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  1. 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."
  2. admin

    Show Me The Money

    Image by August Haeuser I want to come clean with a confession: Jerry Maguire is one of my favorite movies of all time. There, I said it. While I'm being vulnerable… I never miss a week of Survivor either. (Don't' judge too harshly). Now that I've totally opened myself up about my tastes (or lack thereof) let's roll into the opening scene of this amazing film. The movie begins with super sports agent, Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) writing a mission statement (not a memo) entitled the "The things we think, but do not say." This mission statement was an inspired piece of clarity that brings to light that the company (Sports Management International) has lost site of its purpose. It became more about the money and less about the client. Jerry's mission statement actually suggested having fewer clients and making less money. Of course, Jerry was promptly fired. So what does this have to do with the business of skydiving? Everything… except for the fewer clients and less money part. There is a definitive shift occurring in the business of skydiving. USPA membership numbers indicate a slow and steady increase over the past decade, but student numbers appear to be decreasing at many DZ’s around the country. Many blame poor weather in 2013, and it was a factor, but it goes deeper. There is a hidden war raging in the game of search engine optimization (SEO) whereby third party organizations are rising within search rankings and picking off an ignorant public and overcharging them for their skydives. Mix this with the oversaturation of daily deals (in nearly every marketplace), an influx of newer dropzones and everchanging and inconsistent weather patterns and it’s little wonder that many established DZ’s are seeing a decline. An Uneasy Panic This change is being fueled by the way many DZO’s are reacting to conditions happening before our eyes. Similar to climate change, we’ve been aware of it, but the realities of what it actually means hasn’t conceptualized until now. Rather than pausing and seeking out correct action, many DZ decision makers are making quick, reactive decisions to try and boost volume. This reaction is being driven by the panic felt in seeing the numbers decline despite the economy actually improving. In the case of daily deals (Amazon Local, LivingSocial, GroupOn) many DZO’s feel threatened that they are losing market share whenever a competing dropzone offers a deal. It takes discipline to not follow suit and offer a deal at a similar price. The majority of DZs do follow suit which decreases the demand for full-retail-priced student skydives which drives down the price significantly. This is scary when one considers the costs associated with running a DZ. The only way to offset these lower prices is to have very high volume in an extremely efficient operation. The model for high volume becomes compromised when more competitors enter the marketplace to get a piece of the action. The response? Continue to offer more daily deals, which forces DZO’s to enter a vicious cycle that they can’t get off of. This model that many DZ’s find themselves is not sustainable and will result in either more cutting corners to make the numbers work (which has the potential of elevating risk), going out of business or surviving long enough until others go out of business first. What The Hell Do We Do? So, the news above seems a little dire. I’m not an economist, but I’ve had the advantage of traveling around the US and different parts of the world looking at the industry from a business perspective. With a 13,500 foot view, here is what I would suggest: 1. Get Off The Train. At some point, the majority of DZs who are on the daily deal train will have to get off as they will recognize the lack of sustainability for the long term. The problem with getting off the train is the sudden cash shortage. Downsizing may be required whether it be with an aircraft, equipment or the size of staff, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. Decreasing expenses during this transition is key. Before pulling the plug from the daily deal cycle, begin making preparations for the cash shortage. 2. Normalize Pricing. Once off the train, begin normalizing pricing whereby each student jump made is profitable once again. Volume may not be as high, but the business will be more sustainable. 3. Win the Battle of Search. Amongst the price gouging, there’s actually some good news occurring. Third party vendors are charging up to $339 for a tandem skydive while offering lousy customer service and veiling a lot of truth to the customer. So where’s the good news? There are customers willing to pay a lot more than we’re currently charging to make a skydive! These third parties are pulling these customers in because they are winning the battle of search. Each DZ must invest in strong SEO practices to win this difficult battleground. Lately, more and more DZs have been joining these networks to offset the drop in business which only feeds this monster. Rather than join these networks, we must beat them. 4. Look a Million Dollars. Make the investment to have branding and website design showcase your DZ as a major attraction within the marketplace. Trading out jumps for the creation of a website with a local jumper will no longer cut it. Creating a website is one thing. Creating a functional website with great design is another. 5. Win the Customer. Throughout the last several decades, the skydiving industry has focused more on the skydive and less on the overall customer experience. DZs must focus on utilizing word of mouth marketing and transforming customers into joining the marketing team of the dropzone. Be an Ambassador of Quan When Jerry Maguire learned that he was being fired, he rushed back to his office and called every client he could to try and get them to stay with him as their agent. Only one demanding client stayed… the venerable Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr). Jerry would eventually have to rebuild his business doing things the right way by being professional and focusing on the details. The same holds true for our industry. We must be flexible enough to change as the skydiving industry of today is vastly different than the industry of ten years ago.
  3. admin

    Perris Tunnel Training Camp for Women

    For the first time Skydive Perris is organizing a tunnel training camp for women only at SkyVenture Perris. Nina Kuebler and Synchronicity are the organizers. In addition to what the Perris Performance Plus already offers, we now are hosting an all female 4-way tunnel and skydiving camp. DZ.com: Why organize a women’s only tunnel camp? Nina: The tunnel as a training tool has changed the way we skydive, so the learning curve for individual flying skill is much steeper. I find that a considerable number of skydivers, particularly females, think that the tunnel is something for “serious 4-way freaks” only, and therefore never consider trying it out themselves. By getting more people interested in newer training developments we certainly help the sport overall, thus giving as many people as possible the chance to feel the exhilaration of flying their body aggressively. Many females are intimidated by the somewhat competitive atmosphere of the predominantly male clientele and staff of “traditional” camps. After hosting several camps at Perris using the successful formula of tunnel flying and jumping, we have experienced how different skydivers respond to different coaching, particularly how females respond fruitfully to female coaching. DZ.com: That sounds kind of like the same concept as establishing the women’s division in 4-way in order to draw more females in the sport. Nina: Exactly. Last year we had 9 all girl teams competing at the US Nationals, which was a great turnout. It was also my first time to compete with an all girl team (4something, thanks again ladies!!!) With the nationals being in Perris, we are expecting an even more exciting female competition. DZ.com: Does the girl only camp also refer to the staff? Nina: Watching another woman fly powerfully and aggressively is certainly the strongest inspiration and motivation to do just he same. In other words: Yes, this is a stricktly female coaching staff. DZ.com: Do you in general support all girl events? Nina: I do believe in 4-way, in physical flying and strong moves – of which both genders are equally capable. I have benefited from male coaches, and being on a male team, I have learned to push myself to the greatest extent possible. However, my flying style is different from my male teammate’s style; therefore I think a female student can benefit from a female coach. I believe that there are an infinite number of individual learning behaviors. Consequently in the coach/student–relationship is paramount for the coach to communicate (in the physical demonstration and the verbal explanation) with any student in an understandable way. I am very much looking forward to share what I had the chance to learn in 6 years of training 4-way and 8-way with other females.
  4. 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.
  5. admin

    Air Adventures AFF: Level 5

    SOLO TURNS AND FORWARD MOTION JUMP SEQUENCE: When your jumpmaster says "GET INTO POSITION", take your position in the door. When you are ready to exit, turn to your right and shout "CHECK IN!" to your JM. The JM will respond "OK!" and nod his head when you are ready to go. Do the exit count - "Ready! Set! Arch!" On "Arch!" step to the left, out of the plane. Count to four, maintaining a hard arch. Do one practice ripcord touch. Check your altitude. Your JM may give you hand signals, and will then move in front of you. If everything is going well, and you seem stable, your JM will release you and fly 5-10 feet in front of you. Maintain hover control. If you slide backwards away from the JM, use forward motion to correct. Maintain heading. If you seem to be turning away from the JM, turn back towards him. Your JM will give you a turn signal - a hand pointed in one direction. Turn 180 away from the JM, then turn back. Check your altimeter. Your JM will not give you turn signals unless you check your altimeter first. Your JM will give you another turn signal. This time, turn 360 degrees, and stop facing him. Check your altimeter. If altitude permits, your JM will give you another turn signal. At 6000 feet, shake your head to indicate "no more manuevers." Your JM will move back beside you when he sees this. Do not follow! Wave off and pull at 5000 feet. Count to five and check your parachute. PERFORMANCE STANDARDS: Do smooth, slow turns in each direction. Do not allow yourself to build up speed in a fast turn. Maintain altitude awareness by checking your altimeter often. If you find yourself backsliding, use your forward-motion skills to correct it. Signal no-more-manuevers at 6000 feet, then wave off and pull at 5000 feet. LEVEL FIVE HINTS: To fix stability problems - ARCH! Check your altimeter after every turn. Be aware of your legs! Unwanted leg motion is one of the most common problems on level 5 jumps. REMEMBER THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTS OF ANY SKYDIVE: PULL! PULL AT THE RIGHT ALTITUDE! PULL STABLE! LAND SAFELY UNDER AN OPEN CANOPY! Before Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7
  6. admin

    The Skydiving Handbook

    Welcome to skydiving, perhaps the most exciting and unusual sport in the world! You are at the beginning of a path thousands of people have safely followed for over thirty years. In that time, experience has shown that some approaches to skydiving work better than others. This handbook is designed to supplement the practical instruction you will be receiving from our instructors, all of whom are certified by the United States Parachute Association. During the course of your training we will cover the basic principles around which skydiving is built. While actual dive sequences and hands-on training will be given to you by our instructors, this handbook will explain the concepts behind the activities and allow you to study important principles at home. Skydiving terms are clickable the first time they appear, which takes you to the glossary. Be sure to have your jumpmasters explain any concepts that remain unclear. Although underlying principles will not change, they may be easier to understand through a different explanation, drawing, or analogy than the ones offered here. I encourage your questions; some of the principles covered are not immediately obvious. As the author, I also invite your comments and criticism - this first edition is sure to have many oversights and flaws. In the Aircraft Exits Flying Your Body The Skydiving Universe After the Freefall Canopy Performance Landings After the Landing Blue skies and safe skydiving; Bryan Burke
  7. 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."
  8. MissMelissa

    AFF Students Are Awesome

    AFF students are awesome! They are incredibly excited, nervous, and sometimes quite hilarious. Ben Lowe and I have complied some of our favorite experiences with teaching and getting to know some of our students over the last few years. A graduated student of mine came up to me as calm as could be. The way he looked at me was that he was in trouble.I asked him, “What’s up?” “I had a cutaway,” he replied. “That’s awesome! You saved your life!” I replied as thrilled as could be. “What type of malfunction did you have?” “I think it was a hard opening.” “How do you know it was a hard opening?” “I opened up so hard I lost my shoes.” Ben and I had a student who sheepishly walked in the student room on a Sunday morning. “Good morning,” we said. “How are you?” Laughing he replied, “I’m at church!” Ben and I look puzzeld at each other, “Church?” “Yes, I tell work that I have to go to Church Sunday mornings so I can jump!” One of our favorite water training responses: I had a student who wore a digital altimeter that recorded her freefall speeds and liked writing them down in her logbook. She was about my size, 5’3” 120 pounds. After one jump she ran out of a room holding her altimeter high. “Melissa! Melissa! I reached a max speed of 168mph! That’s a freefly speed!” Ben and I always give our student’s the opportunity to always ask us questions, even after they graduate. This was one of our favorite downsize questions: We had a student who repeated Level 4 several times. Although discouraged, she kept moving forward and ended up graduating to her A-License. The following season after accumulating 100 jumps and tunnel time and ran up to Ben, “I want to do a jump with you to show off my bad ass 360° turns – in control!” Ben had been working with a student on exits for several jumps. She finally just said, “I’m terrified about jumping out of the plane. I’m just gonna throw myself out, then get stable.” I was walking into the student room and I had overheard several students giving shout outs for their landing stats. “I have 2 corn landings,” one says. “I have 1 corn and 1 bean landing,” says another. “Oh yeah, I have 1 corn, 1 bean and 1 runway landing,” he said laughing with a few gasps and questions. Then another pipes up. “Well I landed in the corn 2 miles away!” and the laughter ensued! It’s pretty tough as an Instructor to beat YouTube these days. But you have to stand your ground! Teaching is something Ben and I also take seriously as we know our actions will make a lasting impression. However, the rewards are great as we get to meet so many different people and watch them progress in the sport we’re so passionate about. If you’re an AFF student, I encourage you to keep going and keep learning! Got any interesting stories about what you've heard coming from AFF students? Share them with us in the comments section below... Find good articles here: http://www.melissaairheart.com/category/education/
  9. labyrinth

    Risk Homeostasis and Skydiving

    Wikipedia describes the phenomenon as follows: 'Risk homeostasis is a psychological theory developed by Gerald J.S. Wilde, a professor emeritus of psychology at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada...the theory of risk homeostasis states that an individual has an inbuilt target level of acceptable risk which does not change. This level varies between individuals. When the level of acceptable risk in one part of the individual's life changes; there will be a corresponding rise/drop in acceptable risk elsewhere. The same, argues Wilde, is true of larger human systems (e.g. a population of drivers).' Through the comparison of relevant Sky Diving statistics, recent studies in the field of risk homeostasis show that the introduction of a safety feature does not necessarily improve the generalredistribution This phenomenon, due to a type of 'risk redistribution', was researched by Sky-Diving academics who spotted strange fatality rate fluctuations migrating back and fourth between open canopy fatalities, 'no pull' and 'low pull' cases and others, depending on the adoption of certain safety feature at that time. The study employed the Cypres (Cybernetic Parachute Release System) Automatic Activation Device (AAD) as an example, which is specifically designed to deploy the reserve parachute at the required altitude, in the event of timing neglect by the jumper. Risk homeostasis shows that varying individual trends toward risk adjustment become displaced by the introduction of a safety feature. The concept results an inadvertent psychological neglect of natural automated adjustments to these barriers. This leads to a generalised lowered level of risk, instead of unique to the area in which the safety feature is applicable. The risk then becomes distributed across parameters and is referred to as 'accident migration'. When this in turn was applied in relation to levels of perceived risk, it was noted that; 'Skydivers adjust their behaviors to maintain arousal at optimal levels'- a behavioral modification linked to inadvertent risk displacement. Levels of risk vary from one person to another and are adjusted in accordance so as to maintain a level of comfort most acceptable to the individual. On the other end of the spectrum, however, more risk can be introduced if the threshold is too low in comparison to what the individual is used to. In other words, the tendency to take less precaution in presence of a safety measure does not necessarily result in a balanced distribution of risk and as a direct result, risk is inadvertently lowered in other areas. Where there may have been a decrease in 'low pull' or 'no pull' fatalities due to this mechanism, the open canopy fatalities increased, and the introduction of open canopy safety features appeared to coincide with an increase in landing fatalities. A correlation can be seen concerning traffic accidents, where most of the evidence for risk homeostasis originates. Studies have shown that 'pedestrians are twice as likely to be killed in a painted crosswalk as in an unmarked one' and that driver side airbags in actual fact contributed to driver behaviors that increased accidents and fatalities. Needless to say, the field of skydiving is a popular target for academic study on the topic of researching risk whether perceived or real. Sensation seeking provides the blueprint for studying risk-taking in social, legal, physical and financial for the sake of such experience. It has been found that personality types within this sphere can be genetically characterized by an elongated version of the DRD4 gene which regulates the production of dopamine and effects pleasure and emotion. It should therefore come as no surprise that when comparing skydivers to non-skydivers it was found that the former have lower levels of death anxiety, which in turn lends itself to higher levels of target risk. It was also found that Skydivers accept significantly higher levels of risk and that 'More experienced skydivers monitor the risk perceptions of the beginning skydivers in their subcultures.' Further research will be conducted into how to enforce precautionary measures within the parameters of these findings. To read the original case study visit www.vicnapier.com Original Authors: Napier, Vic Pima Community College Findley, Carolyn Sara (Casey) Auburn University Montgomery Self, Donald Raymond Auburn University Montgomery
  10. 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.
  11. admin

    The Physics of Freefall

    Without an atmosphere we would continue to accelerate during free fall to ever increasing velocities until we impacted mother earth. Without an atmosphere our parachute would of course be worthless. Hence a soft landing on the moon requires retro rockets to decelerate to a soft landing while parachutes have been used to help decelerate the Martian landers in the thin carbon dioxide atmosphere of mars. In the absence of atmospheric drag we would experience a linear increase in velocity with time as described by: Where ln is the natural logarithm base e and cosh is the hyperbolic cosine function. We can now evaluate eqns (10), (11) and (12) for various times over the free fall period to obtain the acceleration, downward velocity and the distance the skydiver falls. These results are tabulated in Table (1) and corresponding plots are illustrated in Figs (1) through (3). Eqn (11) was used to calculate the plot in Fig (1). We note that as we exit the aircraft at t = 0, our initial acceleration is 32 ft/sec^2, (gravity rules). As the opposing aerodynamic drag force increases with our increasing free fall velocity, our downward acceleration decreases. We see from Fig (1) that our acceleration diminishes to about half of it’s initial value after 5 sec of free fall and all perceptible downward acceleration has ceased after 15 or 20 sec. Our free fall velocity was calculated from eqn (10) and is plotted in Fig (2). It steadily increases over the first 5 seconds of free fall from zero to nearly 90 mph. During the next 5 to 10 seconds our acceleration diminishes significantly as we approach terminal. It is the post 10 sec period of the skydive when our sensation of falling is replaced by the feeling being suspended and cradled by the pressure of the wind. Eqn (12) was use to calculate and plot the free fall distance. It is apparent from Fig (3) that we fall only about 350 feet in the first 5 seconds and at least twice that far in the second 5 seconds. Beyond 10 seconds the plot is nearly linear as we approach a constant terminal velocity. Fig (3) confirms our often used rule of thumb “we free fall about 1000 feet in the first 10 sec and another 1000 feet for every 5 sec thereafter”. Comparing the distance at 25 sec with that at 20 sec in Table (1) we see a difference of about 860 ft, a bit less than the rule of thumb value of 1000 ft. The 1000 ft per 5 sec of free fall at terminal is only precise for a free fall rate of 1000 ft / 5 sec = 200 ft/sec or 136 mph rather than 120 mph used in this example. Hopefully this example and discussion may provide some insight to those who are mathematically inclined and curious about the “whys”.
  12. How to be a Good Passenger in a Jump Plane Note: Original text from an article written for April 1992 Parachutist. Since 1992 our fleet of jump airplanes has changed signifigantly. There are few planes like DC3's in use now which often have "loaders", and many pilots are now spotting airplanes with the help of the navigation equipment that is now more advanced. Please make adjustments for the changing technology. G.P. 2003 This article is written in two parts covering some of the most typical jump plane situations you will experience. The first part will be of interest to new jumpers who are learning to spot and to jumpmaster themselves and who are jumping from small airplanes. The second part is for intermediate jumpers from a small drop zone who may soon consider visiting another drop zone or going to a skydiving event that has larger airplanes. It will also be good review for experienced jumpers who do not jump large airplanes very often and forget how to be a good passenger. Small Airplanes: Loading- Loading a small airplane will become different as you gain more experience in skydiving. You will be doing different exits than you did as a student and will need to be arranged differently in the airplane. First of all, take the advice of more experienced jumpers as to the most efficient place to be for your skydive. If you are in an airplane with students, follow the seating arrangement that the instructor specifies. Be careful as you get near the airplane if the engine is still running. The door of small airplanes is always near the prop and the airplane owner will not appreciate you bending the prop by backing into it. :) The least noisy time during your flight is during loading and is the best time to tell the pilot how high you are going and in what direction you want the jump run. The pilot needs to tell Air Traffic Control how high the plane is going and hopes you won't change your mind too many times on the way up. Tell the pilot if you will being doing Canopy Relative Work or will be opening high for some reason. Pilots don't want to do surprise CRW with canopies they don't know are up that high. The position of the seat belts in the airplane will usually dictate exactly where you will be sitting. If this position is uncomfortable just remember that the Federal Aviation Regulations state only that you must wear them only while the aircraft is in motion on the ground and during takeoff and landing. Make sure that everyone doesn't sit too far to the rear and make the plane out of balance. The pilot would not have much fun flying it in this condition. Ask the pilot for advice on loading if you do not know. Jump Run- When you know it is almost time to jump you will usually be getting to your knees and making final adjustments to your gear. In getting up, try not to pull yourself up by the pilot's rig or pull any important items off the plane in doing so. Check for any part of your gear that may have been moved while getting up in a crowded airplane, especially your hand deploy pilot chute. There should be no need to say very much to a pilot at this point if they were sufficiently briefed on the ground, but be alert and understanding about anything the pilot may say to you. Your jump may be delayed while waiting for another jump plane or from instructions from Air Traffic Control, and those instructions will be hard to hear if you are yelling about why you aren't on jump run yet. Spotting- You will always need to wait for a signal from the pilot before opening the door. If the airspeed is too high the door will receive excessive stress and might even come off. The airplane's owner would be very unhappy with you as well as the home owner whose roof the door lands on. Giving corrections to the pilot on direction of flight can be verbal by saying "5 RIGHT" or "5 LEFT", or by simply pointing in the direction to turn. Most pilots will correct about 5 degrees in the direction you indicate and then level out and wait for further corrections. If you point, make sure your hand is up where the pilot can see it. Try to keep the corrections to a minimum because the pilot probably lined you up on jump run pretty close anyway. If you correct back and forth too many times even the pilot will get lost. :) Most pilots will cut back on the power when you get out, but it is a good idea to call for a "CUT" anyway before exiting. Exiting- Try to exit the airplane and get into your position as quickly as possible so the pilot doesn't have to struggle to keep the airplane right side up. However, be careful not to bump things on the way out like your pilot chute. It is also not wise to lean on the pilot too much just to get that perfect exit position. If you push too hard on the pilot or lean on the yoke of the airplane you will have a very interesting sideways exit. Large Airplanes: Loading- Loading a large plane at a new drop zone or at a large skydiving event will likely be an exciting event for you. There may be several large groups on the plane and you may get the feeling of being herded into the airplane. This is just a sense of urgency on the part of the crew, after all, these larger airplanes are more expensive to operate and must be kept busy in order to make money. Try to do your share by paying attention and helping move things along. Although the props on larger planes are further from the door than on smaller planes there may be more of them and they may be on the sides on the plane where you are not used to avoiding them, so be careful. Many of the largest airplanes will have a crewmember called a "Loader" that is in charge of loading the airplane and determining the exit order of all the groups getting into the plane. The loader is a buffer between the jumpers and the pilot and has to keep the jumpers in line so the pilot can concentrate on more important things like flying. Pay attention to the loader because they will be able to load you as quickly and efficiently as possible. When seating yourself in the airplane you can note how the people ahead of you are seated and follow suit. Seating is usually very cozy in these airplanes even though it looks roomy when you first get in, so sit close. Somes planes have loading lines painted or taped across a rearward section of the airplane and all of the jumpers must be forward of this line. If you see that not everyone is going to fit in this area, you might as well scoot back and tighten it up before you get too comfortable because the loader is going to be mean and make you crowd together anyway. Seat belts will be available and you might have to look carefully to determine which one you should be using. After everyone is seated and you are taxiing out to the runway, take a look around the airplane. There may be a sign somewhere describing the plane's emergency procedures in case of engine failure. You will want to be familiar with these procedures and really follow them if the real thing happens rather than just getting up and running around all excited. Some planes might also have posted a diagram of the drop zone and the jump run for the day. This is important information for the person spotting and helpful to anyone jumping at an unfamiliar airport. Jump Run- When it is time to jump you will be getting up to make final adjustments to your gear. Check for any part of your gear that may have been moved while getting up in a crowded airplane. There may be room in a large airplane to have someone give you a pin check. Even if it is possible to completely stand up in the airplane, don't feel like you must do this until time for your group to line up and exit. This will help reduce crowding in the plane. All adjustments to your gear can be made while kneeling anyway. Try to continue to keep forward of the loading line by not spreading out too much. The airplane may climb better like this and you might just get some extra altitude. Try keeping the noise to a minimum in case you get instructions from the loader or spotter. Spotting- On the larger planes the loader may also do the spotting for the whole load. This is another reason you should pay attention to and be nice to the loader, so you will make it back to the airport. Another possibility is that the pilot may be spotting from up front by using instruments and giving the exit command directly or by relaying the command to the loader. If the load is being spotted by looking out the door, the corrections must be relayed to the pilot who possibly cannot see the spotter. Some airplanes have pushbutton switches on a panel that turn on lights that the pilot can see, or the loader may have a headset to talk to the pilot. If you are spotting you will need to learn how these work ahead of time. If the plane does not use one of these methods, the corrections must be relayed to the pilot by someone sitting near the pilot that can see the spotter. For this to work there must be a clear line of sight up to the cockpit. Do your part by keeping the isle clear. Exiting- Wait until the loader or spotter indicates that it is time for your group to line up and then do it quickly. If you are not in the first group, continue to stay forward until it is time for you to line up. Give the group ahead of you 5 to 10 seconds before your group exits, depending on the winds aloft, but don't be slower than that. The group behind you is using the same spot as you and larger airplanes are flying faster on jump run than smaller ones. You will know when you are taking too long to exit because the group behind you will begin objecting to your excessive delay. Everyone wants to make it back to the airport. Summary: This article has outlined the most common procedures that you will be following when jumping out of most airplanes. Hopefully it has given you some basics on how to be a good passenger on any aircraft whether it be an airplane, a helicopter, or a hot air balloon. If you ever have any questions about the procedures for a particular aircraft, just ask the pilot. They will be glad to help.
  13. admin

    Skydiver's Anonymous

    For the average weekend-warrior, skydiving is the great escape. The end of each dreary workweek is met with excitement and anticipation. Time to skydive! This is our chance to be with friends who share our passion, and escape the mundane, while we embrace life on our own terms. But with every wild weekend at the dz come the frustrations of another Monday morning…back to “reality”. And as the weekend highs become increasingly potent, so, too, do the lows of the following week back in the “real world”. This is a problem. Or at least is has been for me. Skydiving is so much more than the physical act of each jump. It’s exciting, challenging, rewarding, and – at times – incredibly fulfilling. It also brings a sense of community, place, and purpose to the lives of many of us. The bonds created at the dz are strong, and the times spent together with friends in the mutual pursuit of pleasure can be as rich and vital as nearly any other human experience. This is why we jump. But not everyone has something equally rewarding or exciting waiting for them at home. In fact, many of the dedicated skydivers I’ve known sacrifice a substantial amount of their time, energy, and resources in support of those two sacred days each week that they get to spend doing what they love. In many ways, it’s like a drug. The comparisons are obvious: It’s expensive It’s exciting and intoxicating It’s quite addictive It leaves you in withdrawal when you’re unable to jump It’s not always socially acceptable (sometimes even forbidden by friends / loved ones) It can eventually have negative effects on other parts of your life (relationships, finances, etc.) It can consume your mind and thoughts even when you’re not jumping It can begin to rule your life, as you reshape your time, energy and resources to better support your habit What, then, becomes of our prior reality? It’s hard to replicate the floods of dopamine and surges of endorphins unleashed over the course of a weekend in the sky. And as you progress in skydiving towards more demanding disciplines that require greater focus and dedication, all else can become comparatively dull and uninspired. But there are no support groups for us crazy few. No meetings to attend with mantras to repeat aloud in sober solidarity. We’re left to our own devices – bored and daydreaming about our next fix. This duality doesn’t sit well. At least not with me. I’ve had a very difficult time adjusting to a life split between two utterly separate and diametrically opposed worlds – one of hedonism and excitement, and the other of drudgery and toil. For me, these two paths could no longer be bridged. I’ve had to choose. And I’ve always been a much more talented hedonist than I have a cubicle-rat, so my choice was fairly clear. Granted, not everyone is in a position to completely cutaway. Some of you have spouses, kids, mortgages, magazine subscriptions, softball practices, and various other entanglements with which to contend. These types of responsibility have always terrified me. But I’m very interested in hearing from you! How is it that you, the reader, who I presume lives to some extent in both of these worlds at once, is able to reconcile them? What sacrifices must you make? How do you divide your time between the sky (the friends, the bonfires and other sanctioned mayhem) and the so-called “real world”? Perhaps there’s something I’ve missed in my pursuit of balance. And I’d love to hear what that might be. Your thoughts and personal insights are welcomed and invited below!
  14. After almost a 25-year hiatus, I came back into the fold, enabled by the last child having gone off to college, and prompted by arthritic hips that were making it too painful to play tennis. I figured some things may have changed, but that I had been aware of them, having kept up my USPA membership and subscription to Parachutist. Well, it’s one thing to be aware of something, and quite another to learn to handle it in real time. In my first year back, I jumped at 5 different dropzones in three countries, so that I saw how the changes have been implemented in some different environments. Here is a list of the things that had changed that awaited my return, and had implications for my safety and the safety of others. 1. There are seatbelts in these jumpships—a good idea in the event of an unanticipated landing, but one has to learn where they are, remember to take them off, to stow them (especially in small aircraft), and be aware of where they are to avoid entanglement on exit. 2. Spotting is a thing of the past in many dropzones—just keep your eye on the colored lights! Still, it is a good idea to check where one is, in the event a pilot was tracking the wrong line. 3. Turbine aircraft now have doors! No more freezing on the way to altitude, or clinging to one’s neighbor to avoid falling out. However, one has to learn when they go up and down, how to secure them, how to close them gently. 4. Everyone wears their pilot chute above their butt—making deployment a little slower, if one manages to find it (remember the advert in the Parachutist: “Looking for something?”), but avoiding a few other problems. Be sure to practice deployment with the gear you will be using many times on the ground, in a prone position, to develop some muscle memory before going up. And check it constantly—my too-loose BOC pouch let out my pilot chute when I rose from the floor and caught it on something, much to the consternation of the planeload of jumpers whose lives I had just endangered. 5. Parachutes come in many flavors, and many sizes—gone are the days of one canopy fits all. Most of today’s canopies are very touchy, and downright skittish, react to the slightest input, and take far more concentration in the last few hundred feet of descent. Everybody swoops, to some degree, and some DZs have abandoned upkeep of their pea gravel because nobody uses it. I found it easier to land an original Sabre 170 than a Sabre II 190, and I am sure I will not be going for a fully elliptical canopy—at my age, I have to avoid the 1-in-500 jump mishaps that can maim one for life. Essentially, skydivers have invented a whole new way to die—turn low, and drive into the ground at 60mph. 6. There are many minor innovations in skydiving gear, too many to mention—just make sure you know how everything works on your rig, and why it is the way it is. 7. Everybody PRO-packs, or uses some variant—although I had had several people show me how to do it, and watched all the videos, etc., in my first dozen attempts, I packed one malfunction, and had to get more private instruction in a quiet place. 8. People fly landing patterns—e.g. left-hand, with turns at 1000, 600, 300 feet--in the old days, even with 20 jumpers in the air, we all did pretty much what we wanted and hoped for the best; now, even a 4-way requires paying attention to the landing pattern. 9. Breakoff for belly-flying is much higher—instead of separating an 8-way at 3500, now 4500 or even 5000 is the time to say goodbye. Coupled with the higher minimum opening altitude of 2500, this makes for a much more reasonable margin for error—and as humans, we are prone to error. 10. There are now many different skydiving disciplines, and you have to learn about them, and pay attention to exit order, as one jump run may let out belly flyers, freeflyers, angle flyers, trackers, wingsuiters, and tandems, as well as people who haven’t made up their mind before boarding exactly what they are planning to do. 11. AADs are now required most places—no longer shunned as devices that might blow up in your face. RSLs are also ubiquitous—both systems have saved many, many lives. 12. There are lots of old jumpers now—few old bold ones—and they have learned a lot about how to be safe over their last quarter century, while I’ve been taking kids to soccer practice. Pepper them with all sorts of questions, and do not rush to emulate the 22-year-olds out there. They likely have gone through a much more comprehensive training program than you have, including courses on canopy control and instruction on equipment safety. My personal rule, which I have not seen enunciated elsewhere: On any given jump, DO NOT INTRODUCE MORE THAN ONE NEW PIECE OF EQUIPMENT, or new way of using a piece of equipment. Of course, your first couple of recurrency jumps will necessitate breaking this rule—but don’t go out of your way to put a camera on, or add anything other than what is absolutely necessary. Example: If you get a new jumpsuit, don’t also try a new helmet on the same jump. Or, if you do, go out on a solo jump. Addendum: Do your homework. I recently was caught in a dust devil at 100ft or so, which completely collapsed my canopy, and I credit my reactions and walk-away landing to a video and a book, both by Brian Germain, which I had studied in detail. Larry Moulton, C-11371, EET #22, is a professor of international health and biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University.
  15. nettenette

    How to Team - Hayabusa's Best Tips

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

    The Last Frontier

    Down For 50 Jumps Alaska, And Annette O’Neil Tries to Rise to the Occasion Image Credit: Melissa Dawn Burns When I grapple my way out onto to the float, I notice two things immediately. First: It’s impossible to maintain a relaxed attitude while sitting on the pontoon of a floatplane in full flight. My mental image of myself doing this is going to take a major revision in the translation to reality. Secondly: My pilot chute has never felt so vulnerable in all my jumps. For almost the entirety of this once-in-a-lifetime skydive, as I keep a resolute smile trained on the camera aircraft flying next to us, a sepiatone clip plays over and over in my head: A pinch of (actually very securely and conscientiously packed) fabric managing to wiggle itself out of my (actually tight-as-a-new-pair-of-jeans) BOC and bolt mischievously between the pontoon and the step, deploying my beautiful new Crossfire one last time as we spiral, nose-first, into Alaska’s forested wetlands. But I digress. Before we came to Alaska, we were warned. “Ah, mosquitoes: Alaska’s state bird,” said one. “They don’t bite you. They carry you home and feed you to their children.” “You’re only there for five days?!,” breathed another. “Good luck with that. You should have planned on at least a week. You’ll never get a break in the weather.” “A college kid just got eaten by a bear while he was running a half-marathon out there in Anchorage,” chimed in another. “It chased him off the trail and into the forest. He was calling his mom as it was running him down.” Since my previous knowledge of Alaska was gleaned almost entirely from the Calvin & Hobbes ‘Yukon Ho!’ collection and a single viewing of Grizzly Man, I’m a receptive audience. I decide not to go for runs. When I arrive in Anchorage, I walk through a neighborhood from my airport hotel to a car rental storefront. The gardens, clearly nothing more than a salad bar for the local deer population, have been scrupulously stripped of anything edible. The one with remaining flowers is surrounded by a high fence. A woman crosses in front of me, walking her toy yorkie. She is carrying bear spray. I speed up, having no toy yorkie to cast off as bait. Image Credit: Melissa Dawn Burns When I get to the rental place, they issue me a Subaru. Clearly, they assume I’m not messing around. And clearly, we are not. The next morning, we—myself, my Down For 50 co-adventurer, Joel, and Brett, along for the ride on this particular state’s adventure—are on the road, bound for the town of Talkeetna. Ah, Talkeetna, Alaska: the acknowledged “doorway to Denali,” home to a heterozygous mix of hippies and lumberjacks, a private pilot mecca. The latter becomes evident even miles away, on the long road into town. The traffic overhead, after all, is significantly more congested and varied than the traffic on ground level. I’m glad I’m not driving; I’m transfixed looking out and up, checking out the rush hour trucking over the trees. Soon, following the instructions given in a flurry of arranging emails, we wind through a series of deeply wooded roads to arrive at our pilot’s lakehouse/hangar/office/flight school/community hub. The pilot himself, Don, is an affable fellow with a handsome mustache and the air of a man you’d immediately trust with your life. In fact, I do: When he suggests that we head over to the airport to conduct a quick aerial requisition of the available parachute landing areas “in the Breezy,” I immediately offer myself up. We hop in the rough-and-ready fuel truck (okay: the rusted-through blue pickup with a tank of AV gas in the bed) and off we go. The airfield is, to put it mildly, a candy store. All manner of aircraft sit gamely waiting, lined up as tidily and fetchingly as pretty ladies in an Old West brothel, all waiting expectantly for a pilot. Don and I cruise along in front of their expectant glass faces. Will we hop into the shiny red one? The bare-metal number that looks like it’ll have a sign on the door that says “silk scarves required”? The race-car-faced green-and-white one with its dancing shoes on and the freshly-chamwowed gleam? What’s this blue thing? As I’m wondering what I’m looking at, we pull to a stop. I take a closer look. This aircraft—I’m finding it difficult to call it a “plane”—is a robin’s-egg-blue latticework of metal with a wing laid across the top. There’s a prop. There’s an engine. There’s a Wizard-of-Oz-style picnic basket strapped in for storage behind an open, park-bench seat. It looks like the pilot is meant to perch on a piece of wood that sits directly in front of that. Suddenly, I realize that Don’s walking right towards it. Oh. The BREEZY. That looks pretty breezy, alright. Don hands me a motorcycle helmet and a bib jumpsuit “so he doesn’t have to worry about me.” I sit down on the park bench. I fasten the single lap belt as fastidiously as I can manage. Then, as Don works the engine like a lawnmower, I read the little metal placard fastened to the seat in front of me. It says, “Passenger warning: This aircraft is amateur-built and does not comply with the federal safety regulations for standard aircraft.” For some reason, that’s all I need to start enjoying myself. As we taxi out, I’m smiling so hard in my helmet it hurts a little. Twenty minutes later, I’ve found Jesus. I’m reeling from the feeling of being in the dead-on sweet spot of everything I love about flying and motorcycling and adventuring, all bound up into one ugly-ass not-quite-aircraft. We rode the river like a track day. We bounded over forested hillocks and gravel outcroppings and one enormous, out-of-place old satellite dish. We buzzed the lakehouse, waving at my astounded companions. As we land, I decide I might not be bluffing about wanting my fixed-wing license anymore. I tell Don. “Oh, you don’t need a pilot’s license to fly this thing,” he grins. “I can get you checked out on it this afternoon.” I backpedal. Hard. When we arrive back at camp, it’s late. It doesn’t look late, but it is late. Don, the pilots and us jumpers congregate on the dock, four floatplanes bobbing cheerfully around us, and go over the flight plan. As it turns out, they want to do our jump as a stacked formation—each of us in our own chariot—with queenly Denali throwing her white skirts around in the background. There will be a photographer (my preternaturally gifted, multi-hyphenate wonder of a friend, Melissa) passenging in a camera plane, ready to capture it. Our flight instructors thrill to the plan. I am assigned the one that’s mostly purple, bedecked with little hippie daisies. I am much pleased. After the meeting, Joel and Brett and I trundle up to the room that Don has graciously offered us, with its wide deck overlooking the twilit lake and the visiting pilots trading stories around the fire pit. We (very ineffectually) close the shades. We try to rest. Tomorrow’s a big day. Image Credit: Melissa Dawn Burns The night segues seamlessly into the morning. I wake when my sleep mask shifts and the 4:30AM sun sears my eyelids. Brett wakes when I bump his shins, hanging over the padded arm of the loveseat upon which he reclines. Joel is already up. Coffee in hand, we meander down to the dock under a cloudless, bluebird sky. There’s a four-month-old Bernese-Blue Heeler mix rolling around the lawn, doing its best to learn how to be a dog, its fur bunching adorably in handfuls, waiting to be grown into. Two chubby golden retrievers stalk fish offshore. Two pigs, wire-haired and curious, wander over and present themselves for belly rubs. We kit up. Taking off from water is a new experience entirely. It’s smoother than I think it’ll be, as the glassed-off lake is feeling nary a tickle of wind this fine, blue morning. Before I know it, we’re tooth-and-clawing our way up to six grand. “I forgot how pretty it is from up here,” my pilot smiles when we get to around four. I, for myself, had forgotten that most people—especially people around here—don’t blow through four grand like the front door on a cold night. Once we’re up at six, we circle, building the formation. Let’s be clear: these are really, really good pilots, but they’re not formation pilots, and there’s most certainly a trick to it when you’re wrangling low-performance aircraft that were made to do nothing of the sort. With the door open, six thousand feet over Alaska at the entrance to glaciertopia, it is cold. The twenty minutes it takes them to get together has me clinging to the back of the passenger seat like it’s a lover returned from the wars. I hope my hands still work when it’s time to get out. Image Credit: Down For 50 Which, coincidentally, it is. I see Melissa’s plane figuring its way alongside us. I uncertainly stick out a foot and screw it down onto the sandpaper surface of the step. Then I offer my body up to the full blast of the relative wind and lunge for the strut. I get a purchase. I, ungainly, perch. I’m doing it. There’s a yoga to staying here, one iron grip around the strut, the other hand “casually” in my lap, my brain stuck firmly to my pilot chute. Most of me aches to tumble into the familiar arms of freefall. The rest of me grabs that part of me by the cheeks and shouts into its face: For chrissakes, woman, pay attention to this and here and now, because it has an expiration date that is less than a minute in the future and this is what you came for. I heed it. Suddenly, I can see. I see the red and white camera airplane, framed by impossible mountains. Denali, of course; Mount Huntington; Moose’s Tooth; Little Switzerland. I see a sky of a blueness Alaska pretty much never sees, yet here I am, sitting in it. I see Melissa, concentrating behind the winking black eye of her lens. I can’t see them, but I feel Joel and Brett, doing their own pontoon yoga practice behind me and above me. I see so much of what I love about being in this world, hanging here and now in the suspended animation of complete attention. And then there’s the landing area below—a cleared construction pad, tucked up next to the Talkeetna airport runway. My pilot nods. I had planned some sort of fanfare for this exit. As it stands, however, all I can manage is a dizzy-eyed smile and a bog-standard hop. My pilot hollers to watch me go. She’s never seen anything like it before. When we land, parachutes slung over shoulders, I’m exhausted with the effort of committing it all to memory. I decide to walk back to the FBO and let it all process—Don’s generosity; the force of the community here; the entirely new sensations of flight. It overwhelms my hardware. It’s only later, as we hunch over plates heaped with pancakes, that I happen to glance at the collection of grinning pilots clustered in black-and-white on the Talkeetna diner wall. It crystallizes what I’m feeling: The momentum of a long tradition. Those smiling faces, proudly next to their planes, captured over the entire history of aviation, seem to prove that this place—Alaska, the last frontier—was created by and for adventure. Alaska turns energy to adventure like some sort of spiritual chlorophyll. Every single one of these guys grew tall, strong, enduring lives with the force of that alchemy. Alaska pushes out the envelopes of the willing like leaves bursting from ever-lengthening branches. This is its job. It does it well. ----------- Down For 50, the first 50-state skydiving road trip accomplished in a single journey, is happening from May to October of this year. To follow the journey, to check out when it’s coming to your state or simply to help out (thanks!), visit downfor50.org.
  17. 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."
  18. nettenette

    How to Approach Your Recurrency Skydive

    Image by Joel Strickland What’s the second-scariest thing in the world? Probably, it’s the open door of a plane at altitude as seen through the eyes of an AFF-1 student. Remember that moment? Most of us do. What’s the first-scariest thing in the world? Arguably: the open door of a plane at altitude, seen through the eyes of a skydiver doing a recurrency jump after a long hiatus. Coming back to skydiving after a long time on the ground is an inarguably intense experience -- possibly even a bit more so than the first time your feet left the plane. First of all, you know a lot more about what can go wrong. You’re likely to feel a lot more pressure to perform “like an old pro,” which never helps matters. And -- if you took that time off to heal an injury that grounded you -- you’re getting back on the horse, cowboy/girl, and that ain’t no easy thing. How do you approach recurrency with the best chance of a successful reintroduction to the wild blue yonder? The same way you do everything else in airsports: mindfully, methodically and with a lot of sensitivity to your unique position in the sport and emotional biome. 1. Know the actual rules. The United States Parachute Association gives these guidelines for recurrency in the Skydiver's Information Manual. (Non-American skydivers may have different exact guidelines to follow.) A License “USPA A-license holders who have not made a freefall skydive within 60 days should make at least one jump under the supervision of a currently rated USPA instructional rating holder until demonstrating altitude awareness, freefall control on all axes, tracking, and canopy skills sufficient for safely jumping in groups.” B License “USPA B-license holders who have not made a freefall skydive within the preceding 90 days should make at least one jump under the supervision of a USPA instructional rating holder until demonstrating the ability to safely exercise the privileges of that license. C and D License “USPA C- and D-license holders who have not made a freefall skydive within the preceding six months should make at least one jump under the supervision of a USPA instructional rating holder until demonstrating the ability to safely exercise the privileges of that license.” 2. Lay the emotional groundwork to support your success. You’re not the first recurrency-seeker to freak out. Recurrency jumps are often hard -- especially if you're a newer skydiver. Many a lapsed skydiver has turned the car around on the way to the drop zone rather than get back in the sky. You’re going to need to use your tools. Call a friend -- even a non-skydiver -- to meet you at the DZ and keep you accountable. Watch videos of your past jumps to remind yourself that you'll be fine (and you'll be ecstatic when you land). Listen to music that gets you stoked. Read journal entries from the time that you were actively skydiving and having an awesome time up there. If you were out because of an injury or a medical issue, make sure to chat to your doctor about your intention to reenter the sport. If you need to, get a second opinion -- but hear them out. 3. Make sure your gear is up to the challenge, too. Has your gear been stored for more than a season? You’ll need to take a close look at it before you call it back into action. Parachutes don’t like to sit on the bench, y’know. After a longer period of time -- especially if the rig wasn’t stored unpacked in a climate-controlled environment with the stow bands removed -- the materials themselves may start to break down. If your rig has brass grommets on the main d-bag, the metal may have reacted with the rubber of the stow bands (making them hard, brittle, and incapable of doing their snappy little jobs). The ZP coating might have “glued” the cells together to the point where the canopy needs to be manually fluffed out. If your magical backpack has been in storage for any extended period of time, it’s smart (and confidence-inspiring) to have a rigger put it through its paces. Get a thorough inspection of all the nylon, the harness and the container, as well as the reserve repack that’s surely due. When it comes back, you’ll know that it’s airworthy (or you can get your hands on something that is). 4. Recognize your “aliefs” (and how to handle them). Coined by philosopher Tamar Gendler, an “alief” is another form of belief, but it’s not the same thing. We hold beliefs in response to what things are. An alief is a response to how things seem. Knowing and feeling that difference on a recurrency jump can bring you a lot of relief. Here’s how it works. As a skydiver, you have probably put in plenty of hours packing, gear checking, loading into a plane, exiting a plane, freefalling, flying your canopy and landing. With enough repetition, your brain has stored all these behaviors and recognizes them. On a conscious level, you believe yourself to be perfectly capable of performing the actions of a skydive. However, when you come back after a long hiatus, alief rears its ugly head. When you believe you can make a skydive but your body has become unaccustomed to the physical sensations of skydiving, you have an alief. The mental state of alief is a primal form of fear that underlies a moment you know you are safe in your head but your body's not on the same page (i.e. standing on a pane of rock-solid, clear glass, hundreds of feet over a canyon floor). Alief is a funny thing: it’s what makes people refuse to drink soup from a factory-fresh bedpan, eat fudge that looks like poop, or pull the trigger of an empty gun with the barrel against their head. It might also keep you from getting on the plane because damnit it just feels wrong. If you understand what you’re experiencing, though -- it might not. Let me be the first to high-five you back into the fold, friend.
  19. 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.
  20. admin

    Static Line Training (S/L)

    This method has evolved over the last ~30 years from its military origins into a successful method for training sport parachutists. The student gets 4-5 hours of ground training and is then taken to an altitude of about 3000 feet for the jump. The jump itself consists of a simple "poised" exit from the strut of a small single engine Cessna aircraft. As the student falls away from the plane, the main canopy is deployed by a "static line" attached to the aircraft. The student will experience about two to three seconds of falling as the parachute opens. Subsequent S/L jumps require about 15 minutes of preparation. After 2 good static line jumps, the student will be trained to pull their ripcord for themselves. The student then does 3 more static line jumps where they demonstrate this ability by pulling a dummy ripcord as they leave the plane (the static line is still initiating the deployment). The student is then cleared to do their first actual freefall. The first freefall is a "clear & pull", where the student initiates the pull sequence immediately upon leaving the aircraft. Next is a 10 second delay jump. Subsequent jumps go to progressively higher altitudes with longer delays. After 20 freefalls, and meeting certain other basic requirements, the student receives their A license and is cleared off student status. Safety and Training Forum Find a place to jump in your area.
  21. Image by iFly Austin We would like to introduce the latest addition to Dropzone.com, our wind tunnel listings! We’ve been working hard at gathering information on all the active indoor skydiving venues from around the world, resulting in a list of 26 wind tunnels, spanning 12 countries, making it the most comprehensive and up to date list of vertical wind tunnels online. We have modelled the indoor skydiving section on that of our dropzone database, allowing you to review your experience, in turn helping others in choosing the best places to indoor skydive, and focusing on allowing you to quickly and easily find venues using GPS plotting. Users will be able to find detailed information about each dropzone in the listing, including time block pricing, training pricing, technical information and contact details. Indoor skydiving has become an essential part of competitive freefly training and continues to provide a platform for the evolution of body flight. With the continued growth of the sport, and the establishment of new tunnels, the future of indoor flying is looking extremely bright. We welcome and encourage users who have flown at any of the wind tunnels to submit a review of their experience. Should you know of a wind tunnel that is not listed in the database, you are able to submit a listing yourself, or contact us via e-mail and we will add the listing for you. Our database will continue to be built on and maintained by both dropzone.com and the respective owners and staff of the tunnels. If you are a staff member of one of the tunnels listed in our database, you can claim the listing. View Wind Tunnel Listings
  22. admin

    Inside The Funny Farm 2015

    You know that one time of the year where you are forced to go home and spend time with your family and you have to do it but don’t really want to? Yeah funny farm is nothing like that. At all! Mid April, 120 excited farmers travelled from all over the world on the yearly pilgrimage to a cattle farm near Westmar, Queensland, for a week of kick ass jumping and a lifetime of fond memories. The coach line up this time consisted of return farmers, Domi, Mox, Anna, Reader, Dougs, Jeff, Boagsy, Munting, Blakey and Macca. New recruits Luis Prinetto and Jason Petters joined the Farmily this year too. For the first time farmers it can be a daunting boogie, as its 6hrs from Brisbane, no flushing toilets, no reception and the nearest pub/store is 30mins drive away. But those who dare to brave it are richly rewarded. Mad Skills From All Around The World This year differed from previous years. It was open invite and the concept of this year’s farm was to not only keep improving the level of flying, but to also incorporate multiple disciplines in each jump. At the start of the week it was kept simple and easy, combining only two types at the same time. Woody and Griggsy helped skill up the XRW crew and the Dubai wingsuiters added another layer of innovation as people got their skills and confidence up the complexity of what was being attempted increased. By the end of the week it became important to get to the emplaning area early because it was a creative process to work out exit orders because the normal assumptions about exit order did not apply. Some old farmers returned which added the special vibe that is Funny Farm. Douggs was in charge of everything comical, so that the hot shots didn’t take themselves too seriously (which becomes challenging when Elad is slow mo-ing every rad manoeuvre and bathing you in day tape glory). Swoop comps involved directives like the running man, the turtle and some other crazy names which were always accompanied by laughter and an animated explanation of how they were to be performed, including historical information of who won these comp categories in farms gone by. After a recommendation from Robbie that only already competent swoopers participate, this advice was ignored by Spready who though he would give it a go anyway, not successfully. The comps were embraced by the mega swoopers who added entertainment to their exceptional skill and created a daily gathering at the pond to watch the triumph and failure. Luke Scab was a key leader in the commitment to running the pond every jump and quickly ran out of dry shoes but was a crowd favourite and didn’t need the services of Kenny the Gold Coast lifesaver who was on standby. No Shortage of Variety The day tapes were epic and long trying to keep up with all the new and cool things that were being done by so many groups each day. There were wingsuiters chasing the Yak. XRW with wingsuiters, canopies and planes. Full loads of Static mixed formations being carved around by a plane loads of movement flyers. Heaps of wingsuiters and freeflyers tearing it up in every orientation. Douggs’ ‘barely moving forward jumps’, Ariel silks from a tandem with canopies, and much much more. The United Nations could take a leaf out of our book for bridging the cultural divide. Just watch the video its MEGA! With the exception of Spready’s inspection of the bottom of the pond and Jeff’s in-flight seminar on drag differentiation. Everyone was safe during the week which keeps the event in good spirits and stops Robbie from increasing his angle as he stomps across the landing area towards the jumper who has made a questionable safety choice. You know if you are getting out the protractor as he approaches and it is anywhere from the 80-45 degree angle you need to start making excuses fast. The Convery brothers are always manage to rile up Robbie and Irish continued to stir up Robbie after hours with his MC gig, must be something about the Irish Ranga combo that causes fireworks and entertainment to the crowd. Ready was the hero of party night for epic vision that at first glance appeared to be a dead tree. Which he erected in the landing area and set it alight, a leaf blower turned into a flame thrower as they pumped oxygen into the burning 3m log. With the regular camp fire covered in cooper flakes burning green, the flaming tree spewing heat and light into the sky, some flares being thrown around and the flashing lights on the drone flying overhead, was visually spectacular and was quite an experience for everyone with a bit on. Funny Farm is hard to describe accurately, just trust me when I say if you ever get the chance to come, make it happen. This is one event that for sure couldn’t happen without endless support from sponsors the Australian Parachuting Council, South Queensland Parachuting Council, Cookie, Downward Trend Rigging, LVN lifestyle and NZ Aerosports and the Mulckey Family who allow their normally tranquil farm to be turned into our playground for one week a year. Stats from the Week 2992 slots, 225 loads, 14500 litres of fuel, 224 Cartons of beer, 120 Jumpers, Two Caravans, One 182 and a YAK 52. Heaps of Kouta, Feckin Bewm. Who’s Hungry and gooood could be heard too. And Major Lazer ‘Lean on’ played approximately 45 times. *** Disclaimer: some of these stats might not be entirely accurate*****
  23. The daily deal discussion has become the latest irritant on par with the topic of SkyRide and often leads to vein-popping, heated discourse similar to any US political exchange between Democrats and Republicans. It can get heated! Generally, there are two positions held about daily deals: Position 1: Strongly Against: Deeply discounting the product while a third party profits on your hard work is not sustainable and does not make sense. Position 2: In Favor: It's a great way to expose your business and bring a lot of traffic through the door. Many businesses, both in and out of the skydiving industry, have found the daily deal to be a dreadful experience. The deal has been misused by offering too many deals, too often, without creating a proper strategy for its implementation. Think of the daily deal like chocolate. Eat it in moderation and it can be enjoyed. Eat too much of it and it will make you sick. The application of the daily deal can be either positive or negative dependent on several variables and is not universally a good idea for all. Three Variables that Dictate Daily Deal Success or Failure: A). Motive - Revenue Generator or Marketing Vehicle? B). Competition in the marketplace. C). How the deal is structured. A. Your Goal for Offering a Daily Deal What is the motive for creating a daily deal? If the motive is to create an infusion of cash to get through a winter or to generate a major profit, then this is a red flag. Offering daily deals annually for a prolonged period at high volumes is unsustainable. If the motive is to use the daily deal as a vehicle to increase awareness about your DZ, then this is a better approach. I view the daily deal more as an advertising expense as opposed to a revenue generator - a big difference. The key baseline is to never lose money on any deal. Creating an intelligent deal limits volume, guarantees a sell out promotion and goes away quickly. The purpose is to maximize exposure based on the size of the database of the daily dealer. Whether you offer 500 vouchers or 2000, your exposure to the database is the same. So, offer a lower volume. B. Competition in the Marketplace If there are multiple DZ's competing in the same marketplace who offer promotions at different price points, volumes and times of year, the marketplace will erode and operators will be forced to cost-cut as profit margins become razor thin resulting in a lesser product. Consumers will refuse to pay the full retail price knowing that if they are patient enough, a deal will soon appear. C. How To Structure a Deal If you elect to offer a deal, how you structure it is most important. If the fine print does not benefit you entirely then it could be detrimental. Below are important keys to structuring a deal: 1. When to Offer Your Daily Deal - Don't (Ever) offer a daily deal during the beginning or during the busiest months of the season. Basic economics teaches that one can charge the most when demand is high, but pricing will slip if a great deal is offered in great supply. A daily deal should only be offered at the end of the busy season when transitioning into the quieter time of year when demand is low. 2. Expiration Dates - Ideally, allow for a lengthy expiration date as opposed to a shorter one. Pushing for a short-term expiration date (six months) puts pressure on certificate holders to redeem, causing high volume in a short period of time. If the weather is particularly poor, rescheduling these deep discounted customers can interfere with availability during the peak season. Here's an example: Many DZ's offer a high volume deal (more than 1000 vouchers) in the month of December (Northern Hemisphere) with an expiration date for May or June of the following year. The purpose is to generate a high volume of business during the cooler months as winter transitions into spring. Conceptually, it's a good idea to maximize being busy and creating work for DZ staff when it's normally a bit quiet. The consequence occurs if the weather is poor during the spring season forcing these discounted jumpers to reschedule into the busy months thus reducing availability for full-retail price paying customers. Offering a longer-term deal (a year) doesn't push so many people en masse in such a short period of time. 3. Deal Pricing a. Know Your Cost. Know exactly what a tandem skydive costs you. Round up when factoring in variable expenses like the cost of fuel. b. Price for Profit. Know the number you would wish to receive before beginning talks with a daily dealer. Profit margins are not significant, but the number MUST result in a profit. If it's at a loss….DON'T ACCEPT IT. 4. Negotiate. Negotiating a daily deal is not unlike purchasing a car from a salesman. Don't show your hand, but let the offer come from the daily deal representative first and build the margin up from there. Remember, there is competition for daily dealers. Several years ago, GroupOn was the only dealer in the space. Today many are fighting for your promotion. Pit one against the other to maximize profit margins. Never pay for credit card fees. Dealers will try to have you pay them. This can be negotiated and should be a show-stopper. Tip: Address this detail last after you're happy with the amount received for each voucher sold. 5. Limit Vouchers - Setting up a good deal should create a vibe or a rush from the consumer base by offering limited quantity over a limited time period. Many DZ's offer too many vouchers to generate cash flow. Again, if the motivator is for a cash infusion (which it often is in this cash flow industry) then becoming cash poor is inevitable once current debts are covered and instructors are paid resulting in an unhealthy cycle of continuously ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul.’ 6. Deal Parameters - Have you ever noticed that popular restaurants or hotels put in their conditions that the deal cannot be redeemed on Valentine’s Day or some other big holiday event? Be sure that your deal doesn’t impede on customers wishing to pay you full retail during boogies or traditionally high volume weekends. Be clear how to handle vouchers after a certificate goes beyond the expiration date. 7. Be Prepared - This is not part of structuring the deal, but it should be part of your mindset. Be prepared for high traffic on the phones when your deal launches and most importantly offer VIP service to these coupon holders. A marketer's challenge is to create a vehicle that drives traffic through the door. Once there, treat them with amazing service in order to wow them. Too often, companies treat people who redeem their vouchers as second-class citizens because of the deal they have. The ultimate purpose of good marketing is to drive traffic and convert customers into loyalists. Suggested Alternative: A More Beneficial Daily Deal Skip the middle man. A more beneficial deal is creating an in-house deal to your customer database. Capitalizing on a customer base that already loves you allows for an easy sale. Offer a deal to your own customer base and offer it for three days only (ideally on Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the USA). In order for this to occur, DZ's must be collect e-mail addresses from all of their customers in order to launch a successful in-house program. Summary If implementing a daily a deal use caution, apply a strategy and execute in moderation. Generating traffic and building your business at an acceptable price point is a process that begins with treating guests like a VIP at every point of interaction. Too often, drop zone operators focus on the skydive to wow the customer as opposed to amazing people by offering a clean facility, high communications and staff who are passionate about service. Building a business without these foundations will create the need for quick cash resulting in a cycle that is damaging to all.
  24. Every skydive starts before you board the airplane. Before you get on the airplane, you should be totally prepared for the jump ahead. This means that you know exactly what you are going to do on the jump and have had your equipment inspected. Make sure you have your helmet and goggles, remove jewelry and take sharp objects out of your pockets, tie your shoes tightly, and so on. Each jumper is responsible for their gear, and you should always check to be sure you have everything necessary for the skydive. Another part of the ground preparation is being ready to board the aircraft on time. Jump planes are just like airliners: they can't hold up twenty people because one wasn't ready. At the start of your skydiving progression, your jumpmaster will usually take care of reserving your slot on an airplane after you are completely trained and outfitted with the necessary equipment. It is then your responsibility to stay in the area and gear up at the appropriate time with your jumpmasters. Before you Board: 1) It's too late to ask questions once you are in the airplane, so before you board know exactly what you will do on the skydive and review your emergency procedures. On the ride to altitude you should review the dive mentally, imagining a perfect performance. Keep in mind, however, that you are not compelled to jump from the airplane just because you happen to be on it! If you realize on the aircraft that you are not ready to jump, you may ride down with the airplane. 2) Check your gear. Your jumpmasters will help you to be sure everything is correctly routed. Be sure your altimeter is set to zero, your goggles are clean, etc. If you will be boarding an airplane when its engines are running, keep a good grip on your goggles and gloves! 3) Stay close to your jumpmaster and away from the propellers, other aircraft, and any other hazardous objects. Remember that the pilot may not be able to see you when he is taxiing the airplane; he always has the right of way. Once you are in the airplane, sit where instructed. Be sure to wear your seat belt until you are high enough for an emergency exit. It is also a good idea to put your helmet on for the take off. Your two responsibilities in the airplane are to minimize movement and to protect your deployment handles. Avoid snagging not only your equipment but that of other jumpers. Until we are on jump run you should stay seated. Then, at the jumpmaster's command you can get to your feet and move carefully to the door. As you move about in the airplane, watch out for door handles, emergency exit releases, seat belt buckles, etc. While inside the airplane your job is to protect your parachute! Most of your jumps will be done from our larger, twin engine airplanes. Exactly which airplane depends on how many people are jumping and the aircraft maintenance schedule. You should have familiarized yourself with the aircraft door, handles, and steps before boarding. Most of the time the more experienced jumpers will exit first for a simple reason: students open their parachutes higher than experienced jumpers. To preclude the possibility of jumpers from different groups colliding, exits are staged several seconds apart and planned with the opening altitudes in mind. That way we get both horizontal and vertical separation between groups. If you are leaving first because of unusual circumstances, have your jumpmaster fill you in on what to expect. The jump run itself is flown into the direction of the wind. This gives the airplane the slowest possible ground speed . In other words, it is over the drop zone (DZ) longer than it would be if it was running down wind. The pilot uses GPS (Global Positioning System satellites) to tell him exactly where he is, and when he is over the spot , or correct exit point, he turns on a green light back by the door, telling the skydivers to exit. Should the exit sequence take so long that the last to leave might not make it back to the airport, the light will go off, indicating that the remaining jumpers should stay in the airplane for a second pass over the drop zone. Incidentally, since you will usually be getting out late in the line up, and since the jump run is into the wind, you have a way of knowing which way the wind is blowing as soon as your parachute opens. Imagine a line from the landing area to a point directly below you. That is the wind line - if the pilot was right about the spot. Test Yourself: 1.Why do we take our seatbelts off once we are above 2,000 feet instead of wearing them all the way to altitude? Continue to Chapter 2 (Exits)
  25. admin

    Jumping rounds, for the love of it!

    The ageing Dakota transport lurched and bumped far above the Normandy beach. The Paratroopers inside wished they were already over the Drop Zone, it was hot inside and even with the door open not enough air was circulating. At least it had not been a long flight. The despatchers eyes watered as he peered outside the fuselage into the slipstream. Ahead was the town of Merville and to one side the coastal battery. He pulled himself back into the aircraft and took a deep breath. "Stand up". "Hook up".The Port stick struggled to their feet and snapped the hook at the end of their static lines onto the overhead cable. "Check equipment". Each man checked his static line, his helmet fastening, his reserve hooks and flap covering the reserve chute handle. Satisfied all was as it should be, each man then checked the jumper in front, making sure the others static line ran clear and there was nothing visually wrong with the back of the Parachute."Sound off for equipment check" the despatcher shouted. "Twelve OK! shouted the last man and slapped the shoulder of the person in front. This was repeated by each jumper until it reached the lead man. 'Number One OK, Port stick OK!" The despatcher put his hand to his headphones and pressed the cup closer to his ear to hear the pilots commentary better. "Two minutes" came the call from the pilot. The despatcher had another quick look outside the aircraft to satisfy himself of the Dz location and called "Action stations" at the same time pointing to the door. The first man stepped smartly into the door frame, almost a drill movement. His left hand snapped the static line towards the despatched who grasped it firmly. His hand, now free was placed on the door frame to steady himself and his right hand rested on the top of his reserve. He looked out at the horizon and into the clear blue french sky. Behind him the rest of the stick closed up."Red on! He tensed, his mouth suddenly seemed very dry and it was hard to swallow."Green on, Go!" Number one stepped smartly into the slipstream and was tumbled away into the turbulence below the aircraft followed rapidly by the rest of the stick. He gasped as the Chute opened above him and the pressure of his reserve threatened to squeeze all the air out of his lungs. The moment passed quickly and allowed him to check his canopy. Turning the chute he satisfied himself he was in no danger of a collision with any other jumper and looked for the DZ. 2000 ft below he could see the battery clearly marked out in the lush green Normandy fields. It was now time to think about his landing. Far below a dirty water filled ditch beckoned uninvitingly as he once again turned into wind and assessed his drift. No, this was not the Normandy invasion,niether was it a scene from a film. The Pathfinder parachute group had just jumped onto the Merville gun battery in front of the survivors of the original airborne assault, The 9th Battalion the Parachute Regiment. This was there anniversary and for Pathfinder it was the second time they had jumped here at the personnel invitation of the Veteran battalions committee. 80% of Pathfinder are either serving or retired paratroopers from all over the world and so the honour bestowed on them by the 9th was appreciated. Pathfinder was the brainchild of Sgt Roy Mobsby and Bdr (retired) Ron Ball.Roy had started off as TA Paratrooper in 10 Para and Ron had served with 7 RHA. They had both answered an advert to jump in Holland at Parcentrum Texel and earn their Dutch wings. Whilst there they were introduced to the IAAV,the International Association of Airborne Veterans run by Mike Epstein who had served with the US Airborne. This organisation used its contacts to attend parachute courses around the world and earn the host countries parachute brevets. With advice from the IAAV a small group of British airborne veterans were formed into a non profit Parachute club with the aim of following in their footsteps. The first year was a bit slow with only two small courses being jumped at Paracentrum Texel . Word passed slowly passed around that here was a group filling the gap between military parachuting and sport parachuting. The membership rapidly increased, not only from England but from abroad. Soon Danish LRRP,Japanees Rangers, Dutch, German,Estonian,French,American,Canadian soldiers both retired and serving swelled the ranks. It takes a different type of bottle for static line and freefall and not many can achieve both. Paratroopers feel that 2000 ft is high whereas a freefaller will tell you that is their lowest safety high before they become a stain on the landscape. Pathfinder allows a retired paratrooper to continue jumping in the style has been trained in and without a weapons container or a three hour low level flight it becomes enjoyable. In order to jump safely and legally all jumps are carried out at civilian minimum drop height but are the 'Walk out the door" exits that paratroopers are used to. With nearly three hundred members spread over sixteen countries the "Airborne "really does exist. As many of the jumpers noted, jumping with Pathfinder is like being back with the Airborne. Although Pathfinder boasts a Brigadier, several Colonels and Majors within its ranks no rank is used nor does it need to be. All jumpers no matter what rank or nationality are there for the same reason, to enjoy jumping round canopies. To jump in the style they were all trained in and to uphold the traditions of the Airborne in an age when it is fashionable to promote peace and unfortunately forget our veterans and their sacrifices whilst doing so. The group keep the military and the Paras in the public eye when the army cannot afford to do so themselves. Until recently the group felt they were the only people who still had faith in the use of Paras in modern war. That was until the American Airborne jumped into Afghanistan renewing the MOD planners interest in Airborne assaults. Within the group are a few civilian jumpers who have never been in the forces. These are usually re-enactors from Airborne units who having portrayed Paratroopers wish to find out what it is really like. Pathfinder give these people the opportunity to experience the end result without having to suffer "P" Company like the rest of the group had to. These people do not consider themselves Paratroopers but have a better insight into what makes the airborne some of the best soldiers in the world. In 1999 Pathfinder was given the opportunity and honour to jump with British Regular and TA Paratroopers at Ginkle Heath as part of the Arnhem anniversary jump. Two former Soviet AN2 jumpships were pressed into action and twenty five members from six countries jumped onto the heath. The jumpers were then carried by re-enactors in over 40 restored "Willies" jeeps around the battlefield area. Most of the jumpers had at the request of a British veteran bought WW2 battledress to make the jump more realistic. This was well received and as a result we had an invitation from the veterans of the 9th Battalion the Parachute regiment to jump at their anniversary onto the Merville gun battery in Normandy. This was successfully completed in 2000 and 2001 putting out over 40 jumpers each time. A cargo drop was also carried out by 47 Air Despatch sqn and a bail out by the jump masters from a higher altitude as a tribute to the despatchers and aircrew who had died on these missions. The cost of all the displays was met by the jumpers who raised the thousands of pounds needed to hire the aircraft and chutes. Several static displays have been carried out on Pathfinders behalf by re-enactment groups who portray "Pathfinder" units. Pathfinder only supports groups who's members are ex para or who have attended their basic course at Texel.The basic Dutch Military Parachutist course at Texel is used as a safety guide. All new jumpers must attend this course in order to maintain a safe standard within the group. With so many different member nationalities, all with different methods of training to achieve the same aim, it is essential to have a common syllabus for jumping. The British system is taught to all at Texel by Dutch instructors speaking better English than we do. So many courses have been taught at Texel that it has been adopted as the groups home DZ. The staff are all friendly, the training amongst the safest and best in the world and the area is ideal for jumping. British GQ canopies are mainly used for the courses. Due to the BPA phasing out round canopies in England, Pathfinder cannot jump in its home country but is nethertheless welcomed in many other countries. All jumpers must be fully insured and thanks to a British based company have the best parachute insurance money can buy. Pathfinder have jumped for Cromwell productions and Channel five's British heroes series. In 2000 Pathfinder became affiliated to the EMPA,a predominatly German Para lead organisation with the same aims. This has now opened up the European military parachute circuit for Pathfinder members. Next year will see the Airborne brotherhood spread to more countries by our members and we look foreword to bigger and better jumps. For more info visit the web sites below or email Roy Mobsby Col Holemans International Para page Pathfinder PageBy Roy Mobsby