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Found 272 results

  1. admin

    New Wind Tunnel in Lake Elsinore

    Marissa Partners, LLC and Aero Systems Engineering today announced their plan to open the world's most advanced design indoor skydiving facility. Located in scenic Lake Elsinore, the state-of-the-art complex will be the widest diameter commercial facility of its kind at 14 ft. and capable of producing wind speeds in excess of 150 mph. The Tunnel VS 1(TM) is a realistic skydiving simulation experience. Unlike some older technology wind tunnels that exist today, The Tunnel VS 1(TM) provides participants with the actual sensation of flying through the air just like a real skydive from a plane. "Our indoor skydiving facility will allow people of all ages to come in and experience the thrill of an actual skydive in a safe and controlled environment while also serving the training needs of recreational, professional and military skydivers throughout the world," said Bruce Federici, a managing partner for the firm. "Think of all of those people who would never jump out of a perfectly good airplane in order to skydive, but would love to experience first hand what it is like to be free to fly!" Indoor skydiving facilities have existed for some time for use by both the military and skydiving markets. Only recently have they begun to catch on as an affordable source of family recreation and entertainment. "The City of Lake Elsinore is a recreation and tourism oriented community that already has a strong tie to skydiving," said Marlene Best, assistant city manager. "A facility like this would be a great addition, and create synergy with the attractions already here," she added. Aero Systems Engineering Inc.'s President, Chuck Loux, said, "We are enthusiastic about this opportunity to work with Marissa Partners, LLC in providing this state-of-the-art wind tunnel." Aero Systems Engineering has more than 50 years of wind tunnel experience, including the successful Matos Military Freefall Training Facility, provided to the US Army at Fort Bragg, N.C. Aero Systems Engineering provides wind tunnels and jet engine test cells worldwide. Today's announcement is the first step in a new era for the entire skydiving industry and represents a major shift toward more family-based recreation. About Aero Systems Engineering ASE designs and supplies wind tunnels for testing in all speed regimes: low speed, subsonic, transonic, supersonic, and hypersonic. The company's primary wind tunnel business areas include turnkey projects (new facilities and facility upgrades), vertical wind tunnels/free fall simulators, automotive climatic wind tunnels, engine/rocket altitude test facilities, high temperature heaters, and design of all types of wind tunnels and associated systems and components. About Marissa Partners, LLC Marissa Partners is an investment holding company. The company's primary business is the development and operation of Vertical Wind Tunnels "The Tunnel VS 1(TM)" for recreational use. The company's focus is to create and market an exciting new form of recreational entertainment for the enjoyment of consumers and to provide a realistic skydiving simulator for skydiver training. CONTACT: Marissa Partners LLC Bruce Federici, 909/615-3052 TheTunnelVS1@aol.com or Aero Systems Engineering Inc. Don Kamis, 651/227-7515 ase@aerosysengr.com
  2. admin

    Skydiving Video Games

    With the recent release of Grand Theft Auto V, we've decided to take a look at some of the video games out there that offer players the ability to skydive in their gameplay. While dedicated skydiving games are few and far between and mostly awful, there are some big budget games out there that provide in game base jumping or skydiving. The introduction of these activities usually take place during missions when playing the single player campaign or story modes. Other games tend to introduce the activity only when playing multiplayer. Grand Theft Auto (Series) The GTA series is perhaps one of the most controversial video games series made to date. The game has seen protests, attempts to ban sales and mothers up in arms over the content. In a game where you run the streets killing, hijacking and beating anyone who you come across, it's easy to see why. For those who are less inclined to rob stores and toss dollars at pixelated strippers, the game also offers some great aviation related missions. Parachuting was introduced into the game with the release of GTA: San Andreas in 2004 but was then not present in the retail copy of GTA IV. Later the GTA IV expansion, "The Ballad of Gay Tony" reintroduced the parachute and fans were once again finding buildings to base jump off of. In the latest release of the game, GTA V once again offers players the ability to skydive and base jump. The parachuting gameplay is introduced in the story line when one of your characters is required to undergo aviation training (airplane, helicopter and skydiving) in order to complete one of the missions. You begin by having to land on a moving target, so essentially your first handling of the canopy is an accuracy jump. You will also then be able to make jumps with your parachute outside of that mission training, whether you're hijacking an aircraft to jump out of, or finding a building to make a base jump from. When it comes to the skydiving gameplay, you're able to track during freefall and once you open your canopy (rather hard usually too), you're then able to navigate with regular turns or sharp turns - and flare for your landings. The canopy design is somewhat disappointing with what someone on our social media page aptly called an "Air-Unlock" canopy, with both front and back of the cells being open. There is a slight delay on the canopy opening, as to be expected for realsm, but it still opens quick enough for you to get some fair low jumps in. Finding locations that are high enough to base jump off of is a challenge sometimes, but rewarding when you find that perfect exit point and maybe do some proxy tracking. While this game extends so much further than just skydiving, the gameplay of the skydiving make it one of our top recommendations. As stated before, this game is definitely not for the sensitive type. Videos of Skydiving and Base Jumping in GTA Saints Row (Series) Another game aimed at the maturer audience, Saints Row offers gamers the chance to do some couch base jumping. Skydiving and base jumping have been available in the series since Saints Row 2, but only in Saints Row The Third did the gameplay of parachuting become really fun. The 2013 release of Saints Row IV also saw the act of base jumping and skydiving being kept. The base jumping in Saints Row The Third is somewhat similar to that of GTA San Andreas, where the canopy is quick to open. In fact it becomes a little bit annoying just how quick they open, you are able to base jump off 50 foot objects with ease. The skydiving experience otherwise is quite standard, you're able to track your player before pulling and then control your canopy once it's open. Unlike GTA, where your jumps are either mission related or purely because you want to throw yourself out of a plane, or off a building or cliff side - Saints Row The Third allows you to set a target once you have jumped, and steering your canopy so that you land as close to that mark as possible will earn you reputation in the game. Saints Row IV, which was only recently released also allows for naked base jumping. If you're looking to perform dirty low jumps, buying Saints Row The Third is definitely a good option. The game is now quite old and you can pick it for quite a reasonable price. Videos of Skydiving and Base Jumping in Saints Row Battlefield 3 If you're looking for some skydiving game action without the senseless street violence or sexual content, then Battlefield 3 may be better option. While the Battlefield 3 campaign mode was entirely too short and didn't include skydiving in it, the multiplayer mode which is still played by thousands of people offers the ability to also both skydive or base jump. Unlike the previously mentioned games where you are in an open world environment and can joy ride to your exit points, Battlefield 3 is an intense military combat environment where you are taken on fire and in turn having to protect yourself when you are mobile. There are a good number of exit points in the game should you choose to base jump, depending on the map you're playing. Unlike Saints Row and GTA, Battlefield 3 is set in first person view. Personally I always find first person views much more appealing, as I find that they tend to be more immersive. There are a few large cliffs in Battlefield 3 that allow for impressive freefall times. If you have a few friends that also play the game, it is easy to arrange with them for some 3 or 4 way base jumps - or go extreme like the video below with a 64-way! With Battlefield 4 coming out in a couple months, there is still a lot up in the air about just what gameplay will be included in the new release. At this stage we will have to wait and see what they do with regards to the skydiving and basejumping in the game. Videos of Skydiving and Base Jumping in Battlefield 3 Base Jumping Base Jumping is a game developed by a small company called D3, though judging from their websites the name is in the process of being changed. The difference between this game the games listed above, is that this game is a dedicated BASE game, where all the focus is on the sport and not on the strippers or on shooting the enemy. Here you will be presented with exit points and a challenge for that exit point. It's been a while since I played this game, but I remember it being a little confusing to navigate at first with regards to the menus. However the gameplay is good fun and if one is looking solely for a dedicated base jumping game. It's definitely worth giving Base Jumping a try. The "Pro Edition" is still receiving regular updates and fixes, so the game may well be better than when I had last given it a go. You can view the development update information and more information about the game itself at the development page. It also appears the company may be working on a skydiving game similar to Base Jumping. Videos of Base Jumping Go! Sports - Skydiving The Go! Sports game series has been somewhat of a disappointment with difficult to use controls and usually extremely repetitive gameplay. Go! Sports Skydiving tends to slot in with the other Go! Sports titles, but does offer a few redeeming qualities that distance it from games in the series like Go! Ski. The game offers two general modes, there is formation skydiving where you control your model into the position to fill a formation and then there is the landing mode, which is pretty much accuracy landing. In the formation mode, while the concept doesn't seem too bad - there are several issues that cause controlling your player to be extremely frustrating at times when using the required SIXAXIS controls. The game is not unplayable by any means and can still offer the gamer some fun, but apart from the tough controls - this is the kind of game that can get old fast. The only thing that will keep a user playing is the fact that there is an online ranking system. But given the good price, it is definitely worth considering giving a go, there isn't much to lose. Videos of Skydiving in Go! Sports - Skydiving Which of the games listed above is your favourite for your bedroom skydiving experience? And if you know of any other skydiving or base jumping related games, let us know in the comments below. We'd love to give them a try.
  3. admin

    Tandem Skydiving

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

    Skydiving at Night

    So you want to make a night jump and don't know what to expect? Here is an example of how many dropzones run their night jump procedures and what you need to know before you participate in night jumps. Before you even sign up for night jumps at a DZ you need to do a few jumps at the location during the day. Open somewhat high on at least one of the jumps looking and examining the potential hazards and outs if you end up in any direction from the DZ at night. Also before the end of the day arrives you need to have at least 1 glow stick and 1 strobe light that can be easily turned on under canopy. Typically most dropzones will hold a briefing before dark to go over the procedures for the specific location or situation. You will most likely then be asked to sit in a dark room with no lights for a period of time to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness Typical things that are covered during night jump briefings include: Prep work In plane procedures Exiting Opening separation Under canopy behavior Landing Before you can even prepare your eyes for the night skydives you need to prepare your equipment. First take the time to actually do a proper pack job on your main. Last thing you want to add to an already complex skydive is a reserve ride. You need to securely attach a glow stick to your altimeter or use a clearly lighted altimeter. If you are going to use a glow stick it is best to activate it before you start preparing your eyes then cover it with duct tape that is pulled off right before you jump. This insures that your glow stick is not a dud and it also keeps the light from shining on people's eyes. You also need to securely fasten your strobe light to you or to your rig. Attaching it to the rear of your leg, rear of your helmet or back is preferred since as the strobe fires your body will be blocking the light from getting in your eyes, but it is still very visible to everyone else. Some DZ's also require you to attach glow sticks to an arm so you need to listen during the briefing for individual DZ procedures. The most important thing in the preparation of the equipment is for the strobe and light sticks to be securely attached. One of the most important things you can do to maintain your night vision is to avoid looking at any lights during your climb to altitude. Make sure your jump plane does not have any interior lights on, that no one is using flashlights, or anything else to light up the plane. The only color light that should be used inside the plane is a red light since that does not affect night vision. If there are any other light sources or colors (from jump lights) cover as much of them as possible to maintain your vision and still maintain their functionality. According to the USPA SIM first time night jumpers are required to do a solo before they do any group night skydives. It is a really good idea to spend your first time in freefall at night looking around to make sure you find the landing area and pulling at your correct altitude. Typically groups are sorted by both group size and wing loading of the people in the skydive. Usually people with higher wing loadings are the first out on night jumps for reasons to be detailed shortly. After the groups and solos have been sorted most good night jump organizers will dictate exit order and pull altitudes. Usually with larger planes such as Caravans, Otters, Skyvans and Casa's two passes are made to allow for a greater horizontal separation then normally is allowed. Discuss with the pilot and S&TA; what the needed delay is for proper night jump separation. Exit on time, but as during the day do not rush the count. Just prior to exiting you need to activate the lights in the altimeter or uncover the glow sticks. DO NOT activate the strobes yet. In the last rewrite of FAR 105.19 the FAA changed the wording so the strobes no longer have to be active in freefall and since the lights of others in the group could affect your vision keep the strobes off. You do need a strobe that's visible under canopy still though. At most DZ's each night jump group is separated by a solo skydiver. The first group out the door is assigned the lowest pull altitude. 3000 feet is a standard first pull altitude for the first group to allow proper separation and more time to deal with the complexities of night canopy flight but this may change with the group experience and DZ procedures. Each solo or group exiting after the first group is assigned an altitude 500 feet higher then the previous group up to usually 4500 to 5000 feet. Pull at your correct altitude. Do not pull higher then your altitude since the combination of horizontal separation, vertical separation and wing loading separation make for the safest possible night jump environment for you. Once under a good canopy you need to do a few things differently than you normally would. The first is do not collapse your slider. The flapping noise that it makes can be heard by other canopies that might be getting close to you. You also need to turn on your strobe light. Do not do any spiraling or altitude loosing maneuvers since this will eliminate the vertical separation factor that the assigned pull altitudes established. Remember that. In a lot of cases of near misses on night jumps its usually discovered one jumper spiraled down to the other jumpers' level. Fly a very conservative pattern with no hook turns, S turns or other erratic flying. As you are flying constantly be scanning for the dropzone, outs, hazards and other canopies in the air. Hazards at night are different then hazards in the day since its easier to mistake a river for a road or not see power lines. If you are going to land off, try to avoid landing extremely close to roads since there are probably power lines above them you can not see. Always assume a PLF when landing off at night since you will not be able to clearly see the landing area. Typically most DZ's will light their landing areas by having the jumper's cars facing into the wind with the headlights on. Jumpers must plan and fly a flight pattern that has them passing over the cars high enough to miss them, but low enough that they do not out fly the lighted safe landing area. Overshooting the landing area is acceptable if the jumpers know the terrain and know of any potential obstacles they need to avoid. Notice the wind direction as you are boarding the plane, in some locations near large bodies of water the winds will change 180 degrees at night as the temperatures change. Take note of the lights and wind direction before you are set up to land. Also to safely land at night the jumpers are best advised to concentrate on the horizon more then looking down. Looking down will distort your vision and cause you to assume you are at the wrong height for flaring. If you learn nothing else about night jumping learn about the shadow effect. In a lot of situations where the moon is at your back as you are landing you will see a large black canopy rising up on a direct collision course with you. This is your shadow that you are flying into. Lots of jumpers have made avoidance turns only to pound themselves into the ground breaking bones or killing themselves only to find out it was their shadow they were avoiding. As soon as you land depending on the DZ procedures and where you landed, most DZ's either have you walk towards the cars or to the side of the lighted landing area. Others have you stay where you are until your entire pass has landed. Check in with either manifest or the organizer as soon as you land. Additional safety items to be taken into consideration are to carry a cell phone and the DZ phone number with you. Carry a DZ business card or pamphlet with you to make sure you have the correct local DZ phone number and not just a 1-800 number that redirects to them. This way if you land out you can call to let people know where you are or if you need help. Give your cell phone number out to manifest so that if you do not check in right away they can try to contact you. Leave the ringer set to high so if you are injured the rescue parties can locate you that way. Also a whistle around your neck can be used under canopy to scare away any canopy coming close to you or if you are coming close to them. The whistle is also a great way of assisting responders to find your location if you are hurt at night. As with all jump activity, the use of any alcohol or drugs is not only against the law, it is dangerous to others and STUPID. If you or others are unable to refrain from said activities do not get on an airplane to jump. Also some jumpers go the extra steps of attaching a glow stick to their main risers so in the case of a cutaway it is easier to track and then retrieve from the ground. Discuss the best method of doing this with your rigger or S&TA.; If a jumper lands off field do not rush into a truck to get them, slowly drive towards them with your head lights on high with someone walking in front of the truck to make sure you do not run over an injured jumper. This article was compiled by Eric Boerger D-26333 with assistance by Keith Laub, Michael Owens and Art Shaffer.
  5. nettenette

    The Art of DZOing

    Meet the Forces of Nature That Turn Your Loads Originally published 2014. Postscript follows. Dan McNulty - Skydive the Wasatch When I call, it’s 7:00 p.m. for me. It’s 6:30 a.m. in Afghanistan, where Dan McNulty is talking to me (presumably, with a big mug of coffee in-hand). Dan’s about to become the proud owner of a brand-new drop zone in Nephi, Utah – a quiet little one-horse town about an hour south of Salt Lake City along highway 15. The airfield is sized just-right for the easy-going, mom-and-pop affair Dan envisons: four tidy hangers, a well-maintained runway and acres of green grass for soft landings. Mt. Nebo, the highest point in the entire Wasatch and the snow capped centerpiece of the southern range, rises to a majestic 11,928 feet just alongside. Dan closes on his hangar next week. He’s stoked. He’s never actually seen the airfield, but that doesn’t bother him a bit. He’s already named it, even: Skydive the Wasatch, naturally. The season starts the second week in April. He gets home from Afghanistan March 26th. In just weeks, then, he’ll be adding a three-letter acronym to his name that only a few hundred other humans can claim: “DZO” – Drop zone Owner. Skydive the Wasatch didn’t happen overnight. Dan’s been working on this for almost two years – almost entirely remotely, patching it all together with emails and phone calls. Seeing little growth on the horizon of his current job as a security contractor in Afghanistan and being very familiar with the skydiving industry, he decided that opening a drop zone was, in his words, a “natural progression.” After an abortive attempt to set up shop on an airfield in the Heber Valley, which ended up effectively denying skydiving access with a combination of prohibitive policies and price-outs, Dan discovered the pretty little airfield in the placidly agrarian town of Nephi. “It turns out that Nephi is perfect,” Dan says. “It has everything we need. It’s close to Salt Lake City and Provo. And the city is really excited for skydiving to come to town, which is really rare and really important.” When the papers were signed, Skydive the Wasatch was effectively born (though it won’t be open for business until springtime). Dan McNaulty To run a skydiving operation, you need a plane. Working from Afghanistan, Dan sourced an aircraft from Skydive New Mexico, a DZ with – uniquely – the same altitude as Nephi, 5,000 feet ASL. He knows, then, that this particular souped-up Cessna 182 can do the same trick for him as it did for them: climb 11,500 feet in a crisp 20 minutes. The pilot is a Moab expat with a few hundred hours flying skydivers at Skydive Canyon lands, another high-altitude drop zone. “We’re starting streamlined,” Dan says. “The basics. We’ll build as we grow. And we do intend to grow.” John Hamilton - Skydive Elsinore John Hamilton, the owner and General Manager of Skydive Elsinore, knows all about growth. Though Skydive Elsinore has been an operating drop zone since 1959, the landscape of the sport has changed almost unrecognizable since he bought Skydive Elsinore with business partner Karl Gulledge. Since then, “Elsi” has burgeoned from its previous status as a small-but-historic airfield to one of the largest, highest-grossing drop zones in the world. To date, Skydive Elsinore hasn’t just hucked hundreds of thousands of skydivers over the rolling landscape aside the soaring Ortega mountain range. It has been a key partner to the advancement of parachuting technology and aerospace at large, hosting scientific studies for JPL, Pioneer Aerospace, Airborne Systems, Vertigo Inc., JSAF, Cirrus Aircraft Recovery Systems and a great many of the world’s elite air force parachuting groups. “When I first became a DZO, big surprises were a daily occurrence,” John remembers. “I guess in the beginning I can look back and say that ignorance was a form of bliss.” He laughs. “I don’t know if I ever would have taken on the challenges that awaited me if I really knew what I was getting into.” Part of John’s blissful ignorance was that he was about to become an unwilling expert in the formation of companies, legal issues, governmental regulations, employment challenges, marketing, accounting, customer service, budgeting, banking regulations, web development, social marketing, online community-building, search engine optimization and a long list of other non-skydiving-related subjects. He also had a crash course in effective communication, which he hails as the most valuable weapon in his DZO arsenal. “At the beginning, I felt like I was eating an elephant, one small nibble at a time,” he says, his smile wry. John’s relationship with skydiving has evolved from a “pure passion for the sport” to a round-the-clock focus on the business. He admits to sometimes losing sight of that original passion – he was a BASE jumper and a competitive 4-way skydiver, after all – in the thick tangle of ownership responsibilities. As he relates them, he peeks out toward the sky, a grin suddenly playing at the corners of his mouth. “You have to keep the balance. When I get lost in all this, the plane is right outside my office. I can always make a sunset load. It does the trick.” John Hamilton While skydiving remained relatively predictable in its equipment and disciplines for many years at the beginning of John’s tenure, the pace has picked up significantly. “In today’s skydiving industry, challenges arrive almost overnight,” he asserts, “And they change just as fast.” Modern DZOs must constantly adapt to the logistical, safety and economic challenges posed by the sport’s ever-changing pantheon of disciplines. “With the advent of horizontal flight – wingsuiting, tracking, angle flying, etcetera – we have had the challenge of integrating a whole list of new safety policies, while at the same time working with the governmental agencies who govern our sport.” “The feedback from our jumpers varies widely,” he continues, “and much of it makes me think that the vast proportion of jumpers don’t understand the hard work we must do in order for them to enjoy these new methods and technologies. It’s about so much more than the sum of its parts, and jumper cooperation is key, but I am ultimately responsible for the safety conducted on the drop zone.” John refuses to create an atmosphere that influences younger jumpers to push their own abilities too far. He’s known for his tireless encouragement of Elsinore’s instructional staff – and experienced jumpers, too – to lead by example, even as the community undergoes exponential growth. “I understand the thrill for newer skydivers to want to push the limits of disciplines in the sport. Trust me, I do. But it’s important for those jumpers to understand that keeping a safe culture lets us all continue to skydive.” Elsinore’s track record, for the number of jumps made here, is stellar. However, it’s a numbers game – and it doesn’t always work. “The biggest headaches of my job are, almost without exception, those that stem around the many legal risks and challenges associated with running a skydiving center – the intersection of personal responsibility and DZ responsibility, for the most part.” John pauses. “For example: a student will turn themselves into the ground, then will doggedly challenge the waiver and try to find blame in everyone else, without taking any responsibility for their own actions.” “It’s challenging, yeah. It can be a Herculean undertaking.” He pauses. “However – I get to see people’s faces after they land from that first tandem skydive. I get to know that I was part of that life-changing event for every one of them. It brings a huge smile to my face, every time. I get to help the next generation of skydivers grow as athletes and as people. It is absolutely worth it.” In passing, I tell John about Dan McNulty and his new drop zone in Nephi. John leans in. “Here’s what I’ve learned from my experience: Find a good lawyer. Then find a good accountant,” he says. “Also: It may seem unnecessary – counterproductive, even – but do things by the book in all cases. You may think you’re saving money, or even making money, by doing one or two things in the proverbial grey area. You’re not. Trust me.” He continues. “Learn to accept the rule of thirds: one-third of the people you deal with will like you, another third will tolerate you – and the last third won’t like you one bit. That doesn’t matter.” He takes a level breath. “When you’re dealing with a difficult situation, forget about public opinion and ask yourself the following before you communicate a response: am I doing this because it’s the right thing to do, or because I want to prove myself right? The answer is almost always obvious.” Lelo Mraz & Claudia Blank - Skydive Taft It’s unsurprising that John inspired others to follow a similar path: specifically, two good-looking Brazilian kids with megawatt smiles. Lelo Mraz and Claudia Blank have been beloved members of the Southern California skydiving world for a couple of decades. Recently, they joined business partner Michael Choi to become the proud new owners of their own facility: Skydive Taft. Lelo and Claudia arrived in Redondo Beach in the early 2000s from different small towns in their shared native country, and promptly fell in love. Lelo had started jumping seriously in Brazil back in 1995; he’d logged hundreds of hours in the Perris sky and tunnel by the time the two showed up to Elsinore as a pair. Claudia, on the other hand, hadn’t made so much as a tandem. Suddenly, in 2008, she decided offhand to do a jump. Naturally, Lelo ran outside video. By 2009, Claudia was an inveterate skydiver and, like Lelo, had a full-time job at the Skydive Elsinore DZ. The pair loved their jobs. They loved the Elsi community. They loved the skydiving. But they’re also clever, enthusiastic folks who love a challenge, and Lelo knew they couldn’t stay there forever. “I came up with the drop zone idea a couple of years ago,” Lelo remembers. “I’ve always known that I wanted my own business, and I know skydiving really well, so I was kicking around business plans, trying to come up with numbers that would be workable.” “I first looked into wind tunnels, but the investment is around ten million dollars. When I started to investigate drop zones, the money part started to make sense.” He started talking to mentors: not just John Hammond, Karl and Laurent “Lob” Lobjoit from Elsinore, but Rich Greene from Oceanside, as well as other pros who had walked the mine-strewn path before him. Lelo Mraz & Claudia Blank It took time, of course. “I spent a lot of time looking into airfields around California – we love California, and definitely didn’t want to leave. Nothing seemed to work, though. Then one day I was joking with my partner, Michael Choi, that maybe we should go check out Taft – even though it’s in the middle of nowhere – and that day, I saw an ad that it was for sale. It seemed like it was meant to be.” From there, things moved quickly. There were signatures on the paperwork by last October, and the new crew took over the DZ on November first. The Taft airfield is surprisingly big for its slightly out-of-the-way location. It has several hangars, a paved runway, two parking lots, a huge landing area and plenty of room for an active community of jumpers to settle in. So far, the pair is strategically running a small plane and slowly, thoughtfully rolling out a master plan for the DZ to be a regional center for training, rigging, courses and ratings. It’s no easy task for young entrepreneurs – especially, for longtime members of the skydiving community – to take over a dropzone that’s been operating for as many years as Skydive Taft. Over the facility’s 24-year history, it had accrued a small-but-very-loyal following of fun jumpers who hadn’t seen much in the way of change before Lelo and Claudia appeared smilingly in the office. Ever. “Most people like us, and we try hard to be fair, but we had to implement some policies that we felt to be extremely important from a safety standpoint,” Claudia explains. “A lot of the people who have been at Taft for so many years feel like it's their drop zone – like they own it. We don’t want to lose them, but some people get angry if we even move a couch.” She continues, “We decided to make changes little by little, taking a more careful approach than we thought we’d have to take.” Claudia gives a wry smile. “So far, so good. But it isn’t easy.” Leaving the tight community at Elsinore, too, was a struggle – and remains so, as the move is still fresh. “I can honestly say that I had no complaints at all about our ‘old life’ in Elsinore,” Claudia muses. “It was so hard to completely walk away from what was already a dream job. I made money on the weekends and jumped for fun on the weekdays at one of the most beautiful DZs in the world. I loved it, and I loved my coworkers.” “I was in denial until we finally had the paperwork,” she continues, “I knew that as soon as I made it official and quit, there was no turning back, even though they made sure to tell us that the door would always be open. This process – it changes something inside of you.” The Elsinore team threw Lelo and Claudia a huge, very-well-attended farewell party, popping up with little surprises all day long, paying for as many jumps as the couple wanted to do and dedicating one of the drop zone’s signature paving tiles to them as a memento of their long service. There were tears. It’s hard to spend time in nostalgia, however, when you have so much on your plate. For example, the first big boogie for the new drop zone is just around the corner: the Cal City Reunion, on March 22nd. Taft is sporting a bigger plane for the event and getting ready to welcome its biggest-ever crowds. “For now, we're really new. We have a lot to learn. We have been going with the flow, but being very strategic with funding. We're not going into debt; we're working with savings. It was a leap of faith, but now – even though it’s winter – business is picking up, and money is coming in, so we feel OK.” Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, Dan McNulty is working on the final details of the Skydive the Wasatch process. The tandem rigs are already bought and inspected, Today’s checklist includes arranging for delivery of the plane and closing on the hangar. “This has been a very creative process, so far,” Dan notes. “When I set out to do this, I was sure about one thing – that I'd never work for anyone else, ever again. It means that I am 100 percent responsible, for better or for worse. But it means that everything I do means something. John Hammond seconds the sentiment. “Just when I think I’ve seen it all,” he laughs, “I am quickly reminded that I haven’t. Each and every day I run this dropzone brings new people, new challenges and new surprises.” There is, clearly, an art to DZOing. ----------- Postscript: In the seasons since this article’s first publication, both Skydive the Wasatch and Taft have, predictably, thrived. Claudia and Lelo are hosting the full-on Liquid Sky Free fall Fest in August. Dan McNulty has even picked up another drop zone: Piedmont Skydiving, in North Carolina. Go jump with these guys and give ‘em a high-five!
  6. What Skydivers Don’t Know About The Holes in the Sides of Their Heads Image by Lukasz Szymanski There are plenty of things in this life that you don’t want to hear. I know. Your girlfriend telling you she’s leaving you for her co-worker who buys roses instead of jump tickets. The wind tunnel peanut gallery tittering at your epic layout biff. The dude at the bonfire yammering on about his siiiiiick proxy flight in his brand-new sponsored Air Mattress 4. But what if you never got to hear anything at all anymore? And what if it was your fault? If you want to keep the good sounds coming in to your skyward-tilting brain, you’d better take some responsibility. There are probably some things you don’t know about the holes alongside your head, after all. 1. Hearing loss is forever. Once you’ve damaged the lining of your inner ears, there’s nothing that can be done to bring it back. There’s no medication to bring your old ears back -- nor is there a surgery that sets things straight. Hearing loss that’s attributable to skydiving happens because of damage to the cilia of the inner ear. (Cilia are the tiny, hair-like cells that vibrate with the pressure of sound waves and tell the brain about it.) Too much exposure to those waves wears them right out. Once they can’t wiggle anymore, it’s over. They don’t bounce back. 2. You might go crazy, too. Alongside general hearing loss, you might get a bonus symptom: tinnitus. If the cilia are bent or broken due to excessive sound exposure, they can dribble out random electrical impulses to your brain, causing you to hear sound where none exists. Basically, this results in a constant ring/roar/buzz/hiss/squeal that lives inside your head 24/7. If that sounds like hell, you’re absolutely right. 3. It’s louder up there than you think. Decibel levels are not linear; they’re logarithmic. Linear measures are measured with addition and subtraction (for example: four miles is twice as long as two miles). Logarithmic measures ratchet up by factors of ten. This means that every increase of 10 on the decibel scale represents a 10-fold increase in the intensity of the sound it measures. Noise that clocks in at 20dB is 10 times louder than a sound of 10dB. 30dB? 100 times louder...so look differently at decibel measures than you do at the numbers in your bank account. The noise we’re subjected to on the ride up hovers over 90dB -- which government standards decree is only healthy for around seven and a half minutes. We’re in the tin can for 20-30. You do the math. 4. Monotony is worse than variety. I used to produce music videos for a living (which is less fun than you’d think, but that’s another, boozy story). The production team was always required to provide the crew and talent with earplugs; if the production assistant forgot them, it was crucifixion time. That’s because OSHA, the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, enforces requirements limiting workers’ exposure to a time-weighted average noise level of anything over 85 dB. As skydivers, we don’t have to listen to that same damn godawful excuse for a song over and over (thank god), but we’re actually exposed to something that’s actually worse for our health than boy bands: level monotony. A long exposure to a same-pitch drone -- such as engine noise -- is more damaging than sounds that change in pitch, like loud music. The droning sound wears away at the cilia with the same sound waves, like waves crashing on the same part of a beach over and over in the same way. 5. You can plug your holes. Many skydivers wear earplugs from gear-up to landing. Some take them out for freefall; others take them out for the canopy ride. Figure out what works for you and allows you to reliably receive information from your audible. It takes some discipline (or self-tricksiness) to remember, but it will help you in the long run. Try keeping a pair taped to your altimeter to help you remember to put them in. Helmets with padding over the ears are less effective than earplugs, but they can still help. 6. You don’t need expensive earplugs to skydive. The drugstore cheapies will do. When you place them, make sure they’re snug -- but that you can still feel them move around when you slide your jaw around (so you can equalize pressure, if necessary). 7. You can still pretend you can’t hear. When Siiiiick Wingsuit Proxy Guy looks at you, ever hopeful for adulation, you can still give him back a confused “huh?” and wander off. Better yet: take your earplugs to the bonfire.
  7. admin

    Set a date and jump!

    Be Aware of the Risks Choose a method of training Find a Drop Zone Set a date and jump! Get licensed You know how we are. We plan and plan and don't get to it. Set a date, get out there and make the jump! If at all possible gather some friends together to do it with you. Doing a first jump course or any skydiving in a group is always a lot more fun and you'll have other people around to motivate you! When you arrive and the dropzone, all jumpers will be required to fill out a registration form and sign a liability release before jumping. This release will verify that you understand that there is risk involved in skydiving and that you freely agree to accept that risk. The legal release will usually contain a contract or covenant by which you agree not to sue the skydiving school or anyone else if you're injured. Yes we know, this sounds all too horrid but if you want to jump you'll have to sign these forms. It's part of any adventure sport. Freefall sounds more scary than it is. In reality you barely have a sensation of "falling" while skydiving. You'll feel the stresses and excitement of the air rushing past you. However, because there's nothing up there for your brain to use as a reference point to tell you that you're falling, it will feel more like you're lying on a column of air, floating. Upon opening your parachute it'll feel like you're being pulled upwards. You're not going up. You're just decelerating pretty quickly and that causes the sensation. Your parachute can be steered by a simple steering mechanism. A "toggle” in each hand will enable you turn the parachute left and right fly it where you need to go. At most modern skydiving centers you'll be able to hear instructions from the ground passed to you via a radio receiver and speakers in your helmet. At some dropzones instructors will guide you in with batons or hand signals once you get close to the ground. All of this will be covered in your FJC. In both cases your Instructor on the ground will guide you in for a nice soft landing. Student canopies are relatively large, docile and forgiving square parachutes. This "big wing" makes landings slow and soft. Keep in mind that the skydive is not over till you've landed safely. By far the majority of skydiving injuries happen during landings so keep your wits about you, listen to your instructor and have fun! That's great, but you may ask: "But what if the parachute doesn't open?" This is always a risk when skydiving, but if you keep your training in mind and keep your cool you should be able to deal with this. By law, anyone making a skydive has to be equipped with both a main and reserve parachute. Your reserve is your second chance in case of any malfunction of your main. Reserve parachute technology has come a long way and is very reliable. All reserves must be inspected and repacked every 120 days by an FAA-rated parachute rigger, even if it hasn't been used during that time. Activating your reserve is something you have to do, though. This will be taught and practiced a lot during your training. As an additional layer of protection almost all modern training parachutes are also equipped with a Automatic Activation Device (AAD). An AAD is a computerized release system that keeps a watch over your descent rate and altitude. If you reach a certain altitude and your decent rate is still high enough that it is clear to the system that you did not deploy your main canopy, it will automatically release your reserve. Never rely on your AAD alone. Do what you've been taught during your training but take comfort in knowing you have a guardian angel. Prev: Find a Dropzone Next: Get Licensed Prev: Find a Dropzone Next: Get Licensed More related information: Dropzone Forums Skydiving Glossary
  8. admin

    What did you do last summer?

    Tis the season.... Summer for skydivers is the time that we let loose, enjoy the longer days, jump as much as possible, go to boogies, see old friends and meet new people. For The Freefly Training Center (FTC), this past summer was no exception. Following a successful and eventful season at Skydive Sebastian in Florida, these guys didn't slow down at all for the 'busy' summer season. Instead they tracked into the summer with a demanding agenda of skills camps, boogies, and competitions…and I got to be there for most of it, so here's my take on it. Intensified Skills Camps Skydive Sebastian was well represented at many different dropzones this summer, coaching and organizing at Skills Camps run by FTC instructors. They kicked off the summer, as many 'northern' dzs do, on Memorial Day weekend. Current National and World Champions, Mike Swanson and Rook Nelson, headed to Cross Keys, NJ, to organize with Monkey Claw during the annual Monkey Claw Jam, this year's theme being 'The Running of the Bulls'. Following that boogie, Mike met up with FTC instructor Dave Brown, in Orange, Mass. to hold an intensive skills camp at Jumptown. This is the second year for a skills camp at Jumptown, and again, it was a great success. Before going back to Chicago, to continue an arduous training schedule for the U.S. Nationals and the World Cup, Mike hosted successful skills camps at both Skydive New England and AerOhio. Rook, Mike and Dave, who spent the majority of their summer at Skydive Chicago, organized and coached freeflyers who were stoked to get in on the learning atmosphere. They also placed 1st (Rook) 2nd (Mike) and 3rd (Dave) at the3rd Annual Freefly Money Meet that Skydive Chicago hosted. 'Alaska Jon' Devore, who together with Rook and Mike, form team 'Alchemy', also joined the Chicago contingency to help organize and coach during Summerfest, the Midwest's newest large scale boogie. In late July, Dave and Mike joined forces once again and went up to Canada, for the 3rd annual Canadian Freefly and Film Festival, hosted by Skydive Burnaby in Ontario, and the Gravity Pilots freefly team. They kept the Otter flying all day for 8 days, with coaching, organizing and Atmosphere Dolphin (AD) tests. They held nightly seminars regarding safety, gear, group dynamics, an overview of how to get the most out of your dives. Dave and Mike also gave AD "A" tests for the first 3 Canadians to get their ADs on Canadian soil.... Congrats to Glen, Brent and John. Rook was busy organizing at the annual Richmond boogie in Indiana at the end of August, keeping the Skydive Chicago Super Otters turning all day every day of the event. And on the far East Coast, the New Englanders kept Dave busy during the Labor Day weekend coaching and organizing, as well as attending the coolest 'Tiki Bar' party of the year. On his way back down home to Florida, Dave enjoyed a 5 day stay at Cross Keys where he organized local freeflyers, and organized the pond swoop and chug which Thomas Huges from Sebastian XL eagerly took the first place prize and glory. Following N.J, Dave was in Orange, VA, for the last skills camp weekend of the tour na d was greeted by the always warm welcome of the locals. One on One coaching started off each day for registered partispants which by afternoon turned into group organizing and each night a big way sunset jump, followed by 'beer kicking' (a local dropzone tradition), and video debriefs. Swoopin' It Up Out There In between all of the boogies and dzs that the FTC attended, they also were quite active in competing in some of the biggest swoop competitions of the season. It began with the 'Red Bull Wings Over Chicago' event, held on Lake Michigan, in downtown Chicago. Congrats to Rook, Mike, Dave and Alaska, who all placed in the top ten!! That was only the beginning of the 'swoop tour' for the summer, to be followed by the swoop event sponsored by GoFast at the World Freefall Convention, this year held in Rantoul, IL. Dave attended and had lots of positive feedback from the experience. The event was hosted by Jim Slaton, from the Icarus 'Team Extreme', and Lyle Presse, a local organizer and event manager from Skydive Sebastian. The combined efforts of these guys have led to the creation of the 'Pro Swooping Tour' (PST), which recently had its first event in Perris Valley, CA at the beginning of October. (ps. The Convention was a great time, if you didn't get there this year, you should definitely check it out next year!!) Less than a week later, Rook, Mike and Dave headed up to The Ranch, in Gardiner NY, for the Pond Swooping Nationals. Although a small injury kept Dave from competing past round 2, he kept the crowds entertained as the MC for the remainder of the event. Rook did very well, placing in the top ten, out of over 65 competitors, and taking home a cash purse, congrats! Dave and Alaska Jon went on to compete in the Pond Surfing Championships held at Skydive New England the following week. This was the first year that this dz has had a swoop pond/competition, and I think it left quite a favorable impression on everyone. The day after the competition was over there was a 2 jump 'demo competition', 2 rounds, 1000$ each, winner takes all, at Old Orchard Beach in Maine. The next stop of the swooping tour brought Dave, with teammates (PD Velociraptors) Vladi Pesa, Christopher Irwin and Sonic, to California to compete in the first ever Pro Swooping Tour Team Challenge. For never having jumped as a team in a competition, these guys finished fourth, closely behind the Icarus 'Team EXtreme'. Congrats again!!!! The FTC will be attending and hosting some swoop events coming up for the winter season, and is looking forward to seeing everyone out there pushing the sport further. On Top of the World Ma While the summer was full of fun events, it was also a time for serious training. Team Alchemy, representing the USA, logged more than 800 team jumps together this summer, training for the US National Championships held in Chicago, IL, and the World Cup held in Vienna, Austria. Meanwhile, over in England, other FTC instructors Rob Silver and Chris Lynch, of team 'Sebastian Free Jive', trained for the British National Championships, with teammate Tim Porter. Chris and Tim formed 'Skyjiver', a freestyle team, to compete in the British Nationals as well. Here's what a lot of training and a whole lot of skill can produce....GOLD! Congratulations to all the teams.... US National Championships Freefly - Gold -Team Alchemy World Cup Championships Freefly - Gold -Team Alchemy British National Championships Freefly - Gold - Sebastian Free Jive British National Championships Freestyle - Gold - Stylejiver Also congrats to Chris Lynch, who won gold in individual accuracy on his PD Velocity 103, and to Sebastian Free Jive who also won gold in the team event. All of these world class teams will be representing Skydive Sebastian and the Freefly Training Center at the 2003 World Air Games this summer, held in Gap, France. Way to go guys!!!!!! Othere Worthy News The IMAX movie 'Adrenaline Rush: The Science of Risk' recently had it's grand premier in Montreal, Canada, before being shipped to theaters worldwide. It was very well received by all those attended. Mike, Dave, Rook and Rob open the movie with a segment of freeflying over Sebastian, which was filmed with the IMAX film crew from 'S.H.E Entertainment' and director Carl Sampson last December. The film also has some of the most breath taking view's of BASE jumping in Norway , Wing Suit flying in the Florida Keys and Leonardo Da Vinci's parachute jump by Adrian Nicholas in the Mojave Desert. Check out your local IMAX theatre for showings-it's not one you want to miss! The FTC has also been busy planning out a packed season here at Skydive Sebastian, starting with the season 'opener' Halloween boogie (Mike and Dave/LO's), shortly followed by the Keys boogie (Dave and Rook/LO's), held in the Marathon Key. The FTC will also be holding tunnel camps, skills camps, the 'Pure Progression Program', Big Way Invitational Camp, and many other events. Drop Zones or individuals interested in having an Intensive FTC Skills Camp at their dz this upcoming season, contact skillscamp@freeflytrainingcenter.com. For any other info, or just wanting to get down on the new school vibe….go to www.freeflytrainingcenter.com or e-mail info@freeflytrainingcenter.com Hope to see you soon!!! Erin Golden
  9. Be Aware of the Risks Choose a method of training Find a Drop Zone Set a date and jump! Get licensed So the first question in your mind is obviously: So, how safe is skydiving? And the frank answer is: Skydiving is not ten pin bowling. There are some very real risks involved when learning how to skydive but as with any other "extreme" sport there is a direct relationship between your knowledge, skill and attitude and your chances of enjoying the sport for many years to come. As you probably know statistics can be manipulated to tell you whatever you want to hear. They can be manipulated to make skydiving look very safe or very dangerous. We're not going to swamp you with numbers to tell you how skydiving is "safer than crossing the street" or try to prove to you that "it's safer to skydive than to drive to your local store". The USPA over a 10 year period reports an average of about 35 skydiving fatalities per year in the USA. Skydivers make hundreds of thousands of jumps each year. It is a sport with very real risks (otherwise you might not be interested!), but those can be easily and effectively mitigated through training and good judgment. Considering that students comprise the bulk of participants in the sport, relatively few fatal accidents involve student skydivers. This is due largely to the design of skydiving equipment used for students and the quality of instruction and care provided at most skydiving schools. All parachutes are designed for reliability, but student gear is also designed to be easy to use and forgiving. Skydiving accidents rarely result from equipment failure or bad luck. Remember: knowledge, skill and attitude. It's about you as the individual. Even though this is a dangerous sport, if you learn how to skydive and exercise your new skills, keep your cool and do everything you're taught to do, you should be fine. What Are The Requirements When Learning How To Skydive? Medical Fitness In most countries there are some requirements for medical fitness. These are seldom very prohibitive but make sure you know what they are for the country you're in. In the USA, all skydivers must meet the USPA's Basic Safety Requirements for medical fitness. This simply means you have to be in good health and physical condition to skydive and should not be on medication which could affect judgment or performance. Some medical conditions can be properly managed if the instructor knows about them. Make sure to mention any heart conditions or episodes of black-outs. If you have recently gone SCUBA diving or donated blood, you may have to wait a few days. When in doubt, ask your doctor and mention it to your instructor. Age Again this varies from one country to the next, so it behooves you to ask this question when you call your DZ learning how to skydive. In the USA minors who are at least 16 years of age and have notarized parental or guardian consent may be allowed to participate in some training programs at some schools, according to state and school policies. The person providing consent for a minor may be required to observe all pre-jump instruction. Most commonly, schools require all participants to be at least 18 years of age. Testing Once you've completed your ground training or first jump course (FJC), it is common practice and good teaching procedure for students to be required to pass written, oral, and practical tests before you'll be allowed to make your fist jump. Don't panic! The written tests are normally a quick check of your knowledge and understanding. Oral tests are used to exercise and build your decision-making ability and practical tests are structured so you can show your reactions and skills. All of these are necessary to assure the instructor that you are ready to make a safe jump. It should also give you confidence that you're ready to go out there, have fun, and be safe! Now that you learned how to skydive and understand the risk and have a good idea of some of the requirements, it's time for some more fun stuff! Next, you need to choose how you'd like to be introduced to the sport. Next: Choose a method of training More Information On Learning How To Skydive: Skydiving Emergencies Fatality Database Safey and Training Articles Safety and Training Forum Skydiving Glossary
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    Filming your first four-way team

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

    CALGARY, June 26 (Reuters) - A Canadian skydiver who was knocked out by a teammate during a jump, then plunged nearly half a mile (more than half a kilometre) to earth, was awarded C$1.1 million ($748,000) in damages by a judge who ruled the teammate was negligent. Gerry Dyck, an expert who had made about 1,800 jumps before the 1991 mid-air accident, sued Robert Laidlaw, charging the team member failed to take proper care to avoid the collision that caused him severe brain injuries and ended his career. The case raised questions about how much risk one can expect in an inherently risky sport, and included expert testimony from a veteran Hollywood stuntman known for his work in several James Bond movies. In his 19-page decision issued late last week, Alberta Judge Peter Power ruled Laidlaw violated well-established safety procedures by failing to keep a proper lookout for Dyck while manoeuvring his body in preparation for opening his parachute. "The defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff which was breached by the unchecked turn into the plaintiff's air space," the judge wrote. "This act, which was foreseeable, was negligent and resulted in substantial harm being inflicted on the plaintiff." Dyck's injuries were severe enough to prevent the 43-year-old former surveyor from holding a job ever since. "The judge found that this is not a sport about people falling from the sky like flies, it's a sport that's highly regulated, that's highly controlled in terms of procedures and prescribed practices," Dyck's lawyer Greg Rodin said on Monday. During the trial in Calgary this spring, the judge heard the eight-person team jumped out of a plane at an altitude of 12,500 feet (3,800 metres) on May 5, 1991. The members went into formation to perform manoeuvres while free-falling above the farmland near Beiseker, Alberta, 47 miles (76 kilometres) northeast of Calgary. The jumpers were to perform manoeuvres until they fell to 3,500 feet (1,067 metres), then "track off," or steer away, so they could open their parachutes. As they opened their chutes, Laidlaw's elbow hit Dyck in the head, knocking him unconscious and causing the two men's parachutes to become tangled. At about 2,200 feet (670 metres), Laidlaw managed to free himself and land using his reserve chute. But Dyck, out cold, remained entangled and plummeted to earth, sustaining severe brain injuries and broken bones in his right arm. Laidlaw had testified that as he moved away from the centre of the formation, he lost sight of the other jumpers in his peripheral vision, indicating to him that he was sufficiently clear of his teammates. Testifying on behalf of Laidlaw was B.J. Worth, an expert skydiver and stuntman, who co-ordinated and performed aerial stunts for numerous motion pictures, including such James Bond films as "Tomorrow Never Dies," "Goldeneye," and "License to Kill." Worth's testimony did not convince the judge, however. Dan Downe, Laidlaw's lawyer, said he was surprised by the ruling, and was reviewing it to determine whether there were grounds for appeal. "We were quite confident that the trial evidence indicated that Laidlaw did not make any turn prior to collision, and he was the only eyewitness because Dyck was rendered unconscious," Downe said. Rodin said Dyck was pleased with the result because it proved his right to compensation after nine years, and that he believed the skydiving community would "benefit from a decision that holds jumpers accountable for their conduct in the sky."
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Fédération Aéronautique Internationale and Discovery Wings Channel agree on production and broadcast partnership Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, (FAI), the world governing body for air sports, is proud to announce the first time ever long term partnership with a television channel: Discovery Wings Channel, the premier destination for airsports enthusiasts in the USA and North America. Eilif Ness, FAI President, and Tim Knatchbull, Director of development and programme partnerships for Discovery Digital Network, signed the agreement today in Linköping, Sweden, at the FAI annual General Conference, attended by delegates from the 93 member countries. "We are extremely proud to continue our work with FAI and our new agreement significantly augments Discovery Digital Networks continuing efforts to present timely, in-depth, and personal programming for our viewers, said Charly Humbard, senior vice president and general manager for DDN." Said Eilif Ness, FAI president: "FAI is pleased to have reached agreement with a prestigious network such as Discovery Digital Networks, and more specifically with a channel that intends to explain airsports to the public as well as show spectacular images. This agreement is undoubtedly a very important step in FAI's effort to give airsports the wide television exposure they deserve." FAI's TV production began in 1999, with a series of 6 programmes featuring World or Continental Championships in various airsports disciplines. The programmes were distributed worldwide and gained a total audience of more than 5 millions adult viewers. This was only a start as the series continues in 2000, with Discovery Wings Channel's partnership and other programmes. The 2001 plans are already very advanced as FAI is preparing daily programmes during the FAI World Air Games, in Andalucia, Spain, including coverage of more than 20 Championships. The Discovery Wings channel partnership will include three one hour programmes on the FAI 2000 World speedgliding championships in Greece, the FAI 2000 World Aerobatics Championships in Muret, France, and the FAI 2000 World Cup of skydiving in Eloy, USA. These events will be part of a new monthly series: "Sports on Wings", scheduled to launch in the second quarter of 2001. Discovery Wings Channel will also have the exclusive North American broadcast rights for the FAI 2001 World Air Games. The monthly, one-hour series, will air in the USA on Discovery Wings Channel, and on Discovery's international network in the UK, Latin America and Asia. Said Tim Knatchbull, "this is a partnership made in heaven - or at least in the skies". For more information, please contact: Mrs. Patricia Lamy-Airault (FAI Media Officer) Email: patricialamy@fai.org
  15. Aerodyne proudly announces the launch of a sponsoring program aimed at professional skydiving instructors and coaches around the world. The Aerodyne Sponsored Instructor Program, or ASIP, is a comprehensive program developed to offer unparalleled support to those who provide training to other skydivers and contribute to the safe practice of skydiving. "The ASIP program is designed to build longtime relationships that are beneficial to all involved: the individual instructor, their home drop zone, Aerodyne authorized distributors and our company. It was our aim to create an environment that encourages mutual cooperation between all those involved for the betterment and progress of each", explains Aubrey Easterlin, sales manager of Aerodyne Research in Florida. "It doesn’t stop with giving a good deal on equipment. We give our ASI’s the opportunity to actively promote our products and they are rewarded for the sales they generate. That way they become longtime partners and there is more to be gained by all". How does it work? Under the program an Aerodyne Sponsored Instructor will receive a full compliment of Aerodyne equipment at 50% of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. He or she will also receive a package of product information, a stock of promotional material, a set of referral cards and an ASI identification number. The ASI will use the identification number to refer interested customers to the selected Aerodyne distributor. For every order that is received as a result of such a referral Aerodyne will credit the ASI’s account with 5% of the cash value of the MSRP. The ASI can use the accumulated credit for future purchases of Aerodyne products. Who are eligible? The ASIP program is open to instructors that hold a current rating issued by or on behalf of their National Aero Club. Because of the nature of the program Aerodyne seeks to support individuals that demonstrate a positive attitude and professionalism in their relationships with people. "The idea is that an ASI serves as a sort of ambassador for Aerodyne, for our distributor and for the dropzone he or she works at. Therefore we require every applicant to submit a letter of recommendation by the distributor and by the dropzone manager or operator", says Arnold Collenteur, who is Aerodyne’s European sales manager and one of the initiators of the program. "Although we like to stress the fun side of the program, it is still a business arrangement and we must make sure that the applicant meets our criteria so that we may expect our sales to increase because of his or her contribution." Why the ASIP? Although Aerodyne may still consider sponsoring competition teams on an ad-hoc basis, the company feels it has better chances to promote its products via instructors, who are in direct contact with potential buyers. When choosing equipment most skydivers look closely at the products jumped by the best or most experienced jumpers on their dropzone. The ASIP program builds on these premises by creating a world wide community of Aerodyne sponsored instructors with a local reach. By offering to the ASI the opportunity to refer sales leads and generate additional earnings the ASIP also ensures that Aerodyne distributors benefit from the program. By helping Aerodyne to select the right individuals distributors create a small network of local ambassadors and increase their chances of selling to customers they might otherwise not reach. Furthermore, the ASIP program aims to facilitate communication between individually sponsored instructors, their drop zones, Aerodyne’s distributors and Aerodyne through a sharing of information, educational material and media. Aerodyne intends to make its website play an important role in this communication process. Enrollment Interested instructors may request an ASIP application package from an Aerodyne distributor, via our website www.aerodyne-int.com or via one of these contacts: North and South America: Aubrey Easterlin a.easterlin@aerodyne-int.com Europe and Asia: Arnold Collenteur a.collenteur@aerodyne-int.com Africa and Indian Ocean: Dave Macrae d.macrae@aerodyne-int.com For more information about Aerodyne and our products please go to www.aerodyne-int.com
  16. For most skydivers, the reality of human flight is a dream come true. This May, a group of skydivers in Illinois will seek to make someone else's dream come true while remembering a few friends who have died living theirs. Team Funnel is a loose organization of skydivers dedicated to the belief that no one should have to jump alone. With an emphasis on safety and inclusion, the more than eighty members across the world achieve their mission by seeking out low-timers and visitors at their home drop zones and organizing skydives and educational and social events to spread the joy and camaraderie of skydiving. In the Fall of 2001, Team Funnel lost three members to skydiving accidents. In honor of these members, and in honor of all passed skydivers, Team Funnel will hold the first annual Team Funnel Memorial Boogie on Saturday, May 25, 2002, at Skydive Chicago, in Ottawa, Illinois. By remembering their fellow skydivers with a charity event, Team Funnel hopes to not only support the Make-A-Wish foundation, but also bring skydivers together in a relaxed, non-competitive atmosphere. Team Funnel co-founder Bill Homer summarizes the mission by saying, "even though we have lost some close friends, we want to remember them in a hopeful way. They lived their dreams, and we must continue to live ours, and pass the joy it gives us on to others." The primary goal of the event is to make one child's dream come true, through the resources of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Funds will be raised through three activities: A raffle, offering prizes such as merchandise from all the major manufacturers in the industry, coach jumps with some of the nation's leading freeflyers, gift certificates from Ottawa area merchants, and massages, video, rigging, and other services. Raffle tickets will be sold in advance and at the door for $5.00 each, or 5 for $20.00. A silent auction featuring bigger-ticket items such as the chance to skydive naked with beautiful women. There will be a $10.00 charge for unlimited bidding in the auction. A sunset barbecue on the docks of the Skydive Chicago swoop pond, with tickets going for $10.00, $5.00 for children under 8 years old. 100 percent of the proceeds from this event will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Held concurrently with Skydive Chicago's Memorial Day Boogie, the weekend will also include organized loads for all kinds of flyers, induction of new members into Team Funnel, and discounted skydives for registered participants in the Skydive Chicago Boogie. For more information about the event or Team Funnel, visit www.TeamFunnel.com and follow the link to "TF Memorial Boogie." To make a donation or purchase raffle tickets in advance, please email TequilaBill@TeamFunnel.com. For directions or more information on the Skydive Chicago Memorial Day Boogie, please visit www.skydivechicago.com.
  17. A South African thief who stole a plane for a joyride had to land on a motorway when it ran out of fuel. He made the emergency landing on the N4 highway near Bronkhorstspruit, about 30 miles from Pretoria. Police say the aircraft was undamaged and the thief got away before he could be arrested. "We have no idea who the suspect is," police spokesman Capt. Piletji Sebola said. There was no apparent damage to the plane and there appeared to have been few cars on the road when it landed. One of the highway's two lanes was closed to traffic, Sebola said. The Cessna, used for skydiving, had been brought into Wonderboom airport in Pretoria on Sunday for a routine maintenance. The plane was stolen sometime Monday night or Tuesday morning. According to the flight instruments, it was flown for roughly one hour and 36 minutes before it ran out of fuel and was forced into an emergency landing. "I'm dumbstruck. He really knew what he was doing," said Carlos Garcia Cabral, the plane's owner. Police and airport officials were investigating how the plane was stolen.
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    Andrey Veselov - Featured Photographer

    Andrey Veselov is an extremely skilled photographer, whose first taste at professional skydiving camera work began when he invited as a ground videographer for the Russian National Formation Skydiving Team; a few years after beginning skydiving in the Russian Airborne Army. His heart however always lay in photography and it wasn't long before he had a Kiev-19 camera attached to an anatomical helmet he made and was taking photographs of 4-way and 8-way teams. He later became a professional cinematographer and photographer with involvement in numerous world record team jumps around the world. Andrey, who runs skyphoto.ru has captured skydiving photographs in the remotest and most unique of areas, from Micronesia to Siberia and the North Pole. He boasts an unbelievable portfolio of thousands of world class images and has over 13 000 jumps to his name. Every year he participates as a Captain and a Camera Team member in various international big-way events. He is also the winner of various awards including the 1997 Interphoto contest of professional photography, where he took first place in the "sport-singles and series" category and the "best photography of the year / grand prix". He also claimed first place in the Canon Photo Contest in 2001. Be sure to check out the amazing work Andrey has submitted to dropzone.com VIEW ANDREY VESELOV'S GALLERY
  19. DSE

    The AFF Two-Step

    Receiving an AFF Instructor rating is one of the pinnacle points of a skydiver’s continuing education and experience in the sport skydiving world, and has been a personal goal of mine for approximately two years. I was sure that the moment I had six hours of freefall time and my C license, I'd be able to knock this thing out fast. How wrong I was... This badge is likely the most expensive badge in the skydiving world When I first began skydiving, I was presented with the opportunity to spend some time in the tunnel at Perris, CA, with Ed Dickenson and Jay Stokes. I immediately took Ed up on his very generous offer to help me in my progression towards being a camera flyer. At 27 jumps, I entered the tunnel to learn some of the techniques I’d later use to fly with tandems, four-way, and fun jumpers. The video is hilarious.While I waited for Ed, we hung out at the school in Perris, and I overheard many conversations taking place between students and instructors. It was at that point I decided to become an instructor. Jay Stokes, Ed Dickenson, and Jack Guthrie all encouraged me to look towards that goal, yet six hours of freefall and a C license seemed so far away at that point, it quickly fell off the radar. I was having a hard time waiting for my 200th jump just so I could put on a camera anyway, let alone being an instructor.When I hit 200 jumps, I immediately got my coach rating. Alright! I was prepared to be unleashed on unsuspecting just-off-AFF-students.My first coach jump went great and filled me with a confidence that I had never before experienced. My third coach jump didn’t go so well with me finding myself very low, opening at an altitude that got me grounded for the weekend. Little lessons seemed to constantly present themselves. Although most of my wingsuit coach jumps have gone well, I once took a student with only 160 jumps. Bad decision; he had a cutaway (on a rig he'd borrowed from me) and I'm grateful that's all that occurred. I grounded myself for the weekend, and learned that lesson the hard way.It seems like most of us have stories like that; this one was my moment of enlightenment. Over the next two years opportunity to teach, be taught, sit in on teaching experiences, and grow within the sport continually presented themselves. Like many skydivers, I surely thought I “had it all” in the 500 jump range when in truth, I was merely beginning to understand how much more there was to learn. As one skydiver repeated over and over (and over), “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Well…he’s right. I was discovering how little I knew, how far I had to go, and I was finding myself on the road of discovery.Being part of the qualification process for the 71 Way Wingsuit World Record opened my eyes to what good wingsuit instruction could be. I gained information over the last year that is integral to the first flight process as well, taking instruction from Scott Campos, Scott Callantine, Sean Horton, Justin Shorb, Jeff Nebelkopf, Scotty Burns, and several other very experienced wingsuit coaches. Like most skydivers, I've experienced great coaching and not-so-great coaching in my skydiving progression. Being present when a friend was part of a tragic incident at the start of the year convinced me that I needed to know more about instruction, and I began looking at available AFF course opportunities. At the PIA conference, USPA President Jay Stokes informed me that Certification Unlimited (Jay’s instructional entity) was putting up a Coach and AFF course at Skydive Arizona in the following weeks. Timing was going to be tough, as I had some minor surgery scheduled, but I was excited to take advantage of the closeness of the opportunity, at one of my favorite dropzones, and in warm weather while it was freezing back home. Image Left to Right: Alex Chrouch, Jay Stokes, Craig Girard, Kelly Wolf, Nikos, Eliana Rodrigues, Douglas Spotted Eagle Arriving in Eloy on a Saturday, I was completely pumped to start my education then and there. After all, I have 1300 jumps, 19 hours of freefall time in a couple of years, so this was going to be a fun cakewalk, right? I mean, I’ve got more than three times the requisite hours, lots of experience teaching, how hard could it really be? I’d taught parts of many First Jump Courses, taught many wingsuit students, and sat in on several courses. I knew I was ready. How incorrect my thought process would prove to be. Jay began with the syllabus and schedule for the course. It was daunting, but still appeared to be not insurmountable. We did a bit of class work that night but the real class began in earnest Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. with the dew wet on the grass, sunrise barely behind us, and no coffee in sight, Jay smacked the class between the eyes with a number of videos that showed why the AFF program is so important, why the training would be very precise, and why each jump would be rated with “Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory” with no grey areas. “I’d bust my own mother if she wasn’t doing it right” is something we’d occasionally hear. And I believe it, but wasn’t intimidated by the concept. In fact, the only thing that had me intimidated was learning that repeat World Champions Craig Girard and Eliana Rodriguez were in my class. It’s somewhat difficult for a Hyundai to shine when parked between two Ferrari’s, right? I knew I’d nail this stuff in a heartbeat. The written test was a cakewalk, just missing one question. And that question used math. To say “I suck at math” would be akin to suggesting that “Omar is an OK skydiver.”I use a calculator for two plus two. True story. The ground training process is specific, but I’m used to this stuff, it’s pretty basic if you have the program down (thanks TDog, for providing some good pointers).Passing the written test indeed was a cakewalk compared to what came next... the in-air practicals. Game-on, kids….We were assured the first jump would be our one opportunity to experience a “good student practice jump” where the student would behave and do essentially everything instructed, exactly as instructed.True to his word, Jay jumped like a perfect student. I was on the main side, Alex on reserve side.The jump went well from the Otter; no exit problems, the student responded perfectly to my signals, even if I was a little amped and anxious on this first jump. I thought Alex and I were a solid team. Suffice it to say that Alex did an outstanding job of flying his slot, keeping eye contact with his partner (me) and of doing his part in keeping our “student” corralled.Next jump, Jay paired me and a different partner with Kelly, a newly-minted AFF Instructor Evaluator.She went out the door with legs both bent forward at unique angles, arms in every direction but straight forward, and the only guarantee we had was that she wouldn’t roll onto her back during this practice jump. Manhandling her into a level position without punching her required a great deal of strength. My partner lost his grip, floated up, and next thing I knew, I was alone with my student. I wasn’t going to let her go, except I was required to. And did so.She flew away, turning like a propeller just starting up and gathering speed as she backslid, turned, and orbited. I knew I had fewer than 15 seconds to catch her (which sounds like an eternity, but in truth, it’s the blink of an eye for the second jump as an AFFI Candidate). I caught up and had her blocked in a few short moments, but those same moments seemed like an eternity in themselves. She grinned and decided to go the other way. I think what troubled me wasn’t that the grin was mischievious; it was evil, clearly payback for what she had been subjected to as an AFF candidate. Cruel, cold, calculated evil. But we were having fun, right? My partner was floaty, at least 20’ up and 20’ out from where our student was spinning, but he did eventually make it most of the way back in. I ended up on the reserve side after her spins and subsequent blocks, and so the dance at the bottom was a little different; it was my first experience with dancing on the left. I pulled the handle, deploying my student and she looked at me with a grin that made the previous evil smile appear to be innocent; I’d failed to ride through the actual deployment. The triumph I’d felt at properly feeling the rhythm and cadence of the dance evaporated like palm sweat in a 120 mph wind. Moving on before I exaggerate more than I already am….let’s look at the third jump of the afternoon. It was beautiful. Stunning. The sort of sun and sky that Eloy is famous for, and it was about to be spoiled. This time, I had no partner and no one on whom to place blame for the carnage that was about to occur. Combat Wingsuiting, combat RW could not have prepared me for a single, main side exit in which my student extended arms straight forward, legs nearly as much so, almost as if she’d been laid over top of a fence to dry, face down. I muscled her so that she remained belly to earth and she obviously didn’t like that action very much. She immediately pretzeled her legs with the right leg looking like it was flying over a hurdle in a heat, and the other leg bent 45 degrees forward and bent again at the knee. It was like she was performing a classic freestyle position but on her belly instead of her toes pointing straight down. Arms were practically folded above her head, and it was all I could do to force an arch. Duh…throw a hand signal and there might not be quite so much force necessary…. Thumb down, she arched like a pro. “Today’s skydive is brought to you by the letter ‘U’” as she arched so hard that she plummeted. Thank heaven I hadn’t asked her to wear the lead. I don’t like lead much, and my fall rate range is pretty broad. All those tandems and AFF videos have helped. OK, she’s settled out. Calm, flying great, she gets a thumbs up and a terror-laced grin from her instructor. I give her signals to do a practice pull and toe taps. She does great and so therefore has earned a release. I released and she backslid from the moment I let go of her harness. Damn, that girl is fast, but so am I. I chased her with a side-slide, threw her a legs-out signal. Wow….look at her move forward! Faster than she was going backwards. Now, I’m orbiting and don’t even realize it until I’m looking at her butt in my windshield. So…forward I go, and out goes the hand signal for arch; I was behind her. She didn’t have a rear-view mirror so my only option was to slide sideways, slide my left hand under the BOC as I started to slide past, and toss her another “arch” symbol. Whew! She settled out….Mr Toad couldn’t have had more of his way with me than Kelly did on that skydive. And that was just the first day…. Variations on the theme make for a colorful tale; the ground experiences as we prepped to get into the aircraft were equally interesting but it would spoil the movie if I share too many of the instructor’s tricks as they acted the part of wayward students. Suffice it to say that they’re there to help you succeed, but also there to allow you to fail if you’re not on your toes and looking out for the best interests of the student at all times. The dives aren’t about you, they’re about being sure your student is getting the appropriate attentions and instruction at all times. I won’t bore you with further details of the skydives because they’re all about the same sort of story; carnage, deceit, evil appropriations of an examiner that demands you be able to drive forward in a sideslide while dropping like a stone to do an assisted rollover as they’re spinning with a maniacal grin, laughing at the poor sap chasing them. It’s like “Hare and Hound” with Dr. Dimento as the wily rabbit, always one step ahead. Just as you catch up, they cooperate. In the moment you breathe a sigh of relief, they’re on to the next trick. Carly Simon going through my head with “Anticipation…” Lest you think I exaggerate too much, grab any AFF instructor who has had Jay’s program or anyone who Jay has taught. They’ll tell you I’m not kidding and if truth be told, I’m underselling the experience. Lemme share a small story; If you deploy your instructor/student “for real” by pulling their hackey, it’s an automatic Unsatisfactory and regardless of whether you did everything previous right or not, you weren’t successful on this skydive due to that one fairly significant factor. “Students” wear a simulated hackey that AFF candidates are required to pull at a specific point in the skydive. AFF Candidates will hold the simulated hackey handle til they meet up with the instructor on the ground.Jay didn’t care for the fact that I kept stuffing the hackey handle down my pants when it came time for my own deployment. On my last skydive, we’re standing in the door of the aircraft and my ‘student’ is going through “check out” and in his up/down/arch mode when I realize there is no simulated hackey visible on his main-side lateral.I’m screwed. I absolutely must deploy my student at the bottom of the skydive. I must pull the simulated hackey and show the instructor that I pulled and that I rode through the deployment. That small handle is the proof in the putting that I did exactly as I was trained to do. In other words, those handles are important. What to do, what to do? Worry hammered me throughout this skydive, my last in the series of eval dives. With a “Satisfactory” I’ll be able to catch my flight scheduled to leave Sky Harbor in about two hours. If I get an “Unsatisfactory,” I’m not going home and believe me, the price for that would be very high. I have commitments outside of skydiving, y’know? The point of do or die is one that lasts for about three seconds or 500 feet. I make my decision and dammit, I’m sticking to it. Maybe. I reach for my student’s leg gripper, look at my altimeter and begin the process. I’m counting down. By now, the “dance” is so freakin’ ingrained in my head that I’m doing it in my sleep, so much so that I’m convinced I did it perfectly on this skydive even though video shows I didn’t. Reaching over to where the simulated hackey was supposed to be, I spied it turned behind the lateral. Gave it a yank at the last possible moment, and proudly raised the simulated hackey as I ducked my head beneath his deployment hand (the last thing you want to experience is a bridle wrapping around your neck, or having the deploying hand knock you in the side of the head; it might be construed as interfering with the student). And rode out his deployment. The last thing I remember seeing as my instructor lifted above my head was his look of wide eyes, pointed finger, open mouth, and the smile on his face. We got to the ground, I watched my student land, and debriefed the skydive.Mirth in my instructor’s eyes, he says “Nice job. Now tell me what you didn't like about that skydive."A grin crossed his face told me he was well aware of the location of the simulated hackey. And, I knew I’d passed the program at that point.A wave of relief passed over me and I felt like falling to my knees and crying myself dehydrated, but I doubt any moisture would have come forward. I’d forgotten to rehydrate in my excitement of this last day. I was drained. I was pwn’d. I was reduced to jelly and tissue in this last moment. No way, no how would I have signed up for this experience had I really known what was in store for me, of this I was sure. All week. But… At the end of the week’s worth of mental, physical, and emotional torture, after hearing Lou Gossett in my subconscious screaming “I WANT YOUR D.O.R.!!!,” I’m a better skydiver. I’m a better person, and I’m a more informed instructor. I now know a little more about what I don’t know. As I said before, I'm now firmly on the road to discovery. "SATISFACTORY" or "UNSATISFACTORY", anyone who endures the process will come out a better person on the other side of the hellfire. I promise. I now have a new respect for those that have undergone this process before me. I understand why they are looked to with a unique sense of appreciation at every dropzone, I understand that the program is as much or more about teaching the next step in the educational process of qualified skydivers as it is about providing a license to teach the uninitiated. The AFF rating is a license to teach but it’s more a license to learn. In roughly 18 skydives, I learned a lot about what students can and will do. I learned how to best manage those situations with my new found abilities, and learned that if in 18 controlled scenarios I could learn this much, how much can I learn in a year, two years, five years of teaching a variety of students? I’m excited at the prospect. Respect and appreciation is due where it’s due, and I’ll take the opportunity to point out that as skydivers, we all have foundations made up of the bricks of those around us. Jack Guthrie, Jay Stokes, Ed Dickenson, Norman Kent, Mike McGowan, Debbie Z, Lance B, Kelly W, Joey, Chris, Phil, Blake, Craig, Eliana, Alex (I’ll jump with you any day, kid), Nikos, Jeff, Justin, Scotty, Scott, Chuck, friends on dropzone.com…and so many others are the bricks that have helped pave the road on which I have driven as a skydiver seeking more knowledge. I don’t know how to thank you all for the inspiration beyond paying it forward and being the best instructor I can be as you have been great instructors in my life. OK, enough lovefest. Thank you. It's the little things that make the difference on a skydive whether for the better or worse. Taking instructon from Norman Kent's camera course that taught me to anticipate movement, taking instruction from Ed in the tunnel that helped me develop a very high range of fall rate for a heavy person, and being part of numerous FJC and FFC courses helped me develop a comfortable ground patter and rhythm. All the pre-AFF prep you can do, I recommend you take the time to do it. You'll be glad you did. Whether you went through AFF, Static Line, IAD, take a moment to thank your instructors; they worked hard to get to where they are, to be at a point where they can intelligently and safely teach others, including yourself. It’s a big, dangerous world out there and instructors walked just a few feet ahead of you, checking to make sure it’s the best environment within which we all learn. Buy em’ a beer, give em a smile, even if it’s been a long time passed by. Receiving my rating from Jay Stokes, Certification Unlimited (and current President/USPA) In the event you’re wondering by now, students are a little less safe; I squeezed through my AFFI course. It’s an expensive patch and logbook endorsement, but one I urge towards anyone with an inkling to teach. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. Blue skies and puffies.... ~dse
  20. admin

    Three Jump Plane-to-Plane

    Joe Jennings is back at it again! Only this time, the stunt is bigger and better than anything like it before. The group shot this stunt at Skydive Arizona, in Eloy, for a television show called "That's Incredible"-a remake of the 70's show that inspired many of our current skydivers and stunt people today-which should air in late spring. Teaming up with some of the best skydivers in the world-Omar Alhegelan, Greg Gasson, and Steve Curtis - Joe planned a stunt that started three skydivers in one airplane and ended with them in a completely different airplane. Photos: Brent Finley Joe Jennings flew the main camera with other angles shot by Brent Finley (who graciously let us use his pictures) and Blake. Joe enlisted the piloting skills of Larry Hill and his son, Sean, to fly the two birds. Larry flew the Otter that the jumpers started in while Sean flew the Porter, which was the final destination for the jumpers. Joe also hired Scott Christianson to rig the drogue chute for the plane with an assistant, Chuck Ross. Carl Nespoli was in charge of turning on all the P.O.V. cameras mounted to the Porter and also jumping from the Porter with the drogue d-bag to deploy the drogue. Joe's team started testing the stunt on a Tuesday, but was only able to make one jump due to the production company dealing with legal and insurance issues. On Wednesday, the production company that was originally in this backed out, so Joe hired the crew under his own production company. Thursday came and the team did one jump, which resulted in a broken drogue chute. Sean Hill recovered the Porter and landed. After that, 60 mph dust storms and the broken drogue chute brought an early end to the day. Friday came early and yielded blue skies and a wind warning. The team rushed to the DZ and had a go at it. The team went up in the plane, ready to jump. They made their first practice jump for the day. Omar caught up with the Porter, climbed in, and waved to camera flyers! During jump number one, the three jumpers-Omar, Greg, and Steve-caught up with the plane and climbed in by 8,000 ft. This whole stunt was achieved in only 40 seconds! In an e-mail, Joe said, "We could have done it with five guys, but three was all we needed for a great stunt, so our work was done." Soon after the stunt was finished, the original producers returned and finished up the job. The final product seemed as though they never left. Congratulations to Joe and his whole crew on this unbelievable stunt. I am sure that we will be seeing much more from Joe after this.
  21. admin

    BASE Jumper Cleared by Court

    Westminster man who smashed window trying to parachute off hotel has landed an acquittal. Harry Caylor found a thrill to match jumping off downtown buildings -- in a first-floor courtroom of Denver District Court on Wednesday. A four-woman, two-man jury had just acquitted the 31-year-old Westminster man of reckless endangerment. "I'm about to have an aneurysm," Caylor joked, noting that the feeling was similar to what he goes through in as a BASE jumper. "Racing pulse. Pounding heart. Sweaty palms," Caylor said before hugging his friends and lawyer. Prosecutors had charged Caylor in a botched Oct. 2 parachute jump that ended with his smashing through a window on the 21st floor of Embassy Suites. They contended that glass fragments would have rained down upon a hotel concierge on 19th Street if she had not stopped to pick up a pen beneath a canopy. But Caylor's lawyer Gage Fellows argued that it was just an accident and that the concierge, or doorkeeper, was not in harm's way. Fellows also emphasized the precautions Caylor took before jumping. He also pointed out that there is no law in Denver against BASE jumping, which stands for Building, Antenna, Span and Earth. Those arguments proved persuasive, said jury forewoman Larissa Hernandez-Ottinger. "We felt he took a lot of precautions," she said. "He planned this out carefully. "Something did go wrong, which is bad. But because of all the precautions he took, no one was injured." Juror Cecilia Sambrano said she agreed that the concierge did not appear to have been in danger. And several jurors said they believe the city ought to have a law against BASE jumping off public buildings. But since no such law exists, they saw their verdict as a separate issue. Hernandez-Ottinger said the jury might have convicted Caylor if he had been charged with trespass. Prosecutors did not file that charge, in part, because a door leading to the roof had been left unlocked, said Lynn Kimbrough, a spokeswoman for the Denver district attorney's office. "I'm still sorry I did it, and I'm definitely guilty of breaking their glass," said Caylor, adding he had offered to reimburse the hotel. But he was elated with the verdict. "We're going to name a cliff in Moab, Utah, after Judge Doris Burd," the trial judge, he said. "And we'll name a cliff for every one of the jurors."
  22. EUGENE SKYDIVERS REGAINS RIGHT TO LAND AT CRESWELL AIRPORT Agreement helps pave the way for skydiving to return to Creswell CRESWELL, Ore—Urban Moore, owner of Eugene Skydivers, announced this morning that his business has regained the right to land parachutes at the Creswell Airport. “The settlement with the city cleared all hurdles and now it’s official. We can land at the airport,” stated Mr. Moore through some early morning text messages to employees and friends. Last August a settlement was reached between Eugene Skydivers and the City of Creswell in an attempt to end an eight-year legal battle. Although the agreement accelerated a resolution, Mr. Moore credits the United States Parachute Association (USPA) and the Airport Defense Fund (ADF) for providing much needed support during his legal challenge to the eviction of skydivers from the airport.“I couldn’t have gotten this far without the help of USPA or the ADF. I’m looking forward to going back to work. This is a great day for skydiving,” continues Mr. Moore. The settlement has established safety guidelines and written procedures that both sides agreed to. The policies in place will ensure safe operations for all parties involved. Weather permitting skydiving is expected to resume at the Creswell airport as early as Thursday, Feb. 13. About Eugene Skydivers Urban Moore opened Eugene Skydivers in February 1992 at the Creswell Airport. During the last twenty-years, Eugene Skydivers has performed exhibition skydives for businesses, charities, and political campaigns. In 1998, an Oregon State skydiving record was hosted at the parachute landing area of the Creswell Airport. To date, Eugene Skydivers has successfully performed an estimated 70,000 skydives. The hours of operation are Thursday thru Sunday and by appointment.
  23. Image by Brian Buckland Remember hide-and-go-seek? Well: you’re probably better at it than turbulence. So why are so many skydivers still caught off-guard? The answer is probably--predictably--complacency. After all, skydivers aren’t as vigilant about rough air as, say, paragliding pilots. That said: the devil’s invisible rodeo remains a serious hazard for every single person in the air, whether or not their ram-air is meant to get them down instead of up. Most of the time, you’re gonna be lucky. You’ll meet turbulence under a skydiving canopy high enough above the ground that you’ll just rumble around for a little bit before cruising into smoother air. Sometimes, though, your luck will run out. When those bumps happen in close proximity to the ground, turbulence tells a very different (and sometimes quite painful) story. Don’t despair--you can use your grownup-level hide-and-go-seek skills to stay in one piece. Let’s start with the key takeaway: Like the dumbest kid on the playground, turbulence near the ground tends to stick to a few predictable hiding places. They’re gonna hide downwind of solid objects. This includes trees, buildings and anything else that’s tall, sticking out of the ground and wider than a flagpole. They’re gonna hide above differential ground features. You can expect different surfaces--such as the lawn of the landing area and the asphalt next to the hangar--to reflect heat differently. You will feel that difference as, y’know, bumps. Also notable: when the sun heats two dissimilar surfaces to different temperatures, dust devils have the conditions they need to form. These “baby tornadoes” are standbys of desert dropzones, and they can form from uneven heating even when the winds are otherwise calm. They’re gonna hide behind spinning props. Remember shielding your pretty little face from the prop blast as you hopped on the plane? Well, that wind doesn’t go away just because you’re now landing. Keep your parachute (and everything else you care about) well away from the spinning propellers of airplanes chugging away on the ground. In fact, keep as clear of any propellor as you can, whether it’s spinning or not, always. They’re gonna hide behind other parachutes. Parachutes chum up the air (especially behind them) just as much as any other airfoil would. Don’t be surprised when you’re thrown around when you tuck into an ill-advised CReW move--or chase somebody too closely in your landing pattern. Not so bad? Okay. Stop smiling so smugly, though: there are a few factors that make the situation way, way worse. If you bumble into the bumps thrown by these suckers, you’re going to have a bad time. Stronger wind. If the wind is pretty much zero on the ground, you can generally get away with landing closer to a turbulence-throwing obstacle than you would if the wind were hauling (or even moderate). If you see movement in the wind indicators, do yourself a favor and keep clear. Bigger obstacles. The wind will pretty deftly wrap around a narrow tree. A hangar, however, is another story. Tall walls, outbuildings, silos -- they’ll all be bubbling, toiling and troubling on the lee side when the wind is pushing. According to the USPA: “You can expect to feel the effects of turbulence at a distance as far as 10 to 20 times the height of the obstacle that the wind is blowing across.” Do the math: wind blowing across 50-foot-tall trees can cause turbulence 500 to 1,000 feet downwind. Yikes. One of the first diagrams you’re forced to stare at when you get your initial paragliding license (and every skydiver should, by the way) is one that describes rotor. Since paragliders are basically riding the wind that’s coming off of very, very big obstacles, those rotor diagrams are a good macro view of the turbulence that pours into any wind shadow. As an object gets bigger, those diagrams pretty handily describe the way wind tucks around and churns into the empty space on the other side of it. Are you ready to play? Thought so. Now count down from 13,500 and find turbulence before it finds you.
  24. admin

    The Sponsor Monster

    I crack the conversation at breakfast: I want to write an article about how the sponsorship model has changed since the beginning of airsports. I remark that I imagine it's going to be a long one -- a book, maybe. My laid-back, easy-going, lassaiz-faire partner (who is, coincidentally, sponsored) almost immediately dusts off and sharpens his little-used claws. Why? Who's going to want to talk about it? What's my problem? This is a touchy subject. Sponsorship, after all, is becoming -- has become? -- a necessary evil. If you're entirely self-funded (and haven't burst forth from fountains of preexistent wealth), you're going to hit a glass ceiling somewhere. No matter what your level of talent, you're unlikely to command any spotlight time in the Airsports Circus without outside support. Sure, you can throw drogues or point cameras at shrieking tandem passengers. But there's no question that you can do a lot more when you look like a floating Nascar -- and it seems like everyone "serious" is gunning hard for those logos. There's an implicit promise in those colorful little patches: the latitude to finally bin your ragged-out gear; to go on the event circuit; to join the big leagues. It's not just skydiving, of course. The windy tube is an even-better example. If you're not the lucky recipient of sponsored minutes, you'll probably burn a full workweek throwing meat around (with a few short demos thrown in) before you get the chance to work on your own stuff. Then, of course, there's BASE jumping. A sport that used to be about jumping situation-ally inappropriate gear and hoping for the best is now highly technical, multi-disciplinary, thronging with new talent and all about the suit upgrade. Full-timing BASE pretty much requires a full lifestyle reboot (and perhaps a cross-continental move). Head-to-toe black and yellow sure doesn't hurt -- a color combination that occasionally comes with a staff packer and access to sky scraping diving boards. There is, of course, an inconvenient truth at play here: tiling yourself with logos like a mangled game of Connect Four won't put food on the table. Those insignia don't, in and of themselves, represent a living (unless you’re one of the handful of athletes gumming the teat of full-on government funding). Most of them represent gear discounts; free gadgets; a few bucks shaved off each jump ticket; a vetting of your coaching value; a recursive validation you can enjoy whenever you look at your suit, or your canopy, or your Facebook feed. Go 'head and throw 'em all on the table like you're playing Sponsorship: The Gathering, but you're still gonna need a day job. And even then -- as Clif Bar so famously demonstrated -- no sponsorship arrangement is forever. And what price support? "It forces noncompetitive people to be competitive," sighed a household-name friend of mine over drinks. "It makes totally normal, grounded people look and act like #$%&*@ glory hounds." And if you complain, of course, you're an ass: after all, you made it. Why are you whining? Aren't you smoking cigars and eating caviar among the cosseted elite? There is lots to ponder, here. How does a high-benefit sponsorship change an athlete's relationship to these sports*? How does it change athletes' relationships with each other? How does outside support change the sport itself? And that, of course, begs the question: how many fatalities could be connected to upping the stakes for a sponsor? Legendary MotoGP winner Valentino Rossi said it best, I think, when he was asked why he didn't switch out his beloved number 46 for the 1. It's the champion's right and privilege to do so, and he turned it down win after win after win. "The number one," he said through a sideways smile, "is very heavy on the front of the bike." * Interesting follow-on reading: a 2010 study by Daniel Kahneman and Angus Deaton on what scientists call the "overjustification effect."
  25. admin

    Flirting with danger, skirting the law

    Anthony White of Ottawa is a base-jumper who leaps from tall buildings at night to avoid the law. Next month, he'll be in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur to compete in an event that begins on the roofs of the world's tallest buildings, the twin 1,483-foot Petronas Towers, and hopefully ends safely on the streets below with the aid of a parachute. White is one of 50 base-jumpers, including another Canadian, Lonnie Bissonnette of St. Catharines, Ont., who have been invited to compete in the international event. "It's quite the rush," says White, a 21-year-old waiter who has heard many shocked voices coming from the balconies he has passed in his numerous descents. "It's a thrill to me when you explain what you do and people shiver." To participate in the extreme sport of base-jumping, participants need somewhere to jump from, and it should be at least 300 feet high, although White swears he has jumped from many structures that are considerably lower. High-rise buildings, bridges and even cliffs will do. Once a base-jumper kicks off, he or she attempts aerial gymnastics before pulling the rip cord on the parachute. However, except for sanctioned events in North America, base-jumping isn't considered legal. In Canada, base-jumpers can be charged under provisions of the Criminal Code with mischief and/ or trespassing. So, to practise his sport, White has become a Batman of sorts, taking to the tops of Ottawa-area buildings in the middle of the night, when traffic is minimal and police are less likely to be alerted. Although White won't disclose the locations of his jumps, he says there are a dozen suitable buildings around Ottawa, with the 333-foot Tower C of Place de Ville being the highest. White says he normally jumps from an Ottawa building once a month and has also jumped from buildings in Toronto and Montreal. This past weekend, in preparation for Kuala Lumpur, White and Bissonnette jumped from eight buildings in Ottawa and Kanata, all after midnight. While it takes a particular type of individual and plenty of sky-diving experience To become a base-jumper, White acknowledges that getting to the sites is a part of the challenge. Some buildings provide access from stairwells to the roofs, but most don't. "I've climbed up the outside of buildings, I've climbed balconies," he says. "Different buildings require different methods. There's security in lobbies and elevators you have to get around. Some of it is common sense. The trick is to blend in and go late at night." For all the inherent dangers of base-jumping, White and Bissonnette say they never cut a lock or damage property for the sake of a jump. "If we start going into buildings and taking crowbars to locks, that's not good for anyone and that's not going to help us out," says Bissonnette, a 36-year-old who lays ceramic tile for a living. "If anything, what we do is simple trespassing. To do anything else is breaking and entering. Our saying is: We take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints. "Some people might think it's cool to take something as a momento, but then you cross the line into a theft thing. We want positive exposure for the sport." See JUMP on page D3 White and Bissonnette say they've run into some trouble with police. Reaction from police officers, they say, varies: Some have called them irresponsible, while others have congratulated them for their nerve and skill. The two are optimistic that, if the sport gains positive media coverage, as opposed to being mentioned only when a fatality occurs, it will gain acceptance in the same light as other extreme sports. They hope sanctioned events in Canada will soon be here. There have been horrific accidents. This month, a 27-year-old female base-jumper from San Francisco died when her chute failed to open completely after she leaped from a cliff near Rome. White is well aware of that accident, and says base-jumpers must be aware of all the dangers. He says he never jumps before going through an extensive mental check-list of what can go wrong and how to cope in any given situation. "Yeah, people die," White says. "It could be anything. It could be the deployment of the chute, but it's rare now that it's the gear. Usually, it's human error, but I think about it every day, every time (I jump). The fear has to be there, it should be there. Otherwise, you're in for a big surprise one day. "There's wind, there's how the parachute opens, there are lots of things that can happen. It's very unforgiving. (The danger) is always there, but mentally you have to prepare for all the scenarios and rehearse everything that can happen. It's not a hangover-friendly sport." Parents Penny and Ron White admit to having occasional sleepless nights when they discovered the nature of base-jumping, but say their concerns have eased because of the safety preparations that go into each jump. Besides, given the nature of their son -- who, as he was growing up, found mainstream sports such as baseball, gymnastics and competitive swimming to be boring -- they recognized they couldn't talk him out of jumping. "He came home from a skydiving course when he turned 18, and he said, 'I've found what I've wanted to do my whole life,'" Penny White says. "This base-jumping came from sky-diving. I would have never thought that sky-diving was rather safe, but it is compared to this." Base-jumping has similarities to sky-diving, but few experienced sky-divers try the other sport, primarily because of the risks. For example, a sky-diver has the luxury of a backup parachute if the first one doesn't open, and more time to handle bad situations if they arise. White, who has 650 sky-diving jumps under his belt, was discouraged from base-jumping when he first tried to get involved. He admits to much trepidation before his first jump. "I bought the equipment, I assembled it and I researched it on my own," says White, who also teaches sky-diving part-time and has tested equipment for the military. "After jumping off a (radio) antenna and experiencing far too much radiation, I got calls from some people. They knew I was serious." White was steered to the Bridge Day Festival in Virginia, a conference of base-jumpers and every October home to one of the few sanctioned events in North America, where he met Bissonnette. White claims his craziest feat came there: five somersaults before deploying his chute, two seconds before impact. It was a performance that helped earn him an invitation to Kuala Lumpur. In addition to trying to find jumping spots in the Ottawa area, White has jumped from bridges in Shawinigan and from the tallest windmill in the world, in Grandes-Bergeronnes, near the Gaspe. After that, White picked up notoriety within the sky-diving community for an appearance on Outdoor Life Network, scampering out of a glider in mid-air and performing stunts alongside the plane. Bissonnette has been base-jumping for five years, three years longer than White, but stops short of calling himself White's mentor. Instead, he says they jump together because they share the same personality. Still, he says, being experienced helps in dealing with younger jumpers. "I might have been in a similar high-stress situation and said something doesn't seem right, and talk about what I did in that situation, but that doesn't mean it's right for everybody," says Bissonnette, who says he won't base-jump with anyone who hasn't performed at least 100 sky-diving jumps and fails to show an incredible aptitude. "It's not just a single skill you need. First of all, you have to have the kind of personality to do it. You have to be able to think under severe stress. When you jump, you have to have all your senses heightened. You have to think fast, knowing how to handle every situation. "There are not a lot of people who can do that when their life depends on it. It's not like we walk up to a site and just jump off the edge. You have everything playing through your mind, you have to look at objects from a whole lot of angles." Obviously, when base-jumpers look at buildings, radio towers and bridges, it's not for the architecture. Instead, the structures represent the potential for the next great jump into the unknown. "It's a personal challenge," White says. "I guess it's a way of helping you conquer your fears all the time."