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Found 272 results

  1. admin

    Monkey around with Monkey Claw

    The Monkey Claw Freefly Team and Freefly School had a busy 2001 season and it preparing for an even busier 2002 season. The Monkey Claw Freefly Team is based at Skydive Cross Keys, in Williamstown, New Jersey. The Team consists of Glen "Stuey" Newman, Tim Miller, Adam Rosen, Heath Richardson and Bert Navarette. They train at their home DZ and run a school where they instruct freefly students of all levels. On a regular basis they load organize freeflyers of all skill levels at Cross Keys. The 2001 season included their Annual Monkey Jams over the Memorial Day and Labor Day holiday weekends. At these events freeflyers travel from across the globe to participate in big ways, tracking dives, tube dives as well as some one on one coaching with Monkey Claw. Every night there is plenty to entertain the hundreds of skydivers registered for the event. There is free food, free beer and fun activities that are always kept a secret until the last moment. Last year someone lit himself on fire (this year it was on purpose), there was a bungee racetrack and a psycho swing. All of the other amenities at Cross Keys are available as well, the Long Delay Café, the Tiki Bar, the swimming pool and the Booze Cruise. Away from Cross Keys the Team traveled to many events and DZ's for coaching and load organizing. Some of the places included Lost Prairie, Quincy, Skydive Delmarva and Chicagoland. Chicagoland will also be the home of the first Monkey Claw Satellite School run by Brandon Park with visits from the rest of the team throughout the summer. New for this season Skydive Cross Keys has its own fleet of aircraft's for all jumpers. At Cross Keys you have your choice of jumping from a Caravan, Skyvan, Super Otter, Biplane, Helicopter and of course a Cessna. Square 3 is located right on the DZ for all of you equipment needs. There are hot showers, bathrooms and plenty of camping areas on the premises. The Long Delay Café keeps jumpers fed throughout the day and the beach, Tiki Bar and Swimming pool are located right next to the landing area. The Team just returned from the 2nd Freefall Festival in Puerto Rico where they were coaching and load organizing throughout the boogie. Over 200 skydivers from around the world attended the event and records were broken for number of registrants, loads flown and skydives made. For the upcoming season the calendar is still being put together. Of course there will be the annual Memorial Day and Labor Day Monkey Jams and the theme for the first Jam has already been chosen. The team will be traveling to Chicagoland as well as Lost Prairie for the Voodoo Rendezvous. There are a lot of other events that are still being finalized at the moment. If you want to learn more about Monkey Claw you can visit their website at www.monkeyclaw.com. At the site you can find photos, videos, a list of events and you can contact the members for more information. Adam Rosens Monkey Claw GalleryAll photos by: Adam Rosen
  2. admin

    Understanding Camera Switches

    Introduction Taking photos while skydiving is easier today than it has ever been, yet doing the job properly remains serious business. Camera technology marches ceaselessly forwards, and while the gap between the products aimed at the casual consumer and the lofty professional is narrowing - any freefall photographer that considers themselves proper job will very likely rock a stand-alone stills camera as part of their setup. Try as you might - you will never be this cool. Action cameras are great. Their small size, plus both the features they present and the quality of media they capture make them highly useful for everything from skydiving to attaching to your cat to find out where it goes at night. However - any occasion you have to directly compare the images recorded by these teeny wonders with those of a more traditional camera will highlight the superior quality a dedicated stills unit has to offer. The exponentially multiplying capacity of digital memory means that with a GoPro or whatever, you can just set it going at some point before the start of your jump, forget all about it until at least ten minutes after you finish packing then sift through an ungodly amount of chaff later in search of the choicest shots to share about the place. Everybody knows this is cheating though, and that photos created serendipitously by a piece of gadgetry that happens to be attached to your forehead is not your work - but is in fact the subtotal of all human endeavour leading up to this exact point, where you got lucky. A stills camera is the tool of the craftsperson and must be activated manually when something awesome happens. There are a few choices available for this, all of which involve using your mouth to activate the camera and get the job done. As with a lot of things in skydiving, people sometimes feel very passionately about what they believe to be correct tool for the job and will offer to fight you to the death for besmirching their good word by thinking differently - and camera switches are no exception. While all pretty straightforward to operate, they each have some subtle strengths and weaknesses so a little forethought might help you arrive at what is best for you. This man is called Trunk. Trunk runs a company called GetHypoxic. If you are building a camera platform or simply wish to geek out about skydiving technology - this is your guy. Bite Switch The bite switch is either straight or L-shaped with a section somewhere in the middle that you hold between (specifically) your front teeth and bite softly to operate. The Good: Good Feedback: Of the choices available a bite switch provides the most satisfying little clicks to reassure you that you are getting shit done. The Bad: - Head Movement: Operating a bite switch involves moving your jaw a little bit to bite down, which can put a visible wiggle in your framing - particularly if you are capturing video. - Moisture. If you eventually chew through the plastic casing, condensation or saliva can get inside and short out the connections. Blow Switch The blow switch is a small unit about the size of your thumb that you mount to the outside of your helmet. The part that goes into your mouth is a straw-like tube that you blow into to activate the camera. The Good: - Durability. With no wires and such directly in your mouth there are fewer parts that are subject to moisture or wear, and you cannot damage it by biting too much. The Bad: - Low Feedback. With nothing that clicks actually pressing against any part of your mouth you do not receive any direct indication of operation from the device itself. - Breathing. The action of blowing into a tube to depress the button can potentially disrupt your breathing, and vice-versa - having to breathe at some point can interrupt your photo taking. - Gunk. Clean it, you filthy animal. Tongue Switch The tongue switch is usually L-shaped. You grip it between your teeth wherever it feels most comfortable and depress a little button with the tippy end of your tongue. The Good: - Separate Actions. By holding the switch with one part of your mouth and operating the button with another, this option has a sensible tactile nature. - Flexibility. You can hold this switch anywhere amongst your teeth that feels right for you. The Bad: - Due to the available mobility, the internal wiring can wiggle loose and the switch possibly wear out over time. - Moisture. As with the bite switch - if you eventually chew through the plastic casing, condensation or saliva can get inside and short out the connections. - Hilarity. If you use a tongue switch you will quickly grow very, very tired of jokes about your increased sexual powers - from pretty much everybody. A tongue switch and a bite switch respectively. Photographed on a moist houseplant. This is me. The truth is that all these devices work perfectly well. I have a tongue switch now because I have always had a tongue switch. I don’t remember why that was my choice and yet I see no reason to change it. Every now and then someone will tell me it is a worthless piece of shit good only for the bin, yet I rarely miss a photo. There is immense satisfaction to be found in ‘getting the shot’ and if you are serious about the role of aerial photographer a good stills camera is essential. High pressure situations like freefall turn small issues into bigger ones, and although just a small element your mouth switch is an important piece of your camera helmet. One that works well for your needs over something not-quite-right can be the crucial difference between kicking ass or not kicking ass much more often than you think.
  3. How do you perform a canopy controllability check? What happens if you flare too high? How do you prevent that? What is your decision altitude? What does that term mean? How do you recognize a good canopy? How do you get the slider down if it's stuck partway up? How do you deal with closed end cells? How do you fix line twist? How do you use your reserve if you need it? How do you handle a horseshoe malfunction? How can you avoid losing sight of your reserve handle during a cutaway? What do you do if you’re in the plane and your jumpmaster tells you "BAIL OUT ON YOUR MAIN?" What do you do if your parachute deploys prematurely in the plane? How can you prevent this from happening? If you find yourself still in freefall and the altimeter needle is in the red, what do you do? If you're in freefall, and you're unstable but you're still above 5000 feet, how do you get stable again? If you find yourself in freefall at 5000 feet and you're unstable, what do you do? What do you do if two canopies are out? How do you control them? When would you cut one away? What would you do if the pilot chute goes over the front edge of the canopy? How do you handle a hard-to-pull main ripcord? If you start having some kind of serious problem during the freefall, how do you stop the skydive? If you see your jumpmaster pull, what does that indicate? What do you do if you can't find the main ripcord? How do you steer your canopy? How do you flare it? How is your reserve canopy different from your main? How do you collapse your canopy after landing to avoid being dragged? How do you prepare for a landing in trees? Rough terrain? Water? How do you determine wind direction? What direction should you land in with relation to the wind? How do you find the landing area? What do you do if you realize you will not be able to make it back to the landing area? What is the hand signal for pull? Check-altitude? Legs-out? Hips-down? Relax? What is your pull altitude on this dive? What are the manuevers you'll be expected to perform on this dive? IF YOU DON'T KNOW THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS, ASK A JUMPMASTER BEFORE YOU JUMP! REMEMBER, YOUR SAFETY IS IN YOUR HANDS.
  4. nettenette

    You Know Nothing About Seatbelts - Part 2

    A Seatbelt’s Job Goes Beyond The Crash Think your seatbelt only helps you when the metal hits the dirt? Nope. The magic of seatbelts goes far beyond the prevention of injuries and fatalities during actual impacts. Seatbelts also help the plane fly better and move more safely during maneuvers, sometimes preventing that impact from even occurring. The first way seatbelts do this is by helping to moderate the weight and balance of the aircraft. Limiting the numbers of jumpers on board to the number of seatbelts limits the risk of overloading the plane, which we all know is a bad scene (slower acceleration, sloth-like climb, stall danger due to higher stall speed, and the like). It also keeps the wiggly weight of the passengers pinned in place, helping the pilot maintain control. Take an example. One day, a Cessna 205 aircraft ran out of fuel just after takeoff from Celina, Ohio. (Everyone on board--the pilot and five parachutists--perished in the incident, so witness reports and NTSB investigation reports are all we have to explain what happened.) DiverDriver.com explains that, of the witnesses that reported hearing the airplane during climbout, each “described smooth engine noise, brief ‘sputtering,’ and then a total loss of engine power. The airplane descended straight ahead at the same pitch attitude, then the nose dropped, a parachutist exited, and the airplane entered a spiraling descent.” That first jumper left from the student position--as the door was under the wing and not in the rear like the Cessna U206. His exit abruptly shifted the weight aft, rendering the aircraft uncontrollable. Two more jumpers attempted to exit. The all three jumpers who exited the aircraft were unable to deploy parachutes. Everyone left in the aircraft perished in the violent resulting crash. Another sacred duty of the seat belt: to help the pilot maintain precious, tenuous drabs of control during violent maneuvers in the lower end of the altitude spectrum. Belts hold skydivers in place during the top-gun shit that pilots have to pull sometimes in order to avoid mid-air-collisions, stopping meat from rattling around the cabin and coming down unbalanced. Note: As skydivers. we’re at pretty serious risk for these, because this kind of incident is statistically most likely to happen in the crowded, lackadaisically-controlled airspace around the small airports we tend to frequent. When two planes go head-to-head, pilots are taught to pull power and dive to the right--which slams un-belted jumpers right up into the ceiling. The landing is a mystery, but if too many of them land too far aft, the airplane will be unbalanced, stall and spin. Whee. Ugh. “Sure,” you say, “But that shit hardly ever happens.” Au contraire. In the next installment, we’ll take a look at the long list of recent incidents you haven’t even heard about--and meditate on the totally-coulda-been-you aspect of the thing.
  5. nettenette

    You Know Nothing About Seatbelts - Part 4

    You Gotta Do It Right, Every Time Lead image by skydivegirlpl In the Frankenstein world of skydiving aircraft--where the original innards have been ripped out and kinda-sorta replaced here and there with lighter components--we’ve had to rethink this whole “seatbelts” thing with an eye to minimalism and ease of use. (For contrast, check out the amount of webbing with which aerobatic pilots festoon themselves.) In almost every case, skydiving has had to invent new procedures to maximize the utility of restraints while lacking the backing support of a seat. Hear this, dear readers: These “new procedures” vary in effectiveness. Very few skydivers are properly educated. The details matter. Belts for Benchwarmers Are you sitting in a comfy, capacious aircraft with side benches? Lucky you! You can enjoy the proven-safest restraint configurations available to modern skydiving. Hooray! The reason that lap belts should only be used by side-facing skydivers is that they are maximally effective when there is a solid support surface behind the occupant: a seat back, an aircraft sidewall or a bulkhead. (A particularly burly swooper doesn’t count.) Already bored and sure you know how this lap belt thing goes? Hold up. Did you know that you should be routing your lap belt between your main lift web and body when you’re sitting on a side bench?** “Whoa,” you say. “This means that the restraint belt does not simply go over the top of my glorious lap, as I am used to.” You, dear reader, are correct in that observation. Routing the male end of the lap belt between your belly and main lift web as it’s on its way to the latch on the other side is the way to go. It’s proven to make you less likely to slide out of it in the slippery, bucket-seatless context of a jump plane. Restraints For Floor Folks If you’re on the floor, this is your huckleberry: A single Hooker belt, wrapped around a single hip, close to the ring. These aren’t as good as the big-plane lap belts, because single-side belts have a disconcerting tendency to impose massive, twisting, sideways loads on a jumper's spine. There’s also a huge flail arc for the head, which can result in significantly reduced thinking for the rest of the jumper’s natural life. That said: if it comes down to it, at least your meat stays put, inside the plane, and you don't end up suffocating your buddies at the front of the cabin. “What fresh hell,” you are probably wondering, “Is a Hooker belt?” Calm down--you’ve totally seen one. A Hooker belt is what we call single-point skydiver restraints. They’re ‘Hooker belts’ because they were invented by Jack Hooker. (If you recall, we mentioned him earlier in this series; he’s the fellow who developed restraints in response to the multiple-fatality crash in Hinckley, Illinois that claimed many of his friends.) To see how it’s done, take a little journey with me back to nineteen-ninety-something, when the FAA last took photos for its Sport Parachuting Advisory Circular. Play some Ace of Base and put your hair up in a side ponytail so the photos aren’t so jarring, then take a look. 1. Sit close to the attachment point, facing the back of the plane. 2. Pass the male end of the restraint under the upper part of the leg strap closest to the attachment point. 3. Pass it under the main lift web*. 4. Latch it close to the hip ring. 5. Aim to sit so you have a 45-degree angle between the point the restraint attaches to you and where it attaches to the floor. 6. Tighten until there is little slack. The more slack you have, the further you will travel before impacting something in the cabin in a no-bueno manner. A short leash also minimizes twisting and flail arc. Once you’ve got those methods down, it’s not over. There are a few more points to keep in mind, besides: Restraints don’t work if you can slide out. Ask the jumper who was ejected out the left door during a forced landing in Oklahoma. She was sitting with her back to the pilot and the belt only over her lap. Routing it through the harness would have kept her inside the plane, which is an excellent place to be when the plane is bouncing and crunching all over the ground. Beware the leg-strap-only method. In a tiny plane? Tempted to just tug a belt through your leg strap and fuhgettaboutit? Think twice. Crash tests have proven that single point, single tether restraints are not very effective. The direction you’re facing is actually important. Research has shown that, in order for the restraints to work properly, parachutists must face the tail (“aft”). Never ever ever share a restraint with another skydiver. Everyone on the aircraft needs to be secured individually. Yes, this is just as true for tandems. Tandem students should never be restrained by just clipping to the tandem instructor. If the tandem instructor is incapacitated during a crash, the student cannot unhook. This has killed at least one tandem student in Australia (by drowning). Don’t double up. You must have a single point of detachment to begin egress*** in an emergency. Panicky flailing, fear, fire and smoky visual impairment can all play into the ability to get out. Two attachment latches is one too many to work out in that kind of environment, as has been proven over and over again. Curb your camera. In the event of an impact, make no mistake--your flimsy little G3 is a projectile weapon, as is every loose bit and/or bob that’s rattling around your person. The length of a Twin Otter is plenty of space for them to reach ramming speed. Don’t let them get the opportunity. Leave your chest strap the hell out of this. Chest buckles are only rated for 500 pounds, while most other harness buckles are rated for five times that. If it does hold, it’ll flail you around like a demented cowboy misusing a lasso. Been in a cra...uh, forced landing? Get your gear checked out. Even though it’s a key part of how we protect ourselves from aircraft oopsies, a parachute harness was developed for deceleration from freefall, not partnering up with a restraint belt. Most manufacturers have not tested their harness configurations to see how they weather the jangling, multi-directional abuse of a forced landing. If you’ve been in a plane that’s gone down unexpectedly, send your rig to a rigger to check its airworthiness. The “tight cabin” theory simply ain’t true. Tightly packed loads do no better than their emptier counterparts during forced landings. The only thing that will protect you is a restraint system, not being shoved in like a sardine. You’re not buckling up for yourself. If you take one thing away from all this talk of restraints, remember this: When you do up that belt, it’s not for you. It’s for everybody you might crush if that plane smashes in. It’s for everybody you might fall on from the apex of your surprised-face zero-g levitation to the cabin roof. It’s for the pilot, who needs to be able to count on a certain balance of weight when shit is actively hitting the fan. And it’s for your friends--so they don’t have to stand around a bonfire in tears, wondering how to prevent it all from happening again. * The main lift web is the vertical part of the front of the harness--the webbing that your cutaway and reserve handles live in.
  6. bryanburke

    When Right is Wrong

    By Bryan Burke, Safety and Training Advisor Image by Serge Shakuto In March of 2017 I posted a review of a canopy collision that took place at Skydive Arizona on December 30, 2016. The post included two videos, one shot by a participant in the collision and one shot by an outside observer. The videos make it pretty clear what happened and I hoped they would spur discussion about traffic management. If you have not read the thread in the Incidents Forum and watched the videos it might be helpful to do so before reading on. Before going on, though, let me caution the readers about a few things. One, some of the comments to my post are stated in a way that suggests the commentator knew what was actually going on in the heads of the two who collided. We don't know, and this kind of baseless assertion seriously diminishes the usefulness of the Forum. Two, if you watch closely there was traffic to both right and left of the overtaking canopy. Lens distortion makes it hard to know just where it was in the final seconds before the collision, but it may have affected the decision making of the top canopy pilot. We could argue endlessly about whether or not the top pilot could have avoided the collision. The fact is that he did not come up with a solution to the problem fast enough to avoid it. Three, the landing area is tight even without heavy traffic. Nevertheless, this collision could have occurred anywhere because it essentially was caused by one parachute turning into the path of another, which is the ultimate cause of almost every canopy collision. Finally, Skydive Arizona does have a lot of guidelines because we have a lot of visitors from drop zones that apparently don't. Breaking the rules isn't a grounding offense in most situations. In this particular case I doubt if either collision participant was actively thinking about those guidelines. In all likelihood the bottom jumper let established habits override the guidelines, and the other was trying to deal with that. I found it worrisome that several people staunchly defended the concept that "Low Canopy has Right of Way" overrides all other considerations under canopy. In this case the low canopy was almost entirely responsible for the collision and the event never would have occurred if that person had flown in a safe, predictable manner. I want to review the concept of Right of Way and challenge whether it is even a useful or safe idea to teach in skydiving when expressed as an absolute. If we are going to retain the concept we need to understand the origins and the exceptions. Technically the term Right of Way has nothing to do with navigation by boat, car, parachute, or other conveyance. It is a legal term to describe access to property. For example, if my land is surrounded on all sides by someone else's land, I can be granted a legal Right of Way to my land. Similarly, if tradition allows the public to cross private land at a specific place, a Right of Way exists. At some point the phrase was adopted to nautical traffic, although technically the proper phrasing is "give way" as "In situation X, vessel 1 gives way to vessel 2." But to be absolutely clear, the rules about who gives way in traffic have a lot of exceptions, all based on common sense. Ultimately they are intended to minimize confusion and de-conflict traffic problems, but they are not in any way absolute rules. Here are some examples: A powered vessel gives way to a sailing vessel. Unless the powered vessel is actively fishing, or needs a deep channel that the sailboat does not. And any sailor with an iota of experience and common sense knows that sailing a yacht in front of a massive container ship is a sure way to be run down, regardless of your unpowered status. Between two sailboats, the default rule is that a vessel on a port tack gives way to one on a starboard tack. For those who aren't sailors, that means if the wind is coming over your left side, you give way to a boat that has the wind coming over its right side. In fact this is probably where the phrase "right of way" comes from because the boat on the starboard tack is to the right of a line drawn back to front through the boat on the port tack, and vice versa. Eventually this was applied to cars: if two cars were approaching a crossroads, the one to the right had ‘right of way.’ Obviously this didn't work very well with cars, or we would not need four-way stop signs or roundabouts. But for the purposes of this discussion, we're much more like sailboats than we are like cars or powerboats. To further confuse things, if we go back to sailing there are many more exceptions to the rule. A windward vessel gives way to leeward. Shallow draft gives way to deep draft in a narrow channel. An overtaking vessel gives way to the slower vessel, ideally passing to the rear if they are on different courses. But most importantly for applying these guidelines to skydiving, the vessel being overtaken is obliged to maintain course and speed, or if it must maneuver, clearly signal its intention! Parallels in skydiving would be that a canopy over open area should give way to one over obstacles, higher to lower, and so on. But regardless of the guidelines, it is understood that the root rule is all flight in the landing pattern must be predictable! Without predictable flight no set of guidelines or rules can prevent collisions. This collision came down to that: an unnecessary and unpredictable turn into the path of an overtaking canopy. Let's also get over the idea that all parachutes are similar in handling characteristics and therefore a blanket rule can keep them safely separated. For example, USPA asks Group Member Drop Zones to separate "high performance" landings from - presumably - ordinary landings. What does that mean? A Valkyrie at 2.4 on a straight approach is going as fast as a Sabre 2 at 1.2 coming out of a 180. It's too much to ask skydivers to sort themselves by canopy type, wing loading, and flying style other than by a general designation of high performance landing areas. In Skydive Arizona's case, we limit one landing area to turns of 90 or less, and nowhere do we allow turns over 180. (Except when the jumper exits on a pass dedicated to HP landing.) However, we do ask that people refrain from S turns or flying at an angle across the final approach. This is something we should expect of everyone, and if everyone does it, there should be minimal problems with a fast parachute finding a clear lane next to a slow parachute. In the collision in question, the low parachute failed in the most basic of navigation duties: maintain course and speed and make your intentions clear. This is a cultural issue. Older skydivers or those taught by older skydivers may have been taught that right-of-way is absolute, taught without the essential caveat “maintain course and speed, make intentions clear.” It may also involve drop zone culture; wide open DZs without much traffic seem to neglect canopy control skills and DZs where people don't travel much may spend little time teaching their jumpers what to look out for when they visit a big DZ. We used to teach people to fly in deep brakes and perform S turns to fine tune their landing point. Now we know this is dangerous in traffic and we don't teach it any more. There is no reason a big seven cell can't safely land in the same area as a tiny, ultra-high performance canopy, but not when using obsolete rules of the road. The low person does not have the right to turn into the path of an overtaking canopy, period. Finally, low or high, never assume you know where all the traffic is. The assumption you should make is that there is overtaking traffic above and behind, in your blind spot, and you must fly predictably to minimize the chances of them colliding with you.
  7. Norman Kent is not only one of the leading skydive photographers, but he is also an advocate for safety relating to freefall photography and the use of mounted cameras within skydiving. Norman has been jumping with a camera since the mid-70s when at only 25 jumps, he strapped on a Kodak Instamatic. Over the past 40 since, Norman has established himself as a leader in the skydiving photography world and is a well respected member of the community. In the past, we've run several articles relating to the safety of camera usage. In 2013, Melissa Lowe published a piece titled "Hey Bro, Check Out My GoPro" which tackled the topic and included conversation with Norman Kent over the potential safety issues of the camera. Since that time, the popularity of action camera use in extreme sports has skyrocketed, with more and more individuals focus being shifted towards the media capture side of the jump. Norman Kent has released a new video on his Youtube channel titled "Dangers of Being a Hero", in which he addresses and revisits some of the topics relating to action cam safety. In the video Norman runs through several series of video which illustrate just how easy it is for snagging to occur on the camera, and continues to express how despite the fact that many people feel as though the risks are exaggerated, that the incidents are occurring, even if only rarely has it thus far resulted in death or injury. "It's not the equipment itself, it's the attitude of 'it's only a GoPro'" Norman Kent continues on in the video to look at alternate mounts that can be used to minimize snag potential and further ways in which one may be able to increase their safety when flying under a camera.
  8. nettenette

    Highway To The Dangerzone

    Image by Lukasz Szymanski Headin' into twilight Spreadin' out her wings tonight She got you jumpin' off the deck And shovin' into overdrive... When I was learning to wingsuit, I sang it in my helmet. Every time. True story. Anyway. We can all agree that -- in addition to fun, of course -- skydiving is about pushing personal limits and building personal skillsets. We might also agree that skydiving is not necessarily about putting yourself directly in the path of actual mortal danger. There are inherent risks (and, if we’re being honest, we kinda love them), but we don’t love the idea of spending a couple of seasons healing up from a broken pelvis. Right? Right. There are multiple danger zones in skydiving, and it’s actually something of an autobahn -- in that there are no posted speed limits to reach them. To put it another way: most of them exist as much for brand-new skydivers as well as battle-worn multiple national champions. As a skydiver, it’s important to take these just as seriously, no matter how much of a n00b or dropzone hero you might be. Danger Zone 1: Meat-Based Collisions If you’re not flying on proper level with a group, you’re officially in Danger Zone 1. Flying on level keeps you out of the broken-bone zone if a member of the group suddenly corks or prematurely deploys. It keeps you out of pesky burbles, and it helps you keep meaningful awareness of where everybody else is flying around you. Invest in the coaching that will help you get (and stay) on level in formations of any kind. Also important: don’t just fly on level. Fly on-heading. Off-heading collisions hurt more than same-heading collisions. And never risk a 180-degree collision, even if you’re totally sure there’s nobody on your six -- it’s just not worth it. Danger Zone 2: Nylon-Based Collisions Once you’re dangling from your fabric, you have another danger zone to contend with: potentially crowded skies. According to the USPA, the most likely moments you’ll veer into oopsie territory here are: a) right after deployment and b) after entering the pattern. Instead of putting yourself in a place where you’re nimbly avoiding (or tragically not-avoiding) other jumpers at close quarters, be smart about it. Break off from other jumpers with room to spare. Create horizontal and vertical distance from everybody else in the sky (including the guy who’s almost certainly lurking behind you). Finally, keep your head on a swivel -- especially during that troublesome base-to-final bit, where everybody will be trying their best to kill you. Danger Zone 3: The Basement The basement is the biggest, baddest danger zone there is. It is, after all, where the ground lives. The ground is a monster that’s just waiting for you to stop paying attention because it wants to eat you. You’re going to enter this danger zone every time -- there’s no avoiding it. When you do enter it, you’re going to want to be under a canopy you’re controlling, over a landable bit of dirt, with a plan that accommodates as few obstacles as possible. This means that you must get that first canopy out at an altitude at which a second canopy is an option. It means that you must make sure that your equipment is maintained to prevent preemie brake releases. It means that you must either avoid or manage the hell out of low turns. And it means you’re going to need to know how to land that thing in water. The ground is waiting for you to make a mistake -- and it’s hungry. So, if you happen to be on the highway to the danger zone, try taking the next exit. Most people will indeed say hello to you, even if you never get it on the red line overload. I promise.
  9. RushCube

    Overcome Skydiving Fears

    Your palms are sweating, stomach turning…no this isn’t a scene from the movie 8 Mile this is your first skydive jump, but don’t worry we’ve all been there. We understand the gut that it takes to make that first jump, and we take every tandem jump seriously, first-timer or not, so RushCube put together our “5 Ways To Overcome Skydiving Fears” 1. SEE FEAR FOR WHAT IT ACTUALLY IS. It’s all in your head. You’ve heard the saying “FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real” and that’s what your concerns are. Statistically skydiving is safer today than it’s ever been. 2. THE BIGGER PICTURE What seems like a couple of minutes is actually a life-changing moment that YOU experienced, a fear that you overcame and no one can take that from you. Who knows this could be the start to a list of fears you overcome. 3. BE PROACTIVE Take that fear/negative energy and use it as fuel to push forward. Like to be in control? Ask as many questions as you need, remember your safety is our number 1 concern. Why not volunteer to help pilot the canopy, taking your mind off of fear. 4. BRING YOUR FRIENDS What’s more relaxing than some familiar faces along your journey, who’s knows you might be overcoming a fear together. 5. ALL IS CALM You more you know the more at peace you’ll be so do some research before heading out. While at the drop zone you’ll notice many skydivers on their phones, packing (para)chutes, or eating a sandwich, but none will be nervous this is because they all did their research and paid attention to the instructors. Again your safety is our concern. Skydiving is the most adrenaline-packed sport that there is. Nothing is more exciting than taking that first step off of the plane. After the parachute is open and you take a deep breath, you’ll have a moment to realize what you have just accomplished, and a few minutes to enjoy a breathtaking view. These moments are what fuels our passion. More Articles Found @ http://rush-cube.blogspot.com/
  10. nettenette

    How To Organize Your Sky

    7 Expert Tips For New Skydivers to Get the Most Out of Load Organizers Remi Aguila organizing a festive Christmas-boogie jump at Skydive Arizona Photo by Alex Swindle The portrait wall next to manifest is confusing for a brand-new skydiver. Who are all those people, anyway, with the smiling faces and the discipline names printed in all-caps underneath them? What’s an “Organizer,” really? If you don’t know the etiquette, it can be a little daunting to get on those loads without fear of a forehead-slapping faux pas. New skydivers, make no mistake: you are invited. Remi Aguila has been organizing belly jumps at one of the biggest, busiest dropzones in the US – Skydive Arizona – since around 2008. Since then, he has organized thousands of skydives for jumpers of all levels, nationalities, aptitudes and proclivities. You can be certain he’s seen your kind before. Here’s what he says you need to know to have a successful experience in the organized sky. 1. Don’t be shy. “Newbies have this tendency to find me in the bar after the day is over and say that they wanted to get on a jump but that they didn’t want to intrude; didn’t want to ‘ruin the skydive.’ That’s missing the point entirely, guys. If there are organizers on your drop zone, go talk to them. Maybe the jumps they’ve currently got going aren’t a great match for your skill level, but a good organizer will find a way to get you in. Most organizers will be happy to split groups into smaller factions that fit more of the jumpers’ goals. They’ll be happy to design a jump for people with less experience – but you have to ask.” 2. Know who you’re talking to. “An organizer is not the same thing as a coach. An organizer’s job is really to get people jumping, and to make sure that people who want to jump with other people can find somebody to jump with. Organizers exist because, even though there’s a lot of casual organizing that goes on between jumpers, most people like – to a certain degree – to be told what to do. An official organizer can facilitate that without being too authoritarian, but still the presence of an organizer on a jump puts a nice bit of structure into the mix. A dropzone representative usually hires the organizers at any given DZ. Basically, that hiring manager looks for people that hold a coach rating, that demonstrate skill in their chosen discipline, that have a friendly attitude and that show a solid record of experience in smaller formations. (Most organizers end up doing between two- and eight-way jumps.) Don’t get tripped up by the specter of compensation, either. I have never been on a drop zone where somebody who was called an organizer was expected to be paid by the jumpers. There may be some out there; I don’t know. However, I have been jumping for 25 years, and I have never come across a dropzone where somebody who was called a load organizer was expected to be paid directly by the jumpers. At boogies, you generally pay an extra fee to cover the load organizers in general, but you won’t be paying for slots or paying organizers as you would a coach.” 3. Communicate clearly. “You need to start the conversation; the organizer probably won’t approach you first. When you do, introduce yourself confidently. Tell the organizer your skill level and your experience. Tell them what you want to learn. I don’t personally know a single organizer that’s going to turn a newbie away out-of-hand. They may, however, tell them that – at the moment, at least – there are too many people on a given jump, or that the jump sits outside of their current abilities, and it wouldn’t be appropriate for them. That said: if you’ve made it clear that you’re new and you’re looking for a jump you can join, then you’ll be on their radar.” 4. Get the timing right. “Where I jump – at Skydive Arizona, in Eloy – showing up on a weekday is your best bet if you’re fresh off student status. It’s a lot less busy, and organizers will more often have the time to do one-on-ones or two-on-ones with new jumpers. You may even get lucky and score some free one-on-one, non-structured coaching from them, whether that’s belly or freefly. Personally, I think that’s a great way to get some foundational experience. For instance: If it is a very quiet day and somebody approaches me, I’ll certainly ask what their experience level is, but it’s not going to be a deciding factor as to whether or not I’ll jump with them. If we’re doing one-, two- or three-ways, it doesn’t really matter what the experience level of the person is. They’re going to get on the jump, and they can expect much more feedback than they’d receive on a busier day.” 5. Be honest. “As an organizer, it’s important for me to get a realistic idea of a jumper’s skill level and general awareness level. When you tell me how many jumps you have, I need you be honest about it. If you have 20 jumps, say you have 20 jumps. There’s no point in misrepresenting yourself. If you have 20 jumps and 3 hours in the tunnel, be clear about that. Jump numbers are no longer the absolute measure they used to be, with the introduction of tunnels. However, somebody with 20 skydives is going to have a different skill and awareness level than someone with 200.” 6. Be open. “If you’re a brand-new skydiver, there’s a good chance that you don’t know what you want to do on the jump. A good organizer will have a few basic jumps that are two-ways and three-ways that are ready-made for people that don’t have a lot of experience. These tend to be kind of coachish and workshop basic skills. That’s what really you should be doing at this point. For these jumps, we tend to focus on basic turns, slides and levels. The aim is to keep it fun, but also to add factors that build on the basic freefall skills: like procedures for exiting the plane and for separation. Some people expect a full-on coach experience, and other people just expect a smile and a high-five. I advise shooting for the middle of that scale.” 7. Ask for feedback. “Immediately after the jump, approach your organizer for a quick debrief. This is key to your development as a skydiver. Make it specific: ‘What do you think I should improve? What do you think went well? What do you think didn’t go well?’ This debrief may not involve video; it may just involve some basic feedback on how the exit went, what aspects you can work to improve and general notes on the jump flow. On busier days and on bigger jumps, it’s going to be a little more challenging for your organizer, because he or she might have 20 people that want notes. When that’s the case, it’s incredibly hard to give individual feedback because of the number of people we’re looking out for. Always ask. The worst an organizer could say (and I would be very surprised if they did) is that they’re sorry; that they have to run to another load. In that rare case, just brush it off and try again next time. We’re here to facilitate your experience, after all – and to help you have the most fun you can have in the sky.”
  11. admin

    Big BANG/Small Bucks

    AVCHD has exploded on the consumer and pro-sumer scene like a new star at the Oscars, and the CX100 is the newest “actor” in the AVCHD lineup from Sony. Packed into a small body measuring 2” W x 2.25” H x 4” L (including factory battery) and 2” W x 2.25”H x 5” L with the more practical NP90 battery, this small “brick” weighs in between 11 and 14 ounces, depending on the battery chosen. Short description; this camcorder is a mini-brick. The CX100 is a very small package. The lens is a 30mm thread, if you’ll be adding wide or telephoto lenses. The CX100 records a 1920 x 1080i image on a Memory Stick Pro Duo card, with record times up to 340 minutes on the included 8GB stick, but it’s more practical to record to the highest quality video in most situations, reducing recording time to approximately 40 minutes on an 8GB card, or 115 minutes on a 16GB card. There are other modes, and these are useful for recording surveillance, low motion, or even simple scenes, but for best quality, most users will likely find the 16Mbps FH mode to be the preference. Most exciting is that this camcorder brings the award-winning Exmor™ imager to the consumer world. Exmor is the heart of the professional EX-series camcorders, which have become standards in the broadcast world. What this means to consumers is a more clean image, less noise in low-light, and a smoother image overall. It’s a single .20 CMOS imager, but don’t be fooled by single and small. Technology has brought CMOS to a new level of quality that previous generations of CCD-dependent camcorders. CMOS has shown itself to be the new future of virtually all imaging devices from the very low cost cell cams to high end professional production cameras. Exmor is currently the king of small imagers. Small is the key with this camcorder. Tiny and light weight, this camcorder fits snugly into the palm. It’s very ergonomic, being curved on the right side and square on the left side. This camcorder has a manual open/close for the lens cover. The LCD panel will notify users if the Record button is engaged while the lens cover is closed. The lens housing is very simple; it’s a 30mm threaded lens with a manual lens cover. It’s a Zeiss lens, identical to lenses found on previous HDR series camcorders. Optical width (35mm equivalent) is 42mm wide zoomed in to 497mm, so the camcorder isn’t quite wide enough for action sports or close-in work, but is plenty wide for the average user. While the camcorder does offer digital zoom, like most digital zooms, it’s not terribly useful due to the small sensor sizes. It’ll work well in a pinch, on a tripod/non-moving, or in a situation where the image acquisition is more important than image quality. Exposure is controlled via menu touchscreen, as is shutter speed, although the camera does not offer full manual control. There are nine exposure modes plus an Auto mode, giving users ten options for exposure control. Two microphone ports are found beneath the lens housing. The 2.5” LCD panel flips open and rotates; there is no clasp or latch holding it in place. The panel may be closed with the screen facing out, as with all previous models in this series. This is a big preview screen and it looks terrific. The controls are very simple. There is no normal on/off switch on the camcorder; opening and closing the LCD panel turns on/off the power to the camcorder. Power can be turned off with the LCD Panel open by pressing the on/off switch found beneath the LCD panel. The buttons, levers, and ports are few on the CX100; most of the options are found in the menu options. Also found beneath the LCD panel is a one-touch Disc Burn button to burn card contents straight to a DVD via the USB connector. Next to this is found a Play button for playback modes. Even when the camcorder is in Camera mode, pressing the Play button will put the camcorder in to Playback mode. Beneath the Disc Burn button is a Display button. Pressing this button once turns off most of the displayed information, thus allowing more of the preview screen to be seen. Pressing again turns off all display items, leaving the preview screen blank. Pressing/holding the button turns the preview off completely, thus allowing this camcorder to be used in a dark room without the LCD providing a source of light. In this mode, there is no recording indicator at all. The LCD screen is the only indication of recording; the camcorder does not have a Tally light. Next to the Display button is an “Easy button” that allows the camcorder to set all parameters of operation. Manual focus, exposure, and other modes are disabled when the Easy mode is engaged. Finally, there is a Reset button to reset all parameters of the camcorder back to factory setting. With the LCD Panel closed, the camcorder has three buttons; Record start/stop, Photo, and Zoom lever. With Record Mode enabled, the CX100 is able to take continual still photographs at a resolution up to 4Mp. However, there is a time lag between shots; expect about one still every 3 seconds, hardly fast enough for many sport photography modes. The Photo button and the Zoom lever are found on the top of the camcorder. The Photo button is a bit inconvenient if the camcorder is being held in a standard palm configuration. It fits under the index finger, but it’s hard to press the button without moving the camera during video recording. The stripped-down nature of this camcorder belies its intelligence. The camcorder is extremely smart, able to sense up to eight faces on the screen and calculate exposure based on these faces. Additionally, if the still modes are being used, the camcorder can sense smiles, and shoot automatically when it sees a smile. Now if it only had an “ugly” sensor that would prevent it from taking ugly photos, or a ‘composition’ setting that could prevent badly composed photos from being taken. Maybe in the next generation. Spot focus, spot metering, slow-shutter are all available on this camcorder, along with the previously mentioned nine exposure modes. Menus are relatively simple in this camcorder, but there are some menus the average user will want to pay attention to. There is no LANC on this (or any other file-based camcorder system. Remote control is achieved through the AV/R port. Pictured here is a HypEye D Pro control/indicator system. In the “General” menu mode (preview screen/menu button, page two under the Toolbox), there are five menu options. In this menu, Auto Shutoff, Calibration, and Power On By LCD are the important options. First, disable Auto Shutoff unless you’re okay with the camera powering down after five minutes of disuse. In the action-sports world, this is a non-starter, so disable this mode. Next, calibrate the screen for your personal finger touches. Different size fingers will touch the menu differently. Next, disable the Power On By LCD option if a remote is part of the planned operation of the camcorder. For example, when using the HypEye D Pro remote/camera indicator, the LCD panel must be opened first, then the HypEye may be enabled and will control the camcorder. If the Power On By LCD option is disabled, the HypEye D Pro will be able to turn on/off the camcorder, start/stop recording, and control functions of the camcorder while the camcorder is in a box or cage. It becomes a hands-free operation when the Power On By LCD option is disabled. If a remote on/off system is part of the operation of the CX100, be sure to go into this menu and disable the Power On by LCD option. In this same Toolbox menu, you’ll want to scroll to Page One of the menu options, and select the Face Function Set menu. Disable Face Detection, and disable Smile Shutter features. This will significantly speed the auto-focus functions of the camcorder. This same menu is where you’ll set the movie or photo modes of the camcorder. In the next menu, you’ll want to set the camcorder to record to external media, unless you’ll plan on downloading everything from the internal memory to an external hard drive. There is a huge benefit to this process; if you’ve filled or forgotten a memory stick, now you’ve got a way to record. Imagine being on a cliff wall or aircraft and realize you have no memory stick, or the stick is full. Simply switch to “Internal Memory” mode and you’ve just gained nearly 60 minutes of high-quality recording in FH mode! Be certain to enable X.V. Color in the menu for the most rich and natural colors during playback to any X.V. enabled HD display. X.V. is standard in Sony displays, but XVYcc is an up and coming standard in home video/theatre. The color information is embedded in the video stream, and having it will not harm the image of non-XV (HDMI 1.3) systems, but will be immediately apparent in XV displays. Disabling Automatic Off will be important to action sport photographers. If you need to share media, no worries. You can easily dub media from a mem stick to the internal Flash memory, or dub from the internal Flash memory out to a media stick. If Firewire has been your primary means of sharing video files, MSPD is now your transport medium for sharing video. From skateboarders to skydivers, this feature will be much loved, much appreciated, and much late in file-based recording systems. "The Sony CX100 with incredible HD quality in such a small form factor complemented by electrical stabilization and solid state media; is the best camera on the market for daily capturing skydiving and other action sports." Mark Kirschenbaum – Get Hypoxic/Skydiving Videographer Another ‘feature’ of this camcorder is the image stabilization system. For the past two years, almost all Sony models have been Optically Stabilized, or OIS. This is terrific for those that stand around with camcorders in their hands, but for those that are mounting camcorders to skateboards, helmets, aircraft struts, motorcycles, or anything else that has heavy, inconsistent vibration, OIS is a bane, not a benefit. Soft, juddery images are sometimes the result of OIS systems. The CX100 offers EIS, or Electronic Image Stabilization. Granted, for those that stand around with camcorders in their hands, EIS may not be quite as preferable, but for everyone else, EIS is golden. Action sports photographers have been begging for EIS to return to small-format camcorders. Sony has finally obliged. The bottom of the CX100 offers a metal-threaded/encased tripod mount with a removable bezel. All in all, the Sony CX100 is a dream camera for the low-budget videographer, the action sport photographer, or the independent production looking for a crash cam. At a retail of 599.00, its street price is somewhat lower, and available everywhere. In Black, Red, and Silver, there are even multiple color choices for the color-coordinated videographer/photographer. There is little to want for, given the size, weight, and cost of the CX100. The CX100 is very small, and will fit on any helmet camera mount system. Consider using gaffers tape to hold the battery if the mounting system does not support the battery bottom. Cookie Composites has announced they'll offer a box for the CX100 around the same time the camcorder ships. (pictured helmet is a Cookie Composites ROK) Weaknesses are found in the potential “oops” factor of leaving a lens cover on while using a remote, and in the opportunity to miss menu options in a hurry. Lack of audio input means extra care should be taken to capture decent sound; if a housing is used, be sure to leave an opening for audio. These are small pitfalls for the large scope of what this mini-monster brings to the table. Congratulations to Sony’s design team; in my estimation, this is the best small-format camcorder for the buck. Ever. ~dse
  12. Exit at Mother City Skydiving. Image by Christopher Teague If the long flight puts you off--or if you’re new to the whole African-continent thing--let me be the first to tell you to get over it and get down here. You’ll be so glad you did. When the skydiving season is literally cooling off in the northern hemisphere, the southern hemisphere is just heating up. And it gets good. While December-friendly dropzones in the States tend to be one-trick ponies (I’m looking at you, middle-of-the-desert DZs), their South African counterparts offer more than drafty hangars and lukewarm swimming pools for your landside entertainment. Much, much more. In fact, this author insists that every skydiver in the Northern Hemisphere should get a gear bag together and abandon bad weather for points south. (Spoiler: Sure, it’s about the jumping--but it’s about so much more than the jumping. When it comes to adventures, Africa never disappoints.) Reason #1: Trip-of-a-lifetime ways to get your boogie on. December is smack-dab in the middle of the summer boogie season in South Africa, so skydivers have even more incentive to book the trip. Skydive Mossel Bay, for instance, is planning some seriously sweet turbine-fueled freefly shenanigans for December 16-31. You can expect gold-medal coaching, all the organized jumps your fluttery little heart desires, a flurry of exotic aircraft, landing after landing on the bay’s powdered-sugar beach and a South-African-style party you’ll be talking about for years (if you register in time). If that’s not enough, point your navel at the ground and make some shapes at the belly-themed JBay Boogie, where you’ll jump with a view of the world-famous righthand pointbreak that is Jeffrey’s Bay. (Pro tip: Book both boogies and bring all your swimwear.) View of the Cape Town area, with Table Mountain, as seen from Signal Hill. Image by Bryn De Kocks If you end up in-country in November instead, don’t despair: There’s the Tonto Boogie up in Johannesburg from November 25-27. Sure, there’s no jaw-dropping ocean view--but there are plenty of planes, plenty of organizers, plenty of new friends and plenty of good vibes to make up the difference, and the “braai” (bar-b-que) is legendary AF. Reason #2: (You guessed it.) Animals. Want to wake up on the right side of the bed for a long day of jumping? Try taking a private open-air shower while listening to lions make big-kitty noises on the ridges nearby. That’s totally possible at Skydive Mossel Bay, which is just down the road from five-star safari digs at Botlierskop Private Game Reserve. If you feel like taking a coastal drive to explore around Mossel, do it with a purpose: You’re just a couple of hours from canoodling with pachyderms at the Knysna Elephant Park. African Penguins along the Western Cape coast. If you end up heading inland to do some jumping at Skydive Robertson, take a day to explore the “kloofing” (hiking) around McGregor village, where several beautiful conservation areas provide many miles of baboon-dodging along your route between the various waterfalls and bushman’s caves. And if you’re kicking around Mother City, take a long afternoon to swim with the penguins, go dassie-spotting on Table Mountain or stroll around Kirstenbosch National Botanical Gardens. (Insider tip: Don’t miss the summer concert series.) Reason #3: Chain restaurants and sorry Mexican food? Nopey nopey nope. The exchange rate is currently favorable enough to turn your dropzone food strategy into a downright white-tablecloth affair, so don’t miss the opportunity. Skydive Mossel Bay sits right next to some of the best beachside braai spots in the country, as well as a couple of standout oyster bars and several coffee shops that are well worth a visit. Skydive Robertson’s choice spot in the Robertson Wine Valley puts a posh spin on the green light, offering up dozens of tasting rooms for your boozy perusal. Then, of course, there’s Mother City Skydiving--which is less than an hour from what is (in this author’s opinion as well as the Telegraph’s) the world’s best city, replete with gastronomic stunners, artisanal cocktails served in suitably slinky venues and pop-up supper clubs. Reason #4: You’ve always wanted to. You’ve wanted to see Africa for yourself since you first saw ‘The Lion King.’ (C’mon. You know damn well that’s true.) And now, as a mostly-grown-up skydiver, you have the perfect excuse to finally go: Staying current. There’s a nice bonus, too, for the moment: With the exchange rate being what it is, your USD--or GBP, if that’s your thing--are going to go surprisingly far towards those bucket-list African adventures. (Y’know: shark diving; cheetah snuggling; dancing around with the kids in an actual-factual village.) ...So it’s settled then. I’ll see you in December up in the big, blue African sky. Right? Right.
  13. By Bryan Burke, S&TA; at Skydive Arizona I’ve been taking notes on incidents related to the risks of horizontal freefall activity. Browsing the Incidents Forum on Dropzone.com leads to some interesting information. I went through the first six pages of the Incidents Forum to mine the following data. There are eight instances in the past year where an AAD fired after a freefall collision or related incident incapacitated a jumper, and a ninth in which the victim’s fellow jumpers pulled for him. The reference date is that of the first post, not date of accident. 1: July 31, 2013. 9-way tracing (angle flying) jump, reportedly very experienced jumpers. Collision at break-off due to back tracking blind into another jumper. AAD fired. Collision injuries followed by landing injuries, including skull fractures. 113 reserve, wing loading not stated. He jumps a Velocity 90 for a main, which suggests a fairly high experience level. If we assume a typical Velocity wing loading is 1.8, that would put the reserve wing loading at 1.6. PD recommends that expert skydivers limit wing loading on the PD113R to 1.4. 2: July 15, 2013. On a tracking dive, a jumper with 1,000 jumps was hit by one with 300, hard enough to lose awareness and probably unconscious for a few seconds. Two skydivers docked AFF-style and one opened his main for him. Fortunately the main, a Crossfire 2 119, opened without incident and the jumper recovered high enough to take control and land it safely. This was a 12-way dive according to the Youtube post, but you can never see more than ten people and they are at multiple levels. The collision occurs during the early stages of the dive, as the trackers are forming up, which gave two expert jumpers the opportunity to dock on him and pull for him. Had the collision happened lower, or had the jumper not recovered to land his parachute it could have been much worse. If he is jumping a Crossfire 2 119, he probably has a pretty small reserve, too, so an AAD deployment of the reserve might not have ended well. 3: July 10, 2013. 12-way tracking dive at a boogie results in a freefall collision that knocked out one jumper. His AAD deployed the reserve (estimated at a conservative 1.1:1 wing loading). The jumper had some teeth knocked out and fractured three vertebrae, C1, C5, and T5. His reserve was reportedly distorted by line twists or perhaps a knot or line over which might have been the result of deployment on his back. He was fortunate to land in an open field. The jumper later posted that he would recover. His profile says he has 325 jumps in two years. There is no explanation of who or what caused the collision. 4: May 27, 2013. On a 3-way RW dive, an experienced jumper with 3,000 plus jumps was laying base while two other jumpers, one with about 150 jumps and one with about 100, dove out after him. The one with 150 jumps dove too aggressively (a very common mistake when learning to dive out) and collided with the experienced jumper, hitting him in the head with his legs. The experienced jumper was knocked out and stayed that way through the freefall, the AAD activation, the reserve ride, and the landing in a tree, under a reportedly conservative wing loading. The experienced jumper died, although it is not clear if from the trauma from the collision or the landing. 5: May 20, 2013. A fairly experienced jumper, last out on a tracking dive and diving hard to the formation, hit the foot of another jumper and was knocked out. The AAD deployed the reserve as designed, which was followed by a safe, unconscious landing on a PD 160R which was loaded at 1.25. A later post by the jumper himself says it was an 18-way tracking dive. His profile says 700 jumps in six years. He apparently overtook, horizontally, a jumper who was above and ahead of him and never saw the jumper he collided with. The other jumper would not have seen him coming, either, with all of their focus ahead. 6: February 17, 2013. A skydiver was knocked out on a 10-way tracking dive. Their AAD activated but they were injured from striking a fence on landing. The injured jumper had 180 jumps and it was her first tracking dive. The injuries include a neck fracture but no paralysis. Her full-face helmet showed some damage. The reserve was lightly loaded, an Optimum 193 but no exit weight reported. 7: February 14, 2013. A skydiver with 60 jumps had a shoulder dislocated while participating in a 12-way Formation Skydiving jump. Apparently this was the result of a hard dock from another jumper docking on the injured jumper. There is very little detail, but apparently the jumper could not open a parachute and the AAD did the job. No report of landing injuries. 8: December 7, 2012. On a 17-way wingsuit jump, a participant with 250 jumps struck another participant in freefall and was knocked out. His AAD worked but he remained unconscious under canopy, crashed into an obstacle, and died from that or a combination of the landing and freefall injuries. The other jumper had unspecified back injuries. 9: October 22, 2012. On a wingsuit rodeo jump, witnesses reported that the jump tumbled unstable from exit. At some point fairly high, reportedly around 10,000 feet, the rodeo rider left. The wingsuiter never deployed a canopy. Their AAD fired but the reserve did not deploy. With no witness to the lower part of the jump it is impossible to say if the wingsuit jumper was struck by the rider, or had a stability issue such as a flat spin. Of nine incidents in ten months where a jumper was incapacitated in freefall and their AAD fired (or in one case, was deployed for by another jumper), seven out of nine involved trackers, tracing, or wingsuits. That’s 77%. Eight of nine, or 88% were definitely due to collisions. The final one is uncertain but possible, if it was also due to a collision, that brings us to 100% of the incapacitations being due to collisions. Almost all of the incidents involve some degree of inexperience. Just how much experience is required to participate in this type of jump is relative. For example, is 300 jumps enough to be on a 12-way tracking dive? Is 250 enough to be on a 17-way wingsuit dive? Is 180 enough to be on a 10-way tracking dive, with no previous tracking experience? Is 700 jumps over six years (117/year average) enough to be on an 18-way tracking dive? Is 325 jumps in two years enough to be on a 12-way tracking dive? If your jump numbers are low (say, below 500 jumps) you may have answered “yes.” The correct answer is “no.” In every case except 9 and 1, it’s pretty safe to say these dives were too big and too poorly planned for the experience levels involved. In the case of the wingsuiter with 250 jumps, for example, if he was in compliance with his national club’s policy, he could not take up wingsuiting until he had 200 jumps. Even if all 50 of his next jumps were wingsuit jumps, did he have had the experience and skill to be on a 17-way flocking dive? What if only ten or twenty of those 50 jumps were with a wing suit? Go to Youtube and search “skydive tracking dive.” Here is a glaring example of the issue: This took place at a big US drop zone with plenty of experienced skydivers. Pause this dive every couple of seconds. At various points you can see that up to fifteen (maybe more) people are on the dive, but throughout the dive you’ll see people flailing unstable, going low, unable to close on the formation, way above it… and at break-off time, it’s really down to a six-way with a couple other skydivers in the distant rear. For some reason – and here, logic completely fails me for an explanation - some people seem to think it is cool to go on a skydive on which at least half the participants lack the skill to manage the simplest goals such as approaching in control, staying in proximity with the leaders, and breaking off in a controlled fashion. Now with all those bodies scattered around the sky, many of them without the experience to have developed good air awareness, what do we expect would happen? Of course there are going to be collisions, although apparently there were none on the dive used as an example. The experienced jumpers at that drop zone, and every other one, need to change the tune. These jumps should be hard to get on, not easy. Participants should prove themselves on small dives before they go up on big ones, just as in any other freefall discipline. We don’t have a very big data set to go on, but let’s say that tracking, wingsuit, and angle dives are 10% of all skydives made. That would probably be pretty generous, my instincts would put the number at under 5%. Yet they account for about 75% of all AAD saves from incapacitation in the past year, and 50% over the past six years. (Half of all the saves due to incapacitation in freefall that show up on the CYPRES web site in the past six years occurred on tracking, angle, or wingsuit dives.) So if a subgroup making 10% of all skydives generates 50% of the AAD activations due to freefall injury, is that a problem? Tracking dives have become the most dangerous form of freefall there is. Wing suits are in second place. Tracing/atmonauti/angle dives appear to be determined to compete for the distinction. I hate to load my staff and myself up with more work, but self-policing simply isn’t working in this situation. Skydive Arizona is going to start holding the horizontal element of skydiving to much higher standards. We expect to have minimum experience levels for participation at different levels of complexity established soon, and our web site already lists our expectations. See www.skydiveaz.com, click on “Experienced” and review the safety materials. As a business, we need to protect ourselves and our customers from skydivers who don’t have the experience, training, or sense to stay out of trouble. As the variety of freefall and canopy choices expand, it appears the number of skydivers fitting that description is expanding too. Drop zone operators can’t simply turn a blind eye to the problem, especially since the poor planning combined with lack of experience and training expose all skydivers on the plane to a significant risk, not just the individual participant. Related Reading: The Horizontal Flight Problem
  14. This article first appeared in Parachutist magazine, and has been republished with consent of the author. Not surprisingly, most doctors say no - don't jump while you're pregnant. Doctors are conservative, and few will recommend that their patients engage in a high-risk sport. They do not want to call an activity safe and then get blamed if something goes wrong. But many pregnant women have jumped during pregnancy with no ill effects to either themselves or their babies. So is it safe? Skydiving is a risky sport, and an accident involving an expectant mother would be doubly tragic. But presumably, we jumpers are old pros at weighing the risks of our sport against the benefits, and most of us long ago decided that the fun outweighs the danger. We wouldn't be jumping if we expected to die or to get hurt. USPA does not give medical advice, and it is definitely not recommending that pregnant women skydive. Every pregnancy is different, and each woman has to decide for herself whether she wants to continue jumping for part or all of the nine months. If your doctor tells you that your pregnancy is high-risk and that you should avoid your usual activities, you probably shouldn't jump. If you simply feel uncomfortable taking the risks inherent in skydiving, you should ground yourself. The fact is, however, that women are jumping while pregnant and will continue to do so. Not surprisingly, there has been little or no research on jumping during pregnancy, and medical professionals hesitate to make any blanket statements about the practice. But medical advice, as well as advice from other skydivers who have jumped while pregnant, can help you decide whether to continue jumping during pregnancy, and if you do, help you do it safely. Know Your Limits These days, doctors tell women with low-risk pregnancies that they can continue all their normal activities as long as they feel good enough, with the caveat that they should avoid sports that contain a risk of falls and should not exercise to the point of exhaustion. "The Harvard Guide to Women's Health" says, "Pregnancy is usually not a good time to take up skiing or skydiving, but women who were already engaged in athletics can usually continue to enjoy them during pregnancy." Women who have just started jumping should probably take a break from the sport. Most women who have continued to jump during pregnancy were very experienced and very current. Many of them also say they were in good physical condition. Drs. William and Martha Sears in "The Pregnancy Book" counsel pregnant women to know their limits and to stop their activities immediately if they feel dizzy or short of breath, have a bad headache or hard heart-pounding or experience contractions, bleeding or pain. Pregnant women should also go easy on their joints. Relaxing and other hormones loosen joints during pregnancy, making them less stable and prone to injury if overstressed. The pelvis, lower back and knees are especially vulnerable. Skydivers should take particular care in packing and at pull time so as not to jolt their loosened joints. A pregnant skydiver should pay attention to how she feels at all times. Fatigue is normal, and you should rest as much as you need. First-trimester nausea is a fact of life for some women, and calling it morning sickness is inaccurate, many women feel sick all the time. Being under canopy may only make you feel worse. Doctors don't allow pregnant women to take ibuprofen (Advil and Motrin) or any of the other effective analgesics, because they can cause difficulties with labor and harm the fetus. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is OK, but bear in mind that if you sprain an ankle or worse, you won't be able to do much for the pain. Obstetricians usually advise pregnant women to give up contact sports. As we all know, skydiving is sometimes more of a contact sport than we intend for it to be. Women who have jumped while pregnant often recommend that you be very careful about who you jump with, avoiding anyone whose freefall abilities might be suspect. Washington-state load organizer Art Bori points out that exit position can be important for two reasons: A pregnant woman may have difficulty maneuvering into position, and some positions are more dangerous than others. He always asks pregnant jumpers about their exit preferences. He tries to keep pregnant women out of the base so that they won't be in serious funnels. Chance of Miscarriage Can a hard opening cause a miscarriage? Dr. Scott Chew, a Colorado emergency physician and skydiver, says that no one has studied the effect of hard openings on pregnancy. Most hard openings are less traumatic than many automobile accidents, and during opening, jumpers are in a different body position than car passengers, with no belt passing over the uterus. He doesn't think a hard opening is very likely to precipitate a sudden miscarriage. He has never heard of a miscarriage occurring during skydiving, bungee jumping or rock climbing, all sports that use similar gear. According to Chew, women should also consider the possibility of a bad landing, although the baby is quite well protected in the uterine environment. Usually the jumper would get hurt first. Emergency room doctors make a practice of treating a pregnant woman before turning their attention to the fetus, because if the mother survives, the baby likely will as well. Dr. Stanley Filip, associate clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Duke University Medical Center, says that because the rapid deceleration in skydiving can be analogous to a moderate-speed auto accident or a fall while skiing (both are known to cause miscarriages), he recommends against skydiving while pregnant. On the other hand, the Sears say that miscarriages usually result from chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus, infections, hormonal deficiencies, immune-system abnormalities and environmental toxin such as drugs or cigarette smoke. Sex, safe exercises, heavy lifting, usual work and play, stress or emotional upsets or minor falls or accidents rarely cause them. Registered nurse Marian Blackwell comments that the most important consideration is probably how the woman and her mate feel about the issue. Any woman who fears that jumping might cause her to miscarry should not jump. If a woman or the prospective father will likely blame a miscarriage on the woman’s skydiving, she is probably better off sitting out for a few months. Blackwell points out that it’s very difficult to have a miscarriage intentionally, and if a woman loses a baby while jumping, she probably would have anyway. Still, there is always a risk, and she advises that both parents need to accept this if the mother keeps jumping. Hypoxia What about hypoxia? Dr. Filip says that the obstetricians commonly advise woman that it’s safe to fly on commercial airlines that are pressurized during flight, but unpressurized flight above 5,000 to 7,000 feet may not provide enough oxygen to some fetuses. According to Sears, “While a short time spent in an unpressurized cabin at about 7, 000 feet is unlikely to harm your baby (baby's oxygen level in the womb is already lower than mother's), it can reduce the oxygen in your blood, causing you to feel light headed and impair your thinking and ability to move.” Chew points out that women must consider the chance of hypoxia, claiming that it's unknown whether it causes a problem for pregnant jumpers. He says, however, that the fetus is accustomed to an atmosphere less rich in oxygen than the mother needs and thus feels hypoxia less than an adult would. He adds that jump planes spend relatively little time at high altitudes, not really long enough to hurt the jumper or her baby. USPA defines high altitude as 20,000 feet up to 40,000 feet MSL and intermediate altitude as 15,000 feet to 20,000 feet MSL. USPA considers anything below 15,000 feet MSL low altitude. Routine low-altitude jumps, the sort sport jumpers commonly practice, do not generally present a risk of hypoxia. USPA does not require the use of supplemental oxygen for low-altitude jumps but has made no recommendations specific to pregnant women. (The FAA requires oxygen when required aircraft crew members are above 12,500 feet for more than 30 minutes and at all times above 14,000 feet MSL.) Most women who have jumped during pregnancy say they did not have any trouble with hypoxia. Paula Philbrook, who participated in last year's 246-way world record while pregnant, used supplemental oxygen on the attempts. She used an oximeter to measure her oxygen saturation and found that at 13,500 feet with oxygen, her saturation level always stayed at 98 to 100 percent. Without oxygen, her saturation stayed in the mid-90s which her respiratory therapist found acceptable. According to the therapist, as long as her oxygen saturation stayed above 90 percent, she remained in the safety zone. She used oxygen starting at 10,000 feet for jumps on which she went above 15,000 feet. She found herself short of breath at 21,000 feet when the oxygen went off in preparation for exit but always felt fine as soon as she got into freefall. Long-time style and accuracy competitor Nancy LaRiviere says a doctor advised her to use supplemental oxygen if she went above 5,000 feet. She rented an oxygen bottle from a local medical supply house, used a cannula (a tube used to breathe the oxygen) from 3,000 feet to altitude, shut off the flow on jump run and left the bottle strapped in the plane. She sat at the back of the plane on all loads to make this convenient. Some skydivers and doctors worry that a jumper could get an air embolism, an air bubble in the blood - a danger associated with pressure changes and one risk of scuba diving. Chew points out that the pressure differences involved in skydiving are not nearly as great as in scuba diving a jumper has to go to 17,000 feet to get to half atmosphere. So although a potential risk lurks, it does so less than in deep diving. All skydivers and air travelers should refrain from air travel for 24 hours after scuba diving. Weather Considerations Heat poses an added danger, especially in the first trimester. The Mayo Clinic “Complete Book of Pregnancy” says that says that if the mother’s internal temperature exceeds 104 degrees, the chance the fetus will have neural tube defects increases. The Sears recommend that an expectant mother eat and drink regularly while exercising to prevent dehydration and hypoglycemia. Pregnant women, particularly those further along, should be careful about flying in bad weather. Dr. Filip says that turbulent weather can sometimes stimulate pre-term labor and rupture of the fetal membranes, causing the amniotic fluid to leak. High winds and turbulence also present the standard difficulties with landing. Many pregnant jumpers advise staying on the ground on windy days. Gearing Up Women who jump while pregnant inevitably have to make some adjustments to their skydiving gear. Some of them change their canopies for larger mains or mains which open more softly than their original gear. Others continue to use the same gear until they quit. Either way, the jumper should feel comfortable with her gear and be able to land it well. Larger gear may feel unwieldy but often lands more softly. A pregnant woman will quickly outgrow her normal jumpsuit. Whatever a skydiver decides to wear, she needs to ensure that she can still find all her handles. Size can also make it difficult to get in and out of airplanes. After a certain point, you may no longer fit into a little Cessna 182. Getting up and down off the floor will challenge you, so airplanes without benches become less than ideal. You'll really learn to appreciate tailgates and planes with seats. How long can a woman keep jumping while she is pregnant? Women have jumped into their fifth, sixth and seventh months. Some jumpers go by the folk wisdom "jump until you show." Others stop based on the time of year. If you’re five months pregnant in July with sweltering heat, that might be the time you call it quits. When you decide that you're no longer operating at 100 percent, stay on the ground until you fee! back up to speed. Postpartum Many women have found that skydiving after they give birth requires more adjustment than jumping while expecting. LaRiviere says she had to change her jumpsuit only after the baby was born and she was nursing him. Nursing also required some changes to her harness. What to do with the baby during jumping time poses a bigger problem. LaRiviere's husband acted as primary caregiver during her training camps, and she hired a niece to watch the baby while she competed in the nationals. If your baby doesn't sleep through the night, chances are you don’t either. You may not want to put yourself in freefall in such an addled state. If both husband and wife jump, they may want to take turns going to the drop zone. Often, couples jump less than they did before becoming parents. Also, even a minor injury would probably cause tremendous inconvenience with a small baby, so conservative is better. Starting Them Young Skydiving during pregnancy is definitely possible, though it gives the jumper a lot to think about. As Chew points out, skydiving carries the risk of injury and death, and pregnant jumpers have additional considerations, including some not addressed here. All potential jumpers need to make that decision for themselves with the available information and in consultation with their own families and physicians. Pregnant skydiving adds a new wrinkle to the sport. For example, how do you count a pregnant skydiver participating in the 246-way world record? Does she make it a 247-way? Either way, these kids will have cool stories to recount when they're older. How many kindergartners get to tell their classmates they already have 20 minutes of freefall? About the Author Amy Hackney Blackwell is an attorney and freelance writer in Greenville South Carolina. She has been skydiving since 1995.
  15. A skydiver at the Oklahoma Skydiving Center pointing out their landing pattern. Image by Corey Miller When we teach students how to skydive, the lessons do not just stop after the first jump course. One important skill all skydivers need to know is how to navigate through the landing pattern. I have heard instructors refer to talking to students on the radio as “remote controlled skydiving” because they guide the student where they want them to land, and they tell the student every turn to make. If we are supposed to teach our students how to pilot their canopy, then we must ask ourselves, “How is this enabling the student to learn?” In this article I will discuss a method of teaching the student how to pilot their canopy that is not only easy to use, but also allows the instructor on the radio to remain in control if the student needs additional guidance while descending under canopy. Teaching the student piloting skills starts in the classroom. Of course we teach the students the SOPs and to make sure they have a canopy that is Square, Stable, and Steerable; but now what? Do we just give directions to the student over the radio? Realistically, for the student who just opened their canopy for the first time we, as instructors, will probably have to do that. The student has emotions of excitement and fear going through their mind while adrenaline is going through their body. This mixture can make anyone confused, so don’t be surprised if the first time in the landing pattern you are flying a “remote controlled skydiver”. Having said that, let’s discuss how we are going to teach the student to navigate the pattern and eventually, be removed from radio status. I like to start this process with a laminated picture of the landing area and a grease pencil. With a laminated picture the instructor should sit down with the student and first, have the student draw an arrow showing the direction of the wind. Now we know that the student is aware of the wind direction and we do not have to assume that they do. Next, have the student point out where their “playground” is going to be. For those who do not use the term “playground” that is the area where the student can fly their canopy, while they are descending to the proper altitude to enter the landing pattern. Next, have the student make a mark showing where they will enter the downwind part of the landing pattern and at what altitude this is supposed happen. This is the time the instructor can discuss at what altitude to leave the playground and to start thinking about the landing procedures they covered during the first jump course. Additionally, let the student know that next time things could be different due to wind direction and speed. Next have the student show where, and at what altitude, to make their turn for the base leg of the landing pattern. Since an aerial picture of the drop zone is be used, the instructor can point out hazards and landmarks at this point. For me, I like to point out a grass runway at the drop zone and to tell students not to go pass it figuring it is better for them to have to walk back a little bit than to risk getting too close to the hanger or the active taxiway. Finally, have the student show where, and at what altitude, the final turn would be. At this point the instructor should reiterate the importance of the wind sock, what altitude to stop turns and to do only small corrections, and of course, when to flare. Since the student is making marks on a laminated picture, it is a good training aid to keep and to use when debriefing the student after the jump. The instructor can point out how the plan and the actual landing pattern were different. The instructor then can talk about how safety could have been affected and discuss a plan for improvement. After the debriefing the student, just wipe the photo clean and use it for the next student. Now, let’s talk about our first jump student some more. When teaching a first jump student, I do not advocate going through all of this in great detail on their first jump. Instead, have them look at the picture. Ask them about where they would want to be at 1,000 feet. Where would they turn for the base leg and final leg of the landing pattern? If we, as instructors, get into too much detail for the first jump the student can have a sensation overload and forget everything. Additionally, a sensation overload could make the experience less enjoyable and possibly hinder the chances for repeat business and some good word of mouth advertising. By just showing them what will be happening we can reduce the student’s anxiety by reducing their fear of the unknown. Additionally, if there should be a radio failure while the student is under canopy, having shown them on a photo of the landing zone and discussed where they should be in relationship to various ground features we have just increased the chances for the student to land safely. Author Bio: Corey Miller is a C rated skydiver who held both coach and IAD instructor ratings. He holds a Master in Aeronautic Science degree with specialties in Teaching and Human Factors. He currently works as an Instructor/Quality Assurance Inspector in the Aerospace Industry. He calls the Oklahoma Skydiving Center his home DZ.
  16. admin

    How I Built My Own Wingsuit

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

    How to Spot In The Manner of a Boss

    The Stuff You Need To Remember, Even If You Never Actually Do The Math Image by Andrey Veselov Have you ever gotten off at the wrong bus stop? Probably. But did you turn around and blame the bus driver for your mistake? Probably not. As a skydiver, however, there’s a good chance you’ve done exactly that--by exiting the plane at an inappropriate time, then accusing the pilot of “giving you a bad spot.” If you leap blindly out the door at the flash of a green light, it’s not the pilot who’s making the mistake--it’s, y’know. You. 1. Green doesn’t necessarily mean go. The green light doesn’t necessarily mean that the pilot thinks you should leave the plane. This may be a surprise, but spotting is actually not the pilot’s responsibility at all. The green light’s technical meaning is that he or she has completed all of the responsibilities of a jump pilot: that the necessary adjustments have been made to speed and trim to allow for safe exit, and that air traffic control has been informed that skydivers are preparing to leave the aircraft. It is the jumpers’ responsibility to verify a safe exit point that’ll get you back. If you’re being pushed out the door and the spot ain’t right, don’t go. Simple as that. 2. Don’t rely entirely on technology. The presence of a GPS system on nearly every skydiving aircraft has changed the game, of course. In many ways, it has allowed the spotting process to slip quietly out of most jumpers’ minds and wiggle its way into the cockpit, which isn’t fair to the pilot (who has plenty going on up there already, to say the least). Spotting used to be a purely manual process; doublechecking the spot still must be. 3. Know your jump run. Most pilots fly their jump runs into the wind, on a heading determined by GPS. From there, it used to be that you needed to do some math in order to properly calculate your spot--estimating your drift in freefall and under canopy using an algorithm. To do so, you needed to know the winds aloft, as well as the forecasted wind speeds and directions. It’s no wonder most skydivers couldn’t be bothered. These days, we have the internets on our side. Apps and (when they’re working) online calculators make it much easier to get it right--but the best practice is to check with the dropzone. If there’s no posted information available, check in with manifest and ask for their input. 4. Get your load in order. After you’ve run the numbers, boss-level spotting requires good communication with the rest of the skydivers on your load. These days, loads are packed with different disciplines, all with different glides and fall rates. Slow-falling, long-gliding groups of wingsuits and fast-falling, short-gliding groups of head-down freeflyers share planes with high-altitude hop-and-pop canopy relative work jumpers, shredders of angles and hybrid formations of every stripe. The general rules is that, since the upper winds push freefalling jumpers across the sky, jumpers who will be exposed to them the longest will be pushed farther away from the landing area. That said: Different dropzones follow different procedures for exit order. Learn them before you start milling around in front of the door. If you have questions or issues, ask the S&TA; about the underlying logic. 5. Get your priorities straight. Look straight down from the door, checking for any air traffic and making a mental note of your direction of flight and of your exit point. It helps to physically point to the landing area to make a general assessment that you’re within a landable distance of it. If you’re not, don’t leave the plane. It’s not worth it. Even if you never actually sit down and calculate a spot, you’ll be a much safer skydiver for that five seconds’ worth of mindfulness -- and you’ll make the skies safer for everyone else you share them with.
  18. I am much more experienced in paragliding than skydiving and in paragliding we really respect the thermals as they are what we need to fly – but at the same time can cause all sorts of havoc close to the ground. Thermals are bubbles of rising air. They might extend all the way from the ground to a cloud or they might be just a bubble. I have been told to study a 1970 hippie lava light, as the rising lava in the light is nothing more than a thermal. If a thermal bubble leaves the ground and rushes up in a column of air, there is a void that must be filled - with the same amount of air going down or sideways outside the thermal as is going up in the thermal. Again, think of the lava light – as the lava rises, the oil fills the void where the lava was. In other words, if you land near a thermal that is bursting, you can be in the middle of a gust of wind that is going down or sideways filling the area under the thermal. I have been in a thermal that went up at 1,400 feet per minute – which is faster than a lot of jump planes. Somewhere there must have been air going down 1,400 feet per minute to fill the void. If you see a wind indicator (wind sock) quickly change directions, you might have just witnessed a thermal near by. On a quiet day in a field of tall grass you can hear them leave too, just a quick rustle of the grass is all you hear. A lot of times thermals are the most aggressive close to the ground as they are narrow and get wider as they go up. They can be explosive off of a super heated asphalt driveway or black roof. There are some “surface tension” forces that keep the thermals close to the ground until they break off. If the wind changes a bit, it might be all it takes to make a thermal release. In paragliding, you know you are about to enter a thermal when you start to feel turbulence or even go down a bit. You actually judge your angle of attack into the thermal by looking at how the wing turns as you enter it. If your wing flies straight but surges back evenly, you entered it straight on. If your wing turns, part of your wing hit the thermal first causing the turn. If your wing surges forward, you probably just left the thermal. It is very easy on a large paragliding wing for half of your wing to be in a thermal and the other half not – causing all sorts of fun things – like asymmetric collapses. You could “hear” them in your wing all the time, they sounded like fabric getting loose then springing tight. Big asymmetrics could collapse more than half a canopy. On very active thermal days, only the advanced would dare to fly paragliding canopies/wings because you could experience all sort of "asymmetric collapses” or other dynamic unexpected events. Paragliders are rated by DHV ratings, 1 thru 4 where 1 is the safest to fly, which rate their handling in stalls and collapses. My DHV 1 GIN Bolero glider turns 90-180 degrees in an asymmetric collapse and must spontaneously recover to get the DHV 1 rating. Gliders rated higher might need pilot intervention to recover from a collapse. Turning = loss of altitude = hit the ground hard any way you look at it. Have you ever studied what might happen to your canopy under an asymmetric? How do you fix it? To avoid thermals close to the ground, I avoided ground treatments that absorb heat, like rock (pea gravel) or cement. In paragliding – we liked the green soccer fields, but I don’t think DZ have those. Thermals are caused by heated air on the ground being abnormally hotter than the air above. They “break” off of any pointed object, as small as a shrub. We were taught – turn the ground upside down after a rainstorm and anywhere water would drip off is where thermals rise. It is a mistake to think thermals only happen on hot days, because temperature difference, not just warm air, causes thermals. If the atmosphere is cold and the tarmac is hot – expect a greater thermal than normal even if the outside air temperature is freezing. There are all sorts of mathematical equations used to predict thermals and the strength of thermals, some available on the 1-800-WXBRIEF FAA Flight Service Center pre-flight briefing system, such as the “wave soaring forecast” and the “K index”. The K index measures stability in the atmosphere. You can also speak to a pre-flight briefer who can help interpret the data – but since I don’t speak pilot, I was always intimidated to talk to the humans and only played the recorded messages. If you are interested, you can study the “lapse rate” which is the phenomenon that as air gets thinner higher you go up in the atmosphere, the air pressure goes down and so does temperature. Physics says pressure and temperature are related due to fact higher pressure causes molecules to be closer to each other. Pure science says that the “dry adiabatic lapse rate” is 5.5 degrees per 1000 feet. This means, if you jump out of a plane 12K above the ground, expect it to be 66 degrees colder at 12K than at the DZ because the air is under less pressure. But our flying areas do not exist in scientific test tubes – there is instability in the atmosphere. If the actual temperature, lets say 2K up, is more than 11 degrees colder than the ground temperature – you are bound to experience even more aggressive thermals than normal as the atmosphere tries to find balance. Oh, thermals cause clouds – the reason why paragliders fly “cloud streets” of thermals across country. It is possible to experience “cloud suck” also, where the thermals are so strong you get trapped in a cloud and must use advanced techniques to lose altitude. Note – I am not an expert at this. Someone with more experience is invited to correct me. But my point is: aggressive thermals can cause turbulence close to the ground, which can very easily cause landings to be rough.
  19. admin

    Saving Veterans With Skydiving

    Image by Quincy Kennedy, Courtesy Skydive Carolina It started with a simple fact: Soldiers are dying--after they come home--from self-inflicted injuries. The numbers are seriously disturbing. The veteran suicide rate, according to the Los Angeles Times, hovers a full 50 percent higher than the suicide rate of the general population. Some Veterans Administration studies suggest that up to 22 veterans end their lives every day. Those statistics underline the stark fact that it is overwhelming, for many servicepeople, to successfully make the transition from military to civilian life. The numbers indicate that the social safety net built to facilitate re-integration doesn’t seem to be up to the task. Unsupported veterans are suffering--achingly alone and mortally vulnerable. As harrowing as those statistics are, there’s another essential fact to face: one suicide is one suicide too many. Skydiver Jim Osterman, a Navy veteran himself, thinks that we--as representatives of our sport--can make a big difference in the lives of veterans. Osterman has been touched by suicide “more times then [he] want to think about.” After losing close military friends to suicide, he was moved to take action. Jim Osterman's late friend, Frank in his Marine uniform. “I knew when I got home from active duty,” he explains, “That what was missing in my life was the camaraderie that I had while I was in the service. The [veteran] suicide rate is as high as it is because these guys and gals are coming home and feeling completely alone, even if they actually aren’t in a physical sense. You don’t have that closeness you had while you were in the service. The dropzone community can fill that gap.” Osterman’s mission, project and passion is pretty simple: to make skydivers aware of the aching need for community in veterans’ lives, and to ask skydivers to bring as many people to the dropzone as they can. “It makes all the sense in the world,” Osterman explains. “Dropzones are very military-friendly. There tend to be lots of military people around, and dropzones generally already have military discounts and events for, say, Veterans Day and Memorial Day. But we need to let our veterans know that they are welcome to the dropzone everyday--not just the major vets’ holidays. Hopefully they will decide to skydive, but even if they choose not to jump, they need to know that they are welcome to come and just hang out.” “They need to experience the camaraderie at the heart of it,” Osterman enthuses. “It’s literally lifesaving, in some cases. Pretty much anybody is accepted into skydiving, and it doesn’t matter what your background is--your ethnicity--whatever. It just doesn’t matter. You walk in that door and you are greeted warmly. Veterans need that welcome more than I can say.” Jim joins up with a couple of buddies on a leg of his long, long trip. To raise awareness for this mission--and to commemorate the memories of his departed friends--Jim took off on a long-haul, dropzone-to-dropzone motorcycle trip on his Yamaha Raider. Sure, he made a few skydives on the trip, but the jumping always took a back seat to the mission. “I went to several drop zones that I knew I would not be able to jump at,” he says, “Just so I could speak with the owners in person rather than via email or over the phone.” Thirty-eight dropzones later, Osterman has spread his message all over the east coast of the US--and so far, he’s been overwhelmed at his fellow skydivers’ receptivity. “It really makes my point,” he says, “That even though they’d never met me before, I was completely welcomed and heard.” Interested, but unsure how to help? According to Jim, it’s very easy to get involved. “If you’re a skydiver, you can do this,” Osterman insists. “When you learn that someone is a veteran, approach them with an invitation. Let them know that they’re welcome to come out anytime and just hang out--sit on the park bench and watch some swooping, or join the weekend barbecue, or whatever else happens to be going on. Offer them a ride.” Lynn Luzynski Gromaski, Steve Luzynski and Karen Luzynski. “We’re looking to get these men and women out of whatever isolating situation they might be in and bring them to the dropzone so they can see the camaraderie that we as skydivers share,” he continues, “If we help even one man or woman see that people do care as a society, it will all be worth it.” When all was said and done, Osterman had exceeded his 4,000-mile goal by three thousand miles, had personally spread his message to hundreds of people and had earned the hearty support of several dropzones (including, exceptionally, Skydive Carolina). He’s already making plans to repeat the journey on the west coast next year. “‘Bring a Veteran to the Dropzone Day’ isn’t enough,” Osterman says. “I want the skydiving community to participate in the mission to bring veterans to the dropzone whenever, wherever they can. It’s not just another day. It’s another place for veterans. We can save lives.”
  20. DSE

    Camera Considerations 101

    Flying with a camera can be a lot of fun, and is a reasonably easy goal for new skydivers to achieve. The USPA SIM Section 6.8E recommends that a skydiver have 200 skydives before putting on a camera. The first question often asked is “Why 200 jumps?” I believe the answer to that question is that in times past, the D license (which at one time required only 200 jumps) meant that a skydiver had experienced enough of the basics of skydiving that he/she could begin exploring additional responsibilities during a skydive. By no means is anyone with only 200 jumps generally prepared to be a good nor safe camera flyer, but everyone needs a benchmark from which to begin. This article isn’t about debating the merits of jump numbers; I’d recommend potential camera flyers stick with the SIM and the findings of the USPA. Before beginning, you’ll need to make a couple of gear decisions straight off, and this article is to help you prepare for those decisions. HEADGEARChoosing a helmet is the first and potentially most important decision in flying a camera. There are a lot of good helmets out there; each manufacturer has their own ideas about why their helmets may be better than another helmet. What your first decision will be isn’t as much about a brand, but rather a type. P>There are two types of helmets; those that are primarily side mount, and those that are primarily top mount. Most side mount helmets do offer at least a small top area to which a second camera or other fixture may be mounted. Most of the top-mount helmets are designed to place everything on the top of the helmet. Each type of helmet has its own advantages and disadvantages. Freeflyers and inside RW/FS skydivers tend to prefer side mount camera helmets not only because of the profile of the helmet, but due to the way the air moves around the helmet. Those that are shooting four/eight-way FS might prefer a top mount not only due to the greater stability of a flat-top profile, but that the larger top area allows for two cameras to be mounted (one acts as a backup in case a camera fails in competition). Commercial photographers tend to prefer flat top systems so that they can mount larger cameras, or have enough space to mount a DSLR and video camera from the same perspective point. One point to consider aside from the primary flying format; top mount helmets with properly centered weight are less injurious to the neck over repetitive openings. VIDEO CAMERAVideo camera models change pretty quickly, so it’s pointless to recommend models vs features. While recommending a brand is tempting to avoid, Sony camcorders have a strong position in the skydiving market for several reasons. -External control. This is very important, as you’ll want to know whether the camera is on, recording, battery failing, or nearly out of media. There are a couple brands of control devices that provide this information. -Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS). This is fairly important for freeflying, and much less of an issue for tandem shooters. Avoid Optical Image Stabilization in most cases. The floating lenses of an OIS system makes it difficult to shoot a stable image under any but the most optimal shooting situations (very difficult to achieve). Small is in; cameras don’t need to be large to produce large results. Keep weight on your head to a minimum and your neck will thank you over hundreds or thousands of openings. If your intent is to wear a camera merely to document skydives with friends, low-cost camcorders such as the GoPro Hero and similar small cameras are wonderful. If your eventual goal is to work towards shooting tandems or teams, you’ll want to consider a higher quality camera. A current favorite is the Sony CX series of camcorders. LENSESMost camcorders do not offer lens widths sufficient for most inside or tandem-oriented skydiving. Wide angle lens adapters are commonly found on camcorders used for skydiving. For most skydiving use, a .5 or double field of view lens is sufficient. If you’re flying inside video for FS or Freeflying, a .3 or more than double wide field of view is generally desired. Anything more wide than a .3 is typically going to be relegated to handcam or specialized use. Depending on the size of the camera’s lens thread, a step-up or step-down ring might be necessary. Step-down rings almost always assure a vignetted shot (black circle around your video frame), whereas step-up rings rarely cause a vignette. Step-up and step-down rings are very inexpensive. Some are plastic, others are aluminum. Some professionals prefer plastic rings so that if a riser strike or line catches on a lens and tears it off, the plastic ring will give way before damaging the camera. While this is likely true, plastic rings also deteriorate in strength when exposed to sunlight. If you use a plastic step ring, be sure to periodically inspect it to be sure it’s not become brittle or cracked due to sun exposure. RINGSIGHTSAlthough it’s tempting to want to outfit a helmet with everything right from the start, it’s a good idea to add parts one step at a time. A ringsight is a good tool for some disciplines; it helps the videographer know where the camera lens is looking, and some types of ringsights help with framing and distance. Ringsights aren’t necessary for inside shooting of FS or Freeflying. No matter what, a ringsight is a snag hazard regardless of how much care is taken to prevent it from being so. The risk can be lessened, but not entirely removed. The ringsite should be one of the last accessories added to a camera helmet. In lieu of a ringsight, consider a “paper asshole” or a punch hole reinforcement sticker, mounted on your goggles. This can serve the same purpose and yet completely remove the snag hazard of a ringsight. A circle or dot can be drawn on goggles as well. To sight in a dot on a goggle; face a plain wall on which, you’ve taped a target. A paper plate works well for this exercise. Stand back from the wall at a distance of about ten feet. Put on the camera helmet, turn on the camera, and have a friend hold your head/helmet so the paper plate is dead center in the camera’s display. Keep your eye looking forward; don’t be tempted to roll the eyeball up/down/sideways. Keep it straightforward. It might take a moment to get comfortable holding your eye straightforward while a friend guides your head/helmet to the centerpoint/target. Once you’ve relaxed, focused on the target, and the target is in the center of the camera, mark your goggles (one side only, usually the right side) with a DRY ERASE marker. Remove the helmet, remove the goggles/glasses, and then put them back on and check to see that a reasonably accurate target acquisition occurs. Otherwise, repeat the aiming/targeting process. It’s worth mentioning once again however, a ringsite should be one of the last accessories added to a camera helmet when you’re a newcomer to camera flying. A ringsight adds an unnecessary snag hazard. STILL CAMERAAgain, it’s very tempting to buy a camera helmet with everything in one shot, and as mentioned previously, is a poor decision for newcomers to camera flying. Learning to fly with a video camera will help develop the skills necessary for flying a still camera. DSLR cameras are popular, as they record stills to a memory card, making for fast previewing of photos taken during a skydive, and for tandems, DSLR’s are necessary for fast delivery of photos to tandem students. Though Canon and Nikon are both popular brands of cameras for skydiving, most any kind of camera can be modified to accept a bite, tongue, blow, or hand switch for taking skydiving photographs. MOUNTING DEVICESThe device used for mounting a still or video camera to the camera helmet is critical, particularly for video cameras. If the mounting device isn’t rock-solid, the camera will shake or shudder in freefall, resulting in an unstable image. Sometimes this shudder/shake will be blamed on the video camera when the blame lies squarely on the camera mount. Check whatever mounting device you’re considering to be sure it will not move either at the time of purchase, or after it’s been in use for a period of time. Personally, I’m a big fan of the Cookie Composites Padlock systems and the Really Right Stuff mounting systems. Neither are inexpensive, but if you want solid video and clean stills, a solid mounting system is critical. CONTROLLING SYSTEMSCamcorders and still cameras need hands-free operation. Video cameras can be manually started/stopped in the aircraft, but for convenience and comfort, most camera flyers use a control system of some sort. Sony tapeless systems offer essentially one controller choice; the HyPeye products from GetHypoxic. All of the camera control systems also offer an indicator that indicates the status of the camcorder such as Power On/Off, Standby, and Record modes. In lieu of these indicator devices, you can always wear a small mirror on the wrist next to the altimeter, and view the Record light on the camcorder. I’d recommend a plastic mirror vs a glass mirror in case your wrist strikes the side of the aircraft. Still cameras/DSLRs require some sort of trigger device to cause the camera to snap a shot. Conceptus manufactures tongue and bite switches for Canon cameras. Custom Nikon switches are available from The Ranch Pro Shop and other resellers. Some Pentax cameras use the Canon connection (2.5mm plug). It’s difficult to recommend a bite switch, hand switch, tongue switch, or blow switch; everyone has a preference. I personally prefer a tongue switch, but many friends like bite switches. Some like hand switches. You can also “roll your own” from inexpensive parts available at Radio Shack. JUMP SUIT/CLOTHINGSome camera flyers opt for jumping with or without a camera suit, or a suit with “wings.” Although it’s a personal preference, camera wings provide the camera flyer a more stable flying platform (when used correctly) provide the for a great deal of range and control that isn’t quite so easy to achieve when wearing a standard jumpsuit or freefly suit. If you’re looking at flying with tandems, wings are often an important part of the jump. If you’re shooting freefly work, you probably won’t want to wear wings. There is a lot to learn about flying a camera. Getting good at RW is perhaps the best thing you can do to prep for flying a camera with tandems and four/eight way teams. Understanding burbles, trapdoors, safe zones, and having good belly skills that include side sliding, the ability to orbit, and a very broad fallrate are all important aspects of camera flying. This article does not discuss the challenges of camera flying and make no mistake; there are many dangers. One such danger, is that the camera flyer is always focused on the action in front, and never able to turn to see what’s happening behind him/her. Another danger is that in order to “get the shot” some camera flyers lose altitude awareness and may find themselves well below appropriate deployment altitudes. Spend time talking to the camera flyers on your dropzone, reading the forums, and pay attention to some of the videos you’ll find on Skydivingmovies.com, YouTube, and Vimeo. All have examples of good and bad camera flying. You can learn a lot just from watching the techniques of others.
  21. GoPro announced the latest addition to their line of action cameras this week with the reveal of the GoPro Hero 4 Session. The Session is small, really small -- about the same size as an ice cube and according to GoPro, it has been in development for several years now. With its reduced size, it will allow for easier mounting, especially for those looking for something to strap to their wrists. Unfortunately, early reports suggest that the decrease in size does not come without a cost. You should not expect the same recording quality, nor the features that are present with the Hero 4 Silver or Black. In their venture to create their smallest action camera yet, GoPro had to make sacrifices on both fronts and you'll only be seeing still images with a maximum resolution of 8 megapixels from the Session. Being less than 1.5 inches in diameter, it goes without saying that you won't be receiving any touch screen or image preview functionality. The cube design features a small LCD screen at the top and just two buttons, the main of which will control all your recording settings and control, while the smaller button is merely a wifi on/off button. Bound to be frustrating to some is that one cannot change between single and burst mode through the camera and requires use of the GoPro app in order to change these settings. There are some positives to mention though, with battery life being one of them. The Hero 4 Session is able to last up to 2 hours while running, better than the battery life seen in the other Hero 4 cameras. Recording Abilities While one may expect 4k recording from the Hero 4 Session, you're not going to find it. You can however record at a maximum of 30fps at 1440p or 60fps at 1080p. For those looking to get 100fps out of their recording, you will be able to do so at a 720p recording resolution. Overall it is somewhat to be expected, given the size and already clear limitations with the product, however we would have liked to at least see 100fps at 1080p and perhaps 60fps at the 1440p range. The reality is still however, that for the most part 4k recording is overkill and for vast majority of uses 1080p will suffice just fine. Another potentially frustrating aspect to the Session design is because of the cubed shape, some early testers of the camera found that it was easy to hold the wrong way around without noticing. This is likely not going to be a problem for too many people, who will have the device mounted, but for those going handheld, make sure you don't hold it at 90 degrees, or you'll need to do some post-process rotation adjustments. From what we've seen, it appears as though the Session is intended for those looking to create easy and quick HD videos, in the occasional circumstances where the other GoPro models may be too large. Priced at a whopping $400, we are struggling to see too many reasons for the average athlete to opt for the Session over the Hero 4 Silver, which at the same price comes with 4k recording, 4 more megapixels as well as a touch screen. It's Not All Doom and Gloom Don't get too caught up in the negative aspects of the Hero 4 Session however, it's still an extremely competent looking camera and while the recording quality may not be the best that GoPro has given us, it's more than enough for your average user who isn't looking for the clearest quality around. It comes standard with 10 meter water proofing, meaning no extra housing needed for most practical uses. The most obvious of the positives however, is the size. Being less than 1.5 inches allows for its use in situations where you may otherwise have struggled. For those who use wrist mounts for their GoPro, the session will definitely serve a purpose. A question that will also obviously come to the minds of many, will be how it compares to the other GoPro series with regards to snag risk. While we haven't been able to see first hand how the Session will handle a snag scenario, there is a lot less surface area so the odds of your lines getting caught seem lower, but the way the mount clamp is positioned in relation to the camera itself, it seems that there remains a risk for snagging between the clamp and the camera. This is something that could be helped a lot by the development of custom mounts, which will no doubt be developed some time after release. If you're currently an owner of a Hero 3 or Hero 4 and shoot regular helmet mounted video footage, we can't see any reason for you to switch out for the Hero 4 Session, but if you're looking for an extra camera for a wrist mount or another area where size is an important factor, the Hero 4 Session may be worth looking into -- if you're willing to fork out the $400.
  22. nettenette

    You Know Nothing About Seatbelts - Part 3

    You Probably Aren’t Aware of All These Oopsies Screengrab of the 12th May 2016 Lodi incident Seatbelts help. You probably get the picture by now. But do you know just how many lives they’ve saved in the past couple of years alone? Oh, man. Loads. At time of publication, USPA dropzones use seatbelts. Even the legendarily non-USPA maverick dropzone at Lodi had seat-belt use essentially imposed on it--which resulted in all souls walking away from that dropzone’s 2016 Cessna Caravan forced landing in a vineyard. The pilot suffered a bloody nose. (He was not wearing a shoulder belt--nor his emergency bailout rig. Tsk tsk.) They were shaken, but okay--and they haven’t been the only ones. Over the last couple of years, forced landings all over the world have seen most of the jumpers survive, in great part because of that friendly webbing. On December 4, 2014, A Cessna 205 out of Sussex, New Jersey suffered a total loss of engine power during its initial climb. The in-cabin video shows the forced landing going smoothly until the nose wheel dug into a muddy field and flipping the plane onto its back. All five seatbelted souls on board survived with minor injuries. Also in December of 2014, a Cessna 182 in Beromunster, Switzerland lost power shortly after take-off. The aircraft broke its nosewheel in a field, but all five occupants--seatbelts fastened--made it out with bumps and bruises. On May 10 of 2015, an Antonov out of Azov, Russia experienced high engine temperatures that forced an immediate landing. While the crash was severe enough that a post-landing fire destroyed the fuselage, all 13 (seat-belted) occupants got out in time, and survived with minor injuries. On June 29 of 2015, a Cessna 182D out of Oak Harbour, Washington lost engine power. It struck a tree during the forced landing, which was short of the runway. The impact split the fuselage in two at the instrument panel. Unsurprisingly, the pilot was seriously injured (but survived). One passenger was injured after being ejected from the open fuselage. On July 12 of 2015, a Cessna took off from Barnegat County, New Jersey. The crankshaft failed shortly after take-off, forcing a landing right on the highway. The traffic camera shows the plane landing on the right lanes and rolling onto the grass median towards the end. The pilot and all four passengers survived with hardly a scratch on them, thanks to their seatbelts. On July 7 of 2015, a Cessna Caravan lost engine power shortly after taking off from the desert dropzone in Dubai. The forced landing into the sand dunes started a fire that consumed the airframe, but everyone--including the pilot--was able to unfasten their seatbelts and get out before it burned up. In August of 2015, a Turbo Finist carrying a pilot and ten skydivers crashed shortly after taking off from Casale Monferrato, Italy. The impact of the landing bent the wings, broke the main undercarriage legs and smashed the engine compartment. Everybody wore seatbelts. Everybody walked away. In October 2015, a Yak-12 carrying three skydivers force-landed in Poland, hard enough to break the main undercarriage. The video starts with a glance at their fastened seat-belts and ends with them running away from the wreckage. Later that October, one of Dubai’s Twin Otters crashed on landing. Only a pilot was onboard. He survived, despite major damage to the airframe, thanks to his handy webbing. On April 28, 2016, an antique biplane lost power and force-landed near Osage in the American midwest. The pilot plus two skydivers put the airplane at gross weight, and both skydivers stood on the lower wing, grasping the front cockpit edge. This created more drag than usual for what was originally a two-seater trainer with only 220 horsepower. The plane never climbed very high and force-landing in a field, hard enough to break both main undercarriage legs. The "safety straps," as sketchy and unofficial as they must have been, kept those skydivers onboard during what must have been one hell of a clenchy forced landing. (For comparison: a couple of years earlier, another skydiver was incapacitated by carbon monoxide--because he had been holding on right behind the exhaust--and fell from the lower wing of a PT-17 biplane at an altitude too low to open a parachute. If that jumper had had a safety strap, they’d be alive today. Thanks to rockstar Sebastian Alvarez’s video, most of us are familiar with the May 12, 2016 crash of a Cessna 208 Caravan at Lodi. Engine failure shortly after takeoff forced a landing. During the roll-out, the plane struck a truck and rolled into a ditch, inverting at low speed. When the airplane ground to a halt, the entire load was hanging from the ceiling. All 17 skydivers exited uninjured. The last frame of the video shows the pilot washing blood off his nose--which shoulder belts would have prevented. On July 3, 2016, a Cessna 206 out of Gilchrist, Texas had to land when an engine broke a connector rod shortly after take-off. The pilot landed upright on Crystal Beach. There were zero injuries. On August 3, 2016, a Cessna TU206 lost power 1,000 feet after its takeoff from Skiatook, Oklahoma (which, coincidentally, sees more than its share of aviation mishaps) and had to come down in a grassy field. The impact buckled the airframe in a major way, but everyone was belted. All seven occupants survived with minor injuries. Quite recently to this publication--In September of 2016, in fact--a plane out of DC Skydiving had to land right after takeoff. All 11 skydivers and the pilot wore seatbelts, and all walked away uninjured. The plane didn’t fare so well. The thing about seatbelts, of course, is that they don’t work if you don’t use them--or if you use them wrong. In the next installment, we’ll talk about how to use a seatbelt on a skydiving plane, ‘cause there are some sketchy little myths floating around.