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Found 275 results

  1. We've already discussed your body's relation to the relative wind. Now let's look at your relationship to space and time. When you leave an airplane at our customary exit altitude of 12,500 feet above the ground, your accelerate from zero miles per hour vertical speed to approximately one hundred and ten miles an hour in about ten seconds. It doesn't seem too dramatic because the aircraft speed was already about 100 miles an hour, so you reall only gain ten miles per hour. At that point you reach terminal velocity, the speed at which the air pressure against your body balances the pull of gravity. Ignoring minor changes in body position, you will stay at that speed until something stops you - hopefully the deployment of your parachute! At terminal velocity you pass through one thousand feet every six seconds. If your parachute opens at 4,500 feet, that gives you about 52 seconds of freefall. (Ten seconds for the first thousand, six for each of the next thousand.) If your parachute did not open, you would now have a life expectancy of 27 seconds. Opening altitudes are based on allowing skydivers time to be sure that they do land under an open parachute. More experienced jumpers commonly open at about 2,500 feet because of their greater familiarity with equipment and emergency procedures. This gives them about 65 seconds of freefall from a 12,500-foot exit. The main thing about altitude is that if you run out of it while in freefall, you die. However, since your fall rate is constant, your consumption of altitude is constant. This means that if you have plenty of altitude, relax, because only time can take it away from you. Time and altitude are directly related. Loss of altitude awareness is a major contributor to skydiving fatalities. Always bear in mind that no distraction is worth dying for. Until your body's freefall clock has been programmed so that you know how long you've been in freefall, your only reference is your altimeter. Every time you do anything - intentionally or not - check your altitude. That way, you won't lose altitude awareness if a distraction such as a difficult maneuver or loose goggles comes along. Keep in mind that since you are consuming altitude (time) at a constant rate, you can't stop what you are doing, think it over, go back, and try again. In freefall, there are no time outs! That's why we try to do all of our freefall tasks carefully and deliberately, getting them right the first time. If you rush, you will actually lose time because the extra mistakes that result will slow you down. And when you consider the cost of freefall time, you'll appreciate the value of thorough ground preparation! Besides our time reference (altitude), we also make use of space references. There are two types of space references, orientation to the ground and orientation to other skydivers. We'll call the ground reference heading. Heading is an imaginary line drawn from a point on the horizon directly in front of you through your center. You use this reference for tasks such as turns, backloops, or simply hovering in place. Eventually you will substitute the line of flight for a personal heading. The line of flight is the heading the aircraft was on when you left it. The advantage of using line of flight is that now all the skydivers on the airplane have the same heading reference, instead of each picking their own. This makes it much easier to coordinate group activities. Your reference to the other skydivers is called the center point. The center point is that spot closest to all of the skydivers. When you are alone, it is in the middle of your body. With others, imagine a ball falling straight down around which everyone flies. In other words, four skydivers holding hands in a circle would have the center point in the middle of the ring. If they all backed up ten feet, it would still be in the same place because thjey are all still equally close to that point. In many ways, the center point of a formation is like the center of your box man discussed in the previous section. If one corner of a formation is low relative to the center point, the formation will turn in that direction. If two corners are low, it will slide in the direction of the low side. By now you can see that while skydiving, you have to be aware of several different things: altitude, your own body position, your position relative to the ground, and your position relative to others. Initially this will seem like a lot to be aware of, so on your first few jumps you will concentrate almost entirely on altitude and your body position while your jumpmasters take care of the rest. When you are release to fly free, you will add your own heading, and eventually you will be able to monitor these, the formation center point, and the line of flight as easily as you monitor your speed, direction, location, and other traffic as you drive to the drop zone! Test yourself: 1. "Temporal distortion" refers to the fact that in an emergency situation (losing control of your car, for example), the rush of chemicals to your brain can cause events to seemingly go into slow motion. Why would temporal distortion be extremely dangerous to a skydiver? 2. Why is ability to hold a heading considered essential to flying with other skydivers? Proceed to Chapter 5 (After the Freefall)
  2. No matter how many skydives you make, you'll always feel a moment of great satisfaction as your parachute settles to the ground. But the skydive isn't over yet! You need to carefully gather up your gear and bring it safely back to the hangar. You should daisy chain the lines (ask!) and be sure not to snag anything. One easy way to keep track of your stuff is to put things like your goggles, gloves, and ripcord in your helmet and fasten that to your chest strap. Back in the packing area, set the rig down carefully and be sure not to drop or lose any of the paraphernalia such as the altimeter, radios, goggles, and ripcord. Keep in mind that all the equipment is very expensive and you are responsible for keeping it safe; a moment's carelessness with an altimeter, for example, could cost $150. Once all of your gear is safely off, there is one last thing to do. Review your dive thoroughly, noting areas where you would like to get suggestions and advice and thinking about which techniques worked well, and why. Freefall only lasts a minute, the canopy ride about three. That isn't a lot of time to learn, so to be a good skydiver you have to develop your ability to learn on the ground before and after a jump. A few minutes of careful review with your jumpmaster (or yourself, when you are doing solo jumps) will save you many expensive mistakes in the future. Finally, log all of your jumps. Any jumps you plan to use towards a license requirement must be logged and signed by another jumper. Around the Drop Zone Although our sport has a two hundred year heritage of air show jumps and military parachuting, sport parachuting as we know it began in the late '50s when civilians began jumping strictly for fun and combined to form sport parachuting groups. Eventually skydivers began to design their own gear instead of modifying military surplus parachutes, and the combination of civilian organization and improvements in equipment has led to a steady growth that continues today. The national organization that has overseen skydiving in the Unites States is called the United States Parachute Association, or USPA. USPA is a non-profit membership organization in which each member may vote for the board of directors. We will ask you to join USPA by the time you make your Level 4 ASP jump; the first year's dues are $39.50 (more for overseas memberships.) Besides certifying instructors and administering the license system, USPA publishes a monthly magazine that is included with your membership. Membership also provides you with some liability insurance. But perhaps the most important reason for joining USPA is that the organization has been instrumental in keeping the government, at all levels, out of the sport. In fact, skydiving is one of the safest aviation sports and is also the least regulated. To keep it this way, it is important that we police ourselves. The USPA has established safety guidelines that all skydivers at this drop zone are expected to adhere to. The USPA's representative on the drop zone is the Safety and Training Advisor, or S&TA.; He or your instructor can answer questions about license requirements, skydiver ratings, and most other skydiving matters. The USPA categorizes skydivers into six experience levels: students - under direct supervision in a formal training program novices - graduated from a student program but not yet licensed A license - minimum of 20 freefalls B license - minimum of 50 freefalls C license - minimum of 100 freefalls D license - minimum of 200 freefalls In addition to the freefall experience, each license level requires demonstration of skill appropriate to that level. A license is important to you as a proof of your ability level, especially if you intend to travel to other drop zones. Each level also has currency requirements. Staying current (jumping regularly) is one of the most important things you can do to enhance safety. For this reason if you are away from skydiving for several weeks you will have to do some reviewing and get back into the sport with a simple, safe, skydive. Until you are licensed, if more than 30 days passes without jumping you will be required to make a Level 4 ASP jump with one of the school's jumpmasters before jumping on your own again. USPA also issues instructional ratings to qualified applicants. A person holding a jumpmaster rating has attended a training program and demonstrated the necessary skill and experience to safely guide novices through a student program. Instructors have more experience and have also attended further training courses. Either one will be able to answer most of your questions. You will meet plenty of people willing to offer suggestions to you. Bear in mind that someone with one or two hundred jumps will seem very experienced to you but is actually a relative newcomer to the sport. Rely on rated instructors for guidance until you have your A license! Occasionally you may hear experienced jumpers discussing techniques or procedures that differ from what you have learned; be aware that some things which may be safe for experienced jumpers could be inappropriate for novices. If you have any questions be sure and get an opinion from one of your instructors. Skydive Arizona is a business incorporated for the purpose of providing skydiving facilities. While you are on student status, your jump price pays for all aircraft and site expenses as well as instruction and equipment. The operators of the drop zone, Larry and Liliane Hill, are proud that they have built the finest skydiving center in the world, operate the finest fleet of aircraft available, and have some of the best skydivers anywhere on their staff. To help keep this facility safe and pleasant and to control costs, customers are asked to avoid littering (smokers, please put your butts in the yellow or orange cans) and to be on time for their aircraft. Feel free to bring non-skydiving guests out to share the fun, but be sure that children are under constant supervision: drop zones abound with expensive and dangerous objects! Dogs are not permitted in the grassy central grounds or in the buildings. Drop zone etiquette is casual, but when you are in an area where people are packing, be sure to walk around the parachutes rather than step over them, and never smoke or leave drinks around parachutes. Do not borrow or examine other people's gear without permission. Drinking alcohol on the drop zone is forbidden until the last load of jumpers is up. This rule extends to non-skydiving guests for a simple reason: we try hard to maintain a good image, and an uninformed observer might not be able to distinguish between a skydiver and a non jumper. Where do you go from here? The ASP program has eight levels that cover all the skills discussed in this handbook. At each level you will receive detailed instructions from the school staff. After graduating from our student program you will make several more jumps to hone your basic flying skills. At the same time, you'll be trying more advanced things and looking at buying gear. For this stage of your progression we have written a second handbook, geared for jumpers off student status and working towards their A license. The Skydiver's Handbook will fit right in with this one, and goes into details on license requirements, relative work, the coach program, buying gear, and other neat stuff. Keep the two together for reference and rainy day study. You can also keep notes and sketches, packing manuals, license applications, etc. in this folder. All of these materials are designed to be flexible and are subject to continuous updates. Please let Bryan Burke, the Safety and Training Advisor, know if any of the information was unclear or if you felt more detail was needed. We very much appreciate your comments and suggestions, as well as your questions. Welcome to skydiving!
  3. There are only two ways to end a freefall. One is to open your parachute, and the other is not to. No one wants it to end the second way. Statistics show that the overwhelming cause of skydiving fatalities are due to the jumper not using a perfectly functional parachute in time. Why does it happen? In order to open your parachute safely, you need to know two things: when and how. The when was discussed in the previous chapter. Altitude awareness is critical and the loss of it is a life threatening situation. The problem can be compounded if the skydiver, running out of altitude, is unfamiliar with his equipment and has trouble deploying his parachute. Add the possibility of a malfunction to low altitude and unfamiliar equipment and you have a perfect recipe for disaster. Therefor you must always watch your altitude and before you ever get on an airplane you should be totally familiar with your equipment. The sport parachute, called a rig in skydiving jargon, is a very simple machine. It must include two canopies, a main and a reserve. The components must be TSO'd, meaning they meet government technical standard orders that require high manufacturing and testing standards. All rigs are worn on the back and consist of similar components. A look at the diagram will show that a rig consists of the deployment system (pilot chute, bridle, and bag), canopy, suspension lines, steering lines, toggles, risers, and harness/container. Deployment is initiated when the container opens and the pilot chute enters the relative wind. The pilot chute may be packed inside the container (all reserves and student mains) or kept in a pouch outside of the container and pulled out by hand, which most experienced jumpers prefer. The pilot chute acts as an anchor in the air, while the jumper continues to fall. As the two separate, the bag in which the canopy is folded is pulled from the container. The parachute's suspension lines, carefully stowed on the outside of the bag, are drawn out until they are fully extended. The bag is then pulled open and the canopy comes out. It immediately begins to inflate as the cells fill with air. Inflation is slowed by the slider which prevents the canopy from expanding too fast. It usually takes three to five seconds from deployment of the pilot chute to full inflation of the canopy. Over the years, parachute design has been refined to a remarkable degree. In fact, square parachutes have no known inherent design malfunctions. Theoretically, given proper packing, a stable deployment, and barring material flaws, a square parachute will never malfunction. However, we don't live in a perfect world, and malfunctions are common enough that no sensible person would intentionally jump without a reserve. The malfunction rate for sport parachutes is about one in every thousand deployments. Nearly all are preventable. The catalogue of possible malfunctions is long, but all you really need to know is that any parachute must have two characteristics. It must be open, and it must be safe to land. Otherwise it is a malfunction. The first characteristic is determined at a glance. The second one, if there is any doubt, is determined by a control check. Should you have a malfunction, the response is simple - pull your reserve. On student parachutes pulling the reserve handle combines two functions. The main parachute is released from the harness, then the reserve container is opened, starting the reserve deployment sequence. For all practical purposes, main and reserve deployments are identical except that the canopies may be of different sizes. Most parachutes used by experienced jumpers have a separate handle for each function of the emergency procedures so you will need some special training when you progress to your own gear. Also, at Skydive Arizona we use only square reserves. If you travel to another drop zone be sure you receive training on their equipment, and find out if the reserve is round or square. Round reserves mean you will need special training. The first factor in preventing malfunctions is a simple one: don't leave the airplane with an existing malfunction. This means that you should always have your equipment checked by a knowledgeable second party to be sure nothing is misrouted or damaged. Prevention extends to packing. When you learn to pack you will learn to inspect the canopy. In the student phase, you have to trust your jumpmasters and packers to be responsible for the condition of your parachute, but you will eventually assume all responsibility. Because of the possibility of a jumper making a mistake, our reserves are inspected and packed by a specialist who holds a Rigger's Certificate issued by the U.S. government, thus ensuring that at least one parachute on every skydiver is technically sound. The second factor in malfunction prevention is one you control: body position. If you think back to the deployment sequence described earlier, the importance of a stable opening becomes apparent. Since the parachute is on your back, if you are facing the relative wind in a good arch it will deploy straight out behind you. If you are unstable, it must find its way past you - between your legs or around an arm, for example. In this situation, the pilot chute could entangle with you, stopping the deployment sequence. Another possibility during an unstable opening is that the lines will feed out unevenly, creating the potential for a line knot that could keep the slider from coming down or deform the canopy to the point that it cannot fly properly. Don't forget, however, that stability is not as important as opening in the first place. Pulling at the correct altitude always takes precedence over pulling stable. An unstable opening does not always result in a malfunction; parachutes are so reliable that the worst that usually happens is a few line twists. Not opening has far worse consequences. Test yourself: 1. While you are a student, your decision altitude, sometimes called your hard deck, is 2,500 feet. If you initiate main deployment at 4,500 feet and nothing happens, how many seconds will pass before you reach the decision altitude? How many will you have used counting and checking before you realize you have a problem? 2. If you know you have a malfunction, why should you pull your reserve at once instead of waiting until the decision altitude is reached? 3. In the old days, skydivers wore their reserve mounted on the front of their harness. If you had a chest mounted reserve, what body position would you want to be in for reserve deployment? 4. How often should you practice your emergency procedures? Proceed to Chapter 6 (Canopy Performance)
  4. There are two goals when landing your parachute: the first is to land safely and the second is to land where you want to. Clearly, the first goal is much more important than the second one, yet a surprising number of skydivers have had the opportunity to consider their values at leisure while recuperating from landing injuries. A parachute is only as safe as the person operating it. As soon as you have determined that your parachute is functioning properly, it is time to start thinking about the landing. Look for potential landing sites - any level area free of obstacles will do but we try to land at an established point, our student landing area, if we can. Usually you can get back over this landing area with at least a thousand feet of altitude left. If this is not the case check the area below you and between you and your target for possible hazards; if you are not positive you can make it safely to the planned landing area, you must select an alternate site. Do not go below the thousand foot mark without making a firm decision about where you will land! Assuming you have made it over the target above one thousand feet, you should turn into the wind and check your ground speed. This is especially important on windy days. Remember the higher the wind speed is, the less ground speed you have when holding, and while running with the wind your ground speed will be higher. Keep this in mind and avoid getting too far down wind of your target area. (Helpful hint: if you can find your canopy's shadow on the ground it will show you exactly how fast you are going!) As you hold into the wind you can make a rough guess as to how far you could fly in, say, 250 feet of vertical descent. Take that estimated distance and lay out an imaginary line of that length from the target to a point downwind. Now just work your way to that point and stay near it until you are about three hundred feet up. Turn towards the target. If your original guess was good, you would slightly overshoot the target. A small "S" turn - ninety degrees one way, then 180 back to the approach, and ninety degrees back into the wind - will line you up on a good final approach. As long as you start your final approach a little high, you can continue these "S" turns to adjust until you are on approach at the right altitude. Remember that your first priority is to land safely, not necessarily in the target. You may have to share the landing area with another canopy, in which case you need to avoid flying in front of or near them. For example, if you are on one side of the target and another student is near the other side, stick to your side rather than aiming at the middle. Be careful to always look before you make a turn and assume the other canopy pilots may not see you. Whoever is lowest has the right of way. Also look for dust devils. They can turn or even collapse your canopy and should be avoided. Most skydivers like to set up their final approach by using a pattern similar to the kind airplanes use approaching an airport. After your ground speed check at one thousand feet, work your way down wind until five hundred feet. Then turn cross wind (90 degrees to the wind direction) until you are over that imaginary point where your final approach begins. This type of pattern lets you observe wind indicators as you refine your estimate of where to turn onto final. Another useful tip: the more turns you do, the harder it is to tell where you are going, because your descent rate and forward speed change in a turn. A few smooth, slow turns will set you up better than lots of radical ones. At an altitude of about one hundred feet you are committed; just let the parachute fly straight ahead and limit any corrections to turns of ten degrees or less. The last part of the approach is the flare. This procedure is simple: pull down both toggles simultaneously to slow down your parachute to a comfortable landing speed. To get the most out of flaring, you must be flying full speed on your final approach, so keep your toggles all the way up until it is time to flare. (An exception is if you have poor depth perception, when the lighting is bad, or when the surface is uncertain such as water or corn. Then you may be better off approaching in partial brakes to slow your approach, giving you a little more time to assess the situation.) The flare should be done when your feet are about two to three body heights above the ground. A smooth flare over about three to four seconds will work better than a fast, hard flare, but the main thing is to have both hands all the way down when your feet are three or four feet off the ground. If you realize you started the flare low, speed up; if you started high, slow down. Do not, however, let your toggles back up once you have started to flare. This will cause your canopy to dive forward and result in a hard landing. The illustration showing a canopy's flight during a flare will show the consequences of a badly timed flare. Too low, and you have a lot of forward speed even though your descent is slow. Too high, and you will have a lot of downward speed even though your forward speed is low. That is why you should flare a little high and slow on a calm day, a little low and fast on a windy one. Let's quickly review the three most important points for a safe landing. First, always pick a safe place. Be sure of your landing site before you reach 1,000 feet! People who hit hazardous things such as cars, buildings, or power lines almost always do so because they did not choose a safe landing site high enough and were forced to land in a bad location when they realized, too late, that they could not make the target. Second, never land in a turn. We know that a parachute's descent rate increases dramatically in a turn, and that speed remains for a few seconds after the turn is stopped. Landing in turns is by far the biggest cause of skydiving injuries. These low turns are usually made by people who did not pick a safe area and turned at the last moment to avoid an obstacle, or by people who thought landing on the target was a higher priority than landing safely.No low turns! Third, land into the wind. This one is too obvious to need elaboration; the slower you are going, the softer you land. However, landing down wind or cross wind is less likely to cause injury than landing in a turn or on obstacles! On a breezy day, turn towards your parachute after you touch down and pull in one line to collapse the canopy. You may need to run around down wind of the canopy. Test yourself: 1. The United States Parachute Association limits student and novice jumpers to wind conditions of fourteen miles per hour or less. Why are winds over fifteen miles per hour considered dangerous? 2.Turbulence that can make steering difficult or even collapse your canopy can be caused by three things. Hot, rising air such as dust devils is one and high winds passing over obstacles are another. What else could cause dangerous turbulence on landing? Where would you expect to find turbulence on a windy day? Proceed to Chapter 8 (After the Landing)
  5. A mid-summer skydiving celebration honoring the "first man in space" is the centerpiece for one of the biggest fundraising events yet planned for the National Skydiving Museum. Fifty years ago, Air Force Capt. Joe Kittinger exited at 102,800 feet from a helium balloon over New Mexico, reaching a speed of 614 mph during a four-and-a-half minute free fall. The record still stands today, although there have been several attempts to better it. The "National Skydiving Museum Weekend Honoring Joe Kittinger" will be held in DeLand, Florida the weekend of August 13-15. Kittinger’s jump was on August 16, 1960. Kittinger, who retired as a colonel and is now 81, plans to attend, as well as other skydiving luminaries. There will also be several activities during the weekend benefiting the Boy Scouts of America, another cause Kittinger supports, to commemorate their 100th Anniversary. Joe Kittinger outside the gondola from which he took his historical jump.The Saturday evening dinner will be devoted to honoring the initial class of inductees into the National Skydiving Museum Hall of Fame. A special committee carefully selected eleven honorees, culled from a list of skydivers who made major lifelong contributions in equipment design, free fall techniques, and those who excelled in national and international competitions. This fundraiser is part of the National Skydiving Museum’s $5 million capital program that will raise the necessary funds to build the museum in Fredericksburg, VA. (story contributed by Doug Garr) Show your support and join us! Skydiving Activities and Exhibitions... Here are just a few of the events that will honor Joe Kittinger and celebrate 50+ years of skydiving history including giving special recognition to other pioneers for their contributions to our sport. (schedule subject to change) Jumping for Joe 50-Way Formation Skydiving Exhibition This 50-way formation with some of the best skydivers in the country will celebrate and symbolize 50 years since Joe Kittinger’s record breaking jump. Canopies opening in an almost simultaneous rhythm will have the audience cheering until the last skydiver lands. Swooping Exhibition Swooping truly shows how far parachute equipment has come over the years. Swooping is gliding a high performance parachute across the ground or water for long distances, generally a slalom type course, to show the skill of the canopy pilot. The exhibition will have some of the top swooping demo jumpers in both individual and team exhibitions. Accuracy Competition Accuracy goes way back in our history but didn’t get the recognition it deserved until the Sixth World Parachuting Championships held for the first time in the U.S. at Orange, MA. Accuracy canopies in those days were modified military surplus equipment with very little steerability. Today, high performance accuracy canopies and the skill of jumpers make for exciting and competitive accuracy contests. Skydiving Demonstrations Precision skydiving demos the world famous Army Parachute Team (Golden Knights) and the Air Force Academy Parachute Team. Wingsuit Flying Exhibition Grand finale and tribute to Joe Kittinger wingsuit flying truly exhibits the dream of human flight. Ten to 15 of the premier wingsuit flyers in the world will fly formations across the sky with smoke to add to the effect of this spectacular jump. Source - http://www.skydivingmuseum.org/
  6. admin

    Skydiving and the Environment

    It is no secret that skydiving is bad for the environment, it doesn't take rocket science to figure out each load is using fossil fuel which is essentially damaging to the environment. Many companies, people and organizations around the world continue to try become more 'green' in an attempt to slow down emissions, an initiative which has been strongly inspired by the global warming buzz which has been increasingly present over the past decade or so. Skydiving has been put on the list of most environmentally damaging hobbies/sports activities a few times, this because of the fuel used in each load. Though it's certainly not that black and white, and one has to look at little bit deeper, down to that layer of thought called logic. To quote a member of the dropzone forums in an environmental thread. "While skydiving may consume more fuel per participant then, say, soccer. He (the writer of the article that the thread is discussing) ignores the fuel consumed by the millions of fans who drive to soccer stadiums around the world every week. Therefore, the impact of soccer as a whole, makes skydiving look like a drop in the bucket." Let's quickly look at some numbers and see just how 'bad' skydiving is in comparison to other sporting events. In soccer for example, the world’s largest spectator sport- stadiums can hold from 40 000 to in excess of 100 000 spectators, and often these stadiums are full. The FIFA World Cup this year is in South Africa, and the South African chief organizer of the World Cup is suggesting a possible 300 000 foreign visitors. Including flights to the country, local flights between games and transport that's a lot of fossil fuel! This is of course just one example of a sport where the transportation of the spectators seems to outweigh the emissions of skydiving. The fact that skydiving is an activity which is based around aeroplanes often tends to trigger people into thinking that conventional sports are a lot less damaging to the environment. But it is important to take into account the details and nature of each activity and not just look at which one appears at first glance to be damaging. Trying to become more environmentally aware does not mean that one must stop all activities that are harmful to the environment, because with that logic one would likely never leave their room. It's about trying to make a difference, looking for greener ways to continue what you're currently doing. There will be times when you will have to sacrifice comfort should you want to become more environmentally friendly, though this is a personal choice you should make on your own. With that said; There are dropzones who are getting into the green swing of things and attempting to cut their emissions the best they can, while at times positively enhancing the dropzone as well. Skydive Lake Wanaka is just one dropzone who has recently purchased a P-750 X-Stol jumpship. They stated in a press release they have upgraded their current Cresco to the Cresco P-750 in an attempt to cut down on the amount of loads done per day by increasing the size of their aircraft and doubling the amount of possible passengers per load. This is just one case where a small investment allows for progressive environmental support while at the same time increasing the quality of the dropzone. The P-750 is not only larger than the current Cresco, but it is more comfortable, has larger windows and a quieter engine. The current Cresco has an average fuel consumption of 180 litres/h while the P-750 X-Stol has an average fuel consumption of 192 litres/h, an increase of just 12 litres an hour while being able to hold twice the amount of passengers.
  7. DSE

    Managing Media on the Dropzone

    Managing Media on the Dropzone Whether for positive or negative reasons, every dropzone in the world should expect a visit from local news media at some point in time or another. This is a short guide to help you best understand how to manage modern media on the dropzone. For starters, understand that the media generally considers skydiving as an "extreme sport" so they're often willing to portray it from a perspective using terms like "dare-devils," "Adrenaline junkies," "thrill-seekers," and so forth. It's not necessary to encourage these labels; they'll exist anyway. Remember always, that any press is good press, but well-managed press is GREAT for the DZ and the sport. INVITING THE MEDIA TO AN EVENT AT THE DROPZONE If you've got an event at the dropzone, such as a celebrity jump, someone's Xthousandth, a war hero, multiple generations of a family, competitions, special guests, etc, you'll likely want to invite the media. It's not quite as easy as it may seem. Here are some rules and practices of etiquette that will enhance your chances of succeeding in bringing the media to the dropzone. -Send a short press release no further than four weeks out. Follow up two weeks out. Follow up one week out, and send a final release the day before the event. Press releases should NEVER be longer than one page. -Make sure the press release contains at least two contact phone numbers. At least one of those numbers should be an after-hours number. It should also CLEARLY state the date and time the event is taking place. -Include some action statements and if you're creative, you might consider generating one or two subtle headlines. "The Family that Jumps Together, Lands Together," "World-Record Skydiver Visits XXXX Dropzone," "Human Birdmen Flock to XXX Dropzone," etc. These headlines will almost assuredly not be used, but will spark the creativity of the reporter or editing staff, and most importantly, the assignments desk. -Have a place for the media at your dropzone. Assign a dropzone liason to stay with the media during the entire event. This person is not only there to answer any questions, but to also guide the media to safe areas during landings, help them to find the best angle with safety in mind (they'll almost always want the sun at the back of the camera operator), and more importantly, act as their friend during what is likely an unusual experience. It's a good idea to have cold bottled water on hand if it's a hot day. They're your guests, treat them as such. The person assigned to act as a media liason should be well-spoken and well-groomed. Articulation is very important. Remember, this person is representing YOUR dropzone and our sport to the masses. He/she may not appear on camera, but if he/she will appear on camera, be sure they're wearing clean, non-wrinkled clothing with neatly groomed hair. They should be able to start and complete a sentence without "ummmmm," or showing a lack of confidence. They should be able to smile and speak with a slowed cadence. If it's an exciting event, great. But fast speech is slurred in most instances, unless they're a trained speaker. They should know the language of "sound bites." Like it or not, the MOST airtime your event will receive is 2.5 minutes and that length of time is fairly rare. Being able to speak in concise, clear sentences will assure that you'll get maximum airtime, and likely increase the chances of the media wanting to return for future events. RULES OF ETIQUETTE -Don't send photos or video via email before the event. Send links to downloadables, links to photos, or make it clear that photos and video will be made available on the day of the event. -Don't ask a reporter if they received your email. -Don't ask for a copy of the story. If you want it badly enough, go get a copy for yourself. The reporter has other things to do. Your event is a big deal to you; to them...it's just another story. -Never provide gifts of any kind to reporters. It's bad form, and could be misconstrued. -Don't expect reporters to do tandems. If they ask, great. If not, don't push. Some reporters have clauses in their contracts that prevent them from doing anything considered to be a "high risk." You don't want to be known as the dropzone that broke the reporters leg or tailbone. -Don't call reporters during deadline hours. It's a good idea to ask a reporter when the best time to reach them might be. Don't repeatedly call; it may be seen as harassment. Don't be "that guy." -Don't spam every reporter at the media source. If you don't have a cultivated contact, send email to the City Desk or assignments editor. DEALING WITH THE MEDIA IN TIMES OF AN INCIDENT "If it bleeds, it leads." Period. That's ALWAYS the axiom of the news media. Deal with it. Death, mayhem, corruption make for more interesting stories that up ratings. Depending on the story, it can quickly go huge. Cases in point, my own incident went nationwide due to my small celebrity stature. Another case in point, the guy that dropped his paraplane into a crowd and injured six people, including small children. Both generally small stories, but mine occurred on a slow news day, and the paraplane story had great footage from an amatuer camera. Understand you can't stop this from occurring, and trying to keep the media away from injuries or fatalities only piques the interest and will make your dropzone look as though you've something to hide. You cannot win against the Fourth Estate. Deal with it. If you have a fatality or unusual incident, you should; -have someone pre-designated to speak to the press. This is critical, and this person hopefully has already rehearsed or has spoken to the press before. As previously mentioned, this person should be capable of articulate, intelligent speech. -NEVER speak off the record. Ever. There is no "Just between you and me" with reporters. Ever. Gossip is the fodder on which they eat. Shut your mouth. -Do not provide details about an incident; it's usually too early to provide details anyway, depending on how quickly the press arrives at your dropzone. This is not the time for some arrogant, ego-driven jackass to be promoting his authority on the subject of skydiving. Merely by appearing on camera will give an air of authority, and a brief sound bite is all that is needed. Later, we'll look at some general methods of speaking. -Do not allow the press to shoot images of any aftermath if possible. There are alternatives to managing this better, such as a Crisis Kit or EPK (Electronic Press Kit). Every dropzone should have one of these. -If you have footage of the incident occurring, the DZO, DZM, or S&TA; should be given a copy, and its usually a good idea to have the videographer turn over the original work so it doesn't show up on YouTube or similar. Bear in mind that any video may be retained by the police or investigators as evidence. Fatalities are treated as a crime scene in most areas. Help, don't hinder.Skydivers are our own worst enemies. Case in point, at the USPA Board of Directors meeting, I was informed that the FAA has watched several wingsuits buzzing tandems. They're watching. They've also watched videos of DZ's busting clouds and I'm aware of at least one DZ that was visited and ramped, simply due to a video of skydivers busting clouds. Keep a tight lid on footage of incidents and have someone worthy of responsibility and sound judgement decide what to do with the footage. This is why one reason I've encouraged my home DZ to institute a "Work for Hire." Tandem footage or hired aerial camera footage belongs to the DZ, not the camera flyer. -Keep statements short and as glib as possible. Here is an actual (shortened) transcript of a Dropzone Operator speaking to the press; "The guy was doing a low turn, he turned low with his toggles, turning too close to the ground. When the parachute turns close to the ground, it loses altitude and his body slammed into the ground. He made a mistake and he's now badly hurt. We'd talked to him about low turns before but he just kept doing them...." The DZ rep was still talking as the press cut back to the news room. In other words, he desperately needed to show his superior intelligence about the sport of skydiving and was reveling in his 15 minutes of fame. And wouldn't shut up. Not good. For anyone involved. Additionally, the end result of this poor presentation is that the skydiver ended up having his insurance company challenge various aspects of their payments, citing that he willfully put himself in a bad situation by turning low, and that he was negligent. Do you really want to put one of your buddies in that situation regardless of what may have occurred? Finally, if you're hot-headed, avoid being near the press. Incidents are emotional, and hot-heads and high emotions don't mix with the media. A recent incident had a skydiver become aggressive with a news camera. The news station gathered unflattering footage that may be trotted out whenever there is a skydiving incident, and the station has a prejudiced view of skydiving in general, simply because of an immature, emotional person that felt they needed to keep the media off the DZ. In the future, do you think the media will present pleasant, happy stories about skydiving? Keep these sorts of people away from the media. A better example (and a paraphrased version of another incident report); "We're not yet exactly certain what happened. All we know at this time is that unfortunately, one of our friends has been injured, and we won't know the cause until we talk to everyone who actually observed what occurred. We will be providing a full report of the incident to the USPA, and that report will be available to you as soon as we have it." Simple, short, and sweet. It doesn't degrade the skydiver, doesn't give the news a "push" to assure it meets the "bleed." And it's all true. Be brief and stay on point. You'll also get more questions. Answer them confidently, briefly, articulately. Don't be afraid to say "It's too early to know that," or "That's a great question, and we hope to have an answer very soon." Additionally, don't be afraid to say that "Skydiving is a high-risk activity, and sometimes accidents occur." If you do want or feel a need to provide details, keep them as factual and simple as possible, and explain that we train for these scenarios, etc. Remember, your dialog with a visual media reporter is a 'performance' as much as it is a dialog. Stay confident, look in one direction, avoid moving your eyes around. Try to avoid "uuhhh,,,, mmmmm,... weeeeellll,...and other verbal distractions. Just because you're the DZO or DZM doesn't mean you're the right person to speak to the media. Find that nice-looking, articulate guy or gal on the dropzone and have them represent you and your DZ. The media serves one purpose and one purpose only. They need to bring a story back to the station. DZO's, S&TA;'s, or media personnel at the DZ can shape the voice of the story, and help direct the flow of the story by being courteous, professional, and helpful. Or, they can create a bad image for the DZ and the sport by reacting badly. Just as you have a job on the DZ, the press has a job too. One way or another, they're going home with a story. Wouldn't you rather have a say in how that story is presented? BUILDING A CRISIS KIT/EPK A Crisis Kit or Electronic Press kit is a great tool for DZ's whether it's used for crisis management or event promotion. This kit is a DVD that contains: -Contact information and a headshot of the DZO, DZM, or other authorities for the DZ that are permitted to speak to the media. -A "fact" sheet of statistics related to skydiving. This is available from the USPA website. -Random video clips, well labeled, that show happy times in skydiving. Hoop jumps, tandems, RW, VRW, wingsuiting, etc are all good to include. These clips should not be more than :30 in length. These provide the media with cutaway shots, and will quell their desire to create more than the "real" story in the event of an incident. It also will help promote your DZ in a positive manner, regardless of what has brought the media to the dropzone. I recommend delivering in a .mxf format, high definition is preferable today. Any news station can open a Material eXchange Format file. DV is next best, preferably widescreen. -Contact information for the USPA, assuming you're a USPA dropzone. The USPA has a PR team there to support and help you. Provide them as a resource. Most savvy DZO's know that any press, good or bad, is good for business. However, if you can work with the media, provide them tools and assistance, make them feel welcome and appreciated regardless of their role on the DZ, they can become a weighty ally for your dropzone whether you're promoting a competition or just sponsoring an Easter Egg hunt. The media can be free advertising and provide a draw to your location. Used wisely, you can dramatically increase traffic around your dropzone. Blue skies and puffies, ~douglas
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    How I Built My Own Wingsuit

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

    Skydiving has come a long way since the first (recorded) jump was made from a hot air balloon in 1797. Only being practiced as a special stunt on public events, it was far from a public sport at that point. The silk envelope used to safely descend from 3000 ft on that first jump wasn't much to look at in terms of design, but the design and materials used formed the basis for the parachute as we know it today. The military were the first to develop parachuting as an emergency escape procedure for balloon and aircraft pilots, and later as a means of delivering soldiers to the battlefield. In the 1960s, skydiving ventured outside its military use and started to become seen as a sport in its own right. As the sport grew, so did the research and development of the materials used. The harness, cutaway system and parachute itself underwent major changes and upgrades, resulting in the gear that we all now accept as commonplace as we exit the aircraft. Due to these advancements in the materials used and their design, our gear has actually passed the point where it is now safer than its end user. Getting into the sport Skydiving was once a sport which was considered pretty extreme in itself, but as the years went by, and due to the gear and teaching advancements, it became more and more safe, and was marketed as a sport for everyone. In the media, the growing attention for the more extreme disciplines and variations of our sport have led to a large group of people who no longer see the basic sport of skydiving itself as the goal, but rather as an intermediate training, or even an obstacle in the way of what they really want to do. These predetermined goals on what somebody wants to accomplish within the sport often form before or during a skydivers first few jumps. Not being a huge sport with millions of participants worldwide, we tend to enthusiastically take in new people, and sometimes pull them into our sport deeper and faster then they should be. With every year that goes by, people seem to be in more and more of a rush to jump with a video camera, downsize their canopy, learn to fly a wingsuit, freefly in bigger and bigger groups, fly head down straight from AFF and starting BASE jumping with the bare minimum, if indeed any at all, experience. Sadly, the growing trend is to encourage this behavior, and try to facilitate them in getting there as soon as they can, instead of trying to make people understand the potential consequences of the rushed path they have chosen. Photo by Costyn van Dongen Video For many,, the media creates the image that a lot of the extreme variations of our sport are things you can take up as easy as a bungee jump from a local bridge, or a ride in a theme park. When people look at some of the 'big names' in our sport, its easy to forget almost all of them put in many hundreds, if not thousands of jumps to acquire the skills, precision and experience to excel in their field of expertise. The PD factory team didn’t start swooping on sub 100 sq/ft canopies straight from AFF, just as Loic Jean Albert didn’t start flying wingsuits within touching range of cliffs after his first skydive. There are many more examples like this within our sport. Here, I think, lies our biggest responsibility: Trying to help people new to this sport understand the work it takes to reach a certain level. Trying to teach them to respect and honor the effort people put in, and helping them understand that’s what they need to do to reach their goals based on skill, hard work and determination, not do everything as fast as they can and for a large part trusting on luck to come out of it alive. Often thinking their experience or exceptional abilities in other sports set them apart from normal people, allowing them to progress much faster and skip steps. While in truth, they are exactly the people the rules were made for. Photo by Costyn van Dongen Respect the rules As with any developing sport, rules and safety procedures were created over the years based on experience. Some of the rules and safety recommendations where literally written in blood. Learning lessons the hard way. These days many people new to the sport tend to look at these same rules as a means of holding them back. Stopping them from having the same fun as the people on the dropzone who have been jumping many, many years already. We live in a fast society. Everything has to be done quickly and with instant gratification. When we experienced jumpers start talking to young skydivers about certain goals, this can develop frustrated views on the sport for some of them. They get into a mindset where they feel skydiving isn’t fun until they have their A license, or how its isn’t really fun until they are swooping a small canopy, taking up BASE jumping or flying a wingsuit. If we go along with that line of thought, and acknowledge those statements, we then suddenly turn skydiving into a point of frustration for these newer jumpers. Instead of enjoying their first few hundred jumps, and slowly learning more and more about our sport, they start seeing it as a big waiting game where they can’t wait start jumping that same tiny rig and sub 100 sq/ft canopy as the cool guys who have been around a bit longer. Photo by Stefan Smith The road is more important than the destination. Allowing people to cut corners in reaching certain goals, is not only dangerous to them, but also undermining the authority of people teaching. It’s the image more experienced jumpers portray to the newer people in our sport that determines how they in turn, will approach the sport. As an example, being in a rush and boarding a plane without a pin check is not only dangerous to ourselves, it’s also a bad example to the kid fresh off AFF who's on the same load. The same goes for many aspects in our sport. Realize that it’s not just the people who give instruction that are teaching, it’s the way we as individual skydivers approach, talk about, and treat our sport that ultimately sets an example that the new flyers will follow.
  10. Deleted

    Skydiving and the Recession

    I have noticed in my travels that many drop zones are a little slow these days. The student numbers are down, and we are blaming it on the economy. We have convinced ourselves that there is no way to get blood from a stone, and if the students feel broke, they will not want to spend the money to jump out of an airplane. I’m not buying it. It is true that the world is caught up in negative thinking. It is true that people are scared. But the question I would ask is this: What do people want more than anything in a time of worry? They want a feeling of release. They need to let go of their mundane perspective, filled with limitations, and do something that shifts them into a state of absolute joy. We have exactly what they need. So, now that we know we have the solution to all the world’s problems, we have a job to do. Unfortunately, just because someone needs something doesn’t necessarily mean they will take it. We need to get the horse to water, but we also need to make them want to drink. In other words, we need to inspire them. In order to do that, we need to tap into our own authentic inspiration. Do you remember what it is about skydiving that you love? If you are like me, there are a great many things. There is the social aspect; the people that skydive are the coolest bunch of weirdoes that I have ever met. If the world was made up of just skydivers, life on this planet would be a lot more fun. Then there is the unbridled euphoria that we experience when we are up there. Let’s face it, there are very few experiences that make a person feel like that. Beyond that, there is the never-ending process of learning that makes us realize that we are not done living. The more you learn, the more you want to learn. It is this kind of passion for more that draws a person out of the depressing feeling of “today is yesterday” into a deep desire to push forward into the exploration of what is possible. Once we reconnect with our true love of skydiving, all we need to do is share that feeling selflessly and fearlessly. There he goes again, droning on about fear. Yes, fear is the only thing that is holding us back from talking about skydiving with everyone we meet. Yes, part of what stops us from bringing it up is because we get a bit tired of the feeling of rejection when a die-hard whuffo gives us that eyes-rolled-back “you are crazy” look. If you think about it though, even that aversion has fear at its root. We are afraid of the feeling of rejection. If you hate being told that you are afraid, as I do, you will get off your ass and talk about skydiving to strangers. You will accept that you are in love with the whole thing, and come out of the closet. You know that this is the source of your joy. The more you talk about it, the happier you will be. Hang posters at work and hold informational meetings, perhaps with a few short videos and a real rig for them to see. Sit in a booth at a fair or university and talk about the experience to those who have not yet been there. You will be deeply glad you did. Then I often get the response: “what’s in it for me?” My DZ doesn’t have a finders-fee for bringing in new students. I’ll tell you what’s in it for you. You will get to be your higher self more often than before. You will get to keep your head in the clouds by talking about your true passion. As a secondary benefit, you will inevitably bring in more students. They will help to pay for the aircraft, the repairs to the hangar, the new bunkhouse at the DZ, the new fire pit, the new creeper-pad and even keep the jump prices reasonable despite rising gas prices. Imagine that. We can alter the worldwide trend toward fear-driven hoarding, at least in our little corner of the world. We have the antidote to fear and unhappiness. All we need to do is remember what we have, and share it. The world is in your hands. Get out there and be yourself! --BSG Transcending Fear Specialist Brian Germain is the author of several books, including Transcending Fear, Green Light Your Life, The Parachute and its Pilot, and Vertical Journey. His psychology background, combined with over 14,000 parachute jumps makes Brian uniquely qualified to discuss the important and pivotal topic that he refers to as “Adrenalin Management”. Learn more about Brian Germain here: www.GermainSeminars.com and here: www.CanopyFlightInstructor.com
  11. Deleted

    Big BANG/Small Bucks

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

    The GoPro Hero

    Last week GoPro sent me one of their new Hero cameras to test in a variety of environments. I’m somewhat of a snob when it comes to cheap camcorders, and the people at GoPro knew this from the start. In fairness, this is the least expensive camera/camcorder I've ever reviewed, and not expecting to be impressed.The camera arrived in a complete configuration; batteries, 2GB SD memory card, and the standard box that the GoPro comes with. Opening the GoPro package requires a degree in disassembly if the box is to be kept in more than one piece. It took three people nearly 10 minutes to figure out how to open it. If the box is any indication of how tough this camera is…it’s gonna be a great little camera. The GoPro Hero Wide Physical Characteristics: The camera includes several mounting options, including a rubber headband that resembles a jockstrap. It’s not much to look at, but it’s also not going to be the common use (I hope) for most users. The camera mount on the “jockstrap” can easily be removed and connected to more substantial webbing. The water housing is impressive. Very impressive for the price, in fact. I’ve paid more for a cheap housing than for this entire camera, and this housing is more nicely built than a housing I once paid $350.00 for. This is a good thing, because the mount for the camera is integrated into the waterproof/protective housing of the camera. The system is not designed to be used without the camera in its waterproof housing. The camera itself feels “plastic,” even though it is made of light aluminum and plastic. The plastic lens is fairly exposed; all the more reason to keep it in its waterproof case and keep the case in a soft bag when not being used, in order to protect the lens from damage/scratching. This shot was one of 92 still images captured in a single skydive. With a plastic pressure-release mount, there is some fear that a hard strike will cause the unit to be torn from whatever mounting device it may be attached to; this is a positive feature rather than negative factor, as safety is the primary concern of all active sport enthusiasts. The plastic mounts are plentiful; GoPro provided three stick-on mounts with extra double-sided adhesive material. In addition, GoPro provides a pair of extra mount clips, and a mounting arm that allows for a 90degree rotation of the camera when mounted to vertical objects such as the mast of a kiteboard, paraglider, or similar. It’s much like an Israeli-arm used for higher end cameras, excepting that it’s exceptionally lightweight, and plastic. The camera comes with several mounting devices/replacement parts. Technical Characteristics: The camera has a very small sensor size, I believe it is 256 x 192 with doubling, but I was unable to receive confirmation of this from the relations department at GoPro. The sensor is a CMOS imager, which is somewhat obvious by the lack of dynamic range (see image with large black spot in center of sun). Sporting an output frame size of 512 x 384, broadcast, output to DVD, or other full-frame display will be difficult to do with any degree of image integrity. For web or fun review on a computer in small viewer, it's perfectly appropriate and will give a lot of enjoyment to the sports enthusiast that isn't chasing professional results. GoPro encodes to an MJPEG codec in AVI container (will be .mov on Apple) and will require an MJPEG decoder in order to read/edit. Most NLE software includes an MJPEG decoder, and they are available from several providers around the web. The encoder compresses the video data to 4800 Kpbs, which is approximately the same compression ratio found on many hllywood DVDs. However, bear in mind that Hollywood DVDs are framesized at 720 x 480, and are sourced from film or HD cameras. I mention this, as some of the marketing commentary on the GoPro Hero compares technical data with that of a DVD. They’re not remotely the same. Additionally, DVDs are encoded with a PAR (Pixel Aspect Ratio) of .909 or 1.333. This means that pixels are elongated in either a horizontal or vertical configuration. The GoPro records a PAR of 1.0 (this means the pixels are square, and are not stretched, which is a benefit). The display is a Standard Aspect Ratio, otherwise known as 4:3. This is the “old” format of screen display, and is no longer available in television displays. GoPro might consider providing widescreen in an anamorphic format in their next camcorder models, as widescreen displays are now the world standard. 30Fps Progressive frames means the image will be smooth for playback, and clear on computer monitors. Audio is recorded in Mono @8Khz/64Kbps stream. The audio is useless for anything other than reference. It should be pointed out once more, that this camera is aimed at the sport enthusiast that wants to capture exciting moments for the web, not for broadcast or professional use. Still images may be captured at the rate of one still every two seconds for up to 65 minutes (over an hour) on a 2GB SD card. Larger cards may be used. The stills are 5MegaPixels, and for some, this is going to be a “wow” factor. However, there is a difference between stills captured through a low-cost plastic lens and a reasonable quality glass lens as found on most 3-5MP hand cameras. In other words, the megapixel count is only a small part of the actual picture quality. (More megapixels don’t assure better pictures in any event.) SD flash card is the format in which this camcorder stores data. SDHC cards do not improve the performance, speed, nor quality of the camcorder. The camcorder package also includes a proprietary cable connection that outputs to USB and video composite signal. Note the hot-spot in the middle of the sun. I was able to consistently reproduce this artifact with any bright light source in a high latitude shot. Even a 100 watt lamp could create this anomoly in a reasonably lit room. I believe this is a problem with the sensor; it cannot manage high latitude. Operational Characteristics: The camera is easy to operate. The multiple-press menu button that provides an icon-driven LCD panel doesn’t provide immediate feedback, and requires a review of the owners manual to decode the iconography of the display. In my first operation, I captured video from a skydive, but accidentally deleted the files as a result of not being clear on what the different icons were indicating. Additionally, it wasn’t immediately clear on how to turn off the camcorder, and when left on without operation, the camcorder eats batteries fairly quickly. With regard to batteries, only Lithium batteries should be used with the GoPro Hero. They’re a little more expensive, but this device eats alkaline batteries like they are candy. Rechargeable batteries may not be used. The GoPro Hero Wide uses SD memory cards. The black strip on the back is a rubber isolator to keep the camera tight in the waterproof housing. There are only two buttons on this camera, it’s not like it’s a challenge to operate once the owners manual has received a glance or two. One button for shutter control/record functions, and one button for menu control. The beauty of this camera is found entirely in its small size, price, and ease of use. Summary: This camcorder isn't going to light the professional's eyes up like a professional POV camera will, but it won't burn the amateur's wallet like a professional POV camera costs, either. I've tried all the various POV "sport cams" currently on the market, and for sub $200.00, this is clearly the winner. There simply is no camera in its class that can compete. GoPro should be proud of themselves for designing a camera with this quality in this price range. At $189.00 it certainly isn't a toy, but it is a very fair cost of the fun this camcorder can record for the sport enthusiast. Mounted to handlebars, helmets, struts, pedals, forks, kayaks, paddles, fenders, wrists, feet, belly, or other body part, the GoPro Hero is a hit in my book. -douglas spotted eagle
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    An Insiders View of Team X

    By Ian Drennan I wasn't really sure what to expect when arriving at Deepwood Ranch in Deland for the PDFT Tryouts. So much of my skydiving career had been spent preparing for this moment, yet when it finally arrived I felt very unprepared. I can't deny that going into the event I was in competition mode, not sure what to expect, but sure I was going to give 100% no matter what they threw at us. Little did I know that this would feel, and be, nothing like a competition, and nothing like anything I'd ever experienced before... After a brief welcome by the PDFT we were all taken to a house where we were given free rein to divide our living space as we saw fit. The mood was good; everyone was excited, and nervous, as to what the coming days would bring. Surprisingly when it came to picking living space, most people gravitated towards the people they'd never met or had spent limited time with. There were of course, requirements for each area - thankfully our space was dubbed the "No Snoring" zone :) I had expected the atmosphere to be tense; there was so much unknown and so much riding on this event for each and every person there. Yet the mood was upbeat and encouraging - the tone for the week had been set. We woke on Tuesday morning, way earlier than any human should have to be awake (that's 6am for me... what can I say, I'm not a morning person!) - still, the rooms were abuzz with excitement and everyone anxiously scurried out to start the day. After breakfast the introductions began, lead by the PDFT and John LeBlanc (who blew off a meeting to spend more time with the group!). As the introductions progressed, each participant revealed more and more about their background, upbringing, and motivations behind pursuing this dream. This 3+ hour experience flew by as, surprisingly, people quickly took to a "heart on the sleeve" approach, laying out their innermost insecurities, fears, thoughts, and dreams. Once the introductions were done, we were assigned groups (picked by the PDFT) of 5 people. Each of the 3 teams was then assigned a task: prepare a group presentation on a set topic (each group had the same topic) within the hour, and each team member was required to spend an equal amount time speaking. This exercise quickly allowed groups to get a feel for personality dynamics within each team and, hopefully, learn to work as a group. Well, I can't speak behalf of the other groups, but Group 3 rocked the house :) I was lucky to be paired with a fantastic group of people, all bringing different strengths to the table. The groups were not just responsible for a single presentation, but rather were together for the week and assigned different duties for each day - dish washing, cooking, or grounds maintenance that would be done in between the scheduled activities for the day, and interviews. Tuesday night was brought to a close by the group’s first rock session. Much like the Native American Talking Stick tradition, this concept allowed people to voice opinions – uninterrupted - discussing themselves, their teams, the day, or anything that sprung to mind in a positive, or negative, fashion. Once again each individual surprised me with their honesty, and their ability to take constructive criticism. Around 11pm, after a long day, we packed it in and went back to the house - exhausted.....I don't think I've ever seen so many skydivers in bed at such an early time :) Wednesday we woke to poor weather, so the group took the opportunity to do their individual presentations. We were entertained with a variety of topics, from cooking, to building water towers, to snowboarding, juggling, fresca ball, and even how to hot-wire an airplane! Each member added their own personal flair. I think it was here that it really struck me what an amazing job the PDFT had done selecting the 15 members. I remember looking around and realizing how level the playing field was. Each individual was strong in different ways, and it was clear that the team could pick any 4 and still have a spectacular outcome. After the presentations, everyone blew off some energy by playing some of the newly introduced games or learning to juggle. It was quite a sight to behold. Group 3 took to cooking that evening, and with little deliberation began the cooking assembly line. Surprisingly, Travis Mills (from group 2) joined us in our food preparation. Travis, a onetime sous-chef, took the time to help us rapidly prepare our ingredients (that man is a chopping machine!!). I began to notice how well we were working together. As usual, after dinner, everyone sat around the fireplace, chatting, trading stories, etc. It was here that JC took it upon himself to introduce Zip-Zop. Every single person participated in the game (despite enormous suspicion), including Jay, Ian, and Shannon from the PDFT! I won't ruin any surprises, but needless to say - JC is a prankster....oh, and JC if you're reading this....I'm plotting my revenge... On Thursday we woke to beautiful weather. The energy levels were almost uncontainable....we were finally going to JUMP! The team had something special in store for us today: We were going to do a mini-competition. After a few practice rounds the competition started - interestingly enough, the mood wasn't competitive; it was supportive. I can't speak for others, but I've never felt so relaxed before. Each round was just downright fun. The highlight, for me at least, was the expression round - not an event I normally do well in, so needless to say, I was elated with the final outcome. After the competition it was back to chores where our group was to help Kim, the land owner, chop wood for his house (and our fire pit). It was here that what was happening really became clear to me. Our group was unable to audibly communicate, since Tommy D was using the chainsaw to cut wood. But somehow we still needed to work together to load up the truck and get a system going. We fumbled a bit the first few minutes, each struggling to find our place....but then, something happened: We began to draw on what we knew of each over the last few days and created yet another assembly line - seamlessly operating in unison. We actually got so efficient that we chopped, and loaded, and entire truck full of wood in 20 minutes all with minimal communication! Returning from the wood chopping experience, I was summoned to my interview. This was it, this was the moment to shine in front of the team, and give them every reason why I should be on the Expansion Team. I consider myself fortunate to have competed, and become friends, with the team before this day - yet it was still intimidating. I cannot imagine how some candidates, who'd never met any of them, felt at that table. The team was warm and welcoming though, and it felt far more like a discussion than an interview. Offering up direct questions and answers, I felt I represented myself well. I walked away with a smile thinking that good things were coming... and then it hit me, and it was like getting hit by a Mack truck. All these doubts entered my mind: "What if I get offered a slot, can I live up to the public expectation of a team member?"; "What if I just blew it?", etc. You see, in all my dreams of becoming a PDFT member, I'd actually never stopped to think what would happen if I actually got it. I know I wasn't the only one. I didn't have too long to dwell on my insecurities since the night's activities were about to start after dinner. This time JC once again had an icebreaker game. This one was more a mind game, and boy did he mess with my mind :) The rules of the game were simple: You had to figure out the rules of the game, and when you did you had to guide (but not tell) players who hadn't figured it out yet. Much to my frustration I wasn't getting it and, as more and more around me figured it out, my frustration grew. Fortunately, Ryan was the most frustrated and, in a fake temper tantrum, provided comic relief. It was now time for our Rock Session. The team once again kicked it off, providing examples of how negative, but constructive, criticism to other teammates. Surprisingly, the candidates sessions remained largely positive. It was a very emotional experience for everyone involved. Drained and filled with self-doubt, I headed to bed. Friday morning was the first morning all week, that no one was on time to breakfast. Mentally exhausted, and nervous, we gathered ourselves and headed out for the final day. The mood was definitely serious - we all knew what was happening today. We kicked off the day with a grueling exercise: We had to pick who we thought the new team should be, as well as a 'heart' team made up of 3 other people we'd love to fly with and then explain to everyone in a few short words, why we made the choices we did. It was here we got a tiny taste of what the PDFT was about to go through. It was incredibly tough to pick so few people from so many qualified people. In the end, after everyone's choices were vocalized, the choices were spread evenly among the group - this was definitely not going to be easy. Deciding to jump, each group got paired with a PDFT member and did a formation jump. The exercise was in trust, and it was here I noticed that I needed to be more trusting of my teammates in the air. Time was now out though and the PDFT needed to go and deliberate, and while they deliberated gave us carte blanche to jump and do whatever we wanted to, to blow off steam...and blow off steam we did :) I took the opportunity to work on my trust issues by encouraging everyone there to swoop me while I sat in a kayak on the pond - after all, if I couldn't trust these people, who could I trust? It was one of the most enjoyable things I've ever done in my life. I had my own swoop show, with each person trying to outdo the other on the pond. It was total and utter carnage - and it was great! My favorite memory is of Travis Mills screaming by doing a ghost-rider with the biggest smile I think I've ever seen anyone have. After a quick hike through Deepwood Ranch, it was time to return to hear the final announcement. The team arrived a few minutes later than expected, with a somber, yet relieved, look on their faces. It was clear they'd made a decision. Addressing the group the team announced that they'd almost not reached a decision that night, they had dropped the list to 6 people but had been unable to narrow it further. My heart jumped. With us all hanging on every word, the team announced that they'd made a change in plans and had decided to expand another 2 slots as "next on deck" or alternates. These candidates would be given first dibs at any future opportunities, or expansions, within the PDFT but would not be considered 'the final four'. First Jens Thorgenson's name was called. I was immediately thrilled; Jens and I had started building a strong friendship and respect, and I thought he was a wonderful choice. Next they announced me and my heart raced - it was unexpected, but ultimately perfect for me. I was ecstatic! In a weird way, I felt like the pressure was off, but felt no sadness at not making the final four. I knew, no matter who was picked, it was going to be a good choice and the PDFT was going be stronger than ever. Before announcing the final four, Ian Bobo emotionally reminded everyone that the blue jerseys weren't an indication of self-worth, and that each person there was a great candidate. The words were sincere, and they rang true. Once the final four were announced, through tears of joy, and sadness, everyone took the opportunity to congratulate them. Looking around I realized this is what the week was all about - cheering your team on, and we were ALL a team. We all left the next day as better people, with a deeper respect for everyone there than any of us could have imagined. I often try to explain the experience to people, but realize that it falls short of doing the whole process justice. All I can say is that it changed me in a way I can't describe. I've had many people asking me what happens from here? What does "next on deck" mean? Honestly, I don't know where this is going, but I know it's going to be a hell of a ride.
  14. DSE

    GetHypoxic HYPEYE D Pro

    Get Hypoxic HYPEYE D PRO Remote Camcorder Indication and Control System Settle back with a cup of good coffee as this is going to be lengthy; the product does a lot more than meets the eye! I received my HYPEYE D PRO controller and expansion in the mail today; I was overjoyed. I knew it would be a good product, as I already owned two HYPEYE MINI camera indicators. Just in case you ve been in the air too long, don't fly a camera, or simply haven't paid attention to technology, the camera control protocol known as LANC or (Local Area Network Control) is not a part of the crop of new camcorders being issued by Sony (or Canon). LANC is a tape-based protocol, and none of the new camcorders are tape-based, but rather are Hard Disk Drive (HDD), DVD, or Flash memory-based in design. Tape is very much on its way out, and will not exist as a common format in the foreseeable future. Absent a LANC controller, camera flyers struggle to start/stop the camcorder, not to mention the lack of an indicator usually mounted on a ring sight to indicate the status of the camcorder. True, a small mirror might be mounted on an altimeter to view camera status, and of course, camera flyers can cut large holes in their camera boxes for access to on/off switches and record switches, so it s not as if all is lost with the disappearance of LANC. But it is terribly inconvenient for most of us. Sporting a rubberized/weather proofed recessed button, this unit is solidly built. Early camera switches were fairly unreliable and affected by riser slap, high humidity, water, or the camera helmet being laid upon the ground and accidentally triggering the camera button. None of the above has any impact on the operation of the Get Hypoxic HYPEYE D PRO (damn, that s a long name) camera controller, due to the way it s built. Designed to be mounted either inside or outside the helmet, the switch housing offers a threaded hole in the back of the unit allowing for an included nylon screw to mount it to the outside of a helmet or other mounting surface. Even though this may expose the switch to a riser slap, the nylon screw should break/release in an entanglement. The switch housing is identical in size to the pre-formed port found in many camera helmets, allowing for a .65 to be drilled, allowing for a flush switch on the outside of the helmet with the bulk of the switch housing inside the helmet. Double stick tape or gaffers tape (not included) can be used to secure the switch to the helmet or mounting chassis. That s not all, nor is it the only way to be mounted - more on that later. I used the Expansion kit to set up my own switch access that is smaller than that of the HypEye, but it is not weather resistant like the HypEye switch. The switch housing has two rubber inserts for accessories available for the HYPEYE D PRO. The first is a female 3.5mm jack that allows for a debrief cable to be plugged into the helmet/switch directly, thus eliminating the need to remove the camera from a camera box/housing, or from a mounting plate in order to view the video. The debrief cable will likely be essential for any team camera flyer or AFF instructor wanting to debrief a jump. Not only is removing the camera from the helmet a pain, but also wears hard on the camera and box, this allows additional wear on the camera and helmet to be avoided. Techno-geeks will probably install a female 3.5mm jack in their helmet so the debrief cable doesn't need to be plugged into the HYPEYE D PRO switch housing too. I've already seen one team using the debrief port on an LCD monitor in the aircraft as they climbed to altitude for another jump, again saving the hassle, time, and potential error involved with removing the camera from the housing or helmet. If your last camcorder came with a four-contact 3.5mm cable (has yellow, red, and white connectors on the end) you won't need to purchase the HYPEYE D PRO DEBRIEF CABLE. The other rubber plug is an access port for the HYPEYE D PRO EXPANSION CABLE KIT. This is the kit that got me really excited about the unit because it adds so many features to the HYPEYE D PRO. In my opinion, this is what makes the HYPEYE so spectacular. The Expansion Cable Kit is optional at a cost of $29.00 USD. So what does the Expansion kit add? A plug that connects to an L&B; Optima audible altimeter. This allows a separate set of LED s on the HYPEYE indicator to flash when the Optima is triggered. The indicator will flash slow flashes at the first altitude set in the Optima, faster flashes as the second altitude is reached, and very fast flashes when the final altitude is reached by the Optima. This feature isn't only for the camera-flyer; deaf skydivers will find this feature very useful. Unlike the L&B indicator which is fragile and stiff, the HYPEYE indicator is on a flexible cable and can be mounted any number of ways to suit the users desire and need. Bite Switch input. Yup, the Expansion Kit allows owners to plug their existing 2.5mm bite switch cable into the system, triggering stills from a video camera. Some cameras can only shoot 3 stills during a jump, but camcorders like the Sony CX7 or HC5 may be turned into a still-only camera, allowing for reasonable quality stills to be taken with these small HD camcorders. External Switch/Remote Switch connection. This allows the rubberized nipple switch found in the HYPEYE housing to be bypassed and the system controlled by a third party switch. This is what I've done with my system. All electronics are mounted inside the recesses of my BoneHead Flat Top Pro helmet, and I've mounted my own softswitch on the side of the helmet. This is useful for custom buttons, but also would allow a pilot to trigger an exit camera or similar. Zoom Memorization. Ever gone on a jump only to find that the zoom button had been moved, and everything was blurry, deeply zoomed, or both? This feature tells the camera to be zoomed in at a user-defined point. This will hopefully reduce the number of absolutely ugly vignettes found in so many skydiving videos, allowing users to slightly zoom in past the point of the lens adapter rings. Remote on/off of camera functions. Imagine this; you re in the door of the aircraft ready to jump, and notice that you've forgotten to turn on the camcorder. The count begins as you yell WAIT! With the HYPEYE D PRO, pressing the switch will turn on the camera even if the on/off switch of the camera is in the off mode! (this is camera model dependent, and won't work with all cameras, but it s great with the CX and SR series cameras) A audio/microphone input rounds out this system very nicely. If the camera is in a typical housing, the internal microphone is buried, often under Neoprene or other material designed to securely hold the camcorder. An external microphone isn't only helpful, but essentially necessary for tandem interviews in this situation. Or you can just connect your ipod and burn to DVD for your 4way team with no post production work at all. Here is where users will find a weak point in the HYPEYE system; the installation instructions for the Expansion Kit recommend placing a dab of glue on top of the connector. After a quick call to Get Hypoxic I learned this was to prevent years of vibrations from inadvertently dislodging the cable. I needed to either use a hot glue gun or fingernail polish to create a bead on the cable once installed in the switch. It wasn t difficult, but I wondered why a swage or something similar wasn t molded to the otherwise well-designed cable. It would save users the headache of finding a glue gun or borrowing fingernail polish from someone. I used the hotglue, it was easier. See the GetHypoxic website for very detailed photos and instruction on how to achieve this. What's to love Weatherproof, recessed nipple button Audio/ Line-Level Microphone input Audible altimeter connection Super-bright LEDs Debrief port Zoom memory Bite Switch ready/input Remote control of all camera modes The camera connection side of the system is an AVRemote S cable system exclusive to Sony camcorders. What makes this unique is that these right angle cables will fit inside of most camera boxes where a straight connector absolutely will not. It s obvious that Get Hypoxic designed this connector and its slim profile, as the Get Hypoxic name is molded into the cable connector, as it is in the Expansion Kit fantail. The indicator side of this unit has several micro LED s in it. These indicate a number of different functions depending on the mode in which the camera is operating. Ready/Standby is indicated by a blue LED, Record indicated by a red LED, and warnings for batteries, sleep, error, or tape end indicated with a yellow LED. However, double-clicking the switch will put the camera automatically into different modes. Want to switch from video mode to stills only mode? No problem, just double-tap the HYPEYE switch. Wanna go from stills to playback? Same action. What's Not So Lovable: Big round cables are space-killers in tight helmets Zoom reset is slow Requires tools and additional adhesives for certain setups like the Expansion Kit Debrief port is part of switch, making it inconvenient for in-helmet setups Pricey WARNING: THESE LEDS ARE BRIGHT! Users may find them too bright if they're mounted close to the eye such as in a ring sight configuration. Using a Morse code-like tap sequence, the LED s may be dimmed in five different levels. (Out of the package settings are at the most dim preset) Military users will appreciate the exceptionally dim light in those covert training ops, and night jumpers will appreciate not being blinded by the camera flyer s indicators as well. These same LED s will also indicate altitudes triggered by the Optima, if the Expansion Kit is part of the setup. Be aware that the batteries in the Optima will affect the brightness of the altitude indicators. Camera status indicators are not affected by the Optima battery level. Speaking of military users, Get Hypoxic has said that they ll soon have an armored, aluminum billet version of the HYPEYE available at a higher cost. (comes stock set at a low brightness level, for your protection) There are some things I wish were different. The HYPEYE uses a very high quality silicone-covered rounded cable. A flat cable would have been more appropriate given the very tight confines of most helmets, yet it should be mentioned that flat ribbon cable is very expensive and not terribly durable. The molded fantail/distribution point of the Expansion Cable kit is also somewhat larger than I would have liked. In my Tonfly CC1, it took significant effort to keep the cables from impacting how the helmet fits, but it is possible. As my TonFly helmet does not have a ring sight (used for wingsuit camera) I appreciated the very stiff plastic in the indicator side of the HYPEYE D PRO. The user-programmable zoom depth is slower to get to zoom point than it should be, yet this is camera-dependent, so not really GetHypoxic's fault. Cable size aside, I feel this is one of the best-designed tools available to camera operators in any sport application where space and control are considerations whether they re using tape-based HDV camcorders, newer DV cams, or AVCHD camcorders. Congrats to Get Hypoxic for presenting a very well thought out, fully-featured product that skydivers can actually use, that seems to be very tough (I have only 22 jumps on my system). This tool is 110% real as far as I m concerned. It s hot, not hype. Get the Hypoxic HYPEYE D PRO Remote Camcorder Indication and Control System at Get Hypoxic or most skydiving gear outlets. HYPEYE D PRO-$99.00 MSRP PRO Expansion Kit-$29.00 HYPEYE D PRO Debrief cable kit-$10.00 The Hypoxic Hypeye D Pro is also available on Amazon: Hypoxic HYPEYE D Pro Remote Camcorder Indication and Control System.
  15. ByNadene Beyerbach Want to improve your skydiving skills, but don’t have thousands of dollars to blow in the wind tunnel? Try yoga! Yoga has been around for thousands of years. What is commonly considered yoga in Western society is actually Hatha Yoga, focusing mainly on physical yoga postures. However, yoga is not just a series of postures or poses. Yoga is meant to integrate the mind, body and spirit, and to achieve a state of enlightenment. For skydiving, this means developing your insight, awareness and focus, as well as balance, flexibility and stability. Not just an effective exercise for improving skydiving skills, yoga is also extremely convenient to practice at the dropzone. The simplicity of yoga means that you can do it virtually anywhere and need very little to get started. The most important thing you can do is wear comfortable, loose fitting clothing that you’re able to move easily in. A yoga mat is ideal, since it will allow you to grip with your feet and go deeper into the poses. However, poses can be done on grass, a towel or a blanket, if necessary. You can experiment with different yoga postures, breathing, meditation and relaxation exercises to see how they affect your skydiving. Try the following to get started: Complete Breath: A complete, “three part” breath consists of deep, continuous breathing through the nose. It is referred to as “three part” breath because you breathe first into the throat, expanding through the ribs, then deep into the belly. Slowly exhale, drawing the belly back in. Slow, deep breathing both energizes the body and calms the mind. Try using complete breathing when you’re concentrating on flying a body position that requires a lot of effort. For a relaxed and stable exit, you can also try exhaling completely as you leave the aircraft. Meditation/Relaxation: Simply close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Let your mind go blank. As thoughts enter your mind, just return your attention to your breath and let the thoughts float away. Meditation reduces stress and tension and improves concentration. Try meditating for a few moments on the ride to altitude before you begin any mental rehearsal. This will allow you to visualize your intention for the jump from a calm and centered place. Physical Postures: There are many different types of yoga postures to explore. Standing poses, seated poses, forward bends, back bends, twists, inversions (upside down poses), balance poses and relaxation poses are just some of the different types of postures. Let’s take a more in-depth look at sun salutations, twists, inversions and balance poses. Sun Salutations are an ideal warm-up for skydiving. Sun salutations are made up of a series of poses, flowing continuously from one move to the next. As you move through the poses be sure to hold each one for a few deep breathes. Begin by standing with your shoulders back and body properly aligned (Mountain Pose). Taking a deep breath, stretch your arms overhead, then fold forward at the hips and let your head hang toward the ground (Forward Fold). Step back with your left foot into a lunge. Follow with your right foot, pushing into your hands and feet to create an inverted V shape (Downward Dog). Lower your body toward the ground (Plank), then straighten your arms, looking up and lifting your chest toward the sky (Upward Dog). Now return to your starting position: Push back into Downward Dog, lunge on the right leg, fold forward, and finish by inhaling deeply in Mountain Pose. Try this sun salutation before gearing up for your next jump. You’ll instantly increase circulation, mobility, and flexibility. Twists offer back relief for skydivers who do a lot of bellyflying. If you spend a great deal of time arching, try a Half Spinal Twist to release tension in your back. Sitting down, bend your right leg to bring your foot toward you. Lift your left foot and place it on the outside of your right knee. Looking over your left shoulder, place your left arm behind you and your right arm around your knee. Breathe deeply and twist through your spine. Along with relieving tension, spinal twists will increase flexibility in your back and neck to help you further improve your RW skills. Inversions are poses performed upside down (with your feet above your head). They improve circulation and increase the flow of oxygen throughout the body. Inversions allow you to become comfortable in an upside down position and to work on balance with your center of gravity above your head. To try the Half Shoulder Stand, lie on your back and pull your knees to your chest. Support your back with your hands and straighten your legs above your body. Your weight should be on your shoulders, not your neck. Breathe deeply and remain strong through your core to help you balance. The Half Shoulder Stand is an excellent inversion to work on if you’re learning to fly head down. Balance Poses deserve special attention when it comes to skydiving. There is no better way to develop balance, strengthen stabilizer muscles, and increase mind-body awareness. Warrior 3 (also known as Airplane) is a good pose to begin working on your balance. Start by standing tall and lifting your arms to shoulder-height. Place your weight on one leg, lifting the opposite leg and leaning forward until you form a straight line. Hold for a few deep breathes, then repeat on the opposite side. Holding a balance pose will quickly make you aware of your alignment and body position. If you do any freeflying, adding balance work to your routine could give you the edge you’re looking for. Enjoy your adventures in yoga! Test out the suggestions in this article and continue to experiment with different postures to find what works best for you. Always work at your own pace and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort. Remember, it’s about the journey, not the destination, so don’t worry if you’re not an expert right away. To learn more, consider attending a yoga class or inviting an instructor to teach at your dropzone. With practice you’ll start to notice improvement in your skydiving skills through increased mind-body awareness, balance, focus and control. Keeping your body strong and flexible will also help to protect you from hard openings and not-so-perfect landings. Blue skies, or as we say in yoga, Namaste. Nadene Beyerbach is a skydiver and yoga instructor. She is certified by Body Training Systems as a Group Centergy instructor and is a member of the Canadian Yoga Association. Learn more about skydiving specific yoga at Flex Fly.
  16. Skydive Airkix is proud to announce that the UK members of the BIRDMAN Factory Team – Top Gun (www.BirdManTopGun.com), will be permanently based at Skydive Airkix in Peterborough, with immediate affect. In line with Skydive Airkix’s commitment to bringing world renowned coaching and instruction to the UK, Top Gun members, Macca, Duncan, Steve and Dave will be available for first flight courses, coaching and load organising – for beginners, right up to already advanced wingsuit pilots. The team have a fleet of demo suits for instructional use or rental and whether you’re a solo flyer looking to join a flock, or a team looking for some coaching, you’ll find everything you need at our dedicated wingsuit facilities based at Skydive Airkix. Macca from the team comments, “As the team is spread across Europe, we have spent a long time floating around. It’s great to finally have a place to call home, especially one that offers £15 lift tickets and up to 15K of altitude! The team are really looking forward to making Skydive Airkix the number one choice for wingsuiters in the UK and offering skydivers quality wingsuit coaching and instruction” In addition to regular wingsuit activity, Skydive Airkix will also be holding dedicated wingsuit weekends this year, along with instructional evening seminars. The current requirements for wingsuit jumping in the UK are 500 jumps, or 250 in the last 18 months - at CCI’s discretion. There are also certain gear requirements, but if you’re interested in getting your flock on, get in touch to organise your flight: Info@BirdManTopGun.Com
  17. Fredericksburg, Va., Jan. 11 -- Things are looking up for the skydiving industry. According to the U.S. Parachute Association (USPA), America's premier skydiving association, 2007 made history as the year skydiving took a dramatic turn upward as one of the most popular adrenaline sports in the nation. USPA reports that 2007 was one of the safest on record with 18 skydiver fatalities -- out of over 2.5 million jumps. That number surpasses a 1962 record for skydiving's fewest accidents. Considering that in the early 1960s, USPA was only about 10% of its current size with 3,353 members and the aggregate number of jumps was considerably less than today's 2 million+ jumps, this record stands out even more as a testament to years of strict safety standards, training policies and programs. "This has been a group effort," said Ed Scott, Executive Director of USPA. "USPA policies have been applied by every skydiver in the nation, as well as coaches, instructors, safety/training advisors, drop zone owners, riggers, pilots, manufacturers and gear distributors. We should all take pride in the strides we have made in skydiving safety the past half century." And the good news doesn't end there. Significantly more people are taking up the sport. USPA membership soared in 2007, with a significant number of new skydivers joining its ranks. USPA ended 2007 with more members (31,264) than the previous year for the first time since 2002. The total number of new members in 2007 was 4,900, reversing a five-year downward trend; it's also the highest number of new members since 2003. The skydiving industry also saw an unprecedented upturn in the number of skydiving licenses issued by USPA; more than at any point in the last four years. USPA's 2007 Skydiving Review with additional stats/demographics will be released in early spring. USPA is dedicated to the promotion of safe skydiving nationwide, establishing strict safety standards, training policies and programs at 200+ affiliated skydiving schools/centers. The Federal Aviation Administration recognizes and supports USPA's successful leadership role in the self- regulation of skydiving. USPA hosts the National Skydiving Championships, the sport''s largest and most exciting annual competition, October 18-25, 2008 (Skydive Arizona). Information: 1-800-371-USPA, http://www.USPA.org. Source: U.S. Parachute Association Discuss it here!
  18. admin

    Time for a National "Sky" Patrol?

    Back in 1936, snow skiing was a sport that only a few dedicated individuals pursued. The primitive conditions practically guaranteed that anyone foolish enough to ski would eventually be injured. On the snowy slopes of a Vermont mountain, just that happened to Charles Minot "Minnie" Dole when his ankle snapped in a fall. His friends went for help, but eventually had to toboggan him off the slope themselves, using a piece of sheet metal roofing material as an improvised rescue sled. The ankle fracture was so bad that Dole was told he would probably never ski again. A few months later, one of Dole's friends who had helped him down the mountain was killed in a ski racing accident. Dole was not only determined to recover and ski again; he was also determined to do something about making skiing safer. He co-founded the National Ski Patrol in 1938, modeling it after some of the informal ski patrols at local ski areas and grafting on some of techniques used by Swiss ski instructors and mountain guides. After World War II, skiing boomed in popularity, equipment and services improved, and the National Ski Patrol is now the largest winter safety organization in the world. To this day the NSP serves an invaluable function in preventing or responding to skiing accidents with special training and equipment. Skiing and skydiving have many parallels. They evolved over roughly the same time frame, and advanced rapidly after World War II. During the sixties and seventies national organizations formed, services improved, training became professionalized, and equipment evolved rapidly. Similar sports enjoyed similar progress. Swimmers and surfers have trained, well equipped lifeguards. Climbers have mountain rescue specialists and spelunkers have cave rescue organizations. But for some reason skydiving has never evolved an organization dedicated to preventing accidents, responding to them where and when they happen, and evaluating them to learn how to make the sport safer. Considering the frequency of skydiving injuries, there is an obvious need for trained response. All outdoor sports share some commonalities. Each takes place in an unusual environment, with specific environmental hazards. Each has specialized equipment and skill sets. Each has an undeniable element of risk, yet those risks are not mysterious and can be mitigated through proper preparation. Skydiving can learn from other forms of outdoor recreation and develop a national training program to prepare drop zone staff and volunteers in accident prevention, preparation, and response. Such an organization, modeled after the National Ski Patrol, may be just around the corner. This December Skydive Arizona will host a training course that will also serve as an opportunity to examine what is needed to bring this sort of organization to your drop zone. At the core of the program will be a Wilderness First Responder course from a nationally accredited organization. The WFR was chosen over standard EMT training because of a heavier emphasis on trauma, and on managing it without access to immediate ambulance response, since many DZs are a long ways from the nearest ambulance. In addition to the WFR, the course will include modules on skydiving specific problems such as aircraft and fuel safety, removing skydiving equipment from injured jumpers, recovering cut-away equipment, problems involving tree, water, and power line landings, and incident investigation. Relationships with the local emergency medical system and with the FAA will be reviewed. Recognizing and mitigating hazards will also be discussed, as will incident reporting and the possibilities offered by building up a national database of accidents. The course, scheduled for December 1 - 10, 2007 is open to any interested skydivers, regardless of their experience in the sport. Slots are limited and must be reserved well in advance. The course cost is $600, which includes instruction, materials, and training aids. Graduates will receive WFR certification from the Wilderness Medicine Institute of the National Outdoor Leadership School. For registration details, go to www.airdropassist.org/wfr.htm The course cost does not include lodging or food. Participants will be engaged in classroom activities all ten days, and actual skydiving is not on the agenda. If you bring your rig, plan on jumping before or after the course. Camping is free. Inexpensive team rooms or bunks are available on the drop zone. There are several hotels nearby. For lodging and travel information, go to www.skydiveaz.com. For other questions, contact Bryan Burke at: bryantburke@hotmail.com.
  19. labyrinth

    Risk Homeostasis and Skydiving

    Wikipedia describes the phenomenon as follows: 'Risk homeostasis is a psychological theory developed by Gerald J.S. Wilde, a professor emeritus of psychology at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada...the theory of risk homeostasis states that an individual has an inbuilt target level of acceptable risk which does not change. This level varies between individuals. When the level of acceptable risk in one part of the individual's life changes; there will be a corresponding rise/drop in acceptable risk elsewhere. The same, argues Wilde, is true of larger human systems (e.g. a population of drivers).' Through the comparison of relevant Sky Diving statistics, recent studies in the field of risk homeostasis show that the introduction of a safety feature does not necessarily improve the generalredistribution This phenomenon, due to a type of 'risk redistribution', was researched by Sky-Diving academics who spotted strange fatality rate fluctuations migrating back and fourth between open canopy fatalities, 'no pull' and 'low pull' cases and others, depending on the adoption of certain safety feature at that time. The study employed the Cypres (Cybernetic Parachute Release System) Automatic Activation Device (AAD) as an example, which is specifically designed to deploy the reserve parachute at the required altitude, in the event of timing neglect by the jumper. Risk homeostasis shows that varying individual trends toward risk adjustment become displaced by the introduction of a safety feature. The concept results an inadvertent psychological neglect of natural automated adjustments to these barriers. This leads to a generalised lowered level of risk, instead of unique to the area in which the safety feature is applicable. The risk then becomes distributed across parameters and is referred to as 'accident migration'. When this in turn was applied in relation to levels of perceived risk, it was noted that; 'Skydivers adjust their behaviors to maintain arousal at optimal levels'- a behavioral modification linked to inadvertent risk displacement. Levels of risk vary from one person to another and are adjusted in accordance so as to maintain a level of comfort most acceptable to the individual. On the other end of the spectrum, however, more risk can be introduced if the threshold is too low in comparison to what the individual is used to. In other words, the tendency to take less precaution in presence of a safety measure does not necessarily result in a balanced distribution of risk and as a direct result, risk is inadvertently lowered in other areas. Where there may have been a decrease in 'low pull' or 'no pull' fatalities due to this mechanism, the open canopy fatalities increased, and the introduction of open canopy safety features appeared to coincide with an increase in landing fatalities. A correlation can be seen concerning traffic accidents, where most of the evidence for risk homeostasis originates. Studies have shown that 'pedestrians are twice as likely to be killed in a painted crosswalk as in an unmarked one' and that driver side airbags in actual fact contributed to driver behaviors that increased accidents and fatalities. Needless to say, the field of skydiving is a popular target for academic study on the topic of researching risk whether perceived or real. Sensation seeking provides the blueprint for studying risk-taking in social, legal, physical and financial for the sake of such experience. It has been found that personality types within this sphere can be genetically characterized by an elongated version of the DRD4 gene which regulates the production of dopamine and effects pleasure and emotion. It should therefore come as no surprise that when comparing skydivers to non-skydivers it was found that the former have lower levels of death anxiety, which in turn lends itself to higher levels of target risk. It was also found that Skydivers accept significantly higher levels of risk and that 'More experienced skydivers monitor the risk perceptions of the beginning skydivers in their subcultures.' Further research will be conducted into how to enforce precautionary measures within the parameters of these findings. To read the original case study visit www.vicnapier.com Original Authors: Napier, Vic Pima Community College Findley, Carolyn Sara (Casey) Auburn University Montgomery Self, Donald Raymond Auburn University Montgomery
  20. admin

    Livin' on the Edge - Literally.

    About 2500' feet above the floor of the Grand Canyon. Tied in with 5/8 rope, bits of aluminum and steel cable holding five cameramen in place on sheets of ice/soggy snow, we're shooting the Performance Design Factory Team (PDFT) as they become the first terrain swoopers in the world flying inside the Grand Canyon. The Factory Team are the most experienced and talented athletes in the skydiving world, having won world event competitions as a team and as individual athletes. Our task was to shoot in places no camera has ever accessed, and this project was a techno-marvel at every twist and turn in the several miles of dirt road (and sometimes virtually no road) it took to arrive at shooting locations. Unable to physically scout the area, Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) systems were used in conjunction with specific areas that were discovered, chosen, and mapped out using Google Earth Plus by the Factory Team members. None of the five jumpers had ever been in this remote area far from the beaten path of tourists. Satellite phones were used for general and emergency communications, as there is no cellular coverage (or power of any kind) on the site. Base camp was established at the Cameron Trading Post on the Navajo (Dine) reservation in north central Arizona with a 2.5 hour drive to each shoot location. The nearest airport is Tuba City, AZ to the north, and further to the south in Flagstaff, AZ. The video aircraft based themselves out of the Tuba City airport. The shoot is in a remote area, miles from the nearest power outlet or electronics store, temperatures are hovering just below freezing at noon, and zero/single digits in the early morning and late afternoon. We needed cameras that would be capable of moving 120mph and manage fast exposure changes from bright sunlit sky and clouds to the dark recesses of the Grand Canyon, that could manage the cold and wind. No stunt nor camera setup could be rehearsed, as helicopter time is exceedingly expensive for this no/low-budget project. The stunts the skydivers performed were dangerous enough on level and familiar ground. Flying wings of nylon and string at speeds approaching 100 mph while skimming the rocky soil for distances of up to 150 feet, then at ground level, executing a nearly upside down barrel roll only a couple of feet from the edge of the Grand Canyon would be considered an extreme act of athleticism. Place cameramen with shoulder cams directly beneath them that need to avoid the canopy pilots, and the canopy pilots need to avoid the cameramen; even the slightest strike could easily kill the canopy pilot and toss the tethered camera operator over the edge. Due to the budget, location, availability of crew, and the speed that setups had to happen, we chose to use HDV camcorders on this shoot. The Factory Team was already prepped up for the HDV format, as they currently all fly Sony HVR-A1U camcorders on their camera helmets. Each member of the team flies a camcorder to shoot POV, while team photographer JC Colclasure flies over, under, and around the team to capture an overall perspective from the air. All aerial camcorders are fitted with Raynox HD wide angle lenses, while the helmets are fitted with CamEye and Brent's Sights camera indicators and sight rings. Four Sony HVR Z1U, three HVR V1U, and eight HVR A1U camcorders were used on the shoot, plus two Canon XLH1 camcorders used for long shots using a variety of lens lengths. The lighter camcorders were critical, as they needed to be quickly rappelled into the canyon strapped to our backs, quickly set up on canyon ledges when positioned by helicopter, and able to be flown on lightweight jibs over the canyon. Dave Major aka "Clem", a Hollywood stunt coordinator and stuntman managed the harnessing and safety tie-downs; Jack Guthrie, a DZO (Drop Zone Operator) and safety officer oversaw all safety aspects of the shoot, managing the cameramen on the rim of the canyon and the cameramen flying in the Cessna 185 aircraft and helicopter. Each on the shoot was required to wear a harness at all times, and be secured from at least one point for each shoot position. Cameramen Matt Wimmer, Joey Allred, Dave Major, Jack Guthrie, and boom operator Benjamin Bressler are all accomplished skydivers, some with great BASE (Building, Antenna, Span, Earth) jumping skill, which was of great benefit when consistently 2000 feet from the ground. The Performance Designs Factory Team all wear Skysystems or Wes Rich camera helmets, Bonehead ShuVue (foot camera mount), and belly cams to capture a variety of air-to-air angles. Shannon Pilcher, Ian Bobo, Jonathan Tagle, Jay Moledzki, and JC Colclasure are all not only world record canopy pilots; they're all very accomplished aerial camera operators, and have flown for a wide variety of television broadcasts as aerial camera persons. We used lightweight tripods with Bogen 516 and 526 heads were used on a variety of sticks, but at all times, the kit was kept exceptionally light. The tripods were used for the long ground-to-air shots, as the lenses were fully extended, and needed to be kept tight on high speed objects, virtually invisible to the naked eye. Upon reaching a preset altitude of approximately 3000' AGL (Above Ground Level) the pilots would pop skydiver smoke, allowing them to be more easily seen and tracked. We also used the Gorillapod camera grippers/mounts, wrapped around rocks, scrub, and lighting poles to capture unique angles without being seen on in the frame of other camcorders. Audio Technica wireless and microphones were used mounted to KTek Graphite boom poles. We chose the wireless system as both receiver and transmitter were battery operated, and the KTek Graphite pole was chosen for past performance in exceptionally cold environments such as the Sundance Film Festival and various snowboarding competitions. Aluminum boom poles become loose, and are exceptionally cold to hang on to for any length of time. Gear planning easily became the greatest apparent hurdle. Being as remote as we were, batteries were critical for lighting, sound equipment, camcorders, wireless systems, radios, and satellite phones. For this reason, we choose to carrry four LitePanels and lightweight stands, we planned on weighting the stands with stones slung in canvas bags. Water could not be carried to the cliff ledges for reasons of weight and safety. Stones were also chosen to weight down the jib assembly used over the edge of the cliff. RedRock Micro MicroFocus' with 18" whips were used for tripod mounts on both dolly and tripod setups, adding in speed of focus during pans. We also needed to be assured of on-site monitoring, and Adobe/Serious Magic DV Rack HD served the purpose quite well. Cameras above or on the rim in sunlit areas were fitted with 4X4 polarizing filters for shooting against the sky, into the sun, and for intensifying colors against the sunlit canyon walls, causing the parachutes to brightly stand out. Other challenges were picking up great field audio. Everything in the canyon echoes and rolls, and distances ranging from over a mile to mere feet made levels a challenge to control without using automatic level controlling. We didn't want to allow auto control, as the noise of the helicopter constantly triggered auto-level controls boosting noise as the heli flew farther and closer to our microphones. We used Audio Technica 4073 mics for rim-edge placement, hanging microphones off the rim into the middle of the canyon to capture the crack of opening parachutes and the sound of rushing cloth during wingsuit jumps and canopy deployments. We also wanted to capture the very distinctive sound of swooping canopies at high speed, both at near and far distances. For the near distances (less than five feet), we used Audio Technica 4053 hyper cardiods to block as much helicopter noise as possible. Camera operators are staged at three points in the canyon. Covering the landing area, in-canyon flight and terrain stunts required helicopter placement, as the bottom of the canyon and mid-points in the canyon could not be rappelled or fast roped, and while we could have BASE jumped into the bottom of the canyon, extraction still required heli time. At many points, the cameraman had to free-step from the helicopter to small rock areas, due to the helicopter not being able to set down in small spaces. This added to the importance of highly portable camera kits. The overall scale of the canyon is not to be underestimated. For this project, we all underestimated the scope of distance, and even though we had our longest lenses in place, shooting 2000 feet even on a rock-mounted and weighted tripod could become an exercise in hunt and peck to locate the skydivers when they were 5000 feet in the air moving at exceptionally high speed. There were occasions where we were separated by as much as 8,000 feet between the exit point and landing areas. We set each camera to capture a specific range of action, given the speed at which we had to capture the moving canopy pilots. The canopy pilots gave very accurate space limits within which they'd be flying, but no aerial stunt or precision flight could be predicted to specific marks due to winds. However, once near the ground, the canopy pilots flew their wings within millimeters of mark points. Cameras set to capture at full extension, super wide, tracking, and fixed closeups were designated prior to the jump/stunt. This makes for a wide selection of camera angles for the multicam edit, offering anywhere between 6 and 14 camera angles per stunt. VASST infinitiCAM in Sony Vegas 7 software was used for cutting dailies to get a glimpse of what we had in the can each night. Ultimately, we brought home more than 100 hours of footage between all of the camcorders on the shoot, in four locations over 6 days. Logging was managed with the Sony Media Manager for Vegas, allowing us to mark all dailies, access similar scenes, search by logged keywords, and create stunt folders. On site storage for dailies was captured to Western Digital "MyBook" 500GB external drives, connected to a laptop via 1394 connection. Only key scenes were captured for immediate review at various angles, to save time on the ground. Mornings started before sunlight, and the shoots ran straight into night, squeezing the last moments out of the golden hour, to create as many romance shots as possible. During one late afternoon stunt, the winds at 4000' AGL were significantly different than winds measured at ground level, and winds generated by the cooler air in the canyon. The canopy pilots were significantly blown off course by rogue winds, causing them to not only miss their pre-assigned marks, but put them at risk of not being able to generate enough drive to fly over and subsequently into, the Grand Canyon area. This added risk cost us a few camera angles since only two of the canopy pilots entered into the sight picture and frame boundaries. These sorts of challenges are common when working with unpredictable high speed sports, and camera operators need to be prepared to improvise if anything is to be captured at all. At the end of this segment of a much larger project, everyone was exhausted from the long hikes carrying gear, shooting in very cold conditions, and the long hours. As skydivers often say, "we had fun and no one died." That sums up the project quite nicely; we had a great time under adverse conditions, captured some incredible footage (have *you* ever seen a parachute fly upside down at ground level?), and put to bed the second segment of one of the most exciting chapters in this forthcoming feature-length project. For me personally, the greatest part of the entire experience is hanging out with my heroes in the skydiving world, learning new canopy techniques, and the opportunity to join my videocraft with my passion for skydiving. From my viewpoint as a videographer that skydives, , these two weeks have been similar to hanging out with Spielberg, Cameron, Coppola, or other great director. Except these guys fly. The great achievement wasn't just that we succeeded in capturing a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but that we pulled it off using small format gear, easily carried and packed from point to point in short periods of time, trying to pace the flights and lighting .Thanks to the light weight and maneuverability of the small-format camcorders, livin' on the edge may be dangerous, but missing the shot was never a worry. All photos in this article shot by Justin Carmody, Performance Designs photographer using Canon 5D and a bag of lenses. Screen captures from Sony Vegas 7. Additional video camera assistance and aircraft piloting from David Major, Michelle Knutsen, Jack Guthrie, Debbie Zimmerman, Mannie Frances, and Ryan Crissman.
  21. Para-Gear is interested in photographic submissions that you may have for the 2007 - 2008 Para-Gear Catalog #72. We have taken the time to briefly describe the format and certain criteria that we look for, in order to help you to see if you have something worth submitting. We have included examples of previous catalog covers for your reference. http://www.dropzone.com/cgi-bin/gallery/imageFolio.cgi?direct=Article_Photos/Para_Gear_Covers Over the years Para-Gear has used photos from all of skydiving's disciplines. We do not have a preference as far as what type of skydiving photo it is, rather we look for something that either is eye-catching or pleasing to the eye. In light of the digital age, we are also able to use photos that in one way or another may be less than perfect and enhance them, removing blemishes, flipping images, altering colors, etc. The following are preferences. However what we prefer and what we get, or choose, are not always the same. If however we came down to a choice between two photos of equal quality, we would opt for the one that met more of our preferences. We typically prefer that the photo be brighter. In the past we have used sunset photos and even a night jump photo, although by and large most of the photos are daytime. We like the subject of the image to have contrast with the background. Subjects that are wearing brighter more colorful clothing usually stand out more. We prefer to have the people in the photo wearing equipment since that is what we sell. Headgear, goggles, jumpsuits, altimeters, audible altimeters, and gloves are all good. We also prefer to see skydivers wearing head and foot protection. We do not print any BASE jumping nor any Tandem photographs. No submissions of these will be accepted. We are not interested an any photos of individual or groups of skydivers standing on the ground Our basic criteria is as follows: Vertical Format. The front and back covers of the catalog are both in a vertical format. We can use a horizontal (landscape) shot, as opposed to a vertical (portrait), and then crop it as long as the image lies within a vertical cropping. Photo Quality. The front and back cover shots will be printed as 8 ½ x 11 in 300 dpi format. Any film that can hold its quality up to this size and print dpi is fine. Digital format or slide film is preferred. In the event of a final cover choice, we prefer to be sent the original digital image or slide for getting the best quality out of the image. Back Cover Photo. The back cover photo is no different from the front except in one respect. We need to have room on the left side of the image for the thumb index. In the past we have taken images and been able to horizontally flip them thereby creating this room. Originality. Anything that is original, eye-catching, or makes someone take more notice of the catalog covers is something we look for. It could be a photo from a unique camera position or angle, a scenic skydive, shots under canopy, landings, etc. We look for photos that have not been previously published and most likely would not accept them if they have, as we want a photo that no one else has seen yet. We also do not want any photos that are chosen as the front or back covers to be used for other non Para-Gear advertising for a period of one year. Para-Gear offers $500.00 each for both the front and back covers we choose. Our current deadline for catalog cover submissions is March 31st 2007 . Sending sample pictures by e-mail to curt@para-gear.com, or by mail to the address below are both fine. If you are sending sample digital pictures please note that they do not need to be in a very large format. If we like the sample picture we will then ask you to send the higher quality original. We will return any mailed in photos or slides after we are done with them. Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions.
  22. 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
  23. admin

    The Transfer of Ownership

    Most of us have no idea what amazing feats we are capable of. However, when we face life's challenges we are able to achieve personal breakthroughs that can result in permanent change. Leaving the perceived security of an aircraft in flight and leaping into the clear blue, arriving safely back on mother earth, creates a perfect opportunity for such an experience. A first jump tandem student can shatter self-doubt, conquer long-held personal fears, and can sometimes be launched into a journey of self-discovery. I have had the honor of being the trusted host of many such experiences as a tandem instructor: a mother who nearly died during childbirth living her life to the fullest while her baby girl looks on; a close family member conquering a fear of heights she had allowed to control her since childhood; a young man with a crippling disease busting through the limits imposed on him by social stereotypes; and many who are completing yet another item on their "list of 100 things to do" in their lives. Each one of them are real people who not only achieved a significant personal transformation, but taught me a little about myself as well. Some of you may be smiling and nodding your head in agreement; for those of you who aren't familiar with this experience, I hope this article will result in significant personal rewards for you as well. The journey toward what I call "the transfer of ownership" starts at the introduction. I ask my students why they want to make a skydive - nearly every student will eventually tell me something that I can use to make their experience more personal, and sometimes one of the most significant experiences of their life. At that time, from the student's viewpoint, the lion's share of "ownership" of this skydiving experience belongs to me. After all, I am the one teaching them how to be my partner in the air for those few short minutes, emphasizing the simple things they can do to help make our skydive as safe as possible, and calmly addressing the inevitable flurry of questions that come from the doubt surrounding any first-time experience. Eventually, my students trust me with their life - although it may go unsaid, they all know that is ultimately true. Sometimes a student can be "high maintenance." Kay (not her real name) is my best example. The wife of a local doctor and mother of a young daughter, Kay was introduced to me by her husband. As our conversation progressed, she found out that I am a part-time skydiving instructor, and I asked her to join me for a tandem jump. Her body language was unlike any I had ever seen; she began to withdraw from the outside in - something serious was going on in her heart and mind that I thought would surely keep her on the ground. Shortly afterwards the torrent of questions began . . . she researched the risks of skydiving on her own by reading internet content including dropzone.com incident forum posts, USPA fatality reports, and soaking in every over-hyped reality TV segment involving a skydiving incident. Between personal conversations, phone calls, and emails she must have asked me over a hundred questions - some of them very difficult to answer. I could have easily become frustrated, but the reality of the situation was that I really wanted Kay to make a skydive; I would answer every single question if it meant there was still a chance she would jump. To keep me sane, I repeatedly imagined seeing the joy on her face after landing. After all, that was the place both of us were working so hard to reach, and it motivated me to keep answering all of Kay's questions. The day came for our jump, and our pre-jump training and ride to altitude was filled with increasing fear on her part, eventually manifesting itself in physical shaking after I hooked her harness to mine. Despite her obviously being incredibly scared, she never once stopped moving forward toward the door. I asked her if she was ready, and she nodded her head. Exit and free fall were uneventful, and after the canopy opened cooperatively at 4500 feet, her demeanor was surprisingly calm. I could tell she did not like heights by the way she kept leaning her head back, but she continued to respond to all of my gentle instructions. After a smooth seated landing I unhooked her harness and she began to sob loudly, which I realized was an emotional release of years of pent up fear of flying and high places. After she calmed down a bit and I pulled her to her feet, there in front of me was the real life expression of joy that I had imagined to keep me focused through months of questions. At that point came the transfer of ownership - I directed her attention to the blue sky above, and explained to her that this entire experience happened because she chose to rise to the challenge of an opportunity to conquer her fear. She had indeed trusted me with her life, but more importantly she had trusted herself to do something she knew would be one of her most fearful yet critically important experiences. This was not about me at all - it was all about her. Now that I had painted that clear picture for her, full ownership of the experience was hers alone. I found out later in a letter from Kay that her first husband had been killed in an aviation accident nearly fifteen years before, and since then she had been deathly afraid of flying. Somehow she recognized skydiving as an opportunity to confront and conquer that fear, and knew that she could trust me to be means to that end. The letter, too personal to include verbatim here, is one of the greatest personal rewards I have received in 22 years of skydiving. You see, even though you the instructor are the one with the ratings, the high degree of skill, the confidence in the process, and literally in charge of every student skydive, in the end it is all about the student. Through their trust in you they briefly place their lives in your hands because most of them know that although skydiving is a calculated risk, on the other side of that risk lies some sort of unseen benefit that can empower them in ways they never imagined. Now before you lies the choice of arriving for work at the drop zone to haul human cargo for hire, or to arrive in expectation of whose life you might be able to change, along with the possibility that yours might change a bit in the process. There are many more souls out there like Kay, for whom the breakthrough of a lifetime is just one leap of faith away from becoming reality. John Hawke is an active duty U.S. Army Sergeant Major and part-time Tandem and AFF Instructor at Raeford Parachute Center in North Carolina.
  24. admin

    Meditation Preparation

    Most skydivers exercise some form of mental preparation on the way to altitude. What most do not realize is how incredibly important this is. The mental state that we are in prior to exiting the airplane determines how we respond to any given situation, and this response is the most important contributing factor in how the situation ultimately evolves. In other words, mental preparation is every bit as important as a pin check. What is Meditation? It must first be clarified that the specific method of meditation is not important for the purposes of this discussion. There are many ways to attain a calm internal dynamic, and there are no wrong ways to meditate. The goal of meditation is simple. We are striving to calm the mind, and develop a state that is devoid of thinking so we may calm back down to our state of basic sanity and health. This can be achieved through sitting practice, or through deliberate focus of attention toward a simple task such as walking or yoga. All of these pursuits result in the same kind of brain activity, which happens to be the direct opposite of the fear state. In the emotional experience of fear, the brain becomes unbalanced. Certain parts of the cortex become deactivated, while others, most notably the older structures such as the Amygdala, become awakened. These ancient brain areas cause an unconscious escalation toward a preparatory "sympathetic" response, rather than the healing, balancing forces of our "parasympathetic" systems. Interestingly, the first part of the brain to show significant diminished functionality during a fear response is the pre-frontal cortex. This is the newest part of the brain, responsible for higher cognitive functioning and is the source of willed action. This means that when we are afraid, we are no longer in control of our actions. Our choices gradually become dominated by our old brain that only knows three things: Fight, Flight and Freeze. In walks the "parietal lobe" of the brain. Located on the crown of the head, this is the spatial orientation area. When the parietal lobe is working to help us orient ourselves in the world, we are not in a state of rest. When this part of the brain is under-stimulated or deprived of input, however, the quiescent (calming) systems of the mind and body take over to cool us down. When the visual information coming into the visual cortex is interpreted by the parietal lobe, there are aspects of our visual experience that have not changed in the recent past. These aspects of our reality become "base frame", which is to say that we stop paying attention to them. When this occurs to a majority of the visual data, the parietal lobe is said to be in a state of "Deafferentation". (Newberg, 2001) Deafferentation may be the cause of the altered states reported by mystics and spiritual seekers of all cultures. The common denominator across all the spiritual practices is the lack of changes in the data set coming into the visual cortex. This is accomplished simply by gazing in one particular direction for a long period of time. When the parietal lobe is deprived of neural input, our parasympathetic processes begin to transform our state of consciousness, as demonstrated in brain scans such as SPECT and functional MRI. The resulting brain activity is most notably different from our normal waking consciousness, called "beta" activity. In fact, experienced meditators exhibit extremely balanced activity throughout the brain, referred to as "gamma synchrony" (Davidson, 2004). Further studies have shown that the balance of activity in the parietal lobe is significantly different from that experienced in "normal" consciousness (Newberg, 2002). The interesting thing about the results of the many studies on meditation is the fact that repeated exposure to the meditative state seems to increase the effect. Buddhist monks with considerable meditation practice showed a much higher level of gamma synchrony than subjects with no previous experience (Davidson, 2005). It seems that practice really does make perfect. What does this mean for you and me? These studies show that we are actually able to alter our brain's activity, and prevent stress from diminishing our cortical activity to the capacity of a caveman. All we need to do is take the time to practice a new way of operating our minds. Although there are many different methods of meditation, there are common aspects across the techniques that seem to create the most powerful effect. Following are some of the common elements. Minimal change to the visual field, eyes open Focusing on the breathing, particularly the out-breath Balancing the posture to prevent physical discomfort Letting go of thoughts as they come Returning to the present moment When you exit an aircraft in flight, you are going into battle. You must prepare in every way that you can to defend yourself against planetary impact. The most important tool of all is your awareness. When your mental speed increases due to fear or anything else, you are a danger to yourself and everyone near you. How you find your way to the meditative state is your business. Your rituals are your personal avenue to the calm state, and it will look different for everyone. All that matters is that you take the time before each jump to cool out and let go of your thinking. That way, when some unconsidered possibility comes your way, you are relaxed and in balance, ready for anything. BSG Portions of this article are excerpts from Brian Germain's new book, Transcending Fear, 2nd edition. For more information regarding meditation as a tool for fear abatement and performance optimization, go to: www.TranscendingFEAR.com
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    New Name for Relative Workshop

    The uninsured Relative Workshop will commence trading under the new name of the Uninsured United Parachute Technologies, LLC from 1 October 2006. This change will allow Bill Booth to gather his many existing companies under one name, and will allow the company to implement a new business model more inline with modern day business practices, which in turn will fulfill our future needs for growth and diversity. This change will not affect our day to day business with our customers, apart from a change in website address and email addresses which will be advised at a later date.