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Everything posted by riggerrob

  1. Lifetimes on reserve canopies are vague. It is really an "on condition" issue. Repacking slowly loosens fabric. High speed openings put more strain on fabric and lines, but the worst wear comes from dragging through the weeds. Practical limits include 40 repacks, 4 terminal openings, more than 1 sewn patch or some vague chronological guidelines. If a rig has been jumped hard (300 jumps per year) in the desert, the container is probably worn out, which leads us to suspect the condition of the reserve canopy. If a rig has been carefully stored in a cool, dry, dark closet, it is probably still airworthy up to 20 years. Older than 20 years, you have to start asking design questions. The oldest square reserves I will repack are Swift 5 cells, which were certified in the low speed category of TSO c23b in 1981. Mind you, the Swift owner will have to listen to a lengthy explanation about how any reserve certified in the Standard Catagory of TSO c23c or c23d would be better. Reserve technology has not changed significantly since TSO c23c was introduced in the mid 1980s. Finally, I refuse to repack any reserve that is older than me! I turn 44 this month.
  2. Do 7 cells out-perform 9-cells? It depends upon which corner of the envelope you want to fly in. Yes, tiny, elliptically tapered canopies like Icarus Extremely Extremes are the best things available for turf-surfing and blade running, but you won't catch me shooting accuracy, or flinging myself off a bridge, or docking on a stack with an Icarus Extremely Extreme. My point is that Icarus Extremely Extreme canopies sacrifice all other aspects of performance so they can become the best possible turf-surfers in this atmosphere! Other companies manufacture specialized 7 cells for other corners of the performance envelope. For example: all specialized BASE canopies are large, lightly loaded, low aspect ratio 7 cells. BASE jumpers prefer 7 cells for thier consistent, on heading openings. They prefer low wing loadings for softer landings between the boulders, trees and fast flowing rivers that surround their landing sites. For most of the same reasons, accuracy competitors prefer large, lightly loaded 7 cells for slow, steep predictable approaches on the edge of the stall. Almost all reserves are 7 cells because back in the early 1980s designers realised that 7 cells had the most predictable openings. CReW jumpers stick with 7 cells because they will survive rough docks and still stay inflated. In conclusion, yes Icarus Extreemly Extreem canopies out perform Triathlons, but only in one corner of the envelope. They are dangerous or useless in other corners. So when you say that one model out performs another model, please specify which corner of the envelope you are referring to.
  3. You know it's a bad day when the lazy local rigger is rushing about. You know it's a bad day when you see a Manta descending very slowly and there is nothing hanging below the leg straps. You know it's a bad day when you stumble home from a party to find a guy bleeding to death in the parking lot. You know it's a bad day when you arrive at the DZ to find the runway covered with trucks and flashing lights.
  4. That King Air used to fly jumpers at Perris, but after it landed wheels up a couple of times they sold it. The first wheels up landing was a mechanical failure, the second was pilot error. Now all the airplanes at Perris have their wheels welded in the down position.
  5. No rules governing who can freefly in Canada, just some vague guidelines. Last weekend we had a group discusion with the head of CSPA's Coaching Committee. We concluded that aspiring freefliers should have the (belly flying) RW endorsement signed for their "A" Ceritificate of Proficiency. Then they should do a few dozen sit flying jumps. Followed by stand-up jumps and late in the program they should try head-down. Local freefliers agree with this progression.
  6. Yes there are pilots who do not understand GPS. It was not even invented when I learned to fly!
  7. It's amazing how many of my skydiving buddies have sprained their ankles during baseball tournaments. At least that is what they told their bosses Monday morning!
  8. Back in the mid 1980s the Black Forest Parachute Club used to land beside the Rod and Gun Club. We had an agreement with the R&G Club that if any skydiver went in, they would run over and pump both barrels into him. That way we could write it off as a hunting accident!
  9. Keep it simple for your first few jumps. Just do what your instructor tells you to do in the first jump course. Your extra knowledge can be applied after you have a half dozen jumps. Then you can tease your instructors into assigning you canopy flying tasks like riser turns and fine tuning your landing pattern. By the time you complete the S/L program you will have double the time under canopy of any AFF student, and judging by your curiousity, you will have triple the canopy skills. Half the people who hurt themselves while hook turning never plan to hook turn, they just arrive at low altitude without a plan.
  10. Because the Diablo is the twitchiest of the 7 cells, it would be an excellent transition canopy if your long term goal is turf-surfing. After a few hundred jumps on the Diablo, yo could trade it for a more exotic elliptically tapered, cross-braced, 27 cell, airlocked turf-surfing machine. Your specialized new canopy will cover more ground, but its turns will remind you of the Diablo.
  11. 2 subjects: First the guys from PD promised us a Sabre 2 that is a slightly tapered nine cell that is more forgiving of sloppy packing. Geeh! Sounds a lot like a Safire. Speaking of Safires ... I only have 3 jumps on a Safire 149 and thought it flared great! Yes, the Safire required a longer toggle stroke to get a full flare, but it surfed beautifully and set me down softly in the pea gravel bowl. Why are those newbies whining? What is their point?
  12. My old Mirage was retrofitted with a Spandex BOC. My Talon 2 has a Spandex pouch with an extra Cordura flap. The extra Cordura flap protects the Spandex, but it adds an extra step to the packing process. When I finally get around to building my radically new contribution to the art of container design, I will probably build it with a Cordura BOC. Finding the correct Spandex is a challenge and stocking a variety of colors of Spandex is a production manager's nightmare!
  13. Call Tom Sanders at Aerial Focus in Santa Barbara, California.
  14. When dropping pumpkins remember to take the spot a loooong way out over an open field!
  15. Sound decision making process, but you probably need more background knowledge before you start making these low altitude decisions on a regular basis. Half the people who "hook turn" themselves into the hospital didn't plan on hook turning, them just found themselves at low altitude without a plan. DZBone had some good advice about doing a half-brake turn to follow the others. You lose a lot less altitude in a half-brake turn. Try practicing half-brake turns on your next skydive. Glance at your altimeter before and after every turn to determine how much altitude you lose in different types of turns. Get in the habit of trying to learn something new about your canopy on every skydive. Just remember to practice every new maneuver a few times above 2,000' before you try it close to the ground. Finally ask your friendly neighborhood CSPA or Skydive University Coach to critique your landings and help set goals for your next few canopy flights. If you bribe them with sandwiches and cool beverages, they may even let you peek inside their textbooks! Skydive University also sells an excellent textbook and videotape combination titled "Basic Canopy Flight 101."
  16. You asked for the opinion of an opinionated old jumpmaster. Well here goes! All the other junior jumpers are giving you sound advice. This argument was covered in great detail under the heading SL unsafe? I believe that students should have the opportunity to absorb a little new information on each jump. That is why I recommend that all first-timers go tandem. Then most Canadian schools run students through a half day of lectures and ground practice before sending them up for 2 or 3 Instructor Assisted Deployment jumps (similar to static-line from the student's perspective). Once they have mastered the basics of steering and landing a canopy, we pass them off to the Progressive Freefall Instructors who take them up to 10,000' to teach them freefall skills. After students graduate from PFF, we encourage them to continue refining their skills under the supervision of coaches.
  17. Ultimately each jumper is responsible for his/her own safety. If you feel the spot is bad because of clouds or strong winds, ride the plane down. If the jump light is not on then it is illegal to exit the airplane because the pilot has not given you permission to jump. He risks losing his license if he allows you to exit the airplane anywhere you might create a hazard to other airplanes or people on the ground. The pilot may have deliberately left the jump light off because air traffic controllers warned him about an airplane flying underneath. Finally, if you are in a big airplane with multiple groups/formations, it is bad manners to wait until you have the "perfect spot" before exiting. In that situation, waiting for the perfect spot might put the last formation out over the swamp!
  18. I did not see your landing or know how heavily you load your canopy, ... IMHO ... The most common explanation for turns during the landing flare is flaring unevenly. Uneven flaring may be caused by several factors. First the lines may no longer be symmetrical. Ask a rigger to inspect your lines. Secondly, as you mentioned, you may be "reaching" with one foot. This naughty habit makes the harness assymmetrical. Thirdly, because of old injuries, right-handedness, etc. few of our bodies are symmetrical. So when it feels like you are flaring evenly, chances are one toggle is farther down. Fourthly, when you feel yourself starting to fall off to one side, you instinctively stick out that hand to break the fall. This instinct works great except when you have a steering toggle in your hand. Now sticking out a hand only makes the turn worse. Try flaring with your hands in front of your belly, where you can see them. Finally, ask your friendly neighborhood CSPA or Skydive University Coach to critique your landings. You can make the coach's job much easier if you can provide videotape of your last few landings.
  19. des, You and I are going to have to agree to disagree on whether S/L is safer than AFF. The fewer variables, the lower the risk. When a S/L instructor lets go of a student there is a 99 per cent chance that student will soon have a good main parachute overhead. Can't beat those odds with any other system! The fewer new bits of information, the higher the chances of sucess. It is the heigth of arrogance for AFF Instructors to believe that every student can absorb and use the huge volume of information presented in a typical AFF First Jump Course! AFF doctrine defies what USPA teaches in the Basic Instructor Course. BIC candidates are taught that a student can absorb - at most - 7 new pieces of information in one sitting. Granted the perfect student can apply all the information dished out during an AFF ground school. The rest of them mumble "I hope I can remember all this stuff," as they stumble towards the airplane. While I will agree that AFF is the better method for teaching freefall skills, it is the most risky for teaching first timers. Fortunately there is an all-encompassing solution to this debate. Feed students a little new information on every skydive and use all the methods of instruction available. Start all first-timers with a tandem jump. Then run them through the first jump course and have them do 2 or 3 S/L or IAD jumps. After they have demonstrated basic canopy skills, then hand them to the freefall instructors. Canadian DZs have been doing variations on this theme for 20 years. In case you think I am biased towards any one system, look at my ratings: USPA Instructor in S/L, IAD and Tandem methods CSPA Coach 2, Instructor B and Progressive Freefall Master Rigger, jump pilot, opinionated old fart, etc.
  20. You can induce line twists in any heavily-loaded canopy by being too aggressive with toggle inputs. This phenomenon has killed several highly experienced skydivers, including my friend Bruce Geikie. The best cure is education. Go directly to the Australian Parachute Federation's website. Print out a copy of their pamphlet "High Performance Canopies." Read HPC. Start practicing the exercises outlined in the pamphlet. Hopefully a CSPA or Skydive University Coach can help you plan dives and debrief you after landing. Ideally someone will video tape your landings for the de-brief. Heavily loaded canopies are not inherently dangerous, just intolerant of sloppy flying.
  21. I have repacked a few Strong G2R and G3R reserves. They are well-built canopies based upon Bill Gargano's: X228, Commet, Hobbit, Spirit, Wizard line, all decent, 1980s vintage reserves. But because they have fewer reinforcing tapes than say PD or Amigo reserves, it is unwise to load them at much over 1 pound per square foot. On the other hand, it is unwise to load any F-111 canopy at much over 1 pound per square foot, unless you enjoy shooting pains in your ankles! Hee hee! But that is an entirely different thread @masochist.com.
  22. Yes, Firelite reserves work and they are duly TSOed, etc. Just be careful of your weight. Back when Firelites were fashionable main canopies, I did a few jumps on a Firelite main. It opened and flew fine, but I did not enjoy the landings. Despite weighing 170 pounds naked and doing stand-up landings in the pea gravel bowl, my ankles always experienced shooting pains. Conclusion, at 170 pounds, I was too heavy to jump a Firelite. This is not a critque of Firelites specifically, rather it points out weight limitations on any small reserve. While more modern reserves - like PDs and Amigos - may flare a bit better, it is still unwise to exceed wing loadings of 1 pound per square foot on reserves.
  23. Esoterica ... It is possible to pack a spring-loaded pilotchute so that it hesitates. If the spring is cylindrical and you forget to stuff fabric in between the coils, the spring might "lock up" and never fully extend. From a practical point of view, get with the 1980s sister! Convert to hand-deploy.
  24. The Diablo is the fastest turning, most responsive of modern 7-cells. Some people like that. Diablos are too "twitchy" for my taste. I like canopies that turf-surf long distances but don't care how fast they turn. My boss describes the Diablo as "a Stiletto without the scary line twists on opening." Yes, the Diablo is more forgiving for packing and opening. On the other hand, it turns so fast that you have to be really smooth on the toggles. Diablos are probably the least forgivng (7-cells) when you do low turns sloppily.
  25. Go with volume numbers published by the Micron factory: Relative Workshop.