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Found 272 results

  1. labyrinth

    Risk Homeostasis and Skydiving

    Wikipedia describes the phenomenon as follows: 'Risk homeostasis is a psychological theory developed by Gerald J.S. Wilde, a professor emeritus of psychology at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada...the theory of risk homeostasis states that an individual has an inbuilt target level of acceptable risk which does not change. This level varies between individuals. When the level of acceptable risk in one part of the individual's life changes; there will be a corresponding rise/drop in acceptable risk elsewhere. The same, argues Wilde, is true of larger human systems (e.g. a population of drivers).' Through the comparison of relevant Sky Diving statistics, recent studies in the field of risk homeostasis show that the introduction of a safety feature does not necessarily improve the generalredistribution This phenomenon, due to a type of 'risk redistribution', was researched by Sky-Diving academics who spotted strange fatality rate fluctuations migrating back and fourth between open canopy fatalities, 'no pull' and 'low pull' cases and others, depending on the adoption of certain safety feature at that time. The study employed the Cypres (Cybernetic Parachute Release System) Automatic Activation Device (AAD) as an example, which is specifically designed to deploy the reserve parachute at the required altitude, in the event of timing neglect by the jumper. Risk homeostasis shows that varying individual trends toward risk adjustment become displaced by the introduction of a safety feature. The concept results an inadvertent psychological neglect of natural automated adjustments to these barriers. This leads to a generalised lowered level of risk, instead of unique to the area in which the safety feature is applicable. The risk then becomes distributed across parameters and is referred to as 'accident migration'. When this in turn was applied in relation to levels of perceived risk, it was noted that; 'Skydivers adjust their behaviors to maintain arousal at optimal levels'- a behavioral modification linked to inadvertent risk displacement. Levels of risk vary from one person to another and are adjusted in accordance so as to maintain a level of comfort most acceptable to the individual. On the other end of the spectrum, however, more risk can be introduced if the threshold is too low in comparison to what the individual is used to. In other words, the tendency to take less precaution in presence of a safety measure does not necessarily result in a balanced distribution of risk and as a direct result, risk is inadvertently lowered in other areas. Where there may have been a decrease in 'low pull' or 'no pull' fatalities due to this mechanism, the open canopy fatalities increased, and the introduction of open canopy safety features appeared to coincide with an increase in landing fatalities. A correlation can be seen concerning traffic accidents, where most of the evidence for risk homeostasis originates. Studies have shown that 'pedestrians are twice as likely to be killed in a painted crosswalk as in an unmarked one' and that driver side airbags in actual fact contributed to driver behaviors that increased accidents and fatalities. Needless to say, the field of skydiving is a popular target for academic study on the topic of researching risk whether perceived or real. Sensation seeking provides the blueprint for studying risk-taking in social, legal, physical and financial for the sake of such experience. It has been found that personality types within this sphere can be genetically characterized by an elongated version of the DRD4 gene which regulates the production of dopamine and effects pleasure and emotion. It should therefore come as no surprise that when comparing skydivers to non-skydivers it was found that the former have lower levels of death anxiety, which in turn lends itself to higher levels of target risk. It was also found that Skydivers accept significantly higher levels of risk and that 'More experienced skydivers monitor the risk perceptions of the beginning skydivers in their subcultures.' Further research will be conducted into how to enforce precautionary measures within the parameters of these findings. To read the original case study visit www.vicnapier.com Original Authors: Napier, Vic Pima Community College Findley, Carolyn Sara (Casey) Auburn University Montgomery Self, Donald Raymond Auburn University Montgomery
  2. 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.
  3. Two 19-year-old men arrested in connection with the murder of skydiver Stephen Hilder have been released on police bail pending further inquiries. The men, understood to be Adrian Blair and David Mason, were taken into custody by Humberside Police on Wednesday. A force spokesman said both men, who were fellow cadets of Mr Hilder at the Royal Military College of Science, at Shrivenham, Wiltshire, have now been released from custody. Mr Hilder died on July 4 at Hibaldstow airfield, in North Lincolnshire when he fell 13,000ft to his death. Detective Superintendent Colin Andrews, who is leading the murder investigation, said: "We are in consultation with the Crown Prosecution Service and a file of evidence will be sent to them for consideration. "The investigation into Stephen's death does remain ongoing and officers are continuing inquiries. I'm still very keen to speak to people about Stephen's death and urge anyone who knows anything about the circumstances surrounding the events of Friday July 4 to contact me. "It is our belief that somebody out there knows exactly what happened to Stephen and that person must now come forward. I remain confident this case will be solved and the person or people responsible will be brought to justice." Mr Hilder, who was a veteran of dozens of parachute jumps, had been taking part in the National Championships of the British Collegiate Parachute Association when he died. He was part of the same team as Mr Blair and Mr Mason. Incidents Forum
  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

    Formation Skydiving Mobile App

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

    How to Team - Hayabusa's Best Tips

    How does the winningest 4-way team in the world get--and stay--that way? Image by Danny Jacobs If you say “by training hard,” you’re certainly right. Hayabusa, the aforementioned golden boys of 4-way FS, unsurprisingly train their way around the calendar in both the tunnel and the sky. As of publication, they recently topped of the podium in the FAI world championships for both, as you’ve undoubtedly noticed. The top of the podium is, after all, pretty much home for these guys. Their hard training schedule, however, is certainly not the only ingredient in the sweet-smelling success that’s always wafting out of the Hayabusa tent. If you’ve got a couple of hardworking skydiving buddies who fly well with you, you might be thinking about going for your own set of medals. Not into FS? No worries. It doesn’t matter if you point your belly button at the ground or the horizon: you can still borrow a page from Hayabusa’s playbook. Here’s what Hayabusa Point Dennis Praet has to say about how his uniquely consistent team keeps their streak going so strong. 1. Work on the relationships. “At the beginning, I really underestimated the importance of team dynamics,” Praet says. “They are super important. You can be an awesome flyer. You can do the fastest 360s. Whatever. But if you don’t have a good relationship with your teammates--if you are not very good friends--then competition is a very tough world.” “Don’t underestimate how important it is to have a good relationship with your teammates,” he continues, “And don’t misunderstand that to mean that you always have to accepting someone else’s bad habits or crap. It’s true that it is about coming to terms with some bad characteristics, but it’s more about appreciating the good ones. Like siblings, in a way.” 2. Fix what you need to and get on with it. “We had a very harsh year in 2014 with Hayabusa,” he explains. “It was the year that nobody liked, and it just takes all the passion away. We saw the rough year for what it was, changed the things that needed to change and found that passion back.” 3. Cross-train outside skydiving. “Everybody on the team does their own thing as far as fitness is concerned,” Dennis says. “It’s not a secret that I don’t like running; I would rather go to the gym or do some of my active hobbies, but pretty intensively. I absolutely love wakeboarding and kite surfing, and sometimes I’ll spend the whole day in the water, going hard.” “When I train, I focus on the fact that four way is a 35-second sprint--so going for endurance is only helpful in training. You can kind of pick your own sport to optimize your capacity for sprinting. As long as you are fit enough to go through a whole training camp--12 jumps a day, without losing your head--you are in good shape.” 4. Get your head right. “When we are going into a hard competing day,” Praet says, “We try to put all our personal issues on the side. If there is any small thing that might put you off your mental game, consciously put that out of your head. Then just trust the training that you have done; the plan that you followed throughout the year. That way, you know--even if you lose, it is just that the other team was better. It is not something that you have done or didn’t do. That knowledge is comforting.” Hayabusa winning 2013 Dubai International Skydive Championship
  7. 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."
  8. Every skydive starts before you board the airplane. Before you get on the airplane, you should be totally prepared for the jump ahead. This means that you know exactly what you are going to do on the jump and have had your equipment inspected. Make sure you have your helmet and goggles, remove jewelry and take sharp objects out of your pockets, tie your shoes tightly, and so on. Each jumper is responsible for their gear, and you should always check to be sure you have everything necessary for the skydive. Another part of the ground preparation is being ready to board the aircraft on time. Jump planes are just like airliners: they can't hold up twenty people because one wasn't ready. At the start of your skydiving progression, your jumpmaster will usually take care of reserving your slot on an airplane after you are completely trained and outfitted with the necessary equipment. It is then your responsibility to stay in the area and gear up at the appropriate time with your jumpmasters. Before you Board: 1) It's too late to ask questions once you are in the airplane, so before you board know exactly what you will do on the skydive and review your emergency procedures. On the ride to altitude you should review the dive mentally, imagining a perfect performance. Keep in mind, however, that you are not compelled to jump from the airplane just because you happen to be on it! If you realize on the aircraft that you are not ready to jump, you may ride down with the airplane. 2) Check your gear. Your jumpmasters will help you to be sure everything is correctly routed. Be sure your altimeter is set to zero, your goggles are clean, etc. If you will be boarding an airplane when its engines are running, keep a good grip on your goggles and gloves! 3) Stay close to your jumpmaster and away from the propellers, other aircraft, and any other hazardous objects. Remember that the pilot may not be able to see you when he is taxiing the airplane; he always has the right of way. Once you are in the airplane, sit where instructed. Be sure to wear your seat belt until you are high enough for an emergency exit. It is also a good idea to put your helmet on for the take off. Your two responsibilities in the airplane are to minimize movement and to protect your deployment handles. Avoid snagging not only your equipment but that of other jumpers. Until we are on jump run you should stay seated. Then, at the jumpmaster's command you can get to your feet and move carefully to the door. As you move about in the airplane, watch out for door handles, emergency exit releases, seat belt buckles, etc. While inside the airplane your job is to protect your parachute! Most of your jumps will be done from our larger, twin engine airplanes. Exactly which airplane depends on how many people are jumping and the aircraft maintenance schedule. You should have familiarized yourself with the aircraft door, handles, and steps before boarding. Most of the time the more experienced jumpers will exit first for a simple reason: students open their parachutes higher than experienced jumpers. To preclude the possibility of jumpers from different groups colliding, exits are staged several seconds apart and planned with the opening altitudes in mind. That way we get both horizontal and vertical separation between groups. If you are leaving first because of unusual circumstances, have your jumpmaster fill you in on what to expect. The jump run itself is flown into the direction of the wind. This gives the airplane the slowest possible ground speed . In other words, it is over the drop zone (DZ) longer than it would be if it was running down wind. The pilot uses GPS (Global Positioning System satellites) to tell him exactly where he is, and when he is over the spot , or correct exit point, he turns on a green light back by the door, telling the skydivers to exit. Should the exit sequence take so long that the last to leave might not make it back to the airport, the light will go off, indicating that the remaining jumpers should stay in the airplane for a second pass over the drop zone. Incidentally, since you will usually be getting out late in the line up, and since the jump run is into the wind, you have a way of knowing which way the wind is blowing as soon as your parachute opens. Imagine a line from the landing area to a point directly below you. That is the wind line - if the pilot was right about the spot. Test Yourself: 1.Why do we take our seatbelts off once we are above 2,000 feet instead of wearing them all the way to altitude? Continue to Chapter 2 (Exits)
  9. How to be a Good Passenger in a Jump Plane Note: Original text from an article written for April 1992 Parachutist. Since 1992 our fleet of jump airplanes has changed signifigantly. There are few planes like DC3's in use now which often have "loaders", and many pilots are now spotting airplanes with the help of the navigation equipment that is now more advanced. Please make adjustments for the changing technology. G.P. 2003 This article is written in two parts covering some of the most typical jump plane situations you will experience. The first part will be of interest to new jumpers who are learning to spot and to jumpmaster themselves and who are jumping from small airplanes. The second part is for intermediate jumpers from a small drop zone who may soon consider visiting another drop zone or going to a skydiving event that has larger airplanes. It will also be good review for experienced jumpers who do not jump large airplanes very often and forget how to be a good passenger. Small Airplanes: Loading- Loading a small airplane will become different as you gain more experience in skydiving. You will be doing different exits than you did as a student and will need to be arranged differently in the airplane. First of all, take the advice of more experienced jumpers as to the most efficient place to be for your skydive. If you are in an airplane with students, follow the seating arrangement that the instructor specifies. Be careful as you get near the airplane if the engine is still running. The door of small airplanes is always near the prop and the airplane owner will not appreciate you bending the prop by backing into it. :) The least noisy time during your flight is during loading and is the best time to tell the pilot how high you are going and in what direction you want the jump run. The pilot needs to tell Air Traffic Control how high the plane is going and hopes you won't change your mind too many times on the way up. Tell the pilot if you will being doing Canopy Relative Work or will be opening high for some reason. Pilots don't want to do surprise CRW with canopies they don't know are up that high. The position of the seat belts in the airplane will usually dictate exactly where you will be sitting. If this position is uncomfortable just remember that the Federal Aviation Regulations state only that you must wear them only while the aircraft is in motion on the ground and during takeoff and landing. Make sure that everyone doesn't sit too far to the rear and make the plane out of balance. The pilot would not have much fun flying it in this condition. Ask the pilot for advice on loading if you do not know. Jump Run- When you know it is almost time to jump you will usually be getting to your knees and making final adjustments to your gear. In getting up, try not to pull yourself up by the pilot's rig or pull any important items off the plane in doing so. Check for any part of your gear that may have been moved while getting up in a crowded airplane, especially your hand deploy pilot chute. There should be no need to say very much to a pilot at this point if they were sufficiently briefed on the ground, but be alert and understanding about anything the pilot may say to you. Your jump may be delayed while waiting for another jump plane or from instructions from Air Traffic Control, and those instructions will be hard to hear if you are yelling about why you aren't on jump run yet. Spotting- You will always need to wait for a signal from the pilot before opening the door. If the airspeed is too high the door will receive excessive stress and might even come off. The airplane's owner would be very unhappy with you as well as the home owner whose roof the door lands on. Giving corrections to the pilot on direction of flight can be verbal by saying "5 RIGHT" or "5 LEFT", or by simply pointing in the direction to turn. Most pilots will correct about 5 degrees in the direction you indicate and then level out and wait for further corrections. If you point, make sure your hand is up where the pilot can see it. Try to keep the corrections to a minimum because the pilot probably lined you up on jump run pretty close anyway. If you correct back and forth too many times even the pilot will get lost. :) Most pilots will cut back on the power when you get out, but it is a good idea to call for a "CUT" anyway before exiting. Exiting- Try to exit the airplane and get into your position as quickly as possible so the pilot doesn't have to struggle to keep the airplane right side up. However, be careful not to bump things on the way out like your pilot chute. It is also not wise to lean on the pilot too much just to get that perfect exit position. If you push too hard on the pilot or lean on the yoke of the airplane you will have a very interesting sideways exit. Large Airplanes: Loading- Loading a large plane at a new drop zone or at a large skydiving event will likely be an exciting event for you. There may be several large groups on the plane and you may get the feeling of being herded into the airplane. This is just a sense of urgency on the part of the crew, after all, these larger airplanes are more expensive to operate and must be kept busy in order to make money. Try to do your share by paying attention and helping move things along. Although the props on larger planes are further from the door than on smaller planes there may be more of them and they may be on the sides on the plane where you are not used to avoiding them, so be careful. Many of the largest airplanes will have a crewmember called a "Loader" that is in charge of loading the airplane and determining the exit order of all the groups getting into the plane. The loader is a buffer between the jumpers and the pilot and has to keep the jumpers in line so the pilot can concentrate on more important things like flying. Pay attention to the loader because they will be able to load you as quickly and efficiently as possible. When seating yourself in the airplane you can note how the people ahead of you are seated and follow suit. Seating is usually very cozy in these airplanes even though it looks roomy when you first get in, so sit close. Somes planes have loading lines painted or taped across a rearward section of the airplane and all of the jumpers must be forward of this line. If you see that not everyone is going to fit in this area, you might as well scoot back and tighten it up before you get too comfortable because the loader is going to be mean and make you crowd together anyway. Seat belts will be available and you might have to look carefully to determine which one you should be using. After everyone is seated and you are taxiing out to the runway, take a look around the airplane. There may be a sign somewhere describing the plane's emergency procedures in case of engine failure. You will want to be familiar with these procedures and really follow them if the real thing happens rather than just getting up and running around all excited. Some planes might also have posted a diagram of the drop zone and the jump run for the day. This is important information for the person spotting and helpful to anyone jumping at an unfamiliar airport. Jump Run- When it is time to jump you will be getting up to make final adjustments to your gear. Check for any part of your gear that may have been moved while getting up in a crowded airplane. There may be room in a large airplane to have someone give you a pin check. Even if it is possible to completely stand up in the airplane, don't feel like you must do this until time for your group to line up and exit. This will help reduce crowding in the plane. All adjustments to your gear can be made while kneeling anyway. Try to continue to keep forward of the loading line by not spreading out too much. The airplane may climb better like this and you might just get some extra altitude. Try keeping the noise to a minimum in case you get instructions from the loader or spotter. Spotting- On the larger planes the loader may also do the spotting for the whole load. This is another reason you should pay attention to and be nice to the loader, so you will make it back to the airport. Another possibility is that the pilot may be spotting from up front by using instruments and giving the exit command directly or by relaying the command to the loader. If the load is being spotted by looking out the door, the corrections must be relayed to the pilot who possibly cannot see the spotter. Some airplanes have pushbutton switches on a panel that turn on lights that the pilot can see, or the loader may have a headset to talk to the pilot. If you are spotting you will need to learn how these work ahead of time. If the plane does not use one of these methods, the corrections must be relayed to the pilot by someone sitting near the pilot that can see the spotter. For this to work there must be a clear line of sight up to the cockpit. Do your part by keeping the isle clear. Exiting- Wait until the loader or spotter indicates that it is time for your group to line up and then do it quickly. If you are not in the first group, continue to stay forward until it is time for you to line up. Give the group ahead of you 5 to 10 seconds before your group exits, depending on the winds aloft, but don't be slower than that. The group behind you is using the same spot as you and larger airplanes are flying faster on jump run than smaller ones. You will know when you are taking too long to exit because the group behind you will begin objecting to your excessive delay. Everyone wants to make it back to the airport. Summary: This article has outlined the most common procedures that you will be following when jumping out of most airplanes. Hopefully it has given you some basics on how to be a good passenger on any aircraft whether it be an airplane, a helicopter, or a hot air balloon. If you ever have any questions about the procedures for a particular aircraft, just ask the pilot. They will be glad to help.
  10. admin

    Next - Get licensed!

    Be Aware of the Risks Choose a method of training Find a Drop Zone Set a date and jump! Get licensed You've done it! You loved it. We know you did but don't mind you telling us anyway! We gave you a nice cheesy certificate and if you wanted them, you also got some cool photos and a video to impress the whuffos with. So what's next? Do it again! Come back next weekend, and do it again and again until you can give yourself the title of "a licensed skydiver". It takes about 15 to 20 jumps, each with more tasks, until the student is competent enough to jump without instructor supervision. However, if you learn with the AFF method, you can start jumping on your own after seven jumps. Each successive jump costs a little less. Once you're certified and have sold the shirt off your back to buy your own equipment you only pay around $20 for your slot on the plane. That's it! Each country has its own system of skydiving licenses. The USPA has four skydiving licenses, from the basic A license (25 jumps) to the D license (which you are eligible for after 500 jumps.) Once you're a seasoned skydiver there are many disciplines that you can try. Each of these have their own experience and proficiency requirements. Talk to your Instructors before you try something new. It is always prudent to get additional formal training in your discipline by someone qualified. We also strongly suggest you find yourself a mentor. Approach some one whom you respect and trust and ask him or her to coach and guide you through your skydiving career and progress. It is important to have someone you can bounce your plans and ideas off just to test them and get some experienced input. Remember what we said up front: Knowledge, Skill and Attitude. Never stop learning and developing these. Dropzone.com is loaded with useful information at all levels but make sure to talk to your Instructors and Coaches often. Ask them about the advice you get online. They know and understand your skill levels and can help guide you safely on this journey. We'd love to hear your skydiving stories in the Dropzone.com forums, and most of all, we'd love to share the sky with you somewhere at a boogie in the near future. Prev: Set a date and jump! More related information: Skydiving Disciplines Gear Classifieds Dropzone.com Forums Skydiving Glossary
  11. 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)
  12. We've already discussed your body's relation to the relative wind. Now let's look at your relationship to space and time. When you leave an airplane at our customary exit altitude of 12,500 feet above the ground, your accelerate from zero miles per hour vertical speed to approximately one hundred and ten miles an hour in about ten seconds. It doesn't seem too dramatic because the aircraft speed was already about 100 miles an hour, so you reall only gain ten miles per hour. At that point you reach terminal velocity, the speed at which the air pressure against your body balances the pull of gravity. Ignoring minor changes in body position, you will stay at that speed until something stops you - hopefully the deployment of your parachute! At terminal velocity you pass through one thousand feet every six seconds. If your parachute opens at 4,500 feet, that gives you about 52 seconds of freefall. (Ten seconds for the first thousand, six for each of the next thousand.) If your parachute did not open, you would now have a life expectancy of 27 seconds. Opening altitudes are based on allowing skydivers time to be sure that they do land under an open parachute. More experienced jumpers commonly open at about 2,500 feet because of their greater familiarity with equipment and emergency procedures. This gives them about 65 seconds of freefall from a 12,500-foot exit. The main thing about altitude is that if you run out of it while in freefall, you die. However, since your fall rate is constant, your consumption of altitude is constant. This means that if you have plenty of altitude, relax, because only time can take it away from you. Time and altitude are directly related. Loss of altitude awareness is a major contributor to skydiving fatalities. Always bear in mind that no distraction is worth dying for. Until your body's freefall clock has been programmed so that you know how long you've been in freefall, your only reference is your altimeter. Every time you do anything - intentionally or not - check your altitude. That way, you won't lose altitude awareness if a distraction such as a difficult maneuver or loose goggles comes along. Keep in mind that since you are consuming altitude (time) at a constant rate, you can't stop what you are doing, think it over, go back, and try again. In freefall, there are no time outs! That's why we try to do all of our freefall tasks carefully and deliberately, getting them right the first time. If you rush, you will actually lose time because the extra mistakes that result will slow you down. And when you consider the cost of freefall time, you'll appreciate the value of thorough ground preparation! Besides our time reference (altitude), we also make use of space references. There are two types of space references, orientation to the ground and orientation to other skydivers. We'll call the ground reference heading. Heading is an imaginary line drawn from a point on the horizon directly in front of you through your center. You use this reference for tasks such as turns, backloops, or simply hovering in place. Eventually you will substitute the line of flight for a personal heading. The line of flight is the heading the aircraft was on when you left it. The advantage of using line of flight is that now all the skydivers on the airplane have the same heading reference, instead of each picking their own. This makes it much easier to coordinate group activities. Your reference to the other skydivers is called the center point. The center point is that spot closest to all of the skydivers. When you are alone, it is in the middle of your body. With others, imagine a ball falling straight down around which everyone flies. In other words, four skydivers holding hands in a circle would have the center point in the middle of the ring. If they all backed up ten feet, it would still be in the same place because thjey are all still equally close to that point. In many ways, the center point of a formation is like the center of your box man discussed in the previous section. If one corner of a formation is low relative to the center point, the formation will turn in that direction. If two corners are low, it will slide in the direction of the low side. By now you can see that while skydiving, you have to be aware of several different things: altitude, your own body position, your position relative to the ground, and your position relative to others. Initially this will seem like a lot to be aware of, so on your first few jumps you will concentrate almost entirely on altitude and your body position while your jumpmasters take care of the rest. When you are release to fly free, you will add your own heading, and eventually you will be able to monitor these, the formation center point, and the line of flight as easily as you monitor your speed, direction, location, and other traffic as you drive to the drop zone! Test yourself: 1. "Temporal distortion" refers to the fact that in an emergency situation (losing control of your car, for example), the rush of chemicals to your brain can cause events to seemingly go into slow motion. Why would temporal distortion be extremely dangerous to a skydiver? 2. Why is ability to hold a heading considered essential to flying with other skydivers? Proceed to Chapter 5 (After the Freefall)
  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. nettenette

    The Last Frontier

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

    The GoPro Hero

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

    Being COOL on the Dropzone

    Skydiving has come a long way since the first (recorded) jump was made from a hot air balloon in 1797. Only being practiced as a special stunt on public events, it was far from a public sport at that point. The silk envelope used to safely descend from 3000 ft on that first jump wasn't much to look at in terms of design, but the design and materials used formed the basis for the parachute as we know it today. The military were the first to develop parachuting as an emergency escape procedure for balloon and aircraft pilots, and later as a means of delivering soldiers to the battlefield. In the 1960s, skydiving ventured outside its military use and started to become seen as a sport in its own right. As the sport grew, so did the research and development of the materials used. The harness, cutaway system and parachute itself underwent major changes and upgrades, resulting in the gear that we all now accept as commonplace as we exit the aircraft. Due to these advancements in the materials used and their design, our gear has actually passed the point where it is now safer than its end user. Getting into the sport Skydiving was once a sport which was considered pretty extreme in itself, but as the years went by, and due to the gear and teaching advancements, it became more and more safe, and was marketed as a sport for everyone. In the media, the growing attention for the more extreme disciplines and variations of our sport have led to a large group of people who no longer see the basic sport of skydiving itself as the goal, but rather as an intermediate training, or even an obstacle in the way of what they really want to do. These predetermined goals on what somebody wants to accomplish within the sport often form before or during a skydivers first few jumps. Not being a huge sport with millions of participants worldwide, we tend to enthusiastically take in new people, and sometimes pull them into our sport deeper and faster then they should be. With every year that goes by, people seem to be in more and more of a rush to jump with a video camera, downsize their canopy, learn to fly a wingsuit, freefly in bigger and bigger groups, fly head down straight from AFF and starting BASE jumping with the bare minimum, if indeed any at all, experience. Sadly, the growing trend is to encourage this behavior, and try to facilitate them in getting there as soon as they can, instead of trying to make people understand the potential consequences of the rushed path they have chosen. Photo by Costyn van Dongen Video For many,, the media creates the image that a lot of the extreme variations of our sport are things you can take up as easy as a bungee jump from a local bridge, or a ride in a theme park. When people look at some of the 'big names' in our sport, its easy to forget almost all of them put in many hundreds, if not thousands of jumps to acquire the skills, precision and experience to excel in their field of expertise. The PD factory team didn’t start swooping on sub 100 sq/ft canopies straight from AFF, just as Loic Jean Albert didn’t start flying wingsuits within touching range of cliffs after his first skydive. There are many more examples like this within our sport. Here, I think, lies our biggest responsibility: Trying to help people new to this sport understand the work it takes to reach a certain level. Trying to teach them to respect and honor the effort people put in, and helping them understand that’s what they need to do to reach their goals based on skill, hard work and determination, not do everything as fast as they can and for a large part trusting on luck to come out of it alive. Often thinking their experience or exceptional abilities in other sports set them apart from normal people, allowing them to progress much faster and skip steps. While in truth, they are exactly the people the rules were made for. Photo by Costyn van Dongen Respect the rules As with any developing sport, rules and safety procedures were created over the years based on experience. Some of the rules and safety recommendations where literally written in blood. Learning lessons the hard way. These days many people new to the sport tend to look at these same rules as a means of holding them back. Stopping them from having the same fun as the people on the dropzone who have been jumping many, many years already. We live in a fast society. Everything has to be done quickly and with instant gratification. When we experienced jumpers start talking to young skydivers about certain goals, this can develop frustrated views on the sport for some of them. They get into a mindset where they feel skydiving isn’t fun until they have their A license, or how its isn’t really fun until they are swooping a small canopy, taking up BASE jumping or flying a wingsuit. If we go along with that line of thought, and acknowledge those statements, we then suddenly turn skydiving into a point of frustration for these newer jumpers. Instead of enjoying their first few hundred jumps, and slowly learning more and more about our sport, they start seeing it as a big waiting game where they can’t wait start jumping that same tiny rig and sub 100 sq/ft canopy as the cool guys who have been around a bit longer. Photo by Stefan Smith The road is more important than the destination. Allowing people to cut corners in reaching certain goals, is not only dangerous to them, but also undermining the authority of people teaching. It’s the image more experienced jumpers portray to the newer people in our sport that determines how they in turn, will approach the sport. As an example, being in a rush and boarding a plane without a pin check is not only dangerous to ourselves, it’s also a bad example to the kid fresh off AFF who's on the same load. The same goes for many aspects in our sport. Realize that it’s not just the people who give instruction that are teaching, it’s the way we as individual skydivers approach, talk about, and treat our sport that ultimately sets an example that the new flyers will follow.
  17. 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
  18. nettenette

    Why and How to Stop Believing in Talent

    Your Mindset Matters, In the Sky and On the Ground Usually, when someone tells you that there are “two kinds of people in the world,” you’re either in for a bad joke or a cringeworthy platitude. That said, here you have it: Illustration by Nigel Holmes So: Are you blue, or are you green? If you’re a skydiver, there’s a good chance you’re green--and that’s a good thing. (We’ll get into that later.) The above graphic, and the decades-long body of research behind it, derives from the work of Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, Ph.D. In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol goes into some depth regarding how the belief in our ability to change over the belief that we just kinda *are* one thing or another conspire to create us. Here’s her TED talk summarizing the work: https://www.ted.com/talks/carol_dweck_the_power_of_believing_that_you_can_improve#t-106915 While Carol’s TED talk revolves around this mindset dichotomy in the context of childhood development, make no mistake: This is by far not a kid thing. This is an everybody thing. According to Dweck’s research, a “fixed mindset” insists that our character, our intelligence and our abilities are carved in stone from the start. They’re static. We can’t change them in any meaningful way. If a fixed mindset person enjoys a success, it’s because they are successful and talented. The flipside is that fixed mindset people feel like they must avoid failure, no matter what the cost, because if they fail they are a failure, and that they’ve proven wrong the people who praised them for being smart and being good at things. Every challenge, then, is a gladiatorial trial whereby they’ve gotta prove themselves or wear the cone of shame. When the pressure is on, fixed mindset would much rather lie and cheat than ask for help. A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, doesn’t look at it that way. A growth mindset sees failure as a heavier weight to lift so it can develop a heretofore weaker muscle. Failure isn’t failure. Failure is simply the state of not having succeeded yet. And, instead of running from challenge (academic, interpersonal, developmental, athletic, and onward), growth mindset runs toward the empty spaces. When growth mindset meets success, it says “Okay, then. What else ya got?” Growth mindset wants to be better where fixed mindset wants to look better. Ironically, growth mindset has an uncanny knack for scoring on both counts. Growth mindset, as Dweck puts it, “luxuriat[es] in the power of ‘yet.’” Fixed mindset is “gripped in the tyranny of ‘now.’” There’s more. Disquietingly, whichever mindset looms predominant tends to act as the motor for our entire lives. It drives not only our functional relationship with success and failure, it drives our behavior, our choices, our relationships and, in the endgame, our happiness. So, now, to the sky. Look around you for the good news. The lion’s share of skydivers, most of the time, are growth-mindset people. Y’know that graphic that pops up on Carol’s talk at about 07:40? The one that shows electrical activity in the brain when subject students encountered an error? I’m willing to bet that’s every skydiver’s brain on pretty much every jump. As a group, we just love to build out our neural networks, and our culture helps us along that delightfully meandering uphill path. First off, we see and we honor the work. We watch the hard-charging learning process of the athletes we acknowledge to be good at what they do. We share the workshop where they make their refinements. The exact measurements are up for debate, but we still rattle off jump numbers and tunnel hours and years in the sport when we calculate our expectations. Our licensing system, even, reflects that deference to workmanship and walking the long path over showmanship and cutting corners. Secondly, our sport has a pretty stark way of showing us the danger of operating out of a clearly deterministic mindset. Generally speaking, jumpers who consider themselves talented tend to behave more recklessly than jumpers who consider themselves lifelong learners. Right? Finally, our sport’s podiums are consistently graced with teams who bootstrapped themselves into shiny medals. We inherently know that, if we put the time and effort in, we can get there too. Here’s the cool part: For all that focus on growth, we can still get better. There aren’t “two kinds of people in the world,” after all--and Western culture has doused us in such a steady stream of fixed-mindset malarkey for so long that it’s really hard to get the stains out. First, we can rinse the idea of “talent” out of our collective hair. “Talent” is a fixed-mindset classic. It describes an ingrained quality, not a hard-won achievement. “Talent” is limiting, and it tends to keep the athletes under its banner from trying anything that might leave its fingerprints on their carefully burnished shine. Secondly, we can use every available opportunity to praise more wisely in situations where we’re called upon to give feedback. Instead of praising talent (“You’re a natural!”), we can praise process (“I saw you working to control that spin. It was much better this time.”). Finally, we ourselves can learn to love “not yet.” We can stop laughing off forged logbooks, pay-to-play ratings and the practice of egging ourselves (and other jumpers) on into extralimital skill situations. We can continue the tradition of our forebears in the sport, who carved out enough deep space for growth that we can sink our roots in deep before repotting. The space they created for us is a cherishable gift. As Dr. Dweck puts it: “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.“ ---------
  19. After almost a 25-year hiatus, I came back into the fold, enabled by the last child having gone off to college, and prompted by arthritic hips that were making it too painful to play tennis. I figured some things may have changed, but that I had been aware of them, having kept up my USPA membership and subscription to Parachutist. Well, it’s one thing to be aware of something, and quite another to learn to handle it in real time. In my first year back, I jumped at 5 different dropzones in three countries, so that I saw how the changes have been implemented in some different environments. Here is a list of the things that had changed that awaited my return, and had implications for my safety and the safety of others. 1. There are seatbelts in these jumpships—a good idea in the event of an unanticipated landing, but one has to learn where they are, remember to take them off, to stow them (especially in small aircraft), and be aware of where they are to avoid entanglement on exit. 2. Spotting is a thing of the past in many dropzones—just keep your eye on the colored lights! Still, it is a good idea to check where one is, in the event a pilot was tracking the wrong line. 3. Turbine aircraft now have doors! No more freezing on the way to altitude, or clinging to one’s neighbor to avoid falling out. However, one has to learn when they go up and down, how to secure them, how to close them gently. 4. Everyone wears their pilot chute above their butt—making deployment a little slower, if one manages to find it (remember the advert in the Parachutist: “Looking for something?”), but avoiding a few other problems. Be sure to practice deployment with the gear you will be using many times on the ground, in a prone position, to develop some muscle memory before going up. And check it constantly—my too-loose BOC pouch let out my pilot chute when I rose from the floor and caught it on something, much to the consternation of the planeload of jumpers whose lives I had just endangered. 5. Parachutes come in many flavors, and many sizes—gone are the days of one canopy fits all. Most of today’s canopies are very touchy, and downright skittish, react to the slightest input, and take far more concentration in the last few hundred feet of descent. Everybody swoops, to some degree, and some DZs have abandoned upkeep of their pea gravel because nobody uses it. I found it easier to land an original Sabre 170 than a Sabre II 190, and I am sure I will not be going for a fully elliptical canopy—at my age, I have to avoid the 1-in-500 jump mishaps that can maim one for life. Essentially, skydivers have invented a whole new way to die—turn low, and drive into the ground at 60mph. 6. There are many minor innovations in skydiving gear, too many to mention—just make sure you know how everything works on your rig, and why it is the way it is. 7. Everybody PRO-packs, or uses some variant—although I had had several people show me how to do it, and watched all the videos, etc., in my first dozen attempts, I packed one malfunction, and had to get more private instruction in a quiet place. 8. People fly landing patterns—e.g. left-hand, with turns at 1000, 600, 300 feet--in the old days, even with 20 jumpers in the air, we all did pretty much what we wanted and hoped for the best; now, even a 4-way requires paying attention to the landing pattern. 9. Breakoff for belly-flying is much higher—instead of separating an 8-way at 3500, now 4500 or even 5000 is the time to say goodbye. Coupled with the higher minimum opening altitude of 2500, this makes for a much more reasonable margin for error—and as humans, we are prone to error. 10. There are now many different skydiving disciplines, and you have to learn about them, and pay attention to exit order, as one jump run may let out belly flyers, freeflyers, angle flyers, trackers, wingsuiters, and tandems, as well as people who haven’t made up their mind before boarding exactly what they are planning to do. 11. AADs are now required most places—no longer shunned as devices that might blow up in your face. RSLs are also ubiquitous—both systems have saved many, many lives. 12. There are lots of old jumpers now—few old bold ones—and they have learned a lot about how to be safe over their last quarter century, while I’ve been taking kids to soccer practice. Pepper them with all sorts of questions, and do not rush to emulate the 22-year-olds out there. They likely have gone through a much more comprehensive training program than you have, including courses on canopy control and instruction on equipment safety. My personal rule, which I have not seen enunciated elsewhere: On any given jump, DO NOT INTRODUCE MORE THAN ONE NEW PIECE OF EQUIPMENT, or new way of using a piece of equipment. Of course, your first couple of recurrency jumps will necessitate breaking this rule—but don’t go out of your way to put a camera on, or add anything other than what is absolutely necessary. Example: If you get a new jumpsuit, don’t also try a new helmet on the same jump. Or, if you do, go out on a solo jump. Addendum: Do your homework. I recently was caught in a dust devil at 100ft or so, which completely collapsed my canopy, and I credit my reactions and walk-away landing to a video and a book, both by Brian Germain, which I had studied in detail. Larry Moulton, C-11371, EET #22, is a professor of international health and biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University.
  20. admin

    Show Me The Money

    Image by August Haeuser I want to come clean with a confession: Jerry Maguire is one of my favorite movies of all time. There, I said it. While I'm being vulnerable… I never miss a week of Survivor either. (Don't' judge too harshly). Now that I've totally opened myself up about my tastes (or lack thereof) let's roll into the opening scene of this amazing film. The movie begins with super sports agent, Jerry Maguire (Tom Cruise) writing a mission statement (not a memo) entitled the "The things we think, but do not say." This mission statement was an inspired piece of clarity that brings to light that the company (Sports Management International) has lost site of its purpose. It became more about the money and less about the client. Jerry's mission statement actually suggested having fewer clients and making less money. Of course, Jerry was promptly fired. So what does this have to do with the business of skydiving? Everything… except for the fewer clients and less money part. There is a definitive shift occurring in the business of skydiving. USPA membership numbers indicate a slow and steady increase over the past decade, but student numbers appear to be decreasing at many DZ’s around the country. Many blame poor weather in 2013, and it was a factor, but it goes deeper. There is a hidden war raging in the game of search engine optimization (SEO) whereby third party organizations are rising within search rankings and picking off an ignorant public and overcharging them for their skydives. Mix this with the oversaturation of daily deals (in nearly every marketplace), an influx of newer dropzones and everchanging and inconsistent weather patterns and it’s little wonder that many established DZ’s are seeing a decline. An Uneasy Panic This change is being fueled by the way many DZO’s are reacting to conditions happening before our eyes. Similar to climate change, we’ve been aware of it, but the realities of what it actually means hasn’t conceptualized until now. Rather than pausing and seeking out correct action, many DZ decision makers are making quick, reactive decisions to try and boost volume. This reaction is being driven by the panic felt in seeing the numbers decline despite the economy actually improving. In the case of daily deals (Amazon Local, LivingSocial, GroupOn) many DZO’s feel threatened that they are losing market share whenever a competing dropzone offers a deal. It takes discipline to not follow suit and offer a deal at a similar price. The majority of DZs do follow suit which decreases the demand for full-retail-priced student skydives which drives down the price significantly. This is scary when one considers the costs associated with running a DZ. The only way to offset these lower prices is to have very high volume in an extremely efficient operation. The model for high volume becomes compromised when more competitors enter the marketplace to get a piece of the action. The response? Continue to offer more daily deals, which forces DZO’s to enter a vicious cycle that they can’t get off of. This model that many DZ’s find themselves is not sustainable and will result in either more cutting corners to make the numbers work (which has the potential of elevating risk), going out of business or surviving long enough until others go out of business first. What The Hell Do We Do? So, the news above seems a little dire. I’m not an economist, but I’ve had the advantage of traveling around the US and different parts of the world looking at the industry from a business perspective. With a 13,500 foot view, here is what I would suggest: 1. Get Off The Train. At some point, the majority of DZs who are on the daily deal train will have to get off as they will recognize the lack of sustainability for the long term. The problem with getting off the train is the sudden cash shortage. Downsizing may be required whether it be with an aircraft, equipment or the size of staff, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. Decreasing expenses during this transition is key. Before pulling the plug from the daily deal cycle, begin making preparations for the cash shortage. 2. Normalize Pricing. Once off the train, begin normalizing pricing whereby each student jump made is profitable once again. Volume may not be as high, but the business will be more sustainable. 3. Win the Battle of Search. Amongst the price gouging, there’s actually some good news occurring. Third party vendors are charging up to $339 for a tandem skydive while offering lousy customer service and veiling a lot of truth to the customer. So where’s the good news? There are customers willing to pay a lot more than we’re currently charging to make a skydive! These third parties are pulling these customers in because they are winning the battle of search. Each DZ must invest in strong SEO practices to win this difficult battleground. Lately, more and more DZs have been joining these networks to offset the drop in business which only feeds this monster. Rather than join these networks, we must beat them. 4. Look a Million Dollars. Make the investment to have branding and website design showcase your DZ as a major attraction within the marketplace. Trading out jumps for the creation of a website with a local jumper will no longer cut it. Creating a website is one thing. Creating a functional website with great design is another. 5. Win the Customer. Throughout the last several decades, the skydiving industry has focused more on the skydive and less on the overall customer experience. DZs must focus on utilizing word of mouth marketing and transforming customers into joining the marketing team of the dropzone. Be an Ambassador of Quan When Jerry Maguire learned that he was being fired, he rushed back to his office and called every client he could to try and get them to stay with him as their agent. Only one demanding client stayed… the venerable Rod Tidwell (Cuba Gooding Jr). Jerry would eventually have to rebuild his business doing things the right way by being professional and focusing on the details. The same holds true for our industry. We must be flexible enough to change as the skydiving industry of today is vastly different than the industry of ten years ago.
  21. 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.
  22. The daily deal discussion has become the latest irritant on par with the topic of SkyRide and often leads to vein-popping, heated discourse similar to any US political exchange between Democrats and Republicans. It can get heated! Generally, there are two positions held about daily deals: Position 1: Strongly Against: Deeply discounting the product while a third party profits on your hard work is not sustainable and does not make sense. Position 2: In Favor: It's a great way to expose your business and bring a lot of traffic through the door. Many businesses, both in and out of the skydiving industry, have found the daily deal to be a dreadful experience. The deal has been misused by offering too many deals, too often, without creating a proper strategy for its implementation. Think of the daily deal like chocolate. Eat it in moderation and it can be enjoyed. Eat too much of it and it will make you sick. The application of the daily deal can be either positive or negative dependent on several variables and is not universally a good idea for all. Three Variables that Dictate Daily Deal Success or Failure: A). Motive - Revenue Generator or Marketing Vehicle? B). Competition in the marketplace. C). How the deal is structured. A. Your Goal for Offering a Daily Deal What is the motive for creating a daily deal? If the motive is to create an infusion of cash to get through a winter or to generate a major profit, then this is a red flag. Offering daily deals annually for a prolonged period at high volumes is unsustainable. If the motive is to use the daily deal as a vehicle to increase awareness about your DZ, then this is a better approach. I view the daily deal more as an advertising expense as opposed to a revenue generator - a big difference. The key baseline is to never lose money on any deal. Creating an intelligent deal limits volume, guarantees a sell out promotion and goes away quickly. The purpose is to maximize exposure based on the size of the database of the daily dealer. Whether you offer 500 vouchers or 2000, your exposure to the database is the same. So, offer a lower volume. B. Competition in the Marketplace If there are multiple DZ's competing in the same marketplace who offer promotions at different price points, volumes and times of year, the marketplace will erode and operators will be forced to cost-cut as profit margins become razor thin resulting in a lesser product. Consumers will refuse to pay the full retail price knowing that if they are patient enough, a deal will soon appear. C. How To Structure a Deal If you elect to offer a deal, how you structure it is most important. If the fine print does not benefit you entirely then it could be detrimental. Below are important keys to structuring a deal: 1. When to Offer Your Daily Deal - Don't (Ever) offer a daily deal during the beginning or during the busiest months of the season. Basic economics teaches that one can charge the most when demand is high, but pricing will slip if a great deal is offered in great supply. A daily deal should only be offered at the end of the busy season when transitioning into the quieter time of year when demand is low. 2. Expiration Dates - Ideally, allow for a lengthy expiration date as opposed to a shorter one. Pushing for a short-term expiration date (six months) puts pressure on certificate holders to redeem, causing high volume in a short period of time. If the weather is particularly poor, rescheduling these deep discounted customers can interfere with availability during the peak season. Here's an example: Many DZ's offer a high volume deal (more than 1000 vouchers) in the month of December (Northern Hemisphere) with an expiration date for May or June of the following year. The purpose is to generate a high volume of business during the cooler months as winter transitions into spring. Conceptually, it's a good idea to maximize being busy and creating work for DZ staff when it's normally a bit quiet. The consequence occurs if the weather is poor during the spring season forcing these discounted jumpers to reschedule into the busy months thus reducing availability for full-retail price paying customers. Offering a longer-term deal (a year) doesn't push so many people en masse in such a short period of time. 3. Deal Pricing a. Know Your Cost. Know exactly what a tandem skydive costs you. Round up when factoring in variable expenses like the cost of fuel. b. Price for Profit. Know the number you would wish to receive before beginning talks with a daily dealer. Profit margins are not significant, but the number MUST result in a profit. If it's at a loss….DON'T ACCEPT IT. 4. Negotiate. Negotiating a daily deal is not unlike purchasing a car from a salesman. Don't show your hand, but let the offer come from the daily deal representative first and build the margin up from there. Remember, there is competition for daily dealers. Several years ago, GroupOn was the only dealer in the space. Today many are fighting for your promotion. Pit one against the other to maximize profit margins. Never pay for credit card fees. Dealers will try to have you pay them. This can be negotiated and should be a show-stopper. Tip: Address this detail last after you're happy with the amount received for each voucher sold. 5. Limit Vouchers - Setting up a good deal should create a vibe or a rush from the consumer base by offering limited quantity over a limited time period. Many DZ's offer too many vouchers to generate cash flow. Again, if the motivator is for a cash infusion (which it often is in this cash flow industry) then becoming cash poor is inevitable once current debts are covered and instructors are paid resulting in an unhealthy cycle of continuously ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul.’ 6. Deal Parameters - Have you ever noticed that popular restaurants or hotels put in their conditions that the deal cannot be redeemed on Valentine’s Day or some other big holiday event? Be sure that your deal doesn’t impede on customers wishing to pay you full retail during boogies or traditionally high volume weekends. Be clear how to handle vouchers after a certificate goes beyond the expiration date. 7. Be Prepared - This is not part of structuring the deal, but it should be part of your mindset. Be prepared for high traffic on the phones when your deal launches and most importantly offer VIP service to these coupon holders. A marketer's challenge is to create a vehicle that drives traffic through the door. Once there, treat them with amazing service in order to wow them. Too often, companies treat people who redeem their vouchers as second-class citizens because of the deal they have. The ultimate purpose of good marketing is to drive traffic and convert customers into loyalists. Suggested Alternative: A More Beneficial Daily Deal Skip the middle man. A more beneficial deal is creating an in-house deal to your customer database. Capitalizing on a customer base that already loves you allows for an easy sale. Offer a deal to your own customer base and offer it for three days only (ideally on Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the USA). In order for this to occur, DZ's must be collect e-mail addresses from all of their customers in order to launch a successful in-house program. Summary If implementing a daily a deal use caution, apply a strategy and execute in moderation. Generating traffic and building your business at an acceptable price point is a process that begins with treating guests like a VIP at every point of interaction. Too often, drop zone operators focus on the skydive to wow the customer as opposed to amazing people by offering a clean facility, high communications and staff who are passionate about service. Building a business without these foundations will create the need for quick cash resulting in a cycle that is damaging to all.
  23. 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)
  24. A Himalayan Adventure That Continues To Reinvent Itself In late October 2014, Everest Skydive is set to enter into it’s seventh year of operation and make it’s eight expedition into the Nepali Himalaya bringing skydiving back to one of the earth’s most remote locations. In between the traditional scenery of climbers, trekkers, sherpas and porters, skydivers and their parachutes will once again be seen flying through the skies of the Khumbu region and Sagarmatha National Park. Arriving at this point, entering a seventh year after the first skydives were made in 2008, has been a path as challenging as any of the paths that lead to Everest Base Camp. Each year, as logistical challenges emerge and operational needs change, the expedition faces a year long challenge to bring skydiving back to Nepal. “Eleven months of hard work for one month in the Himalaya working even harder” has been the mantra of the team and expedition, composed of an international mix of skydivers and mountaineers. Over the years Everest Skydive has seen many changes. Whether it was aircraft support shifting from the Pilatus PC-6 to the AStar B3, or helping promote charities like Global Angels, to opening up new remote dropzones, the Everest Skydive expedition has constantly evolved to meet the needs of the local Nepali tourism industry and to bring high altitude skydiving and canopy flight to higher and higher dropzones. Seven years ago, the idea of safely landing sport and tandem parachutes at 12,350ft MSL was considered by many to be an impossible task. Yet, as each expedition successfully ventured further and further into the Himalaya, landing parachutes closer and closer to Everest Base Camp, this team of international skydivers proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that with today’s modern parachute designs providing cutting edge technology and performance envelopes, that high altitude parachute landings were not just the realm of stuntmen and world record seekers. As each year came and went, stand up landings at dropzones at 15,000ft MSL in Ama Dablam Base Camp, or 16,900ft MSL into the Gorak Shep lake bed, or even 17,192ft MSL onto the Kala Pattar Plateau proved that modern canopy flight and landing was sustainable at these altitudes. As each expedition would come to a close however, the team would search the Nepali landscape for new and exotic locations to bring skydiving into. After establishing those four dropzones in the Eastern Himalaya, the team’s founder Suman Pandey suggested the team head west to Pokhara, a lakeside Nepali tourist location beneath the Anna Purna Range of the western Himalaya. With a DZ elevation of 3,300ft MSL, Pokhara Skydive allowed for the Everest Skydive Himalaya experience without the added cost and complexity of the bail out oxygen systems that the higher eastern Nepali Himalaya region required. Pokhara Skydive then evolved into Everest Skydive’s first “consumer friendly” (not incredibly expensive) skydiving expedition for local tourism based sport and tandem skydiving. Not to be content with just bringing skydiving to the western Himalaya however, the team “borrowed” an AStar in 2013 and went scouting for another remote high altitude location. They found it in a village called Manang, located in a valley with an elevation of 11,500ft MSL, and with the help of the local government, were able to create a sustainable high altitude dropzone in Manang, Nepal as well. With all the exhausting effort put into creating successful skydiving expeditions into the Himalaya each year, the staff was known to periodically take a week off together after Everest Skydive and trek on foot up to Everest Base Camp to connect with the local friends and families that they had become a part of over the years. This expedition to Everest Base Camp received so many questions from friends and family back home over the years however, that the team began to open up the trek and invite others to join in on this life changing experience of making it all the way up to Everest Base Camp. What started out as a handful of friends, turned into a group of twenty people hitting the trails in two stages in 2013 and the 2014 expedition looks to bring between 20 and 30 skydivers and friends of skydivers on a trek to Everest Base Camp with skydiving in the western (and way more affordable) Himalaya region of Pokhara after the trip to Everest Base Camp. One of the strengths of the Everest Skydive expedition and it’s Everest Base Camp and Pokhara Skydive evolution is in the company that the team works with. Fishtail Helicopters has been providing Everest Skydive and their guests with the world’s most reliable high altitude helicopter support. And in a region like the Himalaya, the word “reliable” can be the difference between skydiving all day in a remote location or sitting on a hillside wrestling a parachute container away from a local yak…….Helicopter support for jump operations, helicopter support for medical evacs if needed and most appreciated it would seem……helicopter support to depart the Himalaya after reaching Everest Base Camp. Most everyone that reaches Everest Base Camp feels a little tinge of anxiety as they start to head back down the mountain, as they suddenly realize, with their goal behind them, that they still have a 3 day walk back out of the park to catch a Twin Otter back to Kathmandu. Not Everest Skydive and it’s group however……since the team works directly with the AStar owners, they coordinate flights out from the Himalaya the day after reaching Everest Base Camp. Facing a 3 day walk, instead the team flies out on an 8 minute terrain flying AStar flight back to Lukla Airfield, back to the world. The word “epic” can be a cliché at times, not here though, not on this flight. It has to be experienced to understand it, but for those that already have, they know. That’s the story more or less, seven years of hard work by a small group of highly motivated international teammates that continue to bring the “top of the world” within reach of the skydiving universe. It’s an expedition that continues to grow and evolve like the remote ecosystem around it. And at the end of the day, whether it’s skydiving beside Mount Everest or sharing a lemon tea with a sherpa family and friends, the Everets Skydive expedition continues to make the world a little smaller by bringing people together from different cultures and countries and giving them all the same thing to believe in, that people are capable of accomplishing anything as a team. For more information on Everest Skydive, you can contact Tom Noonan via e-mail.
  25. 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.