever met or worked with from New Zealand has always been incredibly supportive of the DHT, that's why I was so surprised when I realized where all this came from. If anyone of the T/Is at the DZ has any questions, comments or concerns, I am available by email [email protected] and by phone (407) 859-9317. Please don't ever hesitate to call or write. My position at the factory only exists to make sure your positions (Strong T/Is) continue to exist! Thanks again for your support. Tom Noonan Tandem Director Strong Enterprises
  5. Tomas, I don't consider responding to you personally "a waste of time", except for the fact that it is clear that you are looking for a way to warp anything that I have written to suit your agenda. At what point did I say we didn't test old and new? we tested both new containers and old ones. You warped my statement again and put words in my mouth. I thought i was pretty clear that my only opinion was that your scenario could be found on any system with the same statistical probabilities. A freestowed freebag, can bag lock. By your logic, every manufacturer out there that builds one is doing so knowing that their equipment can malfunction, yet they still do it, and no one is trying to stop them? You say "significantly improved systems", I asked you to validate that with results of your independant testing. My statement is that there is no way that you personally can quantifiably show that one method is better than another, yet you make statements that one is a significantly improved method. Here's what I see: A rigger that puts a canopy in a container in direct contradiction to Service Bulletin #22, presumably because he "knows better", and gets offended that in light of clear evidence a company (SE) even dare suggest that the canopy played any roll in the incident. The same rigger, with Dual Hawk manual in hand, packs DHTs with 60% (1200) more jumps on the container than recommended and now questions "well what do you want us to do, stop using the gear?". If I were that rigger, after reading my manual, and realizing that my DHT was at it's recommended life limit, I would contact the manufacturer and ask them at 2000 jumps, what to do, not at 3200 jumps. The manufacturer, if it were SE, would probably say that we currently have 12 certified Service Centers located around the globe, and that you should send the H/C to the service center for maintenance and recertification (kind of like an aircraft). During that recert, things can be found and resolved before they become probiematic, including replacing flaps if deemed necessary, and then you can go back to running your equipment into the ground and then go online and complain about it to the world when it doesn't meet your standards after it's reach three times it's useful life cycle. Here's something to consider. Let's say you bought a brand new DHT in 2000 for $9990 US Dollars, and bouhht a second canopy and 2 extra line sets, totalling around $14000. You then go and make 2000 jumps. Your per jump cost is $7 per jump over the life of the system to 2000 jumps. Let's say you charge $175 US for a tandem jump, that means (gross profit) your making $350,000 on that investment of $14000 if you follow our life cycle recommendations. But no, from what your saying, in your part of the world that would be an outrage to suggest pulling equipment out of service before it is over used and......malfunctions? So when you come on line and talk about all these bad experiences that you and your mates seem to be having, I ask myself: 1) If they have ignored atleast two thing, SB #22 and recommended service life numers, what else are they ignoring? And is it these actions, or inactions that are causing them issues? But as is evidenced in your writing, it's easier to point the finger at us. Blame the manufacturer. Warping my words again: I am aware that horseshoe malfunctions can happen on any system. There is no greater or less probability on one reserve system versus another. I will apologize for one thing. I did say that I wouldn't continue to point/counter point this with you and here I am doing just that. I want to leave you with something to think about. In the first 25 years of tandem jumping, there were 56 incidents resulting in 72 fatalities across all tandem systems. Bill Morrissey, Bill Booth and Nancy LaRivierre worked together to build a database across the tandem manufacturers so that we as an industry could learn from it. You know what was found? That in 53 of 56 incidents (95%) the tandem pair, even when presented with an equipment malfunction, would still be alive today if the tandem instructor did what they were trained to do. Improper procedures or a lack of any action, turned 53 tandem emergency situations into fatal incidents. This is quantifiable data that was presented at PIA in 2009 in Reno. You can go on and on about the remote possibility of this and the remote possibility of that, but truth be told, the primary cause of most tandem incidents isn't the equipment, it's us, the tandem instructors. Let me ask you this: If your dropzone's tandem videos were all posted on Youtube, how many of the videos would show the T/Is doing a handles check? I know, I know, it disrupts the hand cam video....... Be vigilant with your rigging, but be equally as vigilant with your training and currency in tandem jumping. Tom Noonan Tandem Director Strong Enterprises
  6. A few years before I came to work for Strong Enterprises, as an active jumper/instructor and rigger, I encountered what I believed to be a "design flaw" in a pillow reserve handle of another sport rig manufacturer's system that could lead to a premature deployment of the reserve while freeflying under certain conditions. I emailed them the following day explaining my concern and offering my suggestion as to how to fix it. I received an email back thanking me for my information and that they would look into it. From what I have seen in the field the reserve pillows have been changed. Whether my input had anything to do with it or not is irrelevant, and whether I was right or wrong, is also pretty irrelevant. What is relevant I believe, is that I contacted the manufacturer directly, I didn't go online accusing them of shoddy work. To date, I have not seen any direct emails from you to Strong Enterprises expressing your concerns. If you personally, were truly concerned, why not go straight to the source? Had you emailed me directly with your concerns, your email would have been reviewed by myself, our head rigger, our head engineer and Mr. Strong. (Mr. Strong actually likes to respond personally to most inquiries) and in all likelyhood we would have set up a conference call with all of the aboved mentioned people, to discuss anything that you needed more assistance with. Regarding Mr. Strong's insistence on doing independant drop tests, I asked him once why he didn't want to test the cutters in a pressure chamber and he responded by saying that his T/Is in the field deserved to know that any AAD put into his system worked live in freefall, not just in a chamber. A reserve pack is a "system" and an AAD is only a component of the system, if you don't test it working in concert with other components, it is meaningless. While we are on the subject of AADs, did you know that before Mr. Strong approved the Cypres back in the day, that he personally performed a LIVE drogue in tow malfunction test jump to make sure the Cypres would activate without fouling any other component of the reserve system? He refused to place an AAD into his system without himself proving first hand that it would work as needed. He did that for you, he did that for me, he did that for every T/I that holds a Strong rating card. The DHT involved in the Czech incident was over eight years old, with no maintenance records, no estimation of how many jumps on the system and the loop used wasn't a factory loop. Our DHT owners manual (available online if you don't have one) lists, among other things, the "service life" of the harness/container. 3200 jumps on your test DHT? Tell me, do you think there is a reason that service life limits are imposed on equipment? And can you tell me what the service life limit is on a DHT harness/container according to the manual? I'll give you a hint....it's a little lower than 3200..... To answer your latest round of accusations: - We have done physical testing. - There is only one closing loop length that matters, the length we build them to in the factory and list in our manual. If you wear out a loop to the point that it stretches beyond it's required length, your supposed to........yes, change it out. If a manufacturer lists a reserve closing loop length of X, and you have a loop X+2 inches, would you close your reserve with it? No. Why then would it be okay to close your main with a loop longer than it's supposed to be? - It is possible to pack a bag lock on any freebag, even with the freestowed ones with the bungee thru loop for the first two locking stows. The 2+ decades that the MR 425 has been closed the way it has been shows that it has the same success rate as freestowed bags. - Going back to what I know and have personally seen, versus your conjecture, if in your "worst case scenario" an unstable reserve deployment, the relative mass of the freebag is much less than the tandem pair, and the reserve bag, with canopy inside, will lift off the tandem pair and release the lines and canopy. I have video proof of it. The "chokers" only ensure an orderly deployment of the lines, preventing line dump. Again, you can point/counter point this for all time. I don't expect you to acknowledge anything that I have written. I post this information for the rest of the field that may genuinely have an interest in learning more about the DHT. You say your disappointed in my last response. I'm a big believer in statistics. Based on the statistics (100%) of the private messages I have received thanking me for my professional responses in light of such dedicated negativity on your part throughout your postings, I feel pretty good about the outcome here and know that I have reached the people I wanted to reach, those that want to learn, and equally important, those willing to listen. Tom Noonan Tandem Director Strong Enterprises
  7. Honestly Tomas, your not going to hear much from me on this thread. As clearly evidenced by your postings on both this thread and the incidents forum, there is no amount of evidence or information that is going to sway your opinion, you will "point/counter point" this for all time. With that said, I will offer a few facts: 1) I personally did the AAD tests for Vigil and Argus. Mr. Strong paid (out of pocket) over $30,000 to test these AADS before he would allow them to be put in Dual Hawks. I say this because I personally packed 20 year old MR 425's in the reserve trays of the DHTS labelled Argus and another labeled Vigil. Each reserve went through three deployments; First) 500lbs at tandem terminal, approximately 186mph. Both opened fine at 2000ft when the units fired. Results: No damage to either reserve. I then repacked the same reserves and we dropped them in a drogue in tow configuration, 500lbs at 120mph. The SAME 20 YEAR OLD RESERVE opened fine on both drops. Again, the result, no damage. I then repacked the same reserves a third time and put them out at 3000ft with 500lbs ona subterminal exit on both systems, and once again, both reserves opened cleanly, within 3 seconds, and had no damage to the reserves. I did nothing special to these reserves. They were customer trade ins that had spent 18+ years in the field with who knows how many deployments. Not a single broken kevlar line on any of them. Before my trip to Mount Everest last year, Mr. Strong and I personally jumped anddeployed an 18 year old MR425 at 14,500ft to gather data for the trip. The result? Again, no damage to the canopy or lines. So..........you can go on an on about how unsafe you and your rigging mentors perceive the MR 425 to be, but I can sit here typing this with the knowledge and confidence that I have first hand experience regarding how well this reserve works. As the Strong Tandem Program Director and a tandem I/E, I take all my instructor candidates and all my examiner candidates on tandem terminal dives, and I do it fully confident that if in a worst case scenario I have to deploy my MR 425 at tandem terminal, I can. Can you believe there are T/Is out there (on all systems) that will throw a drogue unstable because they are AFRAID of a tandem terminal deployment? They increase one risk to offset another.....makes no sense, especially given the data to sustain that reserves are TSO'd to work at those high end operating limits. 2) You've written so much negativity, it's hard to clearly follow it all, but I also believe you wrote somewhere that Strong Enterprises was wrong to suggest that the size of HOPS 330 had anything to do with the main container coming out of the pack tray. To that I would offer you two points. The first is that we got two calls after the Czech incident from dropzones stating that the same thing had happened to them, but that the SET 400 stayed in the pack tray, resulting in a drogue in tow, which the instructor deployed the reserve past and landed uneventfully. Despite the fact that a HOPS 330 may appear to fill a bag similar in size to a SET 400 speaks nothiing of the density of the pack volume, as we all know, fabric expands. A SET 400 sits like a brick in the main d-bag, yet a 330 canopy has a greater chance for the bag to distort in shape because it is less dense in the bag, allowing it to be extracted from the side of the container. So, the cable incident has happened three times due to maintenance oversight, and in two of those incidents, with a SET 400 everyone walked away. 3) A dropzone on your side of the world did 14,000 tandems on Dual Hawks in either 2007 or 2008 and they had ONE malfunction which was later found to be a packing error......they provide impecable maintenance to the equipment. Does the Dual Hawk require regular maintenance? Yes, it's an industrial strength parachute system that, like all tandem equipment, requires periodic maintenance. Knowing what I know about how it works and equally as importantly, how involved Mr. Strong is on a day to day basis, every time I put a Dual Hawk on my back and go make a tandem jump, I do it fully confident that the equipment and the training has provided me everything I need to make a safe tandem jump. So, with all that said, I fully expect you to pick apart everything that I have written, as I said in the beginning, I suspect you are not concerned with education, rather you want to stir the pot, so be it. Tom Noonan Tandem Director Strong Enterprises
  8. Hey Kip, We do! We require that our Examiners ride on the front, at a minimum on the Level 4 tandem terminal jump and encourage them to ride on as many as they can. Our Tandem I/E course requires 2 tandem terminal jumps (one from the front and one from the back). We have been including having the Tandem I/E candidate throw the drogue and activate the main from the front at tandem terminal, as that is pretty much the worst case scenario going 180mph having to take over the skydive. It's a great experience for the Examiner candidate to know that on that tandem terminal, if the Instructor candidate brain locks, they can throw the drogue from the front and open the main. Blue skies amigo, Tom
  9. You have a lot of valid points and concerns. I can't really speak for the other equipment manufacturers in terms of how many Examiners are trained annually, but for our company (Strong) we only offer a limited amount of courses each year because we prefer to keep our Examiner pool small so the Examiners hold more courses. We'd rather have one Examiner hold three courses on the dropzone, than three examiners hold one course each. You need to be out teaching the info repetitively to keep sharp. Plus, every candidate has to pass a Bill Morrissey background check, which based on his 49 years in the sport, goes back a looooooong way.....lol. At just around 100 AFF jumps, I don't think I'm qualified to render a decision on the AFF eval prerequisite of 50 jumps, whether it's too high, or just enough. I do work with Kip, Jay and Rob Laidlaw quite often though and I think if it were put to a vote at the next BOD meeting, I would make sure I got input from all of them. (I'd also go track down Bram Clemente at ZHills). We (you, me and anyone else interested) have just under six months to put our heads together and address the issue so we can put it on the agenda at the next BOD. I am a few months late visiting the Georgia dropzones in my region, but I plan to visit all of my DZs before the winter 2010 meeting and get input from AFF Is and AFF I/Es on a number of different topics. (I'm also looking for input on the WSI proposal and wingsuits in general, but that's another topic in another forum.....lol). One thing this process on the BOD has taught me is that reason can prevail and that positive change isn't impossible to effect. I am all ears and interested in what people are thinking. (anyone) Please feel to email me at [email protected] with questions or concerns. Tom
  10. I think I can help answer the questions that you've posed. I believe the Minutes of the BOD will be posted in a week or two, but I don't think I'm violating any rules or regs speaking on it now, as nothing that was discussed or voted on was done so in closed session. So with that said, the reason a request was made to lower the number of 50 supervised tandem jumps under an I/E's supervision to 10 has a couple of explanations. 1) Getting 50 evaluation jumps could take someone upwards of 10 courses to achieve, and asking anyone to attend 10 courses to meet a pre-requisite is a little excessive in most peoples opinions. For example, I am holding a tandem course for 3 people in 2 weeks. That's 15 eval jumps before they go on to their "Phase II jumps with Experienced jumpers. I was asked by a local T/I to sit in and assist as he wants to be a Tandem I/E. Per our (Strong) Examiner regs, I have to make the tandem terminal with each person, so that leaves 4 jumps per person, 12 in total that I can share with him to help him get his jumps in. Let's a say I give him half, thats 6. So he attends a full course, with a typical size of 3 candidates and he gets 6 evals done under my supervision. He still has 42 more to go. 2) The other consideration is that reaching minimums isn't an automatic consideration. Bill Booth, Marc Procos, Ted Strong, myself, Nancy LaRivierre and John Sherman still have to endorse the candidate on the manufacturer system. We still have veto power over anyone that intends to teach as a tandem I/E on our equipment. 3) They still have to attend a manufacturer specific tandem I/E course to be certified and currently, myself (Strong), Jay Stokes & Kip Lohmiller (UPT) and Nancy LaRivierre (Jumpshack) are the only four people holding manufacturer examiner courses in the US, and I think most people that have attended any of these courses would attest that the standards are pretty high. 4) In the past, 100 tandems was all that was needed to be a Tandem Examiner, and the only USPA add on was to fax your letter of designation from Strong, UPT or Jumpshack to USPA to become a USPA Tandem TCD (you had to have held a USPA T/I rating for 3 years as well). So, the standards from USPA's perspective have certainly gone up, but all along, the standards from the manufacturers was never down to begin with. The USPA Tandem I/E rating is designed to show that you understand how the ISP relates to tandems and how tandem can be used to teach IAF, as well as how to make sure your teaching using IERC techniques and that you understand the paperwork process. So, in the end, we decided that we agreed with the instructors in the field that 50 I/E Supervised evaluation tandem jumps prior to attending a course was an excessive number and lowered it to a number that in theory, meant that you would have to attend atleast 2 courses with a Tandem I/E to get your 10 jumps which I believe that we all felt was ideal as a prerequisite to attend a USPA Tandem I/E course. With that said, if enough people truly disagree with it, let your regional directors know, and we can add it to the agenda of the next meeting and vote a change if the instructor pool in the field deems it necessary. My email is [email protected] If I can answer any other questions, let me know. Tom Noonan Tandem Director Strong Enterprises ps. - Only the President of USPA and the Executive Director can speak on behalf of USPA. The above statements are my personal opinion and view of what happened at the meeting. Thanks!
  11. Please forgive me Brian if I do not engage you on this point beyond my reply here, it's a moot point now at best. Tom Noonan
  12. Thank you. I have no agenda against wingsuiting. I actually support you guys and want to advocate for the discipline on the BOD. I only have 2 wingsuit jumps to date, but I plan on more this fall. I really enjoyed the two I made, I just can't seem to find the time lately to make more, doing alot of tandem and aff lately but I want to make sure that when the topic of the WS rating and education comes up again in six months at the next BOD meeting, that I have 100 wingsuit jumps so that I can make better educated choices and decisions. I don't know how many members of the BOD Safety and Training committee jump wingsuits, but I promise you, you'll have atleast one, me. If I can answer anyones questions, or if you want to voice any concerns, feel free to email me at: [email protected] Tom Noonan
  13. Douglas has a copy of my email correspondence with Chuck, the "suspension lines" thing was his (Chuck's) own creation. Sort of like when you pass a story on, it grows in proportion. Point is, it was a one on one conversation between an RD and a regional wingsuiter, in which the RD (me) was asking the well known wingsuiter to help curb this insane practice of swooping tandems in wingsuits before three people got killed, citing the information that Douglas shared at the (open to members) S&T meeting about this "incident" where a wingsuiter made contact with a tandem pair. (The burble possibility was not given at the time.) As for you calling all the dropzones in the West Coast, that's your perogative, but you chose to do that instead of waiting a day or two for the details. I mean seriously, what would you personally have learned by confirming what happened on a Tuesday that couldn't wait till Wednesday? Gee, I don't know......DON'T SWOOP TANDEMS? So to any and all that feel wronged because they "called around" to dropzones searching for info on this situation, it was your own "me-now" need for info that's to blame, certainly not Douglas, myself, or even Chuck. I am a very strong proponent of dropzone.com, but this is a perfect example of how dropzone.com does not work at times. This forum/thread effectively created a mountain out of a mole hill. A private conversation between two people erupted into west coast witch hunt for a wingsuit incident. Tom Noonan
  14. His name is Tom Noonan, SE Region. I don't have any more information than what I have already conveyed to Chuck, which he conveyed here. I made a comment at the BOD Safety and Training meeting during a break that it is "only a matter of time" before a collision occured and I was informed that it actually just had. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out who I was speaking with but at the same time, it's not my place to name them or demand of them, or anyone, anymore details in this public realm. If and when anyone involved or "in the know" wants to respond, I'm sure they will. If they choose not too, that's their prerogative as well. Tom Noonan
  15. To be clear, you are incorrect, I didn't say it would end skydiving, I said that it would end skydiving "as we know it" in the US, that it would drastically change the self policing freedoms that we are entrusted with today, and the effect will go BEYOND just wingsuiting, that is one of the central points to take away from this, it will affect all of us. Tom Noonan