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  1. tombuch

    Medical Question

    This probably isn't a great place to get medical advice. It could be as simple as a torn muscle, or it could be much more serious with internal bleeding or weaknesses that could be further aggravated by another jump. Visit a doctor. Simply explain you were skydiving and had a hard opening. Explain you were descending at about 120mph and suddenly decelerated to almost zero while being shifted from a flat belly to earth position to a standing position. Deceleration injuries are common, and are often associated with a car crash. A reasonable doctor should be able to understand that.
  2. tombuch

    Free Gear Rental days ...

    I've never heard of that kind of promotion, but it sounds like a great idea. Offering free rentals on Friday gets beginners out to the DZ just as the weekend is starting, and makes it easier to keep them involved.
  3. tombuch

    Pyramid of Disaster

    When I was the Safety and Training Adviser at The Ranch (New York) I gave that lecture a few times, and prepared a posting for the S&TA part of our web site. Those written posts became my "seminar in a box" outline so I could deliver the content of a variety of topics easily when we hit weather holds, or when jumpers were looking for safety discussions. I gave up the S&TA position a few years ago, but the posts are still available at: The one you are looking for is called "Article 17, A Safety Culture." It doesn't use actual incidents as examples, but rather focuses on a hypothetical where the elements are more obvious. I could then relate the material to specific accidents I had investigated on the DZ.
  4. tombuch

    Your hole closed

    No. In the United States the airspace below that hole belongs to the public, and is freely accessible to pilots and aircraft. The wrist mount altimeter does not provide any assurance the airspace is clear, nor does it protect against a collision with other parachutes. And of course jumping through clouds is illegal and thus the pilot, DZO, and anybody else involved could be prosecuted. Plus, as a tandem instructor you have made a commitment to the student to follow the rules and keep the jump as safe as possible. In the United States jumping through clouds is just plain wrong, and we shouldn't be looking for little tiny cracks in that right/wrong argument to slip ourselves through.
  5. tombuch

    Tandem Packing

    Talk to a rigger and have him watch you packing. Ask the rigger to show you how mistakes can cause a line-over. If you are packing in the United States you must be under the direct supervision of a rigger who must provide training and ongoing supervision, and that rigger must take responsibility for the work you do. It is not enough to simply approve you to pack...the rigger must provide continuing oversight. Both you and the rigger should be clear as to what that oversight entails, and it should be documented. For more information about the regulations in the United States, see "Article 11--Who Can Pack a Main Parachute" on The Ranch web site at:
  6. I like a student who is engaged and interested, but lazy instructors might disagree. I am always impressed when a student knows what is covered on the jump, and is prepared with good questions that are related to the material we plan to cover. Hopefully your DZ has some kind of syllabus or manual that will help you know what your next level involves. In addition to that I'd recommend reading the USPA Skydivers Information Manual (SIM) available free as a download or on-line document, or as a spiral bound book at a small charge. The Integrated Student Program is covered in section 4, with the flow of each jump and important information broken out by levels/categories. Each level concludes with a short quiz. The SIM is available at Read up on the jump, understand everything you can, and ask questions about the material you don't understand. Keep in mind that many instructors are busy during the jump day, but they are often available early or after jumping, and weather holds are a great time to pick their brains. So, good jump related questions are ideal while in the training session, and then follow-up with more questions and friendly socializing when the time-pressure is off. Oh yeah, don't forget to smile and have fun!
  7. Perhaps this side-thread would be better in gear and rigging, or BASE. In any event... I'm no longer doing wing suit flight or BASE jumps, but my sense is that a wing suit flyer who is NOT traveling across the ground would have a tremendous burble. That probably isn't a problem for an aggressive flyer, but beginners might be placed in greater risk, and there may be times when an experienced flyer wants to deploy without horizontal speed. And I wonder what happens to the burble when the suit is stalled. Just my thoughts. Keep the discussion going. It's always worth reviewing what we have done when considering what we should do.
  8. tombuch

    advice on old school jumpsuit please

    Buy it now. Jump it later. I'm guessing the jump suit has tons of material, and probably swoop cords in the arms to catch even more air. Back in the day we thought the best way to build formations was to slow everybody down, but especially slow down the biggest guys. That created some really slow and ugly jumpsuits. And some ugly formations as people tried to reach for grips. Crashes and funnels. Neat stuff. The jumpsuit you are looking at will probably not be appropriate for contemporary skydiving, but it will be a bunch of fun to play with when you have many more jumps and can maintain stability, especially through the pull sequence. I'd say it's a good play thing for $20.00. It will make a nice addition to your closet, and a nice conversation piece at the DZ. In a while it'll be a fun plaything too. But it will probably not be an appropraite jump suit for regular skydiving in the 2000's
  9. tombuch

    Gotta give props to the FAA... (no pun intended)

    If you are a member of AOPA you can also check their on-line database of medications, and can even complete a pre-FAA-medical application that will flag any unusual conditions or medications long before you get to the AME. It makes the process painless. And if, by chance, there is a problem, their telephone support people will help guide you to resolution. Not a bad deal for $39.00. And oh yeah, most of my FAA experiences have been pretty positive.
  10. tombuch

    ANOTHER Class 3 thread. Please help if you can!

    If you are a member of AOPA they will be happy to help you out. If not, it wouldn't hurt to give them a call (800-872-2672) and see if they will bend the rules and offer an informational assist. If that doesn't work you could check in with the FAA directly. They have a wealth of information on their web site regarding medical issues, and a series of phone contacts. The main web site is, but medical issues are covered at
  11. Perhaps try a tandem jump first. Go with an experienced instructor who understands how to teach canopy control and make the tandem jump about that alone. You could add some freefall fun (spins and such) just to get smiling again if you so choose, but really focus on parachute skills. Especially work on team landing skills. My hunch is that your fractured lumbar vertebrae were compressions from landing on your butt. That's the most common mechanism of injury that will fracture the lumbar spine, and is usually the result of lifting you legs with a straight vertical descent. There are no protective devices that I know of for reducing that kind of injury. Traditional spine protectors will help if you land flat on your back, but they won't do anything for the vertical component of a butt strike. As you train for your next jump do some extra work on parachute landing falls (PFL's). And then prepare to use this skill on every jump to roll off any extra speed, rather than lifting your legs as you may have been trained to do on your first tandems. Our industry has done a real disservice to students by minimizing PLF training. It's a skill that we should all be prepared to use on every jump, and a skill that can save us even when we have thousands of jumps. Welcome back to the sport!
  12. tombuch

    Possible Otter AD's

    Another excellent reason to join AOPA! For those of you who do not know about AOPA... This is the organization that defends general aviation. It is mostly composed of pilots and aircraft owners, but it really represents all of GA, including those of us in the skydiving world. AOPA has been working closely with USPA, but I think both organizations recognize that the more skydivers join AOPA, the more attention AOPA will pay to our interests. That is especially important when we have airspace or airport conflicts between jumpers and pilots. Obviously it is important to have AOPA and their more than 400,000 members in our corner when it comes to keeping costs down for the maintenance of older aircraft, but they far more than that. There is another thread about user fees, something both USPA and AOPA have been working hard to keep at bay. AOPA has been especially successful in keeping these fees out of legislation approved by Congress, but now faces a veto unless Congress caves in to pressure from the airlines and the President. If you are flying in an old Cessna that uses regular car gas rather than the more expensive Avgas, AOPA has been working to keep this product available. See the full range of work they are doing as listed on their web site under Government Advocacy. In any event, check out their web site at Click on the Membership services link to join, or call them at 800-872-2672. Membership is an amazing bargain at just $39.00
  13. tombuch

    Exit Separation for Pilots

    Nice work Dave. I wrote a feature for The Ranch S&TA site a few years ago that covered the same ground. It begins with a discussion about how we figure the time between groups, and then lists ground speed at various upper wind speeds. Finally it computes the required time between groups to allow 500 feet, 1,000 feet, and 1,500 feet of separation. We began with 500 feet as the minimum because that's what our pilots and drop zone management thought was appropriate given the costs of running the airplanes. I agree that 1,000 feet is a better starting point. The final chart was printed out and posted at manifest along with winds aloft for the day. That way jumpers could figure out the required seperation when they manifested. The article is #15 called "Waiting Between Groups" available at:
  14. I’ve done a few. My most interesting was with an AFF level one from a Porter, with two fun jumpers along for the ride. The plane was being flown in the left seat by a rookie, who was being trained by an outstanding pilot in the right seat. The engine suddenly lost all power at about 10,000 feet, roughly five miles from the DZ. It immediately freaked the heck out of my AFF partner, but didn’t seem to bother the student too much. Since my partner was freaked out, I had to devise a plan. If we got out right away the student would certainly be landing off the drop zone in an unfamiliar field without radio, but if we stayed with the plane there wouldn’t be any time for freefall. When I checked with the pilot he didn’t care. The fun jumpers were looking to me for a decision, as was my freaked out AFF partner. I decided to stay with the plane as the pilot turned back toward the DZ. We lost a few thousand feet and traveled a few miles before my partner finally spoke up, asking “Where is the DZ?” Not a great question considering she had been sitting on the bench seat with huge windows and easily visible landmarks. So I told her where we were, and what our altitude was. Really, she was scared and clueless. Then I told her we would get as close as we could to the DZ and do a standard exit with immediate deployment. At about 6,000’ I put the fun jumpers out and suggested they open high. By 5,000’ we were ready to exit with the student, still a good distance from the airport, but probably within range. At least my student could see the field and the radio operator could see the student. My partner was still super freaked out and insisted it would be better to do a seated exit, rather than the planned poised exit. It wasn’t necessary for the student, but since my partner insisted and seemed to scared to discuss the options intelligently I went along with the suggestion, and briefed the student on the new exit. That little bit cost us some agl’s, and took us to just above 4,000’. We were in the door with grips when my partner suddenly suggested it would be better if I (as main side) dumped for our student. It didn’t seem necessary, but that wasn’t the time for discussion so I quickly agreed. The exit was flawless, I pulled for my student as his eyes and hand followed along. As I fell away I silently cursed myself for denying the student a chance to pull, something he would have been able to handle with ease. Just as my student landed with a soft stand-up on the airport, the airplane came in for a perfect deadstick, and then coasted easily to the maintenance building. As I was walking back with my first time student, who was super relaxed throughout, he asked why the other instructor was so scared. Go figure. The two fun jumpers and my partner also made it back with no worries, and we all shifted to a different airplane for the rest of the day. And I took the student back up with a different partner for a very fun and relaxed conventional level one.
  15. tombuch

    Is Ski instructing similar?

    Interesting questions. I have earned USPA ratings as an instructor in AFF, SL, IAD, and Tandem, and was one of the first Coach Course Directors. I’m also certified as a snowboard instructor (level 2) by AASI (PSIA). The benefits of teaching to personal participation can be equivalent in both sports. You may find you flying getting better once you start teaching, but not to the same degree as in the PSIA/AASI model. Unfortunately, USPA does not provide much advanced flight training, so instructors often stagnate (and sometimes even get worse) unless they make a real effort improve their own flight skills by adding team training or a different kind of skydiving. Therefore, I strongly suggest that you build your own improvement training program that includes teaching as well as non-teaching jumps. As for your “wish” that skiers couldn’t get on a lift without lessons, that may have once been true, an really old timer can probably shed some light on that. Certainly it was once true for snowboarding. I teach at Stratton, which is the home of the very first snowboard school, started in 1983 by Jake Burton to help issue “licenses” for riders. Those licenses were required to get on a lift with a board. That licensing program was abandoned several years later. Interestingly, just a few years ago Stratton began a new park pass program that requires a short video training session prior to use of any of our parks, followed by the issue of a special park access pass. When instituted it reduced injury rates by as much as 50% in our big park, and was subsequently rolled out to all the parks. It also makes the parks more fun because everybody in them knows about Smart Style. You are probably correct that discussion of injury issues will never get traction in the ski industry. The business interests want guests to feel like the sport is “safe,” and they work hard to keep the actual injury rate of roughly 1 reportable injury for every 400 skier days out of the public’s eye.