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  1. Here's an e-mail I just got of newspaper article on it. Skydiver Dies After Landing Goes Awry Manchester Man, 34, Was Trying High-Speed Maneuver July 19, 2002 By CHRISTINE DEMPSEY, Courant Staff Writer ELLINGTON -- A parachutist died early today of injuries suffered when attempting an advanced maneuver during his landing at Ellington Airport. Raymond Lavallee, 34, of Manchester, died at St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center, spokesman Pete Mobilia said. Lavallee was taken there after the accident Thursday by helicopter from Rockville General Hospital in Vernon. It was the second fatal skydiving accident at the airport since early May. Shortly before noon, Lavallee jumped out of a Twin Otter airplane at 3,000 feet while others stayed in the plane for a jump from a higher altitude. His canopy opened without a problem, said Ted Ganger of Rocky Hill, an instructor and one of the skydivers inside the plane. As he approached the ground, Lavallee performed a "low hook," Ganger said. In the maneuver, the parachutist swoops downward and speeds along almost parallel to the ground. The skydiver then touches down lightly, running along until he or she slows to a halt. Ganger said that Lavallee appeared to trip as he ran along, falling face down. "Initial information reveals that he came down under a full canopy and he hit the ground extremely hard," said Sgt. Bill Konieczny of the Troop C barracks. Lavallee lost consciousness and was unresponsive, he said. The state police and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating. Ganger said that Lavallee had been jumping at the airport for three to five years and had made about 500 jumps. Lavallee, who was a bartender in Manchester, was a member of Connecticut Parachutists Inc., the nonprofit skydiving club based at the airport. High-performance landings are becoming popular, but even some experts believe they are dangerous, according to Parachutist magazine, a publication of the United States Parachutist Association. In his article in the magazine's February edition, Kevin Gibson wrote: "High-performance landings present many more opportunities for a jumper to make a mistake, and the higher speeds make the results more serious." Thursday's accident was the second since May 6, when instructor Robert "Bobo" Bonadies, 47, fell to his death after helping a student pull her parachute cord. A police investigation showed that Bonadies had no chance to pull his own cord. He was president of the Connecticut Parachutists and had jumped from a plane more than 2,000 times. Courant Staff Writer Tina A. Brown contributed to this story. Deepest condolences to all Ray's friends and family.
  2. Donna

    Pre-jump Jitters?

    I agree that this is perfect timing for this post. I had knee surgery and haven't jumped in over 8 months. I am physically able to jump now but just couldn't bring myself to go to the dz this past weekend. I've always been really nervous about jumping, starting as soon as I wake up on jump day. (just read a few of my jump stories! ) I only have 45 jumps and keep seeming to have long layoffs whenever I start to feel a bit less nervous. I am so happy to find out that others have similar feelings. I can't believe that others have felt happy when it rained. I thought I was the only one who did that! When my husband and I went out to jump a week and a half ago and got grounded because of the smoke from the Canadian fires we were so relieved. We were probably the only people happy about it. (He's nervous this time too as it will be his first jump back after he broke his back on a bad landing.) The only way I even got myself to the dz that day was to convince myself that I was just going to watch him jump (and even that makes me scared now!) though I was hoping I'd be able to actually get myself on the plame, too. It seems every Monday I am so pumped to jump again and can't wait to do it but by the weekend I just want to throw up and quit the sport forever. I have been driving myself crazy with this the past few weeks. I LOVE jumping once I'm out that door but I just don't know if I can take all the pre-jump jitters any more. Plus I get really down on myself for being such a wuss about it and end up feeling so discouraged and disappointed in myself. I hear most people get past these feelings after 40-50 jumps so maybe if I can just keep jumping with no more long layoffs mine will go away. Right now I'm just kind of stuck on flashbacks of my hubby on the hospital which isn't helping. It has helped in the past when I've talked to some of the instructors about it and heard some of their own stories of dealing with this so I plan on trying to drag myself out to J'Town this weekend and do just that. Hang in there, Adam. I bet you get past this soon. Oh.... another thought. Go on a really hot day and after you are sweating up a storm in the plane you can't wait to get out that door!
  3. Those damn vans! That's how my husband got hurt.... downwind landing (winds 15-18mph), just missing powerlines and on to the top of a van! Actually they say the van might have saved his life. Lesson - Don't get fixated on the making it back to the landing area. I think he just wanted a better story than my tree landing.
  4. Donna

    Back in the sky!

    Congratulations, Joe! That took a lot of courage. You should be damn proud of yourself. Have fun up there! Donna
  5. I'm so very sorry to hear about your friend, Tim. My deepest condolences to you and all his other friends and family, especiallyhis wife and daughters. Blue skies forever, Donna
  6. AHA! I bet it was Rhonda that called in that smoke since her rig was out of date and then she wouldn't feel bad for not being able to get to jump! J/K!! Sorry we missed seeing you both, Rhonda and Adam. (Did get to see meet Joe!) You must have been there earlier than us. They weren't even doing any cessna jumps when we were there. I can see rained out, clouded out, winded out but smoked out?? Too weird! I didn't even know about a fire in Canada! I'm glad I got to at least be there a bit though. I've been getting really anxious about jumping again, especially after Bernie's injury. I had been feeling like we were crazy to be doing this but then after 5 minutes at Jumptown I felt we were normal again!
  7. Oh be quiet you Fancy Lad!!!!! Maybe next weekend!
  8. Hey Rhonda! He broke 4 vertebrae in his back on May 4th on a bad landing but he is much better now and had been planning on trying a jump today until we got smoked out. Taking flying lessons?? That sounds like so much fun! Hope to see you at J'town soon!
  9. Hi Adam, Jumptown is a great DZ. My husband and I both jump there. We haven't been around much lately as he was injured a few months ago and I was out due to knee surgery but we might be back this weekend. Our rigs were both in for repacks so we will be by to at least pick them up so I'll look for you. Good luck with your AFF. If you have any questions about anything feel free to ask. Blue skies, calm winds, hopefully! Donna
  10. Unfortunately we didn't make it. My deepest sympathies to the family and friend of this woman.
  11. When I went to buy my first gear I read everything I could about it online and decided a Triathlon 190 sounded good for me. (Loaded around .86) Most people and instructors at my DZ agreed that it sounded about right. A few people did question why I was going so big but just casually. No one there tried to talk me into going smaller. When I first got my rig I was having trouble with the top of it pushing against my helmet while arching keeping my head down a bit. I talked to a lot of people about this problem and I was shocked at how many tried to talk me into going smaller. A guy from Sunpath talked to me on the phone for over an hour one day trying to convince me that I needed to get a 150 Spectre. (I had been asking if a Javelin would give me the same trouble.) Then I talked to a DZO who uses the same kind of rig I had and she basically said that she thought I was crazy going that big and that if I had been her student she would have suggested a 150 main with a 143 reserve (I got a 193). Even after hearing my reasons - I'm older, have a bad knee, only plan on being a weekend jumper and I'm a cautious wimpy jumper they were still telling me things like that I'd be backing up on windy days. I told them no I wouldn't because if it was pretty windy I'd be staying on the ground. I refused to be swayed by these people. Luckily my rig manufacturer was able to make some adjustments to my rig and solved my dilemma. I'm just grateful that I had a supportive DZ and that at my age I've finally realized that I need to listen to my inner self and not worry about what others think. Keep on ranting, Lisa. I bet you are reaching more people than you realize! Keep up the good work!
  12. Donna


    Justin - Don't say that until you've been to one of his concerts..... and the tailgate party. Before I went to my first concert I could have taken him or left him. I liked his songs ok but couldn't understand the hype. One concert and I was hooked! Blue Skies, D
  13. Donna


    We go every year to the Labor Day show at Great Woods. It's a blast!!!! Make sure you and your friends get all dressed up. Hawaiian shirts, grass skirts, coconut "bikini" tops, parrot hats, leis, etc. Decorate your car .... fin on the roof, parrot on the antenna, palm trees, write on the windows. It is so fun driving to the concert (in MA anyway since most people hit rte 495 at some point) and seeing this parade of cars going to the concert. Bring a grill and of course cheeseburgers to cook on it. And lots of tequila and marguerita mix! We love frozen ones so bring a portable blender that you can plug into your car lighter. Some people even bring little generators. People bring little wading pools and bags of sand and blow up palm trees to make their "beach". Walk around the parking lot and check out everyone's stuff. It's a riot. Know the words to the songs so you can sing along! Have a great time!! Blue Skies, D
  14. You'll be fine you silly goose..... ummmm I mean you skydiver you!!!!!! Sending lots of warm fuzzies and good luck your way Michele! Hugssssssssssss Blue Skies, D
  15. Thanks, Chuck. I've heard a few people at my DZ say that you should set the first tone to go off right after you should have pulled so that you don't end up getting conditioned to breaking off or pulling at a tone and end up in trouble some day when it doesn't go off. That seems to make some sense to me. I got a protrack at the end of last year and only got to use it a few times before my knee surgery and never heard it in freefall with my protec anyway but I'm about to start jumping again now (with a bonehead mindwarp now so hopefully will be able to hear it) and was just wondering what to set it at. I do like the idea of the first tone at breakoff but thought of setting it for when I should already be tracking away. I just wanted to know if anyone else does it this way and how they like it or do most just set it the other way. Blue Skies, D