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Everything posted by riggerrob

  1. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
  2. F.A.S.T. = Fully Articulated Suspension Technology refers to hip rings. Hip rings help with extreme leg positions in freefall and when you are stuffing big guys in small airplanes. Multi-Flex harnesses have hip and chest rings. Chest rings allow you to crank the chest strap really tight. This helps keep the shoulder straps where they belong during head-down freefall. Both terms were coined by Rigging Innovations, the company that invented ringed harnesses.
  3. Start with simple mistakes and over the course of a dozen jumps get progressively worse. For example, on the first dive forget to "check in" with one of the instructors, then do something that vaguely resembles the normal exit count. On your second dive together insert pauses into the normal exit count and exit with your feet on your butt. Keep your feet on your butt until they give you the correct signals. By the end of your dozen jumps together you can avoid eye contact in the door and just fall out, grab your ankles and tumble until they give you the correct signals. Though you may not enjoy the signals. Just yesterday afternoon, I was doing the last dive on a Progressive Freefall Instructors' Course. As my fake student and I spun through 4,000' he continued to ignore my shakes and shouts so I bit him on the butt. When he still didn't respond, I tossed his pilotchute. I passed the course, but his wife is getting suspicious!
  4. Since the extra steering line is going to fall out at line stretch, you are better off leaving it unstowed. The other reason for not stowing the extra steering line below the guide ring is that as it unstows it will slide through the guide ring at high speed and saw through the locking loop. Just push all the slack in your steering lines to the top.
  5. riggerrob


    Maximum suspended weights are determined by a process that involves engineering, salesmanship and a bit of legal mumbo jumbo. First of all the engineering department does a bunch of test jumps/test drops to determine the maximum weight at which a canopy will survive opening shock. Secondly they send up a bunch of highly experienced test jumpers to determine what is the MSW they can survive the landings. This MSW number is usually way higher than casual weekend skydivers can handle. Then the sales department surveys the market and tries to tell the market what it wants to hear. Finally the legal department adds a fudge factor to reduce risk, knowing full well that skydivers will exceed whatever MSW they publish. In conclusion, MSW is determined by a magical, mysterious process loosely linked to reality. If you do 1,000 jumps per year you can exceed MSW on a main. If you exceed MSW on a reserve - up to a maximum of 254 pounds - the canopy will probably survive opening shock, but your ankles may not survive the landing. Exceeding MSW on reserves makes you a fashion lemming and you will eventually go the way of the lemmings.
  6. Get a copy of the "Basic Canopy Flight 101" video from Skydive University. It is better organised and easier to follow. By the time you finish all the exercises in BCF 101, you will be better than half the "Stiletto pilots."
  7. Watch quietly from the edge of the packing mat. Keep a little notebook about how much they rolled the nose on a Sabre 135, etc. And ask people why they use a specific packing technique. You will hear a wide variety of opinions. Just remember that opinions are like arm pits. Every skydiver has them, but some of them stink!
  8. Assuming good quality control, reversed 3-rings on three-leged risers are fine. Reversed risers were popular in the early 1990s before we worked out all the bugs with mini risers. Three-legged risers are designed for the hardest-core canopy pilots who want their canopies to spread a little more for flatter glide and more stability. Three-legged risers also reduce friction on the steering lines because they eliminate a corner.
  9. To become an FAA ceritifed Senior Parachute Rigger you must pack a minimum of 20 reserves under supervision, then pass written, oral and practical tests. The practical test usually consists of inspecting and repacking a reserve, sewing a canopy patch, maybe a little hand-tacking plus any other minor task the examiner feels like assigning to you. The testing process is straightforward and examiners challenge you on common rigging problems. The oral exam consists of questions about common rigging dilemas asked during the practical test. To study for the written test, buy copies of Dan Poynter's "The Parachute Manual, Volumes I&II, and Poynter's latest rigger's study guide, the one he co-wrote with Mark Schlatter. Also get a recent Para-Gear catalog and a dozen or more owner's manuals for popular skydiving gear. The real challenge is in finding a rigger to supervise your 20 practice pack jobs. There are 4 ways to acquire this experience. First, you could apprentice under your local Senior or Master Rigger. The local process varies widely in time and knowledge, you also become intimate with many common rigging tools, like the broom! Apprenticeship will earn you the respect of local DZs, but your skill are limited to local rigging practices. Secondly, you could start the process under the supervision of your local rigger, then attend a short course. These 9 or 10 day courses are given every winter by people like Action Air, Dave DeWolf, Tom Dolphin and Cathy Schlatter. Away courses help to broaden your horizons by exposing you to the latest gear and techniques. The third method for becoming a rigger involves attending a long course given by a major loft like American School of Parachute Rigging. ASPR is at the Rigging Innovations factory in Eloy, AZ. They are fanatics and train rigger candidates to far higher standards than the FAA requires. Fourthly, you could enlist in the U.S. miltary as a parachute rigger. They will pay you to learn how to pack things like 100 foot diameter cargo chutes and you only have to pass the FAA written exam. They will also ship you to exotic faraway places where you have to fight with the local authorities for permission to jump. By fighting, I do not mean any of those wimpy town council meetings or law suits, I mean fighting with bullets and bombs! The disadvantage of military training is that you will still have to learn all about skydiving gear. Oh, and the good news is that once you have earned the FAA rigger's certificate, you can start learning how to rig. Learning is a life-long process.
  10. Craig Hanson makes some decent helmets. He built my first camera helmet. Greg Hunter is ... well ... Greg Hunter. He is a brilliant designer but has difficulty focusing on production. Chris Frizell started Bonehead Composites after he had problems with his Hunter Helmet. Chris and Larry Sanchez are businessman who are good at design and hire the right people for production. Bonehead currently builds the best skydiving helmets on the planet. I have one of their original box helmets, but would probably buy a Bonehead Flat Top or Bat Rack today.
  11. Stunts was started by Shooby Knutson. A few years ago, Jesse Rodrigues bought into the company. After Shooby's personality ...-off all the production staff, Stunts was left a bunch of incomplete Eclipse rigs, but no staff. So they asked Fliteline to finish building the incomplete rigs. Now it looks like Ray Ferrel is taking over Reflex production.
  12. How do blind skydivers know when to flare? The leash goes slack!
  13. Most Canadian DZs offer programs that combine a few IAD jumps from 3,000' (similar to S/L) followed by Progressive Freefall jumps from 10,000'. To clarify: Instructor Assisted Deployment is the same as static line - from the students' perspective. Riggers and airplane mechanics prefer IAD because gear lasts much longer.
  14. Since childhood I have recurring dreams about flying among the trees behind our house. Maybe in a previous life I was a bird, but a really naughty bird, so I reincarnated as a human.
  15. Just to clarify, the recent problem with Talon risers does not involve main risers breaking. Someone in production forgot to bartack (fancy stitch) the little white locking loops on the 3-Rings. And since the bartacks are hidden when the risers reach final inspection, the only way to be sure is to pull test them. Any rigger can do the pull test in a few minutes.
  16. Mike was right about stating to plan your approach as you walk out to the airplane. While the canopy flight schools at Perris and Elsinore and DeLand are great for learning how to fly tiny canopies, I suspect that they are a bit too advanced for the original poster. Better to consult your friendly neighborhood CSPA or Skydive University Coach and ask their advice on landing approaches. If no coaches are available, then ask Skydive U. to mail you a copy of their "Basic Canopy Flight 101" video. the BCF video is more systematic and I find it easier to follow their logic in developing canopy skills. The video - and accompanying textbook contain all sorts of skills that A Certificate jumpers "should know" but are rarely taught during the student process. If you work through all the exercises in BCF 101, you will quickly surpass the skills of many self-proffessed "Stiletto pilots." The next step in becoming a competent "Stilletto pilot" is to visit the Australian Parachute Federation's website and print out a copy of their pamphlet titled "High Performance Canopies." Blue skies and soft landings.
  17. Challenge that S.O.B. to explain that if S/L is so dangerous, how come hundreds of armies dispatch thousands of S/L jumpers per year - when many of those jumps are made from altitudes too low for reserve inflation - and military jump fatality rates are insignificant? Any time a salesman or politician starts talking down the competition I simply take my business elsewhere. Life is too short to dwell on that sort of negative vibe. "Stop killing my buzz."
  18. "beats the hike down that ruins my knee" That is the same reason that lazy French mountain climbers invented para-gliding. Just one caution about starting at 14,000' up Mt. Rainer" the air is thin. Your lungs will work overtime when you run and the canopy will fly faster. You will probably want to start with a canopy several sizes larger than you would jump at a sea-level DZ. Just think about how hard a Stiletto too tiny will land at 14,000.' As to your question about glide ratios ... skydiving canopies are trimmed steeply nose down. They are trimmed nose down for two reasons. Primarily this allows them to recover from any stall by simply releasing the brake toggles. Secondly, skydivers seem to enjoy all the extra forward speed that ground-hungry canopies produce. P.S. Yesterday I saw Mt. Ranier as we exited a Cessna at 10,000' over Pitt Meadows.
  19. S/L has two advantages. First, if the clouds are low, you can do S/L all day. Secondly, one S/L jump is less expensive than an AFF. So if you can only afford one AFF per month, you are better off doing 3 or 4 S/L per month. I agree with the others that the ideal program involves a mixture of techniques to limit the number of new tasks on each skydive. I recommend that every new jumper start with a tandem to see the big picture. Then most Canadian DZs tell students to do 2 or 3 IADs (a method similar to S/L) from 3,000. Once they have demonstrated the basics of canopy control, a pair of Progessive Freefall Instructors take them up to 10,000' to teach them freefall skills.
  20. Look at the doorway, suck some air in through your nose and blow your muscle tension out the door. Once you are on the step and have eye contact with your instructors, look forward, take a deep breath, blow it out, rock forward and off the plane. Out in freefall, look at you instructor, suck a full lung full of air in your nose and as you blow it out, feel you belly sag into the arch. Look at your altimeter and breath. Look at the horizon and breath. While you are thinking about your next task, breath in, then let your belly sag into the arch as you breath out. Do you get the idea?
  21. It is your money. If you feel that a dive is too "busy" then ask your instructor for fewer tasks. Doing fewer tasks per dive will mean more dives, but fewer repeats. In the long run it will cost about the same. Remember that freefall programs ware designed for the best student. The rest of us mere mortals require a few extra dives to master a particular skill.
  22. A lot of AFF/PFF instructors wear their altimeter on their left forearm or shift it to their right hand. Some deliberately take a lower grip on the leg strap. But in the long run, it comes down to student awareness. Pulling on an altimeter will not save your life. Neither will pulling on the loose end of a strap. It is important for students to identify the correct handle with their fingertips. This best way to develop this feel is to practice grabbing the correct handle dozens of times on the ground.
  23. Yes, that is the way we all started slope soaring/para-gliding back in the mid 1980s. My first few para-gliding flights were under a PD 260 skydiving canopy. Just a caution, dragging a skydiving canopy down a ski slope and leaving it laying in the sun will quickly wear it out. Leave the brakes unset. Read a book on para-gliding before you try launching off any hill. Pay a certified para-gliding instructor for a half-day's instruction. Have fun! I did!
  24. Sure, that is how we all started slope soaring/para-gliding back in the mid 1980s. I did my first few student flights under a PD 260 skydiving canopy. There are two disadvantages to using skydiving gear for slope soaring. First of all, dragging canopies through the weeds soon results in small holes and tears that are expensive to repair. Secondly exposure to sunlight rapidly deteriorates parachute fabric in a manner that is impossible to repair. Thirdly, after your first dozen or two dozen flights, you will long for a canopy with a slower rate of descent and flatter glide. All these technical issues have been addressed by para-gliding manufacturers. Their fabric is more durable and includes UV inhibitors. They also get into really exotic elliptically tapered canopies that glide very flat and can catch the weakest lift. The disadvantage is that para-gliding canopies require special techniques to reinflate after stalls. Read a book on para-gliding before you try running down a slope with you skydiving canopy and I strongly encourage you to pay a cetified para-gliding instructor for a half day of instruction. Yes, leave the brakes unset for all para-gliding flights. Finally, You might want to look at web sites for the United States Hang Gliding Association and similar organisations and manufacturers. Have fun! I did!
  25. Neat is nice, but you can waste all day straightening out things that are only relevant to BASE jumpers. Only a few things are critical, the rest is fluff. 1. Are the brakes set? 2. Are the lines straight? 3. Is the slider all the way to the top? 4. Is the tail rolled tightly around the canopy? 5. Are the rubber bands tight? 6. Are you manifested for the next load? Rolling the tail is insignificant by itself, but a tightly rolled tail helps keep the slider at the top of the lines.