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  1. Can you find a canopy coach at your DZ? You might run into instructors/managers who tell you to just focus on your AFF jumps and the learning will happen. Magic? I don't think so. You're asking the right questions, you just aren't asking them to the right person. You need someone who can explain the mechanics of landing a ram-air parachute. Finding the sweet spot of a canopy, using it in a 2-stage flare, and applying it to any canopy, main or reserve, you happen to find overhead. Consider a different DZ if you can't find instructors who can help you.
  2. All of the military systems sold by CPS have a 3-ring release and a piggyback reserve. They are build off of the Vector 3 and Sigma systems. The double-bag static line design is a big improvement over traditional static line setups, as well. This thread looks like a bonfire discussion right out of Poynter! Somebody hand me an L-bar. Wait a minute, the Sigmas still use L-bars. Never mind.
  3. Line twists are very common on early jumps. About as common as a first dive student sucking their tank dry in 20 minutes. As your body position improves and you begin to relax through the initiation and opening, you will find line twists less and less frequent. Like everyone else said, they are not a big deal. A downwind landing is not as spectacular as a swoop crash on Youtube. Under student conditions, you will be fine. My favorite way to teach canopy flying is on a tandem system. I'm not suggesting you just go do a tandem. You will likely just get a carnival ride. If you find an instructor (Nigel, maybe?) who is willing to take you on a tandem, pull high, and teach you about finding the sweet spot and flaring your canopy, and actually teach you and let you flare with him, you can learn a lot. If not, don't waste your money. You will learn all about handling nuisances, like line twists, and malfunctions. Trust your training and your equipment. Have fun, relax, and let us know how it goes.
  4. Read up in the scams forum. Most of the scams are people selling gear that doesn't exist. Ask the seller to send a picture of the reserve data card or even any other picture. A scammer can't do this because they don't have the gear. I have sent money up front several times. $950 and $1050 for wingsuits, $1100 for a rig, etc. My last purchase was (almost) escrowed by Chuting Star. I paid for an AAD 4-year check. The seller sent the unit, they tested it, and as soon as it passed, they were supposed to tell me so I could send the seller his money. Instead they sent me the unit, so I just mailed the check as soon as possible. As long as your seller is a real jumper, you shouldn't have a problem. On the other hand, as a brand new jumper looking for your first rig, you need guidance more than anything. Get that from a local rigger.
  5. Come out to Blue Ridge and you'll find me teaching tandems, AFF, and shooting video. I've worked at DZs all over the world. Blue Ridge is among a rare breed of dropzone that is not focused on money. The focus is on skydiving. The place is so friendly, that before I even moved to the DC area, I was invited to come out and jump, check the place out, and see if I wanted to join the staff. It's the same thing when a student walks through the door. Everyone is greeted warmly. First timers can get lost in a 20 minute conversation before they even get to registration. Experienced jumpers will quickly find new friends to jump with. I really like that they schedule and jump with AFF students first thing in the morning. Most of the time, this means that AFF students can get a jump in before the tandems start arriving. Victor only does AFF and Coaching, so there is always an instructor to talk to, even if other instructors are busy with tandem students. The scenery is some of the most beautiful I've ever seen. As soon as you take off, you can see the Shenandoah mountain range, the Massanutten, and another range in West Virginia. The staff is (ahem) top notch. The DZO is also an AFFI, as well as an instructor pilot and tandem instructor. The manager is an AFFI, a tandem I/E, a master rigger and a pilot. The packers are all riggers and jumpers. If you are looking to learn how to skydive, this is definitely the place. If you want to do a tandem, this place is NOT a tandem factory. If you're a funjumper, come out and hang with other funjumpers. There's always a cold (soft)drink in the fridge.
  6. When I was in the Air Force, we had a high-risk activity worksheet that we had to go over with the commander. Its purpose was to make you think through the activity and give the commander a chance to document what you went over, i.e. wearing a helmet and protective clothing when you ride a motorcycle. The Navy might have something like this. Talk to your unit safety guy.
  7. I worked at DZ that made staff jumpsuits mandatory. I ordered in March before the season started, and by the time it was ready, it had to be mailed to me in another country. In the meantime, one of the local rigg-ettes ordered a bunch of embroidered panels and sewed them on to cut-off Dickies with some trim to make DZ shorts for the TIs. Management was happy, and TIs were happy that it only cost $35 a pair. Good luck.
  8. I know of one instructor examiner who had a prospective TI in a course who did not hold a medical at the time of the course. The Student did a solo jump, and a jump with the IE. For the rest of the jumps in the course, the IE required that the passenger be a TI with a valid medical. I believe his words were "as long as one of you has a valid medical, that meets the requirement."
  9. I could see a use for one of those in replacing the BOC on a Sigma, or Javelin.
  10. There is no perfect beginner canopy. Rather than spend money trying to find a perfect canopy, why don't you spend some time and money on a canopy course so you have the skills to land ANY canopy you jump. I worked at a DZ that had a Pilot 190 that we used as a student canopy with great success at your wingloading. Still, you should take a canopy course.
  11. 1. Relax -- rushing leads to more problems. 2. Plan your exit and figure out how you will catch the wind with different parts of your body. 3. Fly your body as soon as you hit the wind. There is no answer to stability. "put your arms out and feet on your butt" won't cut it. 4. Relax. Try climbing outside of the PAC and exit by peeling off with your left hand and left leg. Ask someone on the load to video your exit. Good or bad, you'll learn something. Stop worrying about it, relax, and fly loose.
  12. The hard part is that a gradual progression is designed to have the student prove they can do one task before allowing them to move on. I had an AFF student show up with an hour of tunnel time. His first jump was Cat A. Second jump was Cat D - 90, 180, and 360 turns in a single jump. His third jump was barrel rolls, back- and front flips. He got the chance to prove his skills because an AFF jump gives you time to do that. I think you can only responsibly advance a static line student a little at a time. After a successful practice throw, you can give him a real throw; but would you feel good about giving him a 10 sec delay so he can show you some turns? I could imagine a jump where the student exits, does two practice touches and deploys on the third. 15 mins in the tunnel can teach a student all they need to know about A-license skills. That can be done at any point and will be beneficial. The hard part is integrating it into a program deliberately designed to be "gradual" Jonathan
  13. The manufacturer gives us enough information to determine if a canopy is out of trim, but not enough to build a lineset from scratch. If you want to build your own lineset, you either have to reverse engineer a new set, or make some guesses. Maybe you can visit a loft that makes linesets and get some hands-on with them. I retrimmed a stilleto 135 that had lines that shrank almost 5 inches max. I picked out the bartacks, returned the overall measurement to trim spec, and re-tacked it. The canopy opened and flew great. I didn't mess with the cascade measurement, so I know some of those had to be off. But in the case of this canopy, it flew fine. If you want to do some trial and error, you could use the Parachute Labs no-bartack fingertrap method and have an easy way to adjust your cascade point. Have fun, Jonathan
  14. There is a lot more to flying a canopy than finding the stall point. By the time a novice is jumping their own gear, they should have taken a canopy course. The advice I give is very much tailored to what I see. Since a very common mistake I see is a jumper landing (hard, fast) with their hands at 3/4 input, I commonly say to flare all the way. Showing them video really drives the point home. I once saw a student flare all the way at about 50 feet. He stalled that Navigator all the way to the hospital. I would not give him the same advice. The toggle setting, or brake line length, should be set based on full flight for that canopy. Shortened brakes negatively affect the flight envelope. If you can't stall your canopy, get longer arms, increase your wingloading, or fly with the knowledge that you can do amazing flat turns and sink it in to someone's backyard without hurting yourself.