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Everything posted by TomNoonan

  1. I cant say I blame you brother. Namaste, Tom Noonan
  2. It's a great question for sure. I wrote an article about it a few years ago for Blue Skies Mag titled: "It cost how much?" that explained the basics behind the costs of such a trip. By comparison as of late, I believe that both the North Pole and (organized) South Pole expeditions were on par with this cost, so it's not unheard of for these remote location trips to be so expensive. The primary issue with any expedition program like this is the need to set up a fully functioning drop zone in a remote location. We typically ferry equipment and staff from around the world to Kathmandu, which is quite costly. Then when everything arrives it has to be transferred again into the Himalaya into one of the most remote locations on earth. In all the years we have been doing this, my favorite quote came from Bill Booth: "The Himalaya is the land that the wheel forgot." He was basically saying that without roads, everything had to be walked in or flown into the region. Not that Yak rentals are very expensive.....but Eurocopter tac time/transport costs can be quite high in a location such as this, all of which ends up being reflected in our cost structure. So, the short answer is simply to say that to move a fully functioning DZ into the Himalaya is really really really really expensive.
  3. Thank you for sharing this incident. Based on the pictures that you have posted, specifically the one I am reattaching here, this incident most likely was caused during the closing of the container. if you look at where the golf ball is in your picture (just above the risers). When the packer brought the bagged canopy over the container, and placed it down to go tuck the risers into the side of the container and close the riser covers, the loose line, between the left riser and last stow, was on the ground around the blue golf ball. When the bag was then placed in the main pack tray, one of the excess lines wrapped around the blue golf ball/cable housing, and the main pack tray was closed in this configuration. With the flaps closed, it would be hard to see a single line wrapped around the cable housing, but that is 99.9% what happened. When you deployed, the wrapped line was caught around the housing and it impeded the deployment long enough for the bridle attachment to rip free. (Probably also a warn attachment as stated above due to maintenance.). And the resulting deployment issues you described occurred. That is why you see the golfball where it is up in the suspension lines, just above the riser, which is the same place it would have been when on the on the ground during the packing process that I described. This anomaly in packing is incredibly incredibly rare, but it can happen, usually during a quick turn to get rigs packed. Hope that helps to understand what most likely occurred. Tom Namaste, Tom Noonan
  4. Great question. I started with our examiner pool, as they are a direct link to both our new instructors that they train and the current instructors that work beside them. There is a new manual (95% completed) that should be out shortly, that will be updated with all of the current items pertaining to tandem. I have a few other projects that I am working on to tie the instructor population and the manufacturer together better for information dissemination. Namaste, Tom Noonan
  5. It's a listed procedure that we train people to follow. Your question is about semantics. Whether it's a rule, a suggestion, a recommendation, a regulation, or whatever. It is a procedure that UPT is asking our examiners to promote in the field with our current and future TIs. Namaste, Tom Noonan
  6. Hi Mike, Despite reason and logic presented, there will always be a small population of people incapable of following the rules, small ones and/or big ones. That's the ego side of what we do, there will always be someone, or some group that thinks the rules don't apply to them, or that they are better than the masses based on jump numbers. Can't change that, that's life. The reality is, despite a small fraction of our population, the majority of the tandem industry is comprised of professionals that want to do the right things, and in most cases, they just need to be educated, or in this instance, re-educated on these rules and regs. But to be clear, UPT (or any manufacturer) is not in the role of "enforcer". At this professional level, there shouldn't be a need for enforcers. Be that as it may, USPA BSRs are set up to provide a basic foundation of rules and regs that are meant to be enforceable and punitive if broken. Does that process work in it's entirety? Of course not, but it does work. At the end of the day, if any number of our tandem instructors steps up to and abides by a rule or reg intended to improve safety and reduce incidents, then we are better off for it. Just because a few people or groups refuse to comply, that doesnt mean we are going to stop promoting safety across the board. I'll close by saying that Ted Strong once told me: "You may not always agree or understand the rules and regs that I have tried to impart on my instructors. If you trust me and do what I ask of you, you will have an amazing career in this sport." Looking back on my tandem career, I'd tend to agree with him. My job is not to be a "canopy cop" or an enforcer. My job is to be an educator. I educate people on the best practices that will keep them safe. Most will listen and abide my the rules and regs, creating a safer tandem industry. Some won't. It's really that simple. Namaste, Tom Noonan
  7. Erika is correct, we (UPT) have been meeting with our examiners around the globe to emphasize a number of procedural items in an effort improve safety in the industry. One item being the requirement to reattach the side connectors to the instructor harness after opening, loosening them and reattaching. There are several reasons for it: - In the event of a breakaway due to canopy collision, post deployment, if the side connectors are not reattached, the student's legs will come forward ("up") as the instructor falls belly to earth, creating a drastically increased chance of unstable reserve deployment. (For anyone saying "I could never get into a canopy collision after deployment, it can happen. If you have a videographer get out after you and they are flying through your pattern to get back, the chance will always exist. Or, unfortunately, tandem instructors that ignore the "no tandem CReW" rule, risk collisions every time the bump end cells. And yes, tandems have cutaway from unintended CReW wraps flying to close together.) - As stated above, landing injuries, of any magnitude, are increased if the tandem pair is not connected at the side laterals. The instructor, and the passenger run a greater risk of injury. - For just leaving the side connectors dangling, that can create a bad day, the possibility that a dangling side connector can snag a toggle on a deep toggle turn. Its happened multiple times. At the end of the day, there are those that will argue that "in high winds, we need to be able to unhook quickly". Which is simply not true. The extra half a second it takes to unhook the side laterals in higher winds is simply a matter of proper technique, or better yet, accuracy, landing in front of catchers. If winds are so high that an instructor has only a micro second to unclip upper hooks because they couldnt land in front of their catcher and the winds are so high they only have a fraction of a second, then maybe the winds are just a tad bit above that persons performance envelope. The other argument, and this is an important the argument "Ive been doing this for thousands of jumps and never had a problem." The false premise there is that most problems only surface on the level of 1 in thousands, in tandem skydiving. You can get away with something 3000 times, but it only takes one instance of everything going wrong around you to create an incident, and in this case, an incident that is easily avoidable by following a quick, simple rule. In the end though, the reason for this, and a lot of the implementations that we are seeing across the board in the tandem industry are simply an effort to reduce incidents. There is nothing worse than investigating an incident that has repeated itself. Namaste, Tom Noonan
  8. I think AdD has made a good point on what can ultimately be taken away from this. At that, I'm going to lock the thread, the points have been made. If new information comes up, PM me and I will reopen the thread. Thanks, Tom Namaste, Tom Noonan
  9. Agreed. But they didn't happen overnight, they evolved over time as the practice of flying tandem video began to present danger areas and skill short comings. All I'm saying here is that the practice is too new to really understand any statistical/repeatable short comings. Depends on the context of the jump being made. For example, in certain parts of the world, it is entirely a "passenger" experience. In other areas it is used for training in a "student" oriented environment. Namaste, Tom Noonan
  10. This is certainly an interesting question. Procedurally, there is not a written policy for or against the use of handcams being worn by the students from our side of things (UUPT). We have provided our tandem examiners (and USPA) a document with specific requirements and processes for use of a handcam by a tandem instructor, but the idea of a student/passenger wearing the camera, is relatively new, so we do not have any formal guidance in that regard. If some is choosing to place a camera on their student/passenger, then the most appropriate statement to that effect however would be that: "The student should be properly trained to perform their student functions and tasks on the skydive (i.e., exit, free fall, landing, etc) and that if a camera is added to the student, it's addition should not be able effect the student/passenger's ability to perform these functions and tasks." With that said, I would say we are not for or against it, rather we remain neutral on the topic at this point. A distracted tandem instructor is equally as much as a concern as a distracted tandem student/passenger, so in either realm, the instructor or student/passenger should be properly trained to reduce the possibility of distraction by adding a camera. Hope that helps, Tom Namaste, Tom Noonan
  11. Hi Amyr I'm not sure which tandem system you are considering earning a rating on, but if it's Vector or Sigma, then the answer is unfortunately, no, you cannot jump a tandem rig solo unless your attending and participating in a course. To attend the course, you would need to achieve the 3 years in sport, 500 jumps, 50 jumps within the last year (currency) and have a valid Class III medical. Hope that helps clarify things. I can't speak for other manufacturers, but I would suggest contacting them directly if you have any questions, I know most of them and they are happy to answer these types of questions. Also, connect with Jen Sharp at Skydive Kansas, she runs a program called Female Skydiving Instructors and can probably answer your questions better than anyone as she is both a TI and a TE. Namaste, Tom Noonan
  12. Let's get back on topic here. Thanks, Tom Namaste, Tom Noonan
  13. The way you just did. When I remove a post, I typically message the person directly to let them know why. You do not have messages on, so I could not communicate that to you, hence the one sided process. Chuck's question was valid, your (above) response is valid, now let's keep back to the question of travel visa workers. Namaste, Tom Noonan
  14. Let's keep this thread about the original question, travel visa workers. Thanks everyone, Tom Namaste, Tom Noonan
  15. I'm going to lock this thread and leave it up as we have a couple of informative posts in here, but lets keep the discussion going in the original thread posted about the new BSRs. Tom Namaste, Tom Noonan
  16. Hi Judy, My apologies, I attempted to respond to everyone's questions in a single "catch all" reply above, apparently I left out responses to your question. USPA provides the S&TA Handbook via PDF from www.uspa,org that has basic guidelines. Namaste, Tom Noonan
  17. This information is critical for end users of the equipment, so I am making it sticky. Please everyone that may encounter this scenario, take Rob Warner's statements seriously. I agree with him 1000%. And like Rob, I have first hand experience in this area. Namaste, Tom Noonan
  18. That I continue to ask you to site your allegations that everyone is bought and paid for with specific examples that you continue to be unable to provide is indignant? I disagree. So be it. Everyone on the board shows up Day 1 and fills out a document that details any and all affiliations they have within the industry. I have done it twice now having been elected twice. You even cited it in your post. If you want it available to the membership (I wasn't aware it wasn't) then ask your RD to bring that up to the next meeting and get the rule changed. I'd vote for it. Nope. Not at all. But thank you for suggesting that you think I must be thinking that way. While I certainly enjoy my job and my career, I have degrees and interests outside of tandem. If the tandem industry ever imploded, I'd be fine. I find it odd that you accuse me of indignity, yet your the one telling me how you think i must be thinking and operating, without ever actually taking the time to talk to me directly about it. Another assumption of yours on a public forum. Your the one that brought up the question. And in doing so basically questioned the integrity of everyone on the BOD that volunteers their time. All I am doing is providing fact and standing up for a process that I believe to be fair and just. I'm sorry if having to defend your statement is so indignant to you. And to fair, if I just wanted to politic and keep your vote (if I ever even had it), I could have just nodded my head and let your statement stand. But I'd rather lose your vote for standing up for something I believe in, than win your vote by remaining silent. Call it a draw Craig. All the info is out there for all to see now, the membership is fully capable of drawing its own conclusions. Namaste, Tom Noonan
  19. Craig, You still have not answered the question, who is bought on the board, and what was paid? You keep making these broad stroke assumptions without any fact or basis, all you have is conspiracy theory. I have been on the board twice now and can tell you that between that and my nine years experience working in different areas of the manufacturing side of the industry, I have never seen a single instance of anything you postulate. Call to question whatever you want, all I am asking for is facts, not conjecture. I ask for facts because we've all seen on this forum/board far too many times what false accusations can do to people and DZs. As for your stance on S&TAs, I am admittedly confused.....the S&TA, like the BOD, are volunteer positions. No one is forced to do it, they choose to do it because they believe in what they are doing. So, to put in BSRs that basically everyone at the Instructor/Examiner level agrees is the right thing to do, is putting S&TAs at risk by asking them to uphold the very reason they posses the appointment in the first place? Shall we only ask the S&TAs to uphold easy things to uphold? It has been stated for a while that some people just want the title, others want the job, this BSR will help define both groups. (From my perspective though, I choose to believe that all S&TAs are capable of upholding these (and all) BSRs quite easily and successfully. Good lord, you have me there Craig. I imagine the easiest way to keep the Hatfields and McCoys at bay is to follow these incredibly simple BSRs. If everyone complies, there is nothing to Hatfield or McCoy about...... So you agree with the need to improve safety but don't agree with the way safety is achieved. Fair enough. Provide an alternative solution with the same accountability and enforcement capability and present it at the next BOD meeting, and you'll have my vote. You can't though, because it doesnt exist (short of the FAA taking over) the BSRs are the only means to self police those that refuse the idea of self policing. And there are not any other BSRs in the pipeline that I am aware of. is the place to contact if you want to ask across the board. And lastly regarding the BSRs in general. The BSRs are supposed to be pillars of safety and procedure, I agree. What you fail to see is that as the sport expands and exhibits new areas or disciplines, they may or may not need additional oversight. The BSRs should be reflective of the sport we live in today, not the sport we lived in decades ago when most of them were first created. Namaste, Tom Noonan
  20. Only time will tell I guess. No matter what the outcome, my conscience is clear, I advocated for something I believe in and people saw it as a step in the right direction. I am grateful for that. Namaste, Tom Noonan
  21. Thanks for the questions and feedback from everyone. I'll try to answer it all in one post here before I hop on a flight home this afternoon. - The manufacturers have been trying to educate the end users about turns over 90 degrees through tandem manufacturer efforts in many ways since mid 2011, like the 16 Commandment presentations, disseminating the information to federations, and I believe USPA even published the info in the Professional Newsletter. Concern about these turns isn't new. The manufacturers tried the "educate the users approach", but it still fell on deaf ears in certain places. - As for incident numbers, suffice to say, more than 1 fatality from a turn over 90 degrees. THANKFULLY this is not a common occurrence, (otherwise the FAA would probably be taking over tandems), but there continue to be a growing number of grave/serious injuries from big turns gone wrong. Broken femurs, shattered hips, shattered coccyx, spinal injuries and so on. (We cover a lot of these incidents in our tandem examiner meetings in a training environment.). At the end of the day, as I tell everyone, being a tandem instructor is one of the best jobs in the world that requires very little compliance: We list a small number of "must follow" criteria that are not hard to follow, and in return, tandem instructors have the opportunity to make a living doing something rewarding and exciting. And while most people do the right things, there is always that person or group that says "if its not a BSR, we don't have to follow the regulations." To me that is not just a safety concern, its a complete lack of professionalism. Do the simple tasks we ask of you and have a safe, long career in an awesome sport. That small list still seems to be too much for some "professionals" out its a BSR. Now we (USPA) have the power to correct this unsafe behavior. - Recommendations: Great idea in theory, the manufacturers have been making safety based recommendations for a few years now. As recommendations though, they simply get ignored when they become inconvenient....... Namaste, Tom Noonan
  22. Hi Gary, Didn't know you were Martin's RD. I was giving him a generic process. If he wanted to see a change in the BSRs, submitting his proposal to the S&T committee and then asking his RD to advocate for it would be the linear process unless he wanted to go to the meeting himself. As for it "going no where", my point is Martin, or anyone can say something should change in here, but unless it goes to USPA for discussion and vote, nothing proactive will happen. My point was simply if he wanted something he believed in to get beyond the discussion stage and into the implementation stage, it needed to be sent to the USPA S&T committee for a vote and not just debated in here. If it stays in here, his ideas will not become a BSR. Namaste, Tom Noonan
  23. I do not disagree with you either Martin. Tandem instructors should be doing this on every jump as part of their post deployment canopy check. To date however, there is not (statistically) a recurrence of tandem instructors failing to break away from malfunctions because they can't find their handles after opening. And as far as I am aware, every manufacturer trains (requires) a post canopy deployment inspection. Handles check before exiting are also required by the manufacturers. Again, statistically, we don't have the reports showing this post exit drogue setting incidents are a recurrent incident these days. That all may be for not, that we are simply not getting the info from the field. Instructors that put on rigs without a gear check should be grounded, period. You say you witness it. I (thankfully) haven't. If its out there, let me know who and where and I'll get on it. I agree with you 100% on your statements of all the things that should be BSRs. I pursued the most recurring/relevant from my data and requested a BSR change. If you think that these other items are of equal importance, and they very well are I would say, why don't you take the time you take here on the forums to write a BSR proposal and send it to the S&T committee. And then contact your RD and ask him to advocate on your behalf with the same commitment to safety that I did this time around. If you really care about the safety of the tandem universe, thats your next move. If your just as you said: Then leave it all here in the forum and watch it go nowhere. Namaste, Tom Noonan
  24. Craig, You still haven't answered the question: "Who's bought and what did they get paid for it?". Your statement, not mine. What I saw on the board this time around, was that half of the 22 members of the BOD are now current examiners, across all areas of sport, not just tandem. When you I were on the board, it was "all the DZOs making DZO decisions, etc, like removing tandem students from all other students so they could go up without altimeters, et all to lower the costs of doing tandems...." Today the simple fact is that half of the board are active trainers (subject matter experts) these days and they didn't need any encouragement from PIA or the manufacturers to do the right thing, they saw it for what it was from the start, the right thing to do for the membership and the organization. As for So strictly enforce it. Tighten up the ships at sea and we won't continue to lose tandem students overboard. Or do you want to be the person to tell the family of the next dead tandem student from a tandem turn over 90 degrees that the statistics showed that the mother, daughter, wife would still be alive if the turn was under 90 degrees? As for USPA having any obligation to help keep the people that manufacture cutting edge gear in business by requiring everyone that skydives to be able to sign a valid waiver, then put it in this perspective: If you like breaking away from a CReW jump with 3 rings and not Capewells, be happy. If you like flying cutting edge ram air wings instead of Stratostars, be happy. Or if your happy paying $2,000.00 for a canopy and not $20,000.00 for that canopy, be happy. The age change you referenced affected less than 5% of the DZs in the country and in returned, protected the gear available for all 100% if I recall. I get the fact you disagree with it all, so just say that. You disagree. But to go throwing unfounded (untrue) accusations that the BOD is "bought and paid for" is insulting to everyone on that board that donates their time to help guide the direction of USPA. Namaste, Tom Noonan
  25. Broad stroke statement without any support by facts. Perhaps you can actually take the time to state specifically who was bought and what they were paid? I can only speak for myself: Not a single person asked me to do what I did. That is to bring 3 requests to S&T committee that passed S&T and then passed the full board voting process. I did what I did because: 1) I'm tired of investigating tandem turns over 90 degrees gone wrong that lead to grave injuries and fatalities under perfectly functioning parachutes. 2) I'm tired of investigating tandem AAD fires that start with the explanation "I couldn't find the handles". 3) I'm tired of being told when pointing out reckless/dangerous behavior that "unless its a BSR we do not have to follow any regulations". 4) If every end user of tandem systems used the gear in the manner and procedures it was intended, these BSRs wouldnt be necessary. BTW, (everything I did, I could have done without being on the board) The irony here is that it is I that asked the manufacturers (all of them) for their support as I brought it to the board, not the other way around. I even asked 2 manufacturers and some industry experts (not on the board) to weigh in during the meetings to support my statements, and in the end, the board made the right decisions and voted these two BSRs into place. Since then, every tandem examiner I have been in direct contact with (over 50) have said it was the right thing to do and "they should have happened 20 years ago." Of a population of 179 tandem examiners (subject matter experts) that have now been informed, not a single one raised an objection, and to the contrary, the BSRs have been embraced by practically everyone that has been informed. "Now we have a means to improve safety on our DZs" i s the repeated statement. When I was finished advocating for the safety of our tandem students in BOD meetings, I then volunteered my time to address the DZO conference, over 200 industry professionals in attendance on how to improve the operational safety of their tandem programs. When I finished that presentation, I went on to give a PIA record 10 seminars (5 seminars, twice) at PIA that reached over 1000 people: - Sigma Standard and Emergency Operating Procedures - Tandem Canopy Flight - Tandem Exit Techniques - AADs in Modern Skydiving Scenarios - Safety Day Seminar Selections All of which I wrote and presented on my own time. No fee, no cost. When all of that was over, I gave up 2 days off to present 16 hours of tandem examiner educational seminars with Jay Stokes and Jim Crouch to a room of over 50 tandem examiners. Again, on my own time, not my company's time. Through all of that, I also managed to find time to write two safety articles for Blue Skies Mag on AADs and Making Good Canopy Choices. Suffice to say, if I'm "bought and paid for", then whoever bought me got a serious bargain because I do all I do in this area on my own time, and everything I do, I do because I only want to see a safer landscape on our DZs. No ulterior motives. I may be a mouthpiece, but I'm a mouthpiece for safety, nothing more. In the last ten years that I have been trying to contribute the betterment of our sport, I have come to realize that no amount of effort or work will ever stop "top dockers" from making false broad stroke statements about people and situations they know nothing about. That rolls off like water. What I would genuinely be interested in though is what Craig has done in the last year for the membership to improve safety and what specific information Craig has about who has been bought and what they have been paid. I don't expect we will see that though, because from my perspective, that info doesnt exist. Have at me, I may or may not respond as I am replying to all of the emails thanking me for the seminars and BSRs and sending out my power points to one and all that ask for them so they can share the info at their own DZs. Namaste, Tom Noonan