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Found 272 results

  1. New School Flight camps blend all the major disciplines into to one training session over a four day period. Freefly, Fundamental RW, Tunnel, and Canopy progression camps dedicated to producing a more complete skyjumper. The camp includes 20 videoed coach jumps at The Florida Skydiving Center, one hour of coached wind tunnel time, and 4 nights stay at the Best Western Hotel right across the street from Skyventure, Orlando. A free video is also included. "These camps are perfect for any level. We concentrate on getting better fast and having a lot of fun. We concentrate on flying every surface: belly, back sitfly, head down, and tracking. The camp is a really good way to improve any landing approach you do while working on the rest of the skyjumping game. I supply a one on one coaching atmosphere to make sure the student gets the most out of the camp, " says Medal Winning Head Coach Steven Blincoe. Skyventure has revamped their windtunnel to produce 150 mph wind speeds. Perfect for freeflying. The tunnel went through various other renovations to produce a smoother air colom. The cost of the camps are $2990 and require a deposit. Camps consistently fill up 6 weeks in advance. Feel free to contact Steven Blincoe with any questions, 530-412-2078, stevenblincoe@yahoo.com, or blincoe.org. Steven Blincoe has more than 3500 skydives and 150 hours of wind tunnel time. He has coached thousands of students world wide. He is the President and founder of The New School Flight University in Lake Wales Florida.
  2. ByNadene Beyerbach Want to improve your skydiving skills, but don’t have thousands of dollars to blow in the wind tunnel? Try yoga! Yoga has been around for thousands of years. What is commonly considered yoga in Western society is actually Hatha Yoga, focusing mainly on physical yoga postures. However, yoga is not just a series of postures or poses. Yoga is meant to integrate the mind, body and spirit, and to achieve a state of enlightenment. For skydiving, this means developing your insight, awareness and focus, as well as balance, flexibility and stability. Not just an effective exercise for improving skydiving skills, yoga is also extremely convenient to practice at the dropzone. The simplicity of yoga means that you can do it virtually anywhere and need very little to get started. The most important thing you can do is wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing that you’re able to move easily in. A yoga mat is ideal, since it will allow you to grip with your feet and go deeper into the poses. However, poses can be done on grass, a towel or a blanket, if necessary. You can experiment with different yoga postures, breathing, meditation and relaxation exercises to see how they affect your skydiving. Try the following to get started: Complete Breath: A complete, “three part” breath consists of deep, continuous breathing through the nose. It is referred to as “three part” breath because you breathe first into the throat, expanding through the ribs, then deep into the belly. Slowly exhale, drawing the belly back in. Slow, deep breathing both energizes the body and calms the mind. Try using complete breathing when you’re concentrating on flying a body position that requires a lot of effort. For a relaxed and stable exit, you can also try exhaling completely as you leave the aircraft. Meditation/Relaxation: Simply close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Let your mind go blank. As thoughts enter your mind, just return your attention to your breath and let the thoughts float away. Meditation reduces stress and tension and improves concentration. Try meditating for a few moments on the ride to altitude before you begin any mental rehearsal. This will allow you to visualize your intention for the jump from a calm and centered place. Physical Postures: There are many different types of yoga postures to explore. Standing poses, seated poses, forward bends, back bends, twists, inversions (upside down poses), balance poses and relaxation poses are just some of the different types of postures. Let’s take a more in-depth look at sun salutations, twists, inversions and balance poses. Sun Salutations are an ideal warm-up for skydiving. Sun salutations are made up of a series of poses, flowing continuously from one move to the next. As you move through the poses be sure to hold each one for a few deep breathes. Begin by standing with your shoulders back and body properly aligned (Mountain Pose). Taking a deep breath, stretch your arms overhead, then fold forward at the hips and let your head hang toward the ground (Forward Fold). Step back with your left foot into a lunge. Follow with your right foot, pushing into your hands and feet to create an inverted V shape (Downward Dog). Lower your body toward the ground (Plank), then straighten your arms, looking up and lifting your chest toward the sky (Upward Dog). Now return to your starting position: Push back into Downward Dog, lunge on the right leg, fold forward, and finish by inhaling deeply in Mountain Pose. Try this sun salutation before gearing up for your next jump. You’ll instantly increase circulation, mobility, and flexibility. Twists offer back relief for skydivers who do a lot of bellyflying. If you spend a great deal of time arching, try a Half Spinal Twist to release tension in your back. Sitting down, bend your right leg to bring your foot toward you. Lift your left foot and place it on the outside of your right knee. Looking over your left shoulder, place your left arm behind you and your right arm around your knee. Breathe deeply and twist through your spine. Along with relieving tension, spinal twists will increase flexibility in your back and neck to help you further improve your RW skills. Inversions are poses performed upside down (with your feet above your head). They improve circulation and increase the flow of oxygen throughout the body. Inversions allow you to become comfortable in an upside down position and to work on balance with your center of gravity above your head. To try the Half Shoulder Stand, lie on your back and pull your knees to your chest. Support your back with your hands and straighten your legs above your body. Your weight should be on your shoulders, not your neck. Breathe deeply and remain strong through your core to help you balance. The Half Shoulder Stand is an excellent inversion to work on if you’re learning to fly head down. Balance Poses deserve special attention when it comes to skydiving. There is no better way to develop balance, strengthen stabilizer muscles, and increase mind-body awareness. Warrior 3 (also known as Airplane) is a good pose to begin working on your balance. Start by standing tall and lifting your arms to shoulder-height. Place your weight on one leg, lifting the opposite leg and leaning forward until you form a straight line. Hold for a few deep breathes, then repeat on the opposite side. Holding a balance pose will quickly make you aware of your alignment and body position. If you do any freeflying, adding balance work to your routine could give you the edge you’re looking for. Enjoy your adventures in yoga! Test out the suggestions in this article and continue to experiment with different postures to find what works best for you. Always work at your own pace and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort. Remember, it’s about the journey, not the destination, so don’t worry if you’re not an expert right away. To learn more, consider attending a yoga class or inviting an instructor to teach at your dropzone. With practice you’ll start to notice improvement in your skydiving skills through increased mind-body awareness, balance, focus and control. Keeping your body strong and flexible will also help to protect you from hard openings and not-so-perfect landings. Blue skies, or as we say in yoga, Namaste. Nadene Beyerbach is a skydiver and yoga instructor. She is certified by Body Training Systems as a Group Centergy instructor and is a member of the Canadian Yoga Association. Learn more about skydiving specific yoga at Flex Fly.
  3. admin

    Saving Veterans With Skydiving

    Image by Quincy Kennedy, Courtesy Skydive Carolina It started with a simple fact: Soldiers are dying--after they come home--from self-inflicted injuries. The numbers are seriously disturbing. The veteran suicide rate, according to the Los Angeles Times, hovers a full 50 percent higher than the suicide rate of the general population. Some Veterans Administration studies suggest that up to 22 veterans end their lives every day. Those statistics underline the stark fact that it is overwhelming, for many servicepeople, to successfully make the transition from military to civilian life. The numbers indicate that the social safety net built to facilitate re-integration doesn’t seem to be up to the task. Unsupported veterans are suffering--achingly alone and mortally vulnerable. As harrowing as those statistics are, there’s another essential fact to face: one suicide is one suicide too many. Skydiver Jim Osterman, a Navy veteran himself, thinks that we--as representatives of our sport--can make a big difference in the lives of veterans. Osterman has been touched by suicide “more times then [he] want to think about.” After losing close military friends to suicide, he was moved to take action. Jim Osterman's late friend, Frank in his Marine uniform. “I knew when I got home from active duty,” he explains, “That what was missing in my life was the camaraderie that I had while I was in the service. The [veteran] suicide rate is as high as it is because these guys and gals are coming home and feeling completely alone, even if they actually aren’t in a physical sense. You don’t have that closeness you had while you were in the service. The dropzone community can fill that gap.” Osterman’s mission, project and passion is pretty simple: to make skydivers aware of the aching need for community in veterans’ lives, and to ask skydivers to bring as many people to the dropzone as they can. “It makes all the sense in the world,” Osterman explains. “Dropzones are very military-friendly. There tend to be lots of military people around, and dropzones generally already have military discounts and events for, say, Veterans Day and Memorial Day. But we need to let our veterans know that they are welcome to the dropzone everyday--not just the major vets’ holidays. Hopefully they will decide to skydive, but even if they choose not to jump, they need to know that they are welcome to come and just hang out.” “They need to experience the camaraderie at the heart of it,” Osterman enthuses. “It’s literally lifesaving, in some cases. Pretty much anybody is accepted into skydiving, and it doesn’t matter what your background is--your ethnicity--whatever. It just doesn’t matter. You walk in that door and you are greeted warmly. Veterans need that welcome more than I can say.” Jim joins up with a couple of buddies on a leg of his long, long trip. To raise awareness for this mission--and to commemorate the memories of his departed friends--Jim took off on a long-haul, dropzone-to-dropzone motorcycle trip on his Yamaha Raider. Sure, he made a few skydives on the trip, but the jumping always took a back seat to the mission. “I went to several drop zones that I knew I would not be able to jump at,” he says, “Just so I could speak with the owners in person rather than via email or over the phone.” Thirty-eight dropzones later, Osterman has spread his message all over the east coast of the US--and so far, he’s been overwhelmed at his fellow skydivers’ receptivity. “It really makes my point,” he says, “That even though they’d never met me before, I was completely welcomed and heard.” Interested, but unsure how to help? According to Jim, it’s very easy to get involved. “If you’re a skydiver, you can do this,” Osterman insists. “When you learn that someone is a veteran, approach them with an invitation. Let them know that they’re welcome to come out anytime and just hang out--sit on the park bench and watch some swooping, or join the weekend barbecue, or whatever else happens to be going on. Offer them a ride.” Lynn Luzynski Gromaski, Steve Luzynski and Karen Luzynski. “We’re looking to get these men and women out of whatever isolating situation they might be in and bring them to the dropzone so they can see the camaraderie that we as skydivers share,” he continues, “If we help even one man or woman see that people do care as a society, it will all be worth it.” When all was said and done, Osterman had exceeded his 4,000-mile goal by three thousand miles, had personally spread his message to hundreds of people and had earned the hearty support of several dropzones (including, exceptionally, Skydive Carolina). He’s already making plans to repeat the journey on the west coast next year. “‘Bring a Veteran to the Dropzone Day’ isn’t enough,” Osterman says. “I want the skydiving community to participate in the mission to bring veterans to the dropzone whenever, wherever they can. It’s not just another day. It’s another place for veterans. We can save lives.”
  4. admin

    Monkey around with Monkey Claw

    The Monkey Claw Freefly Team and Freefly School had a busy 2001 season and it preparing for an even busier 2002 season. The Monkey Claw Freefly Team is based at Skydive Cross Keys, in Williamstown, New Jersey. The Team consists of Glen "Stuey" Newman, Tim Miller, Adam Rosen, Heath Richardson and Bert Navarette. They train at their home DZ and run a school where they instruct freefly students of all levels. On a regular basis they load organize freeflyers of all skill levels at Cross Keys. The 2001 season included their Annual Monkey Jams over the Memorial Day and Labor Day holiday weekends. At these events freeflyers travel from across the globe to participate in big ways, tracking dives, tube dives as well as some one on one coaching with Monkey Claw. Every night there is plenty to entertain the hundreds of skydivers registered for the event. There is free food, free beer and fun activities that are always kept a secret until the last moment. Last year someone lit himself on fire (this year it was on purpose), there was a bungee racetrack and a psycho swing. All of the other amenities at Cross Keys are available as well, the Long Delay Café, the Tiki Bar, the swimming pool and the Booze Cruise. Away from Cross Keys the Team traveled to many events and DZ's for coaching and load organizing. Some of the places included Lost Prairie, Quincy, Skydive Delmarva and Chicagoland. Chicagoland will also be the home of the first Monkey Claw Satellite School run by Brandon Park with visits from the rest of the team throughout the summer. New for this season Skydive Cross Keys has its own fleet of aircraft's for all jumpers. At Cross Keys you have your choice of jumping from a Caravan, Skyvan, Super Otter, Biplane, Helicopter and of course a Cessna. Square 3 is located right on the DZ for all of you equipment needs. There are hot showers, bathrooms and plenty of camping areas on the premises. The Long Delay Café keeps jumpers fed throughout the day and the beach, Tiki Bar and Swimming pool are located right next to the landing area. The Team just returned from the 2nd Freefall Festival in Puerto Rico where they were coaching and load organizing throughout the boogie. Over 200 skydivers from around the world attended the event and records were broken for number of registrants, loads flown and skydives made. For the upcoming season the calendar is still being put together. Of course there will be the annual Memorial Day and Labor Day Monkey Jams and the theme for the first Jam has already been chosen. The team will be traveling to Chicagoland as well as Lost Prairie for the Voodoo Rendezvous. There are a lot of other events that are still being finalized at the moment. If you want to learn more about Monkey Claw you can visit their website at www.monkeyclaw.com. At the site you can find photos, videos, a list of events and you can contact the members for more information. Adam Rosens Monkey Claw GalleryAll photos by: Adam Rosen
  5. admin

    Australian to Jump from 130,000 ft

    An Australian parachutist is planning to jump out of a balloon floating nearly 40 kilometres above the Earth's surface. Rodd Millner expects to reach speeds of between 1,600 and 1,800 kilometres (994-1,118 miles) per hour during his descent. If he pulls it off, he will become only the second man to break the sound barrier by merely falling through the air. Millner, who will begin his ascent just outside Alice Springs, will have to wear a special pressure suit to survive the cold and lack of oxygen at high altitude. The chute itself will have to be much bigger than usual to cope with the extra load being carried. 'Safe and alive' "Well, I believe with all the research that it's safe, but really no-one's ever been this fast before in this environment," the former army reservist and night-club bouncer said. "Ultimately, we don't know but research suggests it will be a stable and safe fall and my decision to do this is based on the fact that I want to come back safe and alive." Joe Kittinger Junior holds the current world-record high-altitude skydiving record. He leapt from a balloon that was 31,341 metres (102,800 feet) above the Earth in August, 1960. Kittinger reached a speed of 1,149 kilometres (714 miles) an hour during his freefall. Competitive environment Millner faces competition from elite skydiver Cheryl Stearns. The airline pilot has countless parachuting records to her name and has put together the StratoQuest project with the aim of making a 40 km jump next year. Both Millner and Stearns are now acquiring the knowledge and developing the equipment that will safeguard their descent. Millner said his fall would be slowed by the Earth's atmosphere so by the time he got down to about two kilometres he would be at or below normal parachute speeds. "What I will be doing is that as I come closer to Earth the atmosphere will thicken and that will slow me down, so eventually I'll be getting to 5,000 ft (1,524 m), 10,000 ft (3,050 m), and I will be going my normal parachute speed, probably slower actually, and then I will be able to release my parachute as per normal and then land as in training," he explained. Computer games The jump may be a relaxing change for a man who teaches explosives and mine warfare to Australian army recruits. Millner hopes to turn his plunge into a virtual computer game using film from cameras that will be fitted to his suit and the balloon. "It's basically extreme science to see how far we can push it - this is going to change the face of a lot of things...including emergency procedures for people exploring space," Millner said. Project Space Jump will be launched from Alice Springs in March 2002. Although 40 km may sound high, it is still not regarded as space. Most experts mark that boundary as beginning somewhere between 80 and 100 km (50-62 miles).
  6. admin

    Passenger's aerial exit was no joke

    AIR traffic controllers thought the pilot who asked permission "to come overhead at 1,500 feet and throw one of our passengers out" was joking. They watched, amused, as "a bundle" fell out and disappeared near hangars at Coventry airport. Only when they saw fire and rescue crews rushing across the airfield 20 minutes later did they realise that what they had seen was not a joke. The "bundle" dropped from the aircraft was Dave Clements, 45, a mechanic, of Dunkeswell, Devon, one of the crew of the 1944 Douglas DC3 which had been dropping poppy petals over a war memorial on Remembrance Day last year. Mr Clements had not, however, been thrown out. He had attempted a parachute jump. "His exit through the rear door was uneventful but before he cleared the aircraft he struck part of it, breaking his left arm," said an Air Accident Investigations Branch report on the incident, published yesterday. Mr Clements's descent became "violently unstable" as he struggled to open his parachute. He also failed to release the reserve chute. At 200 feet the main parachute opened partially but could not save him from landing on his back on the hangar, suffering broken ribs and internal injuries. The report said the control tower had asked the pilot what had happened and was told a parachutist had jumped. It added: "Because the bundle seen leaving the aircraft had appeared small the controllers continued to believe that they were the victims of a practical joke." The AAIB report recommended modifications to the aircraft to prevent similar accidents occurring.
  7. admin

    Skydivers win $600,000 for crash

    A SKYDIVING school has been ordered to pay two of its students more than $600,000 in damages after they collided during a jump. Sydney Skydivers Pty Ltd was found to have breached its duty of care and ordered to pay damages for injuries and loss of work suffered by the men. The NSW District Court heard that Christopher Charles Morton, 33, was making his first jump and Michael Richard Warren, 26, his third when the collision occurred on December 14, 1997. They had both attended a training day before they jumped out of the plane near Picton, south-west of Sydney. The instructors were the first to reach the target area, marked by a large cross. They were then to direct the movements of their students using large arrows and batons. When Mr Morton and Mr Warren were about 30 metres above the ground and had their parachutes open, they collided and fell to the ground "with considerable force", Acting Judge Clifford Boyd-Boland said today. He blamed the collision on one of the instructors, Helen Perry, saying her sense of direction was confused when she landed just 90 seconds before the students. She therefore pointed her student, Mr Morton, in the wrong direction, Justice Boyd-Boland said. "I find it was the conduct of Perry and the confusion she had, surrounding the direction she was giving, which led to the collision," he said. He rejected a suggestion that Mr Morton had failed to follow the direction indicated by Ms Perry's arrow. The collision could also have been avoided if the two students had more than a 20 second interval between them when they jumped out of the plane, Justice Boyd-Boland said. Despite the 20 second gap, both students were at the same height when the collision occurred. "It became an added risk in an already risky procedure and would be best avoided," Justice Boyd-Boland said. Mr Morton suffered a fractured pelvis and injuries to his right shoulder, spine, head and severe shock in the fall and was today awarded almost $277,000 in damages. Mr Warren received fractures to this right arm and injuries to his spine, head and severe shock, and was awarded about $328,000. ~ From AAP
  8. A skydiver at the Oklahoma Skydiving Center pointing out their landing pattern. Image by Corey Miller When we teach students how to skydive, the lessons do not just stop after the first jump course. One important skill all skydivers need to know is how to navigate through the landing pattern. I have heard instructors refer to talking to students on the radio as “remote controlled skydiving” because they guide the student where they want them to land, and they tell the student every turn to make. If we are supposed to teach our students how to pilot their canopy, then we must ask ourselves, “How is this enabling the student to learn?” In this article I will discuss a method of teaching the student how to pilot their canopy that is not only easy to use, but also allows the instructor on the radio to remain in control if the student needs additional guidance while descending under canopy. Teaching the student piloting skills starts in the classroom. Of course we teach the students the SOPs and to make sure they have a canopy that is Square, Stable, and Steerable; but now what? Do we just give directions to the student over the radio? Realistically, for the student who just opened their canopy for the first time we, as instructors, will probably have to do that. The student has emotions of excitement and fear going through their mind while adrenaline is going through their body. This mixture can make anyone confused, so don’t be surprised if the first time in the landing pattern you are flying a “remote controlled skydiver”. Having said that, let’s discuss how we are going to teach the student to navigate the pattern and eventually, be removed from radio status. I like to start this process with a laminated picture of the landing area and a grease pencil. With a laminated picture the instructor should sit down with the student and first, have the student draw an arrow showing the direction of the wind. Now we know that the student is aware of the wind direction and we do not have to assume that they do. Next, have the student point out where their “playground” is going to be. For those who do not use the term “playground” that is the area where the student can fly their canopy, while they are descending to the proper altitude to enter the landing pattern. Next, have the student make a mark showing where they will enter the downwind part of the landing pattern and at what altitude this is supposed happen. This is the time the instructor can discuss at what altitude to leave the playground and to start thinking about the landing procedures they covered during the first jump course. Additionally, let the student know that next time things could be different due to wind direction and speed. Next have the student show where, and at what altitude, to make their turn for the base leg of the landing pattern. Since an aerial picture of the drop zone is be used, the instructor can point out hazards and landmarks at this point. For me, I like to point out a grass runway at the drop zone and to tell students not to go pass it figuring it is better for them to have to walk back a little bit than to risk getting too close to the hanger or the active taxiway. Finally, have the student show where, and at what altitude, the final turn would be. At this point the instructor should reiterate the importance of the wind sock, what altitude to stop turns and to do only small corrections, and of course, when to flare. Since the student is making marks on a laminated picture, it is a good training aid to keep and to use when debriefing the student after the jump. The instructor can point out how the plan and the actual landing pattern were different. The instructor then can talk about how safety could have been affected and discuss a plan for improvement. After the debriefing the student, just wipe the photo clean and use it for the next student. Now, let’s talk about our first jump student some more. When teaching a first jump student, I do not advocate going through all of this in great detail on their first jump. Instead, have them look at the picture. Ask them about where they would want to be at 1,000 feet. Where would they turn for the base leg and final leg of the landing pattern? If we, as instructors, get into too much detail for the first jump the student can have a sensation overload and forget everything. Additionally, a sensation overload could make the experience less enjoyable and possibly hinder the chances for repeat business and some good word of mouth advertising. By just showing them what will be happening we can reduce the student’s anxiety by reducing their fear of the unknown. Additionally, if there should be a radio failure while the student is under canopy, having shown them on a photo of the landing zone and discussed where they should be in relationship to various ground features we have just increased the chances for the student to land safely. Author Bio: Corey Miller is a C rated skydiver who held both coach and IAD instructor ratings. He holds a Master in Aeronautic Science degree with specialties in Teaching and Human Factors. He currently works as an Instructor/Quality Assurance Inspector in the Aerospace Industry. He calls the Oklahoma Skydiving Center his home DZ.
  9. admin

    How I Built My Own Wingsuit

    There I was, in the middle of a Utah winter, dreaming about jumping again. I’d recently finished editing a couple of instructional DVDs regarding wingsuiting, and those videos had sparked a new interest for me: I wanted to learn wingsuit flying in the upcoming jump season. My budget was tight, and the cost of a new wingsuit seemed high. “Why not build my own suit?” I wondered. My sewing skills were adequate for patching canopies, but that was the extent of my expertise. I’d been planning to work on sewing projects this winter… projects that would expand my knowledge of sewing. This was a logical step, I ventured. Surely building a wingsuit would help me in the seamster department, provide a suit for me to use in springtime, and keep my budget intact… it all appeared to be a fantastic idea. I went through a list of resources I had available: 1) A great DZO (Jack Guthrie) who would allow me use his sewing machines. 2) A good friend (Douglas Spotted Eagle) who would let me borrow a wingsuit for a while. Note: Neither Douglas nor I expected that “while” to be 4.5 months. 3) My girlfriend’s mother (Jane) works at a fabric store, and has extensive knowledge of available fabrics and parts such as zippers, snaps, etc. 4) A Wingsuit manufacturer (Tony Uragallo, of Tonysuits) Tony Uragallo of Tonysuits who was willing to answer some questions I had about wingsuit design and assembly. Tony’s input was key during a few points in this project. The first thing I did was take the borrowed wingsuit to Jane at Hi-Fashion Fabrics, in Grand Junction, CO. She inspected this Tonysuits Mach1 and helped me create a list of fabrics and parts necessary to build a replica. That day Jane was able to provide me with all the Parapac, Supplex, and Cordura I’d need, for about $225. Some parts, such as zippers, binding tape, snaps, and thread were purchased from other stores. Next step was creation of a pattern. I laid the borrowed Mach1 out flat on the floor and inspected the design. It became apparent that this design could be easily broken down into three main pieces: Right wing, Left wing, and body piece. Jane had donated some white basting material, which she thought would work well for the large pattern pieces I’d need. I started copying the body piece first: tracing the front skin and rear skin onto my pattern material. Much like the top and bottom skins of a ram-air parachute, these front and back skins would have ribs connecting them: providing an airfoil shape when inflated. The two skins were easy to trace and cut, but adding the ribs required some planning. Because these ribs were inside the model suit and therefore out of sight, I decided it was time to reach out to Tony Uragallo, designer of this suit. I explained to Tony that I desired to learn more about sewing, and this was a project for my learning. Tony said if this was the only suit I’d build, and if I’d promise not to begin manufacturing more of his design, he’d help me out. Tony provided key information about size and shapes I should use for ribs in all three wings: Tail wing, right wing, and left wing. I wish I could say that the project was a breeze from this point on, but there were two key points of sewing that I needed to learn. First: Thread tension in the sewing machine. I’d purchased 210 denier Parapac, and when I began sewing two layers of this light fabric together, the stitches would bunch together, causing each of my seams to shorten, thereby slightly changing the size of my pieces. You can see bunching in these seams, more severe in some areas than others. The thread tension needed to be very loose. I was nearing completion of the main body piece before I finally understood how to correct both top and bottom thread tensions in the sewing machine precisely. Second: Patterns must be laid out horizontally or vertically on Parapac material in order to make them hold their shapes symmetrically. I’d been thinking of how to maximize number of pieces that I could get from my pieces of Parapac, and so I’d placed the parts at odd angles on the fabric. Oops. This pattern should have been rotated such that it pointed straight up the What did this mean for my project? As I neared completion of the main body piece, and began attaching zippers from foot to throat, I saw the body was leaning hard to one side. It took me a while to figure out the issue. I knew all my pieces were cut symmetrically because I’d folded the front and back skins in half when cutting them… why were they no longer symmetrical? The body piece warped into an asymmetrical shape Finally it dawned on me that if I pulled one side of the body, it would stretch several inches. Pulling on the other side however wouldn’t yield much at all. This was because the threads of this fabric were not running straight across my pattern. The only way I could deal with this big error: wad up the body piece and start from scratch. At this point I was approx 25 hours into the wingsuit project. With these lessons in mind, my second body piece was built much faster. My patterns were already made, so the parts were quick to cut and mark. Since I was still relatively new to sewing, assembly did take me another 12 hours til completion of the main body piece. Thankfully this body piece was symmetrical after completion, and proper thread tension had been used throughout. Now for the arm wings. Tracing parts for the arm wings wasn’t nearly as simple as it had been for the body piece. There are quite a few curves and angles, which were difficult to duplicate when using a pre-assembled wing as the model. Another difficulty in the arm wings: Each rib shape and size was completely different from the others. You can see that each wing rib is unique. Creating these pieces takes time My leg wing had used identical ribs, because each rib was approximately the same length and height, creating a uniform symmetrical shape. Arm wing shapes for the Mach1 are much more complex than the leg wing, and use of CAD software would be necessary to create truly accurate patterns for this. After much painstaking measurement and pinning of my patterns, I was satisfied that I’d created a suitable set of patterns for my arm wings, close enough I believed to provide a fully functional wingsuit. The wing ribs are first sewn to the bottom skin, then top skin is attached at gripper Assembling of both arm wings took about 25 hours. There are air locks, zippers, inner sleeves, elastic, snaps, and binding tape involved. Next step is sewing top edges of wing ribs to the top skin, essentially “zipping up” from outside in With the right wing, left wing, and body piece assembled, I figured I was very close to completion. Then I learned how difficult it can be to create correctly sized booties, and to attach them in appropriate places on the legs of a suit. My first attempt at booties took 10 hours and failed to fit me. Those booties found their way to the trash can, and the second set took another 5 hours… these fit much better. Booties need to be made wider than the shoe, so that the shoe can slide in easily. After the booties were finally finished, I had only minor trim parts to finish, and final connection of all three pieces. Tony’s Mach1 design made it quick and painless for me to mount the wings: Tops of the wings zipped on (up and over the shoulder), and bottom of the wings required a simple straight seam, one running down the side of each leg. I tried the suit out while wearing a rig, and it fit quite nicely. However, I still needed a bit of training before I’d feel comfortable jumping out of an airplane with these wings attached. The suit fit, but I needed some more instruction before taking it to the skies.Photo by Dru Poma I’d already been through a First Flight Course with Scott Gray, and a refresher course with Scotty Burns, but both those classes had been several months ago. First I sat down in my living room & watched the FlockU DVD that I’d edited, Wingsuits 101, to refresh my memory. Next I called on my WS instructor friend, Douglas Spotted Eagle, and requested that he run me through all the ‘what-ifs’ (ie: what if I go upside down, what if I start spinning, what if I can’t find my handles). Douglas put me through all these scenarios, and finally I felt comfortable that I could handle any of these situations. The following day was gorgeous, with blue skies and warm weather over Skydive Utah. Douglas came along with me for my initial jump in this suit, and took a few photos. Boarding the plane requires some concentration when your feet are inhibited by a leg wing. Photo by Dru Poma Riding up in the plane reminded me of a night jump: all the training had been covered in detail on the ground, yet still I was nervous. A few minutes after takeoff, we were at altitude, with an open door awaiting our exit. I hopped out of the plane and counted “Jump one thousand, Wing one thousand”, then opened my wings. I could feel the positive pressure inside the wings.Holding my arms in place required little effort. Photo by dse All three wings inflated evenly, and the suit felt stable. Photo by dse Photo by dse I didn't keep my tail wing collapsed during deployment, resulting in line twistsPhoto by dse Douglas and I flew a left-hand box pattern, and I deployed at 5,000 ft. My giant grin was evidence to those who met me on the ground that my Mach1 replica had flown well and had provided great enjoyment. I’m looking forward to jumping this wingsuit many more times this summer so that I may learn more about the exciting discipline of wingsuiting. There are quite a few tricks I need to learn through practice, such as keeping my leg wing closed throughout deployment of my canopy. photo by Dru Poma When all was said and done, I’d spent over 100 hours planning, researching, buying parts, and building this wingsuit. Also, I’d spent about $350 on parts and equipment for this suit. A little math made me realize that if I’d worked a minimum wage job and spent 100 hours working it, I’d have been able to buy a new suit from the manufacturer with all options, would’ve received it much quicker, and would’ve spent the same. Would I recommend this project to anyone else? No way. Go buy a suit from a manufacturer and realize what a deal you’re getting! They may seem expensive at first, but once I understood the amount of R&D; that goes into each design, and the amount of customization required for each individual suit, to fit each owner’s body, I realized that the MSRPs for these suits are actually very reasonable compared to parts and labor combined, for building my own suit. Cost and time aside, I’m glad I built this wingsuit. My ability to sew improved exponentially as I worked with this project, and my understanding of how wingsuits function increased drastically. Chris Warnock is a TI, AFFI, Rigger, Canopy Coach, and videographer at Skydive Utah. Chris produced the "Canopy Control" DVD with Chris Gay for VASST. See him fly at the FreeFlock Utah Boogie in July, 2009.
  10. nettenette

    You Know Nothing About Seatbelts - Part 3

    You Probably Aren’t Aware of All These Oopsies Screengrab of the 12th May 2016 Lodi incident Seatbelts help. You probably get the picture by now. But do you know just how many lives they’ve saved in the past couple of years alone? Oh, man. Loads. At time of publication, USPA dropzones use seatbelts. Even the legendarily non-USPA maverick dropzone at Lodi had seat-belt use essentially imposed on it--which resulted in all souls walking away from that dropzone’s 2016 Cessna Caravan forced landing in a vineyard. The pilot suffered a bloody nose. (He was not wearing a shoulder belt--nor his emergency bailout rig. Tsk tsk.) They were shaken, but okay--and they haven’t been the only ones. Over the last couple of years, forced landings all over the world have seen most of the jumpers survive, in great part because of that friendly webbing. On December 4, 2014, A Cessna 205 out of Sussex, New Jersey suffered a total loss of engine power during its initial climb. The in-cabin video shows the forced landing going smoothly until the nose wheel dug into a muddy field and flipping the plane onto its back. All five seatbelted souls on board survived with minor injuries. Also in December of 2014, a Cessna 182 in Beromunster, Switzerland lost power shortly after take-off. The aircraft broke its nosewheel in a field, but all five occupants--seatbelts fastened--made it out with bumps and bruises. On May 10 of 2015, an Antonov out of Azov, Russia experienced high engine temperatures that forced an immediate landing. While the crash was severe enough that a post-landing fire destroyed the fuselage, all 13 (seat-belted) occupants got out in time, and survived with minor injuries. On June 29 of 2015, a Cessna 182D out of Oak Harbour, Washington lost engine power. It struck a tree during the forced landing, which was short of the runway. The impact split the fuselage in two at the instrument panel. Unsurprisingly, the pilot was seriously injured (but survived). One passenger was injured after being ejected from the open fuselage. On July 12 of 2015, a Cessna took off from Barnegat County, New Jersey. The crankshaft failed shortly after take-off, forcing a landing right on the highway. The traffic camera shows the plane landing on the right lanes and rolling onto the grass median towards the end. The pilot and all four passengers survived with hardly a scratch on them, thanks to their seatbelts. On July 7 of 2015, a Cessna Caravan lost engine power shortly after taking off from the desert dropzone in Dubai. The forced landing into the sand dunes started a fire that consumed the airframe, but everyone--including the pilot--was able to unfasten their seatbelts and get out before it burned up. In August of 2015, a Turbo Finist carrying a pilot and ten skydivers crashed shortly after taking off from Casale Monferrato, Italy. The impact of the landing bent the wings, broke the main undercarriage legs and smashed the engine compartment. Everybody wore seatbelts. Everybody walked away. In October 2015, a Yak-12 carrying three skydivers force-landed in Poland, hard enough to break the main undercarriage. The video starts with a glance at their fastened seat-belts and ends with them running away from the wreckage. Later that October, one of Dubai’s Twin Otters crashed on landing. Only a pilot was onboard. He survived, despite major damage to the airframe, thanks to his handy webbing. On April 28, 2016, an antique biplane lost power and force-landed near Osage in the American midwest. The pilot plus two skydivers put the airplane at gross weight, and both skydivers stood on the lower wing, grasping the front cockpit edge. This created more drag than usual for what was originally a two-seater trainer with only 220 horsepower. The plane never climbed very high and force-landing in a field, hard enough to break both main undercarriage legs. The "safety straps," as sketchy and unofficial as they must have been, kept those skydivers onboard during what must have been one hell of a clenchy forced landing. (For comparison: a couple of years earlier, another skydiver was incapacitated by carbon monoxide--because he had been holding on right behind the exhaust--and fell from the lower wing of a PT-17 biplane at an altitude too low to open a parachute. If that jumper had had a safety strap, they’d be alive today. Thanks to rockstar Sebastian Alvarez’s video, most of us are familiar with the May 12, 2016 crash of a Cessna 208 Caravan at Lodi. Engine failure shortly after takeoff forced a landing. During the roll-out, the plane struck a truck and rolled into a ditch, inverting at low speed. When the airplane ground to a halt, the entire load was hanging from the ceiling. All 17 skydivers exited uninjured. The last frame of the video shows the pilot washing blood off his nose--which shoulder belts would have prevented. On July 3, 2016, a Cessna 206 out of Gilchrist, Texas had to land when an engine broke a connector rod shortly after take-off. The pilot landed upright on Crystal Beach. There were zero injuries. On August 3, 2016, a Cessna TU206 lost power 1,000 feet after its takeoff from Skiatook, Oklahoma (which, coincidentally, sees more than its share of aviation mishaps) and had to come down in a grassy field. The impact buckled the airframe in a major way, but everyone was belted. All seven occupants survived with minor injuries. Quite recently to this publication--In September of 2016, in fact--a plane out of DC Skydiving had to land right after takeoff. All 11 skydivers and the pilot wore seatbelts, and all walked away uninjured. The plane didn’t fare so well. The thing about seatbelts, of course, is that they don’t work if you don’t use them--or if you use them wrong. In the next installment, we’ll talk about how to use a seatbelt on a skydiving plane, ‘cause there are some sketchy little myths floating around.
  11. DSE

    GetHypoxic HYPEYE D Pro

    Get Hypoxic HYPEYE D PRO Remote Camcorder Indication and Control System Settle back with a cup of good coffee as this is going to be lengthy; the product does a lot more than meets the eye! I received my HYPEYE D PRO controller and expansion in the mail today; I was overjoyed. I knew it would be a good product, as I already owned two HYPEYE MINI camera indicators. Just in case you ve been in the air too long, don't fly a camera, or simply haven't paid attention to technology, the camera control protocol known as LANC or (Local Area Network Control) is not a part of the crop of new camcorders being issued by Sony (or Canon). LANC is a tape-based protocol, and none of the new camcorders are tape-based, but rather are Hard Disk Drive (HDD), DVD, or Flash memory-based in design. Tape is very much on its way out, and will not exist as a common format in the foreseeable future. Absent a LANC controller, camera flyers struggle to start/stop the camcorder, not to mention the lack of an indicator usually mounted on a ring sight to indicate the status of the camcorder. True, a small mirror might be mounted on an altimeter to view camera status, and of course, camera flyers can cut large holes in their camera boxes for access to on/off switches and record switches, so it s not as if all is lost with the disappearance of LANC. But it is terribly inconvenient for most of us. Sporting a rubberized/weather proofed recessed button, this unit is solidly built. Early camera switches were fairly unreliable and affected by riser slap, high humidity, water, or the camera helmet being laid upon the ground and accidentally triggering the camera button. None of the above has any impact on the operation of the Get Hypoxic HYPEYE D PRO (damn, that s a long name) camera controller, due to the way it s built. Designed to be mounted either inside or outside the helmet, the switch housing offers a threaded hole in the back of the unit allowing for an included nylon screw to mount it to the outside of a helmet or other mounting surface. Even though this may expose the switch to a riser slap, the nylon screw should break/release in an entanglement. The switch housing is identical in size to the pre-formed port found in many camera helmets, allowing for a .65 to be drilled, allowing for a flush switch on the outside of the helmet with the bulk of the switch housing inside the helmet. Double stick tape or gaffers tape (not included) can be used to secure the switch to the helmet or mounting chassis. That s not all, nor is it the only way to be mounted - more on that later. I used the Expansion kit to set up my own switch access that is smaller than that of the HypEye, but it is not weather resistant like the HypEye switch. The switch housing has two rubber inserts for accessories available for the HYPEYE D PRO. The first is a female 3.5mm jack that allows for a debrief cable to be plugged into the helmet/switch directly, thus eliminating the need to remove the camera from a camera box/housing, or from a mounting plate in order to view the video. The debrief cable will likely be essential for any team camera flyer or AFF instructor wanting to debrief a jump. Not only is removing the camera from the helmet a pain, but also wears hard on the camera and box, this allows additional wear on the camera and helmet to be avoided. Techno-geeks will probably install a female 3.5mm jack in their helmet so the debrief cable doesn't need to be plugged into the HYPEYE D PRO switch housing too. I've already seen one team using the debrief port on an LCD monitor in the aircraft as they climbed to altitude for another jump, again saving the hassle, time, and potential error involved with removing the camera from the housing or helmet. If your last camcorder came with a four-contact 3.5mm cable (has yellow, red, and white connectors on the end) you won't need to purchase the HYPEYE D PRO DEBRIEF CABLE. The other rubber plug is an access port for the HYPEYE D PRO EXPANSION CABLE KIT. This is the kit that got me really excited about the unit because it adds so many features to the HYPEYE D PRO. In my opinion, this is what makes the HYPEYE so spectacular. The Expansion Cable Kit is optional at a cost of $29.00 USD. So what does the Expansion kit add? A plug that connects to an L&B; Optima audible altimeter. This allows a separate set of LED s on the HYPEYE indicator to flash when the Optima is triggered. The indicator will flash slow flashes at the first altitude set in the Optima, faster flashes as the second altitude is reached, and very fast flashes when the final altitude is reached by the Optima. This feature isn't only for the camera-flyer; deaf skydivers will find this feature very useful. Unlike the L&B indicator which is fragile and stiff, the HYPEYE indicator is on a flexible cable and can be mounted any number of ways to suit the users desire and need. Bite Switch input. Yup, the Expansion Kit allows owners to plug their existing 2.5mm bite switch cable into the system, triggering stills from a video camera. Some cameras can only shoot 3 stills during a jump, but camcorders like the Sony CX7 or HC5 may be turned into a still-only camera, allowing for reasonable quality stills to be taken with these small HD camcorders. External Switch/Remote Switch connection. This allows the rubberized nipple switch found in the HYPEYE housing to be bypassed and the system controlled by a third party switch. This is what I've done with my system. All electronics are mounted inside the recesses of my BoneHead Flat Top Pro helmet, and I've mounted my own softswitch on the side of the helmet. This is useful for custom buttons, but also would allow a pilot to trigger an exit camera or similar. Zoom Memorization. Ever gone on a jump only to find that the zoom button had been moved, and everything was blurry, deeply zoomed, or both? This feature tells the camera to be zoomed in at a user-defined point. This will hopefully reduce the number of absolutely ugly vignettes found in so many skydiving videos, allowing users to slightly zoom in past the point of the lens adapter rings. Remote on/off of camera functions. Imagine this; you re in the door of the aircraft ready to jump, and notice that you've forgotten to turn on the camcorder. The count begins as you yell WAIT! With the HYPEYE D PRO, pressing the switch will turn on the camera even if the on/off switch of the camera is in the off mode! (this is camera model dependent, and won't work with all cameras, but it s great with the CX and SR series cameras) A audio/microphone input rounds out this system very nicely. If the camera is in a typical housing, the internal microphone is buried, often under Neoprene or other material designed to securely hold the camcorder. An external microphone isn't only helpful, but essentially necessary for tandem interviews in this situation. Or you can just connect your ipod and burn to DVD for your 4way team with no post production work at all. Here is where users will find a weak point in the HYPEYE system; the installation instructions for the Expansion Kit recommend placing a dab of glue on top of the connector. After a quick call to Get Hypoxic I learned this was to prevent years of vibrations from inadvertently dislodging the cable. I needed to either use a hot glue gun or fingernail polish to create a bead on the cable once installed in the switch. It wasn t difficult, but I wondered why a swage or something similar wasn t molded to the otherwise well-designed cable. It would save users the headache of finding a glue gun or borrowing fingernail polish from someone. I used the hotglue, it was easier. See the GetHypoxic website for very detailed photos and instruction on how to achieve this. What's to love Weatherproof, recessed nipple button Audio/ Line-Level Microphone input Audible altimeter connection Super-bright LEDs Debrief port Zoom memory Bite Switch ready/input Remote control of all camera modes The camera connection side of the system is an AVRemote S cable system exclusive to Sony camcorders. What makes this unique is that these right angle cables will fit inside of most camera boxes where a straight connector absolutely will not. It s obvious that Get Hypoxic designed this connector and its slim profile, as the Get Hypoxic name is molded into the cable connector, as it is in the Expansion Kit fantail. The indicator side of this unit has several micro LED s in it. These indicate a number of different functions depending on the mode in which the camera is operating. Ready/Standby is indicated by a blue LED, Record indicated by a red LED, and warnings for batteries, sleep, error, or tape end indicated with a yellow LED. However, double-clicking the switch will put the camera automatically into different modes. Want to switch from video mode to stills only mode? No problem, just double-tap the HYPEYE switch. Wanna go from stills to playback? Same action. What's Not So Lovable: Big round cables are space-killers in tight helmets Zoom reset is slow Requires tools and additional adhesives for certain setups like the Expansion Kit Debrief port is part of switch, making it inconvenient for in-helmet setups Pricey WARNING: THESE LEDS ARE BRIGHT! Users may find them too bright if they're mounted close to the eye such as in a ring sight configuration. Using a Morse code-like tap sequence, the LED s may be dimmed in five different levels. (Out of the package settings are at the most dim preset) Military users will appreciate the exceptionally dim light in those covert training ops, and night jumpers will appreciate not being blinded by the camera flyer s indicators as well. These same LED s will also indicate altitudes triggered by the Optima, if the Expansion Kit is part of the setup. Be aware that the batteries in the Optima will affect the brightness of the altitude indicators. Camera status indicators are not affected by the Optima battery level. Speaking of military users, Get Hypoxic has said that they ll soon have an armored, aluminum billet version of the HYPEYE available at a higher cost. (comes stock set at a low brightness level, for your protection) There are some things I wish were different. The HYPEYE uses a very high quality silicone-covered rounded cable. A flat cable would have been more appropriate given the very tight confines of most helmets, yet it should be mentioned that flat ribbon cable is very expensive and not terribly durable. The molded fantail/distribution point of the Expansion Cable kit is also somewhat larger than I would have liked. In my Tonfly CC1, it took significant effort to keep the cables from impacting how the helmet fits, but it is possible. As my TonFly helmet does not have a ring sight (used for wingsuit camera) I appreciated the very stiff plastic in the indicator side of the HYPEYE D PRO. The user-programmable zoom depth is slower to get to zoom point than it should be, yet this is camera-dependent, so not really GetHypoxic's fault. Cable size aside, I feel this is one of the best-designed tools available to camera operators in any sport application where space and control are considerations whether they re using tape-based HDV camcorders, newer DV cams, or AVCHD camcorders. Congrats to Get Hypoxic for presenting a very well thought out, fully-featured product that skydivers can actually use, that seems to be very tough (I have only 22 jumps on my system). This tool is 110% real as far as I m concerned. It s hot, not hype. Get the Hypoxic HYPEYE D PRO Remote Camcorder Indication and Control System at Get Hypoxic or most skydiving gear outlets. HYPEYE D PRO-$99.00 MSRP PRO Expansion Kit-$29.00 HYPEYE D PRO Debrief cable kit-$10.00 The Hypoxic Hypeye D Pro is also available on Amazon: Hypoxic HYPEYE D Pro Remote Camcorder Indication and Control System.
  12. GoPro announced the latest addition to their line of action cameras this week with the reveal of the GoPro Hero 4 Session. The Session is small, really small -- about the same size as an ice cube and according to GoPro, it has been in development for several years now. With its reduced size, it will allow for easier mounting, especially for those looking for something to strap to their wrists. Unfortunately, early reports suggest that the decrease in size does not come without a cost. You should not expect the same recording quality, nor the features that are present with the Hero 4 Silver or Black. In their venture to create their smallest action camera yet, GoPro had to make sacrifices on both fronts and you'll only be seeing still images with a maximum resolution of 8 megapixels from the Session. Being less than 1.5 inches in diameter, it goes without saying that you won't be receiving any touch screen or image preview functionality. The cube design features a small LCD screen at the top and just two buttons, the main of which will control all your recording settings and control, while the smaller button is merely a wifi on/off button. Bound to be frustrating to some is that one cannot change between single and burst mode through the camera and requires use of the GoPro app in order to change these settings. There are some positives to mention though, with battery life being one of them. The Hero 4 Session is able to last up to 2 hours while running, better than the battery life seen in the other Hero 4 cameras. Recording Abilities While one may expect 4k recording from the Hero 4 Session, you're not going to find it. You can however record at a maximum of 30fps at 1440p or 60fps at 1080p. For those looking to get 100fps out of their recording, you will be able to do so at a 720p recording resolution. Overall it is somewhat to be expected, given the size and already clear limitations with the product, however we would have liked to at least see 100fps at 1080p and perhaps 60fps at the 1440p range. The reality is still however, that for the most part 4k recording is overkill and for vast majority of uses 1080p will suffice just fine. Another potentially frustrating aspect to the Session design is because of the cubed shape, some early testers of the camera found that it was easy to hold the wrong way around without noticing. This is likely not going to be a problem for too many people, who will have the device mounted, but for those going handheld, make sure you don't hold it at 90 degrees, or you'll need to do some post-process rotation adjustments. From what we've seen, it appears as though the Session is intended for those looking to create easy and quick HD videos, in the occasional circumstances where the other GoPro models may be too large. Priced at a whopping $400, we are struggling to see too many reasons for the average athlete to opt for the Session over the Hero 4 Silver, which at the same price comes with 4k recording, 4 more megapixels as well as a touch screen. It's Not All Doom and Gloom Don't get too caught up in the negative aspects of the Hero 4 Session however, it's still an extremely competent looking camera and while the recording quality may not be the best that GoPro has given us, it's more than enough for your average user who isn't looking for the clearest quality around. It comes standard with 10 meter water proofing, meaning no extra housing needed for most practical uses. The most obvious of the positives however, is the size. Being less than 1.5 inches allows for its use in situations where you may otherwise have struggled. For those who use wrist mounts for their GoPro, the session will definitely serve a purpose. A question that will also obviously come to the minds of many, will be how it compares to the other GoPro series with regards to snag risk. While we haven't been able to see first hand how the Session will handle a snag scenario, there is a lot less surface area so the odds of your lines getting caught seem lower, but the way the mount clamp is positioned in relation to the camera itself, it seems that there remains a risk for snagging between the clamp and the camera. This is something that could be helped a lot by the development of custom mounts, which will no doubt be developed some time after release. If you're currently an owner of a Hero 3 or Hero 4 and shoot regular helmet mounted video footage, we can't see any reason for you to switch out for the Hero 4 Session, but if you're looking for an extra camera for a wrist mount or another area where size is an important factor, the Hero 4 Session may be worth looking into -- if you're willing to fork out the $400.
  13. Norman Kent is not only one of the leading skydive photographers, but he is also an advocate for safety relating to freefall photography and the use of mounted cameras within skydiving. Norman has been jumping with a camera since the mid-70s when at only 25 jumps, he strapped on a Kodak Instamatic. Over the past 40 since, Norman has established himself as a leader in the skydiving photography world and is a well respected member of the community. In the past, we've run several articles relating to the safety of camera usage. In 2013, Melissa Lowe published a piece titled "Hey Bro, Check Out My GoPro" which tackled the topic and included conversation with Norman Kent over the potential safety issues of the camera. Since that time, the popularity of action camera use in extreme sports has skyrocketed, with more and more individuals focus being shifted towards the media capture side of the jump. Norman Kent has released a new video on his Youtube channel titled "Dangers of Being a Hero", in which he addresses and revisits some of the topics relating to action cam safety. In the video Norman runs through several series of video which illustrate just how easy it is for snagging to occur on the camera, and continues to express how despite the fact that many people feel as though the risks are exaggerated, that the incidents are occurring, even if only rarely has it thus far resulted in death or injury. "It's not the equipment itself, it's the attitude of 'it's only a GoPro'" Norman Kent continues on in the video to look at alternate mounts that can be used to minimize snag potential and further ways in which one may be able to increase their safety when flying under a camera.
  14. admin

    Australia is getting a Wind Tunnel

    Australia is getting a Wind Tunnel! Finally! With almost 40 Indoor Skydiving facilities around the world, for some reason it has taken several attempts over the last 10 years to build a state of the art tunnel in Australia. It came down to a group of courageous guys to spend the last 3 years finding a site, finding the right equipment, getting the best team together, and figuring out an innovative way of raising the funds (listing on the ASX) to make it all happen. Danny Hogan and Wayne Jones, both ex SASR servicemen, have done what many people thought was impossible. Indoor Skydive Australia Group (ISAG) successfully listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (IDZ) in January and started construction of a 16.4ft SkyVenture tunnel in February. One of the world’s largest and most technically advanced, the location is part of the Penrith Panthers facility, Western Sydney. It will operate under the global franchise brand of iFLY as iFly DownUnder, which brings unrivalled experience and technology from manufacturing 24 tunnels around the world. Launch is scheduled for first quarter 2014, You can keep track of the progress on Facebook/iflydownunder or by registering at iflyDownunder.com.au. What does this mean for Australian Skydiving? Australia – you go there to see kangaroos, koalas, crocodiles, pristine beaches or that big red rock in the middle of the dessert! It’s known for great walking, diving, surfing and now we can add flying to the list of tick boxes. The tunnel will revolutionize skydiving in Australia and turn novice skydivers into awesome skydivers. It will slow down the ‘attrition’ rate of skydivers leaving and introduce new people to the sport. It will become the catalyst for a sporting Evolution in Australia that has never been seen before. It will create an entirely new sport of BodyFlight in its own right and introduce skydiving to those who can’t yet fly - from 3 and up. In summary – it’s a good thing for skydivers, skydive operators and every Australian who has always wanted to fly. There are already some amazing Australian skydiving boogies on the map; The Equinox Boogie in Queensland attracts flyers from all over the world, some who come back year after year. Funny Farm is an invitational boogie in the outback which sees international coaches load organising some of Australia’s hottest flyers and the Full Moon Boogie in Victoria is now making a name for itself with Mike Carpenter (Volare) and Mike ‘Friday’ Friedman (Arizona Drive) organising at the event in recent years. In addition to the big name coaches, Australia truly does have some of the best scenery around. From unspoilt coastlines with clear blue oceans to forests, gorges and red earth. Combine these with the welcoming Aussie spirit and a wind tunnel and Australia is shaping up to be a great all round skydiving destination. So next time you plan a trip down under, make sure you bring your jumpsuit as well as your thongs! Many of the iFLY Downunder team are active skydivers and the centre will be built with skydivers in mind. There will be a skydiver’s lounge if you need to take a break and relax between sessions as well as the usual debriefing video stations and team rooms. Located in Penrith, a suburb in Western Sydney there’s plenty to do around the tunnel, whether you enjoy wakeboarding or white water rafting, need a hotel for the night, a good feed or a day relaxing in the nearby Blue Mountains national park. The team are striving to create a positive learning environment, where all abilities are welcome and where flyers come to meet like-minded skydivers. We also need to mention the level playing field that will be created when Australian teams can finally train in an Australian tunnel. The Australian VFS team ‘The Addicted’ completed 11 hours of intensive training with Steve and Sara Curtis (Arizonal Arsenal) and Mike ‘Friday’ Friedman (Arizona Drive) in order to learn the new open VFS dive pool. Team member Lucas Georgiou stated that “a tunnel camp was really the only way we could get up to date with the recent changes”. 8-way team ‘Velocita’ also trained in a 16ft tunnel before the Dubai Mondial, that’s 8 people who now won’t have to pay for expensive airfares abroad to team train. You can expect to see Australia raising its standard in prestigious skydiving competitions around the globe from 2014. It’s not just for the top teams that will raise their game using the tunnel. You only need to look at the numbers of new rookie teams taking part to see what influence the tunnel has. In the UK, which currently supports 3 wind tunnels and a fourth one on the way, the numbers of teams competing in the British Nationals has increased each year. 2012 saw a record 54 teams competing in the 4-way alone, bear in mind most of the skydiving season is spent waiting for the clouds to clear! iFLY Downunder will hold regular skydiver events, competitions and tunnel camps for everyone from new tunnel flyers to those wanting to work on VFS, 8-way or the new ‘Dynamic’ discipline emerging from Europe. Prices, operating hours and additional information will be released later this year. Anyone wishing to host a tunnel camp should contact holly@indoorskydiveaustralia.com.au for more information and if you hold a current IBA tunnel instructors rating and are interested in moving to Australia please email your CV to admin@indoorskydiveaustralia.com.au. www.iFlyDownunder.com.au Construction Corner The Ground Breaking ceremony took place on 4rd March 2013. Raybal Constructions are working intimately with Indoor Skydive Australia Group and SkyVenture. Early bulk excavation completed and contiguous piling is now well underway with a total of 300 cubic metres of concrete to be poured. The facility footprint covers 655m² with an overall area of 2160m². Fabrication of SkyVenture components is now into its third month. For the latest progress follow us on Facebook/iFLYdownunder or register at iFlyDownunder.com.au
  15. Para-Gear is interested in photographic submissions that you may have for the 2005 -2006 Para-Gear Catalog #70. We have taken the time to briefly describe the format and certain criteria that we look for, in order to help you to see if you have something worth submitting. We have included examples of previous catalog covers for your reference. Over the years Para-Gear has used photos from all of skydiving's disciplines. We do not have a preference as far as what type of skydiving photo it is, rather we look for something that either is eye-catching or pleasing to the eye. In light of the digital age, we are also able to use photos that in one way or another may be less than perfect and enhance them, removing blemishes, flipping images, altering colors, etc. The following are preferences. However what we prefer and what we get, or choose, are not always the same. If however we came down to a choice between two photos of equal quality, we would opt for the one that met more of our preferences. We typically prefer that the photo be brighter. In the past we have used sunset photos and even a night jump photo, although by and large most of the photos are daytime. We like the subject of the image to have contrast with the background. Subjects that are wearing brighter more colorful clothing usually stand out more. We prefer to have the people in the photo wearing equipment since that is what we sell. Headgear, goggles, jumpsuits, altimeters, audible altimeters, and gloves are all good. We also prefer to see skydivers wearing head and foot protection. We do not print any BASE jumping nor any Tandem photographs. No submissions of these will be accepted. Our basic criteria is as follows: Vertical Format. The front and back covers of the catalog are both in a vertical format. We can use a horizontal (landscape) shot, as opposed to a vertical (portrait), and then crop it as long as the image lies within a vertical cropping. Photo Quality. The front and back cover shots will be printed as 8 ½ x 11 in 300 dpi format. Any film that can hold its quality up to this size and print dpi is fine. Slide film is preferred. In the event of a final cover choice, we prefer to be sent the original slide for getting the best quality out of the image. Back Cover Photo. The back cover photo is no different from the front except in one respect. We need to have room on the left side of the image for the thumb index. In the past we have taken images and been able to horizontally flip them thereby creating this room. Originality. Anything that is original, eye-catching, or makes someone take more notice of the catalog covers is something we look for. It could be a photo from a unique camera position or angle, a scenic skydive, shots under canopy, landings, etc. We look for photos that have not been previously published and most likely would not accept them if they have, as we want a photo that no one else has seen yet. We also do not want any photos that are chosen as the front or back covers to be used for other non Para-Gear advertising for a period of one year. Para-Gear offers $250.00 each for both the front and back covers we choose. Our current deadline for catalog cover submissions is March 18th 2005 . Sending sample pictures by e-mail or mail are both fine. We will return any mailed in photos or slides after we are done with them. Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions. Para-Gear Equipment Co. Inc. 3839 West Oakton Street Skokie, Illinois 60076 USA Ph: 847-679-5905 Fax: 847-679-8644 E-mail: sales@para-gear.com Internet: http://www.para-gear.com When replying, please advise your full name, address, e-mail, phone/fax and copy our e-mail or refer to the subject so we can reply easily back to you. Thank you.
  16. DSE

    Camera Considerations 101

    Flying with a camera can be a lot of fun, and is a reasonably easy goal for new skydivers to achieve. The USPA SIM Section 6.8E recommends that a skydiver have 200 skydives before putting on a camera. The first question often asked is “Why 200 jumps?” I believe the answer to that question is that in times past, the D license (which at one time required only 200 jumps) meant that a skydiver had experienced enough of the basics of skydiving that he/she could begin exploring additional responsibilities during a skydive. By no means is anyone with only 200 jumps generally prepared to be a good nor safe camera flyer, but everyone needs a benchmark from which to begin. This article isn’t about debating the merits of jump numbers; I’d recommend potential camera flyers stick with the SIM and the findings of the USPA. Before beginning, you’ll need to make a couple of gear decisions straight off, and this article is to help you prepare for those decisions. HEADGEARChoosing a helmet is the first and potentially most important decision in flying a camera. There are a lot of good helmets out there; each manufacturer has their own ideas about why their helmets may be better than another helmet. What your first decision will be isn’t as much about a brand, but rather a type. P>There are two types of helmets; those that are primarily side mount, and those that are primarily top mount. Most side mount helmets do offer at least a small top area to which a second camera or other fixture may be mounted. Most of the top-mount helmets are designed to place everything on the top of the helmet. Each type of helmet has its own advantages and disadvantages. Freeflyers and inside RW/FS skydivers tend to prefer side mount camera helmets not only because of the profile of the helmet, but due to the way the air moves around the helmet. Those that are shooting four/eight-way FS might prefer a top mount not only due to the greater stability of a flat-top profile, but that the larger top area allows for two cameras to be mounted (one acts as a backup in case a camera fails in competition). Commercial photographers tend to prefer flat top systems so that they can mount larger cameras, or have enough space to mount a DSLR and video camera from the same perspective point. One point to consider aside from the primary flying format; top mount helmets with properly centered weight are less injurious to the neck over repetitive openings. VIDEO CAMERAVideo camera models change pretty quickly, so it’s pointless to recommend models vs features. While recommending a brand is tempting to avoid, Sony camcorders have a strong position in the skydiving market for several reasons. -External control. This is very important, as you’ll want to know whether the camera is on, recording, battery failing, or nearly out of media. There are a couple brands of control devices that provide this information. -Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS). This is fairly important for freeflying, and much less of an issue for tandem shooters. Avoid Optical Image Stabilization in most cases. The floating lenses of an OIS system makes it difficult to shoot a stable image under any but the most optimal shooting situations (very difficult to achieve). Small is in; cameras don’t need to be large to produce large results. Keep weight on your head to a minimum and your neck will thank you over hundreds or thousands of openings. If your intent is to wear a camera merely to document skydives with friends, low-cost camcorders such as the GoPro Hero and similar small cameras are wonderful. If your eventual goal is to work towards shooting tandems or teams, you’ll want to consider a higher quality camera. A current favorite is the Sony CX series of camcorders. LENSESMost camcorders do not offer lens widths sufficient for most inside or tandem-oriented skydiving. Wide angle lens adapters are commonly found on camcorders used for skydiving. For most skydiving use, a .5 or double field of view lens is sufficient. If you’re flying inside video for FS or Freeflying, a .3 or more than double wide field of view is generally desired. Anything more wide than a .3 is typically going to be relegated to handcam or specialized use. Depending on the size of the camera’s lens thread, a step-up or step-down ring might be necessary. Step-down rings almost always assure a vignetted shot (black circle around your video frame), whereas step-up rings rarely cause a vignette. Step-up and step-down rings are very inexpensive. Some are plastic, others are aluminum. Some professionals prefer plastic rings so that if a riser strike or line catches on a lens and tears it off, the plastic ring will give way before damaging the camera. While this is likely true, plastic rings also deteriorate in strength when exposed to sunlight. If you use a plastic step ring, be sure to periodically inspect it to be sure it’s not become brittle or cracked due to sun exposure. RINGSIGHTSAlthough it’s tempting to want to outfit a helmet with everything right from the start, it’s a good idea to add parts one step at a time. A ringsight is a good tool for some disciplines; it helps the videographer know where the camera lens is looking, and some types of ringsights help with framing and distance. Ringsights aren’t necessary for inside shooting of FS or Freeflying. No matter what, a ringsight is a snag hazard regardless of how much care is taken to prevent it from being so. The risk can be lessened, but not entirely removed. The ringsite should be one of the last accessories added to a camera helmet. In lieu of a ringsight, consider a “paper asshole” or a punch hole reinforcement sticker, mounted on your goggles. This can serve the same purpose and yet completely remove the snag hazard of a ringsight. A circle or dot can be drawn on goggles as well. To sight in a dot on a goggle; face a plain wall on which, you’ve taped a target. A paper plate works well for this exercise. Stand back from the wall at a distance of about ten feet. Put on the camera helmet, turn on the camera, and have a friend hold your head/helmet so the paper plate is dead center in the camera’s display. Keep your eye looking forward; don’t be tempted to roll the eyeball up/down/sideways. Keep it straightforward. It might take a moment to get comfortable holding your eye straightforward while a friend guides your head/helmet to the centerpoint/target. Once you’ve relaxed, focused on the target, and the target is in the center of the camera, mark your goggles (one side only, usually the right side) with a DRY ERASE marker. Remove the helmet, remove the goggles/glasses, and then put them back on and check to see that a reasonably accurate target acquisition occurs. Otherwise, repeat the aiming/targeting process. It’s worth mentioning once again however, a ringsite should be one of the last accessories added to a camera helmet when you’re a newcomer to camera flying. A ringsight adds an unnecessary snag hazard. STILL CAMERAAgain, it’s very tempting to buy a camera helmet with everything in one shot, and as mentioned previously, is a poor decision for newcomers to camera flying. Learning to fly with a video camera will help develop the skills necessary for flying a still camera. DSLR cameras are popular, as they record stills to a memory card, making for fast previewing of photos taken during a skydive, and for tandems, DSLR’s are necessary for fast delivery of photos to tandem students. Though Canon and Nikon are both popular brands of cameras for skydiving, most any kind of camera can be modified to accept a bite, tongue, blow, or hand switch for taking skydiving photographs. MOUNTING DEVICESThe device used for mounting a still or video camera to the camera helmet is critical, particularly for video cameras. If the mounting device isn’t rock-solid, the camera will shake or shudder in freefall, resulting in an unstable image. Sometimes this shudder/shake will be blamed on the video camera when the blame lies squarely on the camera mount. Check whatever mounting device you’re considering to be sure it will not move either at the time of purchase, or after it’s been in use for a period of time. Personally, I’m a big fan of the Cookie Composites Padlock systems and the Really Right Stuff mounting systems. Neither are inexpensive, but if you want solid video and clean stills, a solid mounting system is critical. CONTROLLING SYSTEMSCamcorders and still cameras need hands-free operation. Video cameras can be manually started/stopped in the aircraft, but for convenience and comfort, most camera flyers use a control system of some sort. Sony tapeless systems offer essentially one controller choice; the HyPeye products from GetHypoxic. All of the camera control systems also offer an indicator that indicates the status of the camcorder such as Power On/Off, Standby, and Record modes. In lieu of these indicator devices, you can always wear a small mirror on the wrist next to the altimeter, and view the Record light on the camcorder. I’d recommend a plastic mirror vs a glass mirror in case your wrist strikes the side of the aircraft. Still cameras/DSLRs require some sort of trigger device to cause the camera to snap a shot. Conceptus manufactures tongue and bite switches for Canon cameras. Custom Nikon switches are available from The Ranch Pro Shop and other resellers. Some Pentax cameras use the Canon connection (2.5mm plug). It’s difficult to recommend a bite switch, hand switch, tongue switch, or blow switch; everyone has a preference. I personally prefer a tongue switch, but many friends like bite switches. Some like hand switches. You can also “roll your own” from inexpensive parts available at Radio Shack. JUMP SUIT/CLOTHINGSome camera flyers opt for jumping with or without a camera suit, or a suit with “wings.” Although it’s a personal preference, camera wings provide the camera flyer a more stable flying platform (when used correctly) provide the for a great deal of range and control that isn’t quite so easy to achieve when wearing a standard jumpsuit or freefly suit. If you’re looking at flying with tandems, wings are often an important part of the jump. If you’re shooting freefly work, you probably won’t want to wear wings. There is a lot to learn about flying a camera. Getting good at RW is perhaps the best thing you can do to prep for flying a camera with tandems and four/eight way teams. Understanding burbles, trapdoors, safe zones, and having good belly skills that include side sliding, the ability to orbit, and a very broad fallrate are all important aspects of camera flying. This article does not discuss the challenges of camera flying and make no mistake; there are many dangers. One such danger, is that the camera flyer is always focused on the action in front, and never able to turn to see what’s happening behind him/her. Another danger is that in order to “get the shot” some camera flyers lose altitude awareness and may find themselves well below appropriate deployment altitudes. Spend time talking to the camera flyers on your dropzone, reading the forums, and pay attention to some of the videos you’ll find on Skydivingmovies.com, YouTube, and Vimeo. All have examples of good and bad camera flying. You can learn a lot just from watching the techniques of others.
  17. nettenette

    You Know Nothing About Seatbelts - Part 4

    You Gotta Do It Right, Every Time Lead image by skydivegirlpl In the Frankenstein world of skydiving aircraft--where the original innards have been ripped out and kinda-sorta replaced here and there with lighter components--we’ve had to rethink this whole “seatbelts” thing with an eye to minimalism and ease of use. (For contrast, check out the amount of webbing with which aerobatic pilots festoon themselves.) In almost every case, skydiving has had to invent new procedures to maximize the utility of restraints while lacking the backing support of a seat. Hear this, dear readers: These “new procedures” vary in effectiveness. Very few skydivers are properly educated. The details matter. Belts for Benchwarmers Are you sitting in a comfy, capacious aircraft with side benches? Lucky you! You can enjoy the proven-safest restraint configurations available to modern skydiving. Hooray! The reason that lap belts should only be used by side-facing skydivers is that they are maximally effective when there is a solid support surface behind the occupant: a seat back, an aircraft sidewall or a bulkhead. (A particularly burly swooper doesn’t count.) Already bored and sure you know how this lap belt thing goes? Hold up. Did you know that you should be routing your lap belt between your main lift web and body when you’re sitting on a side bench?** “Whoa,” you say. “This means that the restraint belt does not simply go over the top of my glorious lap, as I am used to.” You, dear reader, are correct in that observation. Routing the male end of the lap belt between your belly and main lift web as it’s on its way to the latch on the other side is the way to go. It’s proven to make you less likely to slide out of it in the slippery, bucket-seatless context of a jump plane. Restraints For Floor Folks If you’re on the floor, this is your huckleberry: A single Hooker belt, wrapped around a single hip, close to the ring. These aren’t as good as the big-plane lap belts, because single-side belts have a disconcerting tendency to impose massive, twisting, sideways loads on a jumper's spine. There’s also a huge flail arc for the head, which can result in significantly reduced thinking for the rest of the jumper’s natural life. That said: if it comes down to it, at least your meat stays put, inside the plane, and you don't end up suffocating your buddies at the front of the cabin. “What fresh hell,” you are probably wondering, “Is a Hooker belt?” Calm down--you’ve totally seen one. A Hooker belt is what we call single-point skydiver restraints. They’re ‘Hooker belts’ because they were invented by Jack Hooker. (If you recall, we mentioned him earlier in this series; he’s the fellow who developed restraints in response to the multiple-fatality crash in Hinckley, Illinois that claimed many of his friends.) To see how it’s done, take a little journey with me back to nineteen-ninety-something, when the FAA last took photos for its Sport Parachuting Advisory Circular. Play some Ace of Base and put your hair up in a side ponytail so the photos aren’t so jarring, then take a look. 1. Sit close to the attachment point, facing the back of the plane. 2. Pass the male end of the restraint under the upper part of the leg strap closest to the attachment point. 3. Pass it under the main lift web*. 4. Latch it close to the hip ring. 5. Aim to sit so you have a 45-degree angle between the point the restraint attaches to you and where it attaches to the floor. 6. Tighten until there is little slack. The more slack you have, the further you will travel before impacting something in the cabin in a no-bueno manner. A short leash also minimizes twisting and flail arc. Once you’ve got those methods down, it’s not over. There are a few more points to keep in mind, besides: Restraints don’t work if you can slide out. Ask the jumper who was ejected out the left door during a forced landing in Oklahoma. She was sitting with her back to the pilot and the belt only over her lap. Routing it through the harness would have kept her inside the plane, which is an excellent place to be when the plane is bouncing and crunching all over the ground. Beware the leg-strap-only method. In a tiny plane? Tempted to just tug a belt through your leg strap and fuhgettaboutit? Think twice. Crash tests have proven that single point, single tether restraints are not very effective. The direction you’re facing is actually important. Research has shown that, in order for the restraints to work properly, parachutists must face the tail (“aft”). Never ever ever share a restraint with another skydiver. Everyone on the aircraft needs to be secured individually. Yes, this is just as true for tandems. Tandem students should never be restrained by just clipping to the tandem instructor. If the tandem instructor is incapacitated during a crash, the student cannot unhook. This has killed at least one tandem student in Australia (by drowning). Don’t double up. You must have a single point of detachment to begin egress*** in an emergency. Panicky flailing, fear, fire and smoky visual impairment can all play into the ability to get out. Two attachment latches is one too many to work out in that kind of environment, as has been proven over and over again. Curb your camera. In the event of an impact, make no mistake--your flimsy little G3 is a projectile weapon, as is every loose bit and/or bob that’s rattling around your person. The length of a Twin Otter is plenty of space for them to reach ramming speed. Don’t let them get the opportunity. Leave your chest strap the hell out of this. Chest buckles are only rated for 500 pounds, while most other harness buckles are rated for five times that. If it does hold, it’ll flail you around like a demented cowboy misusing a lasso. Been in a cra...uh, forced landing? Get your gear checked out. Even though it’s a key part of how we protect ourselves from aircraft oopsies, a parachute harness was developed for deceleration from freefall, not partnering up with a restraint belt. Most manufacturers have not tested their harness configurations to see how they weather the jangling, multi-directional abuse of a forced landing. If you’ve been in a plane that’s gone down unexpectedly, send your rig to a rigger to check its airworthiness. The “tight cabin” theory simply ain’t true. Tightly packed loads do no better than their emptier counterparts during forced landings. The only thing that will protect you is a restraint system, not being shoved in like a sardine. You’re not buckling up for yourself. If you take one thing away from all this talk of restraints, remember this: When you do up that belt, it’s not for you. It’s for everybody you might crush if that plane smashes in. It’s for everybody you might fall on from the apex of your surprised-face zero-g levitation to the cabin roof. It’s for the pilot, who needs to be able to count on a certain balance of weight when shit is actively hitting the fan. And it’s for your friends--so they don’t have to stand around a bonfire in tears, wondering how to prevent it all from happening again. * The main lift web is the vertical part of the front of the harness--the webbing that your cutaway and reserve handles live in.
  18. This article first appeared in Parachutist magazine, and has been republished with consent of the author. Not surprisingly, most doctors say no - don't jump while you're pregnant. Doctors are conservative, and few will recommend that their patients engage in a high-risk sport. They do not want to call an activity safe and then get blamed if something goes wrong. But many pregnant women have jumped during pregnancy with no ill effects to either themselves or their babies. So is it safe? Skydiving is a risky sport, and an accident involving an expectant mother would be doubly tragic. But presumably, we jumpers are old pros at weighing the risks of our sport against the benefits, and most of us long ago decided that the fun outweighs the danger. We wouldn't be jumping if we expected to die or to get hurt. USPA does not give medical advice, and it is definitely not recommending that pregnant women skydive. Every pregnancy is different, and each woman has to decide for herself whether she wants to continue jumping for part or all of the nine months. If your doctor tells you that your pregnancy is high-risk and that you should avoid your usual activities, you probably shouldn't jump. If you simply feel uncomfortable taking the risks inherent in skydiving, you should ground yourself. The fact is, however, that women are jumping while pregnant and will continue to do so. Not surprisingly, there has been little or no research on jumping during pregnancy, and medical professionals hesitate to make any blanket statements about the practice. But medical advice, as well as advice from other skydivers who have jumped while pregnant, can help you decide whether to continue jumping during pregnancy, and if you do, help you do it safely. Know Your Limits These days, doctors tell women with low-risk pregnancies that they can continue all their normal activities as long as they feel good enough, with the caveat that they should avoid sports that contain a risk of falls and should not exercise to the point of exhaustion. "The Harvard Guide to Women's Health" says, "Pregnancy is usually not a good time to take up skiing or skydiving, but women who were already engaged in athletics can usually continue to enjoy them during pregnancy." Women who have just started jumping should probably take a break from the sport. Most women who have continued to jump during pregnancy were very experienced and very current. Many of them also say they were in good physical condition. Drs. William and Martha Sears in "The Pregnancy Book" counsel pregnant women to know their limits and to stop their activities immediately if they feel dizzy or short of breath, have a bad headache or hard heart-pounding or experience contractions, bleeding or pain. Pregnant women should also go easy on their joints. Relaxing and other hormones loosen joints during pregnancy, making them less stable and prone to injury if overstressed. The pelvis, lower back and knees are especially vulnerable. Skydivers should take particular care in packing and at pull time so as not to jolt their loosened joints. A pregnant skydiver should pay attention to how she feels at all times. Fatigue is normal, and you should rest as much as you need. First-trimester nausea is a fact of life for some women, and calling it morning sickness is inaccurate, many women feel sick all the time. Being under canopy may only make you feel worse. Doctors don't allow pregnant women to take ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) or any of the other effective analgesics, because they can cause difficulties with labor and harm the fetus. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is OK, but bear in mind that if you sprain an ankle or worse, you won't be able to do much for the pain. Obstetricians usually advise pregnant women to give up contact sports. As we all know, skydiving is sometimes more of a contact sport than we intend for it to be. Women who have jumped while pregnant often recommend that you be very careful about who you jump with, avoiding anyone whose freefall abilities might be suspect. Washington-state load organizer Art Bori points out that exit position can be important for two reasons: A pregnant woman may have difficulty maneuvering into position, and some positions are more dangerous than others. He always asks pregnant jumpers about their exit preferences. He tries to keep pregnant women out of the base so that they won't be in serious funnels. Chance of Miscarriage Can a hard opening cause a miscarriage? Dr. Scott Chew, a Colorado emergency physician and skydiver, says that no one has studied the effect of hard openings on pregnancy. Most hard openings are less traumatic than many automobile accidents, and during opening, jumpers are in a different body position than car passengers, with no belt passing over the uterus. He doesn't think a hard opening is very likely to precipitate a sudden miscarriage. He has never heard of a miscarriage occurring during skydiving, bungee jumping or rock climbing, all sports that use similar gear. According to Chew, women should also consider the possibility of a bad landing, although the baby is quite well protected in the uterine environment. Usually the jumper would get hurt first. Emergency room doctors make a practice of treating a pregnant woman before turning their attention to the fetus, because if the mother survives, the baby likely will as well. Dr. Stanley Filip, associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University Medical Center, says that because the rapid deceleration in skydiving can be analogous to a moderate-speed auto accident or a fall while skiing (both are known to cause miscarriages), he recommends against skydiving while pregnant. On the other hand, the Sears say that miscarriages usually result from chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus, infections, hormonal deficiencies, immune-system abnormalities and environmental toxin such as drugs or cigarette smoke. Sex, safe exercises, heavy lifting, usual work and play, stress or emotional upsets or minor falls or accidents rarely cause them. Registered nurse Marian Blackwell comments that the most important consideration is probably how the woman and her mate feel about the issue. Any woman who fears that jumping might cause her to miscarry should not jump. If a woman or the prospective father will likely blame a miscarriage on the woman’s skydiving, she is probably better off sitting out for a few months. Blackwell points out that it’s very difficult to have a miscarriage intentionally, and if a woman loses a baby while jumping, she probably would have anyway. Still, there is always a risk, and she advises that both parents need to accept this if the mother keeps jumping. Hypoxia What about hypoxia? Dr. Filip says that the obstetricians commonly advise woman that it’s safe to fly on commercial airlines that are pressurized during flight, but unpressurized flight above 5,000 to 7,000 feet may not provide enough oxygen to some fetuses. According to Sears, “While a short time spent in an unpressurized cabin at about 7, 000 feet is unlikely to harm your baby (baby's oxygen level in the womb is already lower than mother's), it can reduce the oxygen in your blood, causing you to feel light headed and impair your thinking and ability to move.” Chew points out that women must consider the chance of hypoxia, claiming that it's unknown whether it causes a problem for pregnant jumpers. He says, however, that the fetus is accustomed to an atmosphere less rich in oxygen than the mother needs and thus feels hypoxia less than an adult would. He adds that jump planes spend relatively little time at high altitudes, not really long enough to hurt the jumper or her baby. USPA defines high altitude as 20,000 feet up to 40,000 feet MSL and intermediate altitude as 15,000 feet to 20,000 feet MSL. USPA considers anything below 15,000 feet MSL low altitude. Routine low-altitude jumps, the sort sport jumpers commonly practice, do not generally present a risk of hypoxia. USPA does not require the use of supplemental oxygen for low-altitude jumps but has made no recommendations specific to pregnant women. (The FAA requires oxygen when required aircraft crew members are above 12,500 feet for more than 30 minutes and at all times above 14,000 feet MSL.) Most women who have jumped during pregnancy say they did not have any trouble with hypoxia. Paula Philbrook, who participated in last year's 246-way world record while pregnant, used supplemental oxygen on the attempts. She used an oximeter to measure her oxygen saturation and found that at 13,500 feet with oxygen, her saturation level always stayed at 98 to 100 percent. Without oxygen, her saturation stayed in the mid-90s which her respiratory therapist found acceptable. According to the therapist, as long as her oxygen saturation stayed above 90 percent, she remained in the safety zone. She used oxygen starting at 10,000 feet for jumps on which she went above 15,000 feet. She found herself short of breath at 21,000 feet when the oxygen went off in preparation for exit but always felt fine as soon as she got into freefall. Long-time style and accuracy competitor Nancy LaRiviere says a doctor advised her to use supplemental oxygen if she went above 5,000 feet. She rented an oxygen bottle from a local medical supply house, used a cannula (a tube used to breathe the oxygen) from 3,000 feet to altitude, shut off the flow on jump run and left the bottle strapped in the plane. She sat at the back of the plane on all loads to make this convenient. Some skydivers and doctors worry that a jumper could get an air embolism, an air bubble in the blood - a danger associated with pressure changes and one risk of scuba diving. Chew points out that the pressure differences involved in skydiving are not nearly as great as in scuba diving a jumper has to go to 17,000 feet to get to half atmosphere. So although a potential risk lurks, it does so less than in deep diving. All skydivers and air travelers should refrain from air travel for 24 hours after scuba diving. Weather Considerations Heat poses an added danger, especially in the first trimester. The Mayo Clinic “Complete Book of Pregnancy” says that says that if the mother’s internal temperature exceeds 104 degrees, the chance the fetus will have neural tube defects increases. The Sears recommend that an expectant mother eat and drink regularly while exercising to prevent dehydration and hypoglycemia. Pregnant women, particularly those further along, should be careful about flying in bad weather. Dr. Filip says that turbulent weather can sometimes stimulate pre-term labor and rupture of the fetal membranes, causing the amniotic fluid to leak. High winds and turbulence also present the standard difficulties with landing. Many pregnant jumpers advise staying on the ground on windy days. Gearing Up Women who jump while pregnant inevitably have to make some adjustments to their skydiving gear. Some of them change their canopies for larger mains or mains which open more softly than their original gear. Others continue to use the same gear until they quit. Either way, the jumper should feel comfortable with her gear and be able to land it well. Larger gear may feel unwieldy but often lands more softly. A pregnant woman will quickly outgrow her normal jumpsuit. Whatever a skydiver decides to wear, she needs to ensure that she can still find all her handles. Size can also make it difficult to get in and out of airplanes. After a certain point, you may no longer fit into a little Cessna 182. Getting up and down off the floor will challenge you, so airplanes without benches become less than ideal. You'll really learn to appreciate tailgates and planes with seats. How long can a woman keep jumping while she is pregnant? Women have jumped into their fifth, sixth and seventh months. Some jumpers go by the folk wisdom "jump until you show." Others stop based on the time of year. If you’re five months pregnant in July with sweltering heat, that might be the time you call it quits. When you decide that you're no longer operating at 100 percent, stay on the ground until you fee! back up to speed. Postpartum Many women have found that skydiving after they give birth requires more adjustment than jumping while expecting. LaRiviere says she had to change her jumpsuit only after the baby was born and she was nursing him. Nursing also required some changes to her harness. What to do with the baby during jumping time poses a bigger problem. LaRiviere's husband acted as primary caregiver during her training camps, and she hired a niece to watch the baby while she competed in the nationals. If your baby doesn't sleep through the night, chances are you don’t either. You may not want to put yourself in freefall in such an addled state. If both husband and wife jump, they may want to take turns going to the drop zone. Often, couples jump less than they did before becoming parents. Also, even a minor injury would probably cause tremendous inconvenience with a small baby, so conservative is better. Starting Them Young Skydiving during pregnancy is definitely possible, though it gives the jumper a lot to think about. As Chew points out, skydiving carries the risk of injury and death, and pregnant jumpers have additional considerations, including some not addressed here. All potential jumpers need to make that decision for themselves with the available information and in consultation with their own families and physicians. Pregnant skydiving adds a new wrinkle to the sport. For example, how do you count a pregnant skydiver participating in the 246-way world record? Does she make it a 247-way? Either way, these kids will have cool stories to recount when they're older. How many kindergartners get to tell their classmates they already have 20 minutes of freefall? About the Author Amy Hackney Blackwell is an attorney and freelance writer in Greenville South Carolina. She has been skydiving since 1995.
  19. admin

    Big BANG/Small Bucks

    AVCHD has exploded on the consumer and pro-sumer scene like a new star at the Oscars, and the CX100 is the newest “actor” in the AVCHD lineup from Sony. Packed into a small body measuring 2” W x 2.25” H x 4” L (including factory battery) and 2” W x 2.25”H x 5” L with the more practical NP90 battery, this small “brick” weighs in between 11 and 14 ounces, depending on the battery chosen. Short description; this camcorder is a mini-brick. The CX100 is a very small package. The lens is a 30mm thread, if you’ll be adding wide or telephoto lenses. The CX100 records a 1920 x 1080i image on a Memory Stick Pro Duo card, with record times up to 340 minutes on the included 8GB stick, but it’s more practical to record to the highest quality video in most situations, reducing recording time to approximately 40 minutes on an 8GB card, or 115 minutes on a 16GB card. There are other modes, and these are useful for recording surveillance, low motion, or even simple scenes, but for best quality, most users will likely find the 16Mbps FH mode to be the preference. Most exciting is that this camcorder brings the award-winning Exmor™ imager to the consumer world. Exmor is the heart of the professional EX-series camcorders, which have become standards in the broadcast world. What this means to consumers is a more clean image, less noise in low-light, and a smoother image overall. It’s a single .20 CMOS imager, but don’t be fooled by single and small. Technology has brought CMOS to a new level of quality that previous generations of CCD-dependent camcorders. CMOS has shown itself to be the new future of virtually all imaging devices from the very low cost cell cams to high end professional production cameras. Exmor is currently the king of small imagers. Small is the key with this camcorder. Tiny and light weight, this camcorder fits snugly into the palm. It’s very ergonomic, being curved on the right side and square on the left side. This camcorder has a manual open/close for the lens cover. The LCD panel will notify users if the Record button is engaged while the lens cover is closed. The lens housing is very simple; it’s a 30mm threaded lens with a manual lens cover. It’s a Zeiss lens, identical to lenses found on previous HDR series camcorders. Optical width (35mm equivalent) is 42mm wide zoomed in to 497mm, so the camcorder isn’t quite wide enough for action sports or close-in work, but is plenty wide for the average user. While the camcorder does offer digital zoom, like most digital zooms, it’s not terribly useful due to the small sensor sizes. It’ll work well in a pinch, on a tripod/non-moving, or in a situation where the image acquisition is more important than image quality. Exposure is controlled via menu touchscreen, as is shutter speed, although the camera does not offer full manual control. There are nine exposure modes plus an Auto mode, giving users ten options for exposure control. Two microphone ports are found beneath the lens housing. The 2.5” LCD panel flips open and rotates; there is no clasp or latch holding it in place. The panel may be closed with the screen facing out, as with all previous models in this series. This is a big preview screen and it looks terrific. The controls are very simple. There is no normal on/off switch on the camcorder; opening and closing the LCD panel turns on/off the power to the camcorder. Power can be turned off with the LCD Panel open by pressing the on/off switch found beneath the LCD panel. The buttons, levers, and ports are few on the CX100; most of the options are found in the menu options. Also found beneath the LCD panel is a one-touch Disc Burn button to burn card contents straight to a DVD via the USB connector. Next to this is found a Play button for playback modes. Even when the camcorder is in Camera mode, pressing the Play button will put the camcorder in to Playback mode. Beneath the Disc Burn button is a Display button. Pressing this button once turns off most of the displayed information, thus allowing more of the preview screen to be seen. Pressing again turns off all display items, leaving the preview screen blank. Pressing/holding the button turns the preview off completely, thus allowing this camcorder to be used in a dark room without the LCD providing a source of light. In this mode, there is no recording indicator at all. The LCD screen is the only indication of recording; the camcorder does not have a Tally light. Next to the Display button is an “Easy button” that allows the camcorder to set all parameters of operation. Manual focus, exposure, and other modes are disabled when the Easy mode is engaged. Finally, there is a Reset button to reset all parameters of the camcorder back to factory setting. With the LCD Panel closed, the camcorder has three buttons; Record start/stop, Photo, and Zoom lever. With Record Mode enabled, the CX100 is able to take continual still photographs at a resolution up to 4Mp. However, there is a time lag between shots; expect about one still every 3 seconds, hardly fast enough for many sport photography modes. The Photo button and the Zoom lever are found on the top of the camcorder. The Photo button is a bit inconvenient if the camcorder is being held in a standard palm configuration. It fits under the index finger, but it’s hard to press the button without moving the camera during video recording. The stripped-down nature of this camcorder belies its intelligence. The camcorder is extremely smart, able to sense up to eight faces on the screen and calculate exposure based on these faces. Additionally, if the still modes are being used, the camcorder can sense smiles, and shoot automatically when it sees a smile. Now if it only had an “ugly” sensor that would prevent it from taking ugly photos, or a ‘composition’ setting that could prevent badly composed photos from being taken. Maybe in the next generation. Spot focus, spot metering, slow-shutter are all available on this camcorder, along with the previously mentioned nine exposure modes. Menus are relatively simple in this camcorder, but there are some menus the average user will want to pay attention to. There is no LANC on this (or any other file-based camcorder system. Remote control is achieved through the AV/R port. Pictured here is a HypEye D Pro control/indicator system. In the “General” menu mode (preview screen/menu button, page two under the Toolbox), there are five menu options. In this menu, Auto Shutoff, Calibration, and Power On By LCD are the important options. First, disable Auto Shutoff unless you’re okay with the camera powering down after five minutes of disuse. In the action-sports world, this is a non-starter, so disable this mode. Next, calibrate the screen for your personal finger touches. Different size fingers will touch the menu differently. Next, disable the Power On By LCD option if a remote is part of the planned operation of the camcorder. For example, when using the HypEye D Pro remote/camera indicator, the LCD panel must be opened first, then the HypEye may be enabled and will control the camcorder. If the Power On By LCD option is disabled, the HypEye D Pro will be able to turn on/off the camcorder, start/stop recording, and control functions of the camcorder while the camcorder is in a box or cage. It becomes a hands-free operation when the Power On By LCD option is disabled. If a remote on/off system is part of the operation of the CX100, be sure to go into this menu and disable the Power On by LCD option. In this same Toolbox menu, you’ll want to scroll to Page One of the menu options, and select the Face Function Set menu. Disable Face Detection, and disable Smile Shutter features. This will significantly speed the auto-focus functions of the camcorder. This same menu is where you’ll set the movie or photo modes of the camcorder. In the next menu, you’ll want to set the camcorder to record to external media, unless you’ll plan on downloading everything from the internal memory to an external hard drive. There is a huge benefit to this process; if you’ve filled or forgotten a memory stick, now you’ve got a way to record. Imagine being on a cliff wall or aircraft and realize you have no memory stick, or the stick is full. Simply switch to “Internal Memory” mode and you’ve just gained nearly 60 minutes of high-quality recording in FH mode! Be certain to enable X.V. Color in the menu for the most rich and natural colors during playback to any X.V. enabled HD display. X.V. is standard in Sony displays, but XVYcc is an up and coming standard in home video/theatre. The color information is embedded in the video stream, and having it will not harm the image of non-XV (HDMI 1.3) systems, but will be immediately apparent in XV displays. Disabling Automatic Off will be important to action sport photographers. If you need to share media, no worries. You can easily dub media from a mem stick to the internal Flash memory, or dub from the internal Flash memory out to a media stick. If Firewire has been your primary means of sharing video files, MSPD is now your transport medium for sharing video. From skateboarders to skydivers, this feature will be much loved, much appreciated, and much late in file-based recording systems. "The Sony CX100 with incredible HD quality in such a small form factor complemented by electrical stabilization and solid state media; is the best camera on the market for daily capturing skydiving and other action sports." Mark Kirschenbaum – Get Hypoxic/Skydiving Videographer Another ‘feature’ of this camcorder is the image stabilization system. For the past two years, almost all Sony models have been Optically Stabilized, or OIS. This is terrific for those that stand around with camcorders in their hands, but for those that are mounting camcorders to skateboards, helmets, aircraft struts, motorcycles, or anything else that has heavy, inconsistent vibration, OIS is a bane, not a benefit. Soft, juddery images are sometimes the result of OIS systems. The CX100 offers EIS, or Electronic Image Stabilization. Granted, for those that stand around with camcorders in their hands, EIS may not be quite as preferable, but for everyone else, EIS is golden. Action sports photographers have been begging for EIS to return to small-format camcorders. Sony has finally obliged. The bottom of the CX100 offers a metal-threaded/encased tripod mount with a removable bezel. All in all, the Sony CX100 is a dream camera for the low-budget videographer, the action sport photographer, or the independent production looking for a crash cam. At a retail of 599.00, its street price is somewhat lower, and available everywhere. In Black, Red, and Silver, there are even multiple color choices for the color-coordinated videographer/photographer. There is little to want for, given the size, weight, and cost of the CX100. The CX100 is very small, and will fit on any helmet camera mount system. Consider using gaffers tape to hold the battery if the mounting system does not support the battery bottom. Cookie Composites has announced they'll offer a box for the CX100 around the same time the camcorder ships. (pictured helmet is a Cookie Composites ROK) Weaknesses are found in the potential “oops” factor of leaving a lens cover on while using a remote, and in the opportunity to miss menu options in a hurry. Lack of audio input means extra care should be taken to capture decent sound; if a housing is used, be sure to leave an opening for audio. These are small pitfalls for the large scope of what this mini-monster brings to the table. Congratulations to Sony’s design team; in my estimation, this is the best small-format camcorder for the buck. Ever. ~dse
  20. admin

    Skydiver to paddle for blood donors

    A former Royal Air Force skydiver who lost a leg after he crash-landed into Aston Villa football ground will kayak around the UK to promote blood donation. Television viewers and football fans watched in horror as Nigel Rogoff plunged into the roof of a spectator stand at Villa Park during a premier league football match in December 1998. Mr Rogoff was taken to Birmingham City Hospital where he received a massive blood transfusion - the equivalent of 120 pints - to treat life-threatening injuries to his legs and pelvis. Mr Rogoff said: "I realised that I owed my life to every person who had donated blood. "I had never thought about giving blood before my accident but I realised afterwards that we need to increase the donor base." The National Blood Service campaign aims to recruit 400,000 new blood donors in the UK and will urge two million registered donors to keep on giving. Mr Rogoff launched the challenge with former RAF serviceman David Abrutat, whose life was saved by a blood transfusion after he broke his back in a car accident in March 2000. Mr Abrutat, now a paraplegic, will travel on a handbike. "Hopefully people will see two guys who have survived major trauma who want to get on with their lives and want to promote the National Blood Service in a very proactive way," said Mr Rogoff. The skydiver was part of a seven-man display team when he crashed into the Trinty Road stand at half-time in December 1998. He spent months in hospital with two broken legs and a fractured pelvis, and eventually had his left leg amputated. The two men will take four months to complete their challenges. They will set off from Tower Bridge in London next April.
  21. admin

    Non Skydivers Learn Canopy Piloting

    The Ground Launch CenterTM has implemented a new program designed to teach non-skydivers the art of canopy piloting. The center is a playground for experienced pilots, and provides a solid training environment for all levels of canopy pilots. The GLC offers advanced canopy control, Blade running activities and canopy piloting training to low time skydivers. Jim Slaton, who started the center, has put much of his focus into creating a solid training program that can even teach non-skydivers how to fly a parachute before they make their first solo skydive! Jim believes ground launching will play a huge role in the future development of canopy pilots and canopy piloting (a.k.a swooping) as a sport. More on that later… After a full season of development at the center Jim finally accepted his first non-skydiver into the program. Why would a non-skydiver want to learn canopy piloting you ask? The first student pilot was a 49-year-old male from the Northeast U.S. that had made a few tandem skydives over the last couple of years but was terrified of the canopy flight. He had flown in the wind tunnel in Orlando, and was comfortable with his freefall abilities, but not his actions under an open parachute. He read about the Ground Launch Center™ in Skydiving magazine and contacted the center for training. Jim had just finished the "Zero Intro" program for the center, which was designed to teach non-skydivers canopy piloting through tandem progression and a series of hovering flights. The Zero Intro training begins with an introduction to the modern ram-air parachute and it's design parameters. The ground training includes harness training, kiting and basic canopy handling. The student learns kiting and how to fly the parachute overhead using all of the controls. The student is then placed in a "saddle" area on the training hill where the student is allowed to kite the canopy overhead and hover above the ground tethered to the ground instructor. The student then conducts a series of tandem flights with the instructor to learn the basics of parachute flying. Through tandem progression the instructor demonstrates flat turns, stalls, riser turns, harness turns and more. The student is allowed to hold the controls with the instructor so they can feel the timing and speed of all inputs made during each flight and landing. The student eventually graduates to the point where the instructor gives the student full control of the toggles and talks the student through the pattern, set up and landing while flying as a tandem pair. When the student can fly all aspects of the pattern, demonstrate full control of the parachute and land the tandem on a designated target several times they are allowed to make their first solo flight. The student makes their first solo fight with the same Set 400 parachute they were flying during the tandem progression phase. They are taken back to a small training hill with a gentle slope that allows for very little altitude and flight time. The student and instructor are both equipped with a voice activated radio. The instructor assists the student through the launch and guides them through a short flight and into the landing area. The student continues with these low level flights until they demonstrate full control of the parachute and land (standing up) on a designated target several times. The student then graduates from a Set 400 to a 240 square foot parachute and conducts the same set of maneuvers as before. When the student has demonstrated proficiency with the 240 on the training hill, they are moved up to the 600ft launch site. When they prove proficiency on the 600ft hill they are moved up to the 800ft hill where they have enough flight time to perform a full set up, approach and landing, solo. In the case of our 49 year old male, he made 13 tandem launches with the instructor followed by 12 solo flights under a 240 in three days of training at the center. After the tandem progression phase of the training he was able to run a pattern and perform a stand up landing in the designated area on every solo flight! After successful completion of the GLC's "Zero Intro" program our 49-year-old male enrolled into the AFF course and is soon to become a licensed skydiver. The center is not only breeding better canopy pilots for skydiving, they are breeding a new generation of canopy pilots that are pushing the very limits of the ram-air parachute. For the first time ever, other professional athletes and aerial enthusiasts can get involved with parachuting without some of the restrictions that come along with skydiving. We are not talking about Paragliding (also conducted at the GLC) but more like "speed gliding" with the appeal of Swooping and BladerunningTM. If you want to see some of what we are talking about check out the Pro Tour's latest DVD entitled GRAVITY PILOTS "Canopy Piloting Revolution" at www.gravitypilots.com or find more info on the Ground Launch Center™ at www.canopypiloting.com
  22. By Bryan Burke, S&TA; at Skydive Arizona I’ve been taking notes on incidents related to the risks of horizontal freefall activity. Browsing the Incidents Forum on Dropzone.com leads to some interesting information. I went through the first six pages of the Incidents Forum to mine the following data. There are eight instances in the past year where an AAD fired after a freefall collision or related incident incapacitated a jumper, and a ninth in which the victim’s fellow jumpers pulled for him. The reference date is that of the first post, not date of accident. 1: July 31, 2013. 9-way tracing (angle flying) jump, reportedly very experienced jumpers. Collision at break-off due to back tracking blind into another jumper. AAD fired. Collision injuries followed by landing injuries, including skull fractures. 113 reserve, wing loading not stated. He jumps a Velocity 90 for a main, which suggests a fairly high experience level. If we assume a typical Velocity wing loading is 1.8, that would put the reserve wing loading at 1.6. PD recommends that expert skydivers limit wing loading on the PD113R to 1.4. 2: July 15, 2013. On a tracking dive, a jumper with 1,000 jumps was hit by one with 300, hard enough to lose awareness and probably unconscious for a few seconds. Two skydivers docked AFF-style and one opened his main for him. Fortunately the main, a Crossfire 2 119, opened without incident and the jumper recovered high enough to take control and land it safely. This was a 12-way dive according to the Youtube post, but you can never see more than ten people and they are at multiple levels. The collision occurs during the early stages of the dive, as the trackers are forming up, which gave two expert jumpers the opportunity to dock on him and pull for him. Had the collision happened lower, or had the jumper not recovered to land his parachute it could have been much worse. If he is jumping a Crossfire 2 119, he probably has a pretty small reserve, too, so an AAD deployment of the reserve might not have ended well. 3: July 10, 2013. 12-way tracking dive at a boogie results in a freefall collision that knocked out one jumper. His AAD deployed the reserve (estimated at a conservative 1.1:1 wing loading). The jumper had some teeth knocked out and fractured three vertebrae, C1, C5, and T5. His reserve was reportedly distorted by line twists or perhaps a knot or line over which might have been the result of deployment on his back. He was fortunate to land in an open field. The jumper later posted that he would recover. His profile says he has 325 jumps in two years. There is no explanation of who or what caused the collision. 4: May 27, 2013. On a 3-way RW dive, an experienced jumper with 3,000 plus jumps was laying base while two other jumpers, one with about 150 jumps and one with about 100, dove out after him. The one with 150 jumps dove too aggressively (a very common mistake when learning to dive out) and collided with the experienced jumper, hitting him in the head with his legs. The experienced jumper was knocked out and stayed that way through the freefall, the AAD activation, the reserve ride, and the landing in a tree, under a reportedly conservative wing loading. The experienced jumper died, although it is not clear if from the trauma from the collision or the landing. 5: May 20, 2013. A fairly experienced jumper, last out on a tracking dive and diving hard to the formation, hit the foot of another jumper and was knocked out. The AAD deployed the reserve as designed, which was followed by a safe, unconscious landing on a PD 160R which was loaded at 1.25. A later post by the jumper himself says it was an 18-way tracking dive. His profile says 700 jumps in six years. He apparently overtook, horizontally, a jumper who was above and ahead of him and never saw the jumper he collided with. The other jumper would not have seen him coming, either, with all of their focus ahead. 6: February 17, 2013. A skydiver was knocked out on a 10-way tracking dive. Their AAD activated but they were injured from striking a fence on landing. The injured jumper had 180 jumps and it was her first tracking dive. The injuries include a neck fracture but no paralysis. Her full-face helmet showed some damage. The reserve was lightly loaded, an Optimum 193 but no exit weight reported. 7: February 14, 2013. A skydiver with 60 jumps had a shoulder dislocated while participating in a 12-way Formation Skydiving jump. Apparently this was the result of a hard dock from another jumper docking on the injured jumper. There is very little detail, but apparently the jumper could not open a parachute and the AAD did the job. No report of landing injuries. 8: December 7, 2012. On a 17-way wingsuit jump, a participant with 250 jumps struck another participant in freefall and was knocked out. His AAD worked but he remained unconscious under canopy, crashed into an obstacle, and died from that or a combination of the landing and freefall injuries. The other jumper had unspecified back injuries. 9: October 22, 2012. On a wingsuit rodeo jump, witnesses reported that the jump tumbled unstable from exit. At some point fairly high, reportedly around 10,000 feet, the rodeo rider left. The wingsuiter never deployed a canopy. Their AAD fired but the reserve did not deploy. With no witness to the lower part of the jump it is impossible to say if the wingsuit jumper was struck by the rider, or had a stability issue such as a flat spin. Of nine incidents in ten months where a jumper was incapacitated in freefall and their AAD fired (or in one case, was deployed for by another jumper), seven out of nine involved trackers, tracing, or wingsuits. That’s 77%. Eight of nine, or 88% were definitely due to collisions. The final one is uncertain but possible, if it was also due to a collision, that brings us to 100% of the incapacitations being due to collisions. Almost all of the incidents involve some degree of inexperience. Just how much experience is required to participate in this type of jump is relative. For example, is 300 jumps enough to be on a 12-way tracking dive? Is 250 enough to be on a 17-way wingsuit dive? Is 180 enough to be on a 10-way tracking dive, with no previous tracking experience? Is 700 jumps over six years (117/year average) enough to be on an 18-way tracking dive? Is 325 jumps in two years enough to be on a 12-way tracking dive? If your jump numbers are low (say, below 500 jumps) you may have answered “yes.” The correct answer is “no.” In every case except 9 and 1, it’s pretty safe to say these dives were too big and too poorly planned for the experience levels involved. In the case of the wingsuiter with 250 jumps, for example, if he was in compliance with his national club’s policy, he could not take up wingsuiting until he had 200 jumps. Even if all 50 of his next jumps were wingsuit jumps, did he have had the experience and skill to be on a 17-way flocking dive? What if only ten or twenty of those 50 jumps were with a wing suit? Go to Youtube and search “skydive tracking dive.” Here is a glaring example of the issue: This took place at a big US drop zone with plenty of experienced skydivers. Pause this dive every couple of seconds. At various points you can see that up to fifteen (maybe more) people are on the dive, but throughout the dive you’ll see people flailing unstable, going low, unable to close on the formation, way above it… and at break-off time, it’s really down to a six-way with a couple other skydivers in the distant rear. For some reason – and here, logic completely fails me for an explanation - some people seem to think it is cool to go on a skydive on which at least half the participants lack the skill to manage the simplest goals such as approaching in control, staying in proximity with the leaders, and breaking off in a controlled fashion. Now with all those bodies scattered around the sky, many of them without the experience to have developed good air awareness, what do we expect would happen? Of course there are going to be collisions, although apparently there were none on the dive used as an example. The experienced jumpers at that drop zone, and every other one, need to change the tune. These jumps should be hard to get on, not easy. Participants should prove themselves on small dives before they go up on big ones, just as in any other freefall discipline. We don’t have a very big data set to go on, but let’s say that tracking, wingsuit, and angle dives are 10% of all skydives made. That would probably be pretty generous, my instincts would put the number at under 5%. Yet they account for about 75% of all AAD saves from incapacitation in the past year, and 50% over the past six years. (Half of all the saves due to incapacitation in freefall that show up on the CYPRES web site in the past six years occurred on tracking, angle, or wingsuit dives.) So if a subgroup making 10% of all skydives generates 50% of the AAD activations due to freefall injury, is that a problem? Tracking dives have become the most dangerous form of freefall there is. Wing suits are in second place. Tracing/atmonauti/angle dives appear to be determined to compete for the distinction. I hate to load my staff and myself up with more work, but self-policing simply isn’t working in this situation. Skydive Arizona is going to start holding the horizontal element of skydiving to much higher standards. We expect to have minimum experience levels for participation at different levels of complexity established soon, and our web site already lists our expectations. See www.skydiveaz.com, click on “Experienced” and review the safety materials. As a business, we need to protect ourselves and our customers from skydivers who don’t have the experience, training, or sense to stay out of trouble. As the variety of freefall and canopy choices expand, it appears the number of skydivers fitting that description is expanding too. Drop zone operators can’t simply turn a blind eye to the problem, especially since the poor planning combined with lack of experience and training expose all skydivers on the plane to a significant risk, not just the individual participant. Related Reading: The Horizontal Flight Problem