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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

    Time for a National "Sky" Patrol?

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

    Ten things that may keep you alive

    Skydiving is a sport where you never stop learning. Even if you could, somehow, come to know everything, the sport is evolving constantly, and someone who's an expert one day is a newbie the next. Often, the learning we do isn't just academic - it can make us perform better, even keep us alive when there are problems. With that in mind, here are ten things that may keep you alive when things really hit the fan: 1. Know your limits. Everyone's limits are different, and are based on their experience, background, physical and mental fitness, and natural abilities. Some people think well under pressure, some need to drill and drill so their natural tendency to freeze is overcome. Some are incredibly flexible, some need 'crutches' (like sleeves or weight) to control their fall rate. It's important to be honest with yourself when deciding your limits, even if it goes counter to the alpha mentality that most skydivers have. We're all human. 2. Respect your limits. Don't do things you're not ready for, and don't let other people talk you into doing them. This comes up very often when women jumpers enter the sport - suddenly they have a lot of male friends who want to take them on 20 ways, free fly jumps, demos etc well before they'd ask a male jumper. And while it is technically possible to safely take someone with 20 jumps on a 20-way (you could do it with 19 AFF-JM's) it's usually a bad idea. 3. Push your limits. This may seem in contradiction to 2) but it's important. Once you know your limits, and respect them, you can start overcoming them. Do you have a problem with fall rate? Find a slow (or fast) skydiver and do a 2-way, with the other jumper going slower and slower (or faster and faster.) Is your canopy control so-so? Try drills - learn to flat turn and flare turn, a little more on each jump. Follow someone else. Do no-contact CRW. Learn to sit fly. Pushing your limits isn't just a feel-good thing, it actually helps you survive in the sport. If you learn how to fly a small elliptical well, you will have much more control over your slightly larger square - and that can save your life if someone cuts you off on final. CRW can be fun, but can also be the difference between life and death if you have a cypres firing and have to land two canopies. 4. Push your limits, one at a time. This is even more important. It's possible to learn to do demos, as long as you learn the basics - canopy control, obstacle landings, spotting. Trying to learn these all on your first demo is asking for trouble. Small canopies, same thing. You can certainly learn to jump a VX 97. Doing it all on one jump - going from a Sabre 150 to a VX 97 - is a huge mistake. First transition down to a smaller Sabre, then learn to fly it. Then switch to an elliptical of about the same size, and learn to fly _it_. Once you get to that VX 97, you will have the background to fly it well - and you will be much, much better prepared to fly any canopy in between. 5. Learn flat and flare turns. You should be able to do a 180 in the air without your canopy diving at all, and you should be able to turn at least 45 degrees during your flare. Every year, several people die because they turn too low. I'm convinced that many of these aren't intentional hook turns, but accidental low turns to turn into the wind or avoid an obstacle. Knowing how to flat and flare turn might have saved their lives. 6. Learn more about your gear. What color is your reserve? Your reserve toggles? If you ever look above your head and see four sets of risers, how will you tell them apart? What color is your freebag? You can learn all this by watching your rigger pack your reserve, and even more by doing it yourself (under supervision, of course.) Read up on TSO testing of your gear, and learn about the limits it was tested to. If you know that, you can keep your own flying within its operational limits. Learn about what's in a Cypres, and how it judges altitude. Learn the difference between Dacron and Spectra, and how to pack a pullout rig. 7. Get related experience. Pilots have a distinct advantage over other jumpers when something goes wrong in the plane, because they know how to read the signs, and they know how to operate around aircraft. They have a better idea what to touch and what not to touch, and can more easily communicate with the pilot (and, in rare instances, ATC.) You don't have to get your instrument rating - even a few lessons will teach you a lot about aerodynamics, aircraft weight and balance, stabilized climbs and descents, elevator trim and its importance, etc. Or learn to climb. Serious climbers (except, possibly, sport-only climbers) are their own riggers, and understand the ideas behind an equalizing anchor, dynamic vs static rope, and nylon to nylon friction. Many of those transfer to the kind of rigging that gets done in skydiving, and if nothing else, will help you make sense of how rigs are designed. 8. Get out of your drop zone. Drop zones tend to have "flavors" to them, and are sometimes homogenous when it comes to skills or equipment. Kapowsin, for example, seems to use nothing but Infinity's, and for a while Air Adventures was nearly 100% Reflex. Some drop zones are mainly free fly, some RW, some do a lot of demos. By getting away from the familiar, you'll learn more about other disciplines, other equipment, even other ways of thinking. You'll also meet some really cool people - you can't talk to Bryan Burke, John LeBlanc, Tony Domenico or Adam Filipino, for example, and not learn something. Unfortunately, not every drop zone has them, so you have to hit the road. 9. Buy your beer. It sounds like a selfish tradition, designed to punish new jumpers. It's a whole lot more than that, though. The key is that, if you buy the beer and give it to people, they will ask you what it's for, and you will end up talking to people (up to 23) about what just happened. Since this usually happens at some significant time (say, right after your first cutaway) this is a really important time to talk about what just happened without being embarrassed about it. (Well, maybe you will be anyway, but tough.) On the flip side - if someone buys beer for the DZ, and you're an experienced jumper, don't just grab a bottle and run. Find out who bought it and why they bought it. That beer isn't quite free - the price is that you have to pass on the knowledge that _you_ first learned when it seemed like you were buying a case every other weekend. 10. Teach others what you know. There is no better way to learn than to teach, and it helps others as well. If you want to become an expert at emergency procedures, teach part of a few first jump courses and watch other people screw their procedures up. If you want to learn a lot about RW, organize. If you want to learn more about skydiving in general, teach a graduate course. Just the act of putting everything down on paper and talking about it will lead you to research to make sure you're right, and you'll get feedback when you actually do the teaching.
  9. Big Air Sportz is proud to announce that their instructor discounts are back for a limited time. Big Air Sportz, Inc. is offering significant discounts on all canopies sold directly to current rated coaches and AFF, static line and tandem instructors. “We have recognized that students look up to their instructors for insight as to which canopies to buy,” says company President Brian Germain. Big Air Sportz is offering any size custom canopy for $1,399 until January 31st, 2003. Big Air Sportz is the maker of the Lotus, a 9-cell semi-elliptical airlocked canopy designed for beginning and intermediate jumper from 20 jumps up. The Samurai (the next-generation Jedei) is a 9-cell elliptical airlocked canopy designed for an experienced pilot with more then 300 jumps. The airlock design uses valves to seal off the cells of a canopy once it is inflated to provide stability and prohibit instantaneous deflation of the airfoil, thus increasing the safety margin when flying in rough conditions. More information about Airlocks is available here on Dropzone.com and on the Big Air Sportz site. In order to qualify for the discount, any current, rated instructor must fax a copy of his or her rating card to Big Air Sportz at (813) 977-5000. Valid ratings are coach, jumpmaster, instructor, and evaluator from any acceptable country or association. The applicant must present a current rating card to qualify for the discount. A deposit of $250 is required to confirm the order, with the remainder due upon the canopy’s completion. Retail prices on the Samurai and Lotus range from $1,905 to $2,048. Demo canopies are available for $50 for 2 weekends. Big Air Sportz also offers dropzones or clubs highly experienced speakers for a choice of seminars, with topics including Canopy Flight from A-Z, Freeflying, and the Psychology of Skydiving. To schedule a demo, a seminar or for any other information, contact Big Air Sportz at 8525 Bramwell Way, Tampa Florida 33647, or Tel.: (813) 788 4444, Cell: (813) 230-2161, e-mail: zenfreefall@aol.com, and on the web at http://www.bigairparachutes.com About Big Air Sportz: Big Air Sportz was founded in 1998, but its founder Brian Germain has long been involved in the parachute design and skydiving industry. Brian designed his first airlock while recovering from a paraglider collapse in 1993 that left him in a wheelchair for months. From those first drawings and tests eventually came the Jedei canopy. Brian has won various medals in X-trials and various other freefly competitions around the United States. He has taught hundreds of skydivers everything from canopy flight to freeflying. Most recently, Brian and the Big Air Sportz team were freefly organizers at WFFC ’02. With current research projects including the Shogun, a 7-cell airlocked canopy; an as-yet-unnamed cross-braced airlocked elliptical ultra-performance canopy; CRW airlock canopies; and kite-surfing training kites and recreational ram-air kites (http://www.bigairkites.com); Big Air Sportz is ready to provide canopies for the future of skydiving.
  10. admin

    Dropzone Unknown

    With all of the worldwide disasters happening, have you thought about joining in and helping out somehow? Skydiving skills, to reach people in isolated areas, are being used by Remote Area Medical, to bring in help where it is needed yet where it is inaccessible by conventional ground transportation. Remote Area Medical - RAM Airborne Remote Area Medical, RAM, has been providing humanitarian aid to people worldwide since 1985, with the airborne division currently on the rise and seeking skydivers. Founded by Stan Brock, from the show Wild Kingdom, RAM and its volunteers are “Pioneers of No-Cost Health Care” with well over 400 missions in the US and abroad. The first RAM Airborne mission was to Tennessee in 2005, proving that skydivers and cargo can be dropped into an unknown area, on top of a hill in the Appalachian Mountains. The next RAM Airborne mission is to Guyana in South America, to clear trees from existing grass runways; making them accessible once more by airplanes. From March 26 to April 9, RAM’s mission to Guyana will provide air-ambulance access to the people living in the nearby villages. This is a non-medical mission, but medical support is needed, in the event of an injury or medical emergency during the mission. An additional trail team is being recruited, not requiring skydiving skills, to re-clear a trail in the Amazon forest, connecting two villages to another airstrip which was repaired by a RAM team in 2004. This will be a physically demanding mission, to clear large trees and thick undergrowth, while living in a tent or hammock. Hiking through the Amazon forest is no walk through the park either, with machetes in hand and packs on your back; these are a few things to keep in mind, and a few things to savor, for those who want to come for the adventure. Skills Being Sought: Skydivers must have a B-license or better, with an average of 100 jumps as a minimum; good canopy control and a canopy wing loading of 1.3 or less are expected, because there’s no room for error, and no hospitals to go to if you biff your landing. As you may have guessed, no hook turns allowed. You bring in your own gear for camping, and you pay for your own airfare to and from Georgetown, Guyana – but it is tax-deductible, since it is for a humanitarian effort. It is the most direct way to give, by providing your skills directly where it is needed! RAM is also seeking people with medical skills, to handle any potential injuries that may happen, one per team at a minimum – more if possible – plus some basic medical supplies. The rest of the team is not required to be medically trained but everyone must be physically prepared – this is not your typical working-holiday trip overseas – it is hard work and it is worth it. Videographers are also being sought, to help document this first-time-ever event. Proof of skills will be necessary, to ensure one’s safety, and others’ as well; video cameras may also be provided, as details are confirmed. Videographers would be the first to land, then film the others as they land; the case-of-beer policy will be waived, mainly because there are no stores to go get any and no refrigeration either. If you or someone you know is interested – here are some things to begin doing: Work on hop and pop exits and accurate landings Gear up your camping supplies – for a two-week camping trip Get in shape – it’s a load of work and physically exhausting Join RAM as a volunteer – send an e-mail to karen @ karenhawes.com for further details, or go to http://www.karenhawes.com/ram/RAM-Mission-FAQ.htm RAM Camp If you want to work on the skills necessary for this type of skydiving mission, there will be a “RAM Camp” training program offered in mid-March at Skydive Arizona, prior to the Guyana mission from March 16 - 19, to hone or develop your skills in: Spotting, exiting and landing in unfamiliar areas Cargo-bail preparations and air drops Basic field-medical skills, stitching open-wounds, making traction splints Basic camping and navigation skills Other survival tips and tricks to know, plus pitfalls to avoid Prospective volunteers, who complete this course and display the necessary skill level required, will be selected over volunteers who do not. For more information about the RAM Camp, go to http://www.karenhawes.com/ram/RAM-Camp.htm This course will be taught by three RAM volunteers, with years of experience in the areas of skills being taught: Rene Steinhauer – Medical Aid in Remote Areas Bryan Burke – Cargo/Spotting/Airdrops and Navigation Karen Hawes – Travel Tips (for men and women) and Gadgets in the Wild RAM Camp Instructors All three trainers will cover their own areas of expertise, and survival skills training, based on actual in-field experience; with personal experiences ranging from domestic and international relief efforts, everyone has something to learn in this course. Here’s a brief background of each instructor: Rene Steinhauer RN, CFRN, EMT-P – Rene is a currently working as a flight nurse in Antarctica till February 2006. He has worked on humanitarian projects around the world and has also worked as a combat medic on the front lines in Iraq. He has trained civilian and military personnel in remote and combat medicine for years. He is also one of the founding members of RAM Airborne. Bryan Burke – Safety and Training Advisor at Skydive Arizona, with two decades in the sport and 3,200 jumps. Although he is known in the sport as the organizer of numerous boogies and competitions, he also has considerable experience with parachute testing, skydiving for the entertainment industry, and other applications that require precise airborne delivery. Most of his off-DZ time is spent kayaking, backpacking, or rafting in remote wilderness areas. Karen Hawes – A Systems Engineer at Lockheed Martin, with 500 jumps on 6 continents in 12 countries and at over 100 dropzones, she has been a RAM volunteer since 2004. She is the current RAM Airborne recruiter, with three missions to: Guyana (airstrip repair), Sumatra (tsunami relief), and Tennessee (first RAM airdrop mission). A fourth RAM mission to New Orleans is scheduled, for the second week in February 2006. She is also working on configuring solar power sources for hand-held electronic devices, to be used on remote-area missions. For More Information and to Sign-Up For more information on the mission in March and the RAM Camp, go to: http://www.karenhawes.com/ram/RAM-Mission-FAQ.htm http://www.karenhawes.com/ram/RAM-Camp.htm Come One, Come All! If someone you know is interested, but not a skydiver, then now is the time to begin training and cap it off with one of the RAM Camps, to be ready for future missions. If you already have the skydiving skills, you can take advantage of this unique opportunity to add “Humanitarian” to your list of skills and world experiences. Find out more about RAM at www.ramusa.org and join the adventure!
  11. admin

    Adventure Volunteerism

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

    About Learning The Extrem Sport Skydiving

    Generally when folks consider learning the extrem sport skydiving, they think of getting unbelievable adrenalin rushs. The truth is that these principles are possibly polar opposites. Provided you were truly trying to feel free in the sky, there are possibly very distinct steps you must make in an attempt to do well with realizing your calling. [Image 1] Here are tips to start you off: -- Living healthy Living healthy is an important part of the process that someone looking to learn the extrem sport skydiving should do. If you are already accustomed to living healthy, when it's time to learn to skydive, it would be a routine you do naturally. -- Being sporty An integral aspect of the discipline that is required to prepare for learning the extrem sport skydiving involves being sporty. When you be sporty, it primes you to flourish in the best mindset to realize the utmost objective of learning the extrem sport skydiving. [Image 2] -- Getting no acrophobia The biggest oversight that someone could experience when preparing to learn the extrem sport skydiving is falling short with this vital tip. If you decide to not consciously practice getting no acrophobia, it can be impossible to prosper. That is how contingent your accomplishment is on getting no acrophobia. Assuming you are curious how to get no acrophobia, then continue exploring for we will explore that here! We wish to analyze the journey to learning the extrem sport skydiving effectively. We can equip you for a different level of satisfaction. Please consider a couple thoughts one must think of before attempting to learn to skydive. Before learning the extrem sport skydiving, you must figure out and make sure that learning to skydive is the right choice for you. Before learning the extrem sport skydiving, it helps to analyze your day-to-day practices. Then examine that against a person already able to feel free in the sky. You ought to analyze someone that is effectively doing what you wish to achieve. Then see if you're reflecting what they execute. That is a beneficial starting point. Here are questions you ought to challenge yourself with: Do you want to feel free? Want an amazing Adrenalin Rush? Do you want to keep away all the distractions of life? [Image 3] Ideally, you answer was "yes" to these questions. Then probably learning the extrem sport skydiving is the right activity for you and best wishes for executing the plan toward realizing your calling by continuing to read! Before kicking off what is generally needed to prepare, we ought to narrow in on some measures that someone should recognize before starting. Besides, learning the extrem sport skydiving is a voyage. You ought to prepare for a journey before executing the plan. Learning the extrem sport skydiving requires considerably more than deciding one evening to say, "wow, I am going to learn the extrem sport skydiving." Sure that can be a starting step. However to accomplish a bit of benefit with learning the extrem sport skydiving, you should initially prepare mentally. Learning The Extrem Sport Skydiving - A Look Back Realize you aren't the first individual in the universe that has the ambition of learning the extrem sport skydiving. Actually, there are tons of people all around that hope for to learn to skydive. The harsh truth is that hardly any will actually commit and achieve it. If you assess individuals who have done well in learning the extrem sport skydiving either recently, or back in time, you will unveil something comparable among those who have grown successful. They appreciated what was involved before commencing, and they knew what breed of individual is prone to prevail. When you understand what breed of character it requires to truly learn the extrem sport skydiving, there is nothing that will block the pathway amidst you and your satisfaction! Learning the extrem sport skydiving has a tangible attribute to it. However any action that you plan ahead of time will bring a greater result. You'll unveil the force behind your will will bring you toward your goal. Don't think of getting unbelievable adrenalin rushs. Learning the extrem sport skydiving involved a person to be forever and strong-willed. We know that. Today we are primed to to analyze the steps involved with learning the extrem sport skydiving so we can appreciate our future accomplishments. You have already asked yourself: "Do you want to feel free?" Honestly, you truly had to ask yourself. Those that responded no to this topic will remain incapable to merely take any action to learn the extrem sport skydiving. You asked "Want an amazing Adrenalin Rush?" You could not have reached to this point if you responded no. The harsh truth is a special temperament is involved to hope for one thing, and a completely different personality to ultimately do it. [Image 4] Congratulations for existing as the breed of individual that gets going. Thinking back, it is feasible that people that attempted to learn the extrem sport skydiving and went wrong probably did not prepare themselves. By acknowledging the initial questions to establish if you are possibly a suitable personality to learn the extrem sport skydiving, you are aware of what is recommended to get there. Just recognize, getting no acrophobia is a essential provision. Every time your mind conveys that learning the extrem sport skydiving is unfeasible, recognize that a person who is getting no acrophobia will ignore the disappointment and target their thoughts on success. Let's analyze what is needed to prepare seeing that our thoughts are settled!Learning The Extrem Sport Skydiving In Everyday Life Learning the extrem sport skydiving should be regarded as a lifestyle. It is an important part of the process that you may integrate into your lifestyle in many ways. Actually, while you are working during your training to learn to skydive, you ought to analyze how learning the extrem sport skydiving can change your essence. Do you recall being presented with these pointed questions: Do you want to feel free? Want an amazing Adrenalin Rush? Do you want to keep away all the distractions of life? Here are questions which appoint qualities that establish if you were able to learn the extrem sport skydiving. These are lifestyle options. answer was "yes" to these pointed questions, you were not just substantiating that you were able to learn the extrem sport skydiving, but rather, you validated your lifestyle practices. By recognizing the duty that these qualities play in your ordinary routines, you are understanding the duty that learning the extrem sport skydiving presents in ordinary routines. No one said that learning the extrem sport skydiving is simple. All rewarding activities require dedication. Learning the extrem sport skydiving is no exception. When you analyze the preparation stages that must be completed prior to learning the extrem sport skydiving, these very preparation stages can be beneficial in other areas of life. Living healthy, being sporty and getting no acrophobia ought to be regarded as acts that transcend learning to skydive. While certain of the acts are specific to learning the extrem sport skydiving, several of it can develop related spheres of life. Actually, learning the extrem sport skydiving does require a deviation in your judgement. The forever quality that is needed to learn to skydive will change your essence. In moments, you can be making evident a forever quality in other areas of life. That is the beauty of learning the extrem sport skydiving that most people fail to consider. [Image 5] Learning the extrem sport skydiving is more than learning to skydive. It is a lifestyle in numerous ways. Anytime you assess this as a lifestyle, you can reap the various benefits of learning to skydive in day-to-day overall life. Metaphorically, it requires a certain attribute to realize the utmost objective alltogehter. It is practical to allow each of these gains to develop your essence. One must have an amazing quality to learn the extrem sport skydiving too. That is another characteristic that critically influences your essence. The more you call on that quality to learn to skydive, the more you can identify that attribute within unrelated areas of life. The majority who are committed to the general goals will find learning the extrem sport skydiving wholly delightful. Congratulations on executing the plan toward this lifestyle choice!
  13. PALATKA — To celebrate his 60th birthday and his forced retirement as an airline pilot, Larry Elmore jumped out of an airplane 60 times in one day. He was forced to retire from Trans World Airlines at age 60 because of Federal Aviation Administration rules on commercial pilots. So Tuesday, Elmore, of nearby Melrose in northeastern Florida, got together at Kay Larkin Airport with a support staff of parachute packers from Skydive Palatka and jumped 60 times to prove a point about his age. Jeff Colley, drop zone manager at Skydive Palatka, said Elmore made his first jump about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday and finished up about 3 p.m. Three planes and three pilots were used to ferry Elmore up for his jumps. Elmore, who started skydiving in 1986, donned a parachute, hopped in a plane, and parachuted down. Upon landing, he would shed his used chute, put on another held waiting for him, hop in the plane and go up for another jump. For the first 59 jumps, he exited the aircraft at 2,300 feet and opened his parachute immediately. On the final jump, Elmore skydived from 13,500 feet, Colley said. Alison Duquette, an FAA spokeswoman, said at age 60 pilots begin a progressive decline that could affect levels of safety for commercial passengers. Elmore has started a new job as a corporate pilot, Colley said.
  14. MARINA, Calif. -- There he was, high above Monterey Bay, a yellow speck rocketing across the gauzy sky. Birdman was tracing a line due east, maybe 100 mph, following the braided shoals of the Salinas River. The ground was approaching at about 60 mph. Graceful from afar, close-up he looked like a flying squirrel in an Elvis get-up. Mark Lichtle had jumped out of a plane at 12,900 feet and was trying to soar two miles inland before deploying his parachute. For a minute and a half, the 42-year-old skydiver kept gravity at bay, moving forward much faster than he was descending toward that famous dark soil of Steinbeck country. Mark Lichtle: Featured Photographer Mark's Galleries Lichtle is one of a growing flock of jumpers who wear wing suits. Designed by BirdMan International, the suits keep humans aloft with nylon wings that extend from the wrists to the hips and inflate as air starts to rush into them. Another wing, like a bird's tail, connects to both legs. "It's like slow-motion skydiving," Lichtle said. "You can stay up longer and go farther. The wing suit has allowed us to feel as close to flight as possible." Since they became commercially available in 1999, BirdMan suits have given skydivers a new rush, and provided a new impetus to base jumping--hurling oneself off buildings, bridges and cliffs. Lichtle is a retired mortgage broker from San Jose who films other people enjoying such adventures, often while jumping himself. Recently he leaped off a tower in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and in Mexico he jumped 1,200 feet into a cave called the Basement of the Swallows, which itself could swallow the Empire State Building. Wing suits are for experts only. The company recommends that a skydiver perform at least 500 parachute jumps and then take special bird-flying instruction before putting on wings. Although there is an emergency mechanism to cut away the wings, the diver's arms are very restricted while flying. "It's like skydiving handcuffed, and your head is your first point of contact with anything else," Lichtle said. Vladi Pesa, a BirdMan dealer and wing suit instructor, said that once students learn to control the suit, it revolutionizes their diving. They can do loops and barrel rolls and carve across the sky as if it were water or snow. "It completely changes the flight path," Pesa said. "You can do formations, flying like a flock of birds. You can double your free-fall time." Skydivers have long experimented with artificial wings and were called birdmen. In the mid-20th century, the practice was akin to jumping from a plane in a cheap Batman costume. From 1930 to 1961, according to Birdman International, 72 of the 75 people known to have tried such stunts died. The problem was, and still is, that skydivers need to be stable when they deploy their chutes. If some homemade wing has you spinning like a fan out of control, you're history. In the 1990s, skydivers began experimenting again, this time with wings that had no hard parts and were easier to keep in control. A Frenchman named Patrick DeGayardon got it right--for a while. He performed successful wing jumps until 1998, when he tried to sew a little pillow beneath his parachute to get rid of a pocket of dead air behind his derriere. Unfortunately, he sewed the chute itself to the pillow and didn't try to deploy it until too late. He plunged from life to legend. About that time, a Finn named Jari Kuosma came up with the idea of a commercial wing suit. A Croatian friend designed it, and BirdMan International was born in 1999. It has sold about 1,000 suits, ranging from $600 to $1,000. Kuosma has been trying to tinker with designs to slow down the speed of descent even more, allowing birdmen to swoop up and for a moment, maybe, achieve zero vertical velocity. "We are getting very close to zero," he said. "I am going to land this thing without a chute one day." Hopefully, not like the 72 others. Kuosma said he slowed the downward speed to 10 mph on one flight, whereas a normal skydiver falls at about 120 mph before throwing the chute. Others say birdmen haven't gotten much slower than 40 to 60 mph. On a cool summer day, with a briny wind coming off the bay, Lichtle suited up at the Marina Airport, an aging corrugated affair with old barracks and ragged windsocks. He harnessed himself into the six zippers and shuffled like a penguin to the runway. He wore a helmet--aptly designed by the Bonehead company--shaped flat like Frankenstein's skull, on which he mounted his camera. "Birdman!" an onlooker shouted, as an instructor explained the wing suit concept to curious students. Soon after the plane lifted off, the other skydivers on board jumped out right over the airport. Lichtle told the pilot to drop him a couple miles away at the coast. He wanted to see if he could get back to the airport on his own wings. He has to get used to his new suit, which is for advanced divers and "a little twitchy." Still, because he is more streamlined through the air, the sensation is a lot smoother and more liberating than regular skydiving. "You don't have the hard wind on your body," he said. He leaped alone over the beach and, at first, fell like a rock. Then in several seconds, the air went through the vents of his wing, and floom, they inflated. He was aloft, aiming roughly for a rusted water tower at the airport. But up at 12,000 feet, a strong head wind was blowing off the land. Lichtle was going about 100 mph into the wind and hurtling down about 65 mph. He watched his altimeter and studied the oaks and artichokes below. Flatbed trucks tooled along the farm roads. He realized he was not going to reach his goal and threw his chute at about 3,500 feet, still a quarter mile west of the airport. He drifted east with the wind and spiraled down with the other divers, undaunted. An eagle he wasn't. Still, Lichtle was unruffled. "This is really the closest you can get to a bird."
  15. admin

    Skydivers sue over mid-air crash

    TWO student skydivers who plunged to the ground after a mid-air collision during a training jump are suing the company that was teaching them how to parachute. Christopher Charles Morton, 33, was in hospital for four days and off work for six weeks after the accident, which also involved Michael Richard Warren, 26, at Picton, south of Sydney, on December 14, 1997. Mr Morton and Mr Warren are suing Sydney Skydivers Pty Ltd in the NSW District Court, claiming the company was negligent by failing to ensure its employees were adequately trained and that it failed to exercise due and proper care for the safety of its students. Their barrister, Andrew Morrison, SC, told Acting Judge Clifford Boyd-Boland it would be their case that the system for novice skydivers put in place by the company was "thoroughly unsafe". Mr Morrison said the pair were "some significant distance above the ground" when they collided and fell. Mr Morton, a master of the Sydney Harbour tall ship Bounty, suffered a fractured pelvis and injuries to his right shoulder, spine, head and severe shock. Mr Warren, a former coalminer, received fractures to his right arm and injuries to his spine, head and severe shock. Mr Morton told the court a friend, his girlfriend and he had decided to buy each other skydives for Christmas presents that year. He said that after a day of training he went up in a plane to do his first jump with several instructors and fellow student Mr Warren, who was then doing his third jump. They were to aim for a cross marked on the ground and were directed by instructors moving large arrows and using batons to show them which way to turn. "I thought I was doing really well because I was coming up to the cross," Mr Morton said. But he said when he was about 30 metres from the ground and while watching his instructor, who was also on the ground, he and Mr Warren collided. He said his canopy collapsed and he hit the ground. The company is being sued under the Trade Practices Act, with Mr Morton and Mr Warren alleging the services supplied by the company were not supplied with due care and skill. The company's barrister, Greg Curtain, told Judge Boyd-Boland there would be evidence Mr Morton and Mr Warren failed to follow instructions to watch the "target assistant" on the ground and that Mr Morton went in the opposite direction to the way he was directed. Mr Curtain also said there would be evidence that there was nothing wrong with the way the company's operation was carried out. The hearing is continuing.
  16. Results of the USPA Board of Directors Election (1/5/00) NATIONAL BJ Worth Roger Nelson Glenn Bangs John DeSantis Mike Mullins Michael Ortiz Don Yahrling Larry Hill REGIONAL Central: Gary Peek Eastern: Mike Perry Gulf: Madolyn Murdock Mid-Atlantic: Gene Paul Thacker Mideastern: Gary Cooper Mountain: Marty Jones North Central: John Goswitz Northeast: Marylou Laughlin Northwest: Jessie Farrington Pacific: Jess Rodriquez Southeast: Barry Chase Southern: Larry Stapleton Southwest: Lee Schlichtemeier Western: Harry Leiche
  17. 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
  18. 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.
  19. “This particular aircraft doesn’t have seatbelts, but we only have it for this one boogie--and we’ve never had a forced landing, anyway.” “There’s no AAD in this rig, but I’m only going to jump it this once while my regular rig is being repacked. It’s just so I don’t miss the record attempt. I’ll be back on my regular rig on the next load.” “We always jump in cloud here. Otherwise we’d never get to jump! The pilot has GPS, anyway, obviously, and he’s never been wrong.” The final sentence--which always follows, right?--is the kicker: “I’m sure it will be fine.” Are you? Really? USPA Director of Safety and Training Jim Crouch introduced a really important concept in April’s Parachutist (‘Safety Check’; April 2017). In it, he brings up The Challenger Launch Decision, written by sociologist Diane Vaughan. Vaughn very usefully summarized the kernel of this human tendency. She even coined a term for it: the “normalization of deviance.” Normalization of deviance comes up pretty much everywhere in life (foregoing your helmet just to bike down to the neighborhood park; speeding; not bothering with the condom). High-variable, high-pressure, high-safety-requisite circumstances breed the normalization of deviance like bunnies at a bunny swinger’s convention. For some insight into how the normalization of deviance affects you in your airsports career, let NASA Astronaut Mike Mullane bend your ear. Mullane was a fighter pilot in 1978, when he was selected as a Mission Specialist in the first group of Space Shuttle Astronauts. He chalked up three space missions (aboard the Shuttles Discovery and Atlantis), spending more than 350 hours in the void. And, solely in the years after he celebrated his 60th birthday, Mullane summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Rainier and 35 of Colorado’s 14,000+ers. You can safely assume that Col. Ret. Mullane is an expert in managing his own risk envelope and that of those around him--and, yet, even he is still influenced by the normalization of deviance. How ‘bout that. Why is it so tough to fight immunity to unacceptable risk? Cause damn, it’s hard. It’s cultural; it’s about preserving a certain quality of relationship. It’s personal; it’s about preserving a certain self-image. Finally, it’s transactive; it’s about trading off a potentially good experience now for the chance to have more good experiences later, in the absence of much data at ****all. “The natural human tendency,” Mullane notes, “Particularly in pressured circumstances, to want to take a safety shortcut. [You say,] ‘I’ve done a [jump] like this a thousand times in the past, and nothing bad has ever happened. I can certainly do it this one time [...] and nothing bad is going to happen. [...] The absence of something bad happening when I took this safety shortcut means that it’s safe to do so again.’” There will always be a next time. And you’re going to be mightily tempted to do it again. When you do it--whatever ‘it is--enough times, the shortcut becomes the norm. The loop is reinforced. In Mullane’s words, “The deviance is now invisible to you.” And when invisible deviance leaves a very visible mess? Well, Diane Vaughn coined another term in her book for that eventuality: a “predictable surprise.” Those involved in the Challenger debacle readily admit that the explosion (and the resulting deaths) constituted a predictable surprise. So does a catastrophic wingsuit collision in the absence of one jumper’s AAD. So does a plane full of broken jumpers after a forced seatbeltless landing (of which--make no mistake--there are very many). So does a double tandem fatality at a dropzone with an it’ll-be-fine attitude towards instructor training. Image by Brett Kistler The itchy issue we face as airsports athletes is that we’re not under pressure from the government, as Mullane and NASA were. We’re not under pressure from the market. The pressure you’re under on the dropzone is your own. If you think it’s a good idea to scratch, you can damn well go ahead and scratch. You can roll your eyes at anyone who gets after you for it--the manifest; your buddy; your team at the Nationals. Most of the time, though, you don’t. You stay on the load, and--probably significantly more than nine times out of ten--you build another nanolayer on your normalization-of-deviance callus. The old triusm that familiarity breeds complacency makes a little more sense, no? That newbies are generally more risk-averse than intermediate-to-mid-career jumpers (a trend which tends to reverse as the jumper amasses significant empirical data)? That you’re more willing to do--well--gloriously stupid shit at a dropzone you know really well, as opposed to one you’re just visiting? Take it from Richard Feynman, compared the practice of predictive reasoning to Russian Roulette: “The fact that the first shot got off safely is little comfort for the next. [...] Nature cannot be fooled.” In real life, of course, it’s more uncertain than that. He was talking about binary predictive reasoning (with an either-A-or-B result). We’re not playing a binary game when we’re jumping and flying; we’re not playing Russian roulette. Honestly, we don’t even know how many bullets are in that gun. But we’d better remember that it is a gun, and it is loaded, somewhere in there--and the safety culture we’ve inherited is a desperate attempt to introduce proven failsafes in the face of our old nemesis, randomness. Walking out to the pointy end is fun. Randomness is fun. Deviance is fun. That’s a big part of why we do this, right? That said: understanding why we make the decisions we make--and, perhaps, even learning to make better ones--can do much to extend a career. For more, do yourself a solid and check out Vaughn’s The Challenger Launch Decision, which originally coined the phrase. It’s a riveting read--and I bet you’ll readily recognize the culture which worked to create the conditions for the tragedy.
  20. 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
  21. admin

    Air Adventures AFF: Level 7

    GRADUATION DIVE JUMP SEQUENCE: The JM will check the spot, then tell you to exit. When you are ready to exit, just dive out of the plane like Superman. Do not check in. Get stable as soon as possible after exit. Turn to find your JM. Track towards him when you find him. Follow your JM's hand signals. Remain close to him throughout the dive. When he signals you to turn, do a 360. Check your altitude after each manuever. When he signals you to track towards him, use forward motion to get closer to him. When he gives you the delta-track signal, track for five seconds. If he drops below you, arch harder to increase your fall rate. If he floats above you, arch a little less to decrease your fall rate. At 6000 feet, shake your head to indicate "no more manuevers." Your JM will not remind you if you forget. Turn 180 away from your JM and track for five seconds, then stop. Wave off and pull at 4000 feet. Note the new altitude. Check above you as you wave. Count to five and check your parachute. PERFORMANCE STANDARDS: Remain stable 100% of the time after exit Demonstrate tracking, fall rate control, and tracking skills Demonstrate altitude awareness despite distractions. Perform breakoff procedure at 6000 feet. Stable solo waveoff and pull at a lower altitude (4000 feet, plus or minus 500 feet.) LEVEL SEVEN HINTS: Be altitude aware! Your JM will not help with altitude clues, and may try to distract you. Do not let him! Remember - the pull is lower than previous dives. You have more time between "no more manuevers" and the pull. During the track, be sure to pick a point on the ground to track towards so you don't track in a circle. Expect the unexpected. This is your final dive as a student, and your JM will be testing you to see if you can safely jump on your own. REMEMBER THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTS OF ANY SKYDIVE: PULL! PULL AT THE RIGHT ALTITUDE! PULL STABLE! LAND SAFELY UNDER AN OPEN CANOPY! Before Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7
  22. 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
  23. admin

    First Dock - Two Jumpers Make History

    The first controlled dock between a canopy pilot and a skydiver in freefall is a fact! In the skies of DeLand, Florida, around four o'clock in the afternoon on April 17th, Jari Kuosma, wearing a Skyflyer wingsuit, did a controlled dock on the ankle of Vladi Pesa who was flying his Performance Designs Velocity 84. Kuosma is the president of BirdMan, Inc. and has 2100 jumps in total, 1100 of those are wingsuit jumps. Pesa has 8,000 jumps and is an experienced canopy swoop competitor, AFF JM, tandem master, and a BirdMan instructor. Videographer Todd Sutherland, flying his Skyflyer along side of Kuosma, was there to capture the magic moment. Pesa wore a weight bag of 30 pounds; his wingloading was 3.5 to 1. His canopy risers were specially designed for this project in order to increase the speed and vertical decent of his Velocity. This was Pesa's and Kuosma's 17th attempt trying to close the gap between canopy and wingsuit. "We flew in close formation - within inches away from one another - during the last six attempts," said Kuosma, "but I had a hard time closing that final gap since I was at the edge of my Skyflyer's performance envelope." "This flight was the physically hardest of all," said Kuosma. "Unfortunately Vladi's canopy turned 180 degrees on deployment, which made him travel at a high rate of speed in the opposite direction of what we had planned. Todd and I almost lost our faith, Vladi seemed to be miles away and there was no way he was able to see us on the horizon. Just prior to break off, though, we saw each other and I just went for it." On this attempt I tried a new angle of attack. In past jumps, I had been flying above Vladi's canopy, just off the edge of his wing and arching to come down to his ankle. This time I still flew parallel to and above his canopy, but further away horizontally; I got to his ankle by doing a vertical side slide," Kuosma says. Break off was planned at 5000 feet to give Jari time to safely deploy and Vladi the chance to unlock his risers and prepare for an intense landing. "The weirdest part was looking at Jari breaking off and deploying his parachute right next to me while I was already under canopy," said Pesa. "How are the landings you wonder? - FAST !!" A Larsen & Brusgaard ProTrack recorded Jari's average vertical speed at 35mph. The two estimate their forward speed at 60-70mph. The two are planning to do more attempts in the next few days in order to get better video and still footage to show the world. It is not an easy task to capture such a unique stunt on film. "Southerland is doing a great job staying with us though," says Kuosma. Kuosma and Pesa warn jumpers to not attempt this stunt without consulting them. You can contact Kuosma at the BirdMan office, (386) 785-0800 or Pesa at (386) 801-6295. Wing Suit Discussion Forum BirdMan, Inc. Web Site
  24. Clouds can provide spectacular scenery - but what should you know about them Introduction: There is a lot to learn across your career as a skydiver. Expanding one’s brain is a process the starts right from the blocks and, if you are doing it right, never stops. Along the way there are things that you have to know in order to progress through to new levels and ratings, yet there is also things you can know that will make you a better skydiver in terms of your safety and awareness, and also contribute to your smooth and efficient progression. Parachuting from aircraft has diversified into many different disciplines - some may draw you irresistibly towards them but others you might never touch with a long stick. Regardless of how you embrace the zoom, one thing is constant and true - the weather rules over us all. Some of these disciplines have stricter parameters for operation than others - an accuracy competition has to stand down in all but the gentlest wind while hot shit canopy pilots are unhampered buy much more, whereas low cloud might keep all matters of freefall in stasis while the swoopy types can still get their kicks from within sight of the ground. We can all benefit from taking a little time to understand more about how the weather works. You don’t need to become an expert - but the further on your brain gets from it being either ‘too windy’ or ‘not too windy’ the better. At the very least, investing in a bit of knowledge will make you more interesting to talk to when everyone is standing around looking up at the sky and bitching about the conditions. It might also save your life. Visibility is important Student Status: When you are brand new to skydiving the dividing line between too windy and yahoo giddy up is positioned way over on the too windy side. The restrictions are pretty heavy to allow for safety while you are getting the hang of it so some patience is required - so this is the perfect time to embrace the learning process and seek the benefits of going above and beyond with your ambitions. Everything is new and there is a lot of it, so hoover up all that is offered. An important lesson to understand early on is that much of what is taught in skydiving in delivered with more than a smattering of opinion - and there is no shortage of those who are absolutely sure that their way is the best way and what that other guy said is horseshit. Developing a mindset of enquiry from the start will help you to filter the important information and use it properly. It is too windy for you to jump. Why is it too windy? Why is it too windy for you? It is raining. Why is it raining? Down The Road: As soon as you are out of that student getup and in your own gear then you are fair game for being quizzed in the plane by anyone else who has not bothered to find out the vital information for themselves and needs help at the last minute. It really doesn’t take a lot of effort to learn the particulars about the situation you are about to skydive into, and knowing a few simple things can make you look much more like a bad motherfucker and much less like a clueless mug. Can you identify which way is North? Do you know what the wind is doing right now both at altitude and on the ground? Continued learning is one of skydivings great gifts - everywhere you look there is always extra distance to go. Absolute clarity over Lake Balaton, Hungary Crossover Skills: If anything, skydiving is on the more forgiving side of all the sports that involve a canopy over your head. The geographical spaces we use for jumping out of planes are all different but with lots a base similarities - a runway, a few hangars where the aeroplanes sleep, a power line or two to avoid, a bar where the important drinking happens. All of skydivings sisters and cousins are much more intimately involved with the weather. If you find yourself drawn to Paragliding or BASE jumping then you will be spending a lot more time in places where the issues you can (and will) face become magnified by the terrain. The world has no shortage of those who believe that because they can perform a big bad swoop along the manicured grass then they possess the skills to fly a speed wing through a six foot gap in an alpine forest. Even a cursory glance at the incident reports will demonstrate how many accidents could have been avoided if just a little more knowledge had been applied. Skyjumps happen in a controlled environment - the perfect time to learn. Would You Like To Know More? This, and the following articles are not designed to be anything approaching comprehensive information - they are assembled to point you in the right direction by covering the main topics in a general, encouraging and hopefully entertaining way. The weather on our planet is effected by things on both the grandest scale and the most intimate - from national television channels depositing region-wide possibilities to conditions able to affect you and you alone. Part two has a look and weather in its biggest forms, such as fronts, cloud formations and upper winds. Part three focuses on more localised concerns like turbulence and thermals. Part four finishes up by pointing you toward some of the popular resources you might use to grow your brain.
  25. MissMelissa

    Line of Flight Explained

    The topic of “Line of Flight” seems to be a mysterious, yet cool term that is often misused and/or misunderstood. As a freefly load organizer and instructor, I’ve realized the lack of knowledge about this subject so I figured we can take a moment and break it down: Jump Run – the direction of flight and configuration of the plane while jumpers are exiting Line of Flight – The 3-dimensional profile of Jump Run The Line of Flight is essentially the same “line” as Jump Run, however in skydiving, the Line of Flight is discussed in terms of three-dimensional space. Next, where Jump Run begins (or the point where the first group exits) is known as “Down the Line of Flight” and where Jump Run ends (towards the last group exiting), is called, “Up the Line of Flight.” According to these illustrations, note the compass rose and which direction the plane is flying. You can determine that the plane is flying from the South, towards the North. This establishes Jump Run and Line of Flight. So, what makes this “Line of Flight” important? To avoid collisions!! Potential Collision Hazards Freefall Drifting (outside the given exit separation and given column of air) Break-Off & Opening Canopy Opening and the First 10-15 seconds On every jump, in any axis, we all experience freefall and canopy drift. (Reference http://www.melissaairheart.com/winds-aloft/) Therefore, pre-planning the spot, Jump Run, Exit Order (reference http://www.melissaairheart.com/exit-order-of-business/), and Exit Separation (reference http://www.melissaairheart.com/exit-separation-time-really-matters/) turn out to be important elements of safety for Line of Flight. Taking into consideration the day’s Jump Run, the Exit Order for the load and Exit Separation for the day’s conditions, each group (assuming they are a traditional RW, Freefly, student or Tandem group) is given a “Column of Air” for freefall. If a group is moving towards the boundaries of their given column, there now exists a potential for a collision. How does one get towards the boundaries of the column if they exited in the right Exit Order and given the appropriate Exit Separation? Example 1: New Freeflier Freefly speeds are increased from 120mph to roughly 150mph. Typically, new sit flyers have a tendency to lean forward which causes a dramatic backslide, which can cover a great distance. If that jumper is facing Up or Down the Line of Flight, they are increasing their chances of converging with another group. A solution is to have newer freefliers identify themselves in the loading area, and let others know they’ll be taking the Line of Flight into consideration. Then make sure to face perpendicular to the Line of Flight during freefall. Example 2: Break-Off To avoid collision on break off, it is suggested to track perpendicular to the Line of Flight. Let’s say there is one 4-way RW group (no video), and three 2-way freefly groups exiting from a caravan – given Exit Separation 6 seconds, Jump Run South to North, and each group exited appropriately. To assure avoiding running into groups, the 2-way freefliers are able to track perpendicular to the Line of Flight, allowing more separation between themselves and the other groups. However, in a 4-way or larger, inevitably, part of the group may track Up and Down the Line of Flight. There are 3-options to this variable: 1: The 2-jumpers tracking Up or Down the Line of Flight may reduce their tracking speed so as not exit their Column boundaries, yet still gaining an appropriate distance; and the 2-jumpers tracking off the Line of Flight do a max track to assist in maximizing group separation 2: The 4-way could adjust their break-off and off-set their trajectory by at least 45° so as to break-off, off the Line of Flight 3: The group exiting after a group of 4 (or more), leave a little extra time before exiting to account for enlarging the Column of airspace for the previous group’s need space for break off [Larger groups will absolutely need more time between groups to account for a larger distance covered on their break-off.] Note: Angled, tracking and wingsuit groups are exceptions to the “Column of Air” example as they fly in a broader airspace and need special consideration for their flight paths. This requires communication and awareness from the entire load, including the pilot. Why is Line of Flight important for canopy? Example 1: Canopy’s Flight Path The canopy’s forward movement after opening still increases the distance towards the boundaries of the prior or previous group’s Column of Air. Therefore, after ensuring a functioning canopy, it’s important to fly OFF the Line of Flight for approximately 10-15 seconds after opening. In theory, you should be able to look Up the Line of Flight and see the group after you breaking off or just opening; and look Down the Line of Flight and identify the group Down the Line of Flight under canopy and slightly below (depending on opening altitudes). Example 2: Landing Area and Opening Point This will vary depending on Jump Run’s direction, surface winds, freefall drift, etc. However, if the landing Target Area is under Group 3 shown in the next Illustration, then Group 1 and 2 will have to fly Up the Line of Flight. If you find yourself in Group 1 or 2’s situation, fly off the Line of Flight and identify the groups that exited after you before you fly to the the Holding Area and Landing Pattern. Try this at home: 1. Figure out Line of Flight (or Jump Run) for the day’s conditions and identify landmarks for specific directions 2. Make sure you note if your group is drifting up or down the Line of Flight; then assure you track accordingly 3. After deployment and opening checks, fly your canopy off the Line of Flight (if safe to do so) for 10-15 seconds. 4. Identify a safe flight path to Holding Area and Landing Pattern Another great resource is USPA’s Power Point presentation on “Canopy Collisions” found here http://www.uspa.org/USPAMembers/Downloads/tabid/84/Default.aspx (scroll towards bottom, under “Miscellaneous” topics. There are always exceptions to the norm and many variables. Therefore, maintain awareness and use your best judgement in each situation. Note: If this does not make sense, please consult an instructor at your Drop Zone for further explanation. This is not meant to be a sole training tool for skydiving or parachute flying. Full instructional methods will be provided at your skydiving school. Drawings are not to scale