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Found 272 results

  1. admin

    Formation Skydiving Mobile App

    Times are changing and technology continues to evolve in almost all aspects of society and it's no different in the world of skydiving. Over the past few years, with the popularization of smart phones, there has been a large shift in focus to the presence of information on mobile devices. While skydiving related mobile applications have remained fairly few and far between, apps such as the 'Skydive Log' (an app which is essentially a mobile log book) has seen success within the skydiving community and in future I suspect that as our dependency on mobile electronics grow, we will see more and more of these concepts ported from pen and paper onto mobile devices. Which brings us to the topic at hand... A new Android application has been released, that will see you able to plot out your formation skydives quickly and easily, by selecting them from a list that reaches in excess of 1000 formations, from 2-ways right up through until 20-ways, providing assistance to teams developing and learning sequential formations. The application was developed off information published in Mike Truffer's "The Book of Skydiving Formations". The book, which includes a chapter on organizing formation skydives, provides an extensive list of over 1000 different formations, varying in difficulty. The Book of Skydiving Formations is also available in an 'iPad Edition' and ebook form. While the full application is available off Google Play for $10, a free 'Lite' version is available for download. We decided to take a look at the free version and give it a bash, looking at how well the app runs, interface design and usability. First off, the size of the application is fairly large with the paid version totalling 29mb. For users with newer smart phone models, or using external memory sources for applications, this should not be a problem at all, though for people using Android devices with limited storage space, 29mb could cause some problems. After closing the small popup notification which lets you know that you are using the free version and that the paid app contains far more formations, you are greeted with a screen displaying a total of 5 (for the free version) thumbnail images, each showing a different formation. By default the application displays 8-way formations, though on the bottom left you are able to change this and select your desired formation size. Each of the formations listed has a unique name to them, which is displayed directly under the main image of the formation, in the center of the screen. You then work at selecting your desired formation sequence. Simply navigate to the formation you want to start with, and click on the "Add Point" button on the bottom right, this will then log that formation as point #1. Navigate to your next intended formation and perform the same procedure, clicking on the "Add Point" button, this will lock in a second formation. You can then continue this procedure for however long your desired sequence is, on the bottom right there is also a counter which lets you know how many points are in your current sequence. When you have finished selecting your dive and its related points, you can then click on the button on the far bottom left which is labelled "View Dive". This will then list a descending display of the formation points which you logged for your sequence. The interface and application in general is simple, which has its pros and cons. There is no need for the application to be complicated, its job is simple and it does it well, but one thing that was noted to be lacking during the testing was the ability to save a sequence. Without this ability one is reliant on re-creating the sequence each time they want to view it after having closed the app. While we are not sure whether this is available in the paid version, our assumption is that it isn't. This is only the first release of the application to know knowledge, and as such there are likely going to be updates in the future, and if there is one thing I'd like to see in that update it's the ability to save and load formation sequences after you have created them. The usability seems fine and everything is easy to navigate and understand, as it should be. There were no crashes during testing, which was done on a Samsung Galaxy Gio. Overall the application may definitely be able to help one out, and for $10 it's not a bad deal either. You are always able to download the free version from the Google Play store and give it a try, if you like it, you'll want to purchase the full version with the complete list of formations. Due to limited downloads and the recent release, there is no consensus yet, on how valuable the average user finds the application. Currently this application has only been released for Android devices, there is no mention of whether there is intent in a possible iOS release in the future. Editors Note: After publication, we were contacted by the developer of the application and told that future releases shall include such functionality as saving and loading dives, as well as the ability to edit points in a dive.
  2. nettenette

    How to Team - Hayabusa's Best Tips

    How does the winningest 4-way team in the world get--and stay--that way? Image by Danny Jacobs If you say “by training hard,” you’re certainly right. Hayabusa, the aforementioned golden boys of 4-way FS, unsurprisingly train their way around the calendar in both the tunnel and the sky. As of publication, they recently topped of the podium in the FAI world championships for both, as you’ve undoubtedly noticed. The top of the podium is, after all, pretty much home for these guys. Their hard training schedule, however, is certainly not the only ingredient in the sweet-smelling success that’s always wafting out of the Hayabusa tent. If you’ve got a couple of hardworking skydiving buddies who fly well with you, you might be thinking about going for your own set of medals. Not into FS? No worries. It doesn’t matter if you point your belly button at the ground or the horizon: you can still borrow a page from Hayabusa’s playbook. Here’s what Hayabusa Point Dennis Praet has to say about how his uniquely consistent team keeps their streak going so strong. 1. Work on the relationships. “At the beginning, I really underestimated the importance of team dynamics,” Praet says. “They are super important. You can be an awesome flyer. You can do the fastest 360s. Whatever. But if you don’t have a good relationship with your teammates--if you are not very good friends--then competition is a very tough world.” “Don’t underestimate how important it is to have a good relationship with your teammates,” he continues, “And don’t misunderstand that to mean that you always have to accepting someone else’s bad habits or crap. It’s true that it is about coming to terms with some bad characteristics, but it’s more about appreciating the good ones. Like siblings, in a way.” 2. Fix what you need to and get on with it. “We had a very harsh year in 2014 with Hayabusa,” he explains. “It was the year that nobody liked, and it just takes all the passion away. We saw the rough year for what it was, changed the things that needed to change and found that passion back.” 3. Cross-train outside skydiving. “Everybody on the team does their own thing as far as fitness is concerned,” Dennis says. “It’s not a secret that I don’t like running; I would rather go to the gym or do some of my active hobbies, but pretty intensively. I absolutely love wakeboarding and kite surfing, and sometimes I’ll spend the whole day in the water, going hard.” “When I train, I focus on the fact that four way is a 35-second sprint--so going for endurance is only helpful in training. You can kind of pick your own sport to optimize your capacity for sprinting. As long as you are fit enough to go through a whole training camp--12 jumps a day, without losing your head--you are in good shape.” 4. Get your head right. “When we are going into a hard competing day,” Praet says, “We try to put all our personal issues on the side. If there is any small thing that might put you off your mental game, consciously put that out of your head. Then just trust the training that you have done; the plan that you followed throughout the year. That way, you know--even if you lose, it is just that the other team was better. It is not something that you have done or didn’t do. That knowledge is comforting.” Hayabusa winning 2013 Dubai International Skydive Championship
  3. 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."
  4. How to be a Good Passenger in a Jump Plane Note: Original text from an article written for April 1992 Parachutist. Since 1992 our fleet of jump airplanes has changed signifigantly. There are few planes like DC3's in use now which often have "loaders", and many pilots are now spotting airplanes with the help of the navigation equipment that is now more advanced. Please make adjustments for the changing technology. G.P. 2003 This article is written in two parts covering some of the most typical jump plane situations you will experience. The first part will be of interest to new jumpers who are learning to spot and to jumpmaster themselves and who are jumping from small airplanes. The second part is for intermediate jumpers from a small drop zone who may soon consider visiting another drop zone or going to a skydiving event that has larger airplanes. It will also be good review for experienced jumpers who do not jump large airplanes very often and forget how to be a good passenger. Small Airplanes: Loading- Loading a small airplane will become different as you gain more experience in skydiving. You will be doing different exits than you did as a student and will need to be arranged differently in the airplane. First of all, take the advice of more experienced jumpers as to the most efficient place to be for your skydive. If you are in an airplane with students, follow the seating arrangement that the instructor specifies. Be careful as you get near the airplane if the engine is still running. The door of small airplanes is always near the prop and the airplane owner will not appreciate you bending the prop by backing into it. :) The least noisy time during your flight is during loading and is the best time to tell the pilot how high you are going and in what direction you want the jump run. The pilot needs to tell Air Traffic Control how high the plane is going and hopes you won't change your mind too many times on the way up. Tell the pilot if you will being doing Canopy Relative Work or will be opening high for some reason. Pilots don't want to do surprise CRW with canopies they don't know are up that high. The position of the seat belts in the airplane will usually dictate exactly where you will be sitting. If this position is uncomfortable just remember that the Federal Aviation Regulations state only that you must wear them only while the aircraft is in motion on the ground and during takeoff and landing. Make sure that everyone doesn't sit too far to the rear and make the plane out of balance. The pilot would not have much fun flying it in this condition. Ask the pilot for advice on loading if you do not know. Jump Run- When you know it is almost time to jump you will usually be getting to your knees and making final adjustments to your gear. In getting up, try not to pull yourself up by the pilot's rig or pull any important items off the plane in doing so. Check for any part of your gear that may have been moved while getting up in a crowded airplane, especially your hand deploy pilot chute. There should be no need to say very much to a pilot at this point if they were sufficiently briefed on the ground, but be alert and understanding about anything the pilot may say to you. Your jump may be delayed while waiting for another jump plane or from instructions from Air Traffic Control, and those instructions will be hard to hear if you are yelling about why you aren't on jump run yet. Spotting- You will always need to wait for a signal from the pilot before opening the door. If the airspeed is too high the door will receive excessive stress and might even come off. The airplane's owner would be very unhappy with you as well as the home owner whose roof the door lands on. Giving corrections to the pilot on direction of flight can be verbal by saying "5 RIGHT" or "5 LEFT", or by simply pointing in the direction to turn. Most pilots will correct about 5 degrees in the direction you indicate and then level out and wait for further corrections. If you point, make sure your hand is up where the pilot can see it. Try to keep the corrections to a minimum because the pilot probably lined you up on jump run pretty close anyway. If you correct back and forth too many times even the pilot will get lost. :) Most pilots will cut back on the power when you get out, but it is a good idea to call for a "CUT" anyway before exiting. Exiting- Try to exit the airplane and get into your position as quickly as possible so the pilot doesn't have to struggle to keep the airplane right side up. However, be careful not to bump things on the way out like your pilot chute. It is also not wise to lean on the pilot too much just to get that perfect exit position. If you push too hard on the pilot or lean on the yoke of the airplane you will have a very interesting sideways exit. Large Airplanes: Loading- Loading a large plane at a new drop zone or at a large skydiving event will likely be an exciting event for you. There may be several large groups on the plane and you may get the feeling of being herded into the airplane. This is just a sense of urgency on the part of the crew, after all, these larger airplanes are more expensive to operate and must be kept busy in order to make money. Try to do your share by paying attention and helping move things along. Although the props on larger planes are further from the door than on smaller planes there may be more of them and they may be on the sides on the plane where you are not used to avoiding them, so be careful. Many of the largest airplanes will have a crewmember called a "Loader" that is in charge of loading the airplane and determining the exit order of all the groups getting into the plane. The loader is a buffer between the jumpers and the pilot and has to keep the jumpers in line so the pilot can concentrate on more important things like flying. Pay attention to the loader because they will be able to load you as quickly and efficiently as possible. When seating yourself in the airplane you can note how the people ahead of you are seated and follow suit. Seating is usually very cozy in these airplanes even though it looks roomy when you first get in, so sit close. Somes planes have loading lines painted or taped across a rearward section of the airplane and all of the jumpers must be forward of this line. If you see that not everyone is going to fit in this area, you might as well scoot back and tighten it up before you get too comfortable because the loader is going to be mean and make you crowd together anyway. Seat belts will be available and you might have to look carefully to determine which one you should be using. After everyone is seated and you are taxiing out to the runway, take a look around the airplane. There may be a sign somewhere describing the plane's emergency procedures in case of engine failure. You will want to be familiar with these procedures and really follow them if the real thing happens rather than just getting up and running around all excited. Some planes might also have posted a diagram of the drop zone and the jump run for the day. This is important information for the person spotting and helpful to anyone jumping at an unfamiliar airport. Jump Run- When it is time to jump you will be getting up to make final adjustments to your gear. Check for any part of your gear that may have been moved while getting up in a crowded airplane. There may be room in a large airplane to have someone give you a pin check. Even if it is possible to completely stand up in the airplane, don't feel like you must do this until time for your group to line up and exit. This will help reduce crowding in the plane. All adjustments to your gear can be made while kneeling anyway. Try to continue to keep forward of the loading line by not spreading out too much. The airplane may climb better like this and you might just get some extra altitude. Try keeping the noise to a minimum in case you get instructions from the loader or spotter. Spotting- On the larger planes the loader may also do the spotting for the whole load. This is another reason you should pay attention to and be nice to the loader, so you will make it back to the airport. Another possibility is that the pilot may be spotting from up front by using instruments and giving the exit command directly or by relaying the command to the loader. If the load is being spotted by looking out the door, the corrections must be relayed to the pilot who possibly cannot see the spotter. Some airplanes have pushbutton switches on a panel that turn on lights that the pilot can see, or the loader may have a headset to talk to the pilot. If you are spotting you will need to learn how these work ahead of time. If the plane does not use one of these methods, the corrections must be relayed to the pilot by someone sitting near the pilot that can see the spotter. For this to work there must be a clear line of sight up to the cockpit. Do your part by keeping the isle clear. Exiting- Wait until the loader or spotter indicates that it is time for your group to line up and then do it quickly. If you are not in the first group, continue to stay forward until it is time for you to line up. Give the group ahead of you 5 to 10 seconds before your group exits, depending on the winds aloft, but don't be slower than that. The group behind you is using the same spot as you and larger airplanes are flying faster on jump run than smaller ones. You will know when you are taking too long to exit because the group behind you will begin objecting to your excessive delay. Everyone wants to make it back to the airport. Summary: This article has outlined the most common procedures that you will be following when jumping out of most airplanes. Hopefully it has given you some basics on how to be a good passenger on any aircraft whether it be an airplane, a helicopter, or a hot air balloon. If you ever have any questions about the procedures for a particular aircraft, just ask the pilot. They will be glad to help.
  5. 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)
  6. 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)
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. WASHINGTON -- Everybody knows it was Neil Armstrong that took that historic one small step. But now several parachutists are aiming to take giant leaps that could lead to a new form of extreme sport - spacediving. Technology and bravado are merging to create a new breed of high-altitude hopefuls - people ready to take the fall of a lifetime. The hope is to shatter a four decades old record by freefalling from the edge of space, break the speed of sound on the way down, and live to tell about it. Vaulting into the void In the 1950s, the U.S. Air Force took on the issue of hazards faced by flight crews bailing out from high-flying aircraft. As part of the research, Project Excelsior used a gondola-toting balloon to carry a pilot high into the stratosphere. From the end of 1959 into mid-1960, Captain Joseph Kittinger took three leaps of faith. He counted on himself, medical experts, protective gear, and a newly devised parachute system to ensure a safe and controlled descent to the ground. On August 16, 1960, Kittinger jumped his last Excelsior jump, doing so from an air-thin height of 102,800 feet (31,334 meters). From that nearly 20 miles altitude, his tumble toward terra firma took some 4 minutes and 36 seconds. Exceeding the speed of sound during the fall, Kittinger used a small stabilizing chute before a larger, main parachute opened in the denser atmosphere. Air Force Captain Joseph Kittinger, Jr. jumps from Excelsior III balloon gondola in 1960 test, freefalling toward Earth for over 4 minutes. CREDIT: U.S. AIR FORCE He safely touched down in barren New Mexico desert, 13 minutes 45 seconds after he vaulted into the void. The jump set records that still stand today, among them, the highest parachute jump, the longest freefall, and the fastest speed ever attained by a human through the atmosphere. Somewhat in contention is Kittinger's use of the small parachute for stabilization during his record-setting fall. Roger Eugene Andreyev, a Russian, is touted as holding the world's free fall record of 80,325 feet (24,483 meters), made on November 1, 1962. Spring of our intent Now take your own jump from the 1960s to 2001. Several individuals are after the freefall record, on the prowl to raise millions of dollars in sponsorship funds to claim the milestone. Rodd Millner, an Australian ex-commando is putting together the "Space Jump" project. Working with a film company, Millner's balloon ride and follow-on fall would be well documented. Taking two-and-a-half hours to balloon himself up to 130,000 feet (40,000 meters), and outfitted with the latest in survival gear, Millner would high step into the stratosphere. Hot air balloon platforms, a team of skydivers, a Lear Jet, and other aircraft are to be airborne to record Milllner's dive into the record books. "We have involved a special team of experts across a wide range of scientific and technological areas to ensure this project is successfully conducted with optimum safety and with spectacular visual effect," said Walt Missingham, project director of Space Jump, in a group press release from Sydney, Australia. If all remains on track, Millner plans a liftoff in March 2002, ascending from just outside Alice Springs, in the center of Australia. Realistic go-getter Another freefaller is Michel Fournier, a retired French parachute regiment officer. He has made some 8,000 jumps, and is the French record holder for the longest fall, from an altitude of about 37,000 feet (12,000 meters). "I love discovering and experimenting. I'm a realistic go-getter, a little stubborn at times, Fournier said. Calling his effort the "Big Jump", Fournier has assembled a team of experts to assist in strategizing his stratospheric jump from 130,000 feet (40,000 meters). Within 30 seconds of departing his pressurized basket, Fournier hopes to break the sound barrier during his plummet. Equipped with a pressurized suit and special gloves, the diver expects to thwart frigid temperatures and ultraviolet radiation. The fall itself is to last 6 minutes and 25 seconds. It will be the first big aeronautical exploit of the third millennium, Fournier explains. Fournier points to Jean-Francois Clervoy, a European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut, as "godfather of the project". The tragic Challenger accident in 1986 and ESA's work on its own space plane, the Hermes, are singled out by the skydiver as early motivation for his working on the Big Jump. First plans called for the Big Jump taking place in September 2000. The French liftoff site was in the Plaine of Crau. A website about the effort explains that Michel could not jump in France because of administrative reasons. His team is now scouting for another launching site somewhere else in the world. Skydiving skills The StratoQuest mission features world champion skydiver, Cheryl Stearns. She too seeks to break the Kittinger record by dropping to Earth from 130,000 feet (40,000 meters). Stearns is no newcomer to breaking new ground in the air. A commercial airline captain on Boeing 737's, at 13,050 skydives and climbing, she has made the most jumps of any woman in the world, with some 30 world records under her helmet. Carried by balloon to above 99 percent of the Earth's atmosphere, Stearns will wear a customized pressurized space suit. Her freefall velocity may exceed the speed of sound, heading toward Mach 1.3. Maintaining a head down position will get her through transonic, and supersonic speed regimes. But as she begins to enter heavier atmosphere, a dangerous transonic phase comes again. At this point, her skydiving skills are to be tested in order to maintain stability until parachute deployment. The jump is tentatively set for over New Mexico, perhaps in April 2002. Pushing the envelope Where is all this sky jumping headed? First of all, high-altitude skydiving is on the cutting edge, said Mark Norman, an instructor with Freefall Adventures in Williamstown, New Jersey. "Certainly, they are challenging themselves, that's for sure. They are definitely pushing the envelope without any shadow of a doubt," he told SPACE.com. Prior to "hitting the silk", spacediver uses balloon-like device to slow down and protect against forces during initial atmospheric entry. Credit: Canadian Arrow At Freefall Adventures, typical skydiving starts at around 13,500 feet (4,115 meters), Norman said, with a jumper paying $16.00 dollars for the aircraft ride. As one of the busiest centers in the world, the group handles upwards of 15,000 people a year, he said, all hankering for a minute's worth of freefall Norman said that high-altitude skydivers must think safety first, with regards to oxygen and pressurization issues. "So it lends itself to a lot of difficulties and a lot of impracticalities that we don't necessarily need to deal with in the commercial, mainstream skydiving industry," he said. Building a business on people swooping down from the edge of space doesn't seem too practical at the moment, Norman said. Drop zone: Earth But Geoff Sheerin, team leader of the X Prize entry, the suborbital, passenger-carrying Canadian Arrow, believes what is taking place is an early form of spacediving. "A rocket can take a spacediver to any altitude desired in just minutes, resulting in less time exposed to the dangers of vacuum and cold," Sheerin said. "I think this will ultimately lead to suborbital vehicles being the transport of choice for spacediving. Anyone using a rocket for spacediving can demolish any balloon record ever made," he said. To the general public, spacediving might seem impossible, Sheerin said, as most think everything coming back from space burns up on reentry. "If you look at the lower energies involved for suborbital flight, compared to orbital speeds, you realize that material and technology of today can turn spacediving from a suicide jump into a very survivable extreme sport," Sheerin said.
  10. 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
  11. EUGENE SKYDIVERS REGAINS RIGHT TO LAND AT CRESWELL AIRPORT Agreement helps pave the way for skydiving to return to Creswell CRESWELL, Ore—Urban Moore, owner of Eugene Skydivers, announced this morning that his business has regained the right to land parachutes at the Creswell Airport. “The settlement with the city cleared all hurdles and now it’s official. We can land at the airport,” stated Mr. Moore through some early morning text messages to employees and friends. Last August a settlement was reached between Eugene Skydivers and the City of Creswell in an attempt to end an eight-year legal battle. Although the agreement accelerated a resolution, Mr. Moore credits the United States Parachute Association (USPA) and the Airport Defense Fund (ADF) for providing much needed support during his legal challenge to the eviction of skydivers from the airport.“I couldn’t have gotten this far without the help of USPA or the ADF. I’m looking forward to going back to work. This is a great day for skydiving,” continues Mr. Moore. The settlement has established safety guidelines and written procedures that both sides agreed to. The policies in place will ensure safe operations for all parties involved. Weather permitting skydiving is expected to resume at the Creswell airport as early as Thursday, Feb. 13. About Eugene Skydivers Urban Moore opened Eugene Skydivers in February 1992 at the Creswell Airport. During the last twenty-years, Eugene Skydivers has performed exhibition skydives for businesses, charities, and political campaigns. In 1998, an Oregon State skydiving record was hosted at the parachute landing area of the Creswell Airport. To date, Eugene Skydivers has successfully performed an estimated 70,000 skydives. The hours of operation are Thursday thru Sunday and by appointment.
  12. Imagine holding your arm out of a car window as you drive down the highway. The wind you feel is caused by your speed through the air rather than by weather. Skydivers call this apparent wind the relative wind, and it is the single most important element of the freefall environment. In fact, it is the only thing you have to work with in freefall, and from the moment of exit until your parachute opens you must think of yourself as a body pilot instead of a regular person, just as when you go swimming you have to leave your land habits behind. Your adventure in the relative wind begins at the moment of exit. There is nothing particularly complicated about exits and the techniques you use on your first freefall will be the same as those used by skydivers with thousands of jumps. Your exit makes or breaks the skydive, so we spend a lot of time practicing this part of the jump. A weak exit consumes valuable freefall time and puts you in a mental position of having to catch up, adding unwanted stress to your skydive. With a good exit you can get on with your learning and enjoyment at once, finishing the freefall tasks with plenty of time to spare. The two essentials of an exit are presentation and timing. Presentation refers to how you relate to the relative wind. Timing refers to your relationship with the other skydivers. Let's take a detailed look at these aspects of the exit. The body position we use to maintain a comfortable, neutral position on the wind (the equivalent of floating on water) is an arch. We'll learn more about body position soon, but for now you need to think simply about arching into the relative wind. This means that your hips are pushed forward into the wind, your arms and legs are spread out evenly and pulled back, and your chin is up, creating a smooth curve from head to toe. If you imagine lying face down in a shallow bowl with your arms and legs spread out evenly, you are thinking of an arch. In this position you will naturally face into the wind. To achieve a good exit, all you have to do is present your arch to the relative wind. Remember, we're on an airplane flying nearly one hundred miles per hour, so the relative wind is from the direction of flight. (When you see photos of skydivers they are usually presenting their arch towards the ground, but that's because they have fallen long enough to be going straight down so the relative wind comes straight up from the ground.) Once you are poised outside of the airplane, start your arch before you let go. Then it is a simple matter to open your hands, pivot into the wind, and you're flying! As you will soon learn, a relaxed arch is much more smooth, stable, and comfortable than a tense one so try not to think of yourself as falling off of an airplane. You're not; you're flying free. A mental image that might help would be learning to swim. You would be more relaxed and alert if you lowered yourself slowly down a ladder into warm water and let yourself float comfortably before letting go than if you jumped off a cliff into cold, dark surf. Think of the air as a friendly environment, slip into it smoothly as you climb out of the airplane, arch, take a deep breath, open your hands, and float off on the wind! You will note that I didn't say "push off." Until your parachute opens, your last contact with the world of solid objects is the airplane. If you push off, you will have some momentum that will tend to make you go over on your back, just as if you stood with your back to a pool and pushed off of something solid. Just arch and face the wind. As you leave the aircraft, the relative wind (arrow) is parallel to the ground. In a good arch with your head up, you should see only the airplane and sky rather than the ground during the first second or two of freefall. Losing forward speed and accelerating downward, the relative wind gradually shifts from parallel to the ground to perpendicular. This transition takes several seconds. You will not be facing the ground until about eight seconds after the exit. At no time do you look directly down at the ground. Even after the transition is over and you are falling straight down, in a good arch your head is up and your eyes are on the horizon. The aircraft's speed is about 100 miles an hour. When you leave, you lose some of that horizontal speed and actually slow down for the first few seconds. Then gravity takes over and you gradually accelerate to 110 miles per hour. That's why there is no sensation of sudden acceleration - you only gain ten miles per hour in ten seconds! Relax, arch, and face the wind is all you really need to do to achieve a stable exit. But remember that you are jumping with other people. For everyone to have a good exit, you also need group timing. Just as a band starts playing to a count, we'll start skydiving to a count. That count, used all over the country, is "ready, set, go!" It should be done with a smooth, even cadence. Because it's noisy outside an airplane, the count should be loud. Finally (think of a conductor with his baton giving a visual count to the orchestra) you, the conductor, need to give the other jumpers a visible count. We have you bring up your left knee on "set" and turn into the wind on go. Combining these two elements of presentation and timing will almost always result in a smooth exit. Leave out either one, and the exit may funnel, the term skydivers use to describe an unstable formation. Leave both out and a funnel is almost a certainty. But if that happens, don't panic. An arch will fix the problem. Incidentally, it doesn't affect your stability to dive out of the airplane. As long as you are presenting an arch to the relative wind, you will be stable. Unfortunately it takes most people a while to get used to the idea that the relative wind starts right outside the door. If you walk through an airplane door like you would a house door, you'll present your side or back to the wind and lose stability. In the water, walking doesn't work; you have to swim. Air is the same way - you have to fly through the door, not walk through. Test Yourself 1. Skydivers on the outside of an aircraft as they prepare to exit are called floaters. The ones inside the airplane who will dive through the door are called divers. Floaters are further divided into front, rear, and center, depending on their position in the door. On an ASP level one jump, the student is the center floater, the reserve side JM is front floater, and the main side JM is rear. Why is the front floater more likely to have a problem than the rear floater if he cannot hear or see the exit count given by the center floater? 2. Novices diving out of an airplane frequently do a half roll and then recover stability facing the aircraft. What could cause this common problem? Proceed to Chapter 3 (Flying Your Body)
  13. 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.
  14. 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
  15. admin

    The Evolution of Jetman Dubai

    Image by Max Haim There's been a ton of social media hype this week about the new Jetman Dubai video released by XDubai. The video, available in 4k quality, has already amassed over 2 million views on youtube within 48 hours of release. But what is the story behind Jetman and will this venture see an evolution to methods of human flight? Back in the mid-2000s, Yves Rossy of Switzerland set history by becoming the first person to fly with the use of a jet-propelled wing. A step that closed some of the gap between wingsuit flying and aircraft piloting. Before venturing into jet-propelled human flight, Rossy was both an air force and commercial pilot, serving in the Swiss Air Force before flying for both Swissair and Swiss International Airlines. Rossy first began skydiving, then looking to wingsuiting and skysurfing in order to maximize his flight time, but neither of these were able to satisfy what it is he was after. Rossy didn't want to be freefalling, but rather flying, with as little restrictions and as much freedom and agility as possible, while still ensuring the longest possible flight time. This is what then prompted him to begin his development on the original jet propelled wing. After developing an inflated wing design in order to achieve more flight time, Rossy then began to design the first jet propelled wing, which was flown in 2004. This first propulsion based wing was only a dual jet propultion system, which allowed him to maintain flight level. In 2006 he changed the design to use 4 jets instead of the original 2. This change allowed Rossy to go from merely being able to maintain flight level, to being able to ascend while in flight too. Since 2006, Yves Rossy, the Jetman has flown in several high profile flights and accomplished impressive achievements. Rossy is now primarily flying in Dubai, with Skydive Dubai seemingly being the sole sponsor of the venture at this point in time. Teaming up with Skydive Dubai has meant that Rossy has been able to get some crazy video footage of his latest flights, with Skydive Dubai being notorious for their video production quality. The Next Chapter In early May, Jetman Dubai began hinting at the announcement of a new development in the Jetman Dubai project and after a few social media teasers, a video was released on the 11th May which announced that Yves would no longer be flying solo. Instead, he would be joined in the air by Vince Reffet, a well known skydiver and BASE jumper. Vince was born into a family of skydivers and did his first jump at just 14 years old. Now just in his 30s, Vince already boasts an impressive tally of over 13 000 jumps. The French protege is specifically recognized for his freeflying skills, and is best known for his position on the Soul Flyers team. The training of Vince by Yves Rossy has opened up far more opportunities for the Jetman Dubai project, with the most noteable being that of formation in flight. According to the Jetman Dubai website, Yves began training Vince as early as in 2009. The visuals of these two individuals flying together are so outstanding that it has many calling fake on the videos. However the truth is that what you see is the result of some extremely skilled pilots, working together to create something majestic. The Jetman Wing The Jetman Dubai wings weigh in at a total of 55kg with a wing span of 2 meters, and contain 4 Jetcat P200 engines. Speeds on descent can reach 300km/h, while ascent speeds clock in at around 180km/h. The flight will typically last for between 6 and 13 minutes. Flight begins with an exit, most commonly by helicopter, and when the flight time is over, a parachute is deployed for landing. A question on a lot of people's minds seem to be whether or not this type of jet propulsion system could work its way into the public. Though it seems that those keen to do some jet flying of their own should not hold their breath, apart from a large budget, it's difficult to see any situation in the near future whereby the safety aspect associated with these wings will allow for public use. In the mean time however, we can sit back, watch and enjoy. Who knows what is next for the now Jetman Dubai duo, but we can't wait to see it...
  16. admin

    Perris Tunnel Training Camp for Women

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

    Static Line Training (S/L)

    This method has evolved over the last ~30 years from its military origins into a successful method for training sport parachutists. The student gets 4-5 hours of ground training and is then taken to an altitude of about 3000 feet for the jump. The jump itself consists of a simple "poised" exit from the strut of a small single engine Cessna aircraft. As the student falls away from the plane, the main canopy is deployed by a "static line" attached to the aircraft. The student will experience about two to three seconds of falling as the parachute opens. Subsequent S/L jumps require about 15 minutes of preparation. After 2 good static line jumps, the student will be trained to pull their ripcord for themselves. The student then does 3 more static line jumps where they demonstrate this ability by pulling a dummy ripcord as they leave the plane (the static line is still initiating the deployment). The student is then cleared to do their first actual freefall. The first freefall is a "clear & pull", where the student initiates the pull sequence immediately upon leaving the aircraft. Next is a 10 second delay jump. Subsequent jumps go to progressively higher altitudes with longer delays. After 20 freefalls, and meeting certain other basic requirements, the student receives their A license and is cleared off student status. Safety and Training Forum Find a place to jump in your area.
  18. 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!
  19. admin

    Air Adventures AFF: Level 5

    SOLO TURNS AND FORWARD MOTION JUMP SEQUENCE: When your jumpmaster says "GET INTO POSITION", take your position in the door. When you are ready to exit, turn to your right and shout "CHECK IN!" to your JM. The JM will respond "OK!" and nod his head when you are ready to go. Do the exit count - "Ready! Set! Arch!" On "Arch!" step to the left, out of the plane. Count to four, maintaining a hard arch. Do one practice ripcord touch. Check your altitude. Your JM may give you hand signals, and will then move in front of you. If everything is going well, and you seem stable, your JM will release you and fly 5-10 feet in front of you. Maintain hover control. If you slide backwards away from the JM, use forward motion to correct. Maintain heading. If you seem to be turning away from the JM, turn back towards him. Your JM will give you a turn signal - a hand pointed in one direction. Turn 180 away from the JM, then turn back. Check your altimeter. Your JM will not give you turn signals unless you check your altimeter first. Your JM will give you another turn signal. This time, turn 360 degrees, and stop facing him. Check your altimeter. If altitude permits, your JM will give you another turn signal. At 6000 feet, shake your head to indicate "no more manuevers." Your JM will move back beside you when he sees this. Do not follow! Wave off and pull at 5000 feet. Count to five and check your parachute. PERFORMANCE STANDARDS: Do smooth, slow turns in each direction. Do not allow yourself to build up speed in a fast turn. Maintain altitude awareness by checking your altimeter often. If you find yourself backsliding, use your forward-motion skills to correct it. Signal no-more-manuevers at 6000 feet, then wave off and pull at 5000 feet. LEVEL FIVE HINTS: To fix stability problems - ARCH! Check your altimeter after every turn. Be aware of your legs! Unwanted leg motion is one of the most common problems on level 5 jumps. REMEMBER THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTS OF ANY SKYDIVE: PULL! PULL AT THE RIGHT ALTITUDE! PULL STABLE! LAND SAFELY UNDER AN OPEN CANOPY! Before Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7
  20. Emma Tranter has helped airsports athletes get on--and stay on--the mat for 16 years. You’re next. So, full disclosure: This author has been practicing yoga for many years. I deeply believe that I couldn’t jump or fly without using yoga as a tool to undergird those activities, but it was so difficult to explain why that I generally deflected the conversation. After all, it used to be that chats involving yoga on the dropzone would end awkwardly (usually, with someone trying to fold themselves into lotus pose and falling off a barstool). These days, other airsports athletes tend to be much more receptive--but they often insist they simply can’t do yoga themselves, always calling in one (or more) of these three reasons: I don’t have time. I’m not flexible. I already work out enough. But what if I told you that these are all dismantlable barriers? That you can--and very much should--knock them down? And that it’ll measurably increase your sports performance? You certainly don’t have to take my word for it. Take Emma Tranter’s. Emma is a force of nature in our sport. A longtime-professional-skydiver-and-traveller-turned-extensively-educated-yoga-teacher, Emma has over 16 years of experience melding these two seemly opposing practices (and understands firsthand, the desires, aversions and excuses of the adventure-seeker. If you’ve spent time at Skydive DeLand, you know Emma for her yoga studio: The Yoga Shed, so close to Skydive DeLand that a well-thrown baseball will easily make the journey from the dropzone parking lot to the studio’s front door. Along with running her yoga studio, Emma currently travels the globe from her home base to facilitate Fusion Flow wellness retreats at various wind tunnels around the world, She does this with her twin sister, peak performance health coach, Lucie Charping. Arguably, Emma has the world’s most substantial experience in working with airsports athletes as they develop and advance a yoga practice. If anyone can break down the barriers between you and a yoga mat, it’s gonna be her. So let’s get started, shall we? ALO: Emma, tell us your abridged life story in the sky and on the mat. Emma: I made my first jump at home in New Zealand in 1994. I was professionally skydiving for many years--traveling all over the world for the sport. I eventually came to DeLand and stayed. I started teaching yoga in 2000, but I was still primarily a skydiver--packing parachutes and coaching at Skydive University and all of that kinda stuff. The balance shifted around 2003, when I completed a thousand-hour course in Precision Alignment Yoga. It was a two year training. It was awesome; I am still with those teachers. As the early 2000s went by, I started to get more more dedicated and committed to yoga. I transitioned out of professional skydiving but I stayed very active in the community, and I still fly regularly in the tunnel. The tunnel gives me more space in my life to dedicate to yoga, and teaching yoga is undoubtedly what I am supposed to be doing with my life. This is the sixth year of the Yoga Shed. Opening it in 2011 right next to the dropzone just seemed like the most natural choice in the world. I love to teach skydivers; they’re my people. And what skydivers find in a yoga practice is uniquely helpful to them. ALO: Does it still feel to you like people in these sports have the wrong idea about yoga? Emma: Oh yeah. A lot of airsports people--like the general public, I guess--still have the conception that yoga is about bending yourself into a pretzel or sitting on a cushion and omming. I mean, it is in some practices, but this is a very limited view. Airsports people tirelessly seek a state of flow. When you jump out of a plane or off a cliff and you’re not in that flow state, then that’s usually when things go wrong. When things go really right, it’s when your consciousness is in alignment; when you are fully present and not affected by your ego, when you aren’t thinking about what happened before or what’s coming in the future. You are just in that moment. Yoga gets you there. Airsports athletes make really good yogis because, once they actually establish the habit, they see the immediate, enormous benefits of the practice. They know what that particular flow feeling is when they meet it on the mat because it’s one of the central reasons they jump. The great news is that--once you’ve got the concentration required, when you can align the body and align the mind--then you start to experience that nowness that we all love in airsports whenever you want to. The trick is just to start doing it. ALO: Okay, Emma: I don’t have enough time. Emma: The first thing you have to do is be realistic as far as time goes. I always suggest the same question: How much time is realistic for you to dedicate to your health and wellness practices in order to support your flying, your skydiving, your BASE jumping...whatever it is that you love to do? Is it 10 minutes? 15 minutes? Half an hour? Most people will be, like, okay, I could definitely do 15 minutes. I take longer than that in the shower. Then I’ll say, “Okay. Let’s make this a 15-minute practice. How many days a week do you realistically think you will dedicate 15 minutes to do this practice? Twice a week? Three times a week? Fifteen minutes, three times a week, is very doable. I usually encourage my students to do their practice in the morning, before the day gets going and distractions come along. Can you get up 15 minutes earlier and fit it in before your shower? Do you see that as something that’s realistically possible? The majority of people discover that it’s quite easy to do. It’s more beneficial for people to do a 10- or 15-minute home practice every day than go take a class once a week for an hour and a half. When people start with a 10-minute or 15-minute practice and dedicate to it, that practice gradually lengthens in time. Suddenly that 10-minute practice that they were just going to get out of the way is 15 minutes long. And then, a month later, it is 20 minutes long, because they just felt like staying in it a little bit longer. In time, it grows and grows from within. But If you expect yourself to do a one-and-a-half hour practice, three times a week, right off the bat--if that’s unrealistic, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. If it’s that easy, why isn’t everybody doing it already? Find out in the next installment--as well as the reason “I’m not flexible” is the worst-ever reason not to take up yoga.
  21. 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.“ ---------
  22. admin

    Journey to the Bigways

    From Student to the 100th Jump Making it to my first Nine-way and then suddenly being welcome into RW jumps During early 2005, I became interested in big ways while I was still a student skydiver. As a deaf person, I discovered the deafskydivers.org website, and they were planning an upcoming Deaf World Record event. They required 100 jumps and a B license to participate in the event. A daunting goal, this gave me the incentive to jump as often as I could at my home dropzone. At jump #99, the largest formation I had ever jumped in was a three-way. For my next jump, I set forth trying to get the biggest RW formation the drop zone would let me build. This became a nine-way, made mostly of Skydive Gananoque's instructors. For my 100th jump, we created a successful 9-way jump even though I funneled the exit! Before this jump, I had a hard time finding willing RW buddies. Word went out I'd accomplished a two-point nine-way. Now I was suddenly being invited into four-ways, five-ways, and six-ways, jump after jump! As a result, my learning experience experienced a big bang after this milestone jump. photo by Dave "Fuzzy" Hatherly Deaf World Record 2005 First experience being “cut” from a bigway event November 2005 was my first skydiving vacation. I flew to Florida to participate in Deaf World Record. It was like a deaf boogie, organized by the infamous Billy Vance and John Woo. Before the event, I went to Skyventure Orlando for the first time. I was floored to learn that John Woo had 20 hours of tunnel time, and is a World Team member having completed the 357-way World Record the previous year. He told me he had about 700 jumps. His story was an inspiration, even if it was an impossible dream at this time. Over the next few days, 20 of us jumped several attempts to break the 14-way2003 record. I learned a lot, and docked on several formations that exceeded the size of my 100th jump formation. Eventually, they had to give “the speech” to four jumpers to reduce subsequent attempts to 16. I was one of the people to be “cut” from the final formation. My feelings of disappointment disappeared as I witnessed the Deaf World Record from the ground, the subsequent first night jump, and giving my glowsticks away. The photo with the goofy smile tells the whole story of Deaf World Record 2005 experience. Attending Canada Big Way 2006 Failing to get to the 59-way level, but managing to get to the 30-way level I learned about the Canada Record during late 2005, and wanted to see if I could possibly qualify for this event. It seemed far fetched that I might participate in an 80-way but I kept my mind open. During 2006, I completed my first 20-ways during boogies when the Twin Otter visited my Cessna home dropzone. The dropzone told me to go and attend the Canada Record anyway, to 'try out' and see if I was good enough. At this event I had my first taste of big way education, such as stadiums, radials, sheep dogging, red zone. Alas, I was cut before I went past a 21-way. The event proceeded to complete a 59-way while I jumped a side 20-way camp for people who were cut from the main formation. I learned many valuable lessons, including from Guy Wright: Never look up when I fall low. After that advice, despite still being a sloppy flyer, I consistently recovered from falling low during these jumps. I made many bad impressions with Guy Wright, however, TK Hayes invited me to participate in a 20-way. Later, it became apparent there was too many jumpers, and it became two separate 30-ways instead. This became the consolation prize: My first multiple-plane formation load, and my first 30-way, that I completed, docking 14th. Guy Wright's Big Way Camp 2007 Struggle trying to stay current During 2007, I had a major downturn in my jumping frequency due to job and love life situation. Nonetheless, I attended a Guy Wright big way camp at the same dropzone as the Canada Big Way 2006 event. However, I got cut very early during the first day as I was very uncurrent and my previous impression at Canada Big Way 2006. In addition to my lack of currency, I had also gained weight, so I had much more difficulty falling slow, so I kept falling low too often! Discouraged, I gave up on big ways for the remainder of 2007 except for the easy 20-ways that occurred at Gananoque's Twin Otter boogies. Perris P3 Big Way Camp May 2008: Finally Persistence Wins! Finally reaching the 50-way level In the previous two years, I kept hearing about the famous “Perris Big Way Camps” as being the best camp to learn about big ways. I was getting current again and I worked a little over an hour of tunnel time and 20-way jumps previous to the camp. Finally having the prerequisite jumps, I attended the Perris big way camp for May 2008. They require 250 jumps with 50 jumps in the preceding 6 months. It was to become the best skydiving vacation ever. As a deaf jumper, I was very challenging to the Perris P3 team, because I often required a little more maintenance than everybody. Load organizers dislike high-maintenance jumpers, and it was always a challenge to make myself as low maintenance as possible. I was struggling trying to learn as much as possible, with the help of other jumper writing notes for me! I persisted and climbed my way through ever-bigger formations, and the final jumps on the final day, I was to become part of an outer weed whacker (“weed whacker of last resort”). On the third last jump, I fell low. On the second last jump, I successfully docked but others in my whacker did not make it. I approached a discouraged-looking guy and encouraged him, good job, you can still do it. He was a guy, very much like me, who was trying so hard. I gave him a good pat on the back and gave him the encouragement. The thrill of diving fast from a trail plane, and slowing down on time for a dock. I almost fell low on this jump, but I docked – DOCKED! Then I committed the sin of looking away from the center and to other jumpers docking on me. He was struggling, going to fall 1 foot low below me – but I made a last minute decision to drop my level slightly below, while still docked, and help catch him. We docked in a mutual grunt of effort. Right in the nick of time, the final person, about to go low too, caught the very end of the weed whacker and promptly pulled our entire whacker low again, a whole 2 feet below the formation level, with the chain becoming almost diagonal! However, we quickly leveled out without funneling. We DID IT. I was sloppy, the video showed my instability as I caught the other skydiver, but I felt I played “hero” on this jump – helping other new big way jumpers like myself complete the formation. While I was not ready to truly play the role of hero, I had so badly wanted the formation to be complete – and it was my job in the weed whacker of last resort to try to make it succeed. On the other hand, skydivers are supposed to look towards the center of formation. Despite this succeess, I still had lots to learn. But it was time to celebrate – I was so happy I was part of a complete 49-way formation! photo by T.C. Weatherford Perris P3 100-Way Camp September 2008 Now reaching the 100-way level By now, I was starting to think I might make it into the next World Team if I tried hard enough. I started to hear that the next World Record might be happening in year 2010. I then made a decision to gamble and “go for broke” for the Perris P3 September camps, and try to bring myself to the 100-way level. The Perris camps were organized as a 50-way camp the weekend prior and a 100-way camp the weekend after. I had only gotten a conditional invite for the 100-way camp based on the performance of my 50-way camp, but planned my vacation as if I was going to possibly be accepted into the 100-way. As a deaf skydiver, I hunted down interpreter help to try and decrease my maintenance level even further. Jan Meyer stepped up to the plate and offered to be my debrief-room interpreter and to double as a dedicated big way coach. I surpassed the performance of my previous Perris May 2008 visit. It worked – I qualified for the 100-way camp. The next week, I finally did my first 100-way as I had dreamed of doing someday. The Future... Even though I am still very much a relative newbie to bigways still yet to be part of an invitational big way event, I now have a new goal: Be part of The World Team within my lifetime, whether in 2010 or later! Although I now have enough experience to be invited to the smaller invitationals listed at the bigways.com site, I still have a long way to go, and lots yet to learn!
  23. 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.
  24. DSE

    The GoPro Hero

    Last week GoPro sent me one of their new Hero cameras to test in a variety of environments. I’m somewhat of a snob when it comes to cheap camcorders, and the people at GoPro knew this from the start. In fairness, this is the least expensive camera/camcorder I've ever reviewed, and not expecting to be impressed.The camera arrived in a complete configuration; batteries, 2GB SD memory card, and the standard box that the GoPro comes with. Opening the GoPro package requires a degree in disassembly if the box is to be kept in more than one piece. It took three people nearly 10 minutes to figure out how to open it. If the box is any indication of how tough this camera is…it’s gonna be a great little camera. The GoPro Hero Wide Physical Characteristics: The camera includes several mounting options, including a rubber headband that resembles a jockstrap. It’s not much to look at, but it’s also not going to be the common use (I hope) for most users. The camera mount on the “jockstrap” can easily be removed and connected to more substantial webbing. The water housing is impressive. Very impressive for the price, in fact. I’ve paid more for a cheap housing than for this entire camera, and this housing is more nicely built than a housing I once paid $350.00 for. This is a good thing, because the mount for the camera is integrated into the waterproof/protective housing of the camera. The system is not designed to be used without the camera in its waterproof housing. The camera itself feels “plastic,” even though it is made of light aluminum and plastic. The plastic lens is fairly exposed; all the more reason to keep it in its waterproof case and keep the case in a soft bag when not being used, in order to protect the lens from damage/scratching. This shot was one of 92 still images captured in a single skydive. With a plastic pressure-release mount, there is some fear that a hard strike will cause the unit to be torn from whatever mounting device it may be attached to; this is a positive feature rather than negative factor, as safety is the primary concern of all active sport enthusiasts. The plastic mounts are plentiful; GoPro provided three stick-on mounts with extra double-sided adhesive material. In addition, GoPro provides a pair of extra mount clips, and a mounting arm that allows for a 90degree rotation of the camera when mounted to vertical objects such as the mast of a kiteboard, paraglider, or similar. It’s much like an Israeli-arm used for higher end cameras, excepting that it’s exceptionally lightweight, and plastic. The camera comes with several mounting devices/replacement parts. Technical Characteristics: The camera has a very small sensor size, I believe it is 256 x 192 with doubling, but I was unable to receive confirmation of this from the relations department at GoPro. The sensor is a CMOS imager, which is somewhat obvious by the lack of dynamic range (see image with large black spot in center of sun). Sporting an output frame size of 512 x 384, broadcast, output to DVD, or other full-frame display will be difficult to do with any degree of image integrity. For web or fun review on a computer in small viewer, it's perfectly appropriate and will give a lot of enjoyment to the sports enthusiast that isn't chasing professional results. GoPro encodes to an MJPEG codec in AVI container (will be .mov on Apple) and will require an MJPEG decoder in order to read/edit. Most NLE software includes an MJPEG decoder, and they are available from several providers around the web. The encoder compresses the video data to 4800 Kpbs, which is approximately the same compression ratio found on many hllywood DVDs. However, bear in mind that Hollywood DVDs are framesized at 720 x 480, and are sourced from film or HD cameras. I mention this, as some of the marketing commentary on the GoPro Hero compares technical data with that of a DVD. They’re not remotely the same. Additionally, DVDs are encoded with a PAR (Pixel Aspect Ratio) of .909 or 1.333. This means that pixels are elongated in either a horizontal or vertical configuration. The GoPro records a PAR of 1.0 (this means the pixels are square, and are not stretched, which is a benefit). The display is a Standard Aspect Ratio, otherwise known as 4:3. This is the “old” format of screen display, and is no longer available in television displays. GoPro might consider providing widescreen in an anamorphic format in their next camcorder models, as widescreen displays are now the world standard. 30Fps Progressive frames means the image will be smooth for playback, and clear on computer monitors. Audio is recorded in Mono @8Khz/64Kbps stream. The audio is useless for anything other than reference. It should be pointed out once more, that this camera is aimed at the sport enthusiast that wants to capture exciting moments for the web, not for broadcast or professional use. Still images may be captured at the rate of one still every two seconds for up to 65 minutes (over an hour) on a 2GB SD card. Larger cards may be used. The stills are 5MegaPixels, and for some, this is going to be a “wow” factor. However, there is a difference between stills captured through a low-cost plastic lens and a reasonable quality glass lens as found on most 3-5MP hand cameras. In other words, the megapixel count is only a small part of the actual picture quality. (More megapixels don’t assure better pictures in any event.) SD flash card is the format in which this camcorder stores data. SDHC cards do not improve the performance, speed, nor quality of the camcorder. The camcorder package also includes a proprietary cable connection that outputs to USB and video composite signal. Note the hot-spot in the middle of the sun. I was able to consistently reproduce this artifact with any bright light source in a high latitude shot. Even a 100 watt lamp could create this anomoly in a reasonably lit room. I believe this is a problem with the sensor; it cannot manage high latitude. Operational Characteristics: The camera is easy to operate. The multiple-press menu button that provides an icon-driven LCD panel doesn’t provide immediate feedback, and requires a review of the owners manual to decode the iconography of the display. In my first operation, I captured video from a skydive, but accidentally deleted the files as a result of not being clear on what the different icons were indicating. Additionally, it wasn’t immediately clear on how to turn off the camcorder, and when left on without operation, the camcorder eats batteries fairly quickly. With regard to batteries, only Lithium batteries should be used with the GoPro Hero. They’re a little more expensive, but this device eats alkaline batteries like they are candy. Rechargeable batteries may not be used. The GoPro Hero Wide uses SD memory cards. The black strip on the back is a rubber isolator to keep the camera tight in the waterproof housing. There are only two buttons on this camera, it’s not like it’s a challenge to operate once the owners manual has received a glance or two. One button for shutter control/record functions, and one button for menu control. The beauty of this camera is found entirely in its small size, price, and ease of use. Summary: This camcorder isn't going to light the professional's eyes up like a professional POV camera will, but it won't burn the amateur's wallet like a professional POV camera costs, either. I've tried all the various POV "sport cams" currently on the market, and for sub $200.00, this is clearly the winner. There simply is no camera in its class that can compete. GoPro should be proud of themselves for designing a camera with this quality in this price range. At $189.00 it certainly isn't a toy, but it is a very fair cost of the fun this camcorder can record for the sport enthusiast. Mounted to handlebars, helmets, struts, pedals, forks, kayaks, paddles, fenders, wrists, feet, belly, or other body part, the GoPro Hero is a hit in my book. -douglas spotted eagle
  25. 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