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Found 272 results

  1. A South African thief who stole a plane for a joyride had to land on a motorway when it ran out of fuel. He made the emergency landing on the N4 highway near Bronkhorstspruit, about 30 miles from Pretoria. Police say the aircraft was undamaged and the thief got away before he could be arrested. "We have no idea who the suspect is," police spokesman Capt. Piletji Sebola said. There was no apparent damage to the plane and there appeared to have been few cars on the road when it landed. One of the highway's two lanes was closed to traffic, Sebola said. The Cessna, used for skydiving, had been brought into Wonderboom airport in Pretoria on Sunday for a routine maintenance. The plane was stolen sometime Monday night or Tuesday morning. According to the flight instruments, it was flown for roughly one hour and 36 minutes before it ran out of fuel and was forced into an emergency landing. "I'm dumbstruck. He really knew what he was doing," said Carlos Garcia Cabral, the plane's owner. Police and airport officials were investigating how the plane was stolen.
  2. admin

    BASE Jumper Cleared by Court

    Westminster man who smashed window trying to parachute off hotel has landed an acquittal. Harry Caylor found a thrill to match jumping off downtown buildings -- in a first-floor courtroom of Denver District Court on Wednesday. A four-woman, two-man jury had just acquitted the 31-year-old Westminster man of reckless endangerment. "I'm about to have an aneurysm," Caylor joked, noting that the feeling was similar to what he goes through in as a BASE jumper. "Racing pulse. Pounding heart. Sweaty palms," Caylor said before hugging his friends and lawyer. Prosecutors had charged Caylor in a botched Oct. 2 parachute jump that ended with his smashing through a window on the 21st floor of Embassy Suites. They contended that glass fragments would have rained down upon a hotel concierge on 19th Street if she had not stopped to pick up a pen beneath a canopy. But Caylor's lawyer Gage Fellows argued that it was just an accident and that the concierge, or doorkeeper, was not in harm's way. Fellows also emphasized the precautions Caylor took before jumping. He also pointed out that there is no law in Denver against BASE jumping, which stands for Building, Antenna, Span and Earth. Those arguments proved persuasive, said jury forewoman Larissa Hernandez-Ottinger. "We felt he took a lot of precautions," she said. "He planned this out carefully. "Something did go wrong, which is bad. But because of all the precautions he took, no one was injured." Juror Cecilia Sambrano said she agreed that the concierge did not appear to have been in danger. And several jurors said they believe the city ought to have a law against BASE jumping off public buildings. But since no such law exists, they saw their verdict as a separate issue. Hernandez-Ottinger said the jury might have convicted Caylor if he had been charged with trespass. Prosecutors did not file that charge, in part, because a door leading to the roof had been left unlocked, said Lynn Kimbrough, a spokeswoman for the Denver district attorney's office. "I'm still sorry I did it, and I'm definitely guilty of breaking their glass," said Caylor, adding he had offered to reimburse the hotel. But he was elated with the verdict. "We're going to name a cliff in Moab, Utah, after Judge Doris Burd," the trial judge, he said. "And we'll name a cliff for every one of the jurors."
  3. Image by Brian Buckland Remember hide-and-go-seek? Well: you’re probably better at it than turbulence. So why are so many skydivers still caught off-guard? The answer is probably--predictably--complacency. After all, skydivers aren’t as vigilant about rough air as, say, paragliding pilots. That said: the devil’s invisible rodeo remains a serious hazard for every single person in the air, whether or not their ram-air is meant to get them down instead of up. Most of the time, you’re gonna be lucky. You’ll meet turbulence under a skydiving canopy high enough above the ground that you’ll just rumble around for a little bit before cruising into smoother air. Sometimes, though, your luck will run out. When those bumps happen in close proximity to the ground, turbulence tells a very different (and sometimes quite painful) story. Don’t despair--you can use your grownup-level hide-and-go-seek skills to stay in one piece. Let’s start with the key takeaway: Like the dumbest kid on the playground, turbulence near the ground tends to stick to a few predictable hiding places. They’re gonna hide downwind of solid objects. This includes trees, buildings and anything else that’s tall, sticking out of the ground and wider than a flagpole. They’re gonna hide above differential ground features. You can expect different surfaces--such as the lawn of the landing area and the asphalt next to the hangar--to reflect heat differently. You will feel that difference as, y’know, bumps. Also notable: when the sun heats two dissimilar surfaces to different temperatures, dust devils have the conditions they need to form. These “baby tornadoes” are standbys of desert dropzones, and they can form from uneven heating even when the winds are otherwise calm. They’re gonna hide behind spinning props. Remember shielding your pretty little face from the prop blast as you hopped on the plane? Well, that wind doesn’t go away just because you’re now landing. Keep your parachute (and everything else you care about) well away from the spinning propellers of airplanes chugging away on the ground. In fact, keep as clear of any propellor as you can, whether it’s spinning or not, always. They’re gonna hide behind other parachutes. Parachutes chum up the air (especially behind them) just as much as any other airfoil would. Don’t be surprised when you’re thrown around when you tuck into an ill-advised CReW move--or chase somebody too closely in your landing pattern. Not so bad? Okay. Stop smiling so smugly, though: there are a few factors that make the situation way, way worse. If you bumble into the bumps thrown by these suckers, you’re going to have a bad time. Stronger wind. If the wind is pretty much zero on the ground, you can generally get away with landing closer to a turbulence-throwing obstacle than you would if the wind were hauling (or even moderate). If you see movement in the wind indicators, do yourself a favor and keep clear. Bigger obstacles. The wind will pretty deftly wrap around a narrow tree. A hangar, however, is another story. Tall walls, outbuildings, silos -- they’ll all be bubbling, toiling and troubling on the lee side when the wind is pushing. According to the USPA: “You can expect to feel the effects of turbulence at a distance as far as 10 to 20 times the height of the obstacle that the wind is blowing across.” Do the math: wind blowing across 50-foot-tall trees can cause turbulence 500 to 1,000 feet downwind. Yikes. One of the first diagrams you’re forced to stare at when you get your initial paragliding license (and every skydiver should, by the way) is one that describes rotor. Since paragliders are basically riding the wind that’s coming off of very, very big obstacles, those rotor diagrams are a good macro view of the turbulence that pours into any wind shadow. As an object gets bigger, those diagrams pretty handily describe the way wind tucks around and churns into the empty space on the other side of it. Are you ready to play? Thought so. Now count down from 13,500 and find turbulence before it finds you.
  4. DSE

    The AFF Two-Step

    Receiving an AFF Instructor rating is one of the pinnacle points of a skydiver’s continuing education and experience in the sport skydiving world, and has been a personal goal of mine for approximately two years. I was sure that the moment I had six hours of freefall time and my C license, I'd be able to knock this thing out fast. How wrong I was... This badge is likely the most expensive badge in the skydiving world When I first began skydiving, I was presented with the opportunity to spend some time in the tunnel at Perris, CA, with Ed Dickenson and Jay Stokes. I immediately took Ed up on his very generous offer to help me in my progression towards being a camera flyer. At 27 jumps, I entered the tunnel to learn some of the techniques I’d later use to fly with tandems, four-way, and fun jumpers. The video is hilarious.While I waited for Ed, we hung out at the school in Perris, and I overheard many conversations taking place between students and instructors. It was at that point I decided to become an instructor. Jay Stokes, Ed Dickenson, and Jack Guthrie all encouraged me to look towards that goal, yet six hours of freefall and a C license seemed so far away at that point, it quickly fell off the radar. I was having a hard time waiting for my 200th jump just so I could put on a camera anyway, let alone being an instructor.When I hit 200 jumps, I immediately got my coach rating. Alright! I was prepared to be unleashed on unsuspecting just-off-AFF-students.My first coach jump went great and filled me with a confidence that I had never before experienced. My third coach jump didn’t go so well with me finding myself very low, opening at an altitude that got me grounded for the weekend. Little lessons seemed to constantly present themselves. Although most of my wingsuit coach jumps have gone well, I once took a student with only 160 jumps. Bad decision; he had a cutaway (on a rig he'd borrowed from me) and I'm grateful that's all that occurred. I grounded myself for the weekend, and learned that lesson the hard way.It seems like most of us have stories like that; this one was my moment of enlightenment. Over the next two years opportunity to teach, be taught, sit in on teaching experiences, and grow within the sport continually presented themselves. Like many skydivers, I surely thought I “had it all” in the 500 jump range when in truth, I was merely beginning to understand how much more there was to learn. As one skydiver repeated over and over (and over), “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Well…he’s right. I was discovering how little I knew, how far I had to go, and I was finding myself on the road of discovery.Being part of the qualification process for the 71 Way Wingsuit World Record opened my eyes to what good wingsuit instruction could be. I gained information over the last year that is integral to the first flight process as well, taking instruction from Scott Campos, Scott Callantine, Sean Horton, Justin Shorb, Jeff Nebelkopf, Scotty Burns, and several other very experienced wingsuit coaches. Like most skydivers, I've experienced great coaching and not-so-great coaching in my skydiving progression. Being present when a friend was part of a tragic incident at the start of the year convinced me that I needed to know more about instruction, and I began looking at available AFF course opportunities. At the PIA conference, USPA President Jay Stokes informed me that Certification Unlimited (Jay’s instructional entity) was putting up a Coach and AFF course at Skydive Arizona in the following weeks. Timing was going to be tough, as I had some minor surgery scheduled, but I was excited to take advantage of the closeness of the opportunity, at one of my favorite dropzones, and in warm weather while it was freezing back home. Image Left to Right: Alex Chrouch, Jay Stokes, Craig Girard, Kelly Wolf, Nikos, Eliana Rodrigues, Douglas Spotted Eagle Arriving in Eloy on a Saturday, I was completely pumped to start my education then and there. After all, I have 1300 jumps, 19 hours of freefall time in a couple of years, so this was going to be a fun cakewalk, right? I mean, I’ve got more than three times the requisite hours, lots of experience teaching, how hard could it really be? I’d taught parts of many First Jump Courses, taught many wingsuit students, and sat in on several courses. I knew I was ready. How incorrect my thought process would prove to be. Jay began with the syllabus and schedule for the course. It was daunting, but still appeared to be not insurmountable. We did a bit of class work that night but the real class began in earnest Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. with the dew wet on the grass, sunrise barely behind us, and no coffee in sight, Jay smacked the class between the eyes with a number of videos that showed why the AFF program is so important, why the training would be very precise, and why each jump would be rated with “Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory” with no grey areas. “I’d bust my own mother if she wasn’t doing it right” is something we’d occasionally hear. And I believe it, but wasn’t intimidated by the concept. In fact, the only thing that had me intimidated was learning that repeat World Champions Craig Girard and Eliana Rodriguez were in my class. It’s somewhat difficult for a Hyundai to shine when parked between two Ferrari’s, right? I knew I’d nail this stuff in a heartbeat. The written test was a cakewalk, just missing one question. And that question used math. To say “I suck at math” would be akin to suggesting that “Omar is an OK skydiver.”I use a calculator for two plus two. True story. The ground training process is specific, but I’m used to this stuff, it’s pretty basic if you have the program down (thanks TDog, for providing some good pointers).Passing the written test indeed was a cakewalk compared to what came next... the in-air practicals. Game-on, kids….We were assured the first jump would be our one opportunity to experience a “good student practice jump” where the student would behave and do essentially everything instructed, exactly as instructed.True to his word, Jay jumped like a perfect student. I was on the main side, Alex on reserve side.The jump went well from the Otter; no exit problems, the student responded perfectly to my signals, even if I was a little amped and anxious on this first jump. I thought Alex and I were a solid team. Suffice it to say that Alex did an outstanding job of flying his slot, keeping eye contact with his partner (me) and of doing his part in keeping our “student” corralled.Next jump, Jay paired me and a different partner with Kelly, a newly-minted AFF Instructor Evaluator.She went out the door with legs both bent forward at unique angles, arms in every direction but straight forward, and the only guarantee we had was that she wouldn’t roll onto her back during this practice jump. Manhandling her into a level position without punching her required a great deal of strength. My partner lost his grip, floated up, and next thing I knew, I was alone with my student. I wasn’t going to let her go, except I was required to. And did so.She flew away, turning like a propeller just starting up and gathering speed as she backslid, turned, and orbited. I knew I had fewer than 15 seconds to catch her (which sounds like an eternity, but in truth, it’s the blink of an eye for the second jump as an AFFI Candidate). I caught up and had her blocked in a few short moments, but those same moments seemed like an eternity in themselves. She grinned and decided to go the other way. I think what troubled me wasn’t that the grin was mischievious; it was evil, clearly payback for what she had been subjected to as an AFF candidate. Cruel, cold, calculated evil. But we were having fun, right? My partner was floaty, at least 20’ up and 20’ out from where our student was spinning, but he did eventually make it most of the way back in. I ended up on the reserve side after her spins and subsequent blocks, and so the dance at the bottom was a little different; it was my first experience with dancing on the left. I pulled the handle, deploying my student and she looked at me with a grin that made the previous evil smile appear to be innocent; I’d failed to ride through the actual deployment. The triumph I’d felt at properly feeling the rhythm and cadence of the dance evaporated like palm sweat in a 120 mph wind. Moving on before I exaggerate more than I already am….let’s look at the third jump of the afternoon. It was beautiful. Stunning. The sort of sun and sky that Eloy is famous for, and it was about to be spoiled. This time, I had no partner and no one on whom to place blame for the carnage that was about to occur. Combat Wingsuiting, combat RW could not have prepared me for a single, main side exit in which my student extended arms straight forward, legs nearly as much so, almost as if she’d been laid over top of a fence to dry, face down. I muscled her so that she remained belly to earth and she obviously didn’t like that action very much. She immediately pretzeled her legs with the right leg looking like it was flying over a hurdle in a heat, and the other leg bent 45 degrees forward and bent again at the knee. It was like she was performing a classic freestyle position but on her belly instead of her toes pointing straight down. Arms were practically folded above her head, and it was all I could do to force an arch. Duh…throw a hand signal and there might not be quite so much force necessary…. Thumb down, she arched like a pro. “Today’s skydive is brought to you by the letter ‘U’” as she arched so hard that she plummeted. Thank heaven I hadn’t asked her to wear the lead. I don’t like lead much, and my fall rate range is pretty broad. All those tandems and AFF videos have helped. OK, she’s settled out. Calm, flying great, she gets a thumbs up and a terror-laced grin from her instructor. I give her signals to do a practice pull and toe taps. She does great and so therefore has earned a release. I released and she backslid from the moment I let go of her harness. Damn, that girl is fast, but so am I. I chased her with a side-slide, threw her a legs-out signal. Wow….look at her move forward! Faster than she was going backwards. Now, I’m orbiting and don’t even realize it until I’m looking at her butt in my windshield. So…forward I go, and out goes the hand signal for arch; I was behind her. She didn’t have a rear-view mirror so my only option was to slide sideways, slide my left hand under the BOC as I started to slide past, and toss her another “arch” symbol. Whew! She settled out….Mr Toad couldn’t have had more of his way with me than Kelly did on that skydive. And that was just the first day…. Variations on the theme make for a colorful tale; the ground experiences as we prepped to get into the aircraft were equally interesting but it would spoil the movie if I share too many of the instructor’s tricks as they acted the part of wayward students. Suffice it to say that they’re there to help you succeed, but also there to allow you to fail if you’re not on your toes and looking out for the best interests of the student at all times. The dives aren’t about you, they’re about being sure your student is getting the appropriate attentions and instruction at all times. I won’t bore you with further details of the skydives because they’re all about the same sort of story; carnage, deceit, evil appropriations of an examiner that demands you be able to drive forward in a sideslide while dropping like a stone to do an assisted rollover as they’re spinning with a maniacal grin, laughing at the poor sap chasing them. It’s like “Hare and Hound” with Dr. Dimento as the wily rabbit, always one step ahead. Just as you catch up, they cooperate. In the moment you breathe a sigh of relief, they’re on to the next trick. Carly Simon going through my head with “Anticipation…” Lest you think I exaggerate too much, grab any AFF instructor who has had Jay’s program or anyone who Jay has taught. They’ll tell you I’m not kidding and if truth be told, I’m underselling the experience. Lemme share a small story; If you deploy your instructor/student “for real” by pulling their hackey, it’s an automatic Unsatisfactory and regardless of whether you did everything previous right or not, you weren’t successful on this skydive due to that one fairly significant factor. “Students” wear a simulated hackey that AFF candidates are required to pull at a specific point in the skydive. AFF Candidates will hold the simulated hackey handle til they meet up with the instructor on the ground.Jay didn’t care for the fact that I kept stuffing the hackey handle down my pants when it came time for my own deployment. On my last skydive, we’re standing in the door of the aircraft and my ‘student’ is going through “check out” and in his up/down/arch mode when I realize there is no simulated hackey visible on his main-side lateral.I’m screwed. I absolutely must deploy my student at the bottom of the skydive. I must pull the simulated hackey and show the instructor that I pulled and that I rode through the deployment. That small handle is the proof in the putting that I did exactly as I was trained to do. In other words, those handles are important. What to do, what to do? Worry hammered me throughout this skydive, my last in the series of eval dives. With a “Satisfactory” I’ll be able to catch my flight scheduled to leave Sky Harbor in about two hours. If I get an “Unsatisfactory,” I’m not going home and believe me, the price for that would be very high. I have commitments outside of skydiving, y’know? The point of do or die is one that lasts for about three seconds or 500 feet. I make my decision and dammit, I’m sticking to it. Maybe. I reach for my student’s leg gripper, look at my altimeter and begin the process. I’m counting down. By now, the “dance” is so freakin’ ingrained in my head that I’m doing it in my sleep, so much so that I’m convinced I did it perfectly on this skydive even though video shows I didn’t. Reaching over to where the simulated hackey was supposed to be, I spied it turned behind the lateral. Gave it a yank at the last possible moment, and proudly raised the simulated hackey as I ducked my head beneath his deployment hand (the last thing you want to experience is a bridle wrapping around your neck, or having the deploying hand knock you in the side of the head; it might be construed as interfering with the student). And rode out his deployment. The last thing I remember seeing as my instructor lifted above my head was his look of wide eyes, pointed finger, open mouth, and the smile on his face. We got to the ground, I watched my student land, and debriefed the skydive.Mirth in my instructor’s eyes, he says “Nice job. Now tell me what you didn't like about that skydive."A grin crossed his face told me he was well aware of the location of the simulated hackey. And, I knew I’d passed the program at that point.A wave of relief passed over me and I felt like falling to my knees and crying myself dehydrated, but I doubt any moisture would have come forward. I’d forgotten to rehydrate in my excitement of this last day. I was drained. I was pwn’d. I was reduced to jelly and tissue in this last moment. No way, no how would I have signed up for this experience had I really known what was in store for me, of this I was sure. All week. But… At the end of the week’s worth of mental, physical, and emotional torture, after hearing Lou Gossett in my subconscious screaming “I WANT YOUR D.O.R.!!!,” I’m a better skydiver. I’m a better person, and I’m a more informed instructor. I now know a little more about what I don’t know. As I said before, I'm now firmly on the road to discovery. "SATISFACTORY" or "UNSATISFACTORY", anyone who endures the process will come out a better person on the other side of the hellfire. I promise. I now have a new respect for those that have undergone this process before me. I understand why they are looked to with a unique sense of appreciation at every dropzone, I understand that the program is as much or more about teaching the next step in the educational process of qualified skydivers as it is about providing a license to teach the uninitiated. The AFF rating is a license to teach but it’s more a license to learn. In roughly 18 skydives, I learned a lot about what students can and will do. I learned how to best manage those situations with my new found abilities, and learned that if in 18 controlled scenarios I could learn this much, how much can I learn in a year, two years, five years of teaching a variety of students? I’m excited at the prospect. Respect and appreciation is due where it’s due, and I’ll take the opportunity to point out that as skydivers, we all have foundations made up of the bricks of those around us. Jack Guthrie, Jay Stokes, Ed Dickenson, Norman Kent, Mike McGowan, Debbie Z, Lance B, Kelly W, Joey, Chris, Phil, Blake, Craig, Eliana, Alex (I’ll jump with you any day, kid), Nikos, Jeff, Justin, Scotty, Scott, Chuck, friends on dropzone.com…and so many others are the bricks that have helped pave the road on which I have driven as a skydiver seeking more knowledge. I don’t know how to thank you all for the inspiration beyond paying it forward and being the best instructor I can be as you have been great instructors in my life. OK, enough lovefest. Thank you. It's the little things that make the difference on a skydive whether for the better or worse. Taking instructon from Norman Kent's camera course that taught me to anticipate movement, taking instruction from Ed in the tunnel that helped me develop a very high range of fall rate for a heavy person, and being part of numerous FJC and FFC courses helped me develop a comfortable ground patter and rhythm. All the pre-AFF prep you can do, I recommend you take the time to do it. You'll be glad you did. Whether you went through AFF, Static Line, IAD, take a moment to thank your instructors; they worked hard to get to where they are, to be at a point where they can intelligently and safely teach others, including yourself. It’s a big, dangerous world out there and instructors walked just a few feet ahead of you, checking to make sure it’s the best environment within which we all learn. Buy em’ a beer, give em a smile, even if it’s been a long time passed by. Receiving my rating from Jay Stokes, Certification Unlimited (and current President/USPA) In the event you’re wondering by now, students are a little less safe; I squeezed through my AFFI course. It’s an expensive patch and logbook endorsement, but one I urge towards anyone with an inkling to teach. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. Blue skies and puffies.... ~dse
  5. 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."
  6. 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
  7. Image by iFly Austin We would like to introduce the latest addition to Dropzone.com, our wind tunnel listings! We’ve been working hard at gathering information on all the active indoor skydiving venues from around the world, resulting in a list of 26 wind tunnels, spanning 12 countries, making it the most comprehensive and up to date list of vertical wind tunnels online. We have modelled the indoor skydiving section on that of our dropzone database, allowing you to review your experience, in turn helping others in choosing the best places to indoor skydive, and focusing on allowing you to quickly and easily find venues using GPS plotting. Users will be able to find detailed information about each dropzone in the listing, including time block pricing, training pricing, technical information and contact details. Indoor skydiving has become an essential part of competitive freefly training and continues to provide a platform for the evolution of body flight. With the continued growth of the sport, and the establishment of new tunnels, the future of indoor flying is looking extremely bright. We welcome and encourage users who have flown at any of the wind tunnels to submit a review of their experience. Should you know of a wind tunnel that is not listed in the database, you are able to submit a listing yourself, or contact us via e-mail and we will add the listing for you. Our database will continue to be built on and maintained by both dropzone.com and the respective owners and staff of the tunnels. If you are a staff member of one of the tunnels listed in our database, you can claim the listing. View Wind Tunnel Listings
  8. 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
  9. nettenette

    How to Approach Your Recurrency Skydive

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

    The Physics of Freefall

    Without an atmosphere we would continue to accelerate during free fall to ever increasing velocities until we impacted mother earth. Without an atmosphere our parachute would of course be worthless. Hence a soft landing on the moon requires retro rockets to decelerate to a soft landing while parachutes have been used to help decelerate the Martian landers in the thin carbon dioxide atmosphere of mars. In the absence of atmospheric drag we would experience a linear increase in velocity with time as described by: Where ln is the natural logarithm base e and cosh is the hyperbolic cosine function. We can now evaluate eqns (10), (11) and (12) for various times over the free fall period to obtain the acceleration, downward velocity and the distance the skydiver falls. These results are tabulated in Table (1) and corresponding plots are illustrated in Figs (1) through (3). Eqn (11) was used to calculate the plot in Fig (1). We note that as we exit the aircraft at t = 0, our initial acceleration is 32 ft/sec^2, (gravity rules). As the opposing aerodynamic drag force increases with our increasing free fall velocity, our downward acceleration decreases. We see from Fig (1) that our acceleration diminishes to about half of it’s initial value after 5 sec of free fall and all perceptible downward acceleration has ceased after 15 or 20 sec. Our free fall velocity was calculated from eqn (10) and is plotted in Fig (2). It steadily increases over the first 5 seconds of free fall from zero to nearly 90 mph. During the next 5 to 10 seconds our acceleration diminishes significantly as we approach terminal. It is the post 10 sec period of the skydive when our sensation of falling is replaced by the feeling being suspended and cradled by the pressure of the wind. Eqn (12) was use to calculate and plot the free fall distance. It is apparent from Fig (3) that we fall only about 350 feet in the first 5 seconds and at least twice that far in the second 5 seconds. Beyond 10 seconds the plot is nearly linear as we approach a constant terminal velocity. Fig (3) confirms our often used rule of thumb “we free fall about 1000 feet in the first 10 sec and another 1000 feet for every 5 sec thereafter”. Comparing the distance at 25 sec with that at 20 sec in Table (1) we see a difference of about 860 ft, a bit less than the rule of thumb value of 1000 ft. The 1000 ft per 5 sec of free fall at terminal is only precise for a free fall rate of 1000 ft / 5 sec = 200 ft/sec or 136 mph rather than 120 mph used in this example. Hopefully this example and discussion may provide some insight to those who are mathematically inclined and curious about the “whys”.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.“ ---------
  13. 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)
  14. Fédération Aéronautique Internationale and Discovery Wings Channel agree on production and broadcast partnership Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, (FAI), the world governing body for air sports, is proud to announce the first time ever long term partnership with a television channel: Discovery Wings Channel, the premier destination for airsports enthusiasts in the USA and North America. Eilif Ness, FAI President, and Tim Knatchbull, Director of development and programme partnerships for Discovery Digital Network, signed the agreement today in Linköping, Sweden, at the FAI annual General Conference, attended by delegates from the 93 member countries. "We are extremely proud to continue our work with FAI and our new agreement significantly augments Discovery Digital Networks continuing efforts to present timely, in-depth, and personal programming for our viewers, said Charly Humbard, senior vice president and general manager for DDN." Said Eilif Ness, FAI president: "FAI is pleased to have reached agreement with a prestigious network such as Discovery Digital Networks, and more specifically with a channel that intends to explain airsports to the public as well as show spectacular images. This agreement is undoubtedly a very important step in FAI's effort to give airsports the wide television exposure they deserve." FAI's TV production began in 1999, with a series of 6 programmes featuring World or Continental Championships in various airsports disciplines. The programmes were distributed worldwide and gained a total audience of more than 5 millions adult viewers. This was only a start as the series continues in 2000, with Discovery Wings Channel's partnership and other programmes. The 2001 plans are already very advanced as FAI is preparing daily programmes during the FAI World Air Games, in Andalucia, Spain, including coverage of more than 20 Championships. The Discovery Wings channel partnership will include three one hour programmes on the FAI 2000 World speedgliding championships in Greece, the FAI 2000 World Aerobatics Championships in Muret, France, and the FAI 2000 World Cup of skydiving in Eloy, USA. These events will be part of a new monthly series: "Sports on Wings", scheduled to launch in the second quarter of 2001. Discovery Wings Channel will also have the exclusive North American broadcast rights for the FAI 2001 World Air Games. The monthly, one-hour series, will air in the USA on Discovery Wings Channel, and on Discovery's international network in the UK, Latin America and Asia. Said Tim Knatchbull, "this is a partnership made in heaven - or at least in the skies". For more information, please contact: Mrs. Patricia Lamy-Airault (FAI Media Officer) Email: patricialamy@fai.org
  15. 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.
  16. 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!
  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. Dean Potter's Moon WalkWorld reknowned extreme athlete Dean Potter was among the two people killed this weekend during a BASE jump in Yosemite Valley. Potter and Graham Hunt passed away on Saturday when attempting a night time wingsuit jump from Taft Point, a 7,500 foot exit point within the Yosemite National Park. The incident occurred on early Saturday night, and at 21:00, after both Potter and Hunt failed to respond to radio calls, the park officials were informed. Shortly after search and rescue crews had begun searching. The search crews were able to deploy aerial assistance on Sunday morning, when a search helicopter then spotted the bodies of both Potter and Hunt, reportedly with their parachutes undeployed. At the time of publication, there was still little information as to what may have happened during the flight that would cause both individuals to suffer the same fate, with both parties having extended knowledge of the area and geography, though it is speculated that the two BASE jumpers had undertook a more challenging line in their wingsuit flight from Taft Point, where it is currently illegal to BASE jump. While both Potter and Hunt were well known for their climbing and BASE jumping adventures, Potter was often seen as a face of the Yosemite climbing community, having established himself as a leading climber over the years and widely being considered one of the greatest climbers of his era. He dropped out of college to persue his climbing, where he grew his love of free climbing, speed climbing and slacklining. He later began BASE jumping, and became well known for his close relationship with his dog Whisper, who he would BASE jump with. Potter had an impressive record of first ascents and some unbelievable free solo climbs under his belt; it would be hard to argue that he was one of the best at what he did. Potter was no stranger to controversy and both his BASE jumping and climbing decisions landed him in some hot water. His BASE jumps with Whisper lead to an outcry by some, while sponsor Clif Bar severed their sponsorship with Potter, because they wanted to distance their brand from BASE jumping and the associated dangers that is poses. He caused the biggest stir when he free solo climbed Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. Douglas Spotted Eagle wrote a piece on the life of Graham Hunt which is published on Basejumper.com, an excerpt of which reads: "Graham was a skydiver and BASE jump/wingsuit pilot, but what he was also well-known for, is his climbing ability. Whether climbing a rock carrying a chainsaw as a firefighter, or simply needing to get to the exit point, Graham excelled as a freeclimber. His strength seemed almost inhuman. He first came to Skydive Elsinore in 2012 with a tracking suit in hand, and was a machine. Jump, pack, jump pack. Graham didn't socialize much, but always had a smile on his face and was very approachable. His girlfriend asked me to help her pick out a birthday gift for him, and he received an L&B; Altitrack for his birthday that year. He asked me to help him figure out how to look at the data, and in the same conversation, asked about a first flight course. Graham seemed extremely heads up during his first flight course, and I attributed that to him being a very aware tracking suit pilot. Later I learned that he'd previously had a first flight course before he had 200 jumps, at another dropzone. I asked him why he had asked for a first flight course with me, and he answered "I heard you do it differently, and I'm looking for all the knowledge I can find." Read More Tributes for the duo poured in over social media:
  19. 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)
  20. There are two goals when landing your parachute: the first is to land safely and the second is to land where you want to. Clearly, the first goal is much more important than the second one, yet a surprising number of skydivers have had the opportunity to consider their values at leisure while recuperating from landing injuries. A parachute is only as safe as the person operating it. As soon as you have determined that your parachute is functioning properly, it is time to start thinking about the landing. Look for potential landing sites - any level area free of obstacles will do but we try to land at an established point, our student landing area, if we can. Usually you can get back over this landing area with at least a thousand feet of altitude left. If this is not the case check the area below you and between you and your target for possible hazards; if you are not positive you can make it safely to the planned landing area, you must select an alternate site. Do not go below the thousand foot mark without making a firm decision about where you will land! Assuming you have made it over the target above one thousand feet, you should turn into the wind and check your ground speed. This is especially important on windy days. Remember the higher the wind speed is, the less ground speed you have when holding, and while running with the wind your ground speed will be higher. Keep this in mind and avoid getting too far down wind of your target area. (Helpful hint: if you can find your canopy's shadow on the ground it will show you exactly how fast you are going!) As you hold into the wind you can make a rough guess as to how far you could fly in, say, 250 feet of vertical descent. Take that estimated distance and lay out an imaginary line of that length from the target to a point downwind. Now just work your way to that point and stay near it until you are about three hundred feet up. Turn towards the target. If your original guess was good, you would slightly overshoot the target. A small "S" turn - ninety degrees one way, then 180 back to the approach, and ninety degrees back into the wind - will line you up on a good final approach. As long as you start your final approach a little high, you can continue these "S" turns to adjust until you are on approach at the right altitude. Remember that your first priority is to land safely, not necessarily in the target. You may have to share the landing area with another canopy, in which case you need to avoid flying in front of or near them. For example, if you are on one side of the target and another student is near the other side, stick to your side rather than aiming at the middle. Be careful to always look before you make a turn and assume the other canopy pilots may not see you. Whoever is lowest has the right of way. Also look for dust devils. They can turn or even collapse your canopy and should be avoided. Most skydivers like to set up their final approach by using a pattern similar to the kind airplanes use approaching an airport. After your ground speed check at one thousand feet, work your way down wind until five hundred feet. Then turn cross wind (90 degrees to the wind direction) until you are over that imaginary point where your final approach begins. This type of pattern lets you observe wind indicators as you refine your estimate of where to turn onto final. Another useful tip: the more turns you do, the harder it is to tell where you are going, because your descent rate and forward speed change in a turn. A few smooth, slow turns will set you up better than lots of radical ones. At an altitude of about one hundred feet you are committed; just let the parachute fly straight ahead and limit any corrections to turns of ten degrees or less. The last part of the approach is the flare. This procedure is simple: pull down both toggles simultaneously to slow down your parachute to a comfortable landing speed. To get the most out of flaring, you must be flying full speed on your final approach, so keep your toggles all the way up until it is time to flare. (An exception is if you have poor depth perception, when the lighting is bad, or when the surface is uncertain such as water or corn. Then you may be better off approaching in partial brakes to slow your approach, giving you a little more time to assess the situation.) The flare should be done when your feet are about two to three body heights above the ground. A smooth flare over about three to four seconds will work better than a fast, hard flare, but the main thing is to have both hands all the way down when your feet are three or four feet off the ground. If you realize you started the flare low, speed up; if you started high, slow down. Do not, however, let your toggles back up once you have started to flare. This will cause your canopy to dive forward and result in a hard landing. The illustration showing a canopy's flight during a flare will show the consequences of a badly timed flare. Too low, and you have a lot of forward speed even though your descent is slow. Too high, and you will have a lot of downward speed even though your forward speed is low. That is why you should flare a little high and slow on a calm day, a little low and fast on a windy one. Let's quickly review the three most important points for a safe landing. First, always pick a safe place. Be sure of your landing site before you reach 1,000 feet! People who hit hazardous things such as cars, buildings, or power lines almost always do so because they did not choose a safe landing site high enough and were forced to land in a bad location when they realized, too late, that they could not make the target. Second, never land in a turn. We know that a parachute's descent rate increases dramatically in a turn, and that speed remains for a few seconds after the turn is stopped. Landing in turns is by far the biggest cause of skydiving injuries. These low turns are usually made by people who did not pick a safe area and turned at the last moment to avoid an obstacle, or by people who thought landing on the target was a higher priority than landing safely.No low turns! Third, land into the wind. This one is too obvious to need elaboration; the slower you are going, the softer you land. However, landing down wind or cross wind is less likely to cause injury than landing in a turn or on obstacles! On a breezy day, turn towards your parachute after you touch down and pull in one line to collapse the canopy. You may need to run around down wind of the canopy. Test yourself: 1. The United States Parachute Association limits student and novice jumpers to wind conditions of fourteen miles per hour or less. Why are winds over fifteen miles per hour considered dangerous? 2.Turbulence that can make steering difficult or even collapse your canopy can be caused by three things. Hot, rising air such as dust devils is one and high winds passing over obstacles are another. What else could cause dangerous turbulence on landing? Where would you expect to find turbulence on a windy day? Proceed to Chapter 8 (After the Landing)
  21. admin

    Climb Out, Freak Out, Chill Out

    A beginners guide to filming competitive 4-way This article is for jumpers that already have some experience flying camera and are trying to expand on their knowledge of how to film formation-teams in a competition setting. I will focus mainly on 4-way, because I believe it to be the most difficult FS discipline to film (aside from VFS), due to the many different exits and faster key speeds. However, once you have a firm grasp of shooting 4-way, the same principles can be applied to 8-way and larger formations. During a competition, whether it be a local meet or the nationals, it is vital that you give yourself all the advantages you can to do the job right. It is advisable that you jump with two cameras with differing wide-angle lenses. Film the team with the tighter view in mind, so if a grip goes out of frame, you can always revert back to the other camera with the wider view. The difference between first and second place can come down to only one point. So our goal is to have an “NJ free” (Non Judgeable) competition for all 10 rounds. If at any time during a jump a grip goes out of frame, the videographer can cost the team a point or more. Jumping with two cameras is not necessary for training, however you want to do a few training jumps before a meet with the exact set up that you are planning on using. This may expose any flaws or issues with your equipment. Training should be more difficult for you than competition. Push yourself to fly close to the formation. Train with your back up wide-angle lens, this will force you to be closer and more aggressive in getting the shots you need. This will make every competition feel much easier. Do not be afraid to try new things. Sometimes we have to leave our comfort zones to learn something that may benefit us in the long run. Climb OutIn most cases the camera flyer is in charge of the spot. Not having to worry about this little detail allows the team to focus on their jump. As you climb out on the camera step, think of flying your body as soon as you expose yourself to the airflow. Even though you are on the airplane, miss-presenting yourself to the wind can make your job a lot more difficult. You can practice climbing around on the airplane while it is parked. Get a feel for where everything is. Continue to practice until you can climb out of the plane in a smooth and controlled manner. Speed will come with time. Do not forget to practice climbing back into the plane. Sometimes you will find yourself climbing out right as the red light turns back on. If possible, one of your teammates can block some of the wind and help you get back inside. Remember to become familiar with different aircrafts when you travel to another drop-zone to train or compete. Freak OutNever trust an exit count! It is easy to get impatient on the camera step, waiting for the team to get ready. Teams can sometimes take a while in the door to get ready, especially if they are trying something new. Do not interpret a “wiggle” as a count. Be patient and watch for other signs like a helmet releasing a head jam. Every team’s exit count is different. Before every jump, most teams will take the time to dirt dive and practice their exit from a mock-up. You can learn a lot about the team by just simply watching them on the ground, so take as many opportunities as you can to learn the exit count and timing. Leading or Peeling?The exits covered here are from an otter, a left-handed door. Keep in mind that your relative position to the team is much closer on the aircraft than what it will be in freefall. You will need to create this gap quickly during the exit by falling slow. This is where camera wings and strong legs can be very helpful. Teams and coaches prefer the leading exit over the peel exit, because it gives them a great view of their timing, presentation, and heading. This method is much more conducive for the video debrief. For this exit I have my left foot on the camera step and my right hand on the handle. (When you have your right foot on the step, you expose more of your body to the exiting team.) After the team has given the count and is in the process of leaving the airplane, I find it helpful to try and run my right hand across the fuselage. I try to feel the rivets of the plane as I kick off the step. This helps ensure that I am in the correct position relative to the formation. As for your timing on this exit, you will know you have left too early when you can see the bottom of the airplane, and you will have left too late if you make contact with the team. For all exits, this is where your timing becomes crucial. Peeling is usually considered the safer choice of the two exits, because you leave right after the team. This way, you will not leave too early because of a misinterpreted count and you do not have to worry about the teams burble. For this exit, I have my right foot on the step with my right hand on the handle. I swing my body back so that my left foot is touching the fuselage. Now all I have to do is wait for them to come out the door. Leave with the last person and follow the team down the hill. Remember to present your hips correctly into the relative wind and keep the team in those cross hairs. Chill OutAfter the exit, all you have to do is keep the team’s grips in frame for the next 35 seconds. Remember that the different formations rarely stay in one place. As the team transitions from one formation to the next, you may have to adjust your own relative position to the team to keep them all in frame. Improving your individual flight skills will allow you to make these necessary corrections quickly and without thought. Although the “hard part” is over, you still have to be in the right position to get a judgeable video. Being close enough is the first part, but probably more importantly is being “steep” enough. Your angle in relationship to the formation is crucial. The steeper you can get, the better. It is very difficult to see all the grips when you are shallow. This is especially true on exit. If at any point, other than the exit, you can see sky, you are not steep enough. You should also only be able to see the top/back of the team’s helmets (no faces). The distance from the team will vary on the size lens you are using. An additional detail to pay attention to is the background. As the videographer, you can make the judge’s job easier by turning to a heading with a solid background, such as a forest, lake, desert floor, etc. Multicolored backgrounds, such as buildings can make the image very distracting and the formations harder to judge. Doh!Making contact with the formation can occur either on exit or in free fall. We want to avoid this scenario at all costs; however, accidents can and do happen. If you find yourself falling towards a formation, get as big and flat as you can! The last thing you should do is ball-up. Your natural reaction is to protect yourself, but by doing this you will only make things worse. Not only have you sacrificed all your lift and will now impact the team with greater speed, you have also given up on the chance that your airflow may be returned to you as the formation continues to move to the next point. I think that it is a good idea for camera flyers to understand what the team is exiting and how the formation will fly. I believe that a deeper understanding is necessary than just to know whether a formation is long or round. Being able to anticipate a formation’s movements, direction, and timing will greatly improve your video quality. Be pro active! Ask your team what formations they are going to perform. It will take some time, but being able to “speak” a little 4-way will not hurt. You can educate yourself on these formations by reviewing the IPC dive pool online. Memorize how each formation flies as it comes out the door; more importantly, think about how they might block your airflow. As the team debriefs their jumps, you should do the same. Take a look at your own timing, framing, and distance. Strive to make each video jump better than your last. Competition vs. TrainingWhen it comes to competition camera flying, there is a big difference between a “Gun for Hire” and a Teammate. In order to make this transition, you need to change your approach and mind-state from just being there for the ride, to being part of the action. As a teammate, you are taking on much more responsibility than a “gun for hire”, such as: archiving and cataloging all media footage, taking pictures, submitting photos to magazines and sponsors (if applicable), checking in with manifest for calls, spotting, chasing down cutaways, etc. Your team needs to be able to depend on you to do all of these things. Creating a great training environment becomes key. The more the team can focus on their training, the better. Helping a team to perform at their best can also aid you in achieving your best. Being able to perform at your peak during a high-stress competition can be very satisfying and rewarding. A positive attitude and an eagerness to learn is the start of becoming a good competitor. Hard work and embracing the training process is what will turn you into a great competitor.
  22. admin

    The Sponsor Monster

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

    Worlds Longest Touchdown Catch (VIDEO)

    Just before the Super Bowl 50 yesterday, an ad was aired on CBS that no doubt had a lot of skydivers sitting back going "Hell yeah". For those that jump, and happen to be a fan of football, the two and a half minute video was a hybrid of awesomeness. As 7 skydivers (Marshall Miller, Steve Curtis, Jesse Hall, Travis Fienhage, Jonathon Curtis, Chris Argyle, Mike Chapman) in full football gear begin a game at altitude. Using people jumping out of planes to sell products is nothing new, but this project seemed distant from the generic mid-air product placement. Instead, we got to see what it would be like if a group of skydivers exited the plane and engaged in a game of in-flight football. The cinematography was excellent and it's not too often we get to see aerial footage shot using the illustrious Red Dragon, filming at 6k. "A huge thanks to Pepsi and Papa John’s for supporting us in creating this epic moment! A huge thanks to the Whistle Sports team for all their support on this project. Whistle Sports is made up of sports creators, brands, leagues, teams, events and athletes who make content for the new generation of fans. Music is called 'The Darkness (Remix)' by Built By Titan. Film by Devin Graham and Tyson Henderson Produced by Carter Hogan Edit by Tyson Henderson using Adobe Premiere Pro CC Sound Design by Dan Pugsley Aerial Cinematographer: Jon Devore Super thanks to Temp Media for providing the amazing aerials with the C-130. They were all captured on the Red Dragon in 6K with the Shotover. If anyone is interesting in aerial services they can go to our website www.temptmediafilms.com Skydive Team - These guys are AMAZING athletes and were complete ninjas in the sky! Marshall Miller Steve Curtis Jesse Hall Travis Fienhage Jonathon Curtis Chris Argyle" A behind the scenes video was also made available on youtube, and can be watched below...
  24. 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...
  25. admin

    Find a reputable Drop Zone

    Be Aware of the Risks Choose a method of training Find a Drop Zone Set a date and jump! Get licensed Well, now that you've made up your mind that you want to do this you can't just rent a parachute from the costume store on the main street and take a leap out of your cousin's Cessna! Not only would it be illegal it might prove to be an unhealthy way to enter the sport! So where can you go? There are few ways you can find the nearest DZ to you: Dropzone Database The Dropzone.com Dropzone Database lists more than 700 DZs all over the world. Organized by region, country and state you can browse and search the database till you find a DZ near you. There's a lot of information on our pages and in most cases you can jump straight to the web page of the DZ for more information. You can also read reviews by other Dropzone.com members who have jumped here before. It's a great resource! USPA If you're in the USA, call the United States Parachute Association at 540.604.9740 or visit their web site to get the name of an affiliated drop zone in your area. Dropzone.com Forums Dropzone.com has more than 32,000 members and with more than 1.2 million posts to the forums you'll be certain to hear from someone. Register for a free Dropzone.com account and ask about DZs in your area in the Dropzone.com Forums. Google it! Yes, as you know you can find almost anything on Google. Use your city or region name and "skydiving" or "skydive" as keywords and see what it spits out. Yellow Pages Look in the Yellow Pages online in your local phone directory. You're bound to find some skydiving ceters under "parachuting" or "skydiving". Ask around You probably have some friends who have done it. Are they still alive? If so, then go to the same place they did; that way, you can feel assured of your safety. ;-) Skydiving clubs - If you're in college, most universities have skydiving clubs. This offers a cheaper and easier way to get into the sport. Plus, nothing brings people together better than absolute terror. You may even make some friends. How do I tell a good Drop Zone from poor one? Most dropzones that provide regular student training will be affiliated with the official skydiving organizing and regulating body in your country. The United States Parachute Association (USPA) is the representative body for sport parachuting within the US, and a member of the FAI (the international equivalent). Representative and regulating bodies like the USPA usually develop and monitor safety and training doctrine for the sport. In some cases they also provide liability insurance for students and DZs in the case of damage to property. Ask about their official affiliations and benefits when you contact a DZ. In the USA the USPA has successfully instituted rating programs for Coaches, Instructors, and Instructor-Examiners to ensure that only properly trained and qualified personnel work with students. In the USA you should insist on USPA Instructors and Coaches. If you're outside the USA, do not hesitate to ask about the rating programs for Instructors in your country and the qualifications of those people you'll be working with. Do not be afraid to ask to see your Instructor or Coach’s rating card. It should show the appropriate rating and expiration date. Also note that currently, most Tandem Instructors are certified by both the the equipment manufacturer and USPA. USPA affiliation is not required, and does not guarantee a DZ to be a "good" DZ, and non-affiliation does not mean the DZ is "bad". However, the USPA, through their diligence and caution, has compiled an excellent safety record over the years. Use the Internet to do some research of your own. Reading the DZ reviews in the Dropzone Database is a good idea. Remember to always take everything online (good and bad) with a pinch of salt. If at all possible, one of the smartest things to do is to visit the DZ before you make your jump. Ask if you can sit in on a FJC. Hang around, talk to some people and pick up on the vibe. Prev: Choose a method of training Next: Set a date and jump! Prev: Choose a method of training Next: Set a date and jump! More related information: Dropzone Database Events & Places to Jump Forum Skydiving Glossary