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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

    What did you do last summer?

    Tis the season.... Summer for skydivers is the time that we let loose, enjoy the longer days, jump as much as possible, go to boogies, see old friends and meet new people. For The Freefly Training Center (FTC), this past summer was no exception. Following a successful and eventful season at Skydive Sebastian in Florida, these guys didn't slow down at all for the 'busy' summer season. Instead they tracked into the summer with a demanding agenda of skills camps, boogies, and competitions…and I got to be there for most of it, so here's my take on it. Intensified Skills Camps Skydive Sebastian was well represented at many different dropzones this summer, coaching and organizing at Skills Camps run by FTC instructors. They kicked off the summer, as many 'northern' dzs do, on Memorial Day weekend. Current National and World Champions, Mike Swanson and Rook Nelson, headed to Cross Keys, NJ, to organize with Monkey Claw during the annual Monkey Claw Jam, this year's theme being 'The Running of the Bulls'. Following that boogie, Mike met up with FTC instructor Dave Brown, in Orange, Mass. to hold an intensive skills camp at Jumptown. This is the second year for a skills camp at Jumptown, and again, it was a great success. Before going back to Chicago, to continue an arduous training schedule for the U.S. Nationals and the World Cup, Mike hosted successful skills camps at both Skydive New England and AerOhio. Rook, Mike and Dave, who spent the majority of their summer at Skydive Chicago, organized and coached freeflyers who were stoked to get in on the learning atmosphere. They also placed 1st (Rook) 2nd (Mike) and 3rd (Dave) at the3rd Annual Freefly Money Meet that Skydive Chicago hosted. 'Alaska Jon' Devore, who together with Rook and Mike, form team 'Alchemy', also joined the Chicago contingency to help organize and coach during Summerfest, the Midwest's newest large scale boogie. In late July, Dave and Mike joined forces once again and went up to Canada, for the 3rd annual Canadian Freefly and Film Festival, hosted by Skydive Burnaby in Ontario, and the Gravity Pilots freefly team. They kept the Otter flying all day for 8 days, with coaching, organizing and Atmosphere Dolphin (AD) tests. They held nightly seminars regarding safety, gear, group dynamics, an overview of how to get the most out of your dives. Dave and Mike also gave AD "A" tests for the first 3 Canadians to get their ADs on Canadian soil.... Congrats to Glen, Brent and John. Rook was busy organizing at the annual Richmond boogie in Indiana at the end of August, keeping the Skydive Chicago Super Otters turning all day every day of the event. And on the far East Coast, the New Englanders kept Dave busy during the Labor Day weekend coaching and organizing, as well as attending the coolest 'Tiki Bar' party of the year. On his way back down home to Florida, Dave enjoyed a 5 day stay at Cross Keys where he organized local freeflyers, and organized the pond swoop and chug which Thomas Huges from Sebastian XL eagerly took the first place prize and glory. Following N.J, Dave was in Orange, VA, for the last skills camp weekend of the tour na d was greeted by the always warm welcome of the locals. One on One coaching started off each day for registered partispants which by afternoon turned into group organizing and each night a big way sunset jump, followed by 'beer kicking' (a local dropzone tradition), and video debriefs. Swoopin' It Up Out There In between all of the boogies and dzs that the FTC attended, they also were quite active in competing in some of the biggest swoop competitions of the season. It began with the 'Red Bull Wings Over Chicago' event, held on Lake Michigan, in downtown Chicago. Congrats to Rook, Mike, Dave and Alaska, who all placed in the top ten!! That was only the beginning of the 'swoop tour' for the summer, to be followed by the swoop event sponsored by GoFast at the World Freefall Convention, this year held in Rantoul, IL. Dave attended and had lots of positive feedback from the experience. The event was hosted by Jim Slaton, from the Icarus 'Team Extreme', and Lyle Presse, a local organizer and event manager from Skydive Sebastian. The combined efforts of these guys have led to the creation of the 'Pro Swooping Tour' (PST), which recently had its first event in Perris Valley, CA at the beginning of October. (ps. The Convention was a great time, if you didn't get there this year, you should definitely check it out next year!!) Less than a week later, Rook, Mike and Dave headed up to The Ranch, in Gardiner NY, for the Pond Swooping Nationals. Although a small injury kept Dave from competing past round 2, he kept the crowds entertained as the MC for the remainder of the event. Rook did very well, placing in the top ten, out of over 65 competitors, and taking home a cash purse, congrats! Dave and Alaska Jon went on to compete in the Pond Surfing Championships held at Skydive New England the following week. This was the first year that this dz has had a swoop pond/competition, and I think it left quite a favorable impression on everyone. The day after the competition was over there was a 2 jump 'demo competition', 2 rounds, 1000$ each, winner takes all, at Old Orchard Beach in Maine. The next stop of the swooping tour brought Dave, with teammates (PD Velociraptors) Vladi Pesa, Christopher Irwin and Sonic, to California to compete in the first ever Pro Swooping Tour Team Challenge. For never having jumped as a team in a competition, these guys finished fourth, closely behind the Icarus 'Team EXtreme'. Congrats again!!!! The FTC will be attending and hosting some swoop events coming up for the winter season, and is looking forward to seeing everyone out there pushing the sport further. On Top of the World Ma While the summer was full of fun events, it was also a time for serious training. Team Alchemy, representing the USA, logged more than 800 team jumps together this summer, training for the US National Championships held in Chicago, IL, and the World Cup held in Vienna, Austria. Meanwhile, over in England, other FTC instructors Rob Silver and Chris Lynch, of team 'Sebastian Free Jive', trained for the British National Championships, with teammate Tim Porter. Chris and Tim formed 'Skyjiver', a freestyle team, to compete in the British Nationals as well. Here's what a lot of training and a whole lot of skill can produce....GOLD! Congratulations to all the teams.... US National Championships Freefly - Gold -Team Alchemy World Cup Championships Freefly - Gold -Team Alchemy British National Championships Freefly - Gold - Sebastian Free Jive British National Championships Freestyle - Gold - Stylejiver Also congrats to Chris Lynch, who won gold in individual accuracy on his PD Velocity 103, and to Sebastian Free Jive who also won gold in the team event. All of these world class teams will be representing Skydive Sebastian and the Freefly Training Center at the 2003 World Air Games this summer, held in Gap, France. Way to go guys!!!!!! Othere Worthy News The IMAX movie 'Adrenaline Rush: The Science of Risk' recently had it's grand premier in Montreal, Canada, before being shipped to theaters worldwide. It was very well received by all those attended. Mike, Dave, Rook and Rob open the movie with a segment of freeflying over Sebastian, which was filmed with the IMAX film crew from 'S.H.E Entertainment' and director Carl Sampson last December. The film also has some of the most breath taking view's of BASE jumping in Norway , Wing Suit flying in the Florida Keys and Leonardo Da Vinci's parachute jump by Adrian Nicholas in the Mojave Desert. Check out your local IMAX theatre for showings-it's not one you want to miss! The FTC has also been busy planning out a packed season here at Skydive Sebastian, starting with the season 'opener' Halloween boogie (Mike and Dave/LO's), shortly followed by the Keys boogie (Dave and Rook/LO's), held in the Marathon Key. The FTC will also be holding tunnel camps, skills camps, the 'Pure Progression Program', Big Way Invitational Camp, and many other events. Drop Zones or individuals interested in having an Intensive FTC Skills Camp at their dz this upcoming season, contact skillscamp@freeflytrainingcenter.com. For any other info, or just wanting to get down on the new school vibe….go to www.freeflytrainingcenter.com or e-mail info@freeflytrainingcenter.com Hope to see you soon!!! Erin Golden
  7. Joel Griffin, who said she felt as though her body had exploded, after the accident, and leaving court yesterday. Joel Griffin thought she was dying. Having crashed to the ground from a height of 3,000 metres, she had no feeling in her legs and was in excruciating pain. Told by doctors she would never walk again, the 25-year-old skydiver has overcome that, but still suffers back pain, cannot play many sports and is unable to work fulltime, she told the NSW District Court yesterday. Mrs Griffin, who has a six-month-old child, is suing the Byron Bay Skydiving Centre, claiming it was negligent by misleading her and failing to safely supervise the jump. Her counsel, Mr Andrew Morrison, SC, said in his opening address that despite his client's concerns that the wind was too strong, she was persuaded to go and reassured it was safe. Mrs Griffin had been told in her training that she should not skydive if the wind exceeded 15 knots, he said. Meteorological evidence would show the wind was well over 15-20 knots. The accident happened on November 2, 1995. It was her 28th jump and part of a publicity stunt. The skydiving business had been sold, and the old owners had planned to exchange contracts in midair. Before the aircraft took off, Mrs Griffin said, the safety officer on the ground, Mr Steve Lewis, had said to her "the wind was a bit suss" and that he would measure it. She had told him she would not go, but he said: "It'll be okay. I'll radio the plane if it gets any stronger." "Once we got up I noticed there was a lot of white caps on the water, and trees were moving around a lot." She told the instructors in the aircraft, who told her "it'd be okay". As they were climbing out of the aircraft, she checked with the pilot whether Mr Lewis had made any communication about wind speed. He had not, and they went ahead with the jump. "I could tell the wind was very strong," she said. "I was flying along just going straight ... and I felt myself pull backwards really hard and looked up and saw my parachute was tangled. I just started to spiral." She landed extremely hard, she said, and it felt as though her body had exploded. "At first I thought I was going to die. I couldn't feel my legs." She was flown to Lismore Hospital with a fractured spine and was told she would never walk again. She was later transferred to Sydney for surgery. Since the accident Mrs Griffin has taken part in two tandem dives, but in these jumps the instructor took the full brunt of the landing, she said. "Skydiving for me is a passion, and I guess I was denying that anything was wrong with me to get up and do it again." She wants compensation for past and future medical expenses, and for economic loss. The hearing continues. Photos: Rick Stevens and Jon Reid
  8. 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.
  9. 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."
  10. 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!
  11. admin

    The Power of the Flare

    Squirrel wingsuits just released this amazing video, aimed at illustrating how wingsuits are able to climb in altitude. The concept of wingsuits being able to ascend was disputed by quite a number of skeptics over the past decade, but over the past few years we've seen evidence that not only can a wingsuit flyer gain altitude, but that they can ascend by a few hundred feet. At the time the claims were made, it was probably correct to assume that the wingsuits weren't gaining altitude, but that's only because the performance wasn't there yet. Wingsuit performance has seen a massive gain over the last decade with new companies like Squirrel getting involved in the market, and for the most part, dominating it. The increase in competitive wingsuit flying has also meant there is a larger drive for performance increases from manufacturers. Despite being one of the newest comers to the wingsuit market, Squirrel have already asserted themselves as one of the leading manufacturers in the industry and whose wingsuits have seen a number world cup wins over the past few years. In the video, a group of wingsuit flyers and organizers are seen plotting their flights and discussing what the risks involved with the jumps. The idea behind the video is that they would be using a large canyon in Moab, Utah as a point of scale for their wingsuit ascent attempts. In skydiving, it's generally quite difficult to judge the ascent, if any of a wingsuit flight -- not only because the increase in ascent isn't generally aggressively targeted as a goal, but because there is no static reference to give an indication on the altitude gained. The video, which provides some seriously awesome cinematography -- also shows us, for the first time, just how much altitude can be gained by these modern wingsuits. In some cases more than 250 feet were gained. The measurements were estimates based off both camera angle and in some cases GPS logs.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. admin

    Filming your first four-way team

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

    Skydiver Wins Lawsuit Against Teammate

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

    Hey Bro, Check Out my Go Pro

    The sleek, low-profile design, an easy-to-use system, so small it’s hardly there, and it’s oh-so-glorious high quality images – the Go Pro, Hero. In this social media society, the Go Pro is seductive, yet it’s oh-so-risky. For all you rebels at heart, those willing to learn, and especially those with less than 200 jumps - let’s lay down some tracks about being courted to don the camera. As an AFF Instructor and having been in the sport for nearly two decades, I have developed a hearty outlook about jumping a camera. But let’s slip on a bit of perspective mixed in with a bit of old school and new school thinking. So to round out this discussion, I interviewed two well-respected and well-known camera flyers about the topic – Norman Kent and Brian Buckland. Norman Kent, a life-long photographer and artist has been jumping a camera since 1975. Norman only wanted to try skydiving once. However, he experienced something so captivating, he saw an opportunity to capture the moments of beauty that was so different and so freeing in the sky. He admitted to be a fast learner, however he first strapped on a camera only having 24 jumps – it was a Kodak Instamatic with 126 cartridges. Norman didn’t have a skydiving photographer mentor. In fact, there weren’t many people strapping cameras on their heads in those days. It was an arduous and expensive venture for those willing to try. And for Norman, he made his own contraption by using a motorcycle helmet with no chin cup, wired a mechanical plunger, and confessed he didn’t know anything. So as he jumped his equipment, the air pushed the helmet up and the buckled strap choked him as the helmet moved all over his head and he fumbled in the sky. While these set backs were disappointing, it did not detour him. Instead, he was motivated to invent something that worked better - this approach lead to many camera helmet and jumpsuit innovations over his career, leaving a legacy of pioneering in camera flying. I asked Norman what he thought of today’s USPA’s current regulations for jumpers to wait until they had 200 jumps to fly a camera. “Regulation is a good idea, a good guideline,” he says. “It sounds hypocritical to say because I started with the ‘yahoo’ approach, but it’s wise to wait.” I’ve known Norman for a long time. I’ve seen him jump enormous contraptions carefully constructed upon his head. He’s a proficient and a well-respected camera flyer and we talked how different it is today with the Go Pro being so small. I ask him if he sees any dangers. “It all comes down to the attitude of the jumper,” he begins. “Because the Go Pro is small, it’s inviting people to use it who aren’t even in photography. It’s [jumping a camera] not so simple and there are dangers involved.” Norman and I both agreed that there is a shift in thinking in skydiving from the renegade days of the past. The development of tandem jumping and social media have greatly changed the image our sport, attracting more types of people to experience skydiving that the thinking of the past has to change. Norman elaborates, “People learn so differently that I’m not pro-regulating, I’m pro-educating. We need to develop a training or an awareness program [about jumping a camera.]” Although he recognizes the dangers happening, he also sees this as an opportunity for the sport. “This is an opportunity for coaches and instructors, for inventors, for schools…” Norman is currently working on a project for a You Tube production geared towards camera flying educational purposes coming out later this year. Let’s bring it back in the day where these young lads photographed below are sporting some serious state-of-the-art camera gear in 1988. Brian Buckland comes from an entirely different background. Brian made his first jump in 1994 and didn’t jump a camera until 5 years later and racked up about 500 jumps. Brian’s philosophy was to become a proficient flyer first; so he logged about 200 belly jumps, then learned how to freefly. During this time he notes that he was becoming more aware of his routine with gear checks, canopy skills, and landings. Finally the time came and he strapped on his first camera – a Canon Rebel 2000, with film. Brian went to Radio Shack after buying an off-the-shelf flat top camera helmet to wire up a shutter release. He admits to being nervous since his routine greatly changed with having to be concerned with battery life, clean lenses, and correct camera settings, in addition to checking his gear and high fiving everyone. When he landed from his first jump, he looked over his wares and was surprised how well they turned out. He submitted them and they were published. “I learned about photography after the fact [of getting the first photo published]. So I went to a continuing education course for photography and started translating that to the sky.” Over the years Brian has developed a systematic routine and is busy the entire flight making sure everything is in order prior to jumping. “It’s important to be comfortable with gear, build good habits, and safely skydive with others.” Brian also didn’t have any skydiving photography mentors. However, he looked up to the likes of Norman Kent, Joe Jennings, Mike McGowan, Tom Sanders, Craig O’Brien and later, Jason Peters. Now with established photographers in the sport, I asked Brian what he thought of USPA’s camera regulations. “The numbers are decent because the time in sport and time in the air are important in building a comfort level. Adding something new when you’re new and not comfortable with the everything else, something like a camera becomes a distraction.” Both Norman and Brian elaborated how the common attitude is, “it’s [Go Pro] not a camera, it’s so small, you-don’t-even-notice-it” attitude. Brian conveyed a story how, against his advice, a tunnel instructor with about 100+ jumps had lost two Go Pros! And we’ve all seen the photo on Facebook with an AFF student’s pilot chute wrapped around an instructor’s Go Pro. The Go Pro is a snag hazard and most people who wear them use non-cutaway helmets and screwed on mounts. This is an excerpt from USPA on September 1st, 2011: Adhering to Camera Recommendations USPA has been receiving an increasing number of calls and e-mails from Safety & Training Advisors and instructors regarding what to do about inexperienced skydivers who want to jump with small-format video cameras, such as the GoPro. Many new jumpers seem to feel that the small camera does not pose a risk, and they simply want to wear the camera while jumping. For that reason, the new jumpers do not consider this to be a video jump that falls under the 200-jump recommendation in the Skydiver’s Information Manual [SIM]. The truth is that even though the camera itself may be small, it still represents a significant snag hazard to any jumper. This is especially true considering the various camera mounts jumpers use. In addition to the snag hazard, no matter how much a jumper thinks the camera will not become a distraction during the jump, it will. There are plenty of cases of newer jumpers forgetting to fasten chest straps or creating dangerous situations in freefall, etc., that were directly attributed to the distraction of the camera. USPA’s camera recommendations appear in Section 6-8 of the Skydiver’s Information Manual. Be sure jumpers at your drop zone are following these guidelines. They exist for very important reasons. The SIM is an excellent outline about camera safety and requirements, but it doesn’t educate. I agree that too many people have a careless attitude about the jumping camera equipment too soon and that we need more education. We’re fortunate to have an organization that mediates our government relations, memberships, insurance, etc. However, they do not govern, they suggest and that gives us the freedom to self-police safety amongst ourselves. If we want to see change for the better, we need to take it into our hands and pass on good information. Allowing newbie’s to jump camera equipment just because they’re “heads up” isn’t a qualifier to allow them the privilege to wear one. I visited a DZ and asked the S&TA; about their policy of jumpers with sub 200 jumps wearing a Go Pro. The answer I received was, “If their heads up, it’s ok.” I quizzically looked at him and said, “How do you know he’s heads up? Have you jumped with him?” Two hundred jumps is, although not the best, a measure of experience. At least I can assume they’ve earned their B-license (including the canopy progression) and have a bit of time and experience. I don’t have a chance to jump with everyone to qualify someone with sub 200 jumps “heads up,” and who’s to judge whose heads up anyways?! There’s so much more to just jumping a small-little-thing like the Go Pro. Because of social media, there are ethics that ought to be tied into this conversation. Excited newbie’s may use their footage unjustly and this effects more than the person jumping it. For example, Gerardo Flores – an uncurrent, 30-jump wonder sneaks a camera on his jump and has a “near death experience” that goes viral on the web. This situation affected the skydiving community negatively and gave a sneak peak to the public how “reckless” skydivers can be. Not to mention other videos that go live streaming on the web. I asked Brian what advice he’d give to those thinking about jumping any kind of camera and he said, “Be comfortable with yourself well before strapping on a camera. Be proficient under the parachute, build your awareness, know your emergency procedures, know your gear and wear the proper gear. Then, learn about the camera prior to jumping it.” Although Norman and Brian didn’t have mentors, both have been a huge help and inspiration to aspiring camera flyers over the years. Both have made themselves available to help give direction and may be reached through their websites, www.BrianBuckland.com and wwww.NormanKent.com. And stay tuned for Norman’s upcoming video on You Tube, "The Dangers of Being a HERO". Now, for all you rebels at heart and those willing to learn, I cannot tell you what to do but share my experience. However, when you meet the camera flying requirements, it’s like earning the rite of passage to don a camera on your head. Throw in a bit of education in there and believe me, it’s totally cool and absolutely worth the wait.
  17. This past week saw the opening of the voting process for the 2013-2015 USPA Board of Directors. Voting shall continue through the months of November and December with the closing date for submissions being the 31st of December 2012. The voting, which is open to all USPA members will result in the selection of representatives who will handle the direction and policies of the USPA until the end of 2015. The USPA allows for voting to take place either through written submission or through electronic voting. The voting form can be found in the November issue of Parachutist magazine, as well as online in a .pdf format. For those new to the process of the USPA election, the USPA's board consists of 22 members, with 8 national directors and 14 regional directors. These members are elected by the entire USPA membership and members from the regions where the directors reside, respectively. There is not a difference in the authority held by either a regional or a national director. National Director Nominees Members are able to vote for up to eight national director nominees. One is able to vote for any of the names that appear on the official ballot, or to write in the name of a candidate or multiple candidates that do not appear on the ballot. The eight nominees with the highest amount of votes will be elected as the 2013-2015 national directors. Regional Director Nominees Members are able to vote for one regional director nominee. The candidate must reside in the same region as the voting member, as per the address on the members USPA file. In cases where a region may have either no candidates or a single candidate running, members are able to cast a write-in vote for any member that is a resident of the member's reigion. Download USPA ballot form (Right click and 'save as' to save to your computer) Paper Ballot Voting The USPA has advized that members who wish to cast their votes via the method of paper ballots must do so either by using the voting form that is included in the November issue of Parachutist magazine, or by downloading and printing the voting form from the USPA website. As per the USPA, "Ballots containing more than eight national director votes, or more than one regional director vote will be disqualified." It is important to note that the forms which have been downloaded for paper ballot voting must be completed in the handwriting of the USPA member and digitally marked or signed submissions will not be accepted, further more these cannot be faxed or e-mailed. Electronic Voting USPA members received an e-mail from VoteNet which provided instructions and the means to cast an electronic vote. There were a number of cases where members failed to receive the e-mail, for those people who failed to receive the e-mail in question, the USPA advises that you either contact the membership department and verify your membership details and e-mail address, or that you resort to using the paper ballot method listed above. You are able to contact the membership department either by telephone at (540) 604-9740 or via e-mail at membership@uspa.org. Members are allowed one vote, either by electronic voting or via paper ballot, if more than one vote from a single member is received it will be the first received ballot that is counted, while any others will be discarded. The first board meeting of 2013 will occur on the 22nd to the 24th of March in Daytona Beach, Florida and will see the new directors for the 2013-2015 term seated, the meeting will also see in the election of the new USPA officers. You are able to partake in or follow discussions regarding the 2013-2015 USPA election process via the forums.
  18. 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!
  19. admin

    Skydiving Video Games

    With the recent release of Grand Theft Auto V, we've decided to take a look at some of the video games out there that offer players the ability to skydive in their gameplay. While dedicated skydiving games are few and far between and mostly awful, there are some big budget games out there that provide in game base jumping or skydiving. The introduction of these activities usually take place during missions when playing the single player campaign or story modes. Other games tend to introduce the activity only when playing multiplayer. Grand Theft Auto (Series) The GTA series is perhaps one of the most controversial video games series made to date. The game has seen protests, attempts to ban sales and mothers up in arms over the content. In a game where you run the streets killing, hijacking and beating anyone who you come across, it's easy to see why. For those who are less inclined to rob stores and toss dollars at pixelated strippers, the game also offers some great aviation related missions. Parachuting was introduced into the game with the release of GTA: San Andreas in 2004 but was then not present in the retail copy of GTA IV. Later the GTA IV expansion, "The Ballad of Gay Tony" reintroduced the parachute and fans were once again finding buildings to base jump off of. In the latest release of the game, GTA V once again offers players the ability to skydive and base jump. The parachuting gameplay is introduced in the story line when one of your characters is required to undergo aviation training (airplane, helicopter and skydiving) in order to complete one of the missions. You begin by having to land on a moving target, so essentially your first handling of the canopy is an accuracy jump. You will also then be able to make jumps with your parachute outside of that mission training, whether you're hijacking an aircraft to jump out of, or finding a building to make a base jump from. When it comes to the skydiving gameplay, you're able to track during freefall and once you open your canopy (rather hard usually too), you're then able to navigate with regular turns or sharp turns - and flare for your landings. The canopy design is somewhat disappointing with what someone on our social media page aptly called an "Air-Unlock" canopy, with both front and back of the cells being open. There is a slight delay on the canopy opening, as to be expected for realsm, but it still opens quick enough for you to get some fair low jumps in. Finding locations that are high enough to base jump off of is a challenge sometimes, but rewarding when you find that perfect exit point and maybe do some proxy tracking. While this game extends so much further than just skydiving, the gameplay of the skydiving make it one of our top recommendations. As stated before, this game is definitely not for the sensitive type. Videos of Skydiving and Base Jumping in GTA Saints Row (Series) Another game aimed at the maturer audience, Saints Row offers gamers the chance to do some couch base jumping. Skydiving and base jumping have been available in the series since Saints Row 2, but only in Saints Row The Third did the gameplay of parachuting become really fun. The 2013 release of Saints Row IV also saw the act of base jumping and skydiving being kept. The base jumping in Saints Row The Third is somewhat similar to that of GTA San Andreas, where the canopy is quick to open. In fact it becomes a little bit annoying just how quick they open, you are able to base jump off 50 foot objects with ease. The skydiving experience otherwise is quite standard, you're able to track your player before pulling and then control your canopy once it's open. Unlike GTA, where your jumps are either mission related or purely because you want to throw yourself out of a plane, or off a building or cliff side - Saints Row The Third allows you to set a target once you have jumped, and steering your canopy so that you land as close to that mark as possible will earn you reputation in the game. Saints Row IV, which was only recently released also allows for naked base jumping. If you're looking to perform dirty low jumps, buying Saints Row The Third is definitely a good option. The game is now quite old and you can pick it for quite a reasonable price. Videos of Skydiving and Base Jumping in Saints Row Battlefield 3 If you're looking for some skydiving game action without the senseless street violence or sexual content, then Battlefield 3 may be better option. While the Battlefield 3 campaign mode was entirely too short and didn't include skydiving in it, the multiplayer mode which is still played by thousands of people offers the ability to also both skydive or base jump. Unlike the previously mentioned games where you are in an open world environment and can joy ride to your exit points, Battlefield 3 is an intense military combat environment where you are taken on fire and in turn having to protect yourself when you are mobile. There are a good number of exit points in the game should you choose to base jump, depending on the map you're playing. Unlike Saints Row and GTA, Battlefield 3 is set in first person view. Personally I always find first person views much more appealing, as I find that they tend to be more immersive. There are a few large cliffs in Battlefield 3 that allow for impressive freefall times. If you have a few friends that also play the game, it is easy to arrange with them for some 3 or 4 way base jumps - or go extreme like the video below with a 64-way! With Battlefield 4 coming out in a couple months, there is still a lot up in the air about just what gameplay will be included in the new release. At this stage we will have to wait and see what they do with regards to the skydiving and basejumping in the game. Videos of Skydiving and Base Jumping in Battlefield 3 Base Jumping Base Jumping is a game developed by a small company called D3, though judging from their websites the name is in the process of being changed. The difference between this game the games listed above, is that this game is a dedicated BASE game, where all the focus is on the sport and not on the strippers or on shooting the enemy. Here you will be presented with exit points and a challenge for that exit point. It's been a while since I played this game, but I remember it being a little confusing to navigate at first with regards to the menus. However the gameplay is good fun and if one is looking solely for a dedicated base jumping game. It's definitely worth giving Base Jumping a try. The "Pro Edition" is still receiving regular updates and fixes, so the game may well be better than when I had last given it a go. You can view the development update information and more information about the game itself at the development page. It also appears the company may be working on a skydiving game similar to Base Jumping. Videos of Base Jumping Go! Sports - Skydiving The Go! Sports game series has been somewhat of a disappointment with difficult to use controls and usually extremely repetitive gameplay. Go! Sports Skydiving tends to slot in with the other Go! Sports titles, but does offer a few redeeming qualities that distance it from games in the series like Go! Ski. The game offers two general modes, there is formation skydiving where you control your model into the position to fill a formation and then there is the landing mode, which is pretty much accuracy landing. In the formation mode, while the concept doesn't seem too bad - there are several issues that cause controlling your player to be extremely frustrating at times when using the required SIXAXIS controls. The game is not unplayable by any means and can still offer the gamer some fun, but apart from the tough controls - this is the kind of game that can get old fast. The only thing that will keep a user playing is the fact that there is an online ranking system. But given the good price, it is definitely worth considering giving a go, there isn't much to lose. Videos of Skydiving in Go! Sports - Skydiving Which of the games listed above is your favourite for your bedroom skydiving experience? And if you know of any other skydiving or base jumping related games, let us know in the comments below. We'd love to give them a try.
  20. How NZ Aerosports General Manager Attila Csizmadia Found His Niche When I talk to Attila Csizmadia, he’s out of breath. He has just finished shaking down his four-year-old son for a set of puckishly “stolen” car keys, and it was a hell of a hunt. “Sorry,” he says, “I was running around the house like crazy looking for them.” Hidden keys are certainly not the only thing Attila runs after during the course of any given day. Since 2005, he has been the General Manager of NZ Aerosports--the central hub of operations for one of the sport’s most innovative, prolific and beloved parachute manufacturers. This is a dream job for a lot of skydivers, naturally, but it didn’t come easily. Indeed, one can’t help but think that running an office staffed with 30 to 40 staff is excellent preparation for the rigors of parenthood. The four-year-old is one of Attila’s two; the other is 13 years old--not far off from the age Attila was when he first started skydiving. “I am not sure if [my sons] will skydive or not,” he muses. “If they want to and they ask me for it, then I’m going to make it happen. It’s up to them.” It’s worth mentioning that if Attila’s boys start jumping, they’ll be a third-generation legacy. His own father was a skydiver and, though he stopped jumping when Attila was born, he’s much of the reason that Attila dove into the parachuting industry. “He was jumping in Hungary, where we’re from,” Attila explains. “He was old-school, a military guy. As I was growing up, he was in keeping contact with his friends that were still jumping, and they were always talking about skydiving, even when I was a little kid. Then, when I was about 14 years old, I was talking to one of his friends who was still jumping; listening to his skydiving stories. I remember saying--and meaning it--that I could never skydive. But then a friend of mine brought it up. He’d just watched a record attempt or something on TV. He begged me to try it with him, and I agreed. He stopped after five jumps; it changed my life.” “For me as a 16-year-old, getting into that group of people was just perfect,” Atilla remembers. “I was in school. It was all boys. I didn’t enjoy it. But then I went out to the dropzone and there was this friendly, crazy bunch. I was like, this is totally me. It felt like coming home.” It was 1988. At the time, Hungary was still Communist country. Everyone skydiver in the country jumped really old, really dodgy military gear that was “15 years behind the rest of the world,” and every skydiver in the country knew every other skydiver in the country. In 1991, the World Championships were held in what was then Czechoslovakia. They brought out some helicopters for the event, and the German, French and Italian 4-way team all came to Hungary to train. “They were jumping these square parachutes that we’d never seen in real life before,” Attila laughs. “These guys were swooping, and we were just, like: what is happening here?! It was like watching spaceships land. We didn’t know what was possible. When these guys came here in these jumpsuits and small gear and like awesome canopy work, we were blown away. And I was inspired to start doing 4-way and competing.” A few years of hard work later, Hungary had a young team. “Because it was a new sport in Hungary,” he grins, “We won the Nationals pretty easily. Then we were the national team for a long time--almost 10 years. I was burning to get out there and travel and to jump everywhere I could overseas and to get a better rig and just do more.” He split his time between the US and Hungary for about five years, studiously avoiding European winters; he switched his seasonal pattern to Australia when he went to the World Championships there in 1999. To date, in fact, he has competed in no less than seven world championships. “The last time I tried it, I couldn’t extend my visa,” he explains. “So there I was, facing returning to the middle of a European winter. I just couldn’t do it; there was nothing for me there.” His solution: Hop the channel to New Zealand. He got a work visa and picked up a job at a dropzone throwing drogues and teaching AFF. He soon joined the NZ 4-way team. Everything was going well--but then the tone changed. “My boss at the DZ was becoming a real a**hole,” he explains, “And I just desperately wanted to leave, but no one was hiring. Everybody had their staff. I needed to keep that work visa or I was going to be thrown right back to Hungary.” As a last-ditch effort, he asked a couple of friends who worked for NZ Aerosports and if they were hiring. They were. It was 2005. Attila went right to work making line sets and cutting canopies. “When I started working here, I thought I knew a lot about parachutes because I had been flying them a lot,” he says, wryly. “But when I got into the manufacturing side of it, I realized how little I actually knew. I found it really interesting and wanted to learn more and more.” He found a peerless mentor in NZ Aerosports’ legendary founder/mad scientist/gear innovator/party animal, Paul ‘Jyro’ Martin. “Jyro enjoyed that I was really interested in this stuff, and he just gave me so much information,” Attila says. “Then the guy who was managing the company at that time left. Jyro asked me if I wanted to do it. Of course I said yes.” It had been just six months since Attila had first accepted the job. At the time, NZ Aerosports was a much smaller company. They only made six canopies at that time, and they had two sewing machinists. When Attila started managing, he was still the one cutting all the canopies. As he did so, he’d always have the office phone on him, taking orders; he’d be sorting out emails and charging credit cards with one hand and shipping out the canopies with the other. The work was, to put it mildly, intense. “One of my main tasks,” he laughs, “Was making sure the beer fridge was always full.” “At the beginning it was really hard,” he relates. “I didn’t have any background in the business and hardly knew anything about it. English is a second language for me, so that made it a little bit harder too. I had to pretty much figure out everything for myself. At a certain point, I almost gave up because it was so stressful and things were not going really well. But then we pulled ourselves together with the manufacturing and started developing some new canopies. First, we released the JFX. We hired some new people, which brought in a nice newenergy. Then we met Julien [Peelman, Aerodynamics Engineer], and we started working on some of the really new canopies. There was no way I was leaving after that.” Now, the NZ Aerosports office buzzes with the work (and play) of about forty people, all of whom report to Attila. “It was a big learning curve, figuring out how to manage such a large number of people and deal with personal issues so that they still enjoy working together with all their differences-- the cultural gaps, the religious gaps and the age gaps between them. We have a big range. The youngest [staffers] are fresh out of school, and then we have some 60-something-year-old people working right next to them. We have people from Fiji...Canada...from all around the world, really. It’s like a dropzone.” If you talk to anybody at NZ Aerosports, they’ll tell you that much of that vibrant energy came from Jyro’s influence--and, in March of 2017, we lost him. The loss of “the soul of the company” took a massive toll on the community that had formed at his feet, and Attila had to work even harder through his mourning. However, the spirit that Jyro instilled--in Attila, in his team at large and in the business--kept it from coming unglued. “It is good to make some money, sure, but Jyro made sure it has never been our number-one motivation,” Attila explains. “You can see that the team is here all day, every day, working hard, and we always wanted to create a really nice environment for them that they truly enjoy working in. Because of that, people don’t really leave here. We’ve hardly changed any staff since I got here in 2005, and I think it’s because this is just a really good place to be. We all really pulled together when we lost Jyro. I think that’s what saved us--the people here, and our customers’ faith.” Attila insists that that faith--the passionate support of the NZ Aerosports fan base--is the phenomenon that really drives the machine. “I think that people respond to the fact that we are always trying new stuff; that we’re always improving,” he says. “That’s the part that’s interesting for us. We aren’t just developing new products. We actually want to make better products, and so we’re always searching for improvements on the designs. We have like 20 skydivers working here, so it is not just about driving revenue. I think that’s why people relate to it so strongly. This has always been more of a lifestyle than a business.” If NZ Aerosports is indeed about lifestyle, Attila is great evidence that they’ve nailed the art. “I think I found what I was trying to find in my personal life--a balance between family, the hobby and the business--in NZA,” he smiles. “I think that was always my goal, even if I didn’t know it at the time. Right now I feel that I’m in a really good place, and I’m ready for whatever comes next.”
  21. March is safety month, and what better time than just before the Northern Hemisphere's summer season to refresh yourself on information you may be rusty on, or just become more educated in the various safety aspects. Last year we published an article with what we felt were some of the most important safety related articles published on Dropzone.com at that time. Since then we have had several new pieces of information published, that may help you in staying safe out there, from canopy control to exit separation. We've also included several safety day events that are happening around the world later this month. Here's a list of what we feel are 5 of the most important articles submitted over the past year: Teaching Students To Navigate The Landing Pattern In our most recently published safety article, coach and IAD instructor rated Corey Miller discusses some of the core aspects of landing patterns and how students are taught to navigate them. The article focuses specifically only the way instructors relay landing information to students over radio, while perhaps not allowing the students to truly learn for themselves what is important to look for and more closely address the subject of learning to land as opposed to being told how to land. Staying Current During Winter While this article may be a bit late for the northern hemisphere, winter is approaching down south and many useful tips can be learned. In the article, Brian Germain discusses the benefits to staying current during the off season and provides readers with a number of useful exercises that can be done to ensure optimum efficiency when you return to the sky. There's numerous images included to help you understand the setups and how they work, as well as exercises that addresses specific individual disciplines. Exit Order Safety Another article by Brian Germain, on the topic of exit order safety. The main focus of the article revolves around establishing and discussion the different types of jumpers and how their time under the plane may vary, and in turn to establish who should jump when and why. Not only is the direct exit from the aircraft addressed, but the article further discusses exit order importance with regards to exit timing and landing area. In the comments section, Brian goes on to acknowledge the possible ambiguity in the term "prop-blast penetration", used in the opening paragraph and says that the term can be replaced by such terms as "forward throw", "relative wind penetration" or the more self-explanatory "horizontal distance traveled". When Should You Upsize Your Canopy The first of two very useful articles on the topic of canopy size, this article was a combined effort by Melissa Lowe, Barry Williams and Jason Moledzki. It uses numbered points to address 10 factors that one should look at when considering canopy size. Most of the time the thought is on downsizing, as one feels more comfortable with their current setup, but for some people - the solution to many of their problems may actually be to head in the other direction and consider upsizing their canopy. There are numerous variables involved that could prompt one to require an upsizing, from gaining weight to even jumping at a higher elevation. At the end of the discussion, there is a Canopy Risk calculator (created by the USPA), which is intended to act as a guideline for you to see how much of a safety risk you are with your current setup and skill level. It's Not Only Size That Matters - Thoughts on Canopy Upsizing The other canopy upsizing article we featured was submitted by Dave Kottwitz and focuses more on retelling lessons learned when he upsized from a Triathlon 210, to a Spectre 230. On his third jump on the new, larger canopy Dave ended up breaking his leg in six places as well as dislocating his shoulder. In the article, he looks at what caused the problems and why one has to realize that upsizing your canopy is not an immediate guarantee for an increase in safety.
  22. "We live longer in three seconds than some people live their entire lives." That's one of my favorite quotes from a fellow BASE jumper, and it was at the forefront of my mind as I read BBC broadcaster and psychology writer Claudia Hammond's new book, "Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception." The book tackles the alternately baffling and encouraging science behind our brains' relationship with the arbitrary measurements of our wristwatches. More to the point: It puts that information in a framework that makes total sense for an airsports athlete. Time works a little differently for us, after all. Linear time lies at the heart of the way we organize life, sure--but it also lies at the heart of the way we experience it. This might be the bigger concept--because what's within our own minds is under our own control. Skydivers--especially in high-stakes moments, like competitions and records--can relate to the curiously changing shape of time. Saturated with focus, it feels as though some experiences are being scrubbed through in super-fast-forward, while others are playing out almost frame-by-frame. It turns out that fluxes in time perception aren't simply an athletic and personal deficiency; these mental gymnastics around the concept of time's passage are a "defining feature of how the human mind works."It turns out that, in a physiological sense, the "slow-motion car crash" isn't a myth -- it's "a cognitive reality." Hammond's hypothesis is compelling in its simplicity: that the way we experience the passage of time is not an external process we're subjected to. Instead, time as we know it is actively created by our own minds. It isn't reliable and it is certainly not objective. Neuroscientists and psychologists call this "mind time," and Hammond describes how we as humans -- and, by extension, we as extreme athletes -- can shape it and use it to our own benefit. Much of the challenge we face as airsports athletes is exerting a practical amount of control over our physical and mental responses to overwhelming stimuli. No amount of mental gymnastics will turn a BASE exit with a seven-second rock drop into an exit with a 12-second rock drop; however, if we can start to see "mind time" as flexible and ourselves as active participants in our experience of it, Hammond suggests that we can stay in flight just a little longer in our own minds. (This is a deeply appealing and useful thought experiment for athletes who practice a sport that often requires us to dedicate days of our time for scant minutes of freefall.) "Time Warped" is a profoundly conceptual but still, somehow, practical book. It addresses the way our internal clocks dictate our lives and the ways in which mindfulness works as a tool to master that internal clock. One of the book's most beautiful passages sums it up brilliantly: "We will never have total control over this extraordinary dimension. Time will warp and confuse and baffle and entertain however much we learn about its capacities. But the more we learn, the more we can shape it to our will and destiny. We can slow it down or speed it up. We can hold on to the past more securely and predict the future more accurately. Mental time-travel is one of the greatest gifts of the mind. It makes us human, and it makes us special." Other Resources: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman Felt Time: The Science of How We Experience Time by Marc Wittmann
  23. joelstrickland

    Improving Your Indoor Flying Outside The Tunnel

    How First-Person Videos Can Supplement Real-Life Learning Image by alphamedak If you’re like most people, there’s only one reason you’re not, like, the best tunnel flyer in the world. It’s the annoying digital thing that barks out at you from the driving room window. 00:00! 00:00! 00:00! The cruel little clock leaves you with a knuckle-biting question that lingers in the air: Is there training that you can do that optimizes the time you spend in the airflow while the damn thing isn’t ticking down? Apparently, there is. But let’s dig into a bit of theory, first. Embodied theories of learning and instruction are having something of a moment in airsports. When we talk about “embodied learning,” we’re talking about the ways our physical actions lay the neural groundwork for new information to take root in meaningful ways. That neural groundwork is a physical, real-world thing that’s being manufactured in your head right now. The material is called myelin, and its part in the process is called myelination. Without myelin, you’ll never nail that layout. Myelination is the method by which your brain paves the pathways you tell it are most important. Like wrapping a copper wire in rubber, it wraps the axons of those prioritized neurons, protecting the neuron and helping it conduct signals more efficiently. Repeatedly, deeply practicing a move--getting it a little wrong, making adjustments and trying again--is the most efficient way to build up that myelin and, by extension, get better at what you’re working on. (For more of this in a super-readable pop-sci format, check out Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code.) When you only have a few minutes in the tunnel--or a few seconds, hopefully very occasionally, to mess with a malfunction--you need all the help you can get to get the myelination process wrapping neurons. If you’re not actually doing the activity you’re trying to myelinate, the trick is to make your brain believe that it is the actor that’s practicing the action. Learning physical skills has always begged for embodied learning methods, but modern technologies are hopping the fence in places between the things you absolutely have to be physically present to learn and the things you can reinforce--or even learn--on your own couch. Take, for example, the virtual reality malfunction videos released as a collaborative project between Sig.ma and the USPA. These are, in this author’s opinion, set to exponentially improve the way new skydiving students learn malfunction response. (Heck--they might even be instructive for you if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of seeing one or two of these babies overhead.) Visualization has proven useful for this kind of thing, but you have to keep in mind its limits: Visualization works, but only if you’re able to very realistically, very precisely visualize the task at hand. You already have to know what you’re doing first. Visualization is a very useful tool for competitors training for a world competition; it’s not terribly helpful for someone at the first stages of working on an outface snake. First-person/VR environments are for learning new stuff, and they do it very well. The results are in: first-person video works. Check out this 2017 study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, which tested whether first-person videos were better task-teaching tools than third-person videos. (Sure, the study participants were assembling components on a circuit board, but doesn’t putting together a complicated line kinda feel all fussy-fiddly, too?) Across two experiments conducted in different labs, the first-person group performed the task more accurately, hands-down, and more time-efficiently to boot. There’s a problem, of course: It has not, historically speaking, been an easy task to find first-person video of tunnel flying. And that’s where Johannes Bergfors, a Swedish tunnel instructor and coach, comes in. Johannes has produced a fine set of these, available for free on YouTube, called First Perspective. Simply put, it’s a series of online videos filmed from the flyer’s POV. They show repetitive flying of dynamic flying motions on several speeds, both solo and duo. Filmed over a few days in the Flystation wind tunnel in Munich, local instructor Nick Poland flew the lead as Bergfors filmed following. (As a bonus, there are also some first-person videos posted there of non-single-move exchanges between Bergfors and Poland and also freestyles by the legendary Leonid Volkov.) "Your visual experience is a muscle memory,” Johannes explains. “For example, if you’re trained as a gymnast and have made a thousand front flips from the trapeze, then you will be more prepared to do a front layout, because you have already seen your world spin in front of you on the vertical axis so many times and will be able to navigate at the same time. If you don’t have that experience, you can expect everything to be a blur in front of you. Without that basis reference, you’ll have to perform a new type of body motion at the same time as your visual is dramatically changing." The idea for First Perspective has been on Bergfors’ to-do list for quite some time. Before he took his first tunnel gig in 2014, he had about 20 hours of tunnel time, which he’d paid for with a less-than-princely chef’s salary that made every second count. “Also, I was not a very good student,” Bergfors laughingly adds. “I was always complaining. My expectations were too high, and I spent a lot of time stressed out. I also had really lousy body control since I never really did any sports before that except for skydiving. If I had videos like these when I began, I think they could have helped me, and I think that’s probably true for a lot of people out there. I don’t claim it’s perfect, and it’s not a series of instructional videos about how to fly--it’s about what could be presented visually in front of you when you fly certain lines, and about teaching your body to embody this information in kind-of a sneaky way.” Johannes plans to expand and improve the collection in time. That said: It’s a damn good start. For those of us who’ve been looking for a way to invest in their progression without the clock ticking down the dollars, it’s a sweet discovery--and, hopefully, one of many emerging innovations for inspired airsports instruction. First Perspective on YouTube: https://tinyurl.com/fallrates2018
  24. admin

    Tandem Skydiving

    What Is Tandem Skydiving? Tandem skydiving is an extremely popular form of skydiving and an excellent introduction into the sport, it allows one to experience the adrenaline and excitement without having to commit excessively to the activity at hand. While AFF training and static-line jumping consists of hours of training prior to the jump, going tandem only requires around 30 minutes of ground preparation prior. The reason for this is that while both AFF and static-line skydives require you to learn how to control your canopy and establish a deep knowledge of maintaining specific body positions in free fall, with tandem skydiving you only need to know the basics about how you should position your body relative to your tandem master. The fact that your tandem instructor will be responsible for your chute leaves you with the ability to spend more of your effort focusing on the sheer excitement of the jump, as opposed to what procedure who'll be doing next. You, the tandem student, will be strapped to a tandem instructor by use of a secure harness system which makes use of a shoulder strap on either side, a chest strap which secures across your chest, as well as leg straps. You will be strapped onto the chest, or front side of the tandem master, so you can be sure that you'll have the best view in the house. While tandem jumps are most common as once off introductions to skydiving, they are also sometimes used in conjunction with training courses, specifically in the early stages of a course. Using tandem jumping in training methods when you want to learn how to skydive can be extremely effective as it allows the student to experience both freefall and canopy flight without the feeling of being thrown into the deep end, so to speak. There are also students who look to perform several tandem skydives prior to their training course in order to familiarize themselves with the environment. A tandem freefall generally lasts between 45 and 60 seconds, followed by a four minute canopy ride to the ground. Where To Start? For starters, you want to make sure that you are going to be skydiving at a drop zone that has a good reputation. There are over a thousand drop zones around the world and each offer a different experience, some good and some poor. Dropzone.com has been developed around helping you to find the best drop zone in the area of your choice, and providing you with user ratings and reviews to help you make your decision. Look for drop zones with large volumes of positive reviews, and take the time to read through them and see what issues other users may have experienced at any particular drop zone. Unlike static-line progression for example, tandem skydiving is done at almost every drop zone, so you should be fine in that area, but be sure to check and make sure. When comparing drop zones it's vital to make sure you that you understand what you will be receiving with your jump. A tandem skydive can take place between altitudes of anywhere from 10 000 to 14 000ft, if free fall time is of importance to you it's certainly worth querying this topic with the drop zone. Another important question is, if you're paying a lot for your jump, are they offering you the best services for the amount you're paying? Does your jump include video footage or still photography, most have this as an extra cost - so be sure to check what the drop zone is charging for their video services. And if it does offer video services, is this filmed from a mounted camera attached to the tandem instructor or are they pulling out all the stops and having a separate photographer joining the jump solely to take some quality photographs of your jump. These are all aspects which should be examined and considered when you're scouting for the best drop zone in your area. Once you've located a drop zone near to your destination, give them a call or send them an e-mail, they should be more than willing to address any questions you may have about your jump and guide you through the booking process, setting you up with a date to jump. Some Advice To Consider Before Making Your Tandem Jump While you're likely to be walked through the correct dos and don'ts during your pre-jump ground briefing, it doesn't hurt to prepare prior to the day for what you should be doing and what you shouldn't be doing for your jump. Remove jewelry and accessories prior to Tandem Skydiving. At 120mph, it begins very easy for loose jewelry or accessories to come loose during free fall and get lost. It's a good idea to leave the jewelry at home on the day of your jump. Remove piercings, specifically nipple rings. When the canopy is opened during flight, your chest strap will pull against you, and there have been cases where people have had nipple rings pulled when this occurs - learn from their mistakes. Remember that there are also harness straps around your legs, so be sure to remove all piercings that may be impacted. Removing all piercings leave less gambling for something getting snagged, but nipple and surface piercings are definitely best removed. Tie up your hair. Whether you're male or female, if you have long hair it is a wise idea to tie it up in a manner that makes it least likely to get caught in the harness at any stage - and also remain out of the TIs face. Tucking it into the helmet once tied is also not a bad idea. Stick close to your tandem instructor. Once you're leaving the manifest for your jump, be sure to remain close to your tandem instructor. Always listen to your tandem instructor. They are the ones that know best, despite what you think you know - as an inexperienced tandem skydiver, your tandem instructor should not be questioned when it comes to anything related to the procedure of, or the jump itself. Be respectful and polite. While you may be frustrated at things like weather holds, it's important to remain calm and realize that these events are often out of the control of the instructors and the manifest staff. Image by Lukasz Szymanski Tandem Instructors The tandem instructors or tandem masters are going to be the ones in control of your skydive. The fact that the tandem instructor has control over the safety of the jump has prompted strict rules and regulations, especially within the United States, as to who can lead a tandem jump. The current requirements set in place go a long way in providing peace of mind that you're going to be in excellent hands when in the air. Before a skydiver is able to be the tandem instructor on a jump, he has to go through several procedures. First he has to be an experienced skydiver with a minimum of 500 jumps and 3 years of skydiving experience to his name, secondly he must possess a 'master parachute license' which has to be issued by an FAA-recognized organization, such as the USPA (United States Parachute Association). Furthermore, they are required to undergo training and acquire a certification related to the canopy they are going to be flying. On top of these requirements, the USPA has a few more of their own. Up until late 2008 in the United States, one was able to either be a tandem master with a manufacturer's rating or a tandem instructor which required the USPA training, though this was changed and now requires all those leading tandem jumps in the United States to hold a tandem instructors rating. The details of the ratings systems and the requirements vary between countries. One thing that separates the best drop zones from a bad drop zone for those doing a tandem jump, is the attitude and behavior of their tandem instructor. Luckily, if you've done your research and found yourself a good drop zone, this shouldn't be a worry and you may well end up making a new friend in the process. A good instructor is one that is able to answer any questions you have, while at the same time making you feel comfortable and relaxed. The best instructors find a perfect balance between safety and professionalism and humor, after all the jump is pointless if you don't enjoy yourself. Should I Be Nervous About Tandem Skydiving? It's completely normal to feel nervous about skydiving, even those of us who seek adrenalin constantly have some level of nervousness at times. Jumping out of a perfectly good plane, whether it is while experiencing a tandem jump or even the thrill of wing suiting, is not something natural to us as humans, and you can be sure that you're not alone in what you feel. With that said though, as with many areas where what you're facing is foreign and unknown, your fear often tends to turn to excitement once you're in it. I have seen a countless number of first time tandem skydivers being a bit unsure in the beginning but once their feet touch the ground their mind set changes completely. These are often people performing a bucket list jump with no intention of ever skydiving again, but after they've experience the feeling of free fall, they are hooked - and often end up booking their AFF courses to become a licensed skydiver just a few days later. Tandem skydiving has an excellent safety record for most parts of the world and you can take comfort in the fact that according to the United States Parachute Association, around half a million people each year choose to tandem skydive in the US alone. How Much Does A Tandem Jump Cost? The price of tandem skydives vary between drop zones, generally you're looking in the price range of about $70 to in excess of $300. This cost can either include or exclude the cost of things like a camera man and a DVD copy of your skydive. We highly recommend that you look into the prices and the specifications at each drop zone. For more information read below... Things To Know About Tandems There are typically restrictions on age when it comes to performing a tandem jump, the exact age varies depending on country and drop zone. The typical requirement from most drop zones is 18, though some drop zones do allow for 16 to 18 year olds to perform a tandem jump as long as they have parental consent. It is best to speak to your local drop zone about their age policies. When booking a tandem skydive it's important to know what to expect, often once off tandem jumpers go in without knowing what a skydive entails, how drop zones operate and what to expect. Understand that skydiving hinges on the weather conditions, when the winds are too strong or it's too cloudy, or if there's fog - you may well find yourself on the end of a weather hold. This is an aspect of skydiving that no one is free from, and the experienced jumpers get just as disappointed when they don't get to head out. Weather holds can last anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 days, depending on the conditions. Because of this it's best to plan your skydive around your local weather, if you're in an area with lots of summer tropical rainfall - it may be best to book in the autumn or winter months when rainfall is less likely, otherwise booking for an earlier time in the day before daytime heating causes the development of thunder showers. In areas of winter rainfall, summer is obviously your best bet, though nothing can ever be guaranteed. There are areas where weather holds are rare, and if you're in one of these areas that sees little annual rainfall, you're likely to see your jump happen without any hassles. It's highly recommended that you discuss deposits and payments with the drop zones prior to booking. While most DZs will gladly discuss openly and honestly with you their rules and restrictions in regards to deposits and refunds, many fail to bring up this topic prior to finalizing their booking and they end up upset when they find out that there is no refund issued for deposits on jumps that are postponed due to weather holds. How Safe is Tandem Skydiving? A common question asked by those intrigued by the idea of a tandem jump, is whether or not it is safe. And just how safe it truly is. We've long tracked fatalities in our database and can help in easing some of the anxiety you may have around tandem skydiving safety. The reality is that as with any high risk sport, there is the potential for death, though with that said - tandem skydivers remain the least likely to suffer at the hands of a fatality than other jumpers. Between the years 2005 and 2017 there were less than 100 tandem fatalities, with our records pointing closer to around 60. In that same time frame, our records indicate a total of just more than 700 fatalities, meaning that less than 1 out of 10 skydiving fatalities were tied to tandem skydiving. The important thing to remember is also that tandem skydives are extremely popular and on average there are an estimated 250,000 tandem jumps performed each year in the United States. So while calling tandem jumps safe may be a bit of a subjective statement, the truth is there are a number of aspects of your daily life that hold more risk than completing a tandem jump. The Technical Side And Skydiving Gear There are a few things you should remember when you are looking at the more technical side of your skydiving gear. Skydiving canopies are designed specifically for certain disciplines of skydiving, for speed and immediate response smaller canopies are used - such as those designed for swooping, these smaller canopies are also more dangerous, allowing for less margin of error. For tandem skydiving, where safety takes priority, the canopies (parachutes) used are much larger than those that you find in swooping for example. This is both because the canopy is going to need to carry twice the regular skydiving weight and because of the desired gentle nature of the canopy flight. The rig that is used by your tandem instructor is set up so that it will provide optimum safety for you on your jump. The rig contains an AAD (automatic activation device) which is a safety device that is designed to automatically fire the main chute after a skydiver descends past a certain altitude and has not yet fired the main canopy. There is also the special tandem canopy, which will be the parachute that is deployed during freefall, also known as the main. There is also a reserve canopy, this is a backup that exists in case of a failure on the main, an example would be, if a main canopy opens with a line twist and one is not able to recover from it - the main would be cut and the reserve deployed. These are packed into what is known as the container, the backpack looking item on the back of the tandem instructor. The instructor will also be carrying an altimeter on him, usually around the wrist, which can provide visual or audio information on the progression of the descent, so that he can release the main canopy at the correct time. During free fall, you can expect to reach speeds of up to 120mph (180km/h). Once you've done your skydive, remember to come back to dropzone.com and let us know what you thought of your experience, by rating the drop zone you jumped at. Safety and Training Forum Find a place to jump in your area.
  25. Dubai, UAE, 2nd April 2014 – Extreme Canopy Flight (XCF) is Skydive Dubai’s vision of making skydiving history by setting new limits for human flight by breaking the Guinness World Record for the smallest parachute jump. With the support of Emirates Aero Sports Federation and Skydive Dubai, Project XCF’s training and record attempts are going to take place at Skydive Dubai the Palm Dropzone in Dubai on Saturday 5th April from 3 – 7pm. The record breaking attempt is going to be performed by extreme athlete Ernesto Gainza, a test pilot for NZ Aerosports and Icarus canopies and professional stunt man with more than seven thousand skydives. The project will be documented from inception to successful completion. XCF jumps are all performed under highly experimental conditions and using specially designed prototype equipment. Currently expert skydivers use parachutes that range in size from 80-200 square feet and over the last decade the development of high-performance canopy sizes have averaged between 70-90 square feet. Ernesto aims to land a parachute of 35 square feet, less than half the size of the smallest parachutes currently being jumped. With the significant reduction in size the opening, flight and landing characteristics change dramatically resulting in a spinning malfunction which could cause an almost instantaneous loss of consciousness, as such Ernesto needs to have the right mental and physical preparation to be able to react decisively to any situation. Across the global skydiving community, a very small percentage of competitive canopy pilots have the skill to fly these canopies successfully. Ernesto Gainza stated, “Project XCF is the product of a man’s dream to fly and land the world’s smallest parachute. Regardless of the size of the challenge, a dream will always be a dream if there is no determination to make it reality.” The current unofficial record for the smallest parachute landed is held by Luigi Cani who jumped a 37 square foot canopy on January 1st 2008. Luigi was the inspiration for this project. Skydive Dubai provides a platform to fulfill dreams. In addition to granting Ernesto’s dream of breaking the world record of XCF jumps, Skydive Dubai will also be granting the wishes of three kids with incurable diseases through their collaboration with The Make-A-Wish Foundation® United Arab Emirates, an international non-profit organization with 38 active offices dedicated to fulfilling the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. The event on Saturday 5th April is open to all who wish to come and see history being made. The day will be filled with a lot of entertainments for all ages. About Skydive Dubai SKYDIVE DUBAI, the world’s premier skydiving location, is located in the heart of Dubai city. It is operating in two locations The Palm Drop Zone, which has as area size of 260,000 and runway size of 60m x 700m, and Desert Campus Drop Zone. Skydive Dubai offers tandem jumps, training for athletes and courses for beginners and experienced skydivers. Both drop zones observe the highest standards in safety under the regulations of The International Air Sport Federation (FAI). All skydivers are fully accredited by the United States Parachuting Association (USPA) and The Emirates Aviation Association (EAA).