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Found 272 results

  1. 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)
  2. admin

    Climb Out, Freak Out, Chill Out

    A beginners guide to filming competitive 4-way This article is for jumpers that already have some experience flying camera and are trying to expand on their knowledge of how to film formation-teams in a competition setting. I will focus mainly on 4-way, because I believe it to be the most difficult FS discipline to film (aside from VFS), due to the many different exits and faster key speeds. However, once you have a firm grasp of shooting 4-way, the same principles can be applied to 8-way and larger formations. During a competition, whether it be a local meet or the nationals, it is vital that you give yourself all the advantages you can to do the job right. It is advisable that you jump with two cameras with differing wide-angle lenses. Film the team with the tighter view in mind, so if a grip goes out of frame, you can always revert back to the other camera with the wider view. The difference between first and second place can come down to only one point. So our goal is to have an “NJ free” (Non Judgeable) competition for all 10 rounds. If at any time during a jump a grip goes out of frame, the videographer can cost the team a point or more. Jumping with two cameras is not necessary for training, however you want to do a few training jumps before a meet with the exact set up that you are planning on using. This may expose any flaws or issues with your equipment. Training should be more difficult for you than competition. Push yourself to fly close to the formation. Train with your back up wide-angle lens, this will force you to be closer and more aggressive in getting the shots you need. This will make every competition feel much easier. Do not be afraid to try new things. Sometimes we have to leave our comfort zones to learn something that may benefit us in the long run. Climb OutIn most cases the camera flyer is in charge of the spot. Not having to worry about this little detail allows the team to focus on their jump. As you climb out on the camera step, think of flying your body as soon as you expose yourself to the airflow. Even though you are on the airplane, miss-presenting yourself to the wind can make your job a lot more difficult. You can practice climbing around on the airplane while it is parked. Get a feel for where everything is. Continue to practice until you can climb out of the plane in a smooth and controlled manner. Speed will come with time. Do not forget to practice climbing back into the plane. Sometimes you will find yourself climbing out right as the red light turns back on. If possible, one of your teammates can block some of the wind and help you get back inside. Remember to become familiar with different aircrafts when you travel to another drop-zone to train or compete. Freak OutNever trust an exit count! It is easy to get impatient on the camera step, waiting for the team to get ready. Teams can sometimes take a while in the door to get ready, especially if they are trying something new. Do not interpret a “wiggle” as a count. Be patient and watch for other signs like a helmet releasing a head jam. Every team’s exit count is different. Before every jump, most teams will take the time to dirt dive and practice their exit from a mock-up. You can learn a lot about the team by just simply watching them on the ground, so take as many opportunities as you can to learn the exit count and timing. Leading or Peeling?The exits covered here are from an otter, a left-handed door. Keep in mind that your relative position to the team is much closer on the aircraft than what it will be in freefall. You will need to create this gap quickly during the exit by falling slow. This is where camera wings and strong legs can be very helpful. Teams and coaches prefer the leading exit over the peel exit, because it gives them a great view of their timing, presentation, and heading. This method is much more conducive for the video debrief. For this exit I have my left foot on the camera step and my right hand on the handle. (When you have your right foot on the step, you expose more of your body to the exiting team.) After the team has given the count and is in the process of leaving the airplane, I find it helpful to try and run my right hand across the fuselage. I try to feel the rivets of the plane as I kick off the step. This helps ensure that I am in the correct position relative to the formation. As for your timing on this exit, you will know you have left too early when you can see the bottom of the airplane, and you will have left too late if you make contact with the team. For all exits, this is where your timing becomes crucial. Peeling is usually considered the safer choice of the two exits, because you leave right after the team. This way, you will not leave too early because of a misinterpreted count and you do not have to worry about the teams burble. For this exit, I have my right foot on the step with my right hand on the handle. I swing my body back so that my left foot is touching the fuselage. Now all I have to do is wait for them to come out the door. Leave with the last person and follow the team down the hill. Remember to present your hips correctly into the relative wind and keep the team in those cross hairs. Chill OutAfter the exit, all you have to do is keep the team’s grips in frame for the next 35 seconds. Remember that the different formations rarely stay in one place. As the team transitions from one formation to the next, you may have to adjust your own relative position to the team to keep them all in frame. Improving your individual flight skills will allow you to make these necessary corrections quickly and without thought. Although the “hard part” is over, you still have to be in the right position to get a judgeable video. Being close enough is the first part, but probably more importantly is being “steep” enough. Your angle in relationship to the formation is crucial. The steeper you can get, the better. It is very difficult to see all the grips when you are shallow. This is especially true on exit. If at any point, other than the exit, you can see sky, you are not steep enough. You should also only be able to see the top/back of the team’s helmets (no faces). The distance from the team will vary on the size lens you are using. An additional detail to pay attention to is the background. As the videographer, you can make the judge’s job easier by turning to a heading with a solid background, such as a forest, lake, desert floor, etc. Multicolored backgrounds, such as buildings can make the image very distracting and the formations harder to judge. Doh!Making contact with the formation can occur either on exit or in free fall. We want to avoid this scenario at all costs; however, accidents can and do happen. If you find yourself falling towards a formation, get as big and flat as you can! The last thing you should do is ball-up. Your natural reaction is to protect yourself, but by doing this you will only make things worse. Not only have you sacrificed all your lift and will now impact the team with greater speed, you have also given up on the chance that your airflow may be returned to you as the formation continues to move to the next point. I think that it is a good idea for camera flyers to understand what the team is exiting and how the formation will fly. I believe that a deeper understanding is necessary than just to know whether a formation is long or round. Being able to anticipate a formation’s movements, direction, and timing will greatly improve your video quality. Be pro active! Ask your team what formations they are going to perform. It will take some time, but being able to “speak” a little 4-way will not hurt. You can educate yourself on these formations by reviewing the IPC dive pool online. Memorize how each formation flies as it comes out the door; more importantly, think about how they might block your airflow. As the team debriefs their jumps, you should do the same. Take a look at your own timing, framing, and distance. Strive to make each video jump better than your last. Competition vs. TrainingWhen it comes to competition camera flying, there is a big difference between a “Gun for Hire” and a Teammate. In order to make this transition, you need to change your approach and mind-state from just being there for the ride, to being part of the action. As a teammate, you are taking on much more responsibility than a “gun for hire”, such as: archiving and cataloging all media footage, taking pictures, submitting photos to magazines and sponsors (if applicable), checking in with manifest for calls, spotting, chasing down cutaways, etc. Your team needs to be able to depend on you to do all of these things. Creating a great training environment becomes key. The more the team can focus on their training, the better. Helping a team to perform at their best can also aid you in achieving your best. Being able to perform at your peak during a high-stress competition can be very satisfying and rewarding. A positive attitude and an eagerness to learn is the start of becoming a good competitor. Hard work and embracing the training process is what will turn you into a great competitor.
  3. 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.
  4. There are only two ways to end a freefall. One is to open your parachute, and the other is not to. No one wants it to end the second way. Statistics show that the overwhelming cause of skydiving fatalities are due to the jumper not using a perfectly functional parachute in time. Why does it happen? In order to open your parachute safely, you need to know two things: when and how. The when was discussed in the previous chapter. Altitude awareness is critical and the loss of it is a life threatening situation. The problem can be compounded if the skydiver, running out of altitude, is unfamiliar with his equipment and has trouble deploying his parachute. Add the possibility of a malfunction to low altitude and unfamiliar equipment and you have a perfect recipe for disaster. Therefor you must always watch your altitude and before you ever get on an airplane you should be totally familiar with your equipment. The sport parachute, called a rig in skydiving jargon, is a very simple machine. It must include two canopies, a main and a reserve. The components must be TSO'd, meaning they meet government technical standard orders that require high manufacturing and testing standards. All rigs are worn on the back and consist of similar components. A look at the diagram will show that a rig consists of the deployment system (pilot chute, bridle, and bag), canopy, suspension lines, steering lines, toggles, risers, and harness/container. Deployment is initiated when the container opens and the pilot chute enters the relative wind. The pilot chute may be packed inside the container (all reserves and student mains) or kept in a pouch outside of the container and pulled out by hand, which most experienced jumpers prefer. The pilot chute acts as an anchor in the air, while the jumper continues to fall. As the two separate, the bag in which the canopy is folded is pulled from the container. The parachute's suspension lines, carefully stowed on the outside of the bag, are drawn out until they are fully extended. The bag is then pulled open and the canopy comes out. It immediately begins to inflate as the cells fill with air. Inflation is slowed by the slider which prevents the canopy from expanding too fast. It usually takes three to five seconds from deployment of the pilot chute to full inflation of the canopy. Over the years, parachute design has been refined to a remarkable degree. In fact, square parachutes have no known inherent design malfunctions. Theoretically, given proper packing, a stable deployment, and barring material flaws, a square parachute will never malfunction. However, we don't live in a perfect world, and malfunctions are common enough that no sensible person would intentionally jump without a reserve. The malfunction rate for sport parachutes is about one in every thousand deployments. Nearly all are preventable. The catalogue of possible malfunctions is long, but all you really need to know is that any parachute must have two characteristics. It must be open, and it must be safe to land. Otherwise it is a malfunction. The first characteristic is determined at a glance. The second one, if there is any doubt, is determined by a control check. Should you have a malfunction, the response is simple - pull your reserve. On student parachutes pulling the reserve handle combines two functions. The main parachute is released from the harness, then the reserve container is opened, starting the reserve deployment sequence. For all practical purposes, main and reserve deployments are identical except that the canopies may be of different sizes. Most parachutes used by experienced jumpers have a separate handle for each function of the emergency procedures so you will need some special training when you progress to your own gear. Also, at Skydive Arizona we use only square reserves. If you travel to another drop zone be sure you receive training on their equipment, and find out if the reserve is round or square. Round reserves mean you will need special training. The first factor in preventing malfunctions is a simple one: don't leave the airplane with an existing malfunction. This means that you should always have your equipment checked by a knowledgeable second party to be sure nothing is misrouted or damaged. Prevention extends to packing. When you learn to pack you will learn to inspect the canopy. In the student phase, you have to trust your jumpmasters and packers to be responsible for the condition of your parachute, but you will eventually assume all responsibility. Because of the possibility of a jumper making a mistake, our reserves are inspected and packed by a specialist who holds a Rigger's Certificate issued by the U.S. government, thus ensuring that at least one parachute on every skydiver is technically sound. The second factor in malfunction prevention is one you control: body position. If you think back to the deployment sequence described earlier, the importance of a stable opening becomes apparent. Since the parachute is on your back, if you are facing the relative wind in a good arch it will deploy straight out behind you. If you are unstable, it must find its way past you - between your legs or around an arm, for example. In this situation, the pilot chute could entangle with you, stopping the deployment sequence. Another possibility during an unstable opening is that the lines will feed out unevenly, creating the potential for a line knot that could keep the slider from coming down or deform the canopy to the point that it cannot fly properly. Don't forget, however, that stability is not as important as opening in the first place. Pulling at the correct altitude always takes precedence over pulling stable. An unstable opening does not always result in a malfunction; parachutes are so reliable that the worst that usually happens is a few line twists. Not opening has far worse consequences. Test yourself: 1. While you are a student, your decision altitude, sometimes called your hard deck, is 2,500 feet. If you initiate main deployment at 4,500 feet and nothing happens, how many seconds will pass before you reach the decision altitude? How many will you have used counting and checking before you realize you have a problem? 2. If you know you have a malfunction, why should you pull your reserve at once instead of waiting until the decision altitude is reached? 3. In the old days, skydivers wore their reserve mounted on the front of their harness. If you had a chest mounted reserve, what body position would you want to be in for reserve deployment? 4. How often should you practice your emergency procedures? Proceed to Chapter 6 (Canopy Performance)
  5. A South African thief who stole a plane for a joyride had to land on a motorway when it ran out of fuel. He made the emergency landing on the N4 highway near Bronkhorstspruit, about 30 miles from Pretoria. Police say the aircraft was undamaged and the thief got away before he could be arrested. "We have no idea who the suspect is," police spokesman Capt. Piletji Sebola said. There was no apparent damage to the plane and there appeared to have been few cars on the road when it landed. One of the highway's two lanes was closed to traffic, Sebola said. The Cessna, used for skydiving, had been brought into Wonderboom airport in Pretoria on Sunday for a routine maintenance. The plane was stolen sometime Monday night or Tuesday morning. According to the flight instruments, it was flown for roughly one hour and 36 minutes before it ran out of fuel and was forced into an emergency landing. "I'm dumbstruck. He really knew what he was doing," said Carlos Garcia Cabral, the plane's owner. Police and airport officials were investigating how the plane was stolen.
  6. Aerodyne proudly announces the launch of a sponsoring program aimed at professional skydiving instructors and coaches around the world. The Aerodyne Sponsored Instructor Program, or ASIP, is a comprehensive program developed to offer unparalleled support to those who provide training to other skydivers and contribute to the safe practice of skydiving. "The ASIP program is designed to build longtime relationships that are beneficial to all involved: the individual instructor, their home drop zone, Aerodyne authorized distributors and our company. It was our aim to create an environment that encourages mutual cooperation between all those involved for the betterment and progress of each", explains Aubrey Easterlin, sales manager of Aerodyne Research in Florida. "It doesn’t stop with giving a good deal on equipment. We give our ASI’s the opportunity to actively promote our products and they are rewarded for the sales they generate. That way they become longtime partners and there is more to be gained by all". How does it work? Under the program an Aerodyne Sponsored Instructor will receive a full compliment of Aerodyne equipment at 50% of the manufacturer’s suggested retail price. He or she will also receive a package of product information, a stock of promotional material, a set of referral cards and an ASI identification number. The ASI will use the identification number to refer interested customers to the selected Aerodyne distributor. For every order that is received as a result of such a referral Aerodyne will credit the ASI’s account with 5% of the cash value of the MSRP. The ASI can use the accumulated credit for future purchases of Aerodyne products. Who are eligible? The ASIP program is open to instructors that hold a current rating issued by or on behalf of their National Aero Club. Because of the nature of the program Aerodyne seeks to support individuals that demonstrate a positive attitude and professionalism in their relationships with people. "The idea is that an ASI serves as a sort of ambassador for Aerodyne, for our distributor and for the dropzone he or she works at. Therefore we require every applicant to submit a letter of recommendation by the distributor and by the dropzone manager or operator", says Arnold Collenteur, who is Aerodyne’s European sales manager and one of the initiators of the program. "Although we like to stress the fun side of the program, it is still a business arrangement and we must make sure that the applicant meets our criteria so that we may expect our sales to increase because of his or her contribution." Why the ASIP? Although Aerodyne may still consider sponsoring competition teams on an ad-hoc basis, the company feels it has better chances to promote its products via instructors, who are in direct contact with potential buyers. When choosing equipment most skydivers look closely at the products jumped by the best or most experienced jumpers on their dropzone. The ASIP program builds on these premises by creating a world wide community of Aerodyne sponsored instructors with a local reach. By offering to the ASI the opportunity to refer sales leads and generate additional earnings the ASIP also ensures that Aerodyne distributors benefit from the program. By helping Aerodyne to select the right individuals distributors create a small network of local ambassadors and increase their chances of selling to customers they might otherwise not reach. Furthermore, the ASIP program aims to facilitate communication between individually sponsored instructors, their drop zones, Aerodyne’s distributors and Aerodyne through a sharing of information, educational material and media. Aerodyne intends to make its website play an important role in this communication process. Enrollment Interested instructors may request an ASIP application package from an Aerodyne distributor, via our website www.aerodyne-int.com or via one of these contacts: North and South America: Aubrey Easterlin a.easterlin@aerodyne-int.com Europe and Asia: Arnold Collenteur a.collenteur@aerodyne-int.com Africa and Indian Ocean: Dave Macrae d.macrae@aerodyne-int.com For more information about Aerodyne and our products please go to www.aerodyne-int.com
  7. A Himalayan Adventure That Continues To Reinvent Itself In late October 2014, Everest Skydive is set to enter into it’s seventh year of operation and make it’s eight expedition into the Nepali Himalaya bringing skydiving back to one of the earth’s most remote locations. In between the traditional scenery of climbers, trekkers, sherpas and porters, skydivers and their parachutes will once again be seen flying through the skies of the Khumbu region and Sagarmatha National Park. Arriving at this point, entering a seventh year after the first skydives were made in 2008, has been a path as challenging as any of the paths that lead to Everest Base Camp. Each year, as logistical challenges emerge and operational needs change, the expedition faces a year long challenge to bring skydiving back to Nepal. “Eleven months of hard work for one month in the Himalaya working even harder” has been the mantra of the team and expedition, composed of an international mix of skydivers and mountaineers. Over the years Everest Skydive has seen many changes. Whether it was aircraft support shifting from the Pilatus PC-6 to the AStar B3, or helping promote charities like Global Angels, to opening up new remote dropzones, the Everest Skydive expedition has constantly evolved to meet the needs of the local Nepali tourism industry and to bring high altitude skydiving and canopy flight to higher and higher dropzones. Seven years ago, the idea of safely landing sport and tandem parachutes at 12,350ft MSL was considered by many to be an impossible task. Yet, as each expedition successfully ventured further and further into the Himalaya, landing parachutes closer and closer to Everest Base Camp, this team of international skydivers proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that with today’s modern parachute designs providing cutting edge technology and performance envelopes, that high altitude parachute landings were not just the realm of stuntmen and world record seekers. As each year came and went, stand up landings at dropzones at 15,000ft MSL in Ama Dablam Base Camp, or 16,900ft MSL into the Gorak Shep lake bed, or even 17,192ft MSL onto the Kala Pattar Plateau proved that modern canopy flight and landing was sustainable at these altitudes. As each expedition would come to a close however, the team would search the Nepali landscape for new and exotic locations to bring skydiving into. After establishing those four dropzones in the Eastern Himalaya, the team’s founder Suman Pandey suggested the team head west to Pokhara, a lakeside Nepali tourist location beneath the Anna Purna Range of the western Himalaya. With a DZ elevation of 3,300ft MSL, Pokhara Skydive allowed for the Everest Skydive Himalaya experience without the added cost and complexity of the bail out oxygen systems that the higher eastern Nepali Himalaya region required. Pokhara Skydive then evolved into Everest Skydive’s first “consumer friendly” (not incredibly expensive) skydiving expedition for local tourism based sport and tandem skydiving. Not to be content with just bringing skydiving to the western Himalaya however, the team “borrowed” an AStar in 2013 and went scouting for another remote high altitude location. They found it in a village called Manang, located in a valley with an elevation of 11,500ft MSL, and with the help of the local government, were able to create a sustainable high altitude dropzone in Manang, Nepal as well. With all the exhausting effort put into creating successful skydiving expeditions into the Himalaya each year, the staff was known to periodically take a week off together after Everest Skydive and trek on foot up to Everest Base Camp to connect with the local friends and families that they had become a part of over the years. This expedition to Everest Base Camp received so many questions from friends and family back home over the years however, that the team began to open up the trek and invite others to join in on this life changing experience of making it all the way up to Everest Base Camp. What started out as a handful of friends, turned into a group of twenty people hitting the trails in two stages in 2013 and the 2014 expedition looks to bring between 20 and 30 skydivers and friends of skydivers on a trek to Everest Base Camp with skydiving in the western (and way more affordable) Himalaya region of Pokhara after the trip to Everest Base Camp. One of the strengths of the Everest Skydive expedition and it’s Everest Base Camp and Pokhara Skydive evolution is in the company that the team works with. Fishtail Helicopters has been providing Everest Skydive and their guests with the world’s most reliable high altitude helicopter support. And in a region like the Himalaya, the word “reliable” can be the difference between skydiving all day in a remote location or sitting on a hillside wrestling a parachute container away from a local yak…….Helicopter support for jump operations, helicopter support for medical evacs if needed and most appreciated it would seem……helicopter support to depart the Himalaya after reaching Everest Base Camp. Most everyone that reaches Everest Base Camp feels a little tinge of anxiety as they start to head back down the mountain, as they suddenly realize, with their goal behind them, that they still have a 3 day walk back out of the park to catch a Twin Otter back to Kathmandu. Not Everest Skydive and it’s group however……since the team works directly with the AStar owners, they coordinate flights out from the Himalaya the day after reaching Everest Base Camp. Facing a 3 day walk, instead the team flies out on an 8 minute terrain flying AStar flight back to Lukla Airfield, back to the world. The word “epic” can be a cliché at times, not here though, not on this flight. It has to be experienced to understand it, but for those that already have, they know. That’s the story more or less, seven years of hard work by a small group of highly motivated international teammates that continue to bring the “top of the world” within reach of the skydiving universe. It’s an expedition that continues to grow and evolve like the remote ecosystem around it. And at the end of the day, whether it’s skydiving beside Mount Everest or sharing a lemon tea with a sherpa family and friends, the Everets Skydive expedition continues to make the world a little smaller by bringing people together from different cultures and countries and giving them all the same thing to believe in, that people are capable of accomplishing anything as a team. For more information on Everest Skydive, you can contact Tom Noonan via e-mail.
  8. 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.
  9. A mid-summer skydiving celebration honoring the "first man in space" is the centerpiece for one of the biggest fundraising events yet planned for the National Skydiving Museum. Fifty years ago, Air Force Capt. Joe Kittinger exited at 102,800 feet from a helium balloon over New Mexico, reaching a speed of 614 mph during a four-and-a-half minute free fall. The record still stands today, although there have been several attempts to better it. The "National Skydiving Museum Weekend Honoring Joe Kittinger" will be held in DeLand, Florida the weekend of August 13-15. Kittinger’s jump was on August 16, 1960. Kittinger, who retired as a colonel and is now 81, plans to attend, as well as other skydiving luminaries. There will also be several activities during the weekend benefiting the Boy Scouts of America, another cause Kittinger supports, to commemorate their 100th Anniversary. Joe Kittinger outside the gondola from which he took his historical jump.The Saturday evening dinner will be devoted to honoring the initial class of inductees into the National Skydiving Museum Hall of Fame. A special committee carefully selected eleven honorees, culled from a list of skydivers who made major lifelong contributions in equipment design, free fall techniques, and those who excelled in national and international competitions. This fundraiser is part of the National Skydiving Museum’s $5 million capital program that will raise the necessary funds to build the museum in Fredericksburg, VA. (story contributed by Doug Garr) Show your support and join us! Skydiving Activities and Exhibitions... Here are just a few of the events that will honor Joe Kittinger and celebrate 50+ years of skydiving history including giving special recognition to other pioneers for their contributions to our sport. (schedule subject to change) Jumping for Joe 50-Way Formation Skydiving Exhibition This 50-way formation with some of the best skydivers in the country will celebrate and symbolize 50 years since Joe Kittinger’s record breaking jump. Canopies opening in an almost simultaneous rhythm will have the audience cheering until the last skydiver lands. Swooping Exhibition Swooping truly shows how far parachute equipment has come over the years. Swooping is gliding a high performance parachute across the ground or water for long distances, generally a slalom type course, to show the skill of the canopy pilot. The exhibition will have some of the top swooping demo jumpers in both individual and team exhibitions. Accuracy Competition Accuracy goes way back in our history but didn’t get the recognition it deserved until the Sixth World Parachuting Championships held for the first time in the U.S. at Orange, MA. Accuracy canopies in those days were modified military surplus equipment with very little steerability. Today, high performance accuracy canopies and the skill of jumpers make for exciting and competitive accuracy contests. Skydiving Demonstrations Precision skydiving demos the world famous Army Parachute Team (Golden Knights) and the Air Force Academy Parachute Team. Wingsuit Flying Exhibition Grand finale and tribute to Joe Kittinger wingsuit flying truly exhibits the dream of human flight. Ten to 15 of the premier wingsuit flyers in the world will fly formations across the sky with smoke to add to the effect of this spectacular jump. Source - http://www.skydivingmuseum.org/
  10. 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.
  11. 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
  12. admin

    Air Adventures AFF: Level 2

    FORWARD MOTION JUMP SEQUENCE: When jumpmaster says "GET INTO POSITION", take your position in the door. You should be facing forward, with your left foot on the edge of the door. Keep your back low to avoid snagging your rig on the top of the door. When you are ready to exit, turn to your right and shout "CHECK IN!" to your main side 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. Try to remain facing forward, and try to hit the wing with your pelvis as you leave the plane. Remember to ARCH! Count to four, maintaining a hard arch - "One thousand! Two thousand! Three thousand! Four thousand!" Do three practice ripcord touches - "Arch! Reach! Feel! Back to arch!" heck your altitude by turning your head to look at the altimeter on your left hand. Look at your main side jump master and shout your altitude at him - "Ten thousand feet!" Respond to any hand signals your MS JM gives you. When you see the "forward motion" signal (legs-out signal, moving away from you) do forward motion for six seconds - hands back by your waist, legs straight, toes pointed. After six seconds, return to a neutral arch. Don't bring your feet up too much! Check your altimeter. If below 6000 feet, shake your head - no more manuevers. At 5000 feet, wave off once, then arch-reach-feel-pull. Hang on to the ripcord after the pull! Start counting - "One thousand! Two thousand!" to give your parachute time to open. PERFORMANCE STANDARDS: Move forward through the sky by straightening your legs and bringing your arms back. Do three good PRCP’s to help you find the ripcord later. Pull at the right altitude. Maintain stability by keeping the arch. LEVEL TWO HINTS: To fix stability problems - ARCH! Make sure your legs are still out a little after each forward motion. Check your altimeter at least once every five seconds. Time goes fast up there. Your legs are 80% of your drive during forward motion. Make sure you get them out there. 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
  13. admin

    Learn to Skydive Online

    When we first posted that we were launching a live online canopy course, the beginning of many online adventure safety courses, a number of people asked me if I was joking. In the adventure community, actions have always spoken louder than words, and the internet is for surfing entertaining videos, not training. Although I fully understand the irreplaceable value of on-site instruction, there is a lot of work to do in a short time to get it done. People are dying out there. USPA has wisely issued a mandate to help promote participation in canopy courses in order to expedite the proliferation of the information that saves lives. This is a wonderful step, however the limited number of highly skilled canopy flight teachers causes a bottle-neck of resources. We need the information to get out there faster than we have the ability to spread it. Hence we find ourselves in the place that inspires innovation like no other, need. Live online “e-learning” programs have been fully embraced by the corporate world in recent years, and increasingly by universities and colleges as well. The choice to go with these high tech teaching systems has been partly financial, as it is far cheaper to implement than in-person training in the long run. It is also far greener because instructors no longer need to travel as much to accomplish the same goals. Lastly, corporations and learning institutions all over the world have chosen to use the internet for education because of the vastly increased scope of potential students, as distance can be taken out of the equation. These compelling reasons have caused significant advancement in the technology that makes remote teaching possible, and huge breakthroughs have been made which allow interactions to be surprisingly natural. Further, online testing can be utilized to allow instructors to get a feel for how well they are conveying the information, and what they need to focus on in the next sessions. The implementation of this new model of instruction is still very much in its infancy, however we are already finding that this futuristic method of information proliferation actually has several benefits over in-person training. When you take a canopy flight course, for instance, you cannot control the weather. In most cases, the instructor is flown in from far away and is only on site for one weekend. If the weather does not cooperate, you are in for an all-theory course. With online courses, we are able to teach the group over the course of a month. Chances are, the students will get the opportunity to jump in that time to practice what they have learned, and even get someone to video their landings to upload for the next course. Even if the participants do not get to jump, the longer duration of the course allows for deeper information association and transfer to long-term memory, as well as giving the students the opportunity to formulate better questions to help them get exactly what they want out of the experience. If they don’t remember something from the class, they can even log onto the website and watch the course all over again. This is not possible in the traditional instruction paradigm. Some will say, “But there is no substitute for being able to ask questions of your instructor in the flow of the session. The new live online training systems allow participants to “raise their hand”, so-to-speak, and get the answer they need when they need it. If the students have a webcam as well, the interaction between the student and teacher is nearly as intimate as an in person discussion once the participants grow accustom to the new medium. For some people, this online format actually allows them to come out of their shells a bit more since they are not actually in a room full of strangers. There is no doubt that on-site, hands-on instruction will remain the backbone of all adventure training. There is a great deal that can only happen in a purely organic environment, which is why people like me will continue to pound the pavement and travel to a new dropzone almost every weekend. It is essential. However, the vast majority of skydivers do not have access to such camps but once or twice per year, and by then many of them will have already gotten hurt or even killed. If we are to truly strive to improve the safety of our sport in every way possible, embracing eLearning is an indispensable step toward getting the information out there in a reasonable time frame. The internet transcends time and space like nothing else known to mankind, and if we are serious about safety, than we must cast aside our reservations, and like the first pilots of ram-air canopies, we must give it a whirl. The fear of change is understandable. When we change, we risk things getting worse. However, if we do not try to improve and evolve, in the context of a changing environment, we are essentially moving backwards. The technology passed down to us from wartime allowed our sport to come into existence, and now the corporate world, sometimes equally sinister, has created a technology that will allow great students to connect to great teachers, anywhere in the world. The precious information that was once held by only a few mentors with a limited number of weekends in the year can now be disseminated at an exponential rate, and the possibilities for improvement of our sport and other adventure pursuits are endless. This is a truly incredible time. So when someone asks me if adventure training through eLearning is a joke, I have to ask them to consider the possibility that any initial resistance to change is merely the inertia of habit and a little bit of fear. The future is being born right now in the present, and all we need to do to move forward into the vast potential of this new era of instruction is an open mind and a sense of adventure. Brian Germain is a parachute designer and test pilot, and runs canopy flight skills and safety courses all over the world. Brian has made over 14,000 jumps in his 25 years in the sport. He is also the host of the “Safety First” segment on SkydiveRadio.com, and the creator of many educational videos. Brian is the author of the widely popular canopy flight text The Parachute and its Pilot, as well as Transcending Fear, Greenlight Your Life, and Vertical Journey. His websites are www.BIGAIRSportZ.com , www.Transcendingfear.com and his online training programs can be found at www.AdventureWisdom.com. Brian’s highly aclaimed YouTube channel is: www.youtube.com/bsgermain
  14. Holistic Performance Specialist Lucie Charping Talks You In Image by Juan Mayer In our last article, we met holistic nutrition coach Lucie Charping, who works with elite athletes to get them--and keep them--at the top of their game. Often, that game is an airsport. Here’s the continuation of our conversation regarding peak performance strategies for more “normal” airsports athletes, like you and me. (Spoiler: These strategies work just as well if there isn’t a charging bull on your helmet.) ALO: If going cold-turkey on every naughty item in your diet isn’t the way to peak performance, then what is? Lucie: Changes made little-by-little help an athlete increase awareness and get in touch with their body’s natural intelligence by balancing the systems that run us. In actual fact, we're healed by those same systems that keep us going, so--if you balance those systems, such as blood sugar and pH--you'll be setting yourself up for a broad spectrum of positive effects, healing from stress and sports injuries among them. Make better choices until you build the momentum that gets the pathways programmed. ALO: It sounds just like establishing a yoga practice. Right? As soon as you keep the promise that you're going to do it for five minutes, before you know it, it’s 10; 20; 40; 60... Lucie: Absolutely. People think it's matter of willpower. It’s not. It's really a matter of neurobiology--what's happening in your brain, what's happening with your biochemistry, your neurotransmitters, what's happening in your gut--that’s making the decision about what you're going to eat. You can’t fight your hormones. No matter how strong of mind you think you are, you're ruled by your chemistry. You are strong of mind because of your chemistry. So: If you get your chemistry in alignment, you’ve essentially learned to hack yourself. You can not only be happier, more effective, more creative and more motivated in your daily life--but if you’re the kind of person who relishes a heightened-stress, high-consequence situation like skydiving, tunnel flying, BASE jumping, etcetera, then you’ll get even more benefit from this kind of management. You’ll learn faster, you’ll have faster decision-making and you'll have more focus to excel in these unique sports with their unique pressures. Of course, I could say to you, “Here; go to the dropzone with this power-packed superfoods smoothie of maca and cacao with all these berries in it.” And it would be super awesome, of course; it’d give you a short burst of energy for a short amount of time. But it’s not sustainable to do that every time you go to the dropzone; every time you go to the tunnel. If you learn how to balance your blood sugar, you're going to have an abundance of energy for an extended amount of time, and you don’t have to plug a blender in next to the packing mat. ALO: Let’s talk a little more about energy. It’s a big part of airsports to manage your energy when you’re waiting on loads or tunnel rotations or weather, and a lot of airsports athletes struggle with it. How can this stuff help with that? Lucie: The peaks and valleys in these sports are quite steep. I see a lot of adrenal fatigue and overactive minds in the group of people that I work with. For this, I’ll use the term “extreme sports,” because these athletes like to push their minds and physiologies to the extreme. When you put yourself in a high-consequence or high-risk situation constantly, the chemistry that is firing in your brain is full of reward chemicals. It’s highly addicting. Over time, you reset your brain’s baseline for what it means to feel good. When you're on the ground or on the bench, those reward chemicals are not firing. So, what happens is--more often than not, and you can correct me if I'm wrong--we have major addictions in these sports. Not just to drugs, though that is certainly within the landscape. We have addictions to sugar; caffeine; tobacco; all kinds of stimulants, and you can see for yourself how people are having to use those things constantly between jumps and flights. It's not because the individual a yahoo; it’s because their baseline chemistry is telling them this is what is required for you to feel happy now. So, on the ground as an action sport or, say, “extreme sport” athlete--for peak performance, you must learn to cultivate that chemistry whilst not risking your life. And you do that with the food that you eat and with relaxation practices. You can keep your blood sugar level, which keeps your mind and body in a receptive state, then cultivate that satisfying chemical response through breathing. Then you won't have to reach for an energy drink every time you pack, bouncing from one coffee to the next, not eating all day at the dropzone and then binging whenever you manage to get home. Peak performance comes with time. And so, it’s interesting to note, does optimal health and weight, without calorie counting, or deprivation, or guilt. ALO: It sounds way simpler than I thought. Lucie: It’s not really simple, it’s elegant. To me, that's where the power is. If you want to talk about what is both the barrier and the bridge between business as usual and peak performance for airsports athletes, it’s a single path, and it’s not complicated: cultivating these practices of prioritizing your food so you balance your body's chemistry and practicing mindfulness techniques in order to bring a single point of focus to your mind. Not only do you get better at jumping and flying; you become happier as overall person. Your body is magic; it's magnificent, actually We often forget about that. But we never, ever should. ------ Lucie is based in San Diego, but travels to wind tunnels worldwide as the nutritional arm of Fusion Flow Retreats. To reach out to Lucie for a personal consult, pop over to her Facebook page.
  15. We've already discussed your body's relation to the relative wind. Now let's look at your relationship to space and time. When you leave an airplane at our customary exit altitude of 12,500 feet above the ground, your accelerate from zero miles per hour vertical speed to approximately one hundred and ten miles an hour in about ten seconds. It doesn't seem too dramatic because the aircraft speed was already about 100 miles an hour, so you reall only gain ten miles per hour. At that point you reach terminal velocity, the speed at which the air pressure against your body balances the pull of gravity. Ignoring minor changes in body position, you will stay at that speed until something stops you - hopefully the deployment of your parachute! At terminal velocity you pass through one thousand feet every six seconds. If your parachute opens at 4,500 feet, that gives you about 52 seconds of freefall. (Ten seconds for the first thousand, six for each of the next thousand.) If your parachute did not open, you would now have a life expectancy of 27 seconds. Opening altitudes are based on allowing skydivers time to be sure that they do land under an open parachute. More experienced jumpers commonly open at about 2,500 feet because of their greater familiarity with equipment and emergency procedures. This gives them about 65 seconds of freefall from a 12,500-foot exit. The main thing about altitude is that if you run out of it while in freefall, you die. However, since your fall rate is constant, your consumption of altitude is constant. This means that if you have plenty of altitude, relax, because only time can take it away from you. Time and altitude are directly related. Loss of altitude awareness is a major contributor to skydiving fatalities. Always bear in mind that no distraction is worth dying for. Until your body's freefall clock has been programmed so that you know how long you've been in freefall, your only reference is your altimeter. Every time you do anything - intentionally or not - check your altitude. That way, you won't lose altitude awareness if a distraction such as a difficult maneuver or loose goggles comes along. Keep in mind that since you are consuming altitude (time) at a constant rate, you can't stop what you are doing, think it over, go back, and try again. In freefall, there are no time outs! That's why we try to do all of our freefall tasks carefully and deliberately, getting them right the first time. If you rush, you will actually lose time because the extra mistakes that result will slow you down. And when you consider the cost of freefall time, you'll appreciate the value of thorough ground preparation! Besides our time reference (altitude), we also make use of space references. There are two types of space references, orientation to the ground and orientation to other skydivers. We'll call the ground reference heading. Heading is an imaginary line drawn from a point on the horizon directly in front of you through your center. You use this reference for tasks such as turns, backloops, or simply hovering in place. Eventually you will substitute the line of flight for a personal heading. The line of flight is the heading the aircraft was on when you left it. The advantage of using line of flight is that now all the skydivers on the airplane have the same heading reference, instead of each picking their own. This makes it much easier to coordinate group activities. Your reference to the other skydivers is called the center point. The center point is that spot closest to all of the skydivers. When you are alone, it is in the middle of your body. With others, imagine a ball falling straight down around which everyone flies. In other words, four skydivers holding hands in a circle would have the center point in the middle of the ring. If they all backed up ten feet, it would still be in the same place because thjey are all still equally close to that point. In many ways, the center point of a formation is like the center of your box man discussed in the previous section. If one corner of a formation is low relative to the center point, the formation will turn in that direction. If two corners are low, it will slide in the direction of the low side. By now you can see that while skydiving, you have to be aware of several different things: altitude, your own body position, your position relative to the ground, and your position relative to others. Initially this will seem like a lot to be aware of, so on your first few jumps you will concentrate almost entirely on altitude and your body position while your jumpmasters take care of the rest. When you are release to fly free, you will add your own heading, and eventually you will be able to monitor these, the formation center point, and the line of flight as easily as you monitor your speed, direction, location, and other traffic as you drive to the drop zone! Test yourself: 1. "Temporal distortion" refers to the fact that in an emergency situation (losing control of your car, for example), the rush of chemicals to your brain can cause events to seemingly go into slow motion. Why would temporal distortion be extremely dangerous to a skydiver? 2. Why is ability to hold a heading considered essential to flying with other skydivers? Proceed to Chapter 5 (After the Freefall)
  16. 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
  17. 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.
  18. nettenette

    Why and How to Stop Believing in Talent

    Your Mindset Matters, In the Sky and On the Ground Usually, when someone tells you that there are “two kinds of people in the world,” you’re either in for a bad joke or a cringeworthy platitude. That said, here you have it: Illustration by Nigel Holmes So: Are you blue, or are you green? If you’re a skydiver, there’s a good chance you’re green--and that’s a good thing. (We’ll get into that later.) The above graphic, and the decades-long body of research behind it, derives from the work of Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, Ph.D. In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol goes into some depth regarding how the belief in our ability to change over the belief that we just kinda *are* one thing or another conspire to create us. Here’s her TED talk summarizing the work: https://www.ted.com/talks/carol_dweck_the_power_of_believing_that_you_can_improve#t-106915 While Carol’s TED talk revolves around this mindset dichotomy in the context of childhood development, make no mistake: This is by far not a kid thing. This is an everybody thing. According to Dweck’s research, a “fixed mindset” insists that our character, our intelligence and our abilities are carved in stone from the start. They’re static. We can’t change them in any meaningful way. If a fixed mindset person enjoys a success, it’s because they are successful and talented. The flipside is that fixed mindset people feel like they must avoid failure, no matter what the cost, because if they fail they are a failure, and that they’ve proven wrong the people who praised them for being smart and being good at things. Every challenge, then, is a gladiatorial trial whereby they’ve gotta prove themselves or wear the cone of shame. When the pressure is on, fixed mindset would much rather lie and cheat than ask for help. A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, doesn’t look at it that way. A growth mindset sees failure as a heavier weight to lift so it can develop a heretofore weaker muscle. Failure isn’t failure. Failure is simply the state of not having succeeded yet. And, instead of running from challenge (academic, interpersonal, developmental, athletic, and onward), growth mindset runs toward the empty spaces. When growth mindset meets success, it says “Okay, then. What else ya got?” Growth mindset wants to be better where fixed mindset wants to look better. Ironically, growth mindset has an uncanny knack for scoring on both counts. Growth mindset, as Dweck puts it, “luxuriat[es] in the power of ‘yet.’” Fixed mindset is “gripped in the tyranny of ‘now.’” There’s more. Disquietingly, whichever mindset looms predominant tends to act as the motor for our entire lives. It drives not only our functional relationship with success and failure, it drives our behavior, our choices, our relationships and, in the endgame, our happiness. So, now, to the sky. Look around you for the good news. The lion’s share of skydivers, most of the time, are growth-mindset people. Y’know that graphic that pops up on Carol’s talk at about 07:40? The one that shows electrical activity in the brain when subject students encountered an error? I’m willing to bet that’s every skydiver’s brain on pretty much every jump. As a group, we just love to build out our neural networks, and our culture helps us along that delightfully meandering uphill path. First off, we see and we honor the work. We watch the hard-charging learning process of the athletes we acknowledge to be good at what they do. We share the workshop where they make their refinements. The exact measurements are up for debate, but we still rattle off jump numbers and tunnel hours and years in the sport when we calculate our expectations. Our licensing system, even, reflects that deference to workmanship and walking the long path over showmanship and cutting corners. Secondly, our sport has a pretty stark way of showing us the danger of operating out of a clearly deterministic mindset. Generally speaking, jumpers who consider themselves talented tend to behave more recklessly than jumpers who consider themselves lifelong learners. Right? Finally, our sport’s podiums are consistently graced with teams who bootstrapped themselves into shiny medals. We inherently know that, if we put the time and effort in, we can get there too. Here’s the cool part: For all that focus on growth, we can still get better. There aren’t “two kinds of people in the world,” after all--and Western culture has doused us in such a steady stream of fixed-mindset malarkey for so long that it’s really hard to get the stains out. First, we can rinse the idea of “talent” out of our collective hair. “Talent” is a fixed-mindset classic. It describes an ingrained quality, not a hard-won achievement. “Talent” is limiting, and it tends to keep the athletes under its banner from trying anything that might leave its fingerprints on their carefully burnished shine. Secondly, we can use every available opportunity to praise more wisely in situations where we’re called upon to give feedback. Instead of praising talent (“You’re a natural!”), we can praise process (“I saw you working to control that spin. It was much better this time.”). Finally, we ourselves can learn to love “not yet.” We can stop laughing off forged logbooks, pay-to-play ratings and the practice of egging ourselves (and other jumpers) on into extralimital skill situations. We can continue the tradition of our forebears in the sport, who carved out enough deep space for growth that we can sink our roots in deep before repotting. The space they created for us is a cherishable gift. As Dr. Dweck puts it: “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.“ ---------
  19. 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!
  20. 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*****
  21. Two 19-year-old men arrested in connection with the murder of skydiver Stephen Hilder have been released on police bail pending further inquiries. The men, understood to be Adrian Blair and David Mason, were taken into custody by Humberside Police on Wednesday. A force spokesman said both men, who were fellow cadets of Mr Hilder at the Royal Military College of Science, at Shrivenham, Wiltshire, have now been released from custody. Mr Hilder died on July 4 at Hibaldstow airfield, in North Lincolnshire when he fell 13,000ft to his death. Detective Superintendent Colin Andrews, who is leading the murder investigation, said: "We are in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service and a file of evidence will be sent to them for consideration. "The investigation into Stephen's death does remain ongoing and officers are continuing inquiries. I'm still very keen to speak to people about Stephen's death and urge anyone who knows anything about the circumstances surrounding the events of Friday July 4 to contact me. "It is our belief that somebody out there knows exactly what happened to Stephen and that person must now come forward. I remain confident this case will be solved and the person or people responsible will be brought to justice." Mr Hilder, who was a veteran of dozens of parachute jumps, had been taking part in the National Championships of the British Collegiate Parachute Association when he died. He was part of the same team as Mr Blair and Mr Mason. Incidents Forum
  22. DSE

    The AFF Two-Step

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

    Flirting with danger, skirting the law

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