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Found 272 results

  1. admin

    AFF Training - Level 7

    Napoleon Skydiving Center: Level 7 - Clearance Dive By now all of this should be easy. Good luck. Once you complete this level, you're ready to skydive on your own (after buying the DZ a case of beer for your accomplishment). TLOs Demonstrate ability to inspect, don and adjust equipment correctly. Demonstrate ability to inspect and pack main canopy. Explain and demonstrate knowledge of RW safety procedures. Brief pilot and spot correctly without assistance. Perform a diving exit (solo, no-contact --- maintain or recover control). Intentional front loop. Chain of controlled maneuvers. Tracking. Wave off, then pull at or above 3000 feet. Land within 25 meters of target without radio assistance. Dive Flow Running Description Roach Hotel Check Check In. Exit Count C-182 Prop, Up, Down, Arch; Otter Center, Out, In, Arch. Solo Diving Exit Performed by diving head first from the aircraft. Immediately arch and extend arms out over head to the ``superman'' position. Recover back to the boxman position. Frontloop Performed by pulling arms to sides and bending sharply forward at waist while ``kicking'' legs straight at knees. Recover to boxman position as you see green again. Half Series. Perform two alternating 360 degree turns followed by a backloop. Track: until 4500 feet. Wave Off: by 3500 feet. Pull: by 3000 feet. Primary Canopy Check: Shape, Spin, Speed, Twist .Release Toggles Secondary Canopy Check: Slider, Endcells, Tears, Lines. Controllability Check: turns and flares OK. Canopy Control: halfway down, halfway back. Setup For Landing: Downwind at 1000', Base at 500', Final at 200'. Flare: at 10', feet and knees together, PLF if necessary. Collapse the Canopy, Field Pack, and Return. Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7 Level 8
  2. admin

    Para-Gear Catalog Photo Submissions

    Para-Gear is interested in photographic submissions that you may have for the 2003-2004 Para-Gear Catalog #68. We have taken the time to briefly describe the format and certain criteria that we look for, in order to help you to see if you have something worth submitting. We have included examples of previous catalog covers for your reference. Over the years Para-Gear has used photos from all of skydiving's disciplines. We do not have a preference as far as what type of skydiving photo it is, rather we look for something that either is eye-catching or pleasing to the eye. In light of the digital age, we are also able to use photos that in one way or another may be less than perfect and enhance them, removing blemishes, flipping images, altering colors, etc. The following are preferences. However what we prefer and what we get, or choose, are not always the same. If however we came down to a choice between two photos of equal quality, we would opt for the one that met more of our preferences. We typically prefer that the photo be brighter. In the past we have used sunset photos and even a night jump photo, although by and large most of the photos are daytime. We like the subject of the image to have contrast with the background. Subjects that are wearing brighter more colorful clothing usually stand out more. We prefer to have the people in the photo wearing equipment since that is what we sell. Headgear, goggles, jumpsuits, altimeters, audible altimeters, and gloves are all good. We also prefer to see skydivers wearing foot protection. We do not print any BASE jumping nor any Tandem photographs. Our basic criteria is as follows: Vertical Format. The front and back covers of the catalog are both in a vertical format. We can use a horizontal (landscape) shot, as opposed to a vertical (portrait), and then crop it as long as the image lies within a vertical cropping. Photo Quality. The front and back cover shots will be printed as 8 ½ x 11 in 300 dpi format. Any film that can hold its quality up to this size and print dpi is fine. Slide film is preferred. In the event of a final cover choice, we prefer to be sent the original slide for getting the best quality out of the image. Back Cover Photo. The back cover photo is no different from the front except in one respect. We need to have room on the left side of the image for the thumb index. In the past we have taken images and been able to horizontally flip them thereby creating this room. Originality. Anything that is original, eye-catching, or makes someone take more notice of the catalog covers is something we look for. It could be a photo from a unique camera position or angle, a scenic skydive, shots under canopy, landings, etc. We look for photos that have not been previously published and most likely would not accept them if they have, as we want a photo that no one else has seen yet. We also do not want any photos that are chosen as the front or back covers to be used for other non Para-Gear advertising for a period of one year. Para-Gear offers $250.00 each for both the front and back covers we choose. Our current deadline for catalog cover submissions is May 15th 2003. Sending sample pictures by e-mail or mail are both fine. We will return any mailed in photos or slides after we are done with them. Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions. Sincerely, Curt Bachman Para-Gear Equip. Co. Inc. curt@para-gear.com
  3. Marketing execs love to throw around industry jargon to make themselves sound like marketing experts. Terms like ROI, target demographic, disposable income, call to action and spiral binders with graphs and charts showing positive gains look and sound legit. Don’t believe the hype. All this ‘marketing-speak’ sounds good, but the majority of marketing execs who work for broadcast, TV and print don’t understand the skydiving industry and mistakenly apply successful campaigns used for other industries to our own. Before buying in to a marketing plan, understand three major reasons why mass media ads don’t give a return: 1. A Tough Call to Action. Strong marketing plans offer a call to action prompting an individual to respond to an ad. Few ads challenge people to do something that may result in one‘s death. Though death is an unlikely result, it weighs heavily for Joe Public to actually commit to calling a DZ and making a booking. 2. Recruitment. Think about it, how many people come to a DZ alone? It happens, but it’s the exception to the rule. Students usually recruit a friend to share in the fear, anticipation and excitement of the experience. Not only does one need to spend time considering whether they should jump, but then need to recruit a friend, which takes time. 3. Disposable Income. How many of us have an extra few hundred dollars lying around? Many mass media ads for activities are more affordable than your average price for a tandem skydive. Combine the obstacles of having to consider making a jump, recruiting a friend and saving money and you’ll find that a lengthy amount of time has gone by before the phone begins to ring. Some will argue that advertising creates brand awareness and this is true, but there will only be a small percentage who see and hear an ad that follow through all of the steps to make it to your DZ. Bottom line: a poor return on investment. Most DZO’s have been happy to break even on their mass media campaigns after they’ve launched. The Affordable and Effective Approach The most effective kind of marketing harnesses the exhilaration of your current customers. Firstly, give these guests a reason to come back to make a second jump. No longer does this need to be a ‘once in a lifetime experience.’ These guests will recruit their full-retail paying friends to experience life’s greatest adventure. Secondly, equip your guests with a means to advertise your DZ utilizing social media by sharing videos, photos and check-ins. Top Five Marketing Basics Every DZ Should be Implementing Online Reservations. If you’re a DZO who says that you don’t want to miss on the personal interaction with guests while making a booking, then this is the first marketing change to be made. If someone desires to spend money with your company at two o’clock in the morning, let them! Don’t force your potential customers to spend money with you on your terms. Social Media. The biggest corporations in the world are actively engaging with people through social media. If you are putting a couple posts out here and there then you’re missing a huge opportunity that the business world has come to embrace. Creating a social media plan is necessary, should be organized and well structured. This is a legitimate and inexpensive way to market the business. Video E-mails. Embrace your customer’s enthusiasm by using a service to e-mail guests their videos. Be sure the DZ’s branding, phone number and website is included because these videos will be shared everywhere. This is an example of getting your customers to market for you. Database Collection. Updating your DZ database is a critical piece to the marketing pie. Collecting e-mail addresses will allow for broadcasting your marketing message to a clientele that knows how great you are. A professionally designed newsletter offering specials during the holidays will reap rewards to the bottom line. Surveys. How do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Allow your customers to tell you by seeking their feedback. This should never be done at the DZ ten minutes after your guests have jumped. An online survey should be sent 24 hours after a jump allowing for anonymity and comfort to provide honest insight about the experience. In order to have a finger on the pulse of the operation and understand the weakest areas of the customer experience, surveys are invaluable. Finally, the best marketing is word of mouth. Examine every interaction your guests experience with the operation from the website, cleanliness of bathrooms, presentation of the instructor, cleanliness of jumpsuits etc. and be sure to amaze your customers. Having a plane with instructors who can safely execute skydives is not enough. The details that surround the experience is just as important as the skydive to ensure your customers aren’t just happy, but thrilled with the experience.
  4. admin

    Buttman flies again

    Grahamstown, South Africa - There was mirth and amazement when a naked skydiver landed on the Grahamstown army's parade at 8am yesterday morning. Unfazed, the first words Port Elizabeth candidate attorney James Reilly, 36, shouted to the 100-odd soldiers were: "Reporting for action, Sir!". Reilly jumped naked from 4 000m into minus 12 degree air as part of radio station 5fm's Speed Stick Give-it-Stick competition for the wackiest act. He leapt from the plane wearing only a stick of the deodorant bound with sticky tape to his penis. Before the jump, a nervous but excited Reilly was seen running around the EP Skydivers' clubhouse in the nude. The naked Reilly climbed into a light plane at 7.15am and jumped 45 minutes later. Speaking through gritted teeth, he said he endured a 50-second free fall at 200km/h "to get down quicker. It's cold man!" Although he said he was scared of landing barefoot on the gravel, ECN witnessed his agony as he removed the plastic tape. Mr Reilly yelled "Aaaaagh!" for almost 30 seconds as he stripped the binding off, even though his wife Michelle had said playfully: "I'm going to take that off!" She said: "It's madness what people will do for a car." Reilly was bidding to win a five-door Peugeot 206 sedan in the Speedstick Give It Stick And Win a Car Competition. 5FM DJ Kevin Fine said one competitor had "a stick tatooed to her bum." Mr Reilly will be admitted to the bar in the Grahamstown high court on Thursday.
  5. It would be difficult, at best, to write a complete and comprehensive guide to freefall photography. Patrick Weldon's "Flying the Camera" is the first attempt I have seen to do so, and is well worth the $34.95 purchase price for an aspiring freefall photographer. It covers a lot in a short book, and may fall just short of being 'complete,' but it sure is a great way to learn the basics. It may even save you some money by helping you avoid common 'beginner' mistakes. Review this Book Buy from Amazon.com By covering a complex subject in a short book, Weldon leaves a lot out - but he does so effectively, by making the information easy to read and follow. The information he leaves out is the sort that is usually more easily learned through personal experience anyhow. Most of the missing information is of the advanced or expert variety. If I noticed one thing that detracted from the overall impression I got from the book, it would be the quality of the illustrations and photos. The hand drawn illustrations were crude, but effective, and several of the photos seemed ill thought-out. Specifically, in the section where Weldon chides the neophyte photographer to always keep the subjects face in the sun, the example photos show the subjects face half-shaded. Nevertheless, even with cheesy drawings, the book does an excellent job of making a difficult subject into a set of tasks that are easily broken down and understood. Each area is thoroughly explained, from the equipment required to safely photograph each jump, to the proper editing technique for a tandem video. Weldon tries to cover it all and does a good job of doing so. No book on freefall photography can avoid personal technique - and there is an endless set of variations on this. Each individual has their own style, and this comes with experience. "Flying the camera" is a great introduction, but no book can teach technique. What a book can teach, however, is method - and at this "Flying the camera" is a huge success. It is in the specific methods and 'tricks' that Patrick Weldon shined the brightest - the book is full of useful hints that even seasoned photographers can benefit from - I sure did. But the book also had some controversial advice, and went directly against a personal philosophy - that of what to do when you open you parachute while wearing a camera helmet. The book specifically recommends that you put your head on your chest and look down - I was taught, and personal experience reinforced - that you always look at the horizon during opening and keep your head level to your shoulders. The difference is in the details and I am certain there are many sides to the argument. My opinion is just that - opinion. In freefall photography, whatever the technique - the method remains the same - and it really does come down to personal experience. That is what skydiving is all about, and photography just expands this - it captures an intensely personal experience and allows us to share that vision with the world. With rapid advances in camera technology, more and more skydivers are now flying a camera. This book will not cover all of the subject areas of interest, but for a novice freefall photographer this book can provide invaluable advice and guidance - and potentially save you a lot of wasted time and money. Even where the book is less-than-perfect, it is certainly better than nothing, and Patrick Weldon should be proud of his work. "Flying the camera" fills a huge gap of knowledge and will be a great benefit to anyone interested in freefall photography. Flying the Camera, the complete guide to freefall photography & skydiving video" Patrick Weldon$34.95 Available through Amazon books.
  6. Dropzone.com today launched its voluntary Premier Membership service! The decision to move forward with voluntary user supported subscription services was made for a few reasons: I want to keep Dropzone.com on the web and without this, I can not pay the bills. We want to keep advertising content low and we want to provide you with the best possible service and the coolest features we can! That's it. Dropzone.com is a very advertising-lite site. We don't bombard you with pop-up ads. Even though we serve millions of pages every month we choose not to join large advertising syndicates and expose you to streams of irrelevant non-skydiving promotions and ads. We want to keep it that way. This also provides the highest value to our advertisers as their ads are not lost in a flood of outside noise. We continue to appreciate the support we receive from the skydiving industry in this. Rather than turning to large corporate sponsors from outside we'd chose to come to you, the community, for support. People have shown over the years that they are willing to donate and get involved. We very deliberately made a decision that nothing that has been free in the past will become part of the Premier services. You will be able to continue enjoying Dropzone.com exactly as you have without ever giving us a penny. That's the way I want it. We will create additional Premier features, and those users who find them valuable can subscribe on a voluntary basis. We think they're pretty neat! Thank you to everyone who have supported me through the years in all manner and ways. I hope you enjoy the Premier Features. As part of our Premier launch we have partnered with Aerodyne and one of our new premier members will win a complete system - container, main and reserve - from Aerodyne's line of products. Click on the link below for more information. More information and how to Subscribe for Premier Membership
  7. Image by Vincent Reeder Do you remember what it was like to go on a first date? Imagine inviting someone out that you felt was completely out of your league...beautiful, intelligent, witty - the whole package. I feel nervous just thinking about it. Naturally you'd want to leave a great impression. You hope that at the end of the night your date would say that it was the best date she'd ever been on. To reach this outcome, attention to detail is necessary. I'd wash my car, research restaurants to ensure the atmosphere was romantic, the food outstanding and the service excellent. Now visualize picking your date up. Think about how you feel physically: sweaty, nervous and a marathon-pumping heart rate. After you've practiced saying "Hello, you look beautiful tonight," (several times) you get out of the car, walk confidently up the driveway without revealing your internal emotions. Once she greets you at the door, your awareness levels are in hyperdrive - you notice everything in milliseconds - the way she looks from head to toe, how she smells… your subconscious notices what's behind her as she stands in the doorway. Is her place messy or neat? You take everything in. The emotions felt on a first date are how our students feel when arriving at the drop zone for the first time - out of their comfort zones, excited and nervous. Our students notice EVERYTHING from the moment they drive in to the parking lot until they've landed from their jump. As drop zone operators, we must remember that we are hosting the ultimate date - the opportunity to give someone a lifetime memory. Every detail on our date should be carefully examined - each customer point of interaction be brought to a five star standard. Our goal is to have our guests say that their experience was one of the best days of their lives. Bob Marley once sang, "You can't please all the people all the time…" No matter how hard we strive to exceed customer expectations, we will never be perfect. Smartphones have empowered consumers to become critics that effect how other consumers decide where to spend their money - with your business or with your competitor. When negative comments are posted about your business, how you react (or not react) can greatly effect the outcome. In this week's newsletter, we examine tips for handling negative feedback. 6 Strategies For Handling Negative Reviews Tip 1: Don't Knee Jerk The natural response when reading criticism is to immediately become defensive and type out a quick response. DON'T DO THAT. Sit with the criticism for a while and let the initial shock that you've been publicly called out, settle. The walls aren't caving in and some of the criticism may have merit. Try to be objective and own your part in the criticism. The biggest mistake is not making necessary changes to ensure a similar review doesn't pop up in the future. Tip 2 - Join The Conversation After you've calmed down, it's better to join the conversation than ignore it. Negativity breeds negativity and joining the conversation is better than allowing one person's views to rumble into an avalanche of criticism that becomes unmanageable and viral. It's best to be non-confrontational, non-defensive and act as a caring human being. Be calm in your response and say sorry if you need to. Introducing yourself and showing that you're a real person puts a face to a business as opposed to a corporate entity with a PR spin. Pick and choose your battles as well. If someone is a tyrant and is abusive... the general audience will be able to discern that. Tip 3 - You Don't Have to be Right Realize that you don't have to be right. People who spend a lot of time online are used to companies trying to spin everything into a positive. If you're wrong, it's okay to say you're wrong. No one is perfect and it can be refreshing to see some honesty. Acknowledge and see if it's possible to find resolution by contacting the individual directly. If you can convert a critic into a fan of your business, the word of mouth spread is far greater. Criticism and how a customer's complaints are handled can be very valuable in spreading goodwill about your company. Tip 4 - Don't Get Caught Off Guard If you haven't done this yet, stop reading this newsletter and do it now. (I'll wait here while you get this done). Go to Google Alerts and plug in your company name. If anyone mentions your company online, you'll at least be in the know. It's never a good thing to have an online war raging about your company and have no awareness that it's even occurring. Tip 5 - Never Go Into A Diatribe (This is Queens English for "Don't show your ass.") Let's suppose the criticism you've received is misguided and wrong. The most common mistake is how people respond by: a). working themselves into a lather and taking a hard stance defending themselves and b). write a long-winded response that only fuels the comment thread (we see it on a daily basis within the forums of dropzone.com). When responding, keep calm and carry on (even if you want to rip someone's head off) and keep it relatively succinct. Rehashing each detail of the customer encounter WILL fuel more commentary from those watching the thread unfold. Keep in mind, you're not responding publicly to an audience of a few - it could be a few hundred. No matter how right you maybe, acting indignantly will only turn many people off. Tip 6 - Don't Hide- Be Transparent 
 Many companies delete negative reviews - particularly off of social media feeds. Deleting people's posts can cause rancor for those watching things unfold and they WILL CALL YOU OUT on it. The best course of action is to respond. Of course, there are some people out there ('trolls') who are looking for trouble and are looking to pick a fight.. when things get abusive, it's time to pull them off. The Realities Anonymity empowers people to say things they normally wouldn't in the presence of others. Showing you're human, interested in helping to solve a problem and publicly apologizing will usually diffuse most situations.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. admin

    Go Fast energy drink bolts out of gate

    Troy Widgery, founder of Go Fast, stands atop the company Range Rover in front of their building at 1935 W. 12th Ave. in Denver. Maybe that's why Denver native Troy Widgery, a skydiver, has poured all his energy and money into Go Fast energy drink. He's trying to pry his way into a $275 million industry dominated by Red Bull of Austria and U.S. beverage giants Anheuser-Busch and Hansen's. So far, sales are up for the caffeine and herb-packed beverage, which was launched in November. Go Fast is sold in liquor stores, bars and shops around the state, including The Church, Sacre Bleu, Java Creek and Mondo Vino in Denver. This year, Go Fast Beverage Co. expects to go a lot faster. National Distributing Co. today will begin pushing Go Fast to its 7,500 accounts statewide. Other distributing deals are in the works, said Widgery, whose latest passion is kiteboarding, a hybrid of surfing and parasailing. "When you were a little kid and wanted to get lifted by your kite, that's kind of what happens," he said, describing the new sport he learned in Hawaii and Mexico. But Widgery is spending more time these days on a forklift in Go Fast's warehouse. The company is ramping up marketing, and he's out rounding up new capital for growth. In 1996, Widgery started Go Fast Sports, a clothing company that sells mostly to motorcycle, bike and surf specialty stores. The 35-year-old Cherry Creek High grad also owns Sky Systems Inc., a 14-year-old company that designs helmets for skydiving and other extreme sports like water-ski jumping. Sky Systems makes a patented product called Tube Stoe - essentially a rubber band that's used to pack a parachute. Sales from Tube Stoe helped Widgery fund Go Fast Sports, which has since grown about 300 percent a year, he said. "Because of our involvement with extreme sports, last year we saw the market potential for an energy drink and we wanted one that was better than the current drinks out there," Widgery said. "A lot of energy drinks give you a kick that makes you sort of jittery and you drop off quickly. Ours is smoother and more sustained. Ours has the least amount of sugar." Most "true" energy drinks include stimulants caffeine and ginseng and the amino acid taurine, Widgery said. Go Fast also contains guarana and ginko. Some stimulate the mind and others the body. Some industry watchers question whether energy drinks, which sell for $2 a can, are just a fad. Can they pose health risks? The nutritional research is inconclusive, but some critics fear the greatest detriment is mixing energy drinks and alcohol because the stimulants can fool a person into thinking they're sober enough to drive. Widgery said a number of nutritional experts and chemists formulated Go Fast. Regas Christou, owner of The Church, hasn't had problems with the drink and said that Red Bull and Go Fast sales are strong. "A lot more people are drinking more of the energy drinks," Christou said. "Every single egg is in the basket," Widgery said. "I believe in it. The energy market is here to stay." Energy drinks have been sold in Europe for more than a decade, Widgery noted. In the United States, sales skyrocketed to $275 million last year compared with $130 million in 2000, according to Beverage Marketing Corp. Widgery expects fallout in the energy drink category because he said only a handful of the so-called drinks actually have ingredients to get your heart and mind racing. Go Fast is in discussions with an Oklahoma-based bicycle parts distributor, which is interested in selling the drink to its 7,000 bike store customers nationwide. Widgery met earlier this week with a New York nutritional ingredients supplier who wants to take the product to China. For all his confidence in Go Fast, Widgery's voice is even-keeled when he talks about growth. "We want to make the brand grow properly, and not just oversaturate the market," he said, noting the target energy-drink consumers are young and discriminating - those who seek what's on the fringe, not mainstream grocery products. "The brand has to maintain its soul," Widgery said. "You have to appeal to the "go fast' type of person." ~ Denver Post
  11. admin

    Marketing To The Millennials

    Have you ever been at a restaurant and observed a group of people not speaking to one another because everyone was staring at their phones? The age group most likely to be "engaging" this way are people born between the years 1980 and 1996 - the Millennial generation. There’s a lot of good news about Millennials for the skydiving industry (for example, they put experiential value ahead of ‘stuff’), but there's some bad news too: many of us haven't adjusted our marketing plan to capture the Millennial market. We've only just begun to dip our toes into the vast ocean of digital marketing which would enable us to meet Millennials where they are - online. Having a functional website and a Facebook page is no longer enough; to effectively reach this demographic, we need to be fully immersed in the channels they are using and understand why they use them. Why You Need To Be Marketing To Millennials Although skydiving caters to individuals between 16 (depending on your country) and 106, the number one target demographic for the skydiving industry is men and women between the ages of 25 and 34. Have a look at your Facebook Insights and you'll probably notice that the largest percentage of your fan base usually falls within this category. And this category fits squarely within the age range of the Millennial generation. Love or hate their addiction to smartphones and tablets, there’s no denying that 18-34 year olds are an important segment, if not the MOST important segment of your customer base, and their influence is growing. According to a recent U.S. Census Bureau, Millennials will surpass Baby Boomers as the largest living generation in 2015. In the U.S., Millennials are responsible for an estimated 1.3 trillion dollars in annual spending. This number will only increase as more Millennials reach their peak income earning years over the next two decades. The future success of your business will depend in large part on your ability to properly market your services to the Millennial generation. As digital natives, the way Millennials interact, view, and engage with the world around them is completely different from previous generations. Their preferences are different, their values are different, and their spending habits are very different. Companies who want to effectively tap into this growing demographic are going to have to embrace a completely new marketing strategy that takes these differences into account. In a recent report, “How Millennials Are Changing the Face of Marketing Forever,” The Boston Consulting Group outlines the ideal marketing strategy for capturing the Millennial generation. They call it reciprocal marketing and describe it as follows: “Instead of being a process that is led and pushed by companies, modern marketing is an ecosystem that is influenced by some factors that a company can control and some that are beyond its control. It is a system in which marketers, customers, and potential customers perpetually exchange experiences, reactions, emotions, and buzz.” How To Create An Effective Reciprocal Marketing Campaign 1. Be WHERE Your Customers Are To effectively reach Millennials, companies must be present online and offline; they must have a strong mobile presence. According to the Pew Research Center, roughly 83% of Millennials now own a smartphone. Of those, 50% report that their preferred device for accessing the internet is their smartphone. This means many of your potential customers are accessing your website on a mobile device. Have you visited your website on a smartphone or tablet lately? How does it look? Is it easy to read and navigate, or do you have to constantly pinch and expand to see the text? Millennials are the instant gratification generation - If your website is not responsive (meaning it automatically adjusts to fit any size screen or device), chances are they won't be sticking around for long, and you won't be getting their business. 2. EMBODY What Your Customers Aspire to Be Millennials are looking to connect with brands that reflect their values and project who they aspire to be. What do Millennials value? Luxury, adventure, excitement, travel, and authenticity – to name a few. They describe their generation as tech savvy, modern, risk taking, rebellious, smart and humorous. If you want to strike a chord with Millennials, make sure that your company’s messaging, imagery and personality reflect what they value. This shouldn't be too difficult - what could be more adventurous, exciting, authentic, and rebellious than skydiving? And there's more great news for our industry: a recent poll found that Millennials place a higher value on life experiences than on physical possessions. In fact Millennials’ spending habits are the driving force behind the new “experience economy.” 78% of Millennials said they would rather spend money on a memorable experience than on an object; 72% indicated that they would likely spend more money on experiences than physical things next year; and 72% reported suffering from FOMO (fear of missing out), a condition that is driving them to engage in more experiences so they can “keep up” (i.e. post pictures and status updates of their exciting life experiences) with their social networks. 3. ENGAGE with Your Customers to Build Trust If you want to build customer loyalty among Millennials, you must engage with them. Millennials desire to interact and share their experiences and opinions with companies through social media. Research indicates that recognition is extremely important to Millennials so when you open up a dialogue make sure you are prompt to reply to customers who engage with you. Make them feel as if they have a personal relationship with your brand. Millennials are overwhelmingly skeptical. Only 19% believe people can be trusted. This means a company has to work hard to gain and maintain their trust. Authentic engagement via social media is one of the best ways to do this. When you build loyalty with Millennials who have already used your services, you encourage them to share their opinion of your company with their friends. And because Millennials’ purchasing decisions are largely influenced by friends and family, making your current customers brand advocates will reassure their social circle that you are a trustworthy company to do business with. Social Media - Quick Facts 52% of Millennials follow/like their favorite brands online via social media channels. Facebook is still by far the most popular social media channel with Millennials, but more users are engaging with multiple platforms daily. Relevant platforms: 2014 Usage Statistics (18-29 years old) Facebook = 87% Twitter = 37% Instagram = 53%
  12. There was a huge amount of review work that went into the documentation changes to the Skydiver’s Information Manual and the new Instructional Rating Manual. There were over a dozen people including volunteers from the membership as well as S&T; committee members who had given written input into the documentation being proposed and coordinated by the Director of Safety and Training (Jim Crouch), the Director of Publications (Kevin Gibson), and the Executive Director (Chris Needels). Even with all of this input which was collated into the proposed documentation where appropriate or explained adequately as to why it was not necessary in some circumstances, there were still sufficient further review tasks that the Chairman of the Safety and Training Committee (Glenn Bangs) asked us to come to the Skydive Chicago facility a day early to help with the review process. By having that many eyes and minds meticulously go over the documentation, at the end of over 600 person hours of work prior to and during the meeting, the S&T; Committee was finally able to present a motion to the BOD that the documentation, once re-corrected and retyped would finally be ready for the BOD’s approval. The BOD members who were not on the committee did not take this task lightly as they kept checking in on the S&T; Committee throughout the meeting’s progress, offering their own views on some items. To give you an idea of the meticulous nature of the review process, one single section of the BSRs took up more than 1.5 hours of Committee and full BOD time. This was the section dealing with age limitations. Very serious discussions on legalities and protection of the organization’s assets being exposed to liability were held with several motions being proposed with varying degrees of legal phrasing being utilized. What finally came about was actually a very simple statement that Tandem jumping must be performed only by persons who are of the age of legal majority, but the fact that three states have that age as greater than eighteen weighed heavily on the minds of the BOD members. I am sure the manufacturers of the Tandem equipment will soon be involved with DZs in those states, letting them know of the legal position of the manufacturer and the DZ in those cases. Other statements of importance are that the age limitations of the non-Tandem jumpers would remain as previously stated in the BSRs, but the waiver authority of that section would be changed from non-waiverable to waiverable by the full BOD. In further trying to address some issues of minors below the age of 16 being jumpers already in existence, it was discovered that there was a By-Law that prevented any permission to waive that was in effect, thus for anything to even be attempted to change that, the item for the change must be on the BOD’s agenda prior to the meeting. As such, people who are less than 16 years of age are still not permitted to skydive according to the current USPA BSRs. There are other ramifications to that situation and if you want to go into if further, I suggest you consult with your regional director as to those particulars. Here are some other important issues to make note of: The USPA will endeavor to work with the PIA and equipment manufacturers to obtain data, which will support a position of extending the repack cycle of sport reserve parachutes to 180 days. There is, however, still some concern about what will happen to the equipment if it is mishandled such as by leaving it in a car trunk or some other hot climate area, which will contribute, to the degradation of components of the parachute system. All of this needs to be researched under scientifically controlled conditions to get factual answers that will either support the proposition or show that the proposition is not valid. No additional AFF course directors were appointed. The existing instructional rating holder, regardless of the fact that they are not rated in an AFF program, will be enabled to make Integrated Student Program category E and F jumps in addition to the already permitted category G and H jumps once a student is signed off by an instructor for self-supervision in freefall. This means that USPA Coach Rating holders have gotten additional jump category privileges as well as allowing USPA Tandem and Static Line or Instructor Assisted Deployment rating holders those same privileges (because the privileges of their ratings includes working with students signed off for self-supervision). So, if you are a Tandem Instructor certified by a manufacturer and have not yet obtained your USPA Tandem Instructor rating, get with the program and get that rating if you want to have those privileges. (Yes, an S&TA; could still waiver that for you, but it sure would be nice to have that as an “automatic” rather than a “waivered” item.) A detailed progress report was made by the Finance and Budget Committee showing us exactly where we were in relation to market performance benchmarks and what our projected costs and incomes are. Due to increased insurance costs (premiums constantly going up due to claims increases), it is necessary to recover some of those past and projected cost of operation increases by an increase in dues which will be very reasonable in amount and will be very properly announced in all media formats used by the USPA. Skydive Lake Wales’ Betty Kabeller made the winning bid presentation for the 2003 USPA Nationals competition.Congratulations Betty. There are no changes to the Group Membership Program that I know of to report on at this time. The next BOD meeting will be in the Jacksonville, FL area in the timeframe next to the PIA symposium. I don't have the exact dates listed with me at this time but it is in the February 2003 timeframe. The meeting after that will be in the Fredericksburg, VA area in July 2003, close to the proposed site of the future USPA HQ and History of Parachuting Museum (I hope I named that correctly). Speaking of those future facilities, it is important to report that the initial work on the design phase of the headquarters facility was presented at this BOD meeting and showed much thought process of numerous parties. I can't give you folks the details of the finances yet (that will probably come out in the BOD’s minutes), but I can report that if things go the way they are planned, there will be a prime five (5) acre site shared by both organizations with a huge visibility to I-95 in that area. Folks might want to think about getting some tax benefits by donating equipment and money to the museum such that it will become a very important representation of our industry. Bill Ottley (who heads the museum’s organization) will always be glad to help you figure out what to do with your spare cash and materials. There was a disciplinary action taken against a member, but those proceedings were (properly) in closed session and the results will become evident when the USPA publishes the meeting minutes. There are other items that may be of interest to competitors, but rather than erroneously reporting on those from memory (which will undoubtedly lead me to make errors because I didn't write those items down), I will encourage you to look for the meeting minutes on the USPA’s web site in the near future. I think that is plenty for you folks to digest at this time. Blue, Clear, and Moderate-Wind Skies! Mike Turoff USPA I/E, D-5957
  13. nettenette

    Advice For Your First Hop and Pop

    It’s sitting there, waiting for you in Category F of your USPA skydiver training: the hop ‘n’ pop. Eek. It’s no wonder that you’re biting your nails. (We’ve all been there.) It’ll be your first time deploying in soft, subterminal air. It’ll be your first time really trusting your stability out the door. And it’s probably going to be your first time opening that daunting clear plastic thingy. And you’ll be doing all this under the ungoggled gazes of everyone else in the plane -- who, you probably imagine, will have nothing better to do than inspect your technique. The USPA officially calls it the “clear-and-pull requirement,” in case you’ve been fruitlessly searching for “hop and pop” in the SIM. Your mission, should you choose to accept it (and, y’know, get that solo license) will be to exit from 5,500’ AGL, get stable and deploy within five seconds. Five seconds?! Don’t worry so much. Five seconds is much longer than you think it is. Ask any BASE jumper (or television commercial editor, or rodeo competitor): five seconds is kinda forever. Remember, too: you’re not reinventing the wheel. Your hop ‘n’ pop exit is no different from any other solo exit you’ve ever done, except that you’ll need to be stable and deploying within that aforementioned time constraint. If your licensed instructor didn’t think you ready and reliable, he/she wouldn’t be lining you up for it. So own it. And breathe. 1. Start on the ground. Check out the winds aloft before you start the march to the plane, and review the spot with your instructor while you can both hear each other clearly. 2. Don’t worry too much about the door. Other jumpers are paying less attention to you than you think they are. (Anyway, your instructor is going to be right there to help.) 3. Don’t lose sight of the goal. From your window seat, you’ll be in a prime position to keep an eye on the landing area. Watch it as you climb, picking out the landmarks you usually use to find your way home. Once you have a lock on it, don’t let your nerves jiggle it out of your consciousness. 4. Don’t forget your magical backpack. Get a pin check before that door opens. Check your handles and pilot chute, too. 5. Take a moment to hang out. While the door is open and you’re waiting for that green light, put your goggles on and lean your head out a bit to check out the situation. You’re looking for the airport, of course; since you’ve been keeping an eye on the dropzone from your lofty perch, you’ll know just where to look. You’re also looking for positioning relative to the spot you discussed earlier with your instructor (winds aloft, remember?), and for other air traffic crowding “your” sky. 6. Get ready for different feels. Your instructor will prep you on the ground for the correct hop-n-pop exit to leave this particular plane. When that green light comes on, take a deep, cleansing breath and do your relaxed best to nail it. The air will feel different -- “softer” -- than it usually does, which might catch you off-guard. You can expect to turn a little as you exit. Point your hips levelly at the ground and deploy that nylon within those five weirdly-long seconds. 7. Bollocked it up? Pull anyway. If you don’t get this 5,500’ AGL exit right, you’re going to end up doing it all over again before you move on to its lower-altitude counterpart. It’s not the end of the world: unless, of course, you ride your oops too far down. Don’t launch right into kicking yourself if you fail -- that’s just going to make you more unstable. Accept your lot and pull by 3,500 feet AGL whether you’re stable or not. 8. Expect your parachute to check out the scenery. Your canopy, when deployed subterminally, will open into the relative wind and “seek.” It may not open directly above you, as it usually does. Don’t get spooked and tense up. 9. Give yourself a high five. Cross your fingers against the unlikely event of a low aircraft emergency that would test your newfound skills in the fun-free way. And buy the beer.
  14. It is easy to think of the weather as just being big. All too often as skydivers we assess things in very general terms without really worrying too much about the details - yet the most direct impact weather conditions can have on your skydiving can happen on an entirely personal level, affecting you and you alone while trying to successfully land a parachute. I make no claim to being a canopy piloting coach and should you wish to further your skills in that area I recommend seeking out humans that offer professional structured courses in these matters. What follows is simple advice designed to encourage further learning by pointing out some of the more common weather phenomena that you will encounter above and around the dropzone. Turbulence: When wind hits something it bounces off in different directions which can cause difficulties for flying one’s parachute through if you are not prepared for it. Dropzones are hugely diverse in terms of layout and construction - from the humble Cessna using a strip of grass in the middle of nowhere to powerhouse operations that utilise a fleet of aircraft and resemble a municipal airport, however wherever you jump the same general rules about what to look for apply. Below I have included some examples and a few shit-but-accurate pictures to demonstrate how wind behaves over and around common obstacles. By referring to these you can get some idea about how to be aware of potential hazards and avoid them when necessary. Wind over building Wind over hill Wind over ridge Wind over trees Unstable Air - When the wind hits something big and flat like a hangar it spills out in lots of different directions at the same time. Depending on exactly where you are this could cause lift, sink, sideways motion or all of these in quick succession. Things can get really rough next to structures when it is windy - so use your brain, apply your training and be somewhere else. Wind Shadow - A large enough object might create an area behind it which is clear of the turbulence and has no wind. Where you were previously crabbing like mad or going nowhere fast - if you enter a wind shadow you might suddenly find you have a surge in ground speed and have to adjust where you though you were going to land. Be very ready for more turbulence. Bottleneck - This is when wind speeds up rapidly to squeeze a large volume of air in a small gap between two objects. This can also be compounded by the other problems created by wind trying to get around things such as an increase in instability. Thermal Activity: Thermal activity is generated by the sun heating the air - warm air expands pushing outwards and cold air contracts drawing inwards, causing wind. The most common experience most of us initially have with this effect is via some toothy weather person gesticulating at region-wide areas of a greenscreen map on the telly and describing which way the wind will most likely be pointing. However - thermals gather and release on a much, much smaller scale than this and can be localised enough to effect your flight while navigating a canopy. Things to look for are items and areas that are good at causing lift by either reflecting heat such as tarmac (runway/carpark/roads) and metal (hangars), or storing heat such as bodies of water. A small amount of thermal activity is not going to cause serious issues with your flight pattern or your canopy’s performance but some sudden lift or sink when you are not expecting it can mean the difference between landing in your intended spot and somewhere else. In some places thermals can be surprisingly violent and threaten your safety - ask anyone who has tussled with an Arizona dust devil that sprang as if from nowhere on an otherwise perfect skydiving day. Behaviour: So what do you do when things get more challenging? Dropzones operate under official limits for jumping and will often have their own rules in place for particular conditions. For example you might be required to land in a different area if the wind is coming from a certain direction or you might have to stop jumping sooner than you were planning due to a particular quirk in the local terrain. Learn these special circumstances and understand why they exist - you never know when such knowledge will help you make a good decision somewhere unfamiliar when the pressure is on. Despite established parameters the person responsible for your safety is you. If you decide keep jumping as conditions get ‘interesting’ it is only sensible to modify your behaviour for increased safety: If it is getting super windy then use any available space and land clear of hazards and other canopies. Walking a long way back to the hangar is better than crawling even the shortest distance if you have to do it into the back of an ambulance. Landing crosswind or downwind into clear space and sliding across the grass like a goose landing on a frozen pond is better than turning low into the wind and flying face-first into the ground. If the wind is actively changing direction as you look at the indicators then follow the rules and land the way the arrow is pointing. Again - it is safer to all land in the same direction regardless of which way the wind is going than all try to face into it as it moves around and risk a collision. Watch other people land. If the wind is getting up then maybe have a break and watch a load or two. Assess everyone from Captain swoopypants all the way through to the tandems and those with lower experience. Try to develop a habitual curiosity about what is going on at the particular spot you like to skydive. Many noteworthy incidents in our sport can be traced back to awareness of small things that could easily be avoided with a little learning.
  15. admin

    Woman goes skydiving for 85th birthday

    Iona DiFilippi makes one of her dreams come true by jumping out of a plane 10,000 feet in the air. Strapped to a ‘chute and sporting mechanic’s overalls — the skydiving suits were too big for her small frame — Iona DiFilippi said she had no fear as the plane ascended to 10,000 feet and she prepared to leap to the ground. “The first micro-second after I tumbled out of the plane I thought, ‘Why am I doing this?’ But after that it was wonderful,” she said Sunday from her Salem home. DiFilippi has wanted to jump out of a plane for the past 60 years. She finally took the plunge Saturday to celebrate her 85th birthday. Nose cold and wind rushing by, she said the 30 seconds of freefall was over too soon — a little like the years she was busy raising a family and didn’t have time to go leaping out of planes. “The time just goes by so fast,” she said of the years she wanted to skydive but never got around to it. So a few years ago she decided her 85th birthday would be the day to become a daredevil. Taking advantage of a sunny break in the rain and hail above Creswell, the skydiving crew jumped in the plane and made it all possible. Because it was her first jump, DiFilippi was hooked to an instructor. After the pair leapt from the plane and DiFilippi got over her brief moment of fright, she said the world was beautiful as they glided toward it. “It really is a wonderful sensation, floating down and seeing the horizon so far away,” she said. Landing firmly and safely on her legs, DiFilippi said getting hurt wasn’t any more a concern than her age. In fact, she welcomes people of all ages and abilities to try it out. “It isn’t just for healthy people. It’s something that people of all abilities can do.” DiFilippi’s only complaint was of the brisk spring air at 10,000 feet. “Next time I’m going to do it in the summer.”
  16. Image by Brian Buckland When we discuss training in the skydiving community we usually refer to training students or teaching experienced skydivers new techniques. However, we seldom discuss how to train our staff so they are safer and more effective. By grooming your staff you can make your drop zone more enjoyable for your customers and in turn, make your business more profitable. Today, I would like to discuss a psychological situation that can affect the staff as well as other skydivers. That situation is known as Groupthink. What is groupthink? Simply put, it is a condition that occurs when a closely cohesive group has a tendency to make bad decisions because the group pressure becomes so great, everyone starts to ignore moral judgments and sound decision making. Groups that are more susceptible to this phenomenon are tightly cohesive, have a similar background, and have a lack of clear rules for decision making. As for me, I cannot think of a more cohesive group of individuals with, similar backgrounds, than a group of skydiving professionals. Please don’t get me wrong, it is not a bad thing that we are a cohesive group of people. We just need to be able to recognize when our staff, or group, is beginning to fall into a groupthink mentality. So, what are the symptoms of groupthink? In 1972 a social psychologist named Irving Janis identified eight symptoms of groupthink. As you read through these I ask that you think to yourself about a time where you actually witnessed one or more of these at a drop zone. 1. The feeling of invulnerability – Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks. 2. Collective rationalizations – Members ignore warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions. 3. Beliefs in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions. 4. Stereotyped views of “outsiders”– Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary. 5. Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views. 6. Self-censorship – Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed. 7. Illusion of unanimity – The majority’s view, and judgments, are believed to be unanimous. 8. Self-appointed ‘mindguards’ – Members protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions. I’m sure most people can relate to a few of these symptoms and to make it perfectly clear, just because you see one or two of these does not necessarily mean that a groupthink situation is going on… but then again it could. Since we know the symptoms, what can we do to prevent a groupthink situation, or to try to remedy the effects of a situation already happening? Let’s start by defining what we call a group. A group can be something small and organized like a team. It can be a little bit larger such as the staff of a DZ. Or it can be a group of people with a common cause such as free flyers or belly flyers. Now, let’s address the problem. One way to help prevent group think from setting in is to designate a member of the group as a devil’s advocate. This person will be the one to think outside the box and to ask the questions “what if” and “why”. The devil’s advocate should also suggest alternate plans or ways of doing things. It is important that the devil’s advocate does not just go through the motions, but makes meaningful suggestions and the group discusses them. This will keep everyone’s head focused on moral and safe decisions and not just out of habit dismiss all suggestions. Another preventive measure is for the leader to set aside an amount of time to survey warning signs. To define the leader, it can be a team coach, the DZO/DZM, but at a minimum it should be the S&TA.; This doesn’t have to be a big formal inspection, just a time to walk around the DZ so you can hear and see what people are doing and planning. In this case, someone will probably hear signs of groupthink before they see actions. Listen to what people are planning. Listen to what they are encouraging others to do. At the same time take note on how their words and actions are affecting others, especially the less experienced skydivers. Finally, for members of the group; you should all routinely talk to someone from outside the group that is trusted and has a valued opinion. These talks should be one-on-one and preferably not with the same person. This will give you a fresh point of view and help you to make the best decision, not necessarily the one that goes along with the group. By keeping an eye on each other not just by doing gear checks, but by letting people know when you start to observe behavior that could lead to unsafe practices, you can help make our sport safer. Let’s face it. Being a skydiver means taking calculated risks. We need to work together to keep the odds in our favor.
  17. Over the holidays, my girlfriend and I drove from Charlotte, North Carolina to Raleigh, North Carolina to visit her family. What we encountered on our road trip was something that every traveler has to contend with - dirty bathrooms. With full bladders, we chose an interstate exit which offered a choice of four different fuel stations. We picked the one that looked the most modern in hopes of discovering that rare, road-trip find: the gas station with a clean bathroom. Walking into the station, we noticed that the owner had a sign crudely taped to the door that said restrooms were not for public use. Only "paying" customers could have access to the bathrooms. Accepting this 'must-buy-something-in-the-store' condition, we walked in, used the filthy facilities (the women's room neither had toilet paper nor soap), purchased a Starbucks Frappuccino, a very burnt tasting coffee and vowed to never return again. I wish this gas station would hire me for a marketing consultation. I would transform this business to a level of success, once believed to be unimaginable. In fact, my client would change the way the competition does business just to remain competitive. My input would result in lines queuing off the exit ramp as if there was a gas shortage. How would I do this? I would satisfy the pain point of travelers by providing a clean bathroom. Not just a clean bathroom, but AMAZINGLY clean bathrooms that are designed for high volume and easy maintenance. I would advertise these amazingly clean bathrooms to the masses, exclaiming to every traveler on the interstate of how clean they are. So what does this have to do with the skydiving industry? EVERYTHING Few industries have as much bathroom traffic as the skydiving industry. Looking for your student on the 20 minute call? They're in the bathroom! I've often said that you can tell how a business feels about its customers by looking at the bathroom. This is a point that must not be ignored, but there is a bigger message here. This article is less about bathrooms and more about addressing the obvious points that DZO's miss because of subjectivity. The time investment that a DZO puts in during an average summer weekend day is usually 12-14 hours. It's easy to lose sight of the obvious and become blind to what your customers are actually experiencing. What are the pain points for your customers? Directions? Cleanliness of Bathrooms? Cleanliness of the Hangar? Cleanliness of the Packing Mat? Hospitality of the Manifest Staff? Dirty jumpsuits? What are the pain points of your staff? Maintaining equipment? Clean goggles for students? Frap hats in good condition? Laundered jumpsuits? 9 Steps to Exceed the Expectations of Customers 1. Identify. Identify every customer point of interaction with the business. 2. Evaluate. Answer the question, "Are we providing 5 star service at each point of interaction?" If you’re not, you need to be. 3. Gather Feedback. Poll your customers. If possible, e-mail your customer database requesting they take a brief survey about your company. Each question in the survey should request an evaluation at each point of interaction. 4. Listen. Listen to what your customers are saying. Don't blow the feedback off as trivial. This feedback is critical to a business' survival. Make appropriate changes based on the feedback. 5. Set Goals. In order to exceed the expectations of your customers, a measurable goal must be set for everyone in the company to work towards and achieve. 6. Measure. Create a statistic that charts progress based on the new goals. 7. Recognize - Recognize pain points employees endure when trying to deliver excellent service. Make it as easy as possible for your staff to amaze the customer. Also, identify team members who are unable to deliver the level of service management requires. Try to coach employees wherever possible, but be ready to remove team members who do not buy-in. 8. Establish Culture - Delivering amazing service does not happen by simply announcing "Let's give better service!" Employees need to be happy in order to deliver great service consistently. Establish core values with employee input and hold the company to that standard from the CEO down. 9. Communicate. Communicate and over-communicate. Give as much feedback to employees as possible. People wish to feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves and will take more pride in their work if they know their contribution makes a difference. Praise publicly and always punish privately. Powerful marketing focuses on how a customer feels about a company. Exceed the expectations of your customers to gain the advantage in your marketplace. The details matter. Above, the before and after pics of the bathroom facility at Triangle Skydiving Center. When customers are paying a premium price to use your services, a premium experience should be given. The industry must remember that we are operating million dollar + operations. Make it a million dollar experience from start to finish at every point of contact.
  18. Your square parachute is the result of two decades of design refinement. Like a glider, it can fly straight and level or turn, slow down, spin, and even stall. As the pilot, where you land and how you land is totally up to you. Practice, combined with a clear understanding of how your parachute works, will allow you to land softly, exactly where you want to, every time. When your parachute is inflated, the pressurized air filling the tailored cells causes it to take on a wing shape. A parachute has a fixed angle of incidence, built into it by the length of the lines. The "A" lines in front are shorter than the "D" lines in back, causing the wing to point slightly down. It essentially flies forward and down on the slope of the angle built into it. This angle causes it to fly about three feet forward for every one foot down, giving it a 3 to 1 glide ratio. In other words, on a calm day a parachute opened at 4,000 feet could fly a straight line distance of 12,000 feet before landing! The speed at which it flies is about 20 miles per hour forward and 6 to 8 miles per hour down when the canopy is in full glide with the control handles, called steering toggles all the way up. The toggles are also referred to as brakes, since pulling both down slows you down. Pulling down on the right toggle pulls down the back right corner of the canopy, slowing it down and creating a turn to the right. At the same time, the slow side looses lift and the canopy points downward in the direction of the turn, increasing the vertical descent rate. One of the most important handling characteristics of parachutes is that their descent rate always increases in a turn! This phenomenon is by far the greatest cause of parachuting injuries. With this in mind, you must take care to always plan your landing so that you will not be forced to do any major turns below 100 feet. How slow or fast you turn is in direct proportion to how far you pull down the toggle, as is the change in your descent rate - fast in a sharp turn, slower in a mild turn. If you pull down on both toggles simultaneously, the canopy's forward speed decreases. The slowest you can go is about five miles per hour forward. Generally you should fly your canopy as fast as possible - toggles all the way up. This is because the more air the wing has passing over it, the better it flies. In fact, in sustained deep brakes so little air passes over the wing that the descent rate increases significantly. You can even cause the canopy to stall, which means it gives up flying altogether. Normally student canopies have the control lines calibrated to make a stall condition difficult or impossible to get into. Whenever you jump an unfamiliar canopy, you should always do a series of turns and practice flaring (pulling both toggles down simultaneously) above 1,500 feet in order to acquaint yourself with its handling characteristics. Why 1,500 feet? Your CYPRES automatic activation device that deploys your reserve in an emergency is calibrated to fire at about 1,000 feet. It may mistake radical maneuvers under a good canopy for a malfunction and could deploy your reserve if you are aggressively turning or stalling the canopy below 1,500 feet! This is not only dangerous, but expensive. Recharging the CYPRES and repacking the reserve costs $170. If the CYPRES fired because of your mistake, you are the one who pays! Besides the canopy's handling characteristics, the parachute pilot must consider the surrounding conditions. Two variables are present to some degree on every jump; the spot and the winds. Let's take a look at spotting and how it affects you. Imagine the simplest jump possible. Let's say you are going to exit the airplane at 3,000 feet and your parachute, instead of gliding, descends straight down. There is no wind. In such conditions if you opened directly over the target, you would land on it. If we add a ten mile per hour wind, the spotter would have to determine how far the unsteerable parachute would drift and plan for the jumper to open that much further up wind of the target. Now let's say he has three parachutists leaving at ten second intervals. He must plan the initial exit so that all three will land as close as possible to the target: the first would be short of the target, the second right on, and the third would be long. In our case, the spotter is looking down from 12,500 feet, has to guess about the wind, and has only a rough idea of how long each group will take to exit. Fortunately square parachutes are maneuverable enough to compensate for the variables. As a novice you will usually leave late in the exit order which means that for you the spot will usually be long. This can be useful, because it means all you have to do is locate the landing area and fly towards it. As you do you can think about the wind line (remember chapter one) and check for other wind indicators such as wind socks, the shadows of clouds moving over the ground, smoke or dust, and the direction other parachutes are landing. You need to do this, because the wind is the second variable you need to think about. On a calm day, your ground speed will be the same as your canopy's forward speed - about 20 miles per hour. But when there is any wind, it will affect your ground speed. If the wind is blowing five miles an hour, you are now in a river of moving air. You don't feel like your speed changes, because your air speed is the same. But your ground speed is not. Facing into the wind, or holding, your ground speed is reduced by five miles per hour. When you turn and fly with the wind, called running, you add the wind speed to your canopy speed, resulting in a ground speed of 25 miles per hour. Test yourself: 1. When you are crabbing (flying at 90 degrees to the wind) in a 10 mile per hour wind, what will your path over the ground look like? 2. The slowest your parachute can go is about five miles per hour in full brakes. Flying into a ten mile per hour wind, what would your ground speed be? Proceed to Chapter 7 (Landings)
  19. admin

    AFF Training - Level 1

    Napoleon Skydiving Center: Level 1 - Free Arm This dive is intended to be an introduction to skydiving. As such we will leave plenty of time to just arch and enjoy the experience. Concentrate on a good, relaxed arch, but don't forget to have fun. Remember to hang on to that ripcord at pull time. TLOs Perform a controlled exit. Exposure to continuous freefall. Heading awareness. Focused awareness and attention. Coordinated body movements with 3 practice pulls from free arm. Altitude awareness. Actual ripcord pull by 4000 feet. Dive Flow Running Description Hotel Check: Check In, look to left and wait for a nod. Check Out, look to the right and wait for a nod. Exit Count : On the C-128, the count is Prop, Up, Down, Arch. On the Twin Otter, it is Center, Out, In, Arch. In both cases the count should include both the verbal commands and the physical motions. Exit: Step off of the aircraft and push hips forward, chest forward, head back, and arms and legs to "boxman" position. HARM Check: Also called a Circle of Awareness or Circle of Observation. Heading, look forward and down at a 45 degree angle to ascertain heading. Altimeter, read the altitude on the chest-mounted altimeter. Reserve, look at reserve side jumpmaster and wait for a nod. Main, look at main side jumpmaster and wait for a nod. PRCT: A practice ripcord touch. Arch, insure a good arch at hips and chest. Look, tilt head to the right and look down the side of the body at ripcord. Reach, in with the right hand to place it over the ripcord handle while extending the left hand one foot over your head. Touch, recover to an arched position. Check, over right shoulder. Short Circles: Heading, Altitude, Reserve, Main. Performed throughout the dive to maintain awareness (indicated by the dotted lines on the dive flow). No nods from JMs. 5-5 Signal: An altitude awareness signal performed by the student at 5500'. The signal is given by closing the hands twice in quick succession. Pull: Arch, Look at ripcord, Reach for ripcord with right hand while extending left hand over head, Pull ripcord, Arch, Check over right shoulder for pilot chute launch. Primary Canopy Check: Performed five seconds after the Pull. The main canopy is checked overhead for Shape (rectangular), Spin (not spinning), Speed (floating, not falling), and Twists (spread risers and kick out). Release Toggles: by grasping them and pulling them quickly to the waist. Secondary Canopy Check: Slider Down, Endcells Open, Rips/Tears, Broken Lines. Controllability Check: Execute a turn in each direction and then a flare. Canopy Control: Locate the Airport and then the landing area. Fly back using the halfway down, halfway back rule. Watch your jumpmasters canopies. Setup For Landing: The landing setup consists of three legs: Downwind: Starting at 1000' fly to the downwind side of the target. Base: By 500', begin crabbing across the wind downwind of the target. Final: By 200', turn into the wind and fly towards the target. Once on final, no turns in excess of 45 degrees should be attempted. Prepare to Land: At 50', feet and knees together, toggles at ``full flight''. Flare:: At approximately 10', bring both toggles smoothly to your crotch, keeping your feet and knees together. If the flare occurs prematurely, slowly raise the toggles to your stomach, then re-flare at 10'. PLF: Parachute Landing Fall. Keeping feet together and hands in, roll with the landing taking the force on the fleshy parts of the body (feet, calves, thigh, butt, back/shoulder). Collapse the Canopy: by reeling in a toggle and running to the downwind side. Field Pack: the canopy, turn off the radio and AAD, return to the student packing area with the jumpmasters. Return: the helmet, goggles, altimeter, jumpsuit and radio. Congratulations You've just made your first skydive! Hand Signals Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7 Level 8
  20. gleison

    Safety during workouts emergency

    Technology has greatly helped aviation professionals when it comes to security. Modern equipment has made life easier for riders who venture into the sky to protect us from enemies. 1. What are these items? This equipment simulates parachute for emergency exits. One such device is highlighted by its quality in graphic detail and faithful performance during simulation, because you can imagine yourself in midair and plummeted. 2. What do they do? The sensations are basically the same for an emergency situation trying to make almost one real moment of danger. 3. How does it work? The pilot is inside the device that looks like a real parachute and put a helmet and has a motion sensor. The pilot should be in full uniform as if in a confrontational situation in midair, making it even more faithful simulation. 4. When connected. The device, when connected, is being monitored by an experienced trainer and a specialist in the system, which will be recorded all data collected during the simulated flight for further research. 5. What more simulator used by these professionals? One of the most widely used equipment for testing the simulator is created by the company e.sigma. This simulator is called SOKOL and has a wide range of resources capable of solving problems that occur during flight. He has a different system for more complete simulator training for emergencies in the air. 6. The pilot. The pilot, when the simulator should be fully equipped for safety and to look real. The pilot visualize the environment in a free fall and feel the difficulty of the force of the wind and rain through a "glasses" 3D quality equipped with a motion sensor, with which the pilot may make light or rapid head movements that not lose sight of the focus of the landing. In addition to the visual effects are sound effects that are nearly real simulate the sound of wind, rain and other climatic obstacle or not. 7. Virtual environment .. The simulation begins with the rider "in" the aircraft, then it jumps, which actually is skipping a step equipment. But there is a simulation of an ejection cabin of an airplane, which in an emergency can make the difference between surviving or dying. The software allows to simulate different environments perfectly fall, terrain and weather, not to mention that before starting the workout safety instructor will program without knowing the pilot, some emergency situations that may occur in normal flight. 8. The equipment. The simulation system consists of support where the rider is, computer monitoring, sensors that are connected to computers and the pilot, as well as specific software. The system is very interactive and easy to use, anyone can operate it. The simulator is suitable for specific training, therefore, are used to simulate situations of extreme emergency, however, are also used in military selections, ie, it is not a virtual toy, but a life saving device.
  21. Precision Aerodynamics is one of at least two manufacturers who have been advertising emergency escape chutes for high-rise buildings. Although the concept of using parachutes as a last ditched effort to escape from a building isn't new there has been new interest in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks in New York. Below is an exert from Precision Aerodynamics' web site. Let us know what you think of the idea. Emergency Building Escape Parachutes - A complete system ready to go including carrying bag and video. Training Required The EscapeChute is our emergency parachute system that has been specifically developed for low altitude exit and deployment. A typical scenario for its use might be by high-rise tenants in the event of fire or earthquake. You would never travel beyond swimming range from shore without the benefit of a life preserver. If you work or live in a high-rise building at an elevation that is beyond the reach of firefighting or rescue apparatus, your best hope for an emergency escape might not be found in the crowded stairwell. With the EscapeChute, you might easily deliver yourself to safety within a few precious seconds at a time during which those few precious seconds may make all the difference. The EscapeChute canopy design is a slight variation of our popular B.A.S.E. equipment that is commonly used by sport enthusiasts who jump from low elevations like cliffs, bridges, and buildings, etc. By following the simple instructions, the parachute is automatically deployed for you. All you have to do to initiate deployment is to jump out the window and away from the building. Simple steering and landing techniques can deliver you to the surface with confidence. The EscapeChute is available in 8 different sizes for persons ranging from 100-250 lbs. Contact PA for detailed information. Custom Order - from $1575.00 Let us know what you think in the forums, and take our poll on the main page.
  22. admin

    The Business Behind Skydiving

    Short of going to the moon, skydiving is the greatest adventure life has to offer. Everyday lives are changed & comfort zones blown wide open! Skydiving is therapy and a respite from the grind of life. Having a bad day? Make a jump and see if it's as bad when you land. An Activity or an Experience? So, what are DZ's offering? Many DZs sell the experience while others sell an activity. We have all seen these things: Instructors who look as if they just got out of bed, ripped or dirty jumpsuits, staff arriving late, foul language within earshot of students, sexual innuendo or inappropriate jokes about death, the list goes on. We've witnessed it, yet we're not surprised by it. The expression "It's skydiving" is the blanket phrase that's thrown over this behavior. Let it be made clear, It's NOT skydiving, it's a mentality. The mentality derives from the origins of our sport when DZ's were built on an individual's passion to continue to jump post military service versus the creation of a DZ with a viable business plan. The introduction of tandem skydiving created a sustainable business model which has allowed for major skydiving centers like Chicagoland Skydiving Center, Skydive Spaceland, Skydive Carolina and Skydive Elsinore to thrive. The reality is the sport is still extremely young relative to other sports and we are still finding our way into the mainstream. To get there we must break the mentality that excuses poor service. Skydiving has evolved from barnstorming DZ's to multi-million dollar facilities Breaking the Chain The majority of DZ decision makers hire by plugging in an individual's experience level into the position while forgetting a more important consideration: a passionate personality. If greater significance was placed on one's personality first and years in the sport second, there will be a major shift in the business of skydiving. Having an instructional staff that is passionate about pleasing the customer will benefit the DZ with additional business- GUARANTEED. I'm not suggesting safety be compromised by hiring less experienced instructors. I'm suggesting that DZO's be more selective in the people they hire by weighing personality as heavily as experience. Customers want to have a relationship with a person not with an organization. Personal touch is what takes a company from good to great. Happy customers will create a word of mouth marketing campaign more valuable than any mass media expenditure from a DZ. Great customer service is a DZ's greatest marketing plan. All of us are consumers. If we spend more than US$300 for a service (tandem plus video and stills) what would the expectation be for the kind of service we should receive? Add the variable of a high risk activity and we'd like to feel that we are being well taken care of. Negative attitudes cannot coincide with the business side of the sport. Our sport is too good, too fun, too pure, too life changing to be anything other than the greatest experience in the world with the greatest people.
  23. How Not To Become Dog Food Like That Indiana Jones Guy Image by Lukasz Szymanski Remember that scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark? Indiana Jones is on an active airfield. He’s duking it out with a bald, mustachioed, wall-of-meat Nazi, and he’s kinda losing. Finally, he manages to distract the dude with his puny, tickly little punches until a propeller can chop his shiny evilness into dog food. And we cheer, and we laugh. Because ha! That guy was so stupid, he didn’t even see that propeller. Hilarious. Well, my friends -- we could all easily be that bald, mustachioed, wall-of-meat Nazi if we’re not careful. We’re around propellers all the time, after all. We’re accustomed to hearing and feeling them -- so much so that they’re almost invisible. Statistically, we’re in their immediate presence enough for the risk to be proportionately higher than it is for someone who’s rarely on an active airfield. So: here’s your game plan. Always sneak up on fixed-wing aircraft from behind. Props are located in on the fronts of fixed-wing aircraft -- either on the nose or on the fronts of the wings themselves -- so always approach a fixed-wing aircraft from well behind the wing. Teach yourself to do this every time, whether or not the plane is running. This will lessen the chance of you bumbling into the “fool processor” with a boogie beer in-hand. Always stare helicopters in the face. (Kinda.) Helicopters don’t like to be snuck-up-on. Think about it like you’re establishing dominance -- always approach helicopters from the side-front, where the pilot can see you. (The real reason for this is the danger posed by the rear rotor, but -- if you think about it -- helicopters kinda have faces you can stare down.) The rule of thumb is to stay in front of the boarding door, never behind it, and not directly in front of the helicopter where it tips during takeoff. Never chat with the pilot from outside the plane. Have manifest radio them with information, or -- if you must -- do the annoying half-gesture, half-shout thing inside the cabin. They probably don’t want to talk to you, anyway. Never touch a propeller unless you’re filling out a timecard to do it. Touching a propeller is like sticking your hand into a beehive. You may or may not get stung, but it’s an inarguably dumb idea. Even if the plane is tucked in for the night, it’s not okay to saunter up to a propeller and stroke, push, spin, crank, pull, lean, poke, lick or fistbump it. They’re heavy, sharp and kinda unpredictable, especially if you’ve been drinking (which you probably have been). Just leave it alone. Don’t take the shortcut. Is the shortest distance from the LZ to the hangar a straight shot through the loading zone (or any other aircraft operating area)? Do the right thing and walk around it. If you start cutting through the no-walk zone to save a couple of minutes, your fellow jumpers, students and spectators will likely follow suit. Restricted areas aren’t restricted unless it’s hot and you’re tired and you double-manifested, and you -- or someone who waddles along after you -- might pay a high price for the choice. Don’t wave your hands in the air like you just don’t care on a heli huck. ...until you’re either hanging from the helicopter strut, safely landed, or mugging for a freefall photo you’ll be embarrassed about later. There are spinning scimitars up there while you’re exiting, dude. Do your part to muddy up the gene pool. Especially on crowded weekend days, boogies, demo events and any other place that more than two mouthbreathers are gathered in the name of skydiving, you are going to witness stupidity. If you see one of the horde wandering cow-faced towards the propellers -- almost always, led by a GoPro or smartphone -- please grab them, divert them and ask them nicely not to procreate as you lead them gently behind the signs they’ve so blithely ignored. Maybe remind them of the bald, mustachioed, wall-of-meat Nazi guy who became dog food. (Everybody remembers that part.)
  24. There are lots of things you can learn about on the Dropzone that will aid you understanding of how all the elements involved in a skydiving operation fit together to make things work. Even just focusing on the assessment of the jumping conditions demonstrates several moving parts that all need to operate effectively to function as a whole. Remember, there are things that you must know, but also things that you can know that will make you better and safer. A helpful way to evolve your knowledge is try to see things from the perspective of others. What Other People Know: Chief Instructor: Whoever is employed to be in charge of the daily dropzone proceedings will not only be generally very well experienced but likely also highly practised under the conditions of that particular location. You can learn much from this person. When things are busy they will likely juggling many things in their head to keep everything running smoothly, but when quietness descends seek them out and pick their brains as they probably have many, many excellent stories to share - each with an important lesson behind it. The Pilot: To become a pilot you have to read books and do tests and stuff. A lot of this is about the weather. While you are trying to gauge the strength of the wind outside by listening intently from under a duvet - a good pilot will be up checking many sources of information to be able to perform their job properly. The information analysed by pilots is a very good place to head if you are keen to take your knowledge about flying conditions to the next level. The Jump Master: The person who is in charge of the load needs to be very aware of what is going on both on the ground and in the air. Being tasked as jump master is a serious job that happens relatively early in your skydiving career and while easy to perform with the correct level of awareness carries serious responsibility when there is some kind of incident. Are you confident enough in your decision to take the plane around or bring it back down after spotting a big mess at altitude and have the courage of your convictions when faced with an angry dropzone owner? Being all over the details will make you look like a goddam pro when anyone starts quizzing you. What were the winds doing at the bottom and the top? Which way was it going? What kind of clouds were they and at what altitude? The Other Skydivers: Does everyone on the plane know what they need to know? Are the people you are jumping with or those in the group next to you clueless idiots? Should you worry about them? Who is going to tell them the correct information? You do it - for your own benefit as much as theirs. Also worth considering is the perspective of the tandem masters and the camera pool - they keep the dropzone going and thus operate day-in and day-out under all conditions and circumstances. If the plane goes up then almost certainly some of them are on it and their collective knowledge is well worth mining for information about functioning at the fringes of what is possible or acceptable on your particular dropzone. Conclusion: Applying some time and effort to learn more about weather conditions will create a return on investment with your ability to judge further out if jumps are going to happen or not. Skydiving is an expensive hobby and happens quickly - so everything you can do to maximise your effectiveness on each jump helps, and understanding more about the weather will make you a better, safer skydiver. Learning about all of the conditions you will be faced with will not only facilitate making good calls when you are jumping, it will also help you to get more out of your jumps when they happen. Nobody is right all the time but the more educated you are the better your guesses will be - and as such you ability to decide wether to drag your ass out of bed before dawn and get down to the dropzone or do something else with your day. Also try remember that there is nothing to be gained from being angry at the sky - it does not give a shit. Also, it is probably healthy to do something else now and then - if your life is a constant battle with the weather you might well end up batshit crazy and living in a caravan on the airfield with mushrooms growing in your hair. On a dropzone you are surrounded with ways to learn, and the first time you apply some extra-curricular knowledge in a practical way is immensely satisfying. Every now and then you come across someone who seems to have magical powers when it comes to predicting what the sky is going to do - but they are most likely just a regular human that knows things.
  25. admin

    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.