Search the Community

Showing results for tags 'general'.



More search options

  • Search By Tags

    Type tags separated by commas.
  • Search By Author

Content Type


Forums

  • General
    • Announcements
    • Introductions and Greets
  • Community
  • Skydiving
    • General Skydiving Discussions
    • Questions and Answers
    • Gear and Rigging
    • Safety and Training
    • Events & Places to Jump
    • Skydiving History & Trivia
    • Instructors
    • Wind Tunnels
    • Tandem Skydiving
    • Skydivers with Disabilities
    • Blue Skies - In Memory Of
  • Skydiving Disciplines
    • Swooping and Canopy Control
    • Relative Work
    • Photography and Video
    • Freeflying
    • Canopy Relative Work
    • Wing Suit Flying
    • BASE Jumping
  • Dropzone.com
    • Suggestions and Feedback
    • Error and Bug Reports
    • Security and Scam Alerts

Calendars

  • Boogies
  • Competitions
  • Miscellaneous
  • Rating Courses
  • Training Camps

Categories

  • Argentina
  • Australia
    • New South Wales
    • Northern Territory
    • Queensland
    • Victoria
    • South Australia
    • Western Australia
  • Austria
  • Bahamas
  • Belarus
  • Belgium
  • Bermuda
  • Bolivia
  • Bosnia
  • Botswana
  • Brazil
  • Bulgaria
  • Canada
    • Alberta
    • British Columbia
    • Manitoba
    • New Brunswick
    • Nova Scotia
    • Ontario
    • Saskatchewan
    • Quebec
  • Chile
  • China
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Cuba
  • Croatia
  • Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Dominican Republic
  • Egypt
  • El Salvador
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Guatemala
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Iceland
  • India
  • Indonesia
  • Iran
  • Iraq
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Jamaica
  • Japan
  • Jordan
  • Kenya
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Macedonia
  • Malawi
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Malta
  • Mauritius
  • Mexico
  • Moldova
  • Montenegro
  • Morocco
  • Mozambique
  • New Zealand
  • Namibia
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Pacific Islands
  • Panama
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Paraguay
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Serbia
  • Singapore
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia
  • South Africa
  • South Korea
  • Spain
  • Suriname
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Tanzania
  • Thailand
  • Turkey
  • Ukraine
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United States
    • Alabama
    • Alaska
    • Arizona
    • Arkansas
    • Colorado
    • California
    • Connecticut
    • Delaware
    • Florida
    • Georgia
    • Hawaii
    • Idaho
    • Illinois
    • Indiana
    • Iowa
    • Kansas
    • Kentucky
    • Louisiana
    • Maine
    • Maryland
    • Massachusetts
    • Michigan
    • Minnesota
    • Mississippi
    • Missouri
    • Montana
    • Nebraska
    • Nevada
    • New Hampshire
    • New Jersey
    • New Mexico
    • New York
    • North Carolina
    • North Dakota
    • Ohio
    • Oklahoma
    • Oregon
    • Puerto Rico
    • Rhode Island
    • South Carolina
    • South Dakota
    • Tennessee
    • Texas
    • Utah
    • Vermont
    • Virginia
    • West Virginia
    • Wisconsin
    • Wyoming
    • Pennsylvania
    • Washington
  • United Kingdom
  • Uruguay
  • Venezuela
  • Vietnam
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe

Categories

  • Altimeters
  • AADs
  • Cameras
  • Containers
  • Helmets
  • Jumpsuits
  • Goggles
  • Main Canopies
  • Clothing
  • Reserve Canopies
  • Software
  • Wingsuits

Categories

  • Disciplines
  • Safety
  • News
  • Help
    • Account Help
    • Forums
    • Dropzone E-Mail
    • Dropzone Database
    • Photo Galleries
    • Premier Membership
    • Event Planner
    • Classifieds
    • Dropzone Locator
    • Security And Scams
    • Videos
    • Content
  • About
    • Advertise
    • Writers
    • Advertising
    • Hidden
  • Advertise
  • General
  • Events
  • Gear

Categories

  • 2004
  • 2005
    • Africa
    • Asia
    • Europe
    • Middle East
    • North America
    • Pacific
    • South America
  • 2006
    • Africa
    • Asia
    • Europe
    • Middle East
    • North America
    • Pacific
    • South America
  • 2007
    • Africa
    • Asia
    • Europe
    • Middle East
    • North America
    • Pacific
    • South America
  • 2008
    • Africa
    • Europe
    • Middle East
    • North America
    • Pacific
    • South America
  • 2009
    • Africa
    • Asia
    • Europe
    • Middle East
    • North America
    • Pacific
    • South America
  • 2010
    • Africa
    • Asia
    • Europe
    • Middle East
    • North America
    • Pacific
    • South America
  • 2011
    • Africa
    • Asia
    • Europe
    • Middle East
    • North America
    • Pacific
    • South America
  • 2012
    • Africa
    • Asia
    • Europe
    • Middle East
    • Pacific
    • South America
    • North America
  • 2013
    • Africa
    • Asia
    • Europe
    • Middle East
    • North America
    • Pacific
    • South America
  • 2014
    • Africa
    • Asia
    • Europe
    • Middle East
    • North America
    • Pacific
    • South America
  • 2015
    • Africa
    • Asia
    • Europe
    • Middle East
    • North America
    • Pacific
    • South America
  • 2016
    • Africa
    • Asia
    • Europe
    • Middle East
    • North America
    • Pacific
    • South America
    • Africa
    • Asia
    • Europe
    • Middle East
    • North America
    • Pacific
    • South America
  • 2017
    • Africa
    • Asia
    • Europe
    • Middle East
    • North America
    • Pacific
    • South America
  • 2018
    • Africa
    • Asia
    • Europe
    • Middle East
    • North America
    • Pacific
    • South America

Categories

  • Aads
  • Altimeters
  • Containers
  • Helmets
  • Main Canopies
  • Reserve Canopies
  • Cameras
  • Wingsuits
  • Jumpsuits

Categories

  • Malaysia
  • Russia
  • Brazil
  • Sweden
  • Israel
  • Germany
  • Bulgaria
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Latvia
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Poland
  • Slovakia
  • Spain
  • China
  • Finland
  • France
  • Belgium
  • Hungary
  • New Zealand
  • Records
  • Austria
  • Slovenia
  • Italy
  • Ukraine
  • Iran
  • Argentina
  • United States
  • Singapore
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • Canada
  • Switzerland
  • Australia

Categories

  • Classifieds
  • Forums
  • Profile
  • Gallery
  • Calendar
  • Other

Categories

  • Files

Blogs

There are no results to display.

Product Groups

  • Advertisement

Categories

  • AFF
  • BASE
  • Coaching
  • Compilations
  • CRW
  • Demos
  • Emergencies
  • Exits
  • Freeflying
  • Miscellaneous
  • Relative Work
  • Special Jumps
  • Tandem
  • Swooping
  • Wind Tunnel
  • Wingsuit
  • Skydive TV

Categories

  • Aads
  • Aircraft
  • Altimeters
  • Clothing And Jewelry
  • Complete Systems
  • Containers
  • Employment
  • Head Gear
  • Jumpsuits
  • Main Canopies
  • Miscellaneous
  • Photography
  • Reserve Canopies
  • Spare Parts
  • Tandem
  • Tunnel Time
  • Videos And Books
  • Wingsuits

Find results in...

Find results that contain...


Date Created

  • Start

    End


Last Updated

  • Start

    End


Filter by number of...

Joined

  • Start

    End


Group


Facebook


Linked In


Twitter


Google Plus


Youtube


Vimeo


Instagram


Website


About Me


Container Other


Main Canopy Size


Main Canopy Other


Reserve Canopy Size


Reserve Canopy Other


AAD


Home DZ


License


License Number


Licensing Organization


Number of Jumps

 
or  

Tunnel Hours

 
or  

Years in Sport

 
or  

First Choice Discipline


First Choice Discipline Jump Total

 
or  

Second Choice Discipline


Second Choice Discipline Jump Total

 
or  

Static Line


IAD


AFF


Tandem


Formation


Rigging Back


Rigging Chest


Rigging Seat


Rigging Lap

Found 272 results

  1. admin

    The Legend of Roger Nelson

    Roger Nelson: If you're a skydiver, chances are you've heard the name. If you're not a skydiver, chances are you've watched one of the few movies that were inspired by this man. While the tales of Roger's life have been passed around to keen ears, mostly between jumpers, as a kind of folk lore, the words that have been spoken have often been words bound in mystery. The lines between truth and exaggeration, as with most stories passed through word of mouth, can get a little blurry at times. However there is no doubting the colorful nature of Roger Warren Nelson's life. Skydiving CareerRoger began skydiving in 1971 at a dropzone in Hinckley, Illinois. He was always a bit of a rebel and never quite fitted in with the then aesthetic standard that prevailed within the skydiving community at that time. In the beginning of the 70s recreational skydiving was still in its early days, with many of the then participants coming from military backgrounds, and both Roger and his brother Carl stood out from the crowd. It's said that the term 'Freak Brothers' which was given to both Roger and Carl stemmed from their less than ordinary presence at the dropzone. As skydivers, Roger and Carl were pioneers. They both laid the groundwork for what is known today as Freeflying. At the time, skydives were done belly down, in a standard practice, but the 'Freak Brothers' threw a spanner in the works when they started what was then known as 'freak flying'. Freak flying was the Nelson brother's own unconventional freefall style, which was described by Roger in 1978 as any body position that saw the flyer's stomach facing up and their back down, towards earth. So while Olav Zipser is recognized as the father of freeflying, the 'Freak Brothers' were already laying the groundwork for unconventional freefall positions years before. In the mid 1970s the brothers started a "zine" called the Freak Brother Flyer, which ran from 1973 until 1976. Freak Brothers became more than just a term for him and his brother Carl, after a while Freak Brothers became an organization and a community with thousands of followers around the world. The Freak Brothers Convention was later organized with the help of Jeanie (Roger's wife) and Carl. These boogies were some of the largest around at the time and drew in over 600 passionate skydivers. In 1979 the Freak Brothers suffered the loss of Carl, who died in a skydiving accident. From 1986 to 1989, Roger ran the Illinois dropzone "Skydive Sandwich". Later in 1993, he went on to found Skydive Chicago, which is now recognized as one of the world's leading dropzones. Roger spent much of the 80s partaking in world records, while spending much of the 90s organizing them. Between the years 1999 and 2002, he won 2 silver and 2 gold medals as Captain of the Skydive Chicago STL 10, in the 10-way speed event. The Other Side of Roger NelsonWhat separates Roger's story from the average accomplished skydiver's, is the other side of his life. While Roger was a well loved individual with much support, particularly in the skydiving community, during the 1980s, he was dealing in some rather shady operations, to put it lightly. Roger used aircrafts to smuggle drugs into the United States, while also working as an informant for the US government. After he was arrested in 1986 on charges that included racketeering, conspiracy to distribute drugs and currency violations, his life would become a enveloped in court dates and uncertainty. He pleaded guilty and in 1987 was sentenced to 10 years behind bars, but was released after serving half of his prison sentence. After his arrest, Roger called out the DEA on not acting to tips he had provided them, that would have helped capture Carlos Lehder, who at the time was considered one of the largest cartel leaders in the world. Despite the information Roger provided to the DEA with regards to being an informant, the DEA would later shrug it off, saying that Roger had not played any significant role in slowing down the influx of drugs into the United States. In 2003 Roger was killed in a canopy collision incident. There was more to Roger than just criminal controversy and skydiving, he was also a family man. His eldest of two children, Melissa recalls in a recent piece of writing, how her and her father wouldn't always see eye to eye, but in his death, has come to realize the leadership he instilled in her. She continued to say how her father had taught her to stand on her own feet, and create her own legacy as opposed to living in her family's. Sugar AlphaThis is all but just a fraction of Roger's life and the reality is that it's hard to summarize such an eventful life. Roger and Melissa have authored the newly released book entitled "Sugar Alpha: The Life and Times of Senor Huevos Grandes". A description of the book offers some insight in what to expect: "Skydiving and drug smuggling pioneer Roger Nelson lives life out of the box. Fueled by a love for adrenaline and adventure, Roger goes after everything he wants with gusto. But now Roger is ready to retire from smuggling. With a parachute center to run and a family to raise, Roger knows it is time to stop the cat-and-mouse games he has been playing with the authorities for years. He and his longtime partner, Hanoi, plan one final run to Belize, where they intend to fill their Douglas DC-3 with enough cannabis to set them up for life. But then Hanoi dies in a plane crash in an attempt to make some "legitimate bucks" flying fish in Alaska while they wait for the growing season to end. Left without a partner or plane, Roger remains determined to return to his family for good. To do so, he decides to stay true to himself and follow through with his retirement run. Roger must rely on a colorful cast of characters and the most unlikely airplane for a gig ever-Sugar Alpha, the legendary DC-3 with the secret fuel tanks and not-so-secret paint job-to help him complete the most daring run in the history of smuggling." With extremely positive early reviews, this book is a must for any skydiver, though you definitely don't have to be one to enjoy it. Get your copy from Amazon.com
  2. Get Ready: Here Comes the Turbine 206 When Joel Strickland and I jumped in all fifty states this summer for our Down For 50 project, we saw the insides of a lot of 182s. A lot. That’s no surprise, of course--the 182 is the undisputed workhorse of our sport. It could be argued that the valiant little 182 keeps our sport going. But what if there were a better way? As it turns out, there is. I found out about it when Joel and I made our Oklahoma stop. Understandably, we fully expected to see another 182 out there. Instead, when we wandered across the hangar of the (super tidy, spacious and impressive) Oklahoma Skydiving Center to see what was parked outside, we had to double-take. There was a 206 parked out there. A 206 with a very funny face. A turbine. For reals. Our first look at the toothy open grin of that jumpship was to start something of a minor obsession for me. First of all, it became apparent that its presence there had engendered the healthiest sport community of any smaller dropzone I’d ever visited. No wonder: that thing gets six jumpers to 14,000 feet in less than half the time it took the DZ’s old 182 to huff four folks up to 10k. The door is big. And this thing -- for lots of reasons -- puts turbine power within the reach of dropzones that never dreamed they’d be able to get there. I’ll let its champion, Andy Beck, cover all that. (Andy Beck is Co -DZO of the Oklahoma Skydiving Center, a small DZ between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, as well as the co-owner of BAM Aviation, which has been specializing in this conversion since Andy himself discovered its existence.) Pretty cool, right? I’ll leave the explanations to the expert. Below follows the conversation I had with Andy about this beautiful beast. If you’re not as enchanted with this plane as I am by the time we’re done here, I’ll be very surprised. Q: What’s your love story with this plane? Andy: My dropzone [the Oklahoma Skydiving Center] is somewhere between a small and a medium-sized DZ. For years, we were, like, man, we want a turbine airplane, just as instructors and fun jumpers. It’s easy to relate to that. I grew up on a single airplane drop zone. That’s where I started; that’s how I learned to skydive: A single airplane 182 drop zone. When you’re in a situation like that, you spend your whole life sitting around, watching people skydive, doing tandems and AFFs, just praying that there’s an airplane load that has empty slots. And that’s okay, because that’s all you know. But then you go somewhere and you suddenly realize there’s a different model that means you can skydive more than once or twice a day. you see how much more time you have for the fun part of the sport in a turbine, compared to what you can get out of the 182 that’s waiting for you back home. Since my wife Alyssa and I bought this dropzone four years ago, we wanted to bring that other model to our own DZ. The first thing we did -- immediately -- was to bring in a second 182, so we could have one for tandems and AFF and one for fun jumpers. I understand why people don’t want to mess with fun jumpers, but to me the reason that I think that you need the experienced-skydiver scene is because -- if you don’t -- then how do you convince anybody to do more than one jump? If all they ever watch is tandems, they’re one-and-done. They think that’s all there is. If they have to go somewhere else to jump after AFF, that’s not good either. People want to stay where they learned. They know the people. They want to travel and visit, but they love their home. That’s where they want to be. That’s their home base -- their friends -- the people they like to jump with. To teach people to jump and then tell them to go somewhere else just seemed dumb to me. So you have to grow to support your experienced skydiver community. Q: Why not just get an old King Air like everybody else? Andy: Long story. As a DZO, when you start looking at turbine airplanes, yeah, you think, maybe I can afford a King Air, but the only ones that anybody sells that any small-to-medium DZ can afford are about worn out, and worn out King Airs are a huge maintenance situation. Then, you think: I really love the Caravan. And that’s a cool plane. It is one of the starter-type turbine investments. But most of the Caravans worth having cost between $1.2 and $1.8 million dollars, and you’ve got 16 to 20 slots to fill. At a smaller DZ, you just can’t reliably fill it. That’s just not a very doable business model. And before, there really wasn’t anything that was, basically, half of a caravan. So I kept looking. The 206 has been around forever as a skydiving plane, but it really has a bad reputation because -- with the standard configuration -- it’s super slow. In the Oklahoma summer, you can hardly get to 10,000 in one, even if you’ve got the turbo version. For our purposes, it’s just not much of a plane. Then, one day, I heard about the new Pratt Whitney PT6 turbine 206 conversion from a fun jumper. It sounded like a myth, but I was intrigued, so I called the aircraft conversion inventor, Van Pray, who was partnering with Turbine Conversions on the Turbine 206 concept. Van has been around dropzones, skydiving, and airplanes all his life and turbine conversions has been modifying agricultural aircraft to turbines for decades. I asked Van to bring his plane down for a weekend so I could see if maybe this was going to be the answer to my problem. Turns out, it was better than I could have ever imagined. Anyway, Van and Emiko Pray brought their plane down, and we basically rented it like a boogie for two different weekends to try it out. I wanted to see how it cash flowed; how much fuel it used. There is no way anybody could tell you that information without seeing it for yourself. Since I paid all the bills, I could really see how economical it was. After that, I just knew that’s what I had to do. We had to build one. Q: What do the numbers look like? What does the turbine 206 specifically bring to the table here? Andy: Well, you can get a 182 for about $60,000 dollars. The Turbine 206 goes for around $600,000 depending on airframe, engine, etc... So of course it’s expensive when you look at it like that. But you have to remember that what you’re actually getting for that is half of a Caravan. Depending on your airframe -- engines and all that -- the fuel burn is half of a caravan or less too. Before I got the turbine 206, we had an average of three planes at OSC. We would always fly two, but on a lot of really busy days we would fly all three. In the summer, with a 520, or a PPonk, or a higher-horsepower 182 that actually can go to 10,000 feet in a reasonable time, you burn 7 to 8.5 gallons of fuel alone. Obviously, when they’re full, heavy and hot, it’s more like 8 to 8.5 gallons, but when you’re flying cool, light loads you could do a little over 7 gallons. That’s what my average was, at least. The turbine 206, on the other hand, will average ten gallons consistently to 14,000 feet AGL. The other big thing is that AV gas is getting a little bit harder to find in the first place, and the price of it is consistently higher than jet fuel pretty much anywhere you go, especially in more remote areas -- but if there’s a commercial airport anywhere around, no question, you can get jet fuel. So: When you look at expenses, the turbine 206 doesn’t burn very much more fuel per load, and the fuel it burns costs less. You also get the industry standard Pratt Whitney PT6 dependability and reliability. With the high-horsepower 182, I could count on two loads an hour: four people per load, to 10,000 feet. With the turbine 206, you get six people per load and you can do three loads per hour -- to 14,000 feet -- with one plane. Every hour throughout the day, you just keep getting farther ahead, because the plane doesn’t slow down with the heat. The density altitude doesn’t affect it the same way. It just goes and goes. On a good Saturday we do 30 loads in the 206 -- three loads an hour for 10-plus hours. We just fly and fly and fly. Q: The fun jumper community here seems to be seeing some real benefits. These guys have crazy healthy jump numbers for being based at a small dropzone. Andy: Yeah, we’re proud of that. The quality of every skydive is better, and that makes a difference to the bottom line, too. We wanted to offer the best possible experience to all of our jumpers! In the last two years, we’ve finished way more A licenses and created way more fun jumpers, because on each skydive they’re not getting 25 to 30 seconds of freefall, they’re getting from 50 to 60 seconds on every jump. It’s like trying to ride a bike. If your parents let you ride a bike for 10 to 20 seconds, take your bike away, then give you another 10 to 20 seconds on it the following weekend, it is going to take a long time to learn how to ride a bike. Skydiving is way harder to learn than riding a bike. If you give them more time on task and more jump availability, people are going to learn and be better and safer skydivers. They’re more current. They’re more excited. They make more jumps. It just gets better in every direction. Fun fact: We do 18,000-foot jumps occasionally, and we could even go higher than that if we wanted to. This plane climbs just as good at 18,000 feet as it does at 10,000 feet. It’s just a whole different beast. We have a lot of fun here. Q: So when did BAM Aviation start doing the conversions? Andy: That’s a funny story. When we built the first one, we had absolutely no intention of building more airplanes. That wasn’t why we did it in the first place. We did it for our dropzone. But, in the process of figuring out how to do it, we partnered up with Turbine Conversions and they made us an authorized installation center. They came and took a tour of our facilities, saw what we had and asked if we wanted to take on some more. This conversion is not crazy-hard, but it’s not just a straight, bolt-on modification and it takes real skill to do. It is a lot of sheet metal work. And I was lucky enough to have access to some real talent with Mike Palmer and Brian Wattenberger. I myself am learning, but the two guys that work with me really are master mechanics. They’re very unassuming, but when you get in the shop and watch their creativity, it’s incredible. They are true masters of the trade; true craftsmen. There would be no airplane business if it wasn’t for Mike and Brian. That’s a fact. I mean: I’m the skydiving business owner, and the guy that came up with the idea to convert the first plane, but without the mechanics, there would be no BAM Aviation (which stands for Brian, Andy, Mike). That’s for sure. At this point, it’s busy here. We have another one that we’re more than halfway through and several others in the works. We’re prepared to scale up, depending on need. I’m sure that the more people that know about it, the more people are going to be interested in it, because it the turbine 206 is a real option for that small/medium drop zone to be able to expand without going a million and a half dollars in debt. I do it because it’s good for my dropzone and it’s good for the sport.
  3. Dr. Randy Brown of the UW STOMP Study Talks Us In If you huck yourself out of aircraft for fun, you already know that it doesn’t always go according to plan. It follows that there are a couple of facts of which you should probably be aware: Victims of traumatic injury are at greater than normal risk for opioid addiction. Initiates of opioid misuse who progress to injection frequently cite prescription of an opioid for an injury as their first exposure to opioid, and the event that led to their eventual addiction. If you’ve been in this sport for a while, you almost certainly know someone who ended up battling opioid addiction for precisely that reason. And, if you’re in a hospital bed with a ‘fun button’ under your thumb the first time you think about opioids, you might be in for a rough ride. It was next to just such a hospital bed, after a very bad couple of days, that I first heard about the STOMP study. (“STOMP” stands for the Screening in Trauma for Opioid Misuse Prevention.) The three-year study, based at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, draws on expertise in Addiction Medicine, Trauma Surgery, Public Health, Systems Engineering, Social Work, Pain Medicine, and Primary Care. The goal: to improve medicine’s understanding of opioid misuse and the development of addiction specifically in the context of traumatic injury (Ding! Ding! Ding!) and pain management. Ultimately, its goal is to develop protocols which will intervene early in the process to prevent opioid misuse, addiction and related complications. The STOMP program is hope on the horizon. I reached out to the program’s Principal Investigator, Randall Brown, MD, PhD, FASAM, to get a little wisdom for those of us tossing ourselves into harm’s way. Annette: How’d you become interested in pain medicine? Dr. Brown: I did my initial training in family medicine in California’s central valley, in a town called Modesto. At the time I was doing my training, the area was producing 90% of North America’s methamphetamines -- and consuming a fair chunk of it, as well. In hospital, we saw a ton of complications resulting from injections, methamphetamine use, and the struggles in that population -- where, despite having a horrifically painful surgeries and hospital stays, would reliably leave the hospital and resume their use. It made a deep impression on me. For someone to go through the pain these patients went through and return to the use so immediately, this addiction thing must be a pretty compelling state of affairs, and I don’t think the health care system, in general terms and settings, is adequately prepared to facilitate recovery from addiction. I found that troubling and fascinating, and so I pursued further training and gradually moved my focus from broader family medicine to substance use issues, prevention and treatment. I came to Madison in 2001 to do a research fellowship. I have been here involved in that sort of work to some extent for 17 years now. A: What changes have you seen in the field over that 17-year period? Dr.: In brief, the opioid crisis the biggest thing that has emerged since I’ve been doing this. Opioids are a much bigger deal than they were when I started on this path. Substance use issues have always been a major problem -- and, currently, substance misuse is the most common root cause of preventable death and morbidity in the US. It shifts from time to time, but it is always there: whether it is alcohol, which is always there, or methamphetamines, or opioids, which picked up steam in the 90s. Opioids have really skyrocketed over the last 15 years. A: How did opioids rise to power, would you say? Dr.: The literature guiding pain treatment in the 90s evolved over a landscape of imperfect science. The message that experts in pain management were putting out there back then -- with fair frequency -- was that “we are not treating pain adequately.” They specifically meant chronic, non-cancer pain. The literature out there in the 90s insisted that we should be using opioids more liberally to alleviate that suffering. The literature insisted that addiction was rare; that complications were rare. Honestly, we didn’t really know otherwise. There really weren’t data out there to tell us that wasn’t the right thing to do, and it seemed like the right thing to do -- to alleviate pain and suffering. The other thing that was put out there via the literature was that opioids don’t really cause any organ damage, so there wasn’t a clear ceiling to the daily dose. Again, we didn’t really have data in the literature to tell us otherwise. Around 2009 and 2010, the state of science started changing a little bit. We did have studies appearing in the literature indicating that these higher doses were associated with greater risks, particularly for overdose and death. That’s where there really started to be a sea change around prescribing patterns; trying to rein in those daily doses; trying to bring them down to less risky levels. On the flipside of that, from the public health standpoint, while it’s a smart move to reduce the absolute supply of opioids out there, the tricky piece is doing that in a reasonable and compassionate way, not cutting people off or assuming that these dosage recommendations are a hard ceiling for everybody. Opioids are still really important medications. They aren’t going to -- and they shouldn’t -- go away. We just need to be more mindful about monitoring their use, and educating patients about how to handle of them, to dispose of them appropriately if they aren’t using them. A: Can you summarize the STOMP study for me? Dr: STOMP recruits UW hospital patients who have been admitted for a traumatic injury. We collect information from them about their medical history, their personal history and their mental health. We then follow them forward for six months after discharge to collect further information that measures around mental health symptoms, anxiety, post-traumatic symptoms that may have developed as a result of the injury, information around their current opioid and other substance use patterns. We are trying to tease the data apart to see if there is some way that, all the way back to the time of injury, we can identify some factors that are strongly predictive of someone developing difficulty controlling their use of opioids. A: Let’s talk about my community: the “skyfamily” of airsports athletes. A lot of us are highly mobile, without an established healthcare provider, and a lot of us get injured when we’re traveling. Oftentimes, we’ll find ourselves inured far from home, where there the standards of medical care may be very different than we’re used to. Where would you suggest that folks go if they’re in that position and they need good information? Dr: That’s a really great question. Honestly, when we were putting this study together, STOMP, Screening in Trauma for Opioid Misuse Prevention, I was not finding much of anything out there, to tell the truth, and this was only a couple years ago. The stuff that is out there in prominence and taken up widely really is more targeting chronic pain -- like long-term stuff. The CDC has released a good set of guidelines regarding the reasonable taper rates for opioids and a patient information packet. The most common situation that folks struggle with after a more serious injury is that taper, and that information is good to have as soon as possible. These can certainly apply in situations with injuries which have resulted in severe pain that needs to be managed for a few or even several months. The other information contained in those guidelines that I think is really important for folks to know regards the safe and responsible handling of opioids: storing them appropriately, not advertising to the world that you have them (because of the potential for being victimized) and the safe disposal of unused medication to protect public health. In the setting of traumatic injury, I honestly have not been able to find a lot more out there. That’s why we’re doing this study. A: Is there any additional wisdom you want to offer an athlete who suffers an injury and realizes that they may be facing the reality of a long-term course of opioid medication? Dr: Recognize early that successfully navigating this process will take a collaborative effort with an established provider that can track your progress over time. Even if you’re lucky enough to be living in a stable residence geographically, know that, in this clinical setting, you’re likely to be moving between specialists and other care providers. Sometimes, monitoring -- and appropriate care in coming off of higher-dose opioids -- can fall between the cracks. Establish a relationship with a provider and stick with it for a period of months. That’s a challenge anywhere, but particularly for folks who are highly mobile. A: What are a couple questions that folks can ask of a potential provider to establish whether or not the provider they’re with has an appropriate functional understanding of opioids, so that we know that the experts we’re trusting really understand what they’re prescribing? Are there flags that can indicate if you are dealing with a savvy and empathic prescriber? Dr: My instinct would be to ask that provider the fairly open-ended question around their philosophy regarding the use of opioids for managing pain after an injury. Warning signs would be, for example, a provider who tells you that they “hate prescribing opioids, ever,” or, conversely, someone who says, “No problem! We’ll keep you on opioids as long and as much as you need them!” The provider should have a thorough, thoughtful answer to that question that incorporates a balance. That answer should involve informing you that there is some risk for physical dependence, but giving assurances that s/he will be here to work closely with you as you’re coming off of them when it becomes appropriate. You’re looking for a provider who demonstrates mindfulness of what physical dependence and opioid withdrawal is like, but isn’t someone who is just going to write the opioid prescription because it is the easy thing to do. A: Tell me about what the future of pain management might look like. Dr.: It’s pretty exciting, actually. We have been doing work here at UW to investigate the therapeutic potential of psychedelic substances, primarily Psilocybin, but also MDMA. We are going to be launching another study to see about the therapeutic potential of Psilocybin in the setting of opioid addiction or opioid use disorder. We are excited about that. Then we also have a study upcoming on therapeutic potential of MDMA for PTSD, which bears a relationship to substance use risk. It’s important to differentiate between clinical and recreational use. One of the really important components of the studies on the therapeutic potential of Psilocybin and MDMA involves the pieces of the intervention referred to as “set and setting.” Set refers to a number of things, including a relationship that is built up with a guide, the development of trust, orientation to the experience, exploration of current symptoms of mental health issues or underlying issues and preparing the participants for the therapeutic session itself. The setting can also be quite important. These supervised administrations tend to happen in an environment that is comfortable, homey, and not your typical clinical research, hospital-ish looking room, but the variables are still all under strict control, and the patient is being monitored by medical personnel. Both set and setting are understood to be really important to the potential therapeutic outcome. Recreational use takes all those controls away, so the extent to which those experiences can be therapeutic is a lot more unpredictable. Luckily, we’re getting closer and closer. When these treatments will be approved is a little unpredictable, but both are moving toward FDA approval. We’re participating in the studies that will hopefully lead to that, but it’s probably a couple years down the road. It’s an optimistic future, for sure. To learn more about Dr. Brown and the STOMP study, visit the study’s landing page at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine website.
  4. nettenette

    Lessons Learned with Amy Chmelecki

    Images by Amy Chmelecki When we catch up with Amy Chmelecki, she’s getting ready for what is, for her, a pretty normal travel schedule. From her Eloy home base, she’s heading out for one week on the coast of Barcelona, and then two weeks in Portugal’s Algarve, and then one week at a pop-up drop zone in Sicily. “I’m not sure of the details of where I’m going to be off the top of my head,” she laughs, “mostly because I couldn’t pronounce any of the names.” At this stage of the game, Amy’s own legendary last name is the one that needs the most emphatic pronunciation. She’s at the top of her game, after all: a flagship athlete with Red Bull, and certainly one of the most sought-after skydivers in the world. With head-to-toe branding, of course, comes great responsibility. Amy is no stranger to high-profile skydiving--she’s been a leading athlete in the sport for many years. Even so, her career’s constant up-level trajectory wouldn’t be a great fit for just anyone. “I’ve debated the ‘sacrifice’ question on a philosophical level with some of my friends,” Amy muses. “Sure, there’s a level of financial insecurity involved in this kind of career, but I don’t mind it. You have to be comfortable with the constant unknowns and have faith that it is going to work out. I get it that some people wouldn’t be comfortable with that, but speaking for myself, I don’t feel like I’ve sacrificed anything. Like having children, for instance. A lifestyle like this would be difficult with children, but I’ve never really wanted them--so it just fit.” It doesn’t hurt that Amy has had some pretty awesome female mentors along the way. “I actually talked to [Rigging Innovations Co-Owner] Brenda [Reid] quite a bit about this,” she continues. “I don’t know if she remembers those conversations, but they meant a lot to me when I was starting off in my career. The ‘kids’ question was something that I was nervous about, because there was this fear in the back of my head, like, am I going to regret my choice? Brenda has never had children, and I sat her down and talked to her about it extensively. She really filled me with a calm that I needed. Here was this extremely successful woman in the sport of skydiving. Since then, she has been put in the Skydiving Hall of Fame. She and [husband and Rigging Innovations Co-Owner] Sandy [Reid] have this beautiful marriage; life; career. And she has zero regrets about not having children. It was nice to hear that from someone that I admire so much.” “People still tell me I’m going to change my mind,” she laughs. “It’s happening less and less, but it still happens. The other day in Atlanta, a taxi cab driver told me I’d want kids one day, just wait and see. I’m like, dude, I’m 41. I’ve been all around the world this month. He had no idea what he was talking about. It was funny.” As any woman in airsports knows all too well, that cab driver’s oafish mansplain certainly doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Even for us girls in the rank-and-file, misconceptions abound. Amy, however, gets the rarified opportunity to blow them to bits. For instance: recently, Amy was hearing a murmur in the press bemoaning the fact that Red Bull only hires teenage girls to be its star athletes. “So then Red Bull puts out this video on Women’s Day,” she grins. “And I was, like, hey! Guess what! I’m in that video, and I’m 40. I like representing this new part of me, being a woman in her 40s and still an extreme sport athlete and still getting better, and evolving, and doing more and radder things. Sometimes, like everybody, I get a little bit of an impostor syndrome--but I’m really proud of that video and what it meant for females. This is really still happening. I’m still doing this. This is possible.” The idea of “possibility” is one that Amy gets to play with quite a lot in her daily life as a top-shelf airsports performer. If you’ve seen any of the jumps she does in that shiny silver helmet with the bull on it, you know just how far she (and the rest of the team) are able to push possibility on any given day. I’m sure we can all agree that it’s inspiring for a tidy stack of reasons. That said: Not all impossible feats are what they seem. For instance: Most people probably assume that the hardest demo Amy has ever done was the landmark wingsuit flight over the New York City skyline. Surprisingly, Amy insists that it wasn’t. “Honestly, it was relatively easy,” she insists. “There were no obstacles on the entry to the barge, first of all. We had space all around. We could approach from any direction, so we were able to go favorably into the wind.” “There was a moment when I was coming in for the landing,” she adds, “where I thought I was going to go a little long. I just let my wingsuit fall from up on my chest down on my legs. In hindsight, I was okay already, but that little bit of added drag slowed me down just a touch. That was easy to manage. There was lots of room for forgiveness on that one.” It is not, as you might imagine, always that way. “Compare that with some of the other demos we do,” she says, “where the only possible approach is to, for instance, make a right-hand 180, get close to something in the turn, avoid the crowd lined up all along one side and slip in somewhere. Those are a lot harder, even if the landing area might appear to look a lot bigger. Or, of course, a stadium demo.” And what about Amy’s dream demo? If “possibility” didn’t have to figure in anywhere? Her answer comes in record time. “I’d jump off a rocket,” she laughs. “No one has done that, have they? I should do a two-way with Jeffro out of a rocket.” She pauses to think. “I wonder if Elon Musk drinks Red Bull? He must. It says he sleeps only 4 to 5 hours a night. There has to be something keeping him up. I’m sure we could get him involved. Anyway. who doesn’t want to go to Mars?” “Seriously, though,” she leans in, “for me at this point it’s mostly about continuing to do what I’m doing--and taking care of myself more, because as you get into your 40s you have to make changes physically, and you have to work harder at being able to keep up with this type of lifestyle. My goals are to keep this sustainable for as long as I possibly can. To me, that means caring for myself physically and emotionally, and just continuing to do the hard work and evolving as a sponsored athlete.” Wise words, indeed. We wanted to know: From all that wisdom, what would 40-year-old Amy have to say to 20-year-old Amy if 40-year-old Amy walked into the Bent Prop on her kid counterpart’s very first shift? “Buy bitcoin,” she deadpans. “Okay, right. If I could go back with the knowledge and the experience and the brain that I have now, I would nurture a plan B along the way more. I would save money earlier; budget a little bit more wisely; invest. Now: The reason I say ‘with the mind I have now’ is that, honestly, I wasn’t capable of that kind of thing in my early 20s. Living this lifestyle, that’s one thing. Harnessing and nurturing a Plan B as well as saving money along the way? That’s something else entirely. When you’re younger, you’re thinking, ‘what if I die tomorrow?’ Then you get to a point where you’re, like, ‘what I live until my 90s?’ Living is way harder.” Anyway, with this kinda life--why would Amy want to do anything differently? In all honesty: she doesn’t. “Even with my own advice,” she chuckles, “I would probably do everything the same.” Good choice, Amy.
  5. StarLog Skydiving & Rigging Logbooks Price: $12 Brand new line of Skydiver and Rigger Logbooks. All spiral bound for easy logging and fit inside all standard size logbook covers. StarLog Skydiver holds 304 jumps StarLog Pro holds 1456 jumps StarLog Rigger holds 684 logs Available at ChutingStar Power Tools Price: $19.95 Want a great stocking stuffer with a low price? Give your loved one a Power Tool packing tool in holiday colors! Available at Para-Gear Hanging Handcrafted Wood Swooper Dude Price: $20 Made of mahogany, coconut and jute, the details on this handcrafted swooper includes a canopy, lines, rig on the back, hair, determined swoop face and skirt. Available at ChutingStar Rig Hangers Price: $42 With these colorful hangers you can hang your skydiving rig wherever you want. Whether it's on a rack at the dropzone hangar, on the back of a door, in your closet or anywhere else you can think of. These powder coated hangers make it easy to spot your skydiving rig, as well as give it a nice accent. Available at Para-Gear The Summer I Became A Skydiver, Children's Book Price: $25 Skydiver Ben Lowe wrote this children's book that tell's the story of a boy's introduction into a summer of skydiving. This 29-page hardcover book is a great short story that also helps explain skydiving to youngsters. Available at ChutingStar Glow Face Alt III Galaxy - $169 Meters and Black Only. The phosphorescent face provides a background glow to assist in low light conditions. The glow lasts over 2 hours in complete darkness, and is perfect for either night jumps or those sunset loads when it starts to get dark. The Glow Face Altimaster III Galaxy features a field replaceable lens. In case your lens gets scratched or cracked you will now be able to replace it yourself instead of having to send it to get serviced. Available at Para-Gear Selections Skydiving Photo Book by Michael McGowan Price: $43 This giant, hardcover photo book from McGowan is the perfect coffee table book of some of the most amazing shots in skydiving. Packed with more than 100 large, full-page photographs. Includes forward by Michael McGowan as well as liner notes from Angie McGowan and Tom Sanders. Available at ChutingStar Para-Gear Parachute Gear Bag Price: $85 Durable fabric and heavy duty zippers make this bag ideal for storing and carrying all the gear needed for skydiving. ID sleeve for personal information Dual zippered main compartment with zip protector Back pocket with additional inner zippered-pocket for storing accessories and documents up to size A4 Rubber handle on top and side Heavy duty metal buckles and comfortable-shoulder straps Durable, easy to clean, splash proof material. Available at Para-Gear
  6. admin

    Time for a National "Sky" Patrol?

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

    Beatles fall from the sky?

    It isn't every day you see John Lennon drop out of the sky. Or Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison, for that matter. Well, the skydivers at Lisle Eyes to the Skies Balloonfest Sunday weren't actually the four mopheads from Liverpool themselves, but they looked an awful lot like them. The Flying Beatles skydiving exhibition, complete with an American flag held by one of the "band members," was the pinnacle of a "Beatle-ful" day at the Lisle festival. In a celebration of the true millennium this year, the Eyes to the Skies committee wanted to bring in bands commemorating every decade from the 1960s on, said co-chairman Wayne Dunham, and each day of the festival would honor a different decade. But for Sunday, they wanted something a little different. "We thought, let's get a group that encompasses the last 50 years," Dunham said. Who better than The Beatles? So Dunham found three popular Beatles cover bands - "1964" ... The Tribute, British Export and Revolver - to play songs from three separate phases in the band's career. The Flying Beatles, a skydiving group out of Ohio, were the final ingredient of the day, jumping both when the festival opened and then later on in the evening, equipped with lighted jumpsuits. But Joe Maude of Glen Ellyn said he was a bit confused. "They had the American flag between them," he said. "Shouldn't they have had the British flag?" He and his wife Sue brought their 8- and 10-year-old sons - both avid Beatles fans - to the festival specifically to see the tribute bands. "We have a 15-year-old daughter who wouldn't come because the Beatles aren't hip," he said with a laugh. But there were hundreds of people sitting on a hill listening to the bands that thought otherwise. "We actually had several hundred people on the hillside before we opened," Dunham said. Tim Bedore of Naperville said he was impressed with the Eyes to the Skies music selection this year. "I think there should be more copy bands at fests, and The Beatles are the best of the bunch," he said. "I'd rather hear this than some band from the '70s that only had a few hits."
  8. Today recognizes the 216th anniversary of the first parachute jump, made back in 1797 by French aeronaut André-Jacques Garnerin. Garnerin, who was born on the 31 January 1769 was a student of the legendary ballooning pioneer, Jacques Charles. Charles himself, a decade before Garnerin's record was set, set a record of his own when along with Robert brothers, he became the first to used a hydrogen-filled balloon for manned flight. Garnerin, no doubt heavily inspired by his professor, began to forge his own path in the aeronautics world, becoming the Official Aeronaut of France. France was undoubtedly the hot spot for aeronautic discovery and innovation in the 18th century, and in 1783 it was the Frenchman, Sébastien Lenormand who invented what is considered the first modern parachute. The original design that was used by Garnerin for the first parachute jump was naturally a far cry from what we are familiar with today. The parachute itself was made from silk and was approximately 23 feet in diameters. The device was constructed using rope to connect the basket to the edges of the material. Prior to ascent the parachute resembled a closed umbrella and consisted of a pole which ran down the middle, with rope that ran through the pipe. This was used to attach the parachute to the balloon that he would be ascending with. The occasion of the first parachute jump itself took place in Parc Monceau, Paris on the 22 October 1797. Garnerin made ascent to a height of around 3,000 feet, before cutting the rope that connected the parachute to the balloon, and in turn allowed him to begin his descent. The descent was anything but smooth and Garnerin had to deal with the basket swaying violently during the flight, as well as having what could be described as a bit of a rough landing, with the basket scraping along the ground. In the end though, Garnerin had successfully completed the first parachute jump and paved the way for modern parachuting. Despite the fact that Garnerin was the first to perform a manned descent with a parachute, it is worth noting that 12 years prior to this, Jean Pierre Blanchard had used a parachute with a basket attached to perform parachuting demonstrations using a dog as a passenger. While given the advances made in France each year in the latter part of the 18th century, it was inevitable that a manned parachute jump would occur. It was Garnerin who made it happen first and can in turn be seen as the first modern parachuter in the world. Google honored this anniversary by adding a parachuting game to the Google doodles. Be sure to go check it out!
  9. At age 24, after four years with the same fantastic person, I knew it was time to pop the big question to my wonderful girlfriend, Marie. But I knew that an extraordinary person like her deserved nothing but an extraordinary marriage proposal. I knew that it couldn't be over a dinner, or up in lights at a stadium or anything like that. Not that those ways are bad; they just aren't really me, and I wanted something that was unique. Then it came to me. I have been a skydiver for a few years and have accumulated 113 skydives to my credit. What better way to propose than to jump out of a plane! After all, marriage is "the big leap," right? So, on Valentine's Day, while my girlfriend and the rest of the world dutifully spent the day working, I hopped in my car and drove to Skydance Skydiving in Davis. The night before, I had taken a white bath towel, cut it in half and written the words "Marry Me" on it. When I showed up at the dropzone in Davis, I was a little more nervous than usual for the skydive. But once the cameraman and I got in the plane, the routines of the dive started coming back to me. The cameraman, Tim, who was going to be filming and photographing my skydive, turned to me at 11,000 feet in the plane and yelled, "You ready for this?" I wasn't sure whether he was referring to the skydive or the wedding proposal, but I shouted back, "Heck, yeah!" The door opened and the whoosh of the wind rushed in and filled my ears. Tim climbed outside the plane and turned to face me. I stuck my head out into the fierce wind and started the exit count: "Ready, set, go!" Free fall. There really is nothing like it in the world, and words do not do it justice. As soon as I exited the plane, the technique took over and all nervous energy turned into the magic flow of a skydive. I stabilized and unfurled the sign, which flapped madly in the wind. So there we were -- falling toward Earth at 120 mph. It was beautiful; peaceful, actually. After a little more than 30 seconds of free fall, my altimeter read 4,500 feet. It was pull time. The parachute opened, and I sank down to a tiptoe landing. The cameraman and I rushed into the video editing room to see how the video turned out. To our delight, everything turned out fantastic. Tim took the time to edit the song I wanted on it, Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes." It was now 6:30 p.m. on Valentine's Day, and Marie had just gotten home from work. I'd set up the family room with lighted candles and three packages. She had a note in front of her wishing her a happy Valentine's Day and instructions to not ask any questions until the final gift had been opened. She opened the first gift, Peter Gabriel's album "So," with the song "In Your Eyes" on it. She smiled and then went for gift No. 2: a roll of undeveloped film (which contained the still photographs of the skydive that she could develop the next day). She looked at me quizzically but remembered not to ask any questions. Now it was time for the big final gift. She opened it: the skydiving videotape I had filmed earlier in the day. She put the video into the VCR, not knowing what was on it. The tape began with me saying, "I'm ready to take the leap." Peter Gabriel's chorus of "In Your Eyes" rolled on and the video progressed. The door of the plane opened and Marie watched with eager anticipation. I exited the plane and unfurled the sign, which was at first so flappy she couldn't read it. The camera man flew in closer and then the words became crystal clear: "Marry Me." She read it ... she cried ... and she said yes. Brad Koch lives in Pleasanton.
  10. Each year the boundaries of skydiving are expanded, giving way to new avenues of progress and to endless possibilities. The year 2012 was a big year for the sport, with a number of records being set. But aside from the records, there are also groups or individuals who slowly push the standards up with a display of skill. Other times we're inspired more by the surroundings and the cinematography of the video. We take a look at some of the most inspiring skydiving related videos from 2012. 1. Felix Baumgartner jumps from the edge of space One doesn't really have to say anything about this video, I'm sure everyone reading this knows all about it already, but for those that don't; on the 14th October 2012, millions of people around the world were fixed to live streaming of a world record attempt by Felix Baumgartner to set the highest ever skydive. The final confirmed exit height was 128 100 feet, allowing Felix to reach speeds of 833 mph during his freefall. Whether you love him or hate, one cannot deny the magnitude of this jump. 2. Gary Connery lands a wingsuit without a parachute This jump had a lot of media hype, not as much as the previous video - but the idea of skydiving without a parachute was obviously a subject that brought a lot of attention. The idea has been something that Jeb Corlois had been talking about for years prior, though his idea for landing was and still is quite different. Some argue that Gary Connery's jump was less landing without a parachute, and more just crashing into a pile of boxes. Though the technicalities of the jump aside, there is something liberating about the idea of being able to exit a plane without a rig on. Over the coming years, we will not doubt see further attempts to perform the act of landing without a parachute, and this first step - was definitely a jump worth the attention. 3. Vertical Skydiving World Record While this video was technically uploaded in early 2013, the footage is from 2012 and comprises of a record setting 138 person vertical skydiving record. The video was created as a marketing strategy by GoPro for the Hero action camera - and regardless of your POV camera preference, it's hard to argue that they didn't put together an absolutely amazing video. While only lasting just over a minute, it's a pretty awesome minute of viewing. 4. Skydive Dubai - Part 2 This video was a follow up to an extremely popular video that Skydive Dubai released originally in 2011, the original video has over 11 million views on youtube, and if you're looking to attract potential clients, what better way to do it than using viral networking to show just what an amazing place to jump Dubai is. While the footage may not show all too much groundbreaking skydiving, you can't help but want to head there immediately and get on a plane when you look at the view. If the point of a video is to get you up in the air, this video accomplishes that flawlessly. The best way to describe it, is fun! 5. Soul Flyers tear up wind tunnel Something for all the tunnel rats out there. Soul Flyers always manage to get one amped with any video they're in and this wind tunnel video is no different. There's some absolutely amazing flying in this video and for anyone who hasn't stepped inside a tunnel yet, it may well get them wanting to. The cinematography is also extremely good for a discipline that's notoriously difficult to get good footage of. Which of these videos inspired you the most. Let us know, or share your favorite skydiving videos of 2012 in the comments section below.
  11. Fredericksburg, Va., Jan. 11 -- Things are looking up for the skydiving industry. According to the U.S. Parachute Association (USPA), America's premier skydiving association, 2007 made history as the year skydiving took a dramatic turn upward as one of the most popular adrenaline sports in the nation. USPA reports that 2007 was one of the safest on record with 18 skydiver fatalities -- out of over 2.5 million jumps. That number surpasses a 1962 record for skydiving's fewest accidents. Considering that in the early 1960s, USPA was only about 10% of its current size with 3,353 members and the aggregate number of jumps was considerably less than today's 2 million+ jumps, this record stands out even more as a testament to years of strict safety standards, training policies and programs. "This has been a group effort," said Ed Scott, Executive Director of USPA. "USPA policies have been applied by every skydiver in the nation, as well as coaches, instructors, safety/training advisors, drop zone owners, riggers, pilots, manufacturers and gear distributors. We should all take pride in the strides we have made in skydiving safety the past half century." And the good news doesn't end there. Significantly more people are taking up the sport. USPA membership soared in 2007, with a significant number of new skydivers joining its ranks. USPA ended 2007 with more members (31,264) than the previous year for the first time since 2002. The total number of new members in 2007 was 4,900, reversing a five-year downward trend; it's also the highest number of new members since 2003. The skydiving industry also saw an unprecedented upturn in the number of skydiving licenses issued by USPA; more than at any point in the last four years. USPA's 2007 Skydiving Review with additional stats/demographics will be released in early spring. USPA is dedicated to the promotion of safe skydiving nationwide, establishing strict safety standards, training policies and programs at 200+ affiliated skydiving schools/centers. The Federal Aviation Administration recognizes and supports USPA's successful leadership role in the self- regulation of skydiving. USPA hosts the National Skydiving Championships, the sport''s largest and most exciting annual competition, October 18-25, 2008 (Skydive Arizona). Information: 1-800-371-USPA, http://www.USPA.org. Source: U.S. Parachute Association Discuss it here!
  12. admin

    Ten things that may keep you alive

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

    Line of Flight Explained

    The topic of “Line of Flight” seems to be a mysterious, yet cool term that is often misused and/or misunderstood. As a freefly load organizer and instructor, I’ve realized the lack of knowledge about this subject so I figured we can take a moment and break it down: Jump Run – the direction of flight and configuration of the plane while jumpers are exiting Line of Flight – The 3-dimensional profile of Jump Run The Line of Flight is essentially the same “line” as Jump Run, however in skydiving, the Line of Flight is discussed in terms of three-dimensional space. Next, where Jump Run begins (or the point where the first group exits) is known as “Down the Line of Flight” and where Jump Run ends (towards the last group exiting), is called, “Up the Line of Flight.” According to these illustrations, note the compass rose and which direction the plane is flying. You can determine that the plane is flying from the South, towards the North. This establishes Jump Run and Line of Flight. So, what makes this “Line of Flight” important? To avoid collisions!! Potential Collision Hazards Freefall Drifting (outside the given exit separation and given column of air) Break-Off & Opening Canopy Opening and the First 10-15 seconds On every jump, in any axis, we all experience freefall and canopy drift. (Reference http://www.melissaairheart.com/winds-aloft/) Therefore, pre-planning the spot, Jump Run, Exit Order (reference http://www.melissaairheart.com/exit-order-of-business/), and Exit Separation (reference http://www.melissaairheart.com/exit-separation-time-really-matters/) turn out to be important elements of safety for Line of Flight. Taking into consideration the day’s Jump Run, the Exit Order for the load and Exit Separation for the day’s conditions, each group (assuming they are a traditional RW, Freefly, student or Tandem group) is given a “Column of Air” for freefall. If a group is moving towards the boundaries of their given column, there now exists a potential for a collision. How does one get towards the boundaries of the column if they exited in the right Exit Order and given the appropriate Exit Separation? Example 1: New Freeflier Freefly speeds are increased from 120mph to roughly 150mph. Typically, new sit flyers have a tendency to lean forward which causes a dramatic backslide, which can cover a great distance. If that jumper is facing Up or Down the Line of Flight, they are increasing their chances of converging with another group. A solution is to have newer freefliers identify themselves in the loading area, and let others know they’ll be taking the Line of Flight into consideration. Then make sure to face perpendicular to the Line of Flight during freefall. Example 2: Break-Off To avoid collision on break off, it is suggested to track perpendicular to the Line of Flight. Let’s say there is one 4-way RW group (no video), and three 2-way freefly groups exiting from a caravan – given Exit Separation 6 seconds, Jump Run South to North, and each group exited appropriately. To assure avoiding running into groups, the 2-way freefliers are able to track perpendicular to the Line of Flight, allowing more separation between themselves and the other groups. However, in a 4-way or larger, inevitably, part of the group may track Up and Down the Line of Flight. There are 3-options to this variable: 1: The 2-jumpers tracking Up or Down the Line of Flight may reduce their tracking speed so as not exit their Column boundaries, yet still gaining an appropriate distance; and the 2-jumpers tracking off the Line of Flight do a max track to assist in maximizing group separation 2: The 4-way could adjust their break-off and off-set their trajectory by at least 45° so as to break-off, off the Line of Flight 3: The group exiting after a group of 4 (or more), leave a little extra time before exiting to account for enlarging the Column of airspace for the previous group’s need space for break off [Larger groups will absolutely need more time between groups to account for a larger distance covered on their break-off.] Note: Angled, tracking and wingsuit groups are exceptions to the “Column of Air” example as they fly in a broader airspace and need special consideration for their flight paths. This requires communication and awareness from the entire load, including the pilot. Why is Line of Flight important for canopy? Example 1: Canopy’s Flight Path The canopy’s forward movement after opening still increases the distance towards the boundaries of the prior or previous group’s Column of Air. Therefore, after ensuring a functioning canopy, it’s important to fly OFF the Line of Flight for approximately 10-15 seconds after opening. In theory, you should be able to look Up the Line of Flight and see the group after you breaking off or just opening; and look Down the Line of Flight and identify the group Down the Line of Flight under canopy and slightly below (depending on opening altitudes). Example 2: Landing Area and Opening Point This will vary depending on Jump Run’s direction, surface winds, freefall drift, etc. However, if the landing Target Area is under Group 3 shown in the next Illustration, then Group 1 and 2 will have to fly Up the Line of Flight. If you find yourself in Group 1 or 2’s situation, fly off the Line of Flight and identify the groups that exited after you before you fly to the the Holding Area and Landing Pattern. Try this at home: 1. Figure out Line of Flight (or Jump Run) for the day’s conditions and identify landmarks for specific directions 2. Make sure you note if your group is drifting up or down the Line of Flight; then assure you track accordingly 3. After deployment and opening checks, fly your canopy off the Line of Flight (if safe to do so) for 10-15 seconds. 4. Identify a safe flight path to Holding Area and Landing Pattern Another great resource is USPA’s Power Point presentation on “Canopy Collisions” found here http://www.uspa.org/USPAMembers/Downloads/tabid/84/Default.aspx (scroll towards bottom, under “Miscellaneous” topics. There are always exceptions to the norm and many variables. Therefore, maintain awareness and use your best judgement in each situation. Note: If this does not make sense, please consult an instructor at your Drop Zone for further explanation. This is not meant to be a sole training tool for skydiving or parachute flying. Full instructional methods will be provided at your skydiving school. Drawings are not to scale
  14. Thanks to social media, word of mouth marketing has become the most powerful marketing tool in the industry. This approach to marketing is exciting for some and a nightmare for others because the message cannot be controlled. Word of mouth spreads like wildfire by a few keystrokes of an individual who either loves or hates your service. For a business to thrive in today's tech savvy world, an owner must view opening the doors each morning as a theatre company on opening night…you're putting on a show. Each day businesses are putting on a performance for each customer who are armed with amazing technology to tell the world about the performance. It's time to start dancing! Perhaps no image is more synonymous within skydiving as the famous 'infidel' tattoo that went viral on social media bringing attention to a drop zone that no business owner would desire. Through the Eyes of the Consumer Imagine if you were invited to be a secret shopper. Your assignment would be to take a date to the nicest, most expensive restaurant in town. This restaurant would only be visited on the most special of occasions because of its high price point. Excitedly, you accept the offer and look forward to enjoying a quality meal in a romantic setting with that special someone in your life. In consideration of your assignment, what would it take to rate the restaurant a perfect five stars? One would think that the rating centers around the meal, but with more thought there are several interactions that take place before the food reaches the table. Consider these eleven judgement points that lead up to the presentation of the food: Website - In preparation for your meal, you elect to review the menu online. This is the first interaction with the restaurant. What image and feeling does the site convey? Hopefully it's positive as you send the link to your date to show where you're going... we want her to be impressed! Directions - How easy or difficult is it to locate the restaurant? There's nothing more frustrating than getting lost! Parking - Is parking readily available or are you circling the restaurant trying to find any opening? Greeting - What is the greeting like when you arrive? For the price point and experience, we hope it's positive and warm! Cleanliness - What is the appearance of the restaurant? This will set a tone. Hopefully, the soles of your shoes aren't picking up tons of dirt because the floor hasn't been swept in days. Wait Time - How long does it take to be seated especially as you have a reservation? If you've made arrangements ahead of time, the wait should be minimal. Interaction - What is the interaction like with your server? The gratuity will be high after the cost of this meal…we hope it's good! Beverages - Having placed an order for drinks, how long does it take for them to arrive? If this is a first date, you may need that beverage to arrive sooner than later to ease the awkward silence! Bathrooms - While awaiting drinks, you visit the bathroom. No one likes a dirty bathroom...anywhere. Food Order - How long does it take for the server to take your order for food? Do you like to wave at a server when it's time to place the order? Food - How long does it take for the food to arrive since you made the order? "Maybe the lamb is being flown in from New Zealand?" Once the food has arrived there are more interactions with the server, an offer for dessert and the bill. If the food was perfect, and the eleven interactions prior to the meal were average, would you award the restaurant five stars? Though all of the interactions leading to the meal are all small details, when added together become significant. To receive a true five star review, no detail is too small. Above: excessive waiting is a major issue at DZ's around the world which only lessens a customer's experience. Between the price point and high expectations, this will not win any five star reviews. As other businesses have had to adapt, so must our industry. As in the secret shopper example above, replace the meal with the skydive. We must strive for five stars and examine every interaction a customer has with our DZ's to ensure it's never average, but always exceeds expectation. Our customers are not just our tandem or AFF students, but fun jumpers and the staff that work for us as well. The key to harnessing word of mouth marketing is to allow service and professionalism to be as important as the skydive itself. No detail too small when offering the single greatest experience life has to offer.
  15. admin

    6 Tips To Boost The Bottom Line

    In an industry where everything costs a lot of money, creating opportunities to maximize on customer expenditure is essential. Many of the DZ's I visit focus solely on tandem and video sales and are merely satisfied with any other purchases made in the gear store. Let's be more strategic by increasing peripheral sales to help boost your bottom line. The margins on tee shirts are too substantial to ignore. Also, guests who purchase a second tandem become part of your marketing team by recruiting others to join them on their skydiving adventure. Are you doing everything you can to boost these sales? Understanding What We Have The skydiving industry has something that retail companies, salespeople, and corporations crave….no, WISH they had with their customers. That word is connection. Ever been to the Gap during its heyday in the 90s or even the Apple Store of today? Millions of dollars have been spent by these companies to mix the right elements to make the retail environment inviting enough to make a connection. Selling has been turned into a science focused on stimulating the consumers senses. Walk in to an Apple Store and pay attention to what you're seeing. Visually, the store is appealing with clean lines, lighting that isn't harsh but illuminates and is soft. The colors in the store window are vibrant. Audibly, the music is up with an energy-induced, toe-tapping beat. The music isn't an ipod on shuffle but is part of a science known as multi-sensory branding. Everything is by design to connect with customers and create an environment that is inviting, warm and allows no obstacle for consumers to react on an impulsive purchase. The energy felt within the Apple Store is palpable as the throng of people within the store creates a vibe that makes the price of the products not seem so incredibly expensive. Touch - having all the products out and available to touch and play with is part of the Apple Store's brilliance and pushes the connection between user and product. Playing with an ipod is much more powerful than simply looking at one. Smell - Think there isn't a smell at the Apple Store? You won't notice what you're smelling, but instead notice what you're not smelling. There is no musty smell from hundreds of people crammed into its tight quarters, but rather a smell of newness that matches the vivid environment. Undoubtedly, the store is cleaned very well at the end of each day. Everything involving the senses is calculated and by design. Whether you're an Apple lover or hater, Apple has created a retail model that spares no expense to create a connection with the consumer. When a connection is made, sales are made. The skydiving industry has conquered the hardest part of selling: we have the connection. Now, let's make some sales! Closing the Sale The moment a tandem student lands from their skydive is SALES GOLD. The reserved person who arrived at the DZ who hemmed and hawed about upgrading from video to video and stills is now primed to spend a little more money…at least $18 for a tee shirt. The connection the student has with the tandem instructor and the organization is now sealed as serotonin surges through the veins of an individual who has just completed "The best experience of their lives." The consumer WANTS to share their experience showing off a tee shirt or product that says, "yeah, I jumped out of an airplane and loved it." Be sure we're creating the right environment to make the sale. NOTE: You don't need to have an amazing facility or retail space to accomplish this.The minimum requirement is that your sales area is clean and feels organized. 6 Power Tips To Boost The Bottom Line The Closing 1. The Tandem Instructor The tandem instructor is the gateway to an easy sale. The student has entrusted his / her life to the instructor while facing their biggest challenge and they lived! Big time connection here. If your DZ is meeting instructors in the landing area with a rig, then you're negatively affecting your sales. Great that you're busy, but if there is not enough time to complete the experience, then you're clearly understaffed. A great book has a strong beginning, middle and end. Too often, we end the tandem experience improperly without an instructor: a). debriefing the tandem student with encouragement about how well they did during the jump b). the presentation of a certificate of achievement signed by the instructor with a shake of the hand or hug and the signing of log books (instructors and student's) c). presentation of sales opportunities that the customer has become eligible for having completed their first jump as well as the next steps to becoming a solo skydiver. A Word on Instructors: Passionate instructors will buy-in to this. A DZ's success is everyone's success and job security for all! 2. Placement Where the closing takes place is key to driving sales. Ideally, have the presentation of the certificate of achievement take place in the store. Once the instructor shakes hands and departs, the student is left with feelings of exhilaration and happiness in the retail space. 3. The Store The gear store, regardless of size should feel clean and organized. If the store is poorly lit, has worn out carpeting, and is bulging at the seams with product then make the correct changes. Offer less product if needed to make the sales environment more friendly. All products should be neatly hung or folded. 
 4. Displays Be sure your customers can touch tee shirts. If tee shirt designs are simply on display behind the counter with sizing in drawers, then you are not maximizing sales. As with all retail stores in the mall, people want to see how tee shirts will look on them. The interaction of touching the product is very important. 5. Offer a Deal Even if it's perceived. There is a euphoria in shopping when people feel like they've received a deal. Observe the madness of Black Friday in the US as shoppers quite literally feel a 'high' when getting amazing deals even at the cost of getting out of bed at 4:00am, fighting traffic and huge crowds for the opportunity to spend money in a crazy environment! When presenting the certificate of achievement, offer an exclusive discount in the form of a coupon (preferably on card stock, so it feels substantial) for those that have completed their jumps to receive a discount on purchasing their next tandem, a discount for beginning AFF and a discount on a tee shirt). Even a $2 discount off of a US$20 shirt feels good to a shopper. You don't have to give the house away to see a jump in sales. 6. Create an Urgency Don't give customers options to get a deal after they leave the DZ. There is no better sales environment than the moment after a jump. During my time at Skydive Carolina, I offered my guests who had paid full retail the opportunity to purchase a gift certificate for a tandem at half the price. The discount would be valid for that day only, pushing the student to make an on-the-spot decision. (The strategy is not to force the student to jump the same day, but to leave with the discount in hand in order to recruit others). Once the customer leaves the DZ with an option to buy later, the percentage of sales decreases dramatically. If someone called within a few days begging to cash in the offer…I would always honor it. The psyche of most people doing a tandem skydive is to share in the experience with others. My basis for good marketing is to convert happy customers into 'talkers' for your DZ. Anyone leaving with a half off tandem promotion becomes a marketing mouthpiece. They will try to recruit others to join them for their next tandem experience and of course you will capture them at full retail. Some people return alone, but that is the minority. This is part of equipping your guests to become the marketing machine for your DZ and the best part is they're paying you to do it. Owning and running a DZ is harder than most people can imagine. The lists of to-dos and responsibilities are endless and being ahead on anything is typically short-lived. My thoughts are geared towards working smarter, not harder and to convert your happy customers into marketers.
  16. Image by DeltaBravo As spring draws near it is time once again to start thinking about the summer jumping season. Most drop zones will start to organize their safety day activities, gear will be inspected, and repacks scheduled. However, what many of us forget to do is spending some time developing our coaches and instructors after all, professional skills can be forgotten during the winter months just as easily as safety rules and regulations. For many drop zones, instructional development stops after the candidate’s progression card is signed off and the certification is issued. What we fail to realize is that instructional skills are perishable and everyone can benefit from annual employee development training. What I would like to discuss here are some methods the average drop zone can use to develop their instructors. Understandably not all of these are possible at every drop zone, and individual drop zones may have to modify these methods to fit into their procedures, but these are simple and can be done with little imposition on the drop zone. Before I talk about training techniques I would like to discuss certification and training records. I am not about to suggest that drop zones start massive files on their people, but the drop zone owner is an employer and even though most of the employees are classified as independent contractors, the DZO/DZM should have a basic training folder for each instructor. Some things that might be useful to include would be copy of class 3 medical certificates for tandem instructors, copies of CPR/First Aid certification cards, awards, and even the latest logbook entry once a year (I’ll discuss the last two more later on). Although none of these items fall into the privacy act, the DZO/DZM should still keep the files locked up and they should only contain the document copies, never the originals. This will prevent the information from being passed around or discussed publicly. Now that we have the staff, and their records are in order, how are we going to mold them? To renew an instructor certification, the individual must attend an instructor’s seminar. The majority of the time that seminar is the annual safety day, but instructors need something more. I have heard many DZOs/DZMs make the comment that the requirements to become a certified instructor should be made more stringent. I even heard one person advocate that a coach should have a minimum of 500 jumps. Although that sounds great in theory, logistically it is almost impossible. Instead of just forgetting about instructors and coaches after they have become certified, get them all together once a year. Pick one of them to give the ground portion of the First Jump Course while all the other instructors are the students. This will allow for all of the instructors to provide constructive feedback to each other and it will give the instructors a chance to relearn something they may have forgotten. One thing that is frustrating for a new student is when one instructor says, “Remember? In class you were taught to….” When in fact that was something the other instructor forgot to teach in class. By holding annual employee development training not only will the instructors benefit, but so will the students. Free Fall Drills Another technique is to practice free fall drills. It happens to all of us. We, as humans, can get sloppy with our techniques overtime. Two instructors or coaches jumping together would be in a position to debrief each other. This can be done as a fun jump, but as long as it is not a free fly jump or a “zoo” dive. After all, we are not free flying with first jump students and they are jumping exact dive plans. I do want to stress at this point that instructors must help each other out. If it is in the plan for one person to act like a first jump student, then act like one, but let’s be honest, how many first jump students actually put their helmet on backwards and start playing with the aircraft controls as soon as they get in the plane? Although I’m sure it does happen on occasion, not to the extent that I see people acting it out when teaching new instructors. Discuss with each other what you have seen over the past year, but don’t make the training so unrealistic that it is ineffective. Have an instructor day at the wind tunnel. Since wind tunnels are beginning to spring up in more places take advantage of it. Video the time in the tunnel and spend some time doing dirt drills working on areas that need improvement. Emergency Training Many DZs will invite the local rescue squad out on safety day and there are others that don’t like to do this because they do not want to scare the new jumpers. I can understand both sides of this, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a dangerous sport. It is a good idea for all instructors to have basic first responder training specific to the types of injuries that could be experienced at the DZ. Subjects such as C-Spine immobilization, when to move an injured person and when not to should be taught to all instructors. What about the injured person’s helmet? Should it be left on or taken off? How do you safely remove an injured person from the swoop pond? When the call is placed into 911, what information is the most helpful? Does the staff know the address to give the 911 operator (that is a good thing to type up and put by the phone, by the way). This brings us back to the training folder. One of the things that would be a good idea to keep in the folder would be copies of awards and maybe even a copy of a recent logbook entry. If there is ever an accident or fatality at the DZ, the DZO/DZM will have to deal with the media. By having key information handy, the DZO/DZM will be able to make a quick and informative statement to the press if needed. For example, if someone were to get hurt during a tandem jump, the DZO could say, “This is a very unfortunate accident and we are looking into the cause right now. The instructor is highly experienced and has over 10,000 jumps, 9,000 of them being tandem, and just two months ago was awarded the USPA badge for 50 hours of free fall.” Many people don’t like talking to the press, and that is the subject for another article, but the fact remains; by just saying no comment you leave the uneducated alone to make up their own answers based on hearsay, rumors, and their own fears. As you can see, there are various ways for a drop zone to develop their instructors. Although not every way is possible, nor has every possible way been covered, we must remember that drop zones are businesses, instructors are employees, and once in a while, employees need refresher training too. Corey Miller C-38834 Corey has a Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Science, specializing in Human Factors and Education. He has over 30 years of experience in both aerospace and military aviation. He is currently the Quality and Safety Manager for the ATM Program in Kabul Afghanistan but he calls the Oklahoma Skydiving Center his home.
  17. nettenette

    Skydiving For The Unlucky In Lung

    How To Jump Smart When You've Got Asthma Photographer: Wolfgang Lienbacher Ah, the sky: the beautiful bubble of air that surrounds us all in a breezy embrace. But what if your lungs have a troubled relationship with that air? If you’re an asthmatic and getting into skydiving, you’re facing a substantial--but surmountable--challenge. You’ll be happy to hear that you’re not the first to square up to the sky with flimsy airbags. Many asthmatics are successful sport skydivers. In fact, some studies show that exposure to high altitudes can even improve the lung function of people with asthma. (Ha! Take that, haters.) That said, you need to check off a few boxes on your way to the plane. Here’s a quick tipsheet. Get your doc’s signoff. If you want to be a serious sport skydiver, your asthma must be stable and under excellent control. Don’t take your own word for it, either--speak to your doctor about it. Your doctor will need to confirm that your peak flows (or spirometry) should be close to the normal range. This can be quite discretionary stuff, so get a second opinion if necessary. Unfortunately, severe, persistent asthma and skydiving are not a good mix. Know where your meds are. It’s rule number one for you in your landlubber life, and it remains rule number one in the sky: you must know where your meds are at all times. Keep that rescue inhaler readily available--not buried in a bag, floating in with the rest of your gear--and make sure other people know where it is. Making sure it’s in the pocket of jumpsuit is definitely not the worst idea--and keeping a permanent backup in your dropzone kit is a very, very good one. Go easy on yourself. Skydiving is exercise, and it’s exercise in a cold-air environment. The high altitudes we reach on sport skydives can compromise weaker lungs, reducing the oxygen in an asthmatic jumper’s blood to the point of unsafety. These conditions are challenging even for people who fall within the healthy, normal range--so an asthmatic can expect to exert proportionally more effort on each jump. Listen to your body. Don’t push it. Declare your meds. The dropzone needs to know if you’re on medication, so be clear and specific about what your treatments include. Also note that if competitive skydiving is on your horizon, you’ll need to make sure the governing organization is aware of all the prescription medications you’re taking. Anti-doping rules are in place for all competitors, and some asthma medications are on the list. You wouldn’t want to see your team’s faces at a DQ you could have seen coming. Don’t be shy. While you’re talking to your new dropzone about your asthma and declaring your meds, talk to them about the supplemental oxygen on the plane. If you’re on a long hold at altitude, don't be shy about asking for it. Be okay out of the pollen bubble. Is pollen a problem? Be aware that most dropzones around the world are located in agricultural areas. You may actually be physically landing in a cultivated crop field chock-full of pollen. If that sounds like your idea of a very bad time, you may need to get creative about where and when you jump. Make sure your bones aren’t compromised. As asthmatics are probably aware, a regular dose of oral steroids can be very bad for the structural integrity of your skeleton. If that describes you, make sure you’re thoroughly medically assessed for osteoporosis and that your bone density sits within the normal range. Learning to fly a sport skydiving parachute doesn’t automatically mean you’re doomed to crash landings, but they’re far more likely in the early days of your jumping career--and potentially much more injurious for a medicated asthmatic than for others. Brand new? Address your anxiety as early as possible. Anxiety is a very normal part of the early skydiving experience. This is true for everyone. Asthmatics--especially folks for whom emotional spikes can trigger an asthma attack--must deal with this in a much more thoughtful, procedural ways than others. The good news is that you can expect the intensity of anxiety to lessen over the course of your skydiving career; the bad news is that, in the beginning, it’s quite a hurdle to get over. Here’s a hot tip: there are plenty of ways to prepare your body for the experience. The wind tunnel is a great hack. If you take some time to acclimate your body to the feeling of freefall in this controlled environment, you’ll have proportionally less anxiety once you get into the sky. Take a tandem skydive to be introduced to the procedure, the plane, the facility and the sky. Give yourself the time to approach your sport skydiving career sideways, not overwhelmingly all-at-once, and your lungs will be that much happier in the sky. After all, it’s the sky we fill our lungs with; it’s time yours were properly introduced.
  18. joelstrickland

    Teaming Up: Part 3 - Getting Stuff Done

    Flynamik Freestyle by Gustavo Cabana Skydivers are a diverse bunch, drawn to the sky from across the length and breadth of human endeavour - and we each bring with us into any group dynamic a particular set of strengths and weaknesses. Across the different available disciplines teams are very different beasts, from the fairly compact pair of people that make up a Freestyle team to the unruly herds of 8-Way. There is no right or wrong way to get things done and one cannot accurately specify exactly what will or will not work for any particular team setup. I cannot tell you the best way to run a team - I can only share with you some things we have learned over the six years since deciding to start competing. Different Jobs At its serious end skydiving can be extremely complex. Each discipline has its own particular bonanza of inter-member technicality and bamboozling nomenclature to learn when you get involved (looking at you, belly types). While the kind of detail that information requires is beyond the space I have to write about here, one thing stands true - if you are in a new team and exploring a discipline then quality coaching from an experienced and reliable source will see you right and while this represents a definite cash investment it can amount to the equivalent of many, many skydives. Azure Freefly by Matthias Walde Outside of the part where actually plan and execute jumps, there is much that requires attention and many questions that need to be answered as you move through the calendar. For example: Whose job is it to remind everyone to check the dates of their reserve (before you have already travelled to another country and are standing in front of an unimpressed looking dropzone employee? Who is responsible for wrangling the team nincompoop and making sure they bring the absolutely vital things they need for skydiving - like a parachute? Who wants the title of ‘Team Captain’ enough to accept that as soon as something goes wrong the others will just stare at them with bovine vapidity until they go and fix it? NFTO 4-Way Ladies by Mel Allan For us, as a freefly trio, we settled loosely into the following roles: Captain: The team captain’s job is to handle all of our active communication and formal arrangements. This involves booking flights, filing entry forms, negotiating with dropzones, communicating with sponsors and generally acting as the voice by which team business is presented. Camera: By definition a camera flyer’s job has extra work involved. It is their task to ensure the setup they are using is present and correct, to make sure the batteries are always charged and to download and file all of the training jumps. The extra duties a camera flyer has all boil down to: When the jumps happen - don’t miss. Nerd: Although not a formalised position - one person usually sticks out as being the geek of the bunch. For us the nerd’s job is to handle all of the promotion and exposure. This means building and maintaining the website, tending to the FB page and all other assorted social media thingies, editing photos to share with sponsors, producing video edits and writing magazine articles. These roles we occupy were not allocated on purpose - we settled into the tasks based on experience, personal motivations and our individual strengths and weaknesses. Separate Business As you progress as a team you will begin to court the attention of those keen to learn from your evolving skills. Coaching others or running events might become a viable way to promote yourselves and offset the cost of your investment. The business minded amongst you might have great ideas about how to operate but for us simplicity rules the day. Again, this is not the rules - what works for us after some experimentation. Golden Knights 8-Way by Matthias Walde While we all act under a shared team name, our individual coaching interests are conducted separately. The practical application of this is you reap what you sow. The best example I can present is that an annual event run under our team name is the work of a single member. All of the planning and preparation is their work alone and while the coaching and load organising are shared equally the remaining two members are present as employees. The team functions as a whole, but the potentially murky business of business is an individual enterprise and thus free of complications.
  19. Busy skies - Bad Sassendorf, Germany. From the solar flares and zooming photons of a gargantuan ball of always exploding fire really far away, through to the moon swinging about in the sky or even the rotation of the earth itself - the weather which makes or breaks our plans on this little blue and green planet is affected by things on the grandest scale. Meteorological science is both amazingly exacting and still kind of imprecise all at the same time. While hard to nail down the total details, weather forecasting can tell you pretty much what to expect and more-or-less when. There are things you can judge in the distance that might affect you directly when you ask questions like: If there is a hurricane in the other side of the ocean might it be windy at the weekend? Or, if these opposing weather fronts are going to clash above me how is it going to affect the conditions? The most important rule is the further away you look the more general you have to be. Knowing how things work and seeing them in advance might mean making the call between a great day of jumping while the naysayers stay at home, seeing a shitty day coming a mile off and going to the movies instead, or accidentally skydiving in the rain and having to dry your shit out afterwards. Clouds It is fun to learn about clouds. The names might seem baffling at first but with just a small amount of practice you will be able to identify the most common types and what they herald for your skydiving day. Once you can name the usual suspects there are a great many others that signify environmental anomalies and special circumstances which can further your awareness. A cloud spotter’s guide in the glove compartment of you car or handily placed next to a window is a good way to encourage what can become a rewarding and entertaining habit. Here are the formations that you generally get to deal with: Little Puffy White Ones: Latin Words: Cumulus (Low), Altocumulus (Medium), Cirrocumulus (High). Cumulus clouds are the fluffy cotton wool variety that appear in children’s fridge door paintings. The presence of any cloud indicates precipitation but small friendly white examples mean all the things skydivers like - mostly sunny and not windy and not raining. This is the type of cloud they hold in reserve for the choicest skydiving locations around the world, where everyone jumps in their swimwear and frolics in the sea at the end of the day. Grey Fogginess: Latin Words: Stratus (Low), Altostratus (Medium), Cirrostratus (High). Stratus cloud is likely what is happening when the whole sky is full of grey and people are shaking their fists angrily at it. Thin layers can be seen through but any kind of density can render the sky obscuring and opaque. Stratus skies can represent the kind of conditions where you could be offered jumps from whatever the cloud base is, or possibly from above if the ground is still visible. A good Altostratus day is the kind that gives you the feeling you first experienced as a child peering out of on an aeroplane window and wishing you could get out and bounce around on a big white spongy trampoline. Big High Massive Ones: Latin Words: Cumulonimbus Huge cloud structures can make for spectacular skydiving experiences as you zoom down through colossal valleys in the sky. Just watch as the wingsuit types get all giddy with excitement on days like these - then promptly land miles off the dropzone because they couldn’t resist chasing some perfect aerial canyon. However, much care is needed. While these towering storm clouds might be spread out and allow for jumps in the gaps it can be all too easy to wind up inside one if things go against you. At best you get wet and uncomfortable, at worst your visibility is zero and things are dangerous. Jumping with lots of cloud around requires good judgement and extra emphasis on safety - keep the groups small and bin the tracking. Storm cell building in the distance - Lake Balaton, Hungary. Combinations In a very general way when you start smooshing your Latin words together things are getting busier up there and more likely to lead to no skydiving. Nimbostratus formations are what can be known as fine British skydiving weather. Large ominous grey monsters fill all the observable sky as you gear up while it is still actually raining outside, but don’t worry - there is a hole coming. For extra entertainment bring an American along and watch then gawp slack-jawed and unbelieving at you while you get ready. Stratocumulus clouds are the big wavy sheets that can be low, medium, high, or all at the same time. Thin layers like this are caused by generally stable conditions before things get saucy. Thin layers at different heights can look like shit from the ground but be fine once you are in the plane, realising that much of it remains above you and does not hinder your visibility of the ground. Jumping from cloud base - Slavnica, Slovakia. A nice layer to play above - Dunkeswell, UK. Go Further There are many types of of cloud. As a skydiver you will spend a lot of time looking up at the sky - so it is a solid investment to learn more about how it works. There are clouds that demonstrate it being windy enough to push rain up into the sky or down out of it before it normally would, there are those that form up into rolls and lumps and streets, those that create incandescent colour from above or below, and those that don’t do anything but will impress the hell out of people when you can name them.
  20. admin

    Health Gymnasium

    Health gymnasiums Those who can afford time and expense involved many wish to take advantage of the facilities offered by health gymnasium. None of the equipment and other facilities provided by gimnasium are strictly necessary to the process of getting fit, but they can add interest and variety to your physical exercises. Two other advantages offered by good gymnasium are constant supervision, which enables you to exercise with safety confidence, and a congenial atmosphere. Exrecising with people who share common purpose can provide extra enjoyment and incentive. It is necessary first of all to distinguish between the different types of gymnasium. Training fymnasium are essentially for athletes and other men and womenwho wish to develop their skills for particular athletic activities. They provide facilities for athletes to keep themselves for their chosen sports. Health gymnasium provide advice, instruction and facilities for everyone who wishes to become or keep fit, whatever his or her initial physical condition. Their clients range from professional athletes to office workers who wish only to make the best use of their lunch hours. Health gymnasium vary widely în quality. When choosing one of yourself, you should check that is staffed by qualified and responsible instructors. You may feel flattered to be attended by a sports celebrity, but professionally trained physiotherapists and physical education instructors can be equally, if not more, beneficial to an unfit person. You should expect to be asked details of your medical history, and to be carefully examined before being allowed to use all the facilities. Three types of exercise The accesories provided in health gymnasium to help you exercise range form simple wights and benches to more sophisticated equipment such aș pulleys and rowing machine. These accesories are appropriate for different kinds of exercises. Isometric exercises, the simple type involvea applying muscular strenght by pulling or pushing immovable objects. The muscles are tensed amd this tension is sustained for short periods of time. Because little movement is involved în these exercises, they develop static rather than dynamic strenght. Isotonic exercises involve pulling or lifting an object to certain position and then returning it to its original position. They cause the muscles to contract as you move but, because the weight or force employed is to the same degree throughout the exercise. The weight or force used can only be that which you cadn lift or pull at the weakest point in the range of motion involved and at other points your muscles are not sufficiently strained to develop în strenght. The third type of exercise, known as isokinetic, requires more sophisticated equipment. Isokinetic exercises can be designed for particular needs. For example, a person who is training for a particular sport can do exercises that stimulate exactly the demands of this sport, and also developed precisley the muscles he or she most needs. Massage Facilities for massage may be available at health gymnasium or sauna baths. Massage is used in physiscal therapy as a means of rehabilitating patients who are suffering from certain physical pain or aliments but, as a mean of getting or keeping fit, its value is very limitated. Sauna baths Sauna baths may be attached to health gymnasium or may exist as separate establishments. Most sauna baths are organized according to similar basic principles, although Finnish sauna baths retain their original national characteristics. They have an invigorating effect on the whole body and aid physical and mental relaxation, but their effect on the whole body and aid physical and mental relaxation, but their effect are temporary rather than long-term. Sauna baths provide a healthy and enjoyable means of relaxation, but the sudden rise and pulse rate can be dangerous. Pregnant women and people with high or low blood pressure, should therefore avoid them.
  21. Big Air Sportz is proud to announce that their instructor discounts are back for a limited time. Big Air Sportz, Inc. is offering significant discounts on all canopies sold directly to current rated coaches and AFF, static line and tandem instructors. “We have recognized that students look up to their instructors for insight as to which canopies to buy,” says company President Brian Germain. Big Air Sportz is offering any size custom canopy for $1,399 until January 31st, 2003. Big Air Sportz is the maker of the Lotus, a 9-cell semi-elliptical airlocked canopy designed for beginning and intermediate jumper from 20 jumps up. The Samurai (the next-generation Jedei) is a 9-cell elliptical airlocked canopy designed for an experienced pilot with more then 300 jumps. The airlock design uses valves to seal off the cells of a canopy once it is inflated to provide stability and prohibit instantaneous deflation of the airfoil, thus increasing the safety margin when flying in rough conditions. More information about Airlocks is available here on Dropzone.com and on the Big Air Sportz site. In order to qualify for the discount, any current, rated instructor must fax a copy of his or her rating card to Big Air Sportz at (813) 977-5000. Valid ratings are coach, jumpmaster, instructor, and evaluator from any acceptable country or association. The applicant must present a current rating card to qualify for the discount. A deposit of $250 is required to confirm the order, with the remainder due upon the canopy’s completion. Retail prices on the Samurai and Lotus range from $1,905 to $2,048. Demo canopies are available for $50 for 2 weekends. Big Air Sportz also offers dropzones or clubs highly experienced speakers for a choice of seminars, with topics including Canopy Flight from A-Z, Freeflying, and the Psychology of Skydiving. To schedule a demo, a seminar or for any other information, contact Big Air Sportz at 8525 Bramwell Way, Tampa Florida 33647, or Tel.: (813) 788 4444, Cell: (813) 230-2161, e-mail: zenfreefall@aol.com, and on the web at http://www.bigairparachutes.com About Big Air Sportz: Big Air Sportz was founded in 1998, but its founder Brian Germain has long been involved in the parachute design and skydiving industry. Brian designed his first airlock while recovering from a paraglider collapse in 1993 that left him in a wheelchair for months. From those first drawings and tests eventually came the Jedei canopy. Brian has won various medals in X-trials and various other freefly competitions around the United States. He has taught hundreds of skydivers everything from canopy flight to freeflying. Most recently, Brian and the Big Air Sportz team were freefly organizers at WFFC ’02. With current research projects including the Shogun, a 7-cell airlocked canopy; an as-yet-unnamed cross-braced airlocked elliptical ultra-performance canopy; CRW airlock canopies; and kite-surfing training kites and recreational ram-air kites (http://www.bigairkites.com); Big Air Sportz is ready to provide canopies for the future of skydiving.
  22. PALATKA — To celebrate his 60th birthday and his forced retirement as an airline pilot, Larry Elmore jumped out of an airplane 60 times in one day. He was forced to retire from Trans World Airlines at age 60 because of Federal Aviation Administration rules on commercial pilots. So Tuesday, Elmore, of nearby Melrose in northeastern Florida, got together at Kay Larkin Airport with a support staff of parachute packers from Skydive Palatka and jumped 60 times to prove a point about his age. Jeff Colley, drop zone manager at Skydive Palatka, said Elmore made his first jump about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday and finished up about 3 p.m. Three planes and three pilots were used to ferry Elmore up for his jumps. Elmore, who started skydiving in 1986, donned a parachute, hopped in a plane, and parachuted down. Upon landing, he would shed his used chute, put on another held waiting for him, hop in the plane and go up for another jump. For the first 59 jumps, he exited the aircraft at 2,300 feet and opened his parachute immediately. On the final jump, Elmore skydived from 13,500 feet, Colley said. Alison Duquette, an FAA spokeswoman, said at age 60 pilots begin a progressive decline that could affect levels of safety for commercial passengers. Elmore has started a new job as a corporate pilot, Colley said.
  23. MARINA, Calif. -- There he was, high above Monterey Bay, a yellow speck rocketing across the gauzy sky. Birdman was tracing a line due east, maybe 100 mph, following the braided shoals of the Salinas River. The ground was approaching at about 60 mph. Graceful from afar, close-up he looked like a flying squirrel in an Elvis get-up. Mark Lichtle had jumped out of a plane at 12,900 feet and was trying to soar two miles inland before deploying his parachute. For a minute and a half, the 42-year-old skydiver kept gravity at bay, moving forward much faster than he was descending toward that famous dark soil of Steinbeck country. Mark Lichtle: Featured Photographer Mark's Galleries Lichtle is one of a growing flock of jumpers who wear wing suits. Designed by BirdMan International, the suits keep humans aloft with nylon wings that extend from the wrists to the hips and inflate as air starts to rush into them. Another wing, like a bird's tail, connects to both legs. "It's like slow-motion skydiving," Lichtle said. "You can stay up longer and go farther. The wing suit has allowed us to feel as close to flight as possible." Since they became commercially available in 1999, BirdMan suits have given skydivers a new rush, and provided a new impetus to base jumping--hurling oneself off buildings, bridges and cliffs. Lichtle is a retired mortgage broker from San Jose who films other people enjoying such adventures, often while jumping himself. Recently he leaped off a tower in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and in Mexico he jumped 1,200 feet into a cave called the Basement of the Swallows, which itself could swallow the Empire State Building. Wing suits are for experts only. The company recommends that a skydiver perform at least 500 parachute jumps and then take special bird-flying instruction before putting on wings. Although there is an emergency mechanism to cut away the wings, the diver's arms are very restricted while flying. "It's like skydiving handcuffed, and your head is your first point of contact with anything else," Lichtle said. Vladi Pesa, a BirdMan dealer and wing suit instructor, said that once students learn to control the suit, it revolutionizes their diving. They can do loops and barrel rolls and carve across the sky as if it were water or snow. "It completely changes the flight path," Pesa said. "You can do formations, flying like a flock of birds. You can double your free-fall time." Skydivers have long experimented with artificial wings and were called birdmen. In the mid-20th century, the practice was akin to jumping from a plane in a cheap Batman costume. From 1930 to 1961, according to Birdman International, 72 of the 75 people known to have tried such stunts died. The problem was, and still is, that skydivers need to be stable when they deploy their chutes. If some homemade wing has you spinning like a fan out of control, you're history. In the 1990s, skydivers began experimenting again, this time with wings that had no hard parts and were easier to keep in control. A Frenchman named Patrick DeGayardon got it right--for a while. He performed successful wing jumps until 1998, when he tried to sew a little pillow beneath his parachute to get rid of a pocket of dead air behind his derriere. Unfortunately, he sewed the chute itself to the pillow and didn't try to deploy it until too late. He plunged from life to legend. About that time, a Finn named Jari Kuosma came up with the idea of a commercial wing suit. A Croatian friend designed it, and BirdMan International was born in 1999. It has sold about 1,000 suits, ranging from $600 to $1,000. Kuosma has been trying to tinker with designs to slow down the speed of descent even more, allowing birdmen to swoop up and for a moment, maybe, achieve zero vertical velocity. "We are getting very close to zero," he said. "I am going to land this thing without a chute one day." Hopefully, not like the 72 others. Kuosma said he slowed the downward speed to 10 mph on one flight, whereas a normal skydiver falls at about 120 mph before throwing the chute. Others say birdmen haven't gotten much slower than 40 to 60 mph. On a cool summer day, with a briny wind coming off the bay, Lichtle suited up at the Marina Airport, an aging corrugated affair with old barracks and ragged windsocks. He harnessed himself into the six zippers and shuffled like a penguin to the runway. He wore a helmet--aptly designed by the Bonehead company--shaped flat like Frankenstein's skull, on which he mounted his camera. "Birdman!" an onlooker shouted, as an instructor explained the wing suit concept to curious students. Soon after the plane lifted off, the other skydivers on board jumped out right over the airport. Lichtle told the pilot to drop him a couple miles away at the coast. He wanted to see if he could get back to the airport on his own wings. He has to get used to his new suit, which is for advanced divers and "a little twitchy." Still, because he is more streamlined through the air, the sensation is a lot smoother and more liberating than regular skydiving. "You don't have the hard wind on your body," he said. He leaped alone over the beach and, at first, fell like a rock. Then in several seconds, the air went through the vents of his wing, and floom, they inflated. He was aloft, aiming roughly for a rusted water tower at the airport. But up at 12,000 feet, a strong head wind was blowing off the land. Lichtle was going about 100 mph into the wind and hurtling down about 65 mph. He watched his altimeter and studied the oaks and artichokes below. Flatbed trucks tooled along the farm roads. He realized he was not going to reach his goal and threw his chute at about 3,500 feet, still a quarter mile west of the airport. He drifted east with the wind and spiraled down with the other divers, undaunted. An eagle he wasn't. Still, Lichtle was unruffled. "This is really the closest you can get to a bird."
  24. admin

    Skydivers sue over mid-air crash

    TWO student skydivers who plunged to the ground after a mid-air collision during a training jump are suing the company that was teaching them how to parachute. Christopher Charles Morton, 33, was in hospital for four days and off work for six weeks after the accident, which also involved Michael Richard Warren, 26, at Picton, south of Sydney, on December 14, 1997. Mr Morton and Mr Warren are suing Sydney Skydivers Pty Ltd in the NSW District Court, claiming the company was negligent by failing to ensure its employees were adequately trained and that it failed to exercise due and proper care for the safety of its students. Their barrister, Andrew Morrison, SC, told Acting Judge Clifford Boyd-Boland it would be their case that the system for novice skydivers put in place by the company was "thoroughly unsafe". Mr Morrison said the pair were "some significant distance above the ground" when they collided and fell. Mr Morton, a master of the Sydney Harbour tall ship Bounty, suffered a fractured pelvis and injuries to his right shoulder, spine, head and severe shock. Mr Warren, a former coalminer, received fractures to his right arm and injuries to his spine, head and severe shock. Mr Morton told the court a friend, his girlfriend and he had decided to buy each other skydives for Christmas presents that year. He said that after a day of training he went up in a plane to do his first jump with several instructors and fellow student Mr Warren, who was then doing his third jump. They were to aim for a cross marked on the ground and were directed by instructors moving large arrows and using batons to show them which way to turn. "I thought I was doing really well because I was coming up to the cross," Mr Morton said. But he said when he was about 30 metres from the ground and while watching his instructor, who was also on the ground, he and Mr Warren collided. He said his canopy collapsed and he hit the ground. The company is being sued under the Trade Practices Act, with Mr Morton and Mr Warren alleging the services supplied by the company were not supplied with due care and skill. The company's barrister, Greg Curtain, told Judge Boyd-Boland there would be evidence Mr Morton and Mr Warren failed to follow instructions to watch the "target assistant" on the ground and that Mr Morton went in the opposite direction to the way he was directed. Mr Curtain also said there would be evidence that there was nothing wrong with the way the company's operation was carried out. The hearing is continuing.
  25. admin

    Saving lives with your computer

    Dropzone.com users have formed a team to help with a world-wide effort to understand proteins and their role in certain diseases. It is called "Folding@Home" and this effort is already producing results. Some of you may have heard about SETI@Home, and it's search for extraterrestrial intelligence by scanning the skies with radio telescopes and analyzing the signals they pick up from space. Folding@Home (F@H) works much the same way, in that analysis of data is shared by many computers. Collectively, many computers become one, huge, super-computer. This "super computer" studies protein folding, misfolding, aggregation, and related diseases. Something much more meaningful to most of us than searching for extraterrestrial intelligence. To help in this effort is very easy. You simply download a program from http://folding.stanford.edu/. And install it on your computer. The program only runs when you are not using your computer, so it doesn't interfere with any work you are doing. When you install the program, you can also join the Dropzone.com team. Simply put "31515" for your team number. You can also do this later, or change to a different team at any time. Join the conversation in the forums