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Found 275 results

  1. admin

    Skydiver's Anonymous

    For the average weekend-warrior, skydiving is the great escape. The end of each dreary workweek is met with excitement and anticipation. Time to skydive! This is our chance to be with friends who share our passion, and escape the mundane, while we embrace life on our own terms. But with every wild weekend at the dz come the frustrations of another Monday morning…back to “reality”. And as the weekend highs become increasingly potent, so, too, do the lows of the following week back in the “real world”. This is a problem. Or at least is has been for me. Skydiving is so much more than the physical act of each jump. It’s exciting, challenging, rewarding, and – at times – incredibly fulfilling. It also brings a sense of community, place, and purpose to the lives of many of us. The bonds created at the dz are strong, and the times spent together with friends in the mutual pursuit of pleasure can be as rich and vital as nearly any other human experience. This is why we jump. But not everyone has something equally rewarding or exciting waiting for them at home. In fact, many of the dedicated skydivers I’ve known sacrifice a substantial amount of their time, energy, and resources in support of those two sacred days each week that they get to spend doing what they love. In many ways, it’s like a drug. The comparisons are obvious: It’s expensive It’s exciting and intoxicating It’s quite addictive It leaves you in withdrawal when you’re unable to jump It’s not always socially acceptable (sometimes even forbidden by friends / loved ones) It can eventually have negative effects on other parts of your life (relationships, finances, etc.) It can consume your mind and thoughts even when you’re not jumping It can begin to rule your life, as you reshape your time, energy and resources to better support your habit What, then, becomes of our prior reality? It’s hard to replicate the floods of dopamine and surges of endorphins unleashed over the course of a weekend in the sky. And as you progress in skydiving towards more demanding disciplines that require greater focus and dedication, all else can become comparatively dull and uninspired. But there are no support groups for us crazy few. No meetings to attend with mantras to repeat aloud in sober solidarity. We’re left to our own devices – bored and daydreaming about our next fix. This duality doesn’t sit well. At least not with me. I’ve had a very difficult time adjusting to a life split between two utterly separate and diametrically opposed worlds – one of hedonism and excitement, and the other of drudgery and toil. For me, these two paths could no longer be bridged. I’ve had to choose. And I’ve always been a much more talented hedonist than I have a cubicle-rat, so my choice was fairly clear. Granted, not everyone is in a position to completely cutaway. Some of you have spouses, kids, mortgages, magazine subscriptions, softball practices, and various other entanglements with which to contend. These types of responsibility have always terrified me. But I’m very interested in hearing from you! How is it that you, the reader, who I presume lives to some extent in both of these worlds at once, is able to reconcile them? What sacrifices must you make? How do you divide your time between the sky (the friends, the bonfires and other sanctioned mayhem) and the so-called “real world”? Perhaps there’s something I’ve missed in my pursuit of balance. And I’d love to hear what that might be. Your thoughts and personal insights are welcomed and invited below!
  2. 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.
  3. There are lots of things you can learn about on the Dropzone that will aid you understanding of how all the elements involved in a skydiving operation fit together to make things work. Even just focusing on the assessment of the jumping conditions demonstrates several moving parts that all need to operate effectively to function as a whole. Remember, there are things that you must know, but also things that you can know that will make you better and safer. A helpful way to evolve your knowledge is try to see things from the perspective of others. What Other People Know: Chief Instructor: Whoever is employed to be in charge of the daily dropzone proceedings will not only be generally very well experienced but likely also highly practised under the conditions of that particular location. You can learn much from this person. When things are busy they will likely juggling many things in their head to keep everything running smoothly, but when quietness descends seek them out and pick their brains as they probably have many, many excellent stories to share - each with an important lesson behind it. The Pilot: To become a pilot you have to read books and do tests and stuff. A lot of this is about the weather. While you are trying to gauge the strength of the wind outside by listening intently from under a duvet - a good pilot will be up checking many sources of information to be able to perform their job properly. The information analysed by pilots is a very good place to head if you are keen to take your knowledge about flying conditions to the next level. The Jump Master: The person who is in charge of the load needs to be very aware of what is going on both on the ground and in the air. Being tasked as jump master is a serious job that happens relatively early in your skydiving career and while easy to perform with the correct level of awareness carries serious responsibility when there is some kind of incident. Are you confident enough in your decision to take the plane around or bring it back down after spotting a big mess at altitude and have the courage of your convictions when faced with an angry dropzone owner? Being all over the details will make you look like a goddam pro when anyone starts quizzing you. What were the winds doing at the bottom and the top? Which way was it going? What kind of clouds were they and at what altitude? The Other Skydivers: Does everyone on the plane know what they need to know? Are the people you are jumping with or those in the group next to you clueless idiots? Should you worry about them? Who is going to tell them the correct information? You do it - for your own benefit as much as theirs. Also worth considering is the perspective of the tandem masters and the camera pool - they keep the dropzone going and thus operate day-in and day-out under all conditions and circumstances. If the plane goes up then almost certainly some of them are on it and their collective knowledge is well worth mining for information about functioning at the fringes of what is possible or acceptable on your particular dropzone. Conclusion: Applying some time and effort to learn more about weather conditions will create a return on investment with your ability to judge further out if jumps are going to happen or not. Skydiving is an expensive hobby and happens quickly - so everything you can do to maximise your effectiveness on each jump helps, and understanding more about the weather will make you a better, safer skydiver. Learning about all of the conditions you will be faced with will not only facilitate making good calls when you are jumping, it will also help you to get more out of your jumps when they happen. Nobody is right all the time but the more educated you are the better your guesses will be - and as such you ability to decide wether to drag your ass out of bed before dawn and get down to the dropzone or do something else with your day. Also try remember that there is nothing to be gained from being angry at the sky - it does not give a shit. Also, it is probably healthy to do something else now and then - if your life is a constant battle with the weather you might well end up batshit crazy and living in a caravan on the airfield with mushrooms growing in your hair. On a dropzone you are surrounded with ways to learn, and the first time you apply some extra-curricular knowledge in a practical way is immensely satisfying. Every now and then you come across someone who seems to have magical powers when it comes to predicting what the sky is going to do - but they are most likely just a regular human that knows things.
  4. Emma Tranter has helped airsports athletes get on--and stay on--the mat for 16 years. You’re next. So, full disclosure: This author has been practicing yoga for many years. I deeply believe that I couldn’t jump or fly without using yoga as a tool to undergird those activities, but it was so difficult to explain why that I generally deflected the conversation. After all, it used to be that chats involving yoga on the dropzone would end awkwardly (usually, with someone trying to fold themselves into lotus pose and falling off a barstool). These days, other airsports athletes tend to be much more receptive--but they often insist they simply can’t do yoga themselves, always calling in one (or more) of these three reasons: I don’t have time. I’m not flexible. I already work out enough. But what if I told you that these are all dismantlable barriers? That you can--and very much should--knock them down? And that it’ll measurably increase your sports performance? You certainly don’t have to take my word for it. Take Emma Tranter’s. Emma is a force of nature in our sport. A longtime-professional-skydiver-and-traveller-turned-extensively-educated-yoga-teacher, Emma has over 16 years of experience melding these two seemly opposing practices (and understands firsthand, the desires, aversions and excuses of the adventure-seeker. If you’ve spent time at Skydive DeLand, you know Emma for her yoga studio: The Yoga Shed, so close to Skydive DeLand that a well-thrown baseball will easily make the journey from the dropzone parking lot to the studio’s front door. Along with running her yoga studio, Emma currently travels the globe from her home base to facilitate Fusion Flow wellness retreats at various wind tunnels around the world, She does this with her twin sister, peak performance health coach, Lucie Charping. Arguably, Emma has the world’s most substantial experience in working with airsports athletes as they develop and advance a yoga practice. If anyone can break down the barriers between you and a yoga mat, it’s gonna be her. So let’s get started, shall we? ALO: Emma, tell us your abridged life story in the sky and on the mat. Emma: I made my first jump at home in New Zealand in 1994. I was professionally skydiving for many years--traveling all over the world for the sport. I eventually came to DeLand and stayed. I started teaching yoga in 2000, but I was still primarily a skydiver--packing parachutes and coaching at Skydive University and all of that kinda stuff. The balance shifted around 2003, when I completed a thousand-hour course in Precision Alignment Yoga. It was a two year training. It was awesome; I am still with those teachers. As the early 2000s went by, I started to get more more dedicated and committed to yoga. I transitioned out of professional skydiving but I stayed very active in the community, and I still fly regularly in the tunnel. The tunnel gives me more space in my life to dedicate to yoga, and teaching yoga is undoubtedly what I am supposed to be doing with my life. This is the sixth year of the Yoga Shed. Opening it in 2011 right next to the dropzone just seemed like the most natural choice in the world. I love to teach skydivers; they’re my people. And what skydivers find in a yoga practice is uniquely helpful to them. ALO: Does it still feel to you like people in these sports have the wrong idea about yoga? Emma: Oh yeah. A lot of airsports people--like the general public, I guess--still have the conception that yoga is about bending yourself into a pretzel or sitting on a cushion and omming. I mean, it is in some practices, but this is a very limited view. Airsports people tirelessly seek a state of flow. When you jump out of a plane or off a cliff and you’re not in that flow state, then that’s usually when things go wrong. When things go really right, it’s when your consciousness is in alignment; when you are fully present and not affected by your ego, when you aren’t thinking about what happened before or what’s coming in the future. You are just in that moment. Yoga gets you there. Airsports athletes make really good yogis because, once they actually establish the habit, they see the immediate, enormous benefits of the practice. They know what that particular flow feeling is when they meet it on the mat because it’s one of the central reasons they jump. The great news is that--once you’ve got the concentration required, when you can align the body and align the mind--then you start to experience that nowness that we all love in airsports whenever you want to. The trick is just to start doing it. ALO: Okay, Emma: I don’t have enough time. Emma: The first thing you have to do is be realistic as far as time goes. I always suggest the same question: How much time is realistic for you to dedicate to your health and wellness practices in order to support your flying, your skydiving, your BASE jumping...whatever it is that you love to do? Is it 10 minutes? 15 minutes? Half an hour? Most people will be, like, okay, I could definitely do 15 minutes. I take longer than that in the shower. Then I’ll say, “Okay. Let’s make this a 15-minute practice. How many days a week do you realistically think you will dedicate 15 minutes to do this practice? Twice a week? Three times a week? Fifteen minutes, three times a week, is very doable. I usually encourage my students to do their practice in the morning, before the day gets going and distractions come along. Can you get up 15 minutes earlier and fit it in before your shower? Do you see that as something that’s realistically possible? The majority of people discover that it’s quite easy to do. It’s more beneficial for people to do a 10- or 15-minute home practice every day than go take a class once a week for an hour and a half. When people start with a 10-minute or 15-minute practice and dedicate to it, that practice gradually lengthens in time. Suddenly that 10-minute practice that they were just going to get out of the way is 15 minutes long. And then, a month later, it is 20 minutes long, because they just felt like staying in it a little bit longer. In time, it grows and grows from within. But If you expect yourself to do a one-and-a-half hour practice, three times a week, right off the bat--if that’s unrealistic, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. If it’s that easy, why isn’t everybody doing it already? Find out in the next installment--as well as the reason “I’m not flexible” is the worst-ever reason not to take up yoga.
  5. Holistic Performance Specialist Lucie Charping Talks You In Image by Serge Shakuto Lucie Charping grew up in the world of food and hospitality--but quite a bit more actively than you might imagine. She founded her first restaurant, in fact, at age 16. Lucie made the food-to-medicine connection early, too. Plagued by a variety of ailments throughout her childhood (as well as adrenal fatigue and a battle with anorexia, which almost killed her), Lucie healed herself through holistic nutrition. Eighteen years later, Lucie’s expertise centers on peak performance, sports injury management and plant-based nutrition--with a particular focus on lifestyle strategies for adventure sports practitioners, elite and Olympic athletes. I had the opportunity to pick Lucie’s brain about peak performance strategies for skydiving (and the shredding of tunnel gnar, to boot). Here’s what she had to say. ALO: So: tell us what you do! Lucie: I'm a peak-performance health coach. I’ve been a holistic nutrition coach for about 18 years. Originally, I worked exclusively within the Ayurvedic model--Indian medicine. These days, there is so much more western science and up-to-date nutritional information available, so I extended my practice to encompass it. The focus is two-pronged: first alignment, then optimization. Once you align your systems, the body can optimize. Most of my clients are adventure athletes of some kind who want to heal from their minor injuries faster; who want to be faster; who want to be clearer in their path towards performance in air sports and who want to have the mental energy that is takes to do these sports well. ALO: At what stage along this path do you usually meet a new client? Lucie: Usually, they come to me already having had an inkling of what needs to be adjusted. With a little bit of age and experience, top-level athletes--and people who want to become top-level athletes--discover for themselves the power of food-as-medicine to improve recovery rates, reduce inflammation, oxygenate more efficiently and focus better. Soon after that, if they’re paying attention--which they are, at that level--they realize that without using nutrition as a tool, they’re effectively shooting themselves in the foot. People come to me because they’re starting to realize how important it is and they want a customized, individualized plan of action--but you can do it for yourself, of course, if you’re willing to put in the research. You’d think that in top-level sports--airsports included--people would know what they need to know about nutrition. Unfortunately, they don’t. In order to be light and strong and focused, you need to eat and balance your body systems. ALO: Most folks that I know who do anything in the human-flight realm are under the impression that they’re doing pretty well, nutritionally. What’s the biggest problem you see with nutrition in airsports specifically? Lucie: In airsports, I come up again and again against the fact that people live predominantly on sugar. Soft drinks and lab-created bars are the major culprits behind the energy rollercoaster. Protein powders and bars replacing real food is a close second. There’s a perception that crap food is par for the course when you’re in the tunnel at 2 o'clock in the morning or out on a dropzone for the weekend--and then you don't know why you can't focus anymore, you don't know why you keep injuring yourself, why you're so frustrated all the time. It’s a matter of blood sugar and stress responses. Once you get your blood sugar and your stress responses under control, the training can rapidly come together. If you manage your body chemistry and your neurochemistry, you can absolutely catapult yourself. You can actually create an environment that sets you up for a state of peak performance--for a flow state. You can cultivate those states within your body, and how you do that is through your food choices and your relaxation practices. We all have these systems built into our bodies; we just need to learn to use them properly. There is a lot of science on this now--about how food choices and relaxation practices can optimize your learning rate; your motivation; your creativity; your focus. You can halve your learning time, for instance. The benefits are across-the-board. ALO: Let’s take a look at your typical skydiver. By that, I mean somebody in their late 20s to mid-30s who thinks that they eat pretty well, but definitely drinks socially--and probably has more quote-unquote “cheat days” than they would care to admit. This hypothetical jumper is starting to feel their age kicking in; starting to feel a little bit less, shall we say, unstoppable; starting to get the little nudges from their body that say something needs to be changed. What are the steps that you first recommend to that person? Lucie: The first thing I ask is simple: Are you eating enough food? Because in airsports--as in most sports--athletes don't eat regularly enough to balance blood sugar. Hangriness is hypoglycemia, which is crippling to an athlete. You can easily manage your blood sugar with plant protein and fiber (for example: hummus and carrots), even while you’re moving quickly at the dropzone. No matter how transient you are, you must think am I eating regularly enough and is my blood sugar stable. That’s step one. ALO: So you’re not telling people to drop everything and go raw vegan. Lucie: Absolutely not. I don't actually agree with that, anyway. I think that a whole-food, plant-based diet is the way forward for health and performance--but, as a coach, you have to meet a person exactly where they’re at. I can prescribe my perfect formula, but it will be a set-up for failure if the athlete can’t or won’t adhere. ----- Next week, Lucie talks about her favorite strategies to make that plan and stick to it.
  6. Holistic Performance Specialist Lucie Charping Talks You In Image by Juan Mayer In our last article, we met holistic nutrition coach Lucie Charping, who works with elite athletes to get them--and keep them--at the top of their game. Often, that game is an airsport. Here’s the continuation of our conversation regarding peak performance strategies for more “normal” airsports athletes, like you and me. (Spoiler: These strategies work just as well if there isn’t a charging bull on your helmet.) ALO: If going cold-turkey on every naughty item in your diet isn’t the way to peak performance, then what is? Lucie: Changes made little-by-little help an athlete increase awareness and get in touch with their body’s natural intelligence by balancing the systems that run us. In actual fact, we're healed by those same systems that keep us going, so--if you balance those systems, such as blood sugar and pH--you'll be setting yourself up for a broad spectrum of positive effects, healing from stress and sports injuries among them. Make better choices until you build the momentum that gets the pathways programmed. ALO: It sounds just like establishing a yoga practice. Right? As soon as you keep the promise that you're going to do it for five minutes, before you know it, it’s 10; 20; 40; 60... Lucie: Absolutely. People think it's matter of willpower. It’s not. It's really a matter of neurobiology--what's happening in your brain, what's happening with your biochemistry, your neurotransmitters, what's happening in your gut--that’s making the decision about what you're going to eat. You can’t fight your hormones. No matter how strong of mind you think you are, you're ruled by your chemistry. You are strong of mind because of your chemistry. So: If you get your chemistry in alignment, you’ve essentially learned to hack yourself. You can not only be happier, more effective, more creative and more motivated in your daily life--but if you’re the kind of person who relishes a heightened-stress, high-consequence situation like skydiving, tunnel flying, BASE jumping, etcetera, then you’ll get even more benefit from this kind of management. You’ll learn faster, you’ll have faster decision-making and you'll have more focus to excel in these unique sports with their unique pressures. Of course, I could say to you, “Here; go to the dropzone with this power-packed superfoods smoothie of maca and cacao with all these berries in it.” And it would be super awesome, of course; it’d give you a short burst of energy for a short amount of time. But it’s not sustainable to do that every time you go to the dropzone; every time you go to the tunnel. If you learn how to balance your blood sugar, you're going to have an abundance of energy for an extended amount of time, and you don’t have to plug a blender in next to the packing mat. ALO: Let’s talk a little more about energy. It’s a big part of airsports to manage your energy when you’re waiting on loads or tunnel rotations or weather, and a lot of airsports athletes struggle with it. How can this stuff help with that? Lucie: The peaks and valleys in these sports are quite steep. I see a lot of adrenal fatigue and overactive minds in the group of people that I work with. For this, I’ll use the term “extreme sports,” because these athletes like to push their minds and physiologies to the extreme. When you put yourself in a high-consequence or high-risk situation constantly, the chemistry that is firing in your brain is full of reward chemicals. It’s highly addicting. Over time, you reset your brain’s baseline for what it means to feel good. When you're on the ground or on the bench, those reward chemicals are not firing. So, what happens is--more often than not, and you can correct me if I'm wrong--we have major addictions in these sports. Not just to drugs, though that is certainly within the landscape. We have addictions to sugar; caffeine; tobacco; all kinds of stimulants, and you can see for yourself how people are having to use those things constantly between jumps and flights. It's not because the individual a yahoo; it’s because their baseline chemistry is telling them this is what is required for you to feel happy now. So, on the ground as an action sport or, say, “extreme sport” athlete--for peak performance, you must learn to cultivate that chemistry whilst not risking your life. And you do that with the food that you eat and with relaxation practices. You can keep your blood sugar level, which keeps your mind and body in a receptive state, then cultivate that satisfying chemical response through breathing. Then you won't have to reach for an energy drink every time you pack, bouncing from one coffee to the next, not eating all day at the dropzone and then binging whenever you manage to get home. Peak performance comes with time. And so, it’s interesting to note, does optimal health and weight, without calorie counting, or deprivation, or guilt. ALO: It sounds way simpler than I thought. Lucie: It’s not really simple, it’s elegant. To me, that's where the power is. If you want to talk about what is both the barrier and the bridge between business as usual and peak performance for airsports athletes, it’s a single path, and it’s not complicated: cultivating these practices of prioritizing your food so you balance your body's chemistry and practicing mindfulness techniques in order to bring a single point of focus to your mind. Not only do you get better at jumping and flying; you become happier as overall person. Your body is magic; it's magnificent, actually We often forget about that. But we never, ever should. ------ Lucie is based in San Diego, but travels to wind tunnels worldwide as the nutritional arm of Fusion Flow Retreats. To reach out to Lucie for a personal consult, pop over to her Facebook page.
  7. admin

    The Power of the Flare

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

    Climb Out, Freak Out, Chill Out

    A beginners guide to filming competitive 4-way This article is for jumpers that already have some experience flying camera and are trying to expand on their knowledge of how to film formation-teams in a competition setting. I will focus mainly on 4-way, because I believe it to be the most difficult FS discipline to film (aside from VFS), due to the many different exits and faster key speeds. However, once you have a firm grasp of shooting 4-way, the same principles can be applied to 8-way and larger formations. During a competition, whether it be a local meet or the nationals, it is vital that you give yourself all the advantages you can to do the job right. It is advisable that you jump with two cameras with differing wide-angle lenses. Film the team with the tighter view in mind, so if a grip goes out of frame, you can always revert back to the other camera with the wider view. The difference between first and second place can come down to only one point. So our goal is to have an “NJ free” (Non Judgeable) competition for all 10 rounds. If at any time during a jump a grip goes out of frame, the videographer can cost the team a point or more. Jumping with two cameras is not necessary for training, however you want to do a few training jumps before a meet with the exact set up that you are planning on using. This may expose any flaws or issues with your equipment. Training should be more difficult for you than competition. Push yourself to fly close to the formation. Train with your back up wide-angle lens, this will force you to be closer and more aggressive in getting the shots you need. This will make every competition feel much easier. Do not be afraid to try new things. Sometimes we have to leave our comfort zones to learn something that may benefit us in the long run. Climb OutIn most cases the camera flyer is in charge of the spot. Not having to worry about this little detail allows the team to focus on their jump. As you climb out on the camera step, think of flying your body as soon as you expose yourself to the airflow. Even though you are on the airplane, miss-presenting yourself to the wind can make your job a lot more difficult. You can practice climbing around on the airplane while it is parked. Get a feel for where everything is. Continue to practice until you can climb out of the plane in a smooth and controlled manner. Speed will come with time. Do not forget to practice climbing back into the plane. Sometimes you will find yourself climbing out right as the red light turns back on. If possible, one of your teammates can block some of the wind and help you get back inside. Remember to become familiar with different aircrafts when you travel to another drop-zone to train or compete. Freak OutNever trust an exit count! It is easy to get impatient on the camera step, waiting for the team to get ready. Teams can sometimes take a while in the door to get ready, especially if they are trying something new. Do not interpret a “wiggle” as a count. Be patient and watch for other signs like a helmet releasing a head jam. Every team’s exit count is different. Before every jump, most teams will take the time to dirt dive and practice their exit from a mock-up. You can learn a lot about the team by just simply watching them on the ground, so take as many opportunities as you can to learn the exit count and timing. Leading or Peeling?The exits covered here are from an otter, a left-handed door. Keep in mind that your relative position to the team is much closer on the aircraft than what it will be in freefall. You will need to create this gap quickly during the exit by falling slow. This is where camera wings and strong legs can be very helpful. Teams and coaches prefer the leading exit over the peel exit, because it gives them a great view of their timing, presentation, and heading. This method is much more conducive for the video debrief. For this exit I have my left foot on the camera step and my right hand on the handle. (When you have your right foot on the step, you expose more of your body to the exiting team.) After the team has given the count and is in the process of leaving the airplane, I find it helpful to try and run my right hand across the fuselage. I try to feel the rivets of the plane as I kick off the step. This helps ensure that I am in the correct position relative to the formation. As for your timing on this exit, you will know you have left too early when you can see the bottom of the airplane, and you will have left too late if you make contact with the team. For all exits, this is where your timing becomes crucial. Peeling is usually considered the safer choice of the two exits, because you leave right after the team. This way, you will not leave too early because of a misinterpreted count and you do not have to worry about the teams burble. For this exit, I have my right foot on the step with my right hand on the handle. I swing my body back so that my left foot is touching the fuselage. Now all I have to do is wait for them to come out the door. Leave with the last person and follow the team down the hill. Remember to present your hips correctly into the relative wind and keep the team in those cross hairs. Chill OutAfter the exit, all you have to do is keep the team’s grips in frame for the next 35 seconds. Remember that the different formations rarely stay in one place. As the team transitions from one formation to the next, you may have to adjust your own relative position to the team to keep them all in frame. Improving your individual flight skills will allow you to make these necessary corrections quickly and without thought. Although the “hard part” is over, you still have to be in the right position to get a judgeable video. Being close enough is the first part, but probably more importantly is being “steep” enough. Your angle in relationship to the formation is crucial. The steeper you can get, the better. It is very difficult to see all the grips when you are shallow. This is especially true on exit. If at any point, other than the exit, you can see sky, you are not steep enough. You should also only be able to see the top/back of the team’s helmets (no faces). The distance from the team will vary on the size lens you are using. An additional detail to pay attention to is the background. As the videographer, you can make the judge’s job easier by turning to a heading with a solid background, such as a forest, lake, desert floor, etc. Multicolored backgrounds, such as buildings can make the image very distracting and the formations harder to judge. Doh!Making contact with the formation can occur either on exit or in free fall. We want to avoid this scenario at all costs; however, accidents can and do happen. If you find yourself falling towards a formation, get as big and flat as you can! The last thing you should do is ball-up. Your natural reaction is to protect yourself, but by doing this you will only make things worse. Not only have you sacrificed all your lift and will now impact the team with greater speed, you have also given up on the chance that your airflow may be returned to you as the formation continues to move to the next point. I think that it is a good idea for camera flyers to understand what the team is exiting and how the formation will fly. I believe that a deeper understanding is necessary than just to know whether a formation is long or round. Being able to anticipate a formation’s movements, direction, and timing will greatly improve your video quality. Be pro active! Ask your team what formations they are going to perform. It will take some time, but being able to “speak” a little 4-way will not hurt. You can educate yourself on these formations by reviewing the IPC dive pool online. Memorize how each formation flies as it comes out the door; more importantly, think about how they might block your airflow. As the team debriefs their jumps, you should do the same. Take a look at your own timing, framing, and distance. Strive to make each video jump better than your last. Competition vs. TrainingWhen it comes to competition camera flying, there is a big difference between a “Gun for Hire” and a Teammate. In order to make this transition, you need to change your approach and mind-state from just being there for the ride, to being part of the action. As a teammate, you are taking on much more responsibility than a “gun for hire”, such as: archiving and cataloging all media footage, taking pictures, submitting photos to magazines and sponsors (if applicable), checking in with manifest for calls, spotting, chasing down cutaways, etc. Your team needs to be able to depend on you to do all of these things. Creating a great training environment becomes key. The more the team can focus on their training, the better. Helping a team to perform at their best can also aid you in achieving your best. Being able to perform at your peak during a high-stress competition can be very satisfying and rewarding. A positive attitude and an eagerness to learn is the start of becoming a good competitor. Hard work and embracing the training process is what will turn you into a great competitor.
  9. With more than four thousand jumps over the last fourteen years, Jarno McCordia is one of the most experienced and highly respected wingsuit pilots in the world. Here he joins us to discuss a couple of upcoming projects from the pointy end of wingsuit flying. First up is a look at the soon-to-open indoor wingsuit facility in Stockholm. Towards the end of 2016 footage began to emerge of an angled tunnel facility in Sweden where some ambitious aeronautical engineers have been conspiring to do for wingsuit flying what vertical wind tunnels have done for our skydiving skills - change everything. Brought quietly onto the project in early 2016 by the founder of Phoenix Fly and wingsuit development grand wizard Robert Pecnik, Jarno immediately saw the potential: “The whole thing was already underway a fair bit when I got involved in an active way. Secretly Robert had already been working for almost a year with the team behind the technology to realise the project. The first test flights had already been done when I was invited to come take a look at the flying and help assess things - mostly from an instructional point of view but also to see how far we could push the flying. Normally a lot of the development and testing we do together is open and shared process - so to have Robert tell me he had some news but couldn't show me anything until we met in person made me suspect it was something big.” “The flying I saw at that point was just steady cruising, but it immediately made me realise what I was seeing and the potential of how it could change the sport in a similar way that indoor skydiving transformed Freefly and FS in terms of skills and training.” Many disciplines within skydiving are evolving quickly and wingsuit flying is no exception. Suit designs are continually updated as our methods are refined and our abilities better understood. Steep and fast is the way to maximise the potential of a wingsuit - but getting it right takes time. How does the tunnel work and what have you learned about the instruction process so far? “The whole tunnel chamber is a moving structure of which the angle can be altered from pretty much flat to almost vertical. This ability to do this gives us a glide ratio varying from 1:1 all the way up to 3.65:1 (comfortably more than the sustained full glide on high range wingsuits) and the controllable speed of the tunnel is from 0 to almost 300km/h. Balancing these two factors means the tunnel is able to match the glide angle and for the suit one is flying and be appropriate for the skill level of the pilot. We have looked a lot at the teaching technique for beginners as we see that as being a significant percentage of customers. Experienced wingsuit pilots will also need to learn the basics first so that was an important area to focus on.” The indoor skydiving industry has a complex system of managing students abilities while they are training developed over many years . With good quality instruction accidents are few and far between but there is still some inherent risk. What have you learned so far about keeping people safe? “In terms of spotting and safety, procedures will vary a lot from what people are used to. I cannot go into to much detail yet due to a pending patent, but there is an assisted flight system that holds the student in a central position in the tunnel. There is free range of movement in all directions but only up a certain degree. In a similar way to how a seatbelt works, any rapid movement towards the ground or the walls is halted in a gentle way. Once pilots reach the stage where they can fly around free without any assistance it will be possible to get into close contact with the floor and walls, though experience has shown that the lower windspeed and design of the tunnel make those situations a lot less severe than one would expect. I’ve been practicing some quite aggressive acrobatics and of course it does not always go down without a hitch, though due to the padding and angle of the chamber you never really hit hard and you get gently rolled down to the floor - feet first.” “Initially there is something very intimidating about flying in a confined space but it pushes the accuracy and precision of your flying to a new level. It has definitely helped me realise how much further we can develop the precision of our flying. Even in the smaller test setup we have been flying 2-way and performing advanced acrobatics. Once the full-scale tunnel opens in September the possibilities are limitless - we are already going to host the first indoor acrobatics competition in December. LT1 is currently scheduled to open in September 2017. You can read more about the project and the history of the facility here: https://flywingsuit.se/
  10. 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.”
  11. It is easy to think of the weather as just being big. All too often as skydivers we assess things in very general terms without really worrying too much about the details - yet the most direct impact weather conditions can have on your skydiving can happen on an entirely personal level, affecting you and you alone while trying to successfully land a parachute. I make no claim to being a canopy piloting coach and should you wish to further your skills in that area I recommend seeking out humans that offer professional structured courses in these matters. What follows is simple advice designed to encourage further learning by pointing out some of the more common weather phenomena that you will encounter above and around the dropzone. Turbulence: When wind hits something it bounces off in different directions which can cause difficulties for flying one’s parachute through if you are not prepared for it. Dropzones are hugely diverse in terms of layout and construction - from the humble Cessna using a strip of grass in the middle of nowhere to powerhouse operations that utilise a fleet of aircraft and resemble a municipal airport, however wherever you jump the same general rules about what to look for apply. Below I have included some examples and a few shit-but-accurate pictures to demonstrate how wind behaves over and around common obstacles. By referring to these you can get some idea about how to be aware of potential hazards and avoid them when necessary. Wind over building Wind over hill Wind over ridge Wind over trees Unstable Air - When the wind hits something big and flat like a hangar it spills out in lots of different directions at the same time. Depending on exactly where you are this could cause lift, sink, sideways motion or all of these in quick succession. Things can get really rough next to structures when it is windy - so use your brain, apply your training and be somewhere else. Wind Shadow - A large enough object might create an area behind it which is clear of the turbulence and has no wind. Where you were previously crabbing like mad or going nowhere fast - if you enter a wind shadow you might suddenly find you have a surge in ground speed and have to adjust where you though you were going to land. Be very ready for more turbulence. Bottleneck - This is when wind speeds up rapidly to squeeze a large volume of air in a small gap between two objects. This can also be compounded by the other problems created by wind trying to get around things such as an increase in instability. Thermal Activity: Thermal activity is generated by the sun heating the air - warm air expands pushing outwards and cold air contracts drawing inwards, causing wind. The most common experience most of us initially have with this effect is via some toothy weather person gesticulating at region-wide areas of a greenscreen map on the telly and describing which way the wind will most likely be pointing. However - thermals gather and release on a much, much smaller scale than this and can be localised enough to effect your flight while navigating a canopy. Things to look for are items and areas that are good at causing lift by either reflecting heat such as tarmac (runway/carpark/roads) and metal (hangars), or storing heat such as bodies of water. A small amount of thermal activity is not going to cause serious issues with your flight pattern or your canopy’s performance but some sudden lift or sink when you are not expecting it can mean the difference between landing in your intended spot and somewhere else. In some places thermals can be surprisingly violent and threaten your safety - ask anyone who has tussled with an Arizona dust devil that sprang as if from nowhere on an otherwise perfect skydiving day. Behaviour: So what do you do when things get more challenging? Dropzones operate under official limits for jumping and will often have their own rules in place for particular conditions. For example you might be required to land in a different area if the wind is coming from a certain direction or you might have to stop jumping sooner than you were planning due to a particular quirk in the local terrain. Learn these special circumstances and understand why they exist - you never know when such knowledge will help you make a good decision somewhere unfamiliar when the pressure is on. Despite established parameters the person responsible for your safety is you. If you decide keep jumping as conditions get ‘interesting’ it is only sensible to modify your behaviour for increased safety: If it is getting super windy then use any available space and land clear of hazards and other canopies. Walking a long way back to the hangar is better than crawling even the shortest distance if you have to do it into the back of an ambulance. Landing crosswind or downwind into clear space and sliding across the grass like a goose landing on a frozen pond is better than turning low into the wind and flying face-first into the ground. If the wind is actively changing direction as you look at the indicators then follow the rules and land the way the arrow is pointing. Again - it is safer to all land in the same direction regardless of which way the wind is going than all try to face into it as it moves around and risk a collision. Watch other people land. If the wind is getting up then maybe have a break and watch a load or two. Assess everyone from Captain swoopypants all the way through to the tandems and those with lower experience. Try to develop a habitual curiosity about what is going on at the particular spot you like to skydive. Many noteworthy incidents in our sport can be traced back to awareness of small things that could easily be avoided with a little learning.
  12. After almost a 25-year hiatus, I came back into the fold, enabled by the last child having gone off to college, and prompted by arthritic hips that were making it too painful to play tennis. I figured some things may have changed, but that I had been aware of them, having kept up my USPA membership and subscription to Parachutist. Well, it’s one thing to be aware of something, and quite another to learn to handle it in real time. In my first year back, I jumped at 5 different dropzones in three countries, so that I saw how the changes have been implemented in some different environments. Here is a list of the things that had changed that awaited my return, and had implications for my safety and the safety of others. 1. There are seatbelts in these jumpships—a good idea in the event of an unanticipated landing, but one has to learn where they are, remember to take them off, to stow them (especially in small aircraft), and be aware of where they are to avoid entanglement on exit. 2. Spotting is a thing of the past in many dropzones—just keep your eye on the colored lights! Still, it is a good idea to check where one is, in the event a pilot was tracking the wrong line. 3. Turbine aircraft now have doors! No more freezing on the way to altitude, or clinging to one’s neighbor to avoid falling out. However, one has to learn when they go up and down, how to secure them, how to close them gently. 4. Everyone wears their pilot chute above their butt—making deployment a little slower, if one manages to find it (remember the advert in the Parachutist: “Looking for something?”), but avoiding a few other problems. Be sure to practice deployment with the gear you will be using many times on the ground, in a prone position, to develop some muscle memory before going up. And check it constantly—my too-loose BOC pouch let out my pilot chute when I rose from the floor and caught it on something, much to the consternation of the planeload of jumpers whose lives I had just endangered. 5. Parachutes come in many flavors, and many sizes—gone are the days of one canopy fits all. Most of today’s canopies are very touchy, and downright skittish, react to the slightest input, and take far more concentration in the last few hundred feet of descent. Everybody swoops, to some degree, and some DZs have abandoned upkeep of their pea gravel because nobody uses it. I found it easier to land an original Sabre 170 than a Sabre II 190, and I am sure I will not be going for a fully elliptical canopy—at my age, I have to avoid the 1-in-500 jump mishaps that can maim one for life. Essentially, skydivers have invented a whole new way to die—turn low, and drive into the ground at 60mph. 6. There are many minor innovations in skydiving gear, too many to mention—just make sure you know how everything works on your rig, and why it is the way it is. 7. Everybody PRO-packs, or uses some variant—although I had had several people show me how to do it, and watched all the videos, etc., in my first dozen attempts, I packed one malfunction, and had to get more private instruction in a quiet place. 8. People fly landing patterns—e.g. left-hand, with turns at 1000, 600, 300 feet--in the old days, even with 20 jumpers in the air, we all did pretty much what we wanted and hoped for the best; now, even a 4-way requires paying attention to the landing pattern. 9. Breakoff for belly-flying is much higher—instead of separating an 8-way at 3500, now 4500 or even 5000 is the time to say goodbye. Coupled with the higher minimum opening altitude of 2500, this makes for a much more reasonable margin for error—and as humans, we are prone to error. 10. There are now many different skydiving disciplines, and you have to learn about them, and pay attention to exit order, as one jump run may let out belly flyers, freeflyers, angle flyers, trackers, wingsuiters, and tandems, as well as people who haven’t made up their mind before boarding exactly what they are planning to do. 11. AADs are now required most places—no longer shunned as devices that might blow up in your face. RSLs are also ubiquitous—both systems have saved many, many lives. 12. There are lots of old jumpers now—few old bold ones—and they have learned a lot about how to be safe over their last quarter century, while I’ve been taking kids to soccer practice. Pepper them with all sorts of questions, and do not rush to emulate the 22-year-olds out there. They likely have gone through a much more comprehensive training program than you have, including courses on canopy control and instruction on equipment safety. My personal rule, which I have not seen enunciated elsewhere: On any given jump, DO NOT INTRODUCE MORE THAN ONE NEW PIECE OF EQUIPMENT, or new way of using a piece of equipment. Of course, your first couple of recurrency jumps will necessitate breaking this rule—but don’t go out of your way to put a camera on, or add anything other than what is absolutely necessary. Example: If you get a new jumpsuit, don’t also try a new helmet on the same jump. Or, if you do, go out on a solo jump. Addendum: Do your homework. I recently was caught in a dust devil at 100ft or so, which completely collapsed my canopy, and I credit my reactions and walk-away landing to a video and a book, both by Brian Germain, which I had studied in detail. Larry Moulton, C-11371, EET #22, is a professor of international health and biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University.
  13. nettenette

    How to Team - Hayabusa's Best Tips

    How does the winningest 4-way team in the world get--and stay--that way? Image by Danny Jacobs If you say “by training hard,” you’re certainly right. Hayabusa, the aforementioned golden boys of 4-way FS, unsurprisingly train their way around the calendar in both the tunnel and the sky. As of publication, they recently topped of the podium in the FAI world championships for both, as you’ve undoubtedly noticed. The top of the podium is, after all, pretty much home for these guys. Their hard training schedule, however, is certainly not the only ingredient in the sweet-smelling success that’s always wafting out of the Hayabusa tent. If you’ve got a couple of hardworking skydiving buddies who fly well with you, you might be thinking about going for your own set of medals. Not into FS? No worries. It doesn’t matter if you point your belly button at the ground or the horizon: you can still borrow a page from Hayabusa’s playbook. Here’s what Hayabusa Point Dennis Praet has to say about how his uniquely consistent team keeps their streak going so strong. 1. Work on the relationships. “At the beginning, I really underestimated the importance of team dynamics,” Praet says. “They are super important. You can be an awesome flyer. You can do the fastest 360s. Whatever. But if you don’t have a good relationship with your teammates--if you are not very good friends--then competition is a very tough world.” “Don’t underestimate how important it is to have a good relationship with your teammates,” he continues, “And don’t misunderstand that to mean that you always have to accepting someone else’s bad habits or crap. It’s true that it is about coming to terms with some bad characteristics, but it’s more about appreciating the good ones. Like siblings, in a way.” 2. Fix what you need to and get on with it. “We had a very harsh year in 2014 with Hayabusa,” he explains. “It was the year that nobody liked, and it just takes all the passion away. We saw the rough year for what it was, changed the things that needed to change and found that passion back.” 3. Cross-train outside skydiving. “Everybody on the team does their own thing as far as fitness is concerned,” Dennis says. “It’s not a secret that I don’t like running; I would rather go to the gym or do some of my active hobbies, but pretty intensively. I absolutely love wakeboarding and kite surfing, and sometimes I’ll spend the whole day in the water, going hard.” “When I train, I focus on the fact that four way is a 35-second sprint--so going for endurance is only helpful in training. You can kind of pick your own sport to optimize your capacity for sprinting. As long as you are fit enough to go through a whole training camp--12 jumps a day, without losing your head--you are in good shape.” 4. Get your head right. “When we are going into a hard competing day,” Praet says, “We try to put all our personal issues on the side. If there is any small thing that might put you off your mental game, consciously put that out of your head. Then just trust the training that you have done; the plan that you followed throughout the year. That way, you know--even if you lose, it is just that the other team was better. It is not something that you have done or didn’t do. That knowledge is comforting.” Hayabusa winning 2013 Dubai International Skydive Championship
  14. admin

    Health Gymnasium

    Health gymnasiums Those who can afford time and expense involved many wish to take advantage of the facilities offered by health gymnasium. None of the equipment and other facilities provided by gimnasium are strictly necessary to the process of getting fit, but they can add interest and variety to your physical exercises. Two other advantages offered by good gymnasium are constant supervision, which enables you to exercise with safety confidence, and a congenial atmosphere. Exrecising with people who share common purpose can provide extra enjoyment and incentive. It is necessary first of all to distinguish between the different types of gymnasium. Training fymnasium are essentially for athletes and other men and womenwho wish to develop their skills for particular athletic activities. They provide facilities for athletes to keep themselves for their chosen sports. Health gymnasium provide advice, instruction and facilities for everyone who wishes to become or keep fit, whatever his or her initial physical condition. Their clients range from professional athletes to office workers who wish only to make the best use of their lunch hours. Health gymnasium vary widely în quality. When choosing one of yourself, you should check that is staffed by qualified and responsible instructors. You may feel flattered to be attended by a sports celebrity, but professionally trained physiotherapists and physical education instructors can be equally, if not more, beneficial to an unfit person. You should expect to be asked details of your medical history, and to be carefully examined before being allowed to use all the facilities. Three types of exercise The accesories provided in health gymnasium to help you exercise range form simple wights and benches to more sophisticated equipment such aș pulleys and rowing machine. These accesories are appropriate for different kinds of exercises. Isometric exercises, the simple type involvea applying muscular strenght by pulling or pushing immovable objects. The muscles are tensed amd this tension is sustained for short periods of time. Because little movement is involved în these exercises, they develop static rather than dynamic strenght. Isotonic exercises involve pulling or lifting an object to certain position and then returning it to its original position. They cause the muscles to contract as you move but, because the weight or force employed is to the same degree throughout the exercise. The weight or force used can only be that which you cadn lift or pull at the weakest point in the range of motion involved and at other points your muscles are not sufficiently strained to develop în strenght. The third type of exercise, known as isokinetic, requires more sophisticated equipment. Isokinetic exercises can be designed for particular needs. For example, a person who is training for a particular sport can do exercises that stimulate exactly the demands of this sport, and also developed precisley the muscles he or she most needs. Massage Facilities for massage may be available at health gymnasium or sauna baths. Massage is used in physiscal therapy as a means of rehabilitating patients who are suffering from certain physical pain or aliments but, as a mean of getting or keeping fit, its value is very limitated. Sauna baths Sauna baths may be attached to health gymnasium or may exist as separate establishments. Most sauna baths are organized according to similar basic principles, although Finnish sauna baths retain their original national characteristics. They have an invigorating effect on the whole body and aid physical and mental relaxation, but their effect on the whole body and aid physical and mental relaxation, but their effect are temporary rather than long-term. Sauna baths provide a healthy and enjoyable means of relaxation, but the sudden rise and pulse rate can be dangerous. Pregnant women and people with high or low blood pressure, should therefore avoid them.
  15. At Work With Kenyon Salo and Team Thunderstorm Kenyon Salo stays pretty busy. When I talk to him, he’s been -- well -- kinda slammed. “I’ve been doing a lot of skydiving, a little bit of BASE jumping, lots of wingsuiting, building the brand of The Bucket List Life, a dynamic lifestyle design community, doing a lot of keynotes, running a bunch of seminars and trainings...” He pauses for a moment. “And I’m leaving for Cozumel in half an hour to go scuba diving for a week. I should probably pack.” Kenyon’s also a professional exhibition skydiver. He’s an athlete on not one, but two skydiving demonstration teams. He’s on the Mile-Hi Demonstration Team (the home team for his dropzone, Mile-Hi Skydiving), which does high-profile demo jumps all over the state. He’s also on the official Denver Broncos parachute team: “Team Thunderstorm.” Thunderstorm is unique in the world: no other team in the NFL has their own team of professional parachutists. The team jumps into every single home game. That would be impressive in and of itself, of course -- but there’s more. The Broncos stadium is as unique as the team that jumps into it. It’s one of the steepest, tightest sports stadiums in the United States. Oh -- and the entire stadium is criss-crossed with metal cables during the high profile games (which is more often than not, since the Denver Broncos are Super Bowl Champions). “As far as exhibition jumping is concerned, the Bronco’s stadium -- or “Sports Authority Field,” as it’s known officially -- is the diamond. There is a not a harder stadium that’s being jumped right now,” Kenyon explains. “A lot of the older stadiums are really splayed out, where the Bronco’s stadium is really upright. And then there are the cables, of course. This is the most technical demo jump in skydiving.” To do what Kenyon and his team do on game day, you have to have quite a resume: you have to be a competition-level swooper, you have to be able to speak eloquently to the media, and you have to land a tiny parachute in wicked conditions. Perfectly. Every. Single. Time. That is, to say the least, a difficult job position to fill. Understandably, Team Thunderstorm is small. It has six members, no more, no less: Jimmy Tranter, Stuart Schoenfeld, Justin Thornton, Kenyon Salo and Allison Reay. The number never changes. If one of the jumpers is unavailable on the day of the jump, that jumper is not subbed out. “The six of us know each other’s flying with great precision,” Kenyon explains, “And we can predict each other, every time. That safety is worth its weight in gold.” The Air Force used to get into that stadium with 250- or 260-square-foot canopies, navigating the stadium’s unusual topography by sinking their big canopies perilously in and executing a low turn before setting them down. It worked. But then the stadium installed more cables and the pre-game show wanted a higher-speed exhibition. Team Thunderstorm had to envision a better way -- and they did. “We decided to jump 97-to-120-square-foot Spectres,” Kenyon says. “The reason we jump those is because we have to dive the parachute across the crowd while still keeping a mandated 50-foot distance above them. We do hook turns into the stadium, down the stands, carving right. We pop a toggle at something like 150 feet, then carve across the field, then land.” “Basically, it’s like parallel parking a Ferrari at 60 miles an hour,” he laughs. “And 99% of the time, we stop between the 20 yard line and the end zone.” The first time Kenyon made the jump he describes as a moment of “terrifying confidence.” He knew he could do it -- after all, he’d made dozens of successful jumps into the empty stadium before he got the green light to join the team on game day. “Prior to being accepted as a team member,” Kenyon says, “I’d take advantage of any practice day I could get. I did a lot of practice when there were no actual games on the field. But I was also practicing at the dropzone. I would fly that canopy as much as I could -- work hard on the turn -- and work with Jimmy Tranter, a phenomenal canopy coach for brand new jumpers as well as for Team Thunderstorm, who gave the final okay to DZO and Team Thunderstorm Organizer Frank Casaras, for me to join the team on game days. Jimmy has got 25,000 jumps. When he speaks, everybody listens.” That constant practice is vital for a jump like this. Even without the dizzyingly steep sides and cable obstacles at the Broncos stadium, stadium jumps are so legendary that they have their own classification in the taxonomy of exhibition jumping. (The classifications are, in order of difficulty: Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 -- and “Stadium.”) This is true because of the super-challenging conditions a stadium creates. The rim of a stadium creates puckering turbulence as the wind hits it from the outside, spilling rough air down into the bowl. These conditions are not for the faint-of-heart. “When we come over that rim,” Kenyon says, “We have to be prepared for anything and everything. You can easily have 12 mile-an-hour wind at the rim and no wind on the field, so that means within 300 feet of difference in altitude you have got a huge difference in wind speed. And it’s often in different directions.” “Our small canopies help with that,” he continues, “Because, as we dive through the stadium, speed equals lift -- and the fluid dynamics also make the canopy rigid for smooth flying and landings. In the Bronco’s stadium, time runs in milliseconds. From the point you come over the rim -- and by that time, you are going very quickly down the field -- you are flying through and underneath a netting of metal cables. “There’s a single place you can enter,” Kenyon explains. “As soon as you do, you’re moving across the field very quickly, and you’re avoiding those cables. All the cables for the field goal cameras sit at 150 feet. The skycam cables come from the top corners and extend down diagonally; there’s around 350 feet of cable there, stretching down to a point the ground from two directions.” He gives a sideways grin. “It’s very challenging, yet every team member is absolutely prepared mentally and professionally for this demonstration.” Challenging, yes. Injurious -- not so far. At time of publication, Team Thunderstorm boasted a 100% safety record. Every team jumper has landed on the field on every single jump, with no close calls. “We have strict parameters that we must follow that are set forth by the USPA (United States Parachute Association) for how demos of this level and caliber must be handled,” Kenyon continues, “Sometimes we have to call it because the cloud ceiling is too low or the winds are beyond our limits. It’s those moments that make this team professional because we always err on the side of caution to make sure safety is paramount.” “Something Jimmy Trantor taught us, which I hold in the highest regard, is that we must constantly update our mental map on these jumps,” Kenyon articulates. “It’s a running inner monologue that focuses your awareness. ‘I made the turn; ‘the winds have changed;’ ‘I’m going down the crowd now;’ ‘I’m getting a little crosswind over here;’ ‘I’m a little bit over the sideline, I’m bringing it back over the center;’ ‘the field is a little wet;’ update, update, update. We spend the entire jump updating our mental patterns and adjusting. Immediately.” It’s a zen exercise to keep a high-quality inner monologue going in a stadium situation -- sometimes at night, with pyro; sometimes in wild conditions; always, with the throbbing energy of a massive, excited crowd. “There’s nothing like jumping out of the plane at 5,000 feet and already hearing the crowd beneath you,” Kenyon exudes. “The crowd sees us exit and just erupts. They are screaming and yelling, and you’re suddenly filled with the knowledge that you’re doing it for them -- the fans that have supported you for seven seasons running; for the camaraderie of the team around you; for the guys playing great football.” And for the love of skydiving, of course.
  16. 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.
  17. Busy skies - Bad Sassendorf, Germany. From the solar flares and zooming photons of a gargantuan ball of always exploding fire really far away, through to the moon swinging about in the sky or even the rotation of the earth itself - the weather which makes or breaks our plans on this little blue and green planet is affected by things on the grandest scale. Meteorological science is both amazingly exacting and still kind of imprecise all at the same time. While hard to nail down the total details, weather forecasting can tell you pretty much what to expect and more-or-less when. There are things you can judge in the distance that might affect you directly when you ask questions like: If there is a hurricane in the other side of the ocean might it be windy at the weekend? Or, if these opposing weather fronts are going to clash above me how is it going to affect the conditions? The most important rule is the further away you look the more general you have to be. Knowing how things work and seeing them in advance might mean making the call between a great day of jumping while the naysayers stay at home, seeing a shitty day coming a mile off and going to the movies instead, or accidentally skydiving in the rain and having to dry your shit out afterwards. Clouds It is fun to learn about clouds. The names might seem baffling at first but with just a small amount of practice you will be able to identify the most common types and what they herald for your skydiving day. Once you can name the usual suspects there are a great many others that signify environmental anomalies and special circumstances which can further your awareness. A cloud spotter’s guide in the glove compartment of you car or handily placed next to a window is a good way to encourage what can become a rewarding and entertaining habit. Here are the formations that you generally get to deal with: Little Puffy White Ones: Latin Words: Cumulus (Low), Altocumulus (Medium), Cirrocumulus (High). Cumulus clouds are the fluffy cotton wool variety that appear in children’s fridge door paintings. The presence of any cloud indicates precipitation but small friendly white examples mean all the things skydivers like - mostly sunny and not windy and not raining. This is the type of cloud they hold in reserve for the choicest skydiving locations around the world, where everyone jumps in their swimwear and frolics in the sea at the end of the day. Grey Fogginess: Latin Words: Stratus (Low), Altostratus (Medium), Cirrostratus (High). Stratus cloud is likely what is happening when the whole sky is full of grey and people are shaking their fists angrily at it. Thin layers can be seen through but any kind of density can render the sky obscuring and opaque. Stratus skies can represent the kind of conditions where you could be offered jumps from whatever the cloud base is, or possibly from above if the ground is still visible. A good Altostratus day is the kind that gives you the feeling you first experienced as a child peering out of on an aeroplane window and wishing you could get out and bounce around on a big white spongy trampoline. Big High Massive Ones: Latin Words: Cumulonimbus Huge cloud structures can make for spectacular skydiving experiences as you zoom down through colossal valleys in the sky. Just watch as the wingsuit types get all giddy with excitement on days like these - then promptly land miles off the dropzone because they couldn’t resist chasing some perfect aerial canyon. However, much care is needed. While these towering storm clouds might be spread out and allow for jumps in the gaps it can be all too easy to wind up inside one if things go against you. At best you get wet and uncomfortable, at worst your visibility is zero and things are dangerous. Jumping with lots of cloud around requires good judgement and extra emphasis on safety - keep the groups small and bin the tracking. Storm cell building in the distance - Lake Balaton, Hungary. Combinations In a very general way when you start smooshing your Latin words together things are getting busier up there and more likely to lead to no skydiving. Nimbostratus formations are what can be known as fine British skydiving weather. Large ominous grey monsters fill all the observable sky as you gear up while it is still actually raining outside, but don’t worry - there is a hole coming. For extra entertainment bring an American along and watch then gawp slack-jawed and unbelieving at you while you get ready. Stratocumulus clouds are the big wavy sheets that can be low, medium, high, or all at the same time. Thin layers like this are caused by generally stable conditions before things get saucy. Thin layers at different heights can look like shit from the ground but be fine once you are in the plane, realising that much of it remains above you and does not hinder your visibility of the ground. Jumping from cloud base - Slavnica, Slovakia. A nice layer to play above - Dunkeswell, UK. Go Further There are many types of of cloud. As a skydiver you will spend a lot of time looking up at the sky - so it is a solid investment to learn more about how it works. There are clouds that demonstrate it being windy enough to push rain up into the sky or down out of it before it normally would, there are those that form up into rolls and lumps and streets, those that create incandescent colour from above or below, and those that don’t do anything but will impress the hell out of people when you can name them.
  18. Clouds can provide spectacular scenery - but what should you know about them Introduction: There is a lot to learn across your career as a skydiver. Expanding one’s brain is a process the starts right from the blocks and, if you are doing it right, never stops. Along the way there are things that you have to know in order to progress through to new levels and ratings, yet there is also things you can know that will make you a better skydiver in terms of your safety and awareness, and also contribute to your smooth and efficient progression. Parachuting from aircraft has diversified into many different disciplines - some may draw you irresistibly towards them but others you might never touch with a long stick. Regardless of how you embrace the zoom, one thing is constant and true - the weather rules over us all. Some of these disciplines have stricter parameters for operation than others - an accuracy competition has to stand down in all but the gentlest wind while hot shit canopy pilots are unhampered buy much more, whereas low cloud might keep all matters of freefall in stasis while the swoopy types can still get their kicks from within sight of the ground. We can all benefit from taking a little time to understand more about how the weather works. You don’t need to become an expert - but the further on your brain gets from it being either ‘too windy’ or ‘not too windy’ the better. At the very least, investing in a bit of knowledge will make you more interesting to talk to when everyone is standing around looking up at the sky and bitching about the conditions. It might also save your life. Visibility is important Student Status: When you are brand new to skydiving the dividing line between too windy and yahoo giddy up is positioned way over on the too windy side. The restrictions are pretty heavy to allow for safety while you are getting the hang of it so some patience is required - so this is the perfect time to embrace the learning process and seek the benefits of going above and beyond with your ambitions. Everything is new and there is a lot of it, so hoover up all that is offered. An important lesson to understand early on is that much of what is taught in skydiving in delivered with more than a smattering of opinion - and there is no shortage of those who are absolutely sure that their way is the best way and what that other guy said is horseshit. Developing a mindset of enquiry from the start will help you to filter the important information and use it properly. It is too windy for you to jump. Why is it too windy? Why is it too windy for you? It is raining. Why is it raining? Down The Road: As soon as you are out of that student getup and in your own gear then you are fair game for being quizzed in the plane by anyone else who has not bothered to find out the vital information for themselves and needs help at the last minute. It really doesn’t take a lot of effort to learn the particulars about the situation you are about to skydive into, and knowing a few simple things can make you look much more like a bad motherfucker and much less like a clueless mug. Can you identify which way is North? Do you know what the wind is doing right now both at altitude and on the ground? Continued learning is one of skydivings great gifts - everywhere you look there is always extra distance to go. Absolute clarity over Lake Balaton, Hungary Crossover Skills: If anything, skydiving is on the more forgiving side of all the sports that involve a canopy over your head. The geographical spaces we use for jumping out of planes are all different but with lots a base similarities - a runway, a few hangars where the aeroplanes sleep, a power line or two to avoid, a bar where the important drinking happens. All of skydivings sisters and cousins are much more intimately involved with the weather. If you find yourself drawn to Paragliding or BASE jumping then you will be spending a lot more time in places where the issues you can (and will) face become magnified by the terrain. The world has no shortage of those who believe that because they can perform a big bad swoop along the manicured grass then they possess the skills to fly a speed wing through a six foot gap in an alpine forest. Even a cursory glance at the incident reports will demonstrate how many accidents could have been avoided if just a little more knowledge had been applied. Skyjumps happen in a controlled environment - the perfect time to learn. Would You Like To Know More? This, and the following articles are not designed to be anything approaching comprehensive information - they are assembled to point you in the right direction by covering the main topics in a general, encouraging and hopefully entertaining way. The weather on our planet is effected by things on both the grandest scale and the most intimate - from national television channels depositing region-wide possibilities to conditions able to affect you and you alone. Part two has a look and weather in its biggest forms, such as fronts, cloud formations and upper winds. Part three focuses on more localised concerns like turbulence and thermals. Part four finishes up by pointing you toward some of the popular resources you might use to grow your brain.
  19. It's that time of the year again, where we pull out the credit card and bite the bullet to bring some festive joy to our friends and family. But we've spoken to the guys over at Para Gear and ChutingStar and had them send us over some options for Christmas gifts that will get your family or friends grinning without breaking your bank. Golden Sky Closing Pin Earrings - $40 These custom Golden Sky Closing Pins Earrings are like no other. Available in Sterling Silver, 14kt Yellow Gold and 14kt White Gold. Earrings are 1" in length. Sterling Silver earrings in stock. Turnaround time for the 14kt Gold closing pin earrings is approximately two weeks as these are made to order by Golden Sky Jewelry. Available at ChutingStar GoPro LCD Touch Bacpac - $79.99 The LCD Touch BacPac™ is a removable LCD touch screen for GoPro Hero3, Hero3+, or Hero4 cameras. (*Limited compatibility with original HD Hero and HD Hero2 cameras, requires firmware update. Touch functionality is not compatible with HD Hero2 and older cameras). As a removable accessory, the LCD BacPac keeps your camera as small and light as possible, yet provides the convenience of an LCD screen when attached. Camera not included. *US Only Available at Para-Gear LEGO Skydiver / BASE Jumper - $9 The perfect companion for the home or office of any skydiver or BASE jumper. This LEGO minifigure is all geared-up to jump, and that adrenaline is coursing through his body. Time to jump! This is an official LEGO Skydiver/BASE Jumper Minifigure. The packaging has been opened to verify it is the skydiver, but the item is brand new. Available at ChutingStar Limited Edition Robin's Egg Blue Alti-2 Altimaster Galaxy Altimeter Gift Package - From $161 Unique . . . Thoughtful . . . Perfect! Every gift giver wants to hear those words from the skydiver they love after the present is opened and the treasure inside is revealed. Just in time for the holidays, we have made your shopping effortless! This limited edition galaxy makes a perfect holiday gift. Fresh out of the Alti-2 workshop: a Limited Edition Altimaster Galaxy. Crafted exclusively in Robin's Egg Blue with a Swarovski Crystal pointer setting, this once in a lifetime offering is limited to 100 altimeters. It comes elegantly wrapped in a matching color gift box to add style to any occasion. Available at Para-Gear Available at ChutingStar Cookie G3 Helmet - $379 Welcome to the G3 headgear, Cookies latest release full-face headgear and a result of significant refinement of the previous full-face headgear. The G3 features the original VMech Visor Locking System that works unlike any other in the industry. The system makes for easy opening and positive locking of the headgear visor. The visor is 2mm polycarbonate and features a complex curved design for extra strength, unsurpassed field of view and an anti-fog coating. The headgear's cinching system is simple and secure, adjustment can be made to customize the headgear fit and once locked down just throw the headgear on and jump. Available at Para-Gear ChutingStar eGift Card - From $25 The ChutingStar eGift Card is the perfect gift for your buddy, family member or sweetheart! Available in any denomination and it never expires. The ChutingStar eGift Card is sent via e-mail and can be used at anytime for any products online at ChutingStar.com. Vouchers available from $25 to $1000 Available at ChutingStar PG Headgear Bag - $35 The PG Headgear Bag is designed for today’s full-faced headgear. Made from cordura. It features a padded contoured shape to snugly fit most full-face headgear, a clip strap for easy hanging, strong zippers, and a protective pocket for gloves, goggles, altimeter, etc. Available at Para-Gear Parachuting Flipping Santa Musical Christmas Ornament - $19 This large parachuting Santa Claus sings Jingle Bells while he performs front flips and back flips under a round parachute! The perfect skydiver Christmas ornament! Available at ChutingStar Kroops I.K.91 Goggles - $24.95 The I.K. 91 is an ultra lightweight and very comfortable goggle. The multilayer foam sinks into your face like a soft pillow making it very easy to wear for long periods of time. The spherical lens gives you a great distortion free view with totally unobstructed peripheral vision. The mirrored blue and the red lens color is a gradient to provide sun protection from above while still allowing you to see the ground clearly below. The narrow headband easily fits over or under your headgear. Available at Para-Gear Happy shopping!
  20. admin

    10 skydiving myths and facts

    10 Skydiving myths and facts 1. Talking while falling? So, unlike many blockbuster films like Point Break, you cannot hear anything while in free fall. During a tandem skydive the wind travelling past you at over 100mph makes it pretty much impossible for you to hear your buddy! 2. Parachute deployment What happens when you deploy your chute? Do you go back up? No. No you do not. What you are seeing in many skydiving videos, is all an illusion. What actually happens is the cameraman continues falling when the other opens their chute, giving the impression that you go back up. 3. Most skydives in a single day The current record stands at 640 jumps. Jay Stokes of Greensburg jumped on average every 2.25 minutes, using 3 planes to get up to the right height quicker. 4. Youngest ever skydiver The youngest person to have skydived is four year old Toni Stadler from South Africa. Toni was strapped to Tandem Master Paul Lutge's chest as they leaped out of their single-engine plane 10,000 feet above the earth, free falling for half a minute before opening the parachute. 5. Oldest ever skydiver Frank Moody has the record for the oldest skydiver, at age 101, he made a tandem jump on 6 June 2004 in Australia. 6. Will opening the parachute hurt?Skydiving myths facts Many people think that when they open a parachute that the sudden 'jolt' from falling at 120mph to just 5mph will cause some kind of injury. However, modern parachute designs mean that the canopy opens gradually and the fall in speed is also gradual meaning you experience little or no jolt at all. 7. Fastest ever free-fall Felix Baumgartner holds this record from his Red Bull Stratos space jump. He reached a speed of Mach 1.24 or 834mph, breaking the sound barrier! 8. Most skydives Don Kellner Has jumped over 41,000 times in his life! Making him the most experienced skydiver, EVER. 9. Biggest formation skydive The current world record for the largest formation skydive is 400 people, set in Thailand in 2006. They held the formation for just over 4 seconds. 10. Skydiving is safe! Approximately 3.1 million skydives occur annually. Out of this, the average number of fatalities is around 55 which is less than 1% of the jumps that take place! For more skydiving updates and information, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
  21. joelstrickland

    Teaming Up: Part 3 - Getting Stuff Done

    Flynamik Freestyle by Gustavo Cabana Skydivers are a diverse bunch, drawn to the sky from across the length and breadth of human endeavour - and we each bring with us into any group dynamic a particular set of strengths and weaknesses. Across the different available disciplines teams are very different beasts, from the fairly compact pair of people that make up a Freestyle team to the unruly herds of 8-Way. There is no right or wrong way to get things done and one cannot accurately specify exactly what will or will not work for any particular team setup. I cannot tell you the best way to run a team - I can only share with you some things we have learned over the six years since deciding to start competing. Different Jobs At its serious end skydiving can be extremely complex. Each discipline has its own particular bonanza of inter-member technicality and bamboozling nomenclature to learn when you get involved (looking at you, belly types). While the kind of detail that information requires is beyond the space I have to write about here, one thing stands true - if you are in a new team and exploring a discipline then quality coaching from an experienced and reliable source will see you right and while this represents a definite cash investment it can amount to the equivalent of many, many skydives. Azure Freefly by Matthias Walde Outside of the part where actually plan and execute jumps, there is much that requires attention and many questions that need to be answered as you move through the calendar. For example: Whose job is it to remind everyone to check the dates of their reserve (before you have already travelled to another country and are standing in front of an unimpressed looking dropzone employee? Who is responsible for wrangling the team nincompoop and making sure they bring the absolutely vital things they need for skydiving - like a parachute? Who wants the title of ‘Team Captain’ enough to accept that as soon as something goes wrong the others will just stare at them with bovine vapidity until they go and fix it? NFTO 4-Way Ladies by Mel Allan For us, as a freefly trio, we settled loosely into the following roles: Captain: The team captain’s job is to handle all of our active communication and formal arrangements. This involves booking flights, filing entry forms, negotiating with dropzones, communicating with sponsors and generally acting as the voice by which team business is presented. Camera: By definition a camera flyer’s job has extra work involved. It is their task to ensure the setup they are using is present and correct, to make sure the batteries are always charged and to download and file all of the training jumps. The extra duties a camera flyer has all boil down to: When the jumps happen - don’t miss. Nerd: Although not a formalised position - one person usually sticks out as being the geek of the bunch. For us the nerd’s job is to handle all of the promotion and exposure. This means building and maintaining the website, tending to the FB page and all other assorted social media thingies, editing photos to share with sponsors, producing video edits and writing magazine articles. These roles we occupy were not allocated on purpose - we settled into the tasks based on experience, personal motivations and our individual strengths and weaknesses. Separate Business As you progress as a team you will begin to court the attention of those keen to learn from your evolving skills. Coaching others or running events might become a viable way to promote yourselves and offset the cost of your investment. The business minded amongst you might have great ideas about how to operate but for us simplicity rules the day. Again, this is not the rules - what works for us after some experimentation. Golden Knights 8-Way by Matthias Walde While we all act under a shared team name, our individual coaching interests are conducted separately. The practical application of this is you reap what you sow. The best example I can present is that an annual event run under our team name is the work of a single member. All of the planning and preparation is their work alone and while the coaching and load organising are shared equally the remaining two members are present as employees. The team functions as a whole, but the potentially murky business of business is an individual enterprise and thus free of complications.
  22. admin

    Teaming Up: Part 2 - Sponsorship

    Image by Joel Strickland Compared to many other sports that operate a similar system of patronage between manufacturers and athletes, skydiving is relatively small. Even if you sell yourself brilliantly right from the start, the big goal of free stuff is not something that happens straight away. You are going to have to work for it. Wait! Work for free things? I have been duped! Skydiving gear ranges from not cheap to downright extravagant and team training is a substantial investment - therefore any help you can receive along the way is very valuable. Manufacturers know this and also understand the powerful desire for any new skydiving team to be able to declare loudly in their most off-hand yet portentous manner that they are indeed sponsored. Approaching Potential Sponsors Medals help. Getting on a podium of any kind is tangible evidence that companies like to see, but shiny discs are not the be-all and end-all. Manufacturers are most interested in selling their products and if people head their way via your influence it counts for much. You might not be bringing home the gold just yet and your Instagram (or whatever) may not be filed with super-cool cutting-edge skydiving - but if you are respected on the dropzone as a purveyor of solid advice through which a steady steam of equipment choices are settled upon it registers directly. An important thing to remember when drafting those letters about taking over the world is that whomever you are trying to impress is likely to have heard it all before. What is interesting and unique about your team? Image by Matthias Walde Getting A Deal The first thing you are likely to be offered is a small discount on a limited number of items. Granting something like 30% off to a team means that a sponsor is not going to lose anything if they simply never hear from or about you ever again. It might not add up to big savings but the crucial part is that your new support has recognised and acknowledged your potential - they like the cut of your jib and might just believe in all those big promises you made. From here it is down to you to make good on the trust they have shown. The larger, seasoned skydiving manufacturers will likely have a tiered system in place to manage their stable of athletes and teams whereas smaller companies may not. The exact nature of progression through to a better deal and then better-er deal is based on building a strong relationship that works both ways. An vital consideration once you start receiving offers is which brands and companies do you truly believe in? Sponsorship is not free - it is a symbiotic relationship between athletes and the companies for which they fly the flag. Entering into an arrangement with someone simply because you received an offer is perhaps not the wisest course of action. Would this be your first choice if you were paying full price for it? It is much more satisfying and easier to do a good job of representation if you truly believe in something and value it higher than its competitors. Image by Joel Strickland Giving Back There are quite a few ways that you can do for your sponsors. Try to cover all the bases. Wear the T-Shirt and Be Nice: Few things have as positive an effect as a direct conversation in which you can be passionate about your support. Equally important: Don’t be a dick. Everyone Sees Everything: Even if they pretend they do not. Social media activity has become an important part of how manufacturers market themselves, so learn the hashtags and whatnot and use them. Writing: If you are handy with language there are many outlets for quality work. Producing informative and entertaining articles will earn you some scope to promote yourself. You can be both subtle and not-subtle. Events: Organising or attending events as a team can provide many opportunities. Again: Few things are as good as actually being there and talking to people. Always Thank Your Sponsors: Try to individualise it bit as well. It is well known that a Cypres unit will save your unconscious ass or that Larsen and Brusgaard have the best customer service on earth. What else have you got? Sponsorship is an important part of the skydiving world. Acting as a member of a professional team is long on spending and short on financial reward - so any help you can attract might keep things going. Strong relationships between sponsors and athletes also helps to raise the profile of skydiving around the world - pushing skills forward via events and competitions that ultimately attract more people to the sport. Joel would like to thank: Both Sandra and Vlady at Vertical Suits for their endless patience with an overly fussy freefly team and their obsession with every tiny little detail. Miska at the Hurricane Factory for her unerring accuracy and ability to decipher ramshackle emails about tunnel sessions (in her second language). Everyone who has a part in designing and constructing Icarus Canopies - providing me with the confidence to pack in the landing area under a standard that ranges from poor to awful directly relating to the indeterminate amount of time it takes the tandems to get on the bus.
  23. nettenette

    Skydiving For The Unlucky In Lung

    How To Jump Smart When You've Got Asthma Photographer: Wolfgang Lienbacher Ah, the sky: the beautiful bubble of air that surrounds us all in a breezy embrace. But what if your lungs have a troubled relationship with that air? If you’re an asthmatic and getting into skydiving, you’re facing a substantial--but surmountable--challenge. You’ll be happy to hear that you’re not the first to square up to the sky with flimsy airbags. Many asthmatics are successful sport skydivers. In fact, some studies show that exposure to high altitudes can even improve the lung function of people with asthma. (Ha! Take that, haters.) That said, you need to check off a few boxes on your way to the plane. Here’s a quick tipsheet. Get your doc’s signoff. If you want to be a serious sport skydiver, your asthma must be stable and under excellent control. Don’t take your own word for it, either--speak to your doctor about it. Your doctor will need to confirm that your peak flows (or spirometry) should be close to the normal range. This can be quite discretionary stuff, so get a second opinion if necessary. Unfortunately, severe, persistent asthma and skydiving are not a good mix. Know where your meds are. It’s rule number one for you in your landlubber life, and it remains rule number one in the sky: you must know where your meds are at all times. Keep that rescue inhaler readily available--not buried in a bag, floating in with the rest of your gear--and make sure other people know where it is. Making sure it’s in the pocket of jumpsuit is definitely not the worst idea--and keeping a permanent backup in your dropzone kit is a very, very good one. Go easy on yourself. Skydiving is exercise, and it’s exercise in a cold-air environment. The high altitudes we reach on sport skydives can compromise weaker lungs, reducing the oxygen in an asthmatic jumper’s blood to the point of unsafety. These conditions are challenging even for people who fall within the healthy, normal range--so an asthmatic can expect to exert proportionally more effort on each jump. Listen to your body. Don’t push it. Declare your meds. The dropzone needs to know if you’re on medication, so be clear and specific about what your treatments include. Also note that if competitive skydiving is on your horizon, you’ll need to make sure the governing organization is aware of all the prescription medications you’re taking. Anti-doping rules are in place for all competitors, and some asthma medications are on the list. You wouldn’t want to see your team’s faces at a DQ you could have seen coming. Don’t be shy. While you’re talking to your new dropzone about your asthma and declaring your meds, talk to them about the supplemental oxygen on the plane. If you’re on a long hold at altitude, don't be shy about asking for it. Be okay out of the pollen bubble. Is pollen a problem? Be aware that most dropzones around the world are located in agricultural areas. You may actually be physically landing in a cultivated crop field chock-full of pollen. If that sounds like your idea of a very bad time, you may need to get creative about where and when you jump. Make sure your bones aren’t compromised. As asthmatics are probably aware, a regular dose of oral steroids can be very bad for the structural integrity of your skeleton. If that describes you, make sure you’re thoroughly medically assessed for osteoporosis and that your bone density sits within the normal range. Learning to fly a sport skydiving parachute doesn’t automatically mean you’re doomed to crash landings, but they’re far more likely in the early days of your jumping career--and potentially much more injurious for a medicated asthmatic than for others. Brand new? Address your anxiety as early as possible. Anxiety is a very normal part of the early skydiving experience. This is true for everyone. Asthmatics--especially folks for whom emotional spikes can trigger an asthma attack--must deal with this in a much more thoughtful, procedural ways than others. The good news is that you can expect the intensity of anxiety to lessen over the course of your skydiving career; the bad news is that, in the beginning, it’s quite a hurdle to get over. Here’s a hot tip: there are plenty of ways to prepare your body for the experience. The wind tunnel is a great hack. If you take some time to acclimate your body to the feeling of freefall in this controlled environment, you’ll have proportionally less anxiety once you get into the sky. Take a tandem skydive to be introduced to the procedure, the plane, the facility and the sky. Give yourself the time to approach your sport skydiving career sideways, not overwhelmingly all-at-once, and your lungs will be that much happier in the sky. After all, it’s the sky we fill our lungs with; it’s time yours were properly introduced.
  24. 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.
  25. joelstrickland

    Teaming Up: Part 1 - Getting Started

    Image by Gustavo Cabana Looking back across a season of high profile competitions and seeing professional teams across many different disciplines throw down their best performances can have a powerful effect on the imagination. The pull towards the ziggurat of organised competition can be strong - but what you ultimately witness is the end product of a lot of time and effort, so it important to know exactly what you might be getting into and addressing some front-end considerations will help you get on the good foot. What really goes into starting a skydiving team? What are the advantages and rewards in the immediate future and then further on down the road? Also, what are the costs and compromises - both obvious and perhaps less so? There are different ways of making a team happen. Some countries have a national skydiving organisation that plays an active role in the selection and training of talented individuals for the purpose of competition (e.g. France - who recognise parachuting as a national sport), although the more normalised method is whatever body controls the skydiving interests in your country will have an application method for allocating support to functioning teams with a valid performance history - which means at the beginning and for the foreseeable future you are likely on your own. Other possibilities exist: Private coaching operations such as Satori Academy (www.teamsatori.co.uk) conduct season-long programmes in which a pool of students are seeded into teams of appropriate skill with the intention of building towards competition. Also sometimes already established teams might lose a member (for any number of reasons) and seek a replacement via. application and/or audition. However, by far the most probable beginning is that you and a group of friends that regularly jump together and socialise in the same circles will pass the idea around a bit and have things grow from there. You are practically a team already right? All you need is a cool name and some matching shit and glory awaits. Right? Image by Simon Brentford Now What? The first thing that happens once you commit is you will become filled with motivation. Outwardly nothing has changed - you are the same gaggle of mismatched skydivers you were this morning, yet now you have a purpose! The machinery inside your head will be whirring and whizzing about all the things you might achieve. The clearest immediate payoff from the decision to compete is this sense of purpose. It is very easy to get lazy when skydiving and fall into patterns of the same comfortable familiar behaviour - always flying your strong ways, always swooping the same direction - never training the wonky side or pushing yourself forward. Having the date of your first competition marked on a calendar by which you have to achieve specific things is a really good method to highlight how much more you could be getting out of your jumps right now - and the extra things you could be learning around the edges from all the different sources of information available out there. Also - the format and structure of competitions themselves are are designed to test your range of ability. The various dive pools for FS or VFS (and MFS!), the compulsory moves for Artistics and the indoor ruleset cover the full range of movement you have been using for your casual flying. Learning and practicing these will strengthen your knowledge and draw attention to weak areas where you need focus and improve. Image by Jim Harris Things To Consider: It is easy to get excited about all of the great things you are going to achieve. Your new teammates might all be present and correct for the boozy bar talk of world domination, but how much is everyone really committed to the idea? When it comes down to the early starts on cold mornings is everybody going to actually be there? Also, the way you interact is going to change. The kind of mistakes that make for fun stories over a weekend of jumping might well create tension and arguments when there is more on the line. Competing can bring many rewards and be a lot of fun but it is also hard work. By introducing a formal element into your skydiving you risk making it into just that - work. Examine why it is that you skydive and have the others do the same. What do you realistically hope to achieve from teaming up? What are the trade-offs exactly? You could see it as being more serious across the board in return for deeper rewards, or a motivating way to throw money at your passion and improve much faster than before. Team skydiving is worth the effort for many reasons, so if you are in a position to do so then don’t let any possible negative elements dissuade you - but examining potential hiccups and conflicts of interest early on can help everything to run smoothly from the beginning.