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Found 272 results

  1. nettenette

    The Art of DZOing

    Meet the Forces of Nature That Turn Your Loads Originally published 2014. Postscript follows. Dan McNulty - Skydive the Wasatch When I call, it’s 7:00 p.m. for me. It’s 6:30 a.m. in Afghanistan, where Dan McNulty is talking to me (presumably, with a big mug of coffee in-hand). Dan’s about to become the proud owner of a brand-new drop zone in Nephi, Utah – a quiet little one-horse town about an hour south of Salt Lake City along highway 15. The airfield is sized just-right for the easy-going, mom-and-pop affair Dan envisons: four tidy hangers, a well-maintained runway and acres of green grass for soft landings. Mt. Nebo, the highest point in the entire Wasatch and the snow capped centerpiece of the southern range, rises to a majestic 11,928 feet just alongside. Dan closes on his hangar next week. He’s stoked. He’s never actually seen the airfield, but that doesn’t bother him a bit. He’s already named it, even: Skydive the Wasatch, naturally. The season starts the second week in April. He gets home from Afghanistan March 26th. In just weeks, then, he’ll be adding a three-letter acronym to his name that only a few hundred other humans can claim: “DZO” – Drop zone Owner. Skydive the Wasatch didn’t happen overnight. Dan’s been working on this for almost two years – almost entirely remotely, patching it all together with emails and phone calls. Seeing little growth on the horizon of his current job as a security contractor in Afghanistan and being very familiar with the skydiving industry, he decided that opening a drop zone was, in his words, a “natural progression.” After an abortive attempt to set up shop on an airfield in the Heber Valley, which ended up effectively denying skydiving access with a combination of prohibitive policies and price-outs, Dan discovered the pretty little airfield in the placidly agrarian town of Nephi. “It turns out that Nephi is perfect,” Dan says. “It has everything we need. It’s close to Salt Lake City and Provo. And the city is really excited for skydiving to come to town, which is really rare and really important.” When the papers were signed, Skydive the Wasatch was effectively born (though it won’t be open for business until springtime). Dan McNaulty To run a skydiving operation, you need a plane. Working from Afghanistan, Dan sourced an aircraft from Skydive New Mexico, a DZ with – uniquely – the same altitude as Nephi, 5,000 feet ASL. He knows, then, that this particular souped-up Cessna 182 can do the same trick for him as it did for them: climb 11,500 feet in a crisp 20 minutes. The pilot is a Moab expat with a few hundred hours flying skydivers at Skydive Canyon lands, another high-altitude drop zone. “We’re starting streamlined,” Dan says. “The basics. We’ll build as we grow. And we do intend to grow.” John Hamilton - Skydive Elsinore John Hamilton, the owner and General Manager of Skydive Elsinore, knows all about growth. Though Skydive Elsinore has been an operating drop zone since 1959, the landscape of the sport has changed almost unrecognizable since he bought Skydive Elsinore with business partner Karl Gulledge. Since then, “Elsi” has burgeoned from its previous status as a small-but-historic airfield to one of the largest, highest-grossing drop zones in the world. To date, Skydive Elsinore hasn’t just hucked hundreds of thousands of skydivers over the rolling landscape aside the soaring Ortega mountain range. It has been a key partner to the advancement of parachuting technology and aerospace at large, hosting scientific studies for JPL, Pioneer Aerospace, Airborne Systems, Vertigo Inc., JSAF, Cirrus Aircraft Recovery Systems and a great many of the world’s elite air force parachuting groups. “When I first became a DZO, big surprises were a daily occurrence,” John remembers. “I guess in the beginning I can look back and say that ignorance was a form of bliss.” He laughs. “I don’t know if I ever would have taken on the challenges that awaited me if I really knew what I was getting into.” Part of John’s blissful ignorance was that he was about to become an unwilling expert in the formation of companies, legal issues, governmental regulations, employment challenges, marketing, accounting, customer service, budgeting, banking regulations, web development, social marketing, online community-building, search engine optimization and a long list of other non-skydiving-related subjects. He also had a crash course in effective communication, which he hails as the most valuable weapon in his DZO arsenal. “At the beginning, I felt like I was eating an elephant, one small nibble at a time,” he says, his smile wry. John’s relationship with skydiving has evolved from a “pure passion for the sport” to a round-the-clock focus on the business. He admits to sometimes losing sight of that original passion – he was a BASE jumper and a competitive 4-way skydiver, after all – in the thick tangle of ownership responsibilities. As he relates them, he peeks out toward the sky, a grin suddenly playing at the corners of his mouth. “You have to keep the balance. When I get lost in all this, the plane is right outside my office. I can always make a sunset load. It does the trick.” John Hamilton While skydiving remained relatively predictable in its equipment and disciplines for many years at the beginning of John’s tenure, the pace has picked up significantly. “In today’s skydiving industry, challenges arrive almost overnight,” he asserts, “And they change just as fast.” Modern DZOs must constantly adapt to the logistical, safety and economic challenges posed by the sport’s ever-changing pantheon of disciplines. “With the advent of horizontal flight – wingsuiting, tracking, angle flying, etcetera – we have had the challenge of integrating a whole list of new safety policies, while at the same time working with the governmental agencies who govern our sport.” “The feedback from our jumpers varies widely,” he continues, “and much of it makes me think that the vast proportion of jumpers don’t understand the hard work we must do in order for them to enjoy these new methods and technologies. It’s about so much more than the sum of its parts, and jumper cooperation is key, but I am ultimately responsible for the safety conducted on the drop zone.” John refuses to create an atmosphere that influences younger jumpers to push their own abilities too far. He’s known for his tireless encouragement of Elsinore’s instructional staff – and experienced jumpers, too – to lead by example, even as the community undergoes exponential growth. “I understand the thrill for newer skydivers to want to push the limits of disciplines in the sport. Trust me, I do. But it’s important for those jumpers to understand that keeping a safe culture lets us all continue to skydive.” Elsinore’s track record, for the number of jumps made here, is stellar. However, it’s a numbers game – and it doesn’t always work. “The biggest headaches of my job are, almost without exception, those that stem around the many legal risks and challenges associated with running a skydiving center – the intersection of personal responsibility and DZ responsibility, for the most part.” John pauses. “For example: a student will turn themselves into the ground, then will doggedly challenge the waiver and try to find blame in everyone else, without taking any responsibility for their own actions.” “It’s challenging, yeah. It can be a Herculean undertaking.” He pauses. “However – I get to see people’s faces after they land from that first tandem skydive. I get to know that I was part of that life-changing event for every one of them. It brings a huge smile to my face, every time. I get to help the next generation of skydivers grow as athletes and as people. It is absolutely worth it.” In passing, I tell John about Dan McNulty and his new drop zone in Nephi. John leans in. “Here’s what I’ve learned from my experience: Find a good lawyer. Then find a good accountant,” he says. “Also: It may seem unnecessary – counterproductive, even – but do things by the book in all cases. You may think you’re saving money, or even making money, by doing one or two things in the proverbial grey area. You’re not. Trust me.” He continues. “Learn to accept the rule of thirds: one-third of the people you deal with will like you, another third will tolerate you – and the last third won’t like you one bit. That doesn’t matter.” He takes a level breath. “When you’re dealing with a difficult situation, forget about public opinion and ask yourself the following before you communicate a response: am I doing this because it’s the right thing to do, or because I want to prove myself right? The answer is almost always obvious.” Lelo Mraz & Claudia Blank - Skydive Taft It’s unsurprising that John inspired others to follow a similar path: specifically, two good-looking Brazilian kids with megawatt smiles. Lelo Mraz and Claudia Blank have been beloved members of the Southern California skydiving world for a couple of decades. Recently, they joined business partner Michael Choi to become the proud new owners of their own facility: Skydive Taft. Lelo and Claudia arrived in Redondo Beach in the early 2000s from different small towns in their shared native country, and promptly fell in love. Lelo had started jumping seriously in Brazil back in 1995; he’d logged hundreds of hours in the Perris sky and tunnel by the time the two showed up to Elsinore as a pair. Claudia, on the other hand, hadn’t made so much as a tandem. Suddenly, in 2008, she decided offhand to do a jump. Naturally, Lelo ran outside video. By 2009, Claudia was an inveterate skydiver and, like Lelo, had a full-time job at the Skydive Elsinore DZ. The pair loved their jobs. They loved the Elsi community. They loved the skydiving. But they’re also clever, enthusiastic folks who love a challenge, and Lelo knew they couldn’t stay there forever. “I came up with the drop zone idea a couple of years ago,” Lelo remembers. “I’ve always known that I wanted my own business, and I know skydiving really well, so I was kicking around business plans, trying to come up with numbers that would be workable.” “I first looked into wind tunnels, but the investment is around ten million dollars. When I started to investigate drop zones, the money part started to make sense.” He started talking to mentors: not just John Hammond, Karl and Laurent “Lob” Lobjoit from Elsinore, but Rich Greene from Oceanside, as well as other pros who had walked the mine-strewn path before him. Lelo Mraz & Claudia Blank It took time, of course. “I spent a lot of time looking into airfields around California – we love California, and definitely didn’t want to leave. Nothing seemed to work, though. Then one day I was joking with my partner, Michael Choi, that maybe we should go check out Taft – even though it’s in the middle of nowhere – and that day, I saw an ad that it was for sale. It seemed like it was meant to be.” From there, things moved quickly. There were signatures on the paperwork by last October, and the new crew took over the DZ on November first. The Taft airfield is surprisingly big for its slightly out-of-the-way location. It has several hangars, a paved runway, two parking lots, a huge landing area and plenty of room for an active community of jumpers to settle in. So far, the pair is strategically running a small plane and slowly, thoughtfully rolling out a master plan for the DZ to be a regional center for training, rigging, courses and ratings. It’s no easy task for young entrepreneurs – especially, for longtime members of the skydiving community – to take over a dropzone that’s been operating for as many years as Skydive Taft. Over the facility’s 24-year history, it had accrued a small-but-very-loyal following of fun jumpers who hadn’t seen much in the way of change before Lelo and Claudia appeared smilingly in the office. Ever. “Most people like us, and we try hard to be fair, but we had to implement some policies that we felt to be extremely important from a safety standpoint,” Claudia explains. “A lot of the people who have been at Taft for so many years feel like it's their drop zone – like they own it. We don’t want to lose them, but some people get angry if we even move a couch.” She continues, “We decided to make changes little by little, taking a more careful approach than we thought we’d have to take.” Claudia gives a wry smile. “So far, so good. But it isn’t easy.” Leaving the tight community at Elsinore, too, was a struggle – and remains so, as the move is still fresh. “I can honestly say that I had no complaints at all about our ‘old life’ in Elsinore,” Claudia muses. “It was so hard to completely walk away from what was already a dream job. I made money on the weekends and jumped for fun on the weekdays at one of the most beautiful DZs in the world. I loved it, and I loved my coworkers.” “I was in denial until we finally had the paperwork,” she continues, “I knew that as soon as I made it official and quit, there was no turning back, even though they made sure to tell us that the door would always be open. This process – it changes something inside of you.” The Elsinore team threw Lelo and Claudia a huge, very-well-attended farewell party, popping up with little surprises all day long, paying for as many jumps as the couple wanted to do and dedicating one of the drop zone’s signature paving tiles to them as a memento of their long service. There were tears. It’s hard to spend time in nostalgia, however, when you have so much on your plate. For example, the first big boogie for the new drop zone is just around the corner: the Cal City Reunion, on March 22nd. Taft is sporting a bigger plane for the event and getting ready to welcome its biggest-ever crowds. “For now, we're really new. We have a lot to learn. We have been going with the flow, but being very strategic with funding. We're not going into debt; we're working with savings. It was a leap of faith, but now – even though it’s winter – business is picking up, and money is coming in, so we feel OK.” Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, Dan McNulty is working on the final details of the Skydive the Wasatch process. The tandem rigs are already bought and inspected, Today’s checklist includes arranging for delivery of the plane and closing on the hangar. “This has been a very creative process, so far,” Dan notes. “When I set out to do this, I was sure about one thing – that I'd never work for anyone else, ever again. It means that I am 100 percent responsible, for better or for worse. But it means that everything I do means something. John Hammond seconds the sentiment. “Just when I think I’ve seen it all,” he laughs, “I am quickly reminded that I haven’t. Each and every day I run this dropzone brings new people, new challenges and new surprises.” There is, clearly, an art to DZOing. ----------- Postscript: In the seasons since this article’s first publication, both Skydive the Wasatch and Taft have, predictably, thrived. Claudia and Lelo are hosting the full-on Liquid Sky Free fall Fest in August. Dan McNulty has even picked up another drop zone: Piedmont Skydiving, in North Carolina. Go jump with these guys and give ‘em a high-five!
  2. admin

    Adventure Volunteerism

    Imagine throwing a weekend supply of backpacking gear out of an airplane, then jumping out after it and hiking around the desert for a couple of days. That's what the nine students in Airdrop Assist's Basic Boot Camp did in December, at Skydive Arizona. Why did they do this? It was to train for future remote-area humanitarian expeditions with volunteer organizations like Remote Area Medical and its "RAM Airborne" team. The Volunteer Training Course Of course, this is not all they did. The desert airdrop and hike was preceded by two and a half days of training activities, in the classroom and in airplanes. There were prerequisites too, in order to ensure a basic incoming skill level, including: a USPA-B or equivalent license, a 150 jump minimum, basic first aid certification, navigation skills, outdoor living, and more. Instructors covered old, sometimes forgotten, skills plus new ones; including: spotting, landing accurately and softly under a low-loaded wing, packing round parachutes, and preparing cargo bales for airdrops. In the short 4 ½ day period, students covered a lot of ground, during 12-hour days, and wanting more. The first course of this type was held in March 2006, where another nine students got to experience the thrill of pushing out cargo, jumping into remote sites, and testing their hop and pop skills. The revised syllabus maintained the core content of cargo bale handling but included a more physically challenging aspect, including a 12-mile hike with full backpacks, a 1,300 foot climb against the clock, and outdoor living for the duration of the course. Courses are planned to be held at least twice per year, roughly in March and December. The dates may vary, with the next one scheduled from March 9-13, 2007, and all events are posted at www.airdropassist.org/schedule.htm Humanitarian Aid - At Home Airdrop Assist is a newly-formed nonprofit school, aimed at meeting the gap between volunteers and the rigors of remote-area volunteerism, among other things. Given the fact that the majority of Americans are overweight, a person's ambitions may not meet the standards imposed by a harsh environment; some people have it, others need to work toward it. This school is here to bridge that gap. The potential volunteer is someone who savors the outdoors, accessible only by airdrop in some places, and who is willing to endure hardship while providing humanitarian aid to those in need. It is a privilege to be in the position to provide care for another person, and an adventure when you add skydiving. Airdrop Assist seeks to train volunteers who can provide a wide variety of humanitarian aid; this aid begins at home, with local volunteerism. In addition to remote-area aid, local drop zone care is another area of concern. Work is being done to create a higher standard of safety on the home front. As part of this, the well-established "Wilderness First Responder" training program is being proposed for this fall, at Skydive Arizona, geared towards skydiving-related injuries. In coordination with members of drop zone operations, such as Skydive Carolina and Skydive Arizona, we are seeking ways in which to establish training and certification programs, along with practical protocols and procedures, which proactively deal with emergency care during skydiving activities, through a network of volunteers. In addition to the Wilderness First Responder training at Skydive Arizona, Skydive Carolina has been actively developing procedures and protocols, for medically and non-medically trained members of their drop zone, to use in the event of an emergency. The goal is to develop a globally acceptable program, which can be adapted to the distinct needs of differing drop zone operations and skydiving events. Both of these programs are under development and are seeking ways to increase support and to research ways in which to make the training, protocols and procedures effective at drop zones worldwide. More Information and More Ways to Join Volunteerism with Airdrop Assist and Remote Area Medical, a.k.a. RAM, are not limited to airdrop activities in foreign countries. RAM holds medical clinics year round, focused around Knoxville, TN. For more information on this and other clinics held by RAM, go to www.ramusa.org Airdrop Assist also offers many other opportunities to get involved. Being a new nonprofit organization, all skills are needed, in order to make the school a success. This is an exciting time in skydiving and enthusiastic, creative volunteers are in high demand - in the air, on the ground, and over the internet. Also, for anyone who has an old skydiving rig, or other gear, an easy way to get value out of it is to donate it! Let Airdrop Assist find a way to put your gear to use, towards a humanitarian purpose. For more information, contact Airdrop Assist at airdropassist@gmail.com or visit our website at www.airdropassist.org. Students: Marc Bucaro Kyle Ewing Anne Helliwell Raistlin Majere Paul Maresca Matt Oakleaf Victoria Smith Jaap Suter Alex Volk Instructors: Bryan Burke Karen Hawes Larry Richardson Rene Steinhauer Volunteers: Stuart Pearson Gabe Restine
  3. MissMelissa

    Hey Bro, Check Out my Go Pro

    The sleek, low-profile design, an easy-to-use system, so small it’s hardly there, and it’s oh-so-glorious high quality images – the Go Pro, Hero. In this social media society, the Go Pro is seductive, yet it’s oh-so-risky. For all you rebels at heart, those willing to learn, and especially those with less than 200 jumps - let’s lay down some tracks about being courted to don the camera. As an AFF Instructor and having been in the sport for nearly two decades, I have developed a hearty outlook about jumping a camera. But let’s slip on a bit of perspective mixed in with a bit of old school and new school thinking. So to round out this discussion, I interviewed two well-respected and well-known camera flyers about the topic – Norman Kent and Brian Buckland. Norman Kent, a life-long photographer and artist has been jumping a camera since 1975. Norman only wanted to try skydiving once. However, he experienced something so captivating, he saw an opportunity to capture the moments of beauty that was so different and so freeing in the sky. He admitted to be a fast learner, however he first strapped on a camera only having 24 jumps – it was a Kodak Instamatic with 126 cartridges. Norman didn’t have a skydiving photographer mentor. In fact, there weren’t many people strapping cameras on their heads in those days. It was an arduous and expensive venture for those willing to try. And for Norman, he made his own contraption by using a motorcycle helmet with no chin cup, wired a mechanical plunger, and confessed he didn’t know anything. So as he jumped his equipment, the air pushed the helmet up and the buckled strap choked him as the helmet moved all over his head and he fumbled in the sky. While these set backs were disappointing, it did not detour him. Instead, he was motivated to invent something that worked better - this approach lead to many camera helmet and jumpsuit innovations over his career, leaving a legacy of pioneering in camera flying. I asked Norman what he thought of today’s USPA’s current regulations for jumpers to wait until they had 200 jumps to fly a camera. “Regulation is a good idea, a good guideline,” he says. “It sounds hypocritical to say because I started with the ‘yahoo’ approach, but it’s wise to wait.” I’ve known Norman for a long time. I’ve seen him jump enormous contraptions carefully constructed upon his head. He’s a proficient and a well-respected camera flyer and we talked how different it is today with the Go Pro being so small. I ask him if he sees any dangers. “It all comes down to the attitude of the jumper,” he begins. “Because the Go Pro is small, it’s inviting people to use it who aren’t even in photography. It’s [jumping a camera] not so simple and there are dangers involved.” Norman and I both agreed that there is a shift in thinking in skydiving from the renegade days of the past. The development of tandem jumping and social media have greatly changed the image our sport, attracting more types of people to experience skydiving that the thinking of the past has to change. Norman elaborates, “People learn so differently that I’m not pro-regulating, I’m pro-educating. We need to develop a training or an awareness program [about jumping a camera.]” Although he recognizes the dangers happening, he also sees this as an opportunity for the sport. “This is an opportunity for coaches and instructors, for inventors, for schools…” Norman is currently working on a project for a You Tube production geared towards camera flying educational purposes coming out later this year. Let’s bring it back in the day where these young lads photographed below are sporting some serious state-of-the-art camera gear in 1988. Brian Buckland comes from an entirely different background. Brian made his first jump in 1994 and didn’t jump a camera until 5 years later and racked up about 500 jumps. Brian’s philosophy was to become a proficient flyer first; so he logged about 200 belly jumps, then learned how to freefly. During this time he notes that he was becoming more aware of his routine with gear checks, canopy skills, and landings. Finally the time came and he strapped on his first camera – a Canon Rebel 2000, with film. Brian went to Radio Shack after buying an off-the-shelf flat top camera helmet to wire up a shutter release. He admits to being nervous since his routine greatly changed with having to be concerned with battery life, clean lenses, and correct camera settings, in addition to checking his gear and high fiving everyone. When he landed from his first jump, he looked over his wares and was surprised how well they turned out. He submitted them and they were published. “I learned about photography after the fact [of getting the first photo published]. So I went to a continuing education course for photography and started translating that to the sky.” Over the years Brian has developed a systematic routine and is busy the entire flight making sure everything is in order prior to jumping. “It’s important to be comfortable with gear, build good habits, and safely skydive with others.” Brian also didn’t have any skydiving photography mentors. However, he looked up to the likes of Norman Kent, Joe Jennings, Mike McGowan, Tom Sanders, Craig O’Brien and later, Jason Peters. Now with established photographers in the sport, I asked Brian what he thought of USPA’s camera regulations. “The numbers are decent because the time in sport and time in the air are important in building a comfort level. Adding something new when you’re new and not comfortable with the everything else, something like a camera becomes a distraction.” Both Norman and Brian elaborated how the common attitude is, “it’s [Go Pro] not a camera, it’s so small, you-don’t-even-notice-it” attitude. Brian conveyed a story how, against his advice, a tunnel instructor with about 100+ jumps had lost two Go Pros! And we’ve all seen the photo on Facebook with an AFF student’s pilot chute wrapped around an instructor’s Go Pro. The Go Pro is a snag hazard and most people who wear them use non-cutaway helmets and screwed on mounts. This is an excerpt from USPA on September 1st, 2011: Adhering to Camera Recommendations USPA has been receiving an increasing number of calls and e-mails from Safety & Training Advisors and instructors regarding what to do about inexperienced skydivers who want to jump with small-format video cameras, such as the GoPro. Many new jumpers seem to feel that the small camera does not pose a risk, and they simply want to wear the camera while jumping. For that reason, the new jumpers do not consider this to be a video jump that falls under the 200-jump recommendation in the Skydiver’s Information Manual [SIM]. The truth is that even though the camera itself may be small, it still represents a significant snag hazard to any jumper. This is especially true considering the various camera mounts jumpers use. In addition to the snag hazard, no matter how much a jumper thinks the camera will not become a distraction during the jump, it will. There are plenty of cases of newer jumpers forgetting to fasten chest straps or creating dangerous situations in freefall, etc., that were directly attributed to the distraction of the camera. USPA’s camera recommendations appear in Section 6-8 of the Skydiver’s Information Manual. Be sure jumpers at your drop zone are following these guidelines. They exist for very important reasons. The SIM is an excellent outline about camera safety and requirements, but it doesn’t educate. I agree that too many people have a careless attitude about the jumping camera equipment too soon and that we need more education. We’re fortunate to have an organization that mediates our government relations, memberships, insurance, etc. However, they do not govern, they suggest and that gives us the freedom to self-police safety amongst ourselves. If we want to see change for the better, we need to take it into our hands and pass on good information. Allowing newbie’s to jump camera equipment just because they’re “heads up” isn’t a qualifier to allow them the privilege to wear one. I visited a DZ and asked the S&TA; about their policy of jumpers with sub 200 jumps wearing a Go Pro. The answer I received was, “If their heads up, it’s ok.” I quizzically looked at him and said, “How do you know he’s heads up? Have you jumped with him?” Two hundred jumps is, although not the best, a measure of experience. At least I can assume they’ve earned their B-license (including the canopy progression) and have a bit of time and experience. I don’t have a chance to jump with everyone to qualify someone with sub 200 jumps “heads up,” and who’s to judge whose heads up anyways?! There’s so much more to just jumping a small-little-thing like the Go Pro. Because of social media, there are ethics that ought to be tied into this conversation. Excited newbie’s may use their footage unjustly and this effects more than the person jumping it. For example, Gerardo Flores – an uncurrent, 30-jump wonder sneaks a camera on his jump and has a “near death experience” that goes viral on the web. This situation affected the skydiving community negatively and gave a sneak peak to the public how “reckless” skydivers can be. Not to mention other videos that go live streaming on the web. I asked Brian what advice he’d give to those thinking about jumping any kind of camera and he said, “Be comfortable with yourself well before strapping on a camera. Be proficient under the parachute, build your awareness, know your emergency procedures, know your gear and wear the proper gear. Then, learn about the camera prior to jumping it.” Although Norman and Brian didn’t have mentors, both have been a huge help and inspiration to aspiring camera flyers over the years. Both have made themselves available to help give direction and may be reached through their websites, www.BrianBuckland.com and wwww.NormanKent.com. And stay tuned for Norman’s upcoming video on You Tube, "The Dangers of Being a HERO". Now, for all you rebels at heart and those willing to learn, I cannot tell you what to do but share my experience. However, when you meet the camera flying requirements, it’s like earning the rite of passage to don a camera on your head. Throw in a bit of education in there and believe me, it’s totally cool and absolutely worth the wait.
  4. admin

    Health Gymnasium

    Health gymnasiums Those who can afford time and expense involved many wish to take advantage of the facilities offered by health gymnasium. None of the equipment and other facilities provided by gimnasium are strictly necessary to the process of getting fit, but they can add interest and variety to your physical exercises. Two other advantages offered by good gymnasium are constant supervision, which enables you to exercise with safety confidence, and a congenial atmosphere. Exrecising with people who share common purpose can provide extra enjoyment and incentive. It is necessary first of all to distinguish between the different types of gymnasium. Training fymnasium are essentially for athletes and other men and womenwho wish to develop their skills for particular athletic activities. They provide facilities for athletes to keep themselves for their chosen sports. Health gymnasium provide advice, instruction and facilities for everyone who wishes to become or keep fit, whatever his or her initial physical condition. Their clients range from professional athletes to office workers who wish only to make the best use of their lunch hours. Health gymnasium vary widely în quality. When choosing one of yourself, you should check that is staffed by qualified and responsible instructors. You may feel flattered to be attended by a sports celebrity, but professionally trained physiotherapists and physical education instructors can be equally, if not more, beneficial to an unfit person. You should expect to be asked details of your medical history, and to be carefully examined before being allowed to use all the facilities. Three types of exercise The accesories provided in health gymnasium to help you exercise range form simple wights and benches to more sophisticated equipment such aș pulleys and rowing machine. These accesories are appropriate for different kinds of exercises. Isometric exercises, the simple type involvea applying muscular strenght by pulling or pushing immovable objects. The muscles are tensed amd this tension is sustained for short periods of time. Because little movement is involved în these exercises, they develop static rather than dynamic strenght. Isotonic exercises involve pulling or lifting an object to certain position and then returning it to its original position. They cause the muscles to contract as you move but, because the weight or force employed is to the same degree throughout the exercise. The weight or force used can only be that which you cadn lift or pull at the weakest point in the range of motion involved and at other points your muscles are not sufficiently strained to develop în strenght. The third type of exercise, known as isokinetic, requires more sophisticated equipment. Isokinetic exercises can be designed for particular needs. For example, a person who is training for a particular sport can do exercises that stimulate exactly the demands of this sport, and also developed precisley the muscles he or she most needs. Massage Facilities for massage may be available at health gymnasium or sauna baths. Massage is used in physiscal therapy as a means of rehabilitating patients who are suffering from certain physical pain or aliments but, as a mean of getting or keeping fit, its value is very limitated. Sauna baths Sauna baths may be attached to health gymnasium or may exist as separate establishments. Most sauna baths are organized according to similar basic principles, although Finnish sauna baths retain their original national characteristics. They have an invigorating effect on the whole body and aid physical and mental relaxation, but their effect on the whole body and aid physical and mental relaxation, but their effect are temporary rather than long-term. Sauna baths provide a healthy and enjoyable means of relaxation, but the sudden rise and pulse rate can be dangerous. Pregnant women and people with high or low blood pressure, should therefore avoid them.
  5. admin

    6 Tips To Boost The Bottom Line

    In an industry where everything costs a lot of money, creating opportunities to maximize on customer expenditure is essential. Many of the DZ's I visit focus solely on tandem and video sales and are merely satisfied with any other purchases made in the gear store. Let's be more strategic by increasing peripheral sales to help boost your bottom line. The margins on tee shirts are too substantial to ignore. Also, guests who purchase a second tandem become part of your marketing team by recruiting others to join them on their skydiving adventure. Are you doing everything you can to boost these sales? Understanding What We Have The skydiving industry has something that retail companies, salespeople, and corporations crave….no, WISH they had with their customers. That word is connection. Ever been to the Gap during its heyday in the 90s or even the Apple Store of today? Millions of dollars have been spent by these companies to mix the right elements to make the retail environment inviting enough to make a connection. Selling has been turned into a science focused on stimulating the consumers senses. Walk in to an Apple Store and pay attention to what you're seeing. Visually, the store is appealing with clean lines, lighting that isn't harsh but illuminates and is soft. The colors in the store window are vibrant. Audibly, the music is up with an energy-induced, toe-tapping beat. The music isn't an ipod on shuffle but is part of a science known as multi-sensory branding. Everything is by design to connect with customers and create an environment that is inviting, warm and allows no obstacle for consumers to react on an impulsive purchase. The energy felt within the Apple Store is palpable as the throng of people within the store creates a vibe that makes the price of the products not seem so incredibly expensive. Touch - having all the products out and available to touch and play with is part of the Apple Store's brilliance and pushes the connection between user and product. Playing with an ipod is much more powerful than simply looking at one. Smell - Think there isn't a smell at the Apple Store? You won't notice what you're smelling, but instead notice what you're not smelling. There is no musty smell from hundreds of people crammed into its tight quarters, but rather a smell of newness that matches the vivid environment. Undoubtedly, the store is cleaned very well at the end of each day. Everything involving the senses is calculated and by design. Whether you're an Apple lover or hater, Apple has created a retail model that spares no expense to create a connection with the consumer. When a connection is made, sales are made. The skydiving industry has conquered the hardest part of selling: we have the connection. Now, let's make some sales! Closing the Sale The moment a tandem student lands from their skydive is SALES GOLD. The reserved person who arrived at the DZ who hemmed and hawed about upgrading from video to video and stills is now primed to spend a little more money…at least $18 for a tee shirt. The connection the student has with the tandem instructor and the organization is now sealed as serotonin surges through the veins of an individual who has just completed "The best experience of their lives." The consumer WANTS to share their experience showing off a tee shirt or product that says, "yeah, I jumped out of an airplane and loved it." Be sure we're creating the right environment to make the sale. NOTE: You don't need to have an amazing facility or retail space to accomplish this.The minimum requirement is that your sales area is clean and feels organized. 6 Power Tips To Boost The Bottom Line The Closing 1. The Tandem Instructor The tandem instructor is the gateway to an easy sale. The student has entrusted his / her life to the instructor while facing their biggest challenge and they lived! Big time connection here. If your DZ is meeting instructors in the landing area with a rig, then you're negatively affecting your sales. Great that you're busy, but if there is not enough time to complete the experience, then you're clearly understaffed. A great book has a strong beginning, middle and end. Too often, we end the tandem experience improperly without an instructor: a). debriefing the tandem student with encouragement about how well they did during the jump b). the presentation of a certificate of achievement signed by the instructor with a shake of the hand or hug and the signing of log books (instructors and student's) c). presentation of sales opportunities that the customer has become eligible for having completed their first jump as well as the next steps to becoming a solo skydiver. A Word on Instructors: Passionate instructors will buy-in to this. A DZ's success is everyone's success and job security for all! 2. Placement Where the closing takes place is key to driving sales. Ideally, have the presentation of the certificate of achievement take place in the store. Once the instructor shakes hands and departs, the student is left with feelings of exhilaration and happiness in the retail space. 3. The Store The gear store, regardless of size should feel clean and organized. If the store is poorly lit, has worn out carpeting, and is bulging at the seams with product then make the correct changes. Offer less product if needed to make the sales environment more friendly. All products should be neatly hung or folded. 
 4. Displays Be sure your customers can touch tee shirts. If tee shirt designs are simply on display behind the counter with sizing in drawers, then you are not maximizing sales. As with all retail stores in the mall, people want to see how tee shirts will look on them. The interaction of touching the product is very important. 5. Offer a Deal Even if it's perceived. There is a euphoria in shopping when people feel like they've received a deal. Observe the madness of Black Friday in the US as shoppers quite literally feel a 'high' when getting amazing deals even at the cost of getting out of bed at 4:00am, fighting traffic and huge crowds for the opportunity to spend money in a crazy environment! When presenting the certificate of achievement, offer an exclusive discount in the form of a coupon (preferably on card stock, so it feels substantial) for those that have completed their jumps to receive a discount on purchasing their next tandem, a discount for beginning AFF and a discount on a tee shirt). Even a $2 discount off of a US$20 shirt feels good to a shopper. You don't have to give the house away to see a jump in sales. 6. Create an Urgency Don't give customers options to get a deal after they leave the DZ. There is no better sales environment than the moment after a jump. During my time at Skydive Carolina, I offered my guests who had paid full retail the opportunity to purchase a gift certificate for a tandem at half the price. The discount would be valid for that day only, pushing the student to make an on-the-spot decision. (The strategy is not to force the student to jump the same day, but to leave with the discount in hand in order to recruit others). Once the customer leaves the DZ with an option to buy later, the percentage of sales decreases dramatically. If someone called within a few days begging to cash in the offer…I would always honor it. The psyche of most people doing a tandem skydive is to share in the experience with others. My basis for good marketing is to convert happy customers into 'talkers' for your DZ. Anyone leaving with a half off tandem promotion becomes a marketing mouthpiece. They will try to recruit others to join them for their next tandem experience and of course you will capture them at full retail. Some people return alone, but that is the minority. This is part of equipping your guests to become the marketing machine for your DZ and the best part is they're paying you to do it. Owning and running a DZ is harder than most people can imagine. The lists of to-dos and responsibilities are endless and being ahead on anything is typically short-lived. My thoughts are geared towards working smarter, not harder and to convert your happy customers into marketers.
  6. admin

    AFF Training - Level 2

    Napoleon Skydiving Center: Level 2 - Body Awareness Now that you have your feet wet, we will start working on trim maneuvers. There are a lot of things to accomplish on this level, so don't waste time geeking the camera. Once you are under canopy, try a few spiral turns (above 1500' please). TLOs Maximum free arm time. 3 PRCTs. Heading awareness during freefall. Trim control or body awareness exercises. Relaxed, arched body position through entire freefall. Pull by 3500 feet, look over right shoulder to observe pilot chute launch. Dive Flow Running Description Hotel Check: Check In, Check Out. Exit Count: C-182 Prop, Up, Down, Arch; Otter Center, Out, In, Arch. HARM Check: Heading, Altimeter, Reserve JM, Main JM. PRCT: Arch, Look, Reach, Touch, Check 3 times. Short Circles: to maintain altitude awareness between maneuvers. Team Turn: initiated by looking over the arm in the direction of the desired turn to pick a heading refrence. Then bend his/her upper body 20 degrees at the waist in the direction of the turn. At the same time, drop the shoulder the turn is moving toward by 2-3 inches. Keep hands and arms still -- all motions are preformed from the waist. As the desired heading is aquired, return to a neutral boxman position. Forward Motion: initiated by extending legs (straightening them at the knees) while simaltanously bending arms at the shoulders to form a 'lazy W'. Hold for 3 seconds and return to a neutral boxman position. 5-5 Signal: at 5500 feet. Pull: Arch, Look, Reach, Pull, Check at 5000 feet. Primary Canopy Check: Shape, Spin, Speed, Twist. Release Toggles Secondary Canopy Check: Slider, Endcells, Tears, Lines. Controllability Check: turns and flares OK. Canopy Control: halfway down, halfway back. Setup For Landing: Downwind at 1000', Base at 500', Final at 200'. Prepare to Land: at 50'. Flare: at 10', feet and knees together, PLF if necessary. Collapse the Canopy, Field Pack, and Return. Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7 Level 8
  7. PALATKA — To celebrate his 60th birthday and his forced retirement as an airline pilot, Larry Elmore jumped out of an airplane 60 times in one day. He was forced to retire from Trans World Airlines at age 60 because of Federal Aviation Administration rules on commercial pilots. So Tuesday, Elmore, of nearby Melrose in northeastern Florida, got together at Kay Larkin Airport with a support staff of parachute packers from Skydive Palatka and jumped 60 times to prove a point about his age. Jeff Colley, drop zone manager at Skydive Palatka, said Elmore made his first jump about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday and finished up about 3 p.m. Three planes and three pilots were used to ferry Elmore up for his jumps. Elmore, who started skydiving in 1986, donned a parachute, hopped in a plane, and parachuted down. Upon landing, he would shed his used chute, put on another held waiting for him, hop in the plane and go up for another jump. For the first 59 jumps, he exited the aircraft at 2,300 feet and opened his parachute immediately. On the final jump, Elmore skydived from 13,500 feet, Colley said. Alison Duquette, an FAA spokeswoman, said at age 60 pilots begin a progressive decline that could affect levels of safety for commercial passengers. Elmore has started a new job as a corporate pilot, Colley said.
  8. joelstrickland

    Teaming Up: Part 3 - Getting Stuff Done

    Flynamik Freestyle by Gustavo Cabana Skydivers are a diverse bunch, drawn to the sky from across the length and breadth of human endeavour - and we each bring with us into any group dynamic a particular set of strengths and weaknesses. Across the different available disciplines teams are very different beasts, from the fairly compact pair of people that make up a Freestyle team to the unruly herds of 8-Way. There is no right or wrong way to get things done and one cannot accurately specify exactly what will or will not work for any particular team setup. I cannot tell you the best way to run a team - I can only share with you some things we have learned over the six years since deciding to start competing. Different Jobs At its serious end skydiving can be extremely complex. Each discipline has its own particular bonanza of inter-member technicality and bamboozling nomenclature to learn when you get involved (looking at you, belly types). While the kind of detail that information requires is beyond the space I have to write about here, one thing stands true - if you are in a new team and exploring a discipline then quality coaching from an experienced and reliable source will see you right and while this represents a definite cash investment it can amount to the equivalent of many, many skydives. Azure Freefly by Matthias Walde Outside of the part where actually plan and execute jumps, there is much that requires attention and many questions that need to be answered as you move through the calendar. For example: Whose job is it to remind everyone to check the dates of their reserve (before you have already travelled to another country and are standing in front of an unimpressed looking dropzone employee? Who is responsible for wrangling the team nincompoop and making sure they bring the absolutely vital things they need for skydiving - like a parachute? Who wants the title of ‘Team Captain’ enough to accept that as soon as something goes wrong the others will just stare at them with bovine vapidity until they go and fix it? NFTO 4-Way Ladies by Mel Allan For us, as a freefly trio, we settled loosely into the following roles: Captain: The team captain’s job is to handle all of our active communication and formal arrangements. This involves booking flights, filing entry forms, negotiating with dropzones, communicating with sponsors and generally acting as the voice by which team business is presented. Camera: By definition a camera flyer’s job has extra work involved. It is their task to ensure the setup they are using is present and correct, to make sure the batteries are always charged and to download and file all of the training jumps. The extra duties a camera flyer has all boil down to: When the jumps happen - don’t miss. Nerd: Although not a formalised position - one person usually sticks out as being the geek of the bunch. For us the nerd’s job is to handle all of the promotion and exposure. This means building and maintaining the website, tending to the FB page and all other assorted social media thingies, editing photos to share with sponsors, producing video edits and writing magazine articles. These roles we occupy were not allocated on purpose - we settled into the tasks based on experience, personal motivations and our individual strengths and weaknesses. Separate Business As you progress as a team you will begin to court the attention of those keen to learn from your evolving skills. Coaching others or running events might become a viable way to promote yourselves and offset the cost of your investment. The business minded amongst you might have great ideas about how to operate but for us simplicity rules the day. Again, this is not the rules - what works for us after some experimentation. Golden Knights 8-Way by Matthias Walde While we all act under a shared team name, our individual coaching interests are conducted separately. The practical application of this is you reap what you sow. The best example I can present is that an annual event run under our team name is the work of a single member. All of the planning and preparation is their work alone and while the coaching and load organising are shared equally the remaining two members are present as employees. The team functions as a whole, but the potentially murky business of business is an individual enterprise and thus free of complications.
  9. Image by DeltaBravo As spring draws near it is time once again to start thinking about the summer jumping season. Most drop zones will start to organize their safety day activities, gear will be inspected, and repacks scheduled. However, what many of us forget to do is spending some time developing our coaches and instructors after all, professional skills can be forgotten during the winter months just as easily as safety rules and regulations. For many drop zones, instructional development stops after the candidate’s progression card is signed off and the certification is issued. What we fail to realize is that instructional skills are perishable and everyone can benefit from annual employee development training. What I would like to discuss here are some methods the average drop zone can use to develop their instructors. Understandably not all of these are possible at every drop zone, and individual drop zones may have to modify these methods to fit into their procedures, but these are simple and can be done with little imposition on the drop zone. Before I talk about training techniques I would like to discuss certification and training records. I am not about to suggest that drop zones start massive files on their people, but the drop zone owner is an employer and even though most of the employees are classified as independent contractors, the DZO/DZM should have a basic training folder for each instructor. Some things that might be useful to include would be copy of class 3 medical certificates for tandem instructors, copies of CPR/First Aid certification cards, awards, and even the latest logbook entry once a year (I’ll discuss the last two more later on). Although none of these items fall into the privacy act, the DZO/DZM should still keep the files locked up and they should only contain the document copies, never the originals. This will prevent the information from being passed around or discussed publicly. Now that we have the staff, and their records are in order, how are we going to mold them? To renew an instructor certification, the individual must attend an instructor’s seminar. The majority of the time that seminar is the annual safety day, but instructors need something more. I have heard many DZOs/DZMs make the comment that the requirements to become a certified instructor should be made more stringent. I even heard one person advocate that a coach should have a minimum of 500 jumps. Although that sounds great in theory, logistically it is almost impossible. Instead of just forgetting about instructors and coaches after they have become certified, get them all together once a year. Pick one of them to give the ground portion of the First Jump Course while all the other instructors are the students. This will allow for all of the instructors to provide constructive feedback to each other and it will give the instructors a chance to relearn something they may have forgotten. One thing that is frustrating for a new student is when one instructor says, “Remember? In class you were taught to….” When in fact that was something the other instructor forgot to teach in class. By holding annual employee development training not only will the instructors benefit, but so will the students. Free Fall Drills Another technique is to practice free fall drills. It happens to all of us. We, as humans, can get sloppy with our techniques overtime. Two instructors or coaches jumping together would be in a position to debrief each other. This can be done as a fun jump, but as long as it is not a free fly jump or a “zoo” dive. After all, we are not free flying with first jump students and they are jumping exact dive plans. I do want to stress at this point that instructors must help each other out. If it is in the plan for one person to act like a first jump student, then act like one, but let’s be honest, how many first jump students actually put their helmet on backwards and start playing with the aircraft controls as soon as they get in the plane? Although I’m sure it does happen on occasion, not to the extent that I see people acting it out when teaching new instructors. Discuss with each other what you have seen over the past year, but don’t make the training so unrealistic that it is ineffective. Have an instructor day at the wind tunnel. Since wind tunnels are beginning to spring up in more places take advantage of it. Video the time in the tunnel and spend some time doing dirt drills working on areas that need improvement. Emergency Training Many DZs will invite the local rescue squad out on safety day and there are others that don’t like to do this because they do not want to scare the new jumpers. I can understand both sides of this, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a dangerous sport. It is a good idea for all instructors to have basic first responder training specific to the types of injuries that could be experienced at the DZ. Subjects such as C-Spine immobilization, when to move an injured person and when not to should be taught to all instructors. What about the injured person’s helmet? Should it be left on or taken off? How do you safely remove an injured person from the swoop pond? When the call is placed into 911, what information is the most helpful? Does the staff know the address to give the 911 operator (that is a good thing to type up and put by the phone, by the way). This brings us back to the training folder. One of the things that would be a good idea to keep in the folder would be copies of awards and maybe even a copy of a recent logbook entry. If there is ever an accident or fatality at the DZ, the DZO/DZM will have to deal with the media. By having key information handy, the DZO/DZM will be able to make a quick and informative statement to the press if needed. For example, if someone were to get hurt during a tandem jump, the DZO could say, “This is a very unfortunate accident and we are looking into the cause right now. The instructor is highly experienced and has over 10,000 jumps, 9,000 of them being tandem, and just two months ago was awarded the USPA badge for 50 hours of free fall.” Many people don’t like talking to the press, and that is the subject for another article, but the fact remains; by just saying no comment you leave the uneducated alone to make up their own answers based on hearsay, rumors, and their own fears. As you can see, there are various ways for a drop zone to develop their instructors. Although not every way is possible, nor has every possible way been covered, we must remember that drop zones are businesses, instructors are employees, and once in a while, employees need refresher training too. Corey Miller C-38834 Corey has a Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Science, specializing in Human Factors and Education. He has over 30 years of experience in both aerospace and military aviation. He is currently the Quality and Safety Manager for the ATM Program in Kabul Afghanistan but he calls the Oklahoma Skydiving Center his home.
  10. admin

    Ten things that may keep you alive

    Skydiving is a sport where you never stop learning. Even if you could, somehow, come to know everything, the sport is evolving constantly, and someone who's an expert one day is a newbie the next. Often, the learning we do isn't just academic - it can make us perform better, even keep us alive when there are problems. With that in mind, here are ten things that may keep you alive when things really hit the fan: 1. Know your limits. Everyone's limits are different, and are based on their experience, background, physical and mental fitness, and natural abilities. Some people think well under pressure, some need to drill and drill so their natural tendency to freeze is overcome. Some are incredibly flexible, some need 'crutches' (like sleeves or weight) to control their fall rate. It's important to be honest with yourself when deciding your limits, even if it goes counter to the alpha mentality that most skydivers have. We're all human. 2. Respect your limits. Don't do things you're not ready for, and don't let other people talk you into doing them. This comes up very often when women jumpers enter the sport - suddenly they have a lot of male friends who want to take them on 20 ways, free fly jumps, demos etc well before they'd ask a male jumper. And while it is technically possible to safely take someone with 20 jumps on a 20-way (you could do it with 19 AFF-JM's) it's usually a bad idea. 3. Push your limits. This may seem in contradiction to 2) but it's important. Once you know your limits, and respect them, you can start overcoming them. Do you have a problem with fall rate? Find a slow (or fast) skydiver and do a 2-way, with the other jumper going slower and slower (or faster and faster.) Is your canopy control so-so? Try drills - learn to flat turn and flare turn, a little more on each jump. Follow someone else. Do no-contact CRW. Learn to sit fly. Pushing your limits isn't just a feel-good thing, it actually helps you survive in the sport. If you learn how to fly a small elliptical well, you will have much more control over your slightly larger square - and that can save your life if someone cuts you off on final. CRW can be fun, but can also be the difference between life and death if you have a cypres firing and have to land two canopies. 4. Push your limits, one at a time. This is even more important. It's possible to learn to do demos, as long as you learn the basics - canopy control, obstacle landings, spotting. Trying to learn these all on your first demo is asking for trouble. Small canopies, same thing. You can certainly learn to jump a VX 97. Doing it all on one jump - going from a Sabre 150 to a VX 97 - is a huge mistake. First transition down to a smaller Sabre, then learn to fly it. Then switch to an elliptical of about the same size, and learn to fly _it_. Once you get to that VX 97, you will have the background to fly it well - and you will be much, much better prepared to fly any canopy in between. 5. Learn flat and flare turns. You should be able to do a 180 in the air without your canopy diving at all, and you should be able to turn at least 45 degrees during your flare. Every year, several people die because they turn too low. I'm convinced that many of these aren't intentional hook turns, but accidental low turns to turn into the wind or avoid an obstacle. Knowing how to flat and flare turn might have saved their lives. 6. Learn more about your gear. What color is your reserve? Your reserve toggles? If you ever look above your head and see four sets of risers, how will you tell them apart? What color is your freebag? You can learn all this by watching your rigger pack your reserve, and even more by doing it yourself (under supervision, of course.) Read up on TSO testing of your gear, and learn about the limits it was tested to. If you know that, you can keep your own flying within its operational limits. Learn about what's in a Cypres, and how it judges altitude. Learn the difference between Dacron and Spectra, and how to pack a pullout rig. 7. Get related experience. Pilots have a distinct advantage over other jumpers when something goes wrong in the plane, because they know how to read the signs, and they know how to operate around aircraft. They have a better idea what to touch and what not to touch, and can more easily communicate with the pilot (and, in rare instances, ATC.) You don't have to get your instrument rating - even a few lessons will teach you a lot about aerodynamics, aircraft weight and balance, stabilized climbs and descents, elevator trim and its importance, etc. Or learn to climb. Serious climbers (except, possibly, sport-only climbers) are their own riggers, and understand the ideas behind an equalizing anchor, dynamic vs static rope, and nylon to nylon friction. Many of those transfer to the kind of rigging that gets done in skydiving, and if nothing else, will help you make sense of how rigs are designed. 8. Get out of your drop zone. Drop zones tend to have "flavors" to them, and are sometimes homogenous when it comes to skills or equipment. Kapowsin, for example, seems to use nothing but Infinity's, and for a while Air Adventures was nearly 100% Reflex. Some drop zones are mainly free fly, some RW, some do a lot of demos. By getting away from the familiar, you'll learn more about other disciplines, other equipment, even other ways of thinking. You'll also meet some really cool people - you can't talk to Bryan Burke, John LeBlanc, Tony Domenico or Adam Filipino, for example, and not learn something. Unfortunately, not every drop zone has them, so you have to hit the road. 9. Buy your beer. It sounds like a selfish tradition, designed to punish new jumpers. It's a whole lot more than that, though. The key is that, if you buy the beer and give it to people, they will ask you what it's for, and you will end up talking to people (up to 23) about what just happened. Since this usually happens at some significant time (say, right after your first cutaway) this is a really important time to talk about what just happened without being embarrassed about it. (Well, maybe you will be anyway, but tough.) On the flip side - if someone buys beer for the DZ, and you're an experienced jumper, don't just grab a bottle and run. Find out who bought it and why they bought it. That beer isn't quite free - the price is that you have to pass on the knowledge that _you_ first learned when it seemed like you were buying a case every other weekend. 10. Teach others what you know. There is no better way to learn than to teach, and it helps others as well. If you want to become an expert at emergency procedures, teach part of a few first jump courses and watch other people screw their procedures up. If you want to learn a lot about RW, organize. If you want to learn more about skydiving in general, teach a graduate course. Just the act of putting everything down on paper and talking about it will lead you to research to make sure you're right, and you'll get feedback when you actually do the teaching.
  11. admin

    Skydiver Wins Lawsuit Against Teammate

    CALGARY, June 26 (Reuters) - A Canadian skydiver who was knocked out by a teammate during a jump, then plunged nearly half a mile (more than half a kilometre) to earth, was awarded C$1.1 million ($748,000) in damages by a judge who ruled the teammate was negligent. Gerry Dyck, an expert who had made about 1,800 jumps before the 1991 mid-air accident, sued Robert Laidlaw, charging the team member failed to take proper care to avoid the collision that caused him severe brain injuries and ended his career. The case raised questions about how much risk one can expect in an inherently risky sport, and included expert testimony from a veteran Hollywood stuntman known for his work in several James Bond movies. In his 19-page decision issued late last week, Alberta Judge Peter Power ruled Laidlaw violated well-established safety procedures by failing to keep a proper lookout for Dyck while manoeuvring his body in preparation for opening his parachute. "The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff which was breached by the unchecked turn into the plaintiff's air space," the judge wrote. "This act, which was foreseeable, was negligent and resulted in substantial harm being inflicted on the plaintiff." Dyck's injuries were severe enough to prevent the 43-year-old former surveyor from holding a job ever since. "The judge found that this is not a sport about people falling from the sky like flies, it's a sport that's highly regulated, that's highly controlled in terms of procedures and prescribed practices," Dyck's lawyer Greg Rodin said on Monday. During the trial in Calgary this spring, the judge heard the eight-person team jumped out of a plane at an altitude of 12,500 feet (3,800 metres) on May 5, 1991. The members went into formation to perform manoeuvres while free-falling above the farmland near Beiseker, Alberta, 47 miles (76 kilometres) northeast of Calgary. The jumpers were to perform manoeuvres until they fell to 3,500 feet (1,067 metres), then "track off," or steer away, so they could open their parachutes. As they opened their chutes, Laidlaw's elbow hit Dyck in the head, knocking him unconscious and causing the two men's parachutes to become tangled. At about 2,200 feet (670 metres), Laidlaw managed to free himself and land using his reserve chute. But Dyck, out cold, remained entangled and plummeted to earth, sustaining severe brain injuries and broken bones in his right arm. Laidlaw had testified that as he moved away from the centre of the formation, he lost sight of the other jumpers in his peripheral vision, indicating to him that he was sufficiently clear of his teammates. Testifying on behalf of Laidlaw was B.J. Worth, an expert skydiver and stuntman, who co-ordinated and performed aerial stunts for numerous motion pictures, including such James Bond films as "Tomorrow Never Dies," "Goldeneye," and "License to Kill." Worth's testimony did not convince the judge, however. Dan Downe, Laidlaw's lawyer, said he was surprised by the ruling, and was reviewing it to determine whether there were grounds for appeal. "We were quite confident that the trial evidence indicated that Laidlaw did not make any turn prior to collision, and he was the only eyewitness because Dyck was rendered unconscious," Downe said. Rodin said Dyck was pleased with the result because it proved his right to compensation after nine years, and that he believed the skydiving community would "benefit from a decision that holds jumpers accountable for their conduct in the sky."
  12. admin

    Teaming Up: Part 2 - Sponsorship

    Image by Joel Strickland Compared to many other sports that operate a similar system of patronage between manufacturers and athletes, skydiving is relatively small. Even if you sell yourself brilliantly right from the start, the big goal of free stuff is not something that happens straight away. You are going to have to work for it. Wait! Work for free things? I have been duped! Skydiving gear ranges from not cheap to downright extravagant and team training is a substantial investment - therefore any help you can receive along the way is very valuable. Manufacturers know this and also understand the powerful desire for any new skydiving team to be able to declare loudly in their most off-hand yet portentous manner that they are indeed sponsored. Approaching Potential Sponsors Medals help. Getting on a podium of any kind is tangible evidence that companies like to see, but shiny discs are not the be-all and end-all. Manufacturers are most interested in selling their products and if people head their way via your influence it counts for much. You might not be bringing home the gold just yet and your Instagram (or whatever) may not be filed with super-cool cutting-edge skydiving - but if you are respected on the dropzone as a purveyor of solid advice through which a steady steam of equipment choices are settled upon it registers directly. An important thing to remember when drafting those letters about taking over the world is that whomever you are trying to impress is likely to have heard it all before. What is interesting and unique about your team? Image by Matthias Walde Getting A Deal The first thing you are likely to be offered is a small discount on a limited number of items. Granting something like 30% off to a team means that a sponsor is not going to lose anything if they simply never hear from or about you ever again. It might not add up to big savings but the crucial part is that your new support has recognised and acknowledged your potential - they like the cut of your jib and might just believe in all those big promises you made. From here it is down to you to make good on the trust they have shown. The larger, seasoned skydiving manufacturers will likely have a tiered system in place to manage their stable of athletes and teams whereas smaller companies may not. The exact nature of progression through to a better deal and then better-er deal is based on building a strong relationship that works both ways. An vital consideration once you start receiving offers is which brands and companies do you truly believe in? Sponsorship is not free - it is a symbiotic relationship between athletes and the companies for which they fly the flag. Entering into an arrangement with someone simply because you received an offer is perhaps not the wisest course of action. Would this be your first choice if you were paying full price for it? It is much more satisfying and easier to do a good job of representation if you truly believe in something and value it higher than its competitors. Image by Joel Strickland Giving Back There are quite a few ways that you can do for your sponsors. Try to cover all the bases. Wear the T-Shirt and Be Nice: Few things have as positive an effect as a direct conversation in which you can be passionate about your support. Equally important: Don’t be a dick. Everyone Sees Everything: Even if they pretend they do not. Social media activity has become an important part of how manufacturers market themselves, so learn the hashtags and whatnot and use them. Writing: If you are handy with language there are many outlets for quality work. Producing informative and entertaining articles will earn you some scope to promote yourself. You can be both subtle and not-subtle. Events: Organising or attending events as a team can provide many opportunities. Again: Few things are as good as actually being there and talking to people. Always Thank Your Sponsors: Try to individualise it bit as well. It is well known that a Cypres unit will save your unconscious ass or that Larsen and Brusgaard have the best customer service on earth. What else have you got? Sponsorship is an important part of the skydiving world. Acting as a member of a professional team is long on spending and short on financial reward - so any help you can attract might keep things going. Strong relationships between sponsors and athletes also helps to raise the profile of skydiving around the world - pushing skills forward via events and competitions that ultimately attract more people to the sport. Joel would like to thank: Both Sandra and Vlady at Vertical Suits for their endless patience with an overly fussy freefly team and their obsession with every tiny little detail. Miska at the Hurricane Factory for her unerring accuracy and ability to decipher ramshackle emails about tunnel sessions (in her second language). Everyone who has a part in designing and constructing Icarus Canopies - providing me with the confidence to pack in the landing area under a standard that ranges from poor to awful directly relating to the indeterminate amount of time it takes the tandems to get on the bus.
  13. Today recognizes the 216th anniversary of the first parachute jump, made back in 1797 by French aeronaut André-Jacques Garnerin. Garnerin, who was born on the 31 January 1769 was a student of the legendary ballooning pioneer, Jacques Charles. Charles himself, a decade before Garnerin's record was set, set a record of his own when along with Robert brothers, he became the first to used a hydrogen-filled balloon for manned flight. Garnerin, no doubt heavily inspired by his professor, began to forge his own path in the aeronautics world, becoming the Official Aeronaut of France. France was undoubtedly the hot spot for aeronautic discovery and innovation in the 18th century, and in 1783 it was the Frenchman, Sébastien Lenormand who invented what is considered the first modern parachute. The original design that was used by Garnerin for the first parachute jump was naturally a far cry from what we are familiar with today. The parachute itself was made from silk and was approximately 23 feet in diameters. The device was constructed using rope to connect the basket to the edges of the material. Prior to ascent the parachute resembled a closed umbrella and consisted of a pole which ran down the middle, with rope that ran through the pipe. This was used to attach the parachute to the balloon that he would be ascending with. The occasion of the first parachute jump itself took place in Parc Monceau, Paris on the 22 October 1797. Garnerin made ascent to a height of around 3,000 feet, before cutting the rope that connected the parachute to the balloon, and in turn allowed him to begin his descent. The descent was anything but smooth and Garnerin had to deal with the basket swaying violently during the flight, as well as having what could be described as a bit of a rough landing, with the basket scraping along the ground. In the end though, Garnerin had successfully completed the first parachute jump and paved the way for modern parachuting. Despite the fact that Garnerin was the first to perform a manned descent with a parachute, it is worth noting that 12 years prior to this, Jean Pierre Blanchard had used a parachute with a basket attached to perform parachuting demonstrations using a dog as a passenger. While given the advances made in France each year in the latter part of the 18th century, it was inevitable that a manned parachute jump would occur. It was Garnerin who made it happen first and can in turn be seen as the first modern parachuter in the world. Google honored this anniversary by adding a parachuting game to the Google doodles. Be sure to go check it out!
  14. admin

    First Dock - Two Jumpers Make History

    The first controlled dock between a canopy pilot and a skydiver in freefall is a fact! In the skies of DeLand, Florida, around four o'clock in the afternoon on April 17th, Jari Kuosma, wearing a Skyflyer wingsuit, did a controlled dock on the ankle of Vladi Pesa who was flying his Performance Designs Velocity 84. Kuosma is the president of BirdMan, Inc. and has 2100 jumps in total, 1100 of those are wingsuit jumps. Pesa has 8,000 jumps and is an experienced canopy swoop competitor, AFF JM, tandem master, and a BirdMan instructor. Videographer Todd Sutherland, flying his Skyflyer along side of Kuosma, was there to capture the magic moment. Pesa wore a weight bag of 30 pounds; his wingloading was 3.5 to 1. His canopy risers were specially designed for this project in order to increase the speed and vertical decent of his Velocity. This was Pesa's and Kuosma's 17th attempt trying to close the gap between canopy and wingsuit. "We flew in close formation - within inches away from one another - during the last six attempts," said Kuosma, "but I had a hard time closing that final gap since I was at the edge of my Skyflyer's performance envelope." "This flight was the physically hardest of all," said Kuosma. "Unfortunately Vladi's canopy turned 180 degrees on deployment, which made him travel at a high rate of speed in the opposite direction of what we had planned. Todd and I almost lost our faith, Vladi seemed to be miles away and there was no way he was able to see us on the horizon. Just prior to break off, though, we saw each other and I just went for it." On this attempt I tried a new angle of attack. In past jumps, I had been flying above Vladi's canopy, just off the edge of his wing and arching to come down to his ankle. This time I still flew parallel to and above his canopy, but further away horizontally; I got to his ankle by doing a vertical side slide," Kuosma says. Break off was planned at 5000 feet to give Jari time to safely deploy and Vladi the chance to unlock his risers and prepare for an intense landing. "The weirdest part was looking at Jari breaking off and deploying his parachute right next to me while I was already under canopy," said Pesa. "How are the landings you wonder? - FAST !!" A Larsen & Brusgaard ProTrack recorded Jari's average vertical speed at 35mph. The two estimate their forward speed at 60-70mph. The two are planning to do more attempts in the next few days in order to get better video and still footage to show the world. It is not an easy task to capture such a unique stunt on film. "Southerland is doing a great job staying with us though," says Kuosma. Kuosma and Pesa warn jumpers to not attempt this stunt without consulting them. You can contact Kuosma at the BirdMan office, (386) 785-0800 or Pesa at (386) 801-6295. Wing Suit Discussion Forum BirdMan, Inc. Web Site
  15. March is safety month, and what better time than just before the Northern Hemisphere's summer season to refresh yourself on information you may be rusty on, or just become more educated in the various safety aspects. Last year we published an article with what we felt were some of the most important safety related articles published on Dropzone.com at that time. Since then we have had several new pieces of information published, that may help you in staying safe out there, from canopy control to exit separation. We've also included several safety day events that are happening around the world later this month. Here's a list of what we feel are 5 of the most important articles submitted over the past year: Teaching Students To Navigate The Landing Pattern In our most recently published safety article, coach and IAD instructor rated Corey Miller discusses some of the core aspects of landing patterns and how students are taught to navigate them. The article focuses specifically only the way instructors relay landing information to students over radio, while perhaps not allowing the students to truly learn for themselves what is important to look for and more closely address the subject of learning to land as opposed to being told how to land. Staying Current During Winter While this article may be a bit late for the northern hemisphere, winter is approaching down south and many useful tips can be learned. In the article, Brian Germain discusses the benefits to staying current during the off season and provides readers with a number of useful exercises that can be done to ensure optimum efficiency when you return to the sky. There's numerous images included to help you understand the setups and how they work, as well as exercises that addresses specific individual disciplines. Exit Order Safety Another article by Brian Germain, on the topic of exit order safety. The main focus of the article revolves around establishing and discussion the different types of jumpers and how their time under the plane may vary, and in turn to establish who should jump when and why. Not only is the direct exit from the aircraft addressed, but the article further discusses exit order importance with regards to exit timing and landing area. In the comments section, Brian goes on to acknowledge the possible ambiguity in the term "prop-blast penetration", used in the opening paragraph and says that the term can be replaced by such terms as "forward throw", "relative wind penetration" or the more self-explanatory "horizontal distance traveled". When Should You Upsize Your Canopy The first of two very useful articles on the topic of canopy size, this article was a combined effort by Melissa Lowe, Barry Williams and Jason Moledzki. It uses numbered points to address 10 factors that one should look at when considering canopy size. Most of the time the thought is on downsizing, as one feels more comfortable with their current setup, but for some people - the solution to many of their problems may actually be to head in the other direction and consider upsizing their canopy. There are numerous variables involved that could prompt one to require an upsizing, from gaining weight to even jumping at a higher elevation. At the end of the discussion, there is a Canopy Risk calculator (created by the USPA), which is intended to act as a guideline for you to see how much of a safety risk you are with your current setup and skill level. It's Not Only Size That Matters - Thoughts on Canopy Upsizing The other canopy upsizing article we featured was submitted by Dave Kottwitz and focuses more on retelling lessons learned when he upsized from a Triathlon 210, to a Spectre 230. On his third jump on the new, larger canopy Dave ended up breaking his leg in six places as well as dislocating his shoulder. In the article, he looks at what caused the problems and why one has to realize that upsizing your canopy is not an immediate guarantee for an increase in safety.
  16. When Todd Davis started skydiving, he had to scrape together every penny he could for the sport. "Once I did my first jump, I knew this is what I wanted to do, but I didn't know how I was going to do it," said Davis, 28, who started jumping 10 years ago. Now, he makes a living off skydiving as a co-owner of Chicagoland Skydiving in Hinckley. He and friend Doug Smith, 27, bought the business in December. Davis said he loves the sport and expects the business to grow. As an instructor and videographer at Chicagoland Skydiving for three years before taking over, he watched skydiving's popularity increase. About 300,000 people skydived last year, for a total of 3.3 million jumps, said Chris Needles, executive director of the U.S. Parachute Association in Alexandria, Va. Increasingly safer equipment and a wider acceptance of jumping out of airplanes for recreation have contributed to skydiving's steady growth, Davis said. "The gear is so advanced now that anybody can skydive, anyone from you to your grandmother," Davis said. In fact, one woman last year went skydiving on her 86th birthday. This year, a woman with Parkinson's disease jumped on Mother's Day. Standard equipment for students at the jump site includes an automatic activation device that will open an emergency parachute if the main parachute is not deployed during a jump. That and other equipment make skydiving costly. A tandem jump in which a student is attached to an instructor while they share a parachute, costs $175. Beginners jumping with their own parachute pay $275 for the required six hours of training. That compares with about 30 minutes of training for a tandem jump. Two instructors jump with each student for the first solo jump. For another $80, a videographer will jump too, recording still and moving images from the one-minute free fall and landing that takes place five or six minutes after the chute opens. Lisa van Deursen, a manager, videographer and instructor at Chicagoland Skydiving, said she would like to see more people hire videographers, but they seem put off by the price. "People can't understand why it's so expensive, but I have $3,000 worth of equipment on my head," she said, referring to helmet cameras. Planes that can hold up to 20 skydivers cost $800,000 to $1.5 million, while parachutes and other gear for one person can cost $5,000 to $12,000. Davis and Smith lease the planes as well as the land used for the business. They employ 25 independent contractors as instructors, pilots and parachute packers. About 6,500 jumps took place last year at the Hinckley site; in 1999, there were 3,200 jumps, according to van Deursen. The growth comes despite the presence of two regional competitors: Skydive Chicago near Ottawa and Skydive Illinois in Morris. Nationally, skydiving has grown at a rate of 2 or 3 percent every year for the past 10 years, Needles said. "It's not perfectly linear at all times because we are affected by movies that come out about skydiving, so you get these great spikes sometimes," Needles said. He said improved safety does seem to be a factor, and he noted that while there are still fatalities associated with the sport, there were only about 30 deaths in the U.S. last year out of about 3.3 million jumps. The number of annual fatalities has remained steady for 10 years, despite jumps increasing each year, Needles said. Davis said he thinks the sport will continue to grow because of the natural curiosity many people have about flight. "It's the closest to flying outside of your dreams," he said. For information or reservations, call 815-286-9200. Chicago Tribune
  17. Dubai, UAE, 2nd April 2014 – Extreme Canopy Flight (XCF) is Skydive Dubai’s vision of making skydiving history by setting new limits for human flight by breaking the Guinness World Record for the smallest parachute jump. With the support of Emirates Aero Sports Federation and Skydive Dubai, Project XCF’s training and record attempts are going to take place at Skydive Dubai the Palm Dropzone in Dubai on Saturday 5th April from 3 – 7pm. The record breaking attempt is going to be performed by extreme athlete Ernesto Gainza, a test pilot for NZ Aerosports and Icarus canopies and professional stunt man with more than seven thousand skydives. The project will be documented from inception to successful completion. XCF jumps are all performed under highly experimental conditions and using specially designed prototype equipment. Currently expert skydivers use parachutes that range in size from 80-200 square feet and over the last decade the development of high-performance canopy sizes have averaged between 70-90 square feet. Ernesto aims to land a parachute of 35 square feet, less than half the size of the smallest parachutes currently being jumped. With the significant reduction in size the opening, flight and landing characteristics change dramatically resulting in a spinning malfunction which could cause an almost instantaneous loss of consciousness, as such Ernesto needs to have the right mental and physical preparation to be able to react decisively to any situation. Across the global skydiving community, a very small percentage of competitive canopy pilots have the skill to fly these canopies successfully. Ernesto Gainza stated, “Project XCF is the product of a man’s dream to fly and land the world’s smallest parachute. Regardless of the size of the challenge, a dream will always be a dream if there is no determination to make it reality.” The current unofficial record for the smallest parachute landed is held by Luigi Cani who jumped a 37 square foot canopy on January 1st 2008. Luigi was the inspiration for this project. Skydive Dubai provides a platform to fulfill dreams. In addition to granting Ernesto’s dream of breaking the world record of XCF jumps, Skydive Dubai will also be granting the wishes of three kids with incurable diseases through their collaboration with The Make-A-Wish Foundation® United Arab Emirates, an international non-profit organization with 38 active offices dedicated to fulfilling the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. The event on Saturday 5th April is open to all who wish to come and see history being made. The day will be filled with a lot of entertainments for all ages. About Skydive Dubai SKYDIVE DUBAI, the world’s premier skydiving location, is located in the heart of Dubai city. It is operating in two locations The Palm Drop Zone, which has as area size of 260,000 and runway size of 60m x 700m, and Desert Campus Drop Zone. Skydive Dubai offers tandem jumps, training for athletes and courses for beginners and experienced skydivers. Both drop zones observe the highest standards in safety under the regulations of The International Air Sport Federation (FAI). All skydivers are fully accredited by the United States Parachuting Association (USPA) and The Emirates Aviation Association (EAA).
  18. Clouds can provide spectacular scenery - but what should you know about them Introduction: There is a lot to learn across your career as a skydiver. Expanding one’s brain is a process the starts right from the blocks and, if you are doing it right, never stops. Along the way there are things that you have to know in order to progress through to new levels and ratings, yet there is also things you can know that will make you a better skydiver in terms of your safety and awareness, and also contribute to your smooth and efficient progression. Parachuting from aircraft has diversified into many different disciplines - some may draw you irresistibly towards them but others you might never touch with a long stick. Regardless of how you embrace the zoom, one thing is constant and true - the weather rules over us all. Some of these disciplines have stricter parameters for operation than others - an accuracy competition has to stand down in all but the gentlest wind while hot shit canopy pilots are unhampered buy much more, whereas low cloud might keep all matters of freefall in stasis while the swoopy types can still get their kicks from within sight of the ground. We can all benefit from taking a little time to understand more about how the weather works. You don’t need to become an expert - but the further on your brain gets from it being either ‘too windy’ or ‘not too windy’ the better. At the very least, investing in a bit of knowledge will make you more interesting to talk to when everyone is standing around looking up at the sky and bitching about the conditions. It might also save your life. Visibility is important Student Status: When you are brand new to skydiving the dividing line between too windy and yahoo giddy up is positioned way over on the too windy side. The restrictions are pretty heavy to allow for safety while you are getting the hang of it so some patience is required - so this is the perfect time to embrace the learning process and seek the benefits of going above and beyond with your ambitions. Everything is new and there is a lot of it, so hoover up all that is offered. An important lesson to understand early on is that much of what is taught in skydiving in delivered with more than a smattering of opinion - and there is no shortage of those who are absolutely sure that their way is the best way and what that other guy said is horseshit. Developing a mindset of enquiry from the start will help you to filter the important information and use it properly. It is too windy for you to jump. Why is it too windy? Why is it too windy for you? It is raining. Why is it raining? Down The Road: As soon as you are out of that student getup and in your own gear then you are fair game for being quizzed in the plane by anyone else who has not bothered to find out the vital information for themselves and needs help at the last minute. It really doesn’t take a lot of effort to learn the particulars about the situation you are about to skydive into, and knowing a few simple things can make you look much more like a bad motherfucker and much less like a clueless mug. Can you identify which way is North? Do you know what the wind is doing right now both at altitude and on the ground? Continued learning is one of skydivings great gifts - everywhere you look there is always extra distance to go. Absolute clarity over Lake Balaton, Hungary Crossover Skills: If anything, skydiving is on the more forgiving side of all the sports that involve a canopy over your head. The geographical spaces we use for jumping out of planes are all different but with lots a base similarities - a runway, a few hangars where the aeroplanes sleep, a power line or two to avoid, a bar where the important drinking happens. All of skydivings sisters and cousins are much more intimately involved with the weather. If you find yourself drawn to Paragliding or BASE jumping then you will be spending a lot more time in places where the issues you can (and will) face become magnified by the terrain. The world has no shortage of those who believe that because they can perform a big bad swoop along the manicured grass then they possess the skills to fly a speed wing through a six foot gap in an alpine forest. Even a cursory glance at the incident reports will demonstrate how many accidents could have been avoided if just a little more knowledge had been applied. Skyjumps happen in a controlled environment - the perfect time to learn. Would You Like To Know More? This, and the following articles are not designed to be anything approaching comprehensive information - they are assembled to point you in the right direction by covering the main topics in a general, encouraging and hopefully entertaining way. The weather on our planet is effected by things on both the grandest scale and the most intimate - from national television channels depositing region-wide possibilities to conditions able to affect you and you alone. Part two has a look and weather in its biggest forms, such as fronts, cloud formations and upper winds. Part three focuses on more localised concerns like turbulence and thermals. Part four finishes up by pointing you toward some of the popular resources you might use to grow your brain.
  19. Thanks to social media, word of mouth marketing has become the most powerful marketing tool in the industry. This approach to marketing is exciting for some and a nightmare for others because the message cannot be controlled. Word of mouth spreads like wildfire by a few keystrokes of an individual who either loves or hates your service. For a business to thrive in today's tech savvy world, an owner must view opening the doors each morning as a theatre company on opening night…you're putting on a show. Each day businesses are putting on a performance for each customer who are armed with amazing technology to tell the world about the performance. It's time to start dancing! Perhaps no image is more synonymous within skydiving as the famous 'infidel' tattoo that went viral on social media bringing attention to a drop zone that no business owner would desire. Through the Eyes of the Consumer Imagine if you were invited to be a secret shopper. Your assignment would be to take a date to the nicest, most expensive restaurant in town. This restaurant would only be visited on the most special of occasions because of its high price point. Excitedly, you accept the offer and look forward to enjoying a quality meal in a romantic setting with that special someone in your life. In consideration of your assignment, what would it take to rate the restaurant a perfect five stars? One would think that the rating centers around the meal, but with more thought there are several interactions that take place before the food reaches the table. Consider these eleven judgement points that lead up to the presentation of the food: Website - In preparation for your meal, you elect to review the menu online. This is the first interaction with the restaurant. What image and feeling does the site convey? Hopefully it's positive as you send the link to your date to show where you're going... we want her to be impressed! Directions - How easy or difficult is it to locate the restaurant? There's nothing more frustrating than getting lost! Parking - Is parking readily available or are you circling the restaurant trying to find any opening? Greeting - What is the greeting like when you arrive? For the price point and experience, we hope it's positive and warm! Cleanliness - What is the appearance of the restaurant? This will set a tone. Hopefully, the soles of your shoes aren't picking up tons of dirt because the floor hasn't been swept in days. Wait Time - How long does it take to be seated especially as you have a reservation? If you've made arrangements ahead of time, the wait should be minimal. Interaction - What is the interaction like with your server? The gratuity will be high after the cost of this meal…we hope it's good! Beverages - Having placed an order for drinks, how long does it take for them to arrive? If this is a first date, you may need that beverage to arrive sooner than later to ease the awkward silence! Bathrooms - While awaiting drinks, you visit the bathroom. No one likes a dirty bathroom...anywhere. Food Order - How long does it take for the server to take your order for food? Do you like to wave at a server when it's time to place the order? Food - How long does it take for the food to arrive since you made the order? "Maybe the lamb is being flown in from New Zealand?" Once the food has arrived there are more interactions with the server, an offer for dessert and the bill. If the food was perfect, and the eleven interactions prior to the meal were average, would you award the restaurant five stars? Though all of the interactions leading to the meal are all small details, when added together become significant. To receive a true five star review, no detail is too small. Above: excessive waiting is a major issue at DZ's around the world which only lessens a customer's experience. Between the price point and high expectations, this will not win any five star reviews. As other businesses have had to adapt, so must our industry. As in the secret shopper example above, replace the meal with the skydive. We must strive for five stars and examine every interaction a customer has with our DZ's to ensure it's never average, but always exceeds expectation. Our customers are not just our tandem or AFF students, but fun jumpers and the staff that work for us as well. The key to harnessing word of mouth marketing is to allow service and professionalism to be as important as the skydive itself. No detail too small when offering the single greatest experience life has to offer.
  20. It's that time of the year again, where we pull out the credit card and bite the bullet to bring some festive joy to our friends and family. But we've spoken to the guys over at Para Gear and ChutingStar and had them send us over some options for Christmas gifts that will get your family or friends grinning without breaking your bank. Golden Sky Closing Pin Earrings - $40 These custom Golden Sky Closing Pins Earrings are like no other. Available in Sterling Silver, 14kt Yellow Gold and 14kt White Gold. Earrings are 1" in length. Sterling Silver earrings in stock. Turnaround time for the 14kt Gold closing pin earrings is approximately two weeks as these are made to order by Golden Sky Jewelry. Available at ChutingStar GoPro LCD Touch Bacpac - $79.99 The LCD Touch BacPac™ is a removable LCD touch screen for GoPro Hero3, Hero3+, or Hero4 cameras. (*Limited compatibility with original HD Hero and HD Hero2 cameras, requires firmware update. Touch functionality is not compatible with HD Hero2 and older cameras). As a removable accessory, the LCD BacPac keeps your camera as small and light as possible, yet provides the convenience of an LCD screen when attached. Camera not included. *US Only Available at Para-Gear LEGO Skydiver / BASE Jumper - $9 The perfect companion for the home or office of any skydiver or BASE jumper. This LEGO minifigure is all geared-up to jump, and that adrenaline is coursing through his body. Time to jump! This is an official LEGO Skydiver/BASE Jumper Minifigure. The packaging has been opened to verify it is the skydiver, but the item is brand new. Available at ChutingStar Limited Edition Robin's Egg Blue Alti-2 Altimaster Galaxy Altimeter Gift Package - From $161 Unique . . . Thoughtful . . . Perfect! Every gift giver wants to hear those words from the skydiver they love after the present is opened and the treasure inside is revealed. Just in time for the holidays, we have made your shopping effortless! This limited edition galaxy makes a perfect holiday gift. Fresh out of the Alti-2 workshop: a Limited Edition Altimaster Galaxy. Crafted exclusively in Robin's Egg Blue with a Swarovski Crystal pointer setting, this once in a lifetime offering is limited to 100 altimeters. It comes elegantly wrapped in a matching color gift box to add style to any occasion. Available at Para-Gear Available at ChutingStar Cookie G3 Helmet - $379 Welcome to the G3 headgear, Cookies latest release full-face headgear and a result of significant refinement of the previous full-face headgear. The G3 features the original VMech Visor Locking System that works unlike any other in the industry. The system makes for easy opening and positive locking of the headgear visor. The visor is 2mm polycarbonate and features a complex curved design for extra strength, unsurpassed field of view and an anti-fog coating. The headgear's cinching system is simple and secure, adjustment can be made to customize the headgear fit and once locked down just throw the headgear on and jump. Available at Para-Gear ChutingStar eGift Card - From $25 The ChutingStar eGift Card is the perfect gift for your buddy, family member or sweetheart! Available in any denomination and it never expires. The ChutingStar eGift Card is sent via e-mail and can be used at anytime for any products online at ChutingStar.com. Vouchers available from $25 to $1000 Available at ChutingStar PG Headgear Bag - $35 The PG Headgear Bag is designed for today’s full-faced headgear. Made from cordura. It features a padded contoured shape to snugly fit most full-face headgear, a clip strap for easy hanging, strong zippers, and a protective pocket for gloves, goggles, altimeter, etc. Available at Para-Gear Parachuting Flipping Santa Musical Christmas Ornament - $19 This large parachuting Santa Claus sings Jingle Bells while he performs front flips and back flips under a round parachute! The perfect skydiver Christmas ornament! Available at ChutingStar Kroops I.K.91 Goggles - $24.95 The I.K. 91 is an ultra lightweight and very comfortable goggle. The multilayer foam sinks into your face like a soft pillow making it very easy to wear for long periods of time. The spherical lens gives you a great distortion free view with totally unobstructed peripheral vision. The mirrored blue and the red lens color is a gradient to provide sun protection from above while still allowing you to see the ground clearly below. The narrow headband easily fits over or under your headgear. Available at Para-Gear Happy shopping!
  21. admin

    Filming your first four-way team

    First things first. I assume they're giving you some sort of compensation in the form of a free slot (since you're just starting out) or maybe slot plus a small amount of cash (maybe to cover pack jobs). Understand that since they hired you, they probably expect you to do certain things, only some of which you're actually going to be able to deliver because ... you're just starting out. I can absolutely freekin' guarantee that your footage isn't going to look anything like the camera flyers at Arizona Airspeed can produce. You're just not going to do 1,000 jumps with your team this season, so nobody should expect the same results. Make certain at least the team captain understands this. If your team captain or the coach of the team expects otherwise, you may want to consider walking away right now. I'm not kidding. I saw a perfectly acceptable camera flyer get psychologically and verbally burned by his team last season because they just didn't have a freekin' clue as to how difficult "Airspeed-quality" camera flying is. If, on the other hand, they understand where you're at in your camera-flying career and are willing to work with you, then it can be a beautiful learning experience for everyone. Flying 4-way camera, you're not just flying the camera anymore. The team may decide you have other duties as well. Do they want you to handle the manifest duties? Do they want you to watch the clock so they can focus more on creeping? Are you going to be responsible for the spot? Will you have to dub tapes for everyone at the end of the day? This can be time-consuming. They're off in the bar having a cold one and you're in a debrief room makin' dubs for 40 minutes! Talk to them about it. Get that stuff understood so there are no surprises. Surprises cause arguments. Arguments are not conducive to good flying! One camera flyer I know has been at it so long and has been burned so many times that he has what he calls his "List of Demands" and when he talks to a team he gives them a printed copy of it and says "That's the deal, take it or leave it." Now, since you're just starting out, you probably can't do this just yet, but keep it in the back of your mind. At least with him, there are no surprises. Just a thought. The first day So it's the first day of training and time to get on the airplane. Make absolutely freekin' sure that everyone knows the break-off plan. Typical might be that at 4,000 AGL the team turns and tracks while you pull in the center. (Maybe 4,500 for a newbie group.) Make certain they all understand the consequences of not tracking -- you'll eventually come down to meet them and you'll both die. I shoot my team's break-off and freeze-frame it when I dub the debrief tape just to make a point of showing which person is leaving last. I've never mentioned it in those terms, but I think it does get the point across when you see the same person not getting away as fast as the rest of the team. Communicate to the team that's it's not only important that they turn and track, but it's also important that they do not pull high. Pulling high is where you are, not them. They shouldn't be pulling any higher than 3,000. This ensures they have separation from each other AND you. What's really nice about 4-way is that certain things can be somewhat consistent and therefore I feel a bit more safe. You shouldn't have to worry about what the break-off altitude is for this jump, if the team break-off plan is always 4,000. Pretty simple, we're doing 4-way, break-off is 4,000 -- period, end of discussion. We can now focus on other things and not have to worry about break-off. Simple. Same deal with most of the rest of the flow. Ten minutes to boarding the plane, check your gear, put it on and walk down to the mock-up. Five minutes to boarding the plane the team arrives at the mock-up and goes through the exit and does pin-checks. Board the plane in the same order, sit by the same person, check your camera at 6,000, do another pin-check at 9,000, handshakes at 10,000, put your helmet on by 11,500. CamEye II blue light on the red light, red light on the green light. OK, that's my routine, but you get the idea. Consistency will keep you on schedule, give you several opportunities to catch small errors and correct them. Not all camera flyers' offices on Twin Otters are created equal! Handles come in at least three distinct flavors and steps in at least two. Placement of handles and steps varies from plane to plane even on the same dropzone and even if the A&P; mechanic was really trying to be consistent! Door frames are also inconsistent in how much they have little bits poking out that can whack into your left knee or attempt to grab your reserve handle on climbout. It may piss you off, but them's the facts. Look the planes over carefully and learn which ones to watch out for. The exit For a camera flyer, there are basically two parts to the skydive: Exit and everything else. Blowing the exit can make everything else irrelevant, so I'll start with that. As I mentioned before, there are several version of handles and steps you'll have to deal with. Depending on the exact type of exit you're planning on doing, your hand and foot placement as well as your posture on the step will vary. There are three basic exits. Leading - leaving perhaps slightly before the 4-way team. This is the "classic" 4-way exit you'll see from Arizona Airspeed. There are a lot of timing issues involved with this exit and I'll go into some of them a bit later. When done well, it's a beautiful thing. When done poorly, it's a disaster! Try to learn this exit as quickly as you can, but I can guarantee you some spectacular disasters in the process. I do a lot of 4-way camera flying and even after three years of really trying to nail it, I still blow it from time to time. Trailing - leaving perhaps just slightly after the team; it's also known as the peel. Almost bullet proof because you leave the airplane in your own clean air, but teams and coaches don't like it because it's difficult for them to see exactly how well they were presented on exit. Semi-peel - also known as the 3 O'clock or 90. The team really has to launch away from the airplane for this to work and it has the same team/coaching issues as the trailing exit, but the camera flyer is a heck of a lot closer and it's very easy to see the grips so I think there are actually advantages to using this for competition, but like I said, teams and coaches might think differently. This is the exit you'll most likely see from The Golden Knights. For each exit, it's fairly important to know exactly what to expect from the team in terms of timing and their presentation. You're a fifth member of that exit and you want to place your body in an exact location just the same as the rest of the team -- you're just not taking grips. I think it's important that you go to the mock-up with the team, find out what formation they're taking out the door and do a couple of practice exits with them every time you go up. For a leading exit in particular, find out where the tail and inside center are going to be and plan on not being in their burble right off the plane. Depending on the team and their skill level, you could use any of the three basic exits. For coaching purposes, almost all teams will want you to give them a perfect leading exit. In reality, this may or may not be possible due to your experience level or theirs. It's definitely something to discuss with them. The team, the coach and you should understand that a leading exit is not always the best choice for competition purposes and may not always show what they wanted to see for coaching purposes either. Leading exits Get out on the camera step as best you can. Ideally, you'll have your left foot on the camera step and your left hand on the camera handle with your body hugging the airplane, right foot trailing and right hand maybe on top of the fuselage. At least, that's the way the boys over at Airspeed do it. Me? I can't do it that way and my guess is that depending on your body type, the handles, how much you can twist your neck and a bunch of other factors, you might need to do something slightly different too. Ultimately, your goal should be to be comfortable, stretched pretty far back with maybe just a little flex remaining in your left leg with which you can spring back off the camera step. You may find it a good idea to have your camera sight centered on either the left wheel of the Twin Otter or maybe the butt of the tail flyer. This gives the team somewhere to go in the video. If you can see the exit count, cool, but don't trust it. I usually watch for other subtle signs like a helmet popping under a head jam or maybe the tail flyer's butt leaving the plane. What is GREAT is if you can get the outside center to swing his left leg in time with the exit count -- of course, that's not going to work for all the exits, but it helps. Try to explain to the team that consistency on their part with the exit count means you'll be able to get them much better footage. Some teams do wacky things for a count -- I hate wacky. A nice rhythm of ready, set, go works wonders. For the leading exit, I go on go. That is to say, right with the team. Me -- I'm a fat boy. If I leave too early, it's a pain in the ass to try to get up in a position where I can still see all the grips. You'll know you've left too early if you can see a lot of the bottom of the airplane and they're still in it! You'll know you've left too late in a leading exit when you whack into the team. I try to leave on go, pop my wings to get another slight bit of separation and then track up and over them as they fall down the hill. For me, what I want to see is the center of the formation falling below the horizon as quickly as possible after exit. As the team falls down the hill, drive up and over them. When I exit, I shift my focus from the before exit picture to place my ring-sight on an exact spot in the formation -- maybe the center grip on a Meeker for instance. Each formation is slightly different and will all call for a slightly different spot. For the leading exits, look at the dive pool and think about how they might fly on exit. More importantly, think about how they might block your air on exit. Nice roundy thingies like Meekers aren't too much of a problem. Evil longy thingies like Monopods can be a huge problem depending on what the tail does. Some nice semi-roundy thingies like Satellites might look easy, but might have a tendency to "cut in" so that you can't see all the grips. It won't always be your fault, but you might always get blamed for it if people don't understand. Trailing exits In almost the exact opposition of the leading exit, don't lean back but try to stand up on the camera step and get your body high. Go ahead and put your focus on the center of the formation and don't worry too much about the count. Just keep the focus on the center of the formation and follow it down the hill. I try to think about placing my body in the 12 o'clock position just over the point flyer. Bingo, works like a charm. You don't really need to drive your body anywhere during this exit, the team will flatten out as they come down the hill and you should already be in pretty much good position. You will, however, be facing down jumprun as opposed to up jumprun for the leading exit. Semi-peel exits If you know the team will launch away from the plane, you can try a semi-peel exit. Almost the same as the trailing exit, but you don't really wait for the team to go by you. You leave just after the center has cleared the plane. Your body comes off at a 90 degree angle to jumprun and you may want to think about back sliding a bit under the plane. Everything else Once you've exited the airplane, there's pretty much nothing more you can do about the moment, so let it go. If you left too early on a leading exit, don't think about it -- do something about it! If you've left too late on a leading exit, you need to do something about it NOW! Keep working the issue until you've gotten things in hand. Keep focusing on where the sight should be, but keep working the problem. If you're going to whack into the team, keep trying to get big and maybe you'll be able to slide out of it. If you give up and put your hands in front of you to cushion the blow, you'll only speed up and hit them harder. Your goal should be to get close enough and steep enough to the team so that all the grips are visible. If the team flies apart during a transition, you must get higher and try to keep them all in the frame. As they rejoin, come back down so they don't look like ants! A nice secondary goal would be to keep on heading. Pick a road in the background and keep the teams original jumprun heading relative to it. This let's the team and coach look for things like unintentional rotations of the formation. As you get used to flying with the team, try to get closer and steeper. As you get steeper, you'll find that it becomes a bit more difficult to stay on heading. Teams have a tendency to move quite a bit horizontally as they turn pieces and make transitions. Obviously, if you're right over the top, you'll have to side-slide, back-slide and do all sorts of chasing. Breakoff and opening OK, you've exited, shot freefall and it's about time to breakoff. On breakoff (let's call it 4,000), I might give the wings a little pop and deploy as I continue to watch the team. As I said before, I usually watch to see who has left the formation last and will show that on the debrief tape just to subtly drive the point home. As the d-bag comes out of the container, I begin to sit up and shift my ring-sight to the horizon in an attempt to have my head, neck and back in a straight line as the canopy opens. I feel that this gives the best protection against neck strains, but obviously, this might not work for you. It does work well for me. No matter what your body position, you want to get your hands on your risers as quickly as possible between the time you deploy and full inflation. An additional benefit of looking toward the horizon during inflation is that in this head level position, you can watch out for team members doing short tracks and high openings. Individual team members probably have more than enough separation from each other, but if one dumps a little high and you maybe have a little bit longer snivel and they have a 180 opening, well, it can get interesting and you need to react pretty damn fast. Looking out toward the horizon lets you see what might be coming up to meet you, and you may even be able to shift your weight during inflation to avoid it. After opening, look around to see who in your team is where. Give 'em a quick head count and see if there were any cutaways. If there was a cutaway, first look to see if you can spot the reserve. If the jumper looks OK under the reserve, then check to see if anyone is chasing the main and freebag. Especially watch for the freebag -- they can be a lot harder to find than the main. Make sure that at least one team member is following each piece down; main, reserve freebag and jumper. Fill in where required. If everyone seems OK under canopy, then unclip your wings, release your thumb loops, stow your slider, turn off your camera, release your brakes and start flying back to the landing area. Since you're probably the high opener, you should have plenty of time and altitude to scan for traffic and fit in with the landing pattern. Usually, there's no need to rush and spiral down between canopies -- try to be predictable. With the ring-sight in front of one eye, you don't have the best vision so be a little more careful. Once you've landed, if you can, go over and do high-fives with the team, but generally keep your comments to yourself. Generally speaking, you're not a judge and you're not their coach. They usually already know if they brain-locked or went low so additional negative comments from you aren't helpful. However, positive comments about really cool jumps are almost always welcome. Wrapping up As soon as you get back to the packing area, put your rig down, head over to the debrief room and dub the tape. You don't need to stop to talk with anyone at this point -- just dub the dang tape. Teams seem to vary on exactly what they want dubbed on their tapes, but usually I slate the first jump of the day with a date and just give them a few seconds before exit until the last guy breaks off. During competition, usually you'll slate EVERY jump. Some teams seem to like to see a slo-mo of their jump from exit to the second point, but some do not, so you might want to ask about it for team training purposes. You'd never do this for competition. After you dub, pack and be ready to get on the next load before doing any socializing. The key point here is that the team should never have to wait for you -- not to pack, not to get to the plane, not EVER. I have to admit that when I'm doing team training I usually don't pack -- I hire a packer. This cuts into my profit margin, but I find that I have a heck of a lot more energy at the end of a +20 jump weekend! I also have two rigs so that if the team wants or needs to do back-to-back loads it's really no issue. Having two rigs also means that if I have a cutaway, then I can continue to jump with minimal impact to the training. At the end of the training day, typically the team members want dubs of the entire day. Ugh! Well, you can cut down on this particular chore by using one of the team members' tapes as the debrief tape during the day. I also cut this chore way down by having several VHS decks in my team room. I was able to pick up VHS decks pretty cheap ($75 each) and this also means that I never have to worry about having a back-up! Photos: © Paul Quade
  22. admin

    Skydiving at Night

    So you want to make a night jump and don't know what to expect? Here is an example of how many dropzones run their night jump procedures and what you need to know before you participate in night jumps. Before you even sign up for night jumps at a DZ you need to do a few jumps at the location during the day. Open somewhat high on at least one of the jumps looking and examining the potential hazards and outs if you end up in any direction from the DZ at night. Also before the end of the day arrives you need to have at least 1 glow stick and 1 strobe light that can be easily turned on under canopy. Typically most dropzones will hold a briefing before dark to go over the procedures for the specific location or situation. You will most likely then be asked to sit in a dark room with no lights for a period of time to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness Typical things that are covered during night jump briefings include: Prep work In plane procedures Exiting Opening separation Under canopy behavior Landing Before you can even prepare your eyes for the night skydives you need to prepare your equipment. First take the time to actually do a proper pack job on your main. Last thing you want to add to an already complex skydive is a reserve ride. You need to securely attach a glow stick to your altimeter or use a clearly lighted altimeter. If you are going to use a glow stick it is best to activate it before you start preparing your eyes then cover it with duct tape that is pulled off right before you jump. This insures that your glow stick is not a dud and it also keeps the light from shining on people's eyes. You also need to securely fasten your strobe light to you or to your rig. Attaching it to the rear of your leg, rear of your helmet or back is preferred since as the strobe fires your body will be blocking the light from getting in your eyes, but it is still very visible to everyone else. Some DZ's also require you to attach glow sticks to an arm so you need to listen during the briefing for individual DZ procedures. The most important thing in the preparation of the equipment is for the strobe and light sticks to be securely attached. One of the most important things you can do to maintain your night vision is to avoid looking at any lights during your climb to altitude. Make sure your jump plane does not have any interior lights on, that no one is using flashlights, or anything else to light up the plane. The only color light that should be used inside the plane is a red light since that does not affect night vision. If there are any other light sources or colors (from jump lights) cover as much of them as possible to maintain your vision and still maintain their functionality. According to the USPA SIM first time night jumpers are required to do a solo before they do any group night skydives. It is a really good idea to spend your first time in freefall at night looking around to make sure you find the landing area and pulling at your correct altitude. Typically groups are sorted by both group size and wing loading of the people in the skydive. Usually people with higher wing loadings are the first out on night jumps for reasons to be detailed shortly. After the groups and solos have been sorted most good night jump organizers will dictate exit order and pull altitudes. Usually with larger planes such as Caravans, Otters, Skyvans and Casa's two passes are made to allow for a greater horizontal separation then normally is allowed. Discuss with the pilot and S&TA; what the needed delay is for proper night jump separation. Exit on time, but as during the day do not rush the count. Just prior to exiting you need to activate the lights in the altimeter or uncover the glow sticks. DO NOT activate the strobes yet. In the last rewrite of FAR 105.19 the FAA changed the wording so the strobes no longer have to be active in freefall and since the lights of others in the group could affect your vision keep the strobes off. You do need a strobe that's visible under canopy still though. At most DZ's each night jump group is separated by a solo skydiver. The first group out the door is assigned the lowest pull altitude. 3000 feet is a standard first pull altitude for the first group to allow proper separation and more time to deal with the complexities of night canopy flight but this may change with the group experience and DZ procedures. Each solo or group exiting after the first group is assigned an altitude 500 feet higher then the previous group up to usually 4500 to 5000 feet. Pull at your correct altitude. Do not pull higher then your altitude since the combination of horizontal separation, vertical separation and wing loading separation make for the safest possible night jump environment for you. Once under a good canopy you need to do a few things differently than you normally would. The first is do not collapse your slider. The flapping noise that it makes can be heard by other canopies that might be getting close to you. You also need to turn on your strobe light. Do not do any spiraling or altitude loosing maneuvers since this will eliminate the vertical separation factor that the assigned pull altitudes established. Remember that. In a lot of cases of near misses on night jumps its usually discovered one jumper spiraled down to the other jumpers' level. Fly a very conservative pattern with no hook turns, S turns or other erratic flying. As you are flying constantly be scanning for the dropzone, outs, hazards and other canopies in the air. Hazards at night are different then hazards in the day since its easier to mistake a river for a road or not see power lines. If you are going to land off, try to avoid landing extremely close to roads since there are probably power lines above them you can not see. Always assume a PLF when landing off at night since you will not be able to clearly see the landing area. Typically most DZ's will light their landing areas by having the jumper's cars facing into the wind with the headlights on. Jumpers must plan and fly a flight pattern that has them passing over the cars high enough to miss them, but low enough that they do not out fly the lighted safe landing area. Overshooting the landing area is acceptable if the jumpers know the terrain and know of any potential obstacles they need to avoid. Notice the wind direction as you are boarding the plane, in some locations near large bodies of water the winds will change 180 degrees at night as the temperatures change. Take note of the lights and wind direction before you are set up to land. Also to safely land at night the jumpers are best advised to concentrate on the horizon more then looking down. Looking down will distort your vision and cause you to assume you are at the wrong height for flaring. If you learn nothing else about night jumping learn about the shadow effect. In a lot of situations where the moon is at your back as you are landing you will see a large black canopy rising up on a direct collision course with you. This is your shadow that you are flying into. Lots of jumpers have made avoidance turns only to pound themselves into the ground breaking bones or killing themselves only to find out it was their shadow they were avoiding. As soon as you land depending on the DZ procedures and where you landed, most DZ's either have you walk towards the cars or to the side of the lighted landing area. Others have you stay where you are until your entire pass has landed. Check in with either manifest or the organizer as soon as you land. Additional safety items to be taken into consideration are to carry a cell phone and the DZ phone number with you. Carry a DZ business card or pamphlet with you to make sure you have the correct local DZ phone number and not just a 1-800 number that redirects to them. This way if you land out you can call to let people know where you are or if you need help. Give your cell phone number out to manifest so that if you do not check in right away they can try to contact you. Leave the ringer set to high so if you are injured the rescue parties can locate you that way. Also a whistle around your neck can be used under canopy to scare away any canopy coming close to you or if you are coming close to them. The whistle is also a great way of assisting responders to find your location if you are hurt at night. As with all jump activity, the use of any alcohol or drugs is not only against the law, it is dangerous to others and STUPID. If you or others are unable to refrain from said activities do not get on an airplane to jump. Also some jumpers go the extra steps of attaching a glow stick to their main risers so in the case of a cutaway it is easier to track and then retrieve from the ground. Discuss the best method of doing this with your rigger or S&TA.; If a jumper lands off field do not rush into a truck to get them, slowly drive towards them with your head lights on high with someone walking in front of the truck to make sure you do not run over an injured jumper. This article was compiled by Eric Boerger D-26333 with assistance by Keith Laub, Michael Owens and Art Shaffer.
  23. What Skydivers Don’t Know About The Holes in the Sides of Their Heads Image by Lukasz Szymanski There are plenty of things in this life that you don’t want to hear. I know. Your girlfriend telling you she’s leaving you for her co-worker who buys roses instead of jump tickets. The wind tunnel peanut gallery tittering at your epic layout biff. The dude at the bonfire yammering on about his siiiiiick proxy flight in his brand-new sponsored Air Mattress 4. But what if you never got to hear anything at all anymore? And what if it was your fault? If you want to keep the good sounds coming in to your skyward-tilting brain, you’d better take some responsibility. There are probably some things you don’t know about the holes alongside your head, after all. 1. Hearing loss is forever. Once you’ve damaged the lining of your inner ears, there’s nothing that can be done to bring it back. There’s no medication to bring your old ears back -- nor is there a surgery that sets things straight. Hearing loss that’s attributable to skydiving happens because of damage to the cilia of the inner ear. (Cilia are the tiny, hair-like cells that vibrate with the pressure of sound waves and tell the brain about it.) Too much exposure to those waves wears them right out. Once they can’t wiggle anymore, it’s over. They don’t bounce back. 2. You might go crazy, too. Alongside general hearing loss, you might get a bonus symptom: tinnitus. If the cilia are bent or broken due to excessive sound exposure, they can dribble out random electrical impulses to your brain, causing you to hear sound where none exists. Basically, this results in a constant ring/roar/buzz/hiss/squeal that lives inside your head 24/7. If that sounds like hell, you’re absolutely right. 3. It’s louder up there than you think. Decibel levels are not linear; they’re logarithmic. Linear measures are measured with addition and subtraction (for example: four miles is twice as long as two miles). Logarithmic measures ratchet up by factors of ten. This means that every increase of 10 on the decibel scale represents a 10-fold increase in the intensity of the sound it measures. Noise that clocks in at 20dB is 10 times louder than a sound of 10dB. 30dB? 100 times louder...so look differently at decibel measures than you do at the numbers in your bank account. The noise we’re subjected to on the ride up hovers over 90dB -- which government standards decree is only healthy for around seven and a half minutes. We’re in the tin can for 20-30. You do the math. 4. Monotony is worse than variety. I used to produce music videos for a living (which is less fun than you’d think, but that’s another, boozy story). The production team was always required to provide the crew and talent with earplugs; if the production assistant forgot them, it was crucifixion time. That’s because OSHA, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, enforces requirements limiting workers’ exposure to a time-weighted average noise level of anything over 85 dB. As skydivers, we don’t have to listen to that same damn godawful excuse for a song over and over (thank god), but we’re actually exposed to something that’s actually worse for our health than boy bands: level monotony. A long exposure to a same-pitch drone -- such as engine noise -- is more damaging than sounds that change in pitch, like loud music. The droning sound wears away at the cilia with the same sound waves, like waves crashing on the same part of a beach over and over in the same way. 5. You can plug your holes. Many skydivers wear earplugs from gear-up to landing. Some take them out for freefall; others take them out for the canopy ride. Figure out what works for you and allows you to reliably receive information from your audible. It takes some discipline (or self-tricksiness) to remember, but it will help you in the long run. Try keeping a pair taped to your altimeter to help you remember to put them in. Helmets with padding over the ears are less effective than earplugs, but they can still help. 6. You don’t need expensive earplugs to skydive. The drugstore cheapies will do. When you place them, make sure they’re snug -- but that you can still feel them move around when you slide your jaw around (so you can equalize pressure, if necessary). 7. You can still pretend you can’t hear. When Siiiiick Wingsuit Proxy Guy looks at you, ever hopeful for adulation, you can still give him back a confused “huh?” and wander off. Better yet: take your earplugs to the bonfire.
  24. admin

    Dropzone Unknown

    With all of the worldwide disasters happening, have you thought about joining in and helping out somehow? Skydiving skills, to reach people in isolated areas, are being used by Remote Area Medical, to bring in help where it is needed yet where it is inaccessible by conventional ground transportation. Remote Area Medical - RAM Airborne Remote Area Medical, RAM, has been providing humanitarian aid to people worldwide since 1985, with the airborne division currently on the rise and seeking skydivers. Founded by Stan Brock, from the show Wild Kingdom, RAM and its volunteers are “Pioneers of No-Cost Health Care” with well over 400 missions in the US and abroad. The first RAM Airborne mission was to Tennessee in 2005, proving that skydivers and cargo can be dropped into an unknown area, on top of a hill in the Appalachian Mountains. The next RAM Airborne mission is to Guyana in South America, to clear trees from existing grass runways; making them accessible once more by airplanes. From March 26 to April 9, RAM’s mission to Guyana will provide air-ambulance access to the people living in the nearby villages. This is a non-medical mission, but medical support is needed, in the event of an injury or medical emergency during the mission. An additional trail team is being recruited, not requiring skydiving skills, to re-clear a trail in the Amazon forest, connecting two villages to another airstrip which was repaired by a RAM team in 2004. This will be a physically demanding mission, to clear large trees and thick undergrowth, while living in a tent or hammock. Hiking through the Amazon forest is no walk through the park either, with machetes in hand and packs on your back; these are a few things to keep in mind, and a few things to savor, for those who want to come for the adventure. Skills Being Sought: Skydivers must have a B-license or better, with an average of 100 jumps as a minimum; good canopy control and a canopy wing loading of 1.3 or less are expected, because there’s no room for error, and no hospitals to go to if you biff your landing. As you may have guessed, no hook turns allowed. You bring in your own gear for camping, and you pay for your own airfare to and from Georgetown, Guyana – but it is tax-deductible, since it is for a humanitarian effort. It is the most direct way to give, by providing your skills directly where it is needed! RAM is also seeking people with medical skills, to handle any potential injuries that may happen, one per team at a minimum – more if possible – plus some basic medical supplies. The rest of the team is not required to be medically trained but everyone must be physically prepared – this is not your typical working-holiday trip overseas – it is hard work and it is worth it. Videographers are also being sought, to help document this first-time-ever event. Proof of skills will be necessary, to ensure one’s safety, and others’ as well; video cameras may also be provided, as details are confirmed. Videographers would be the first to land, then film the others as they land; the case-of-beer policy will be waived, mainly because there are no stores to go get any and no refrigeration either. If you or someone you know is interested – here are some things to begin doing: Work on hop and pop exits and accurate landings Gear up your camping supplies – for a two-week camping trip Get in shape – it’s a load of work and physically exhausting Join RAM as a volunteer – send an e-mail to karen @ karenhawes.com for further details, or go to http://www.karenhawes.com/ram/RAM-Mission-FAQ.htm RAM Camp If you want to work on the skills necessary for this type of skydiving mission, there will be a “RAM Camp” training program offered in mid-March at Skydive Arizona, prior to the Guyana mission from March 16 - 19, to hone or develop your skills in: Spotting, exiting and landing in unfamiliar areas Cargo-bail preparations and air drops Basic field-medical skills, stitching open-wounds, making traction splints Basic camping and navigation skills Other survival tips and tricks to know, plus pitfalls to avoid Prospective volunteers, who complete this course and display the necessary skill level required, will be selected over volunteers who do not. For more information about the RAM Camp, go to http://www.karenhawes.com/ram/RAM-Camp.htm This course will be taught by three RAM volunteers, with years of experience in the areas of skills being taught: Rene Steinhauer – Medical Aid in Remote Areas Bryan Burke – Cargo/Spotting/Airdrops and Navigation Karen Hawes – Travel Tips (for men and women) and Gadgets in the Wild RAM Camp Instructors All three trainers will cover their own areas of expertise, and survival skills training, based on actual in-field experience; with personal experiences ranging from domestic and international relief efforts, everyone has something to learn in this course. Here’s a brief background of each instructor: Rene Steinhauer RN, CFRN, EMT-P – Rene is a currently working as a flight nurse in Antarctica till February 2006. He has worked on humanitarian projects around the world and has also worked as a combat medic on the front lines in Iraq. He has trained civilian and military personnel in remote and combat medicine for years. He is also one of the founding members of RAM Airborne. Bryan Burke – Safety and Training Advisor at Skydive Arizona, with two decades in the sport and 3,200 jumps. Although he is known in the sport as the organizer of numerous boogies and competitions, he also has considerable experience with parachute testing, skydiving for the entertainment industry, and other applications that require precise airborne delivery. Most of his off-DZ time is spent kayaking, backpacking, or rafting in remote wilderness areas. Karen Hawes – A Systems Engineer at Lockheed Martin, with 500 jumps on 6 continents in 12 countries and at over 100 dropzones, she has been a RAM volunteer since 2004. She is the current RAM Airborne recruiter, with three missions to: Guyana (airstrip repair), Sumatra (tsunami relief), and Tennessee (first RAM airdrop mission). A fourth RAM mission to New Orleans is scheduled, for the second week in February 2006. She is also working on configuring solar power sources for hand-held electronic devices, to be used on remote-area missions. For More Information and to Sign-Up For more information on the mission in March and the RAM Camp, go to: http://www.karenhawes.com/ram/RAM-Mission-FAQ.htm http://www.karenhawes.com/ram/RAM-Camp.htm Come One, Come All! If someone you know is interested, but not a skydiver, then now is the time to begin training and cap it off with one of the RAM Camps, to be ready for future missions. If you already have the skydiving skills, you can take advantage of this unique opportunity to add “Humanitarian” to your list of skills and world experiences. Find out more about RAM at www.ramusa.org and join the adventure!
  25. "We live longer in three seconds than some people live their entire lives." That's one of my favorite quotes from a fellow BASE jumper, and it was at the forefront of my mind as I read BBC broadcaster and psychology writer Claudia Hammond's new book, "Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception." The book tackles the alternately baffling and encouraging science behind our brains' relationship with the arbitrary measurements of our wristwatches. More to the point: It puts that information in a framework that makes total sense for an airsports athlete. Time works a little differently for us, after all. Linear time lies at the heart of the way we organize life, sure--but it also lies at the heart of the way we experience it. This might be the bigger concept--because what's within our own minds is under our own control. Skydivers--especially in high-stakes moments, like competitions and records--can relate to the curiously changing shape of time. Saturated with focus, it feels as though some experiences are being scrubbed through in super-fast-forward, while others are playing out almost frame-by-frame. It turns out that fluxes in time perception aren't simply an athletic and personal deficiency; these mental gymnastics around the concept of time's passage are a "defining feature of how the human mind works."It turns out that, in a physiological sense, the "slow-motion car crash" isn't a myth -- it's "a cognitive reality." Hammond's hypothesis is compelling in its simplicity: that the way we experience the passage of time is not an external process we're subjected to. Instead, time as we know it is actively created by our own minds. It isn't reliable and it is certainly not objective. Neuroscientists and psychologists call this "mind time," and Hammond describes how we as humans -- and, by extension, we as extreme athletes -- can shape it and use it to our own benefit. Much of the challenge we face as airsports athletes is exerting a practical amount of control over our physical and mental responses to overwhelming stimuli. No amount of mental gymnastics will turn a BASE exit with a seven-second rock drop into an exit with a 12-second rock drop; however, if we can start to see "mind time" as flexible and ourselves as active participants in our experience of it, Hammond suggests that we can stay in flight just a little longer in our own minds. (This is a deeply appealing and useful thought experiment for athletes who practice a sport that often requires us to dedicate days of our time for scant minutes of freefall.) "Time Warped" is a profoundly conceptual but still, somehow, practical book. It addresses the way our internal clocks dictate our lives and the ways in which mindfulness works as a tool to master that internal clock. One of the book's most beautiful passages sums it up brilliantly: "We will never have total control over this extraordinary dimension. Time will warp and confuse and baffle and entertain however much we learn about its capacities. But the more we learn, the more we can shape it to our will and destiny. We can slow it down or speed it up. We can hold on to the past more securely and predict the future more accurately. Mental time-travel is one of the greatest gifts of the mind. It makes us human, and it makes us special." Other Resources: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman Felt Time: The Science of How We Experience Time by Marc Wittmann