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Found 275 results

  1. BrianSGermain

    The Long Haul

    There are many areas of this sport in which we can invest ourselves, so many avenues in which to excel. By focusing heavily on a single discipline, we are able to achieve significant notoriety in a fairly short period of time. By utilizing the superior training techniques, personal coaching and wind tunnel rehearsal, modern skydivers are able to reach significant prowess in just a few months of participation in the sport. Although the speedy gratification of our desires is tempting and rewarding in the short term, there is a larger, more important goal. We must survive. I asked Lew Sandborn what he thought was the biggest problem in the sport today. With very little hesitation he stated that what concerns him the most is "new jumpers trying to make a name for themselves before their skills are ready for them to have that name". We want to get it all in one shot, and instantly achieve all of our goals. In a pursuit as complex as skydiving, it is impossible to get all the necessary information in a short period of time. We have to keep learning, and hope that our knowledge bucket fills up before our luck bucket runs out. It is difficult to see the big picture of our lives from where we are at any given moment. We forget that the medals we strive so hard to achieve will not mean much when we are older. They will just represent more stuff to box up when we retire to Florida. In the end, the things that matter most pertain to the choices that we wish we could take back. Twisting an ankle today might seem like a small issue, but in fifty years from now, it will be something that effects whether or not we can ever jump again. Picture yourself forty or fifty years from now. Are you still skydiving? Do you have pain in your joints from a bad landing? The quality of your life in the future is dependant on the choices you make today. If that wise old geezer that you will someday be could somehow communicate to you in the present-day, it might sound something like: "Stop trashing my body!" We are insecure when we are young. We are so uncertain of who we are that we feel a need to prove ourselves at every opportunity. We think that who we are is based on our most recent performance. We go to great lengths to show the world what we can do, and often pay a hefty price for our impulsiveness. Short-sighted goals neglect to take into account anything that does not achieve that goal. If looking cool and wearing the right gear is your highest priority, you may find yourself joining the dead skydivers club before too long. I hate sounding like an old fart. People assume that being safety oriented means that you have to be boring. Not true at all. We can have fun; we just need to keep the throttle below 100% thrust if we are to control where we are going. The long-term survivors in this sport all seem to have this perspective; whether or not they talk about it. We sit around in trailers at boogies, shaking our heads at the ridiculous behavior that repeats itself over and over. We watch people eat it in the same ways that they did last year, and twenty years before that. It’s like the message did not get out or something. The message is: "Pace yourself, this is a long journey". On every jump there is a way for your life to end. No matter how many jumps there are in your logbook, the Reaper is watching for the moment that you stop paying attention. He is looking for the one thing for which you are not prepared. This fact does not require your fear, it requires your attention. If you are to be there at the Skydivers Over Sixty Swoop Competition, you must let go of your grip on trying to prove yourself, and stay focused on the stuff that really matters. The real identity of a skydiver is not in how many medals they win or how stylishly they swoop. It is in how long they jump and how safely. There simply are no Skygods under the age of sixty. If you want to prove yourself, stay alive. BG Brian Germain is the author of The Parachute and its Pilot, a canopy flight educational text as well as Vertical Journey, an illustrated freefly instructional book. Brian is also the President of Big Air Sportz parachute manufacturing company, and teaches canopy flight courses all over the world. To learn more about Brian, or to order a book, go to: www.BrianGermain.com.
  2. admin

    Ten things that may keep you alive

    Skydiving is a sport where you never stop learning. Even if you could, somehow, come to know everything, the sport is evolving constantly, and someone who's an expert one day is a newbie the next. Often, the learning we do isn't just academic - it can make us perform better, even keep us alive when there are problems. With that in mind, here are ten things that may keep you alive when things really hit the fan: 1. Know your limits. Everyone's limits are different, and are based on their experience, background, physical and mental fitness, and natural abilities. Some people think well under pressure, some need to drill and drill so their natural tendency to freeze is overcome. Some are incredibly flexible, some need 'crutches' (like sleeves or weight) to control their fall rate. It's important to be honest with yourself when deciding your limits, even if it goes counter to the alpha mentality that most skydivers have. We're all human. 2. Respect your limits. Don't do things you're not ready for, and don't let other people talk you into doing them. This comes up very often when women jumpers enter the sport - suddenly they have a lot of male friends who want to take them on 20 ways, free fly jumps, demos etc well before they'd ask a male jumper. And while it is technically possible to safely take someone with 20 jumps on a 20-way (you could do it with 19 AFF-JM's) it's usually a bad idea. 3. Push your limits. This may seem in contradiction to 2) but it's important. Once you know your limits, and respect them, you can start overcoming them. Do you have a problem with fall rate? Find a slow (or fast) skydiver and do a 2-way, with the other jumper going slower and slower (or faster and faster.) Is your canopy control so-so? Try drills - learn to flat turn and flare turn, a little more on each jump. Follow someone else. Do no-contact CRW. Learn to sit fly. Pushing your limits isn't just a feel-good thing, it actually helps you survive in the sport. If you learn how to fly a small elliptical well, you will have much more control over your slightly larger square - and that can save your life if someone cuts you off on final. CRW can be fun, but can also be the difference between life and death if you have a cypres firing and have to land two canopies. 4. Push your limits, one at a time. This is even more important. It's possible to learn to do demos, as long as you learn the basics - canopy control, obstacle landings, spotting. Trying to learn these all on your first demo is asking for trouble. Small canopies, same thing. You can certainly learn to jump a VX 97. Doing it all on one jump - going from a Sabre 150 to a VX 97 - is a huge mistake. First transition down to a smaller Sabre, then learn to fly it. Then switch to an elliptical of about the same size, and learn to fly _it_. Once you get to that VX 97, you will have the background to fly it well - and you will be much, much better prepared to fly any canopy in between. 5. Learn flat and flare turns. You should be able to do a 180 in the air without your canopy diving at all, and you should be able to turn at least 45 degrees during your flare. Every year, several people die because they turn too low. I'm convinced that many of these aren't intentional hook turns, but accidental low turns to turn into the wind or avoid an obstacle. Knowing how to flat and flare turn might have saved their lives. 6. Learn more about your gear. What color is your reserve? Your reserve toggles? If you ever look above your head and see four sets of risers, how will you tell them apart? What color is your freebag? You can learn all this by watching your rigger pack your reserve, and even more by doing it yourself (under supervision, of course.) Read up on TSO testing of your gear, and learn about the limits it was tested to. If you know that, you can keep your own flying within its operational limits. Learn about what's in a Cypres, and how it judges altitude. Learn the difference between Dacron and Spectra, and how to pack a pullout rig. 7. Get related experience. Pilots have a distinct advantage over other jumpers when something goes wrong in the plane, because they know how to read the signs, and they know how to operate around aircraft. They have a better idea what to touch and what not to touch, and can more easily communicate with the pilot (and, in rare instances, ATC.) You don't have to get your instrument rating - even a few lessons will teach you a lot about aerodynamics, aircraft weight and balance, stabilized climbs and descents, elevator trim and its importance, etc. Or learn to climb. Serious climbers (except, possibly, sport-only climbers) are their own riggers, and understand the ideas behind an equalizing anchor, dynamic vs static rope, and nylon to nylon friction. Many of those transfer to the kind of rigging that gets done in skydiving, and if nothing else, will help you make sense of how rigs are designed. 8. Get out of your drop zone. Drop zones tend to have "flavors" to them, and are sometimes homogenous when it comes to skills or equipment. Kapowsin, for example, seems to use nothing but Infinity's, and for a while Air Adventures was nearly 100% Reflex. Some drop zones are mainly free fly, some RW, some do a lot of demos. By getting away from the familiar, you'll learn more about other disciplines, other equipment, even other ways of thinking. You'll also meet some really cool people - you can't talk to Bryan Burke, John LeBlanc, Tony Domenico or Adam Filipino, for example, and not learn something. Unfortunately, not every drop zone has them, so you have to hit the road. 9. Buy your beer. It sounds like a selfish tradition, designed to punish new jumpers. It's a whole lot more than that, though. The key is that, if you buy the beer and give it to people, they will ask you what it's for, and you will end up talking to people (up to 23) about what just happened. Since this usually happens at some significant time (say, right after your first cutaway) this is a really important time to talk about what just happened without being embarrassed about it. (Well, maybe you will be anyway, but tough.) On the flip side - if someone buys beer for the DZ, and you're an experienced jumper, don't just grab a bottle and run. Find out who bought it and why they bought it. That beer isn't quite free - the price is that you have to pass on the knowledge that _you_ first learned when it seemed like you were buying a case every other weekend. 10. Teach others what you know. There is no better way to learn than to teach, and it helps others as well. If you want to become an expert at emergency procedures, teach part of a few first jump courses and watch other people screw their procedures up. If you want to learn a lot about RW, organize. If you want to learn more about skydiving in general, teach a graduate course. Just the act of putting everything down on paper and talking about it will lead you to research to make sure you're right, and you'll get feedback when you actually do the teaching.
  3. uspad2410

    John Willsey obits

    Started jumping with John Willsey in 1972 at various Arizona DZs after getting my D at Elsinore in 68. We made the first 23 way at Casa Grande in 73. He came to it me on Maui about 12 yrs ago. Never was a nicer guy. Just heard about death Oct 30, 2015. Anyone with details can e-mail me at tubem@hawaii.rr.com
  4. Norman Kent is not only one of the leading skydive photographers, but he is also an advocate for safety relating to freefall photography and the use of mounted cameras within skydiving. Norman has been jumping with a camera since the mid-70s when at only 25 jumps, he strapped on a Kodak Instamatic. Over the past 40 since, Norman has established himself as a leader in the skydiving photography world and is a well respected member of the community. In the past, we've run several articles relating to the safety of camera usage. In 2013, Melissa Lowe published a piece titled "Hey Bro, Check Out My GoPro" which tackled the topic and included conversation with Norman Kent over the potential safety issues of the camera. Since that time, the popularity of action camera use in extreme sports has skyrocketed, with more and more individuals focus being shifted towards the media capture side of the jump. Norman Kent has released a new video on his Youtube channel titled "Dangers of Being a Hero", in which he addresses and revisits some of the topics relating to action cam safety. In the video Norman runs through several series of video which illustrate just how easy it is for snagging to occur on the camera, and continues to express how despite the fact that many people feel as though the risks are exaggerated, that the incidents are occurring, even if only rarely has it thus far resulted in death or injury. "It's not the equipment itself, it's the attitude of 'it's only a GoPro'" Norman Kent continues on in the video to look at alternate mounts that can be used to minimize snag potential and further ways in which one may be able to increase their safety when flying under a camera.
  5. The principles of freefall flight are quite simple; after all, you are dealing with just two things: your airfoil (body) and the wind. In a perfect, relaxed arch, or box man, you will fall straight down at a constant rate. To an observer falling along side, you appear stationary. You only seem to be falling relative to someone not in freefall, such as an observer in the airplane or on the ground. The box man is the neutral freefall position from which all maneuvers are carried out. Relative to a stationary observer, by altering your body position you can turn in place, move up and down, backwards and forwards, or sideways. You can even turn upside down or fly standing up. In fact, no one really knows the limits of body flying yet! From the box position you can easily initiate turns, forward, backward, and sideways movement, and changes in fall rate. From the side, the body presents a continuous smooth curve to the wind. The head is up, the arms higher thanthe body, and the legs are bent at a 45-degree angle, leaving the lower leg slightly extended into the wind. From above, the elbows are straight out from the shoulders and the hands are at least as far out as the elbows. The knees are slightly spead so that the feet are as wide apart as the elbows. Seen from the front, there is a smooth curve from side to side with the hips at the lowest point. Note that head, shoulders, and knees are all held high relative to the hips and chest. The basic moves are well understood. The most commonly used maneuvers are turns, forward and backward movement, and faster or slower falling. All are accomplished by changing the flow of air around your body. If you think of your box man as being balanced on his center in a neutral position, all he has to do to turn left is deflect more air off his right arm than his left. This is done by simply banking like an airplane - left arm down slightly, right arm up in proportion. The turn will continue until he resumes the neutral position. Lowering one knee relative to the other accomplishes the same thing. That's why an unintentional turn can often be stopped by assuming a neutral position and then giving a little "legs out" to increase awareness and balance the legs. Turns are also based on deflection of air. In the neutral position, equal amounts of air spill off both sides of the body. To turn right, our box man banks his arms, just as an airplane does in a turn. More air flows off the left side, creating a right turn. Note that the position of the arms relative to each other does not change; both arms tilt as a unit. The rest of the body remains neutral. To stop the turn, simply return to neutral. Forward motion works on the same principle of deflection. To deflect more air to the rear, resulting in forward motion, bring your arms back a few inches and extend your legs. This tips your body slightly head down, air rushes back off your torso and legs, and you slide forward. The two elements combine to create forward movement. Naturally the opposite motion - arms out and legs in - will make you backslide. Now think about how to go up and down. Everyone knows that given the same power, a streamlined vehicle can go faster than one that isn't. It slips through the air easier, just as a canoe knifes through the water more easily than a barge. So to speed up, you simply arch more, letting air slip off easily. Flatten out, or lower your knees and elbows, and you will fall slower. Incidentally, the faster you fall the more stable you are because your center of gravity is further below your control surfaces (arms and legs.) Test yourself: 1. If you reverse your arch, what will happen? Is this position stable? 2. Think about forward and backward motion. What would you do to fly sideways? Proceed to Chapter 4 (The Skydiving Universe)
  6. 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.
  7. admin

    Top 10 Marketing Musts

    Image by Andrey Veselov Do you wish to increase profitability and grow your DZ? If so, read each of these 10 points closely. As a DZO, you are no doubt constantly bombarded by marketing companies trying to get you to spend your precious money. These marketing efforts generally result in little to no ROI. Focus on the objectives below, do them well and you will see growth. 1. CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE No matter where your DZ shows up in a Google search, if the customer experience is not great, then no amount of marketing will matter. With platforms like Yelp, TripAdvisor and Google Reviews, the power of word of mouth has never been stronger. Delivering a great experience is not the same as executing a safe skydive. Identifying each individual customer point of interaction and making it a five star experience is the total package. Master this and watch your business grow. If you spend no money on marketing, get this right because many of your competitors are not. Tip: Survey your customers 24 hours* after their experience. The questions should revolve around each individual customer touch point. This is eye-opening as it will reveal the weak points of your business. * Do not survey immediately after the experience. Everyone is on a high and will give feedback that is skewed. 2. SEO If you’re not on page one of a Google Search, then you’re invisible. The majority of your guests will search for your business via Google and few of them will be leaving the first results page. Educate yourself on what you need to do to ensure that you show up on page one, preferably near the top, in organic (unpaid) Google search. Be sure to find out the most commonly used search terms for skydiving in your region to identify what search words to focus on. This is hugely important to get right. Tip: Do not be fooled by SEO companies that promise to bring your page to number one. If an SEO company reaches out to you with this kind of guarantee, it should be a red flag. Tip: When seeing where you show up on a Google Search, don’t search for the exact name of your business. Search using terms like ‘skydiving’ ‘in’ (enter nearest big city). 3. WEBSITE Your number one marketing tool will be your website. Don’t do a barter trade for jumps with someone that knows web design unless they are a) great at design and b) understand how to optimize the back end of the website for search. There are many functional websites in the skydiving industry that are not strategically optimized for search engine performance on the back end. Having a great looking website means absolutely nothing if the back end of the site is not correctly optimized for search. Many web design companies will simply create a site for you and then leave you to employ an SEO company to fill in the gaps. Utilize a design company that will create both a great design and optimize it for search. 4. WOMM Word of Mouth Marketing (WOMM) is the most powerful form of marketing because we all trust recommendations from our friends and family along with review sites. IF you’ve identified all customer touch points and are receiving great scores in your customer surveys, then it’s time to implement a WOMM campaign. A WOMM campaign transforms customers into the marketing team for your business and best of all it’s free. Use lagniappe, leverage social media and implement a strategy that makes it very easy for your customers to write a review for your business. Tip: When implementing a WOMM strategy, it’s important you’re focused on the overall customer experience. If not, it’s highly possible you’ll receive negative reviews. 5. E-MAIL MARKETING E-mail marketing is FAR FROM DEAD. However, effective email marketing requires much more than just sending an e-mail out every once in a while – there is a technique to creating a great e-mail marketing campaign. The growth of DropZone Marketing is due, in large part, to our e-mail newsletter campaign. Providing free marketing information (quality content) that is graphically pleasing and suited for mobile devices is a great marketing tool for any business as it keeps you in front of your customers and should help drive traffic to your website which helps with SEO. 6. SOCIAL MEDIA Everyone knows that social media is a powerful medium, but few in the skydiving industry are leveraging it correctly. First, don’t try to be on all social channels. Select up to three channels and do well on each of the three. My recommendation is to focus on Google+, Facebook and Instagram for the skydiving industry. Focus on engagement rather than number of followers. If you’re not increasing your engagement with your followers, than your efforts may be a waste. Be consistent, be authentic, and really make an effort to engage with your audience. Tip 1: Google+ is relevant for SEO. Google will index its own networks when executing a search, so it’s worthy being there. Tip 2: Learn Tips for Mastering Facebook to better utilize this platform. Tip 3: Understand Instagram. 7. GOOGLE ADWORDS One of the most powerful advertising tools is Google Adwords and is something I would recommend for every DZ. Do not waste money on billboards, TV or print advertising, you will not get a return on this investment. AdWords can be implemented by anyone, but if not managed correctly can become a waste of money. Presently, I’m seeing many DZ’s ads showing in markets hundreds and even thousands of miles away from a DZ’s region. AdWords should be monitored closely and keyword research should be done in order to create the correct marketing campaigns. 8. CONTENT MARKETING Why does anyone create content on their websites? The answer is to drive traffic into their site, which increases the chance of a conversion (a booking for a skydive). Furthermore, increased site traffic can help your SEO efforts by increasing click rates into your site and hopefully, if your content is valuable, expanding your external link profile. Content marketing is a strategy that must be implemented by every business offering a product or service. Tip: Learn about River Pools and Spas and how they implemented content marketing to save their business during financial crisis. 9. FACEBOOK ADVERTISING Being on Facebook is one thing, but if you want to see real results, you have to pay to play. Facebook is the gold standard of all the social media platforms that offer advertising because of focused targeting. Facebook ads can allow a DZ to focus pay per click ads (only pay if the ad is clicked) targeted towards a specific age demographic with specific interests. This is very powerful. Combine great Facebook content with an ad campaign and you will see your Facebook marketing campaign go to a higher level. 10. EVENT PRESENCE Participate in highly attended, local events. Paying for a 10ft x 10ft booth is worth it. You won’t sell tandem skydives onsite, but it provides a great opportunity to capture e-mails to add to your valuable e-mail database for your e-mail marketing campaign. I encourage my clients to have a plan to expand their e-mail database continuously. Giving away a tandem skydive in order to collect hundreds of e-mail addresses is very valuable because it creates an opportunity to directly message people who are interested in your service. Go to lots of events! Tip: Look professional with your booths and have your pop-up tent branded. Spend the money to have a presentation that you would see at a trade show. If the approach is done half-ass by pulling things together, it’s not helping your brand. Do it right or don’t do it at all.
  8. admin

    Skydiving at Night

    So you want to make a night jump and don't know what to expect? Here is an example of how many dropzones run their night jump procedures and what you need to know before you participate in night jumps. Before you even sign up for night jumps at a DZ you need to do a few jumps at the location during the day. Open somewhat high on at least one of the jumps looking and examining the potential hazards and outs if you end up in any direction from the DZ at night. Also before the end of the day arrives you need to have at least 1 glow stick and 1 strobe light that can be easily turned on under canopy. Typically most dropzones will hold a briefing before dark to go over the procedures for the specific location or situation. You will most likely then be asked to sit in a dark room with no lights for a period of time to allow your eyes to adjust to the darkness Typical things that are covered during night jump briefings include: Prep work In plane procedures Exiting Opening separation Under canopy behavior Landing Before you can even prepare your eyes for the night skydives you need to prepare your equipment. First take the time to actually do a proper pack job on your main. Last thing you want to add to an already complex skydive is a reserve ride. You need to securely attach a glow stick to your altimeter or use a clearly lighted altimeter. If you are going to use a glow stick it is best to activate it before you start preparing your eyes then cover it with duct tape that is pulled off right before you jump. This insures that your glow stick is not a dud and it also keeps the light from shining on people's eyes. You also need to securely fasten your strobe light to you or to your rig. Attaching it to the rear of your leg, rear of your helmet or back is preferred since as the strobe fires your body will be blocking the light from getting in your eyes, but it is still very visible to everyone else. Some DZ's also require you to attach glow sticks to an arm so you need to listen during the briefing for individual DZ procedures. The most important thing in the preparation of the equipment is for the strobe and light sticks to be securely attached. One of the most important things you can do to maintain your night vision is to avoid looking at any lights during your climb to altitude. Make sure your jump plane does not have any interior lights on, that no one is using flashlights, or anything else to light up the plane. The only color light that should be used inside the plane is a red light since that does not affect night vision. If there are any other light sources or colors (from jump lights) cover as much of them as possible to maintain your vision and still maintain their functionality. According to the USPA SIM first time night jumpers are required to do a solo before they do any group night skydives. It is a really good idea to spend your first time in freefall at night looking around to make sure you find the landing area and pulling at your correct altitude. Typically groups are sorted by both group size and wing loading of the people in the skydive. Usually people with higher wing loadings are the first out on night jumps for reasons to be detailed shortly. After the groups and solos have been sorted most good night jump organizers will dictate exit order and pull altitudes. Usually with larger planes such as Caravans, Otters, Skyvans and Casa's two passes are made to allow for a greater horizontal separation then normally is allowed. Discuss with the pilot and S&TA; what the needed delay is for proper night jump separation. Exit on time, but as during the day do not rush the count. Just prior to exiting you need to activate the lights in the altimeter or uncover the glow sticks. DO NOT activate the strobes yet. In the last rewrite of FAR 105.19 the FAA changed the wording so the strobes no longer have to be active in freefall and since the lights of others in the group could affect your vision keep the strobes off. You do need a strobe that's visible under canopy still though. At most DZ's each night jump group is separated by a solo skydiver. The first group out the door is assigned the lowest pull altitude. 3000 feet is a standard first pull altitude for the first group to allow proper separation and more time to deal with the complexities of night canopy flight but this may change with the group experience and DZ procedures. Each solo or group exiting after the first group is assigned an altitude 500 feet higher then the previous group up to usually 4500 to 5000 feet. Pull at your correct altitude. Do not pull higher then your altitude since the combination of horizontal separation, vertical separation and wing loading separation make for the safest possible night jump environment for you. Once under a good canopy you need to do a few things differently than you normally would. The first is do not collapse your slider. The flapping noise that it makes can be heard by other canopies that might be getting close to you. You also need to turn on your strobe light. Do not do any spiraling or altitude loosing maneuvers since this will eliminate the vertical separation factor that the assigned pull altitudes established. Remember that. In a lot of cases of near misses on night jumps its usually discovered one jumper spiraled down to the other jumpers' level. Fly a very conservative pattern with no hook turns, S turns or other erratic flying. As you are flying constantly be scanning for the dropzone, outs, hazards and other canopies in the air. Hazards at night are different then hazards in the day since its easier to mistake a river for a road or not see power lines. If you are going to land off, try to avoid landing extremely close to roads since there are probably power lines above them you can not see. Always assume a PLF when landing off at night since you will not be able to clearly see the landing area. Typically most DZ's will light their landing areas by having the jumper's cars facing into the wind with the headlights on. Jumpers must plan and fly a flight pattern that has them passing over the cars high enough to miss them, but low enough that they do not out fly the lighted safe landing area. Overshooting the landing area is acceptable if the jumpers know the terrain and know of any potential obstacles they need to avoid. Notice the wind direction as you are boarding the plane, in some locations near large bodies of water the winds will change 180 degrees at night as the temperatures change. Take note of the lights and wind direction before you are set up to land. Also to safely land at night the jumpers are best advised to concentrate on the horizon more then looking down. Looking down will distort your vision and cause you to assume you are at the wrong height for flaring. If you learn nothing else about night jumping learn about the shadow effect. In a lot of situations where the moon is at your back as you are landing you will see a large black canopy rising up on a direct collision course with you. This is your shadow that you are flying into. Lots of jumpers have made avoidance turns only to pound themselves into the ground breaking bones or killing themselves only to find out it was their shadow they were avoiding. As soon as you land depending on the DZ procedures and where you landed, most DZ's either have you walk towards the cars or to the side of the lighted landing area. Others have you stay where you are until your entire pass has landed. Check in with either manifest or the organizer as soon as you land. Additional safety items to be taken into consideration are to carry a cell phone and the DZ phone number with you. Carry a DZ business card or pamphlet with you to make sure you have the correct local DZ phone number and not just a 1-800 number that redirects to them. This way if you land out you can call to let people know where you are or if you need help. Give your cell phone number out to manifest so that if you do not check in right away they can try to contact you. Leave the ringer set to high so if you are injured the rescue parties can locate you that way. Also a whistle around your neck can be used under canopy to scare away any canopy coming close to you or if you are coming close to them. The whistle is also a great way of assisting responders to find your location if you are hurt at night. As with all jump activity, the use of any alcohol or drugs is not only against the law, it is dangerous to others and STUPID. If you or others are unable to refrain from said activities do not get on an airplane to jump. Also some jumpers go the extra steps of attaching a glow stick to their main risers so in the case of a cutaway it is easier to track and then retrieve from the ground. Discuss the best method of doing this with your rigger or S&TA.; If a jumper lands off field do not rush into a truck to get them, slowly drive towards them with your head lights on high with someone walking in front of the truck to make sure you do not run over an injured jumper. This article was compiled by Eric Boerger D-26333 with assistance by Keith Laub, Michael Owens and Art Shaffer.
  9. Adam Martin and David Winland are here to tell you that skydiving saved their lives: from self-destructive tendencies, depression, drugs, and possibly even the emotional quicksand of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). They call it “Action Therapy”, and it’s the working title of a grassroots documentary they are creating on an iconic summer road trip to as many dropzones as possible before their money runs out. Their mission is to highlight the sport’s everyday stories of beauty and personal meaning: no high-profile stunts here, just tales of transformation. These two friends, who met through skydiving, have different but equally harrowing stories. Three and a half months after his father committed suicide, Martin decided to go skydiving. His family assumed that the grieving son had a death wish. On the contrary, the idea of taking a previously unimaginable risk was a way of pulling himself out of a self-destructive spiral. Winland, on the other hand, speaks freely about surviving childhood abuse: “Everyone has dysfunction in their families and lives, but mine was really bad. I had cigarette burns on me. There were some terrible people. Instead of getting counseling, I bottled it up and started using drugs and fighting. I’d go out and just raise hell.” Martin, 30 years old, and Winland, 38, both largely credit skydiving with their recovery. Winland, a single dad, says he was burned out and worried about his ability to sustain relationships: “When my daughter was born, that just kind of got better. But I still had that really severe issue of, I didn’t communicate well and I didn’t trust anyone. I love my daughter and she was the focus on my life, but I was still angry. Once I started jumping, I was just able to let everything go. I’m a single dad. I have custody of my daughter. I don’t know if I would have been able to do that if I was the same person I was before jumping. I got custody right as I started in the sport, and it has helped. That’s why we have the name Action Therapy. Both of us have been helped so much just by exiting that plane.” The duo hopes that sharing real stories will reach people in a dark place. “I hope someone watches our documentary and says, that kid was going through a shitty time in his life, and he did something to pull himself out. So if it helps someone get out of a bad time, whether through skydiving, or something else – go do it,” says Martin. He goes on, “My father was a medic in Vietnam, and there’s no doubt in my mind he had PTSD. But he was raised on a Montana ranch where men kept their feelings bottled up, so we never really talked about it. Maybe this could have saved my dad. Maybe if my dad had something like skydiving, he wouldn’t be gone right now.” In addition to Martin’s father’s service, Martin and Winland were deeply inspired by a meeting with Todd Love, the triple-amputee wounded warrior who has refused to let his circumstances prevent him from skydiving (as well as wrestling alligators, going white-water kayaking, and completing the challenging Spartan Race). Along the way, they hope to raise awareness and funds for the Wounded Warrior Foundation. These two newer jumpers (Martin has 230 jumps and Winland 296) have the easy banter of friends who have spent too much time in a car together already. They are an odd couple: a tattoo artist who hates golf (Winland) and a golf pro (Martin), now living and working together towards a shared dream. “Skydiving is a great equalizer, a crazy group of people,” says Martin. They can almost finish each other’s sentences, and the words of encouragement flow easily. When Martin talks about his father (“I can’t bring him back – I have to move forward in the right way”), Winland chimes in: “He’s so proud of you and your accomplishments!” And when talking about how skydiving has helped ease his fatigue with the world of golf, Martin adds, “I know it’s helped David with his tattooing, too.” The philosophy is simple: no matter how heavy the burden, skydiving will lift it. “It’s not the adrenaline rush every time,” says Martin, “It’s just fun and it puts a smile on my face, so I keep doing it.” Winland adds, “I was always quick to pull my roots up. The people I’ve met jumping feel like home.” If you want to get some Action Therapy, share your story, or just give this enthusiastic two-man team a high-five, you can find them at Skydive Chicago’s Summerfest boogie or on the last stop of their tour, the Lost Prairie boogie in Montana. Keep up with them online at the Action Therapy Facebook page. They have already visited: Skydive Arizona, Skydive San Diego, Tsunami Skydivers (Oceanside), Skydive Perris, Skydive Elsinore, Monterey Bay, Bay Area Skydiving in Byron, Skydance Skydiving in Davis, Sacramento, Lodi, and Oregon.
  10. I am much more experienced in paragliding than skydiving and in paragliding we really respect the thermals as they are what we need to fly – but at the same time can cause all sorts of havoc close to the ground. Thermals are bubbles of rising air. They might extend all the way from the ground to a cloud or they might be just a bubble. I have been told to study a 1970 hippie lava light, as the rising lava in the light is nothing more than a thermal. If a thermal bubble leaves the ground and rushes up in a column of air, there is a void that must be filled - with the same amount of air going down or sideways outside the thermal as is going up in the thermal. Again, think of the lava light – as the lava rises, the oil fills the void where the lava was. In other words, if you land near a thermal that is bursting, you can be in the middle of a gust of wind that is going down or sideways filling the area under the thermal. I have been in a thermal that went up at 1,400 feet per minute – which is faster than a lot of jump planes. Somewhere there must have been air going down 1,400 feet per minute to fill the void. If you see a wind indicator (wind sock) quickly change directions, you might have just witnessed a thermal near by. On a quiet day in a field of tall grass you can hear them leave too, just a quick rustle of the grass is all you hear. A lot of times thermals are the most aggressive close to the ground as they are narrow and get wider as they go up. They can be explosive off of a super heated asphalt driveway or black roof. There are some “surface tension” forces that keep the thermals close to the ground until they break off. If the wind changes a bit, it might be all it takes to make a thermal release. In paragliding, you know you are about to enter a thermal when you start to feel turbulence or even go down a bit. You actually judge your angle of attack into the thermal by looking at how the wing turns as you enter it. If your wing flies straight but surges back evenly, you entered it straight on. If your wing turns, part of your wing hit the thermal first causing the turn. If your wing surges forward, you probably just left the thermal. It is very easy on a large paragliding wing for half of your wing to be in a thermal and the other half not – causing all sorts of fun things – like asymmetric collapses. You could “hear” them in your wing all the time, they sounded like fabric getting loose then springing tight. Big asymmetrics could collapse more than half a canopy. On very active thermal days, only the advanced would dare to fly paragliding canopies/wings because you could experience all sort of "asymmetric collapses” or other dynamic unexpected events. Paragliders are rated by DHV ratings, 1 thru 4 where 1 is the safest to fly, which rate their handling in stalls and collapses. My DHV 1 GIN Bolero glider turns 90-180 degrees in an asymmetric collapse and must spontaneously recover to get the DHV 1 rating. Gliders rated higher might need pilot intervention to recover from a collapse. Turning = loss of altitude = hit the ground hard any way you look at it. Have you ever studied what might happen to your canopy under an asymmetric? How do you fix it? To avoid thermals close to the ground, I avoided ground treatments that absorb heat, like rock (pea gravel) or cement. In paragliding – we liked the green soccer fields, but I don’t think DZ have those. Thermals are caused by heated air on the ground being abnormally hotter than the air above. They “break” off of any pointed object, as small as a shrub. We were taught – turn the ground upside down after a rainstorm and anywhere water would drip off is where thermals rise. It is a mistake to think thermals only happen on hot days, because temperature difference, not just warm air, causes thermals. If the atmosphere is cold and the tarmac is hot – expect a greater thermal than normal even if the outside air temperature is freezing. There are all sorts of mathematical equations used to predict thermals and the strength of thermals, some available on the 1-800-WXBRIEF FAA Flight Service Center pre-flight briefing system, such as the “wave soaring forecast” and the “K index”. The K index measures stability in the atmosphere. You can also speak to a pre-flight briefer who can help interpret the data – but since I don’t speak pilot, I was always intimidated to talk to the humans and only played the recorded messages. If you are interested, you can study the “lapse rate” which is the phenomenon that as air gets thinner higher you go up in the atmosphere, the air pressure goes down and so does temperature. Physics says pressure and temperature are related due to fact higher pressure causes molecules to be closer to each other. Pure science says that the “dry adiabatic lapse rate” is 5.5 degrees per 1000 feet. This means, if you jump out of a plane 12K above the ground, expect it to be 66 degrees colder at 12K than at the DZ because the air is under less pressure. But our flying areas do not exist in scientific test tubes – there is instability in the atmosphere. If the actual temperature, lets say 2K up, is more than 11 degrees colder than the ground temperature – you are bound to experience even more aggressive thermals than normal as the atmosphere tries to find balance. Oh, thermals cause clouds – the reason why paragliders fly “cloud streets” of thermals across country. It is possible to experience “cloud suck” also, where the thermals are so strong you get trapped in a cloud and must use advanced techniques to lose altitude. Note – I am not an expert at this. Someone with more experience is invited to correct me. But my point is: aggressive thermals can cause turbulence close to the ground, which can very easily cause landings to be rough.
  11. GoPro announced the latest addition to their line of action cameras this week with the reveal of the GoPro Hero 4 Session. The Session is small, really small -- about the same size as an ice cube and according to GoPro, it has been in development for several years now. With its reduced size, it will allow for easier mounting, especially for those looking for something to strap to their wrists. Unfortunately, early reports suggest that the decrease in size does not come without a cost. You should not expect the same recording quality, nor the features that are present with the Hero 4 Silver or Black. In their venture to create their smallest action camera yet, GoPro had to make sacrifices on both fronts and you'll only be seeing still images with a maximum resolution of 8 megapixels from the Session. Being less than 1.5 inches in diameter, it goes without saying that you won't be receiving any touch screen or image preview functionality. The cube design features a small LCD screen at the top and just two buttons, the main of which will control all your recording settings and control, while the smaller button is merely a wifi on/off button. Bound to be frustrating to some is that one cannot change between single and burst mode through the camera and requires use of the GoPro app in order to change these settings. There are some positives to mention though, with battery life being one of them. The Hero 4 Session is able to last up to 2 hours while running, better than the battery life seen in the other Hero 4 cameras. Recording Abilities While one may expect 4k recording from the Hero 4 Session, you're not going to find it. You can however record at a maximum of 30fps at 1440p or 60fps at 1080p. For those looking to get 100fps out of their recording, you will be able to do so at a 720p recording resolution. Overall it is somewhat to be expected, given the size and already clear limitations with the product, however we would have liked to at least see 100fps at 1080p and perhaps 60fps at the 1440p range. The reality is still however, that for the most part 4k recording is overkill and for vast majority of uses 1080p will suffice just fine. Another potentially frustrating aspect to the Session design is because of the cubed shape, some early testers of the camera found that it was easy to hold the wrong way around without noticing. This is likely not going to be a problem for too many people, who will have the device mounted, but for those going handheld, make sure you don't hold it at 90 degrees, or you'll need to do some post-process rotation adjustments. From what we've seen, it appears as though the Session is intended for those looking to create easy and quick HD videos, in the occasional circumstances where the other GoPro models may be too large. Priced at a whopping $400, we are struggling to see too many reasons for the average athlete to opt for the Session over the Hero 4 Silver, which at the same price comes with 4k recording, 4 more megapixels as well as a touch screen. It's Not All Doom and Gloom Don't get too caught up in the negative aspects of the Hero 4 Session however, it's still an extremely competent looking camera and while the recording quality may not be the best that GoPro has given us, it's more than enough for your average user who isn't looking for the clearest quality around. It comes standard with 10 meter water proofing, meaning no extra housing needed for most practical uses. The most obvious of the positives however, is the size. Being less than 1.5 inches allows for its use in situations where you may otherwise have struggled. For those who use wrist mounts for their GoPro, the session will definitely serve a purpose. A question that will also obviously come to the minds of many, will be how it compares to the other GoPro series with regards to snag risk. While we haven't been able to see first hand how the Session will handle a snag scenario, there is a lot less surface area so the odds of your lines getting caught seem lower, but the way the mount clamp is positioned in relation to the camera itself, it seems that there remains a risk for snagging between the clamp and the camera. This is something that could be helped a lot by the development of custom mounts, which will no doubt be developed some time after release. If you're currently an owner of a Hero 3 or Hero 4 and shoot regular helmet mounted video footage, we can't see any reason for you to switch out for the Hero 4 Session, but if you're looking for an extra camera for a wrist mount or another area where size is an important factor, the Hero 4 Session may be worth looking into -- if you're willing to fork out the $400.
  12. Image by Brian Buckland When we discuss training in the skydiving community we usually refer to training students or teaching experienced skydivers new techniques. However, we seldom discuss how to train our staff so they are safer and more effective. By grooming your staff you can make your drop zone more enjoyable for your customers and in turn, make your business more profitable. Today, I would like to discuss a psychological situation that can affect the staff as well as other skydivers. That situation is known as Groupthink. What is groupthink? Simply put, it is a condition that occurs when a closely cohesive group has a tendency to make bad decisions because the group pressure becomes so great, everyone starts to ignore moral judgments and sound decision making. Groups that are more susceptible to this phenomenon are tightly cohesive, have a similar background, and have a lack of clear rules for decision making. As for me, I cannot think of a more cohesive group of individuals with, similar backgrounds, than a group of skydiving professionals. Please don’t get me wrong, it is not a bad thing that we are a cohesive group of people. We just need to be able to recognize when our staff, or group, is beginning to fall into a groupthink mentality. So, what are the symptoms of groupthink? In 1972 a social psychologist named Irving Janis identified eight symptoms of groupthink. As you read through these I ask that you think to yourself about a time where you actually witnessed one or more of these at a drop zone. 1. The feeling of invulnerability – Creates excessive optimism that encourages taking extreme risks. 2. Collective rationalizations – Members ignore warnings and do not reconsider their assumptions. 3. Beliefs in inherent morality – Members believe in the rightness of their cause and therefore ignore the ethical or moral consequences of their decisions. 4. Stereotyped views of “outsiders”– Negative views of “enemy” make effective responses to conflict seem unnecessary. 5. Direct pressure on dissenters – Members are under pressure not to express arguments against any of the group’s views. 6. Self-censorship – Doubts and deviations from the perceived group consensus are not expressed. 7. Illusion of unanimity – The majority’s view, and judgments, are believed to be unanimous. 8. Self-appointed ‘mindguards’ – Members protect the group and the leader from information that is problematic or contradictory to the group’s cohesiveness, view, and/or decisions. I’m sure most people can relate to a few of these symptoms and to make it perfectly clear, just because you see one or two of these does not necessarily mean that a groupthink situation is going on… but then again it could. Since we know the symptoms, what can we do to prevent a groupthink situation, or to try to remedy the effects of a situation already happening? Let’s start by defining what we call a group. A group can be something small and organized like a team. It can be a little bit larger such as the staff of a DZ. Or it can be a group of people with a common cause such as free flyers or belly flyers. Now, let’s address the problem. One way to help prevent group think from setting in is to designate a member of the group as a devil’s advocate. This person will be the one to think outside the box and to ask the questions “what if” and “why”. The devil’s advocate should also suggest alternate plans or ways of doing things. It is important that the devil’s advocate does not just go through the motions, but makes meaningful suggestions and the group discusses them. This will keep everyone’s head focused on moral and safe decisions and not just out of habit dismiss all suggestions. Another preventive measure is for the leader to set aside an amount of time to survey warning signs. To define the leader, it can be a team coach, the DZO/DZM, but at a minimum it should be the S&TA.; This doesn’t have to be a big formal inspection, just a time to walk around the DZ so you can hear and see what people are doing and planning. In this case, someone will probably hear signs of groupthink before they see actions. Listen to what people are planning. Listen to what they are encouraging others to do. At the same time take note on how their words and actions are affecting others, especially the less experienced skydivers. Finally, for members of the group; you should all routinely talk to someone from outside the group that is trusted and has a valued opinion. These talks should be one-on-one and preferably not with the same person. This will give you a fresh point of view and help you to make the best decision, not necessarily the one that goes along with the group. By keeping an eye on each other not just by doing gear checks, but by letting people know when you start to observe behavior that could lead to unsafe practices, you can help make our sport safer. Let’s face it. Being a skydiver means taking calculated risks. We need to work together to keep the odds in our favor.
  13. admin

    GRAVITAS - LED Wingsuit Video

    Regardless of how you feel about the sponsor giant, Redbull have continued to show what a large budget can do in terms of both stunt orchestration and production quality of video footage. One of Redbull's latest productions, titled GRAVITAS, puts together the ingredients of wingsuit pilots, drum and bass and LED lights to create some stunning skydiving eye candy. According to Redbull.com, the pilots, Marco Waltenspiel, Georg Lettner, David Hasenschwandtner and Dominic Roithmair exited at 13 000 feet with LED lit wingsuits. Once in flight they began their choreographed maneuvers to the music of Camo & Krooked. Other companies involved in the project include Paranormal Unicorn and Frame Fatale.
  14. admin

    Inside The Funny Farm 2015

    You know that one time of the year where you are forced to go home and spend time with your family and you have to do it but don’t really want to? Yeah funny farm is nothing like that. At all! Mid April, 120 excited farmers travelled from all over the world on the yearly pilgrimage to a cattle farm near Westmar, Queensland, for a week of kick ass jumping and a lifetime of fond memories. The coach line up this time consisted of return farmers, Domi, Mox, Anna, Reader, Dougs, Jeff, Boagsy, Munting, Blakey and Macca. New recruits Luis Prinetto and Jason Petters joined the Farmily this year too. For the first time farmers it can be a daunting boogie, as its 6hrs from Brisbane, no flushing toilets, no reception and the nearest pub/store is 30mins drive away. But those who dare to brave it are richly rewarded. Mad Skills From All Around The World This year differed from previous years. It was open invite and the concept of this year’s farm was to not only keep improving the level of flying, but to also incorporate multiple disciplines in each jump. At the start of the week it was kept simple and easy, combining only two types at the same time. Woody and Griggsy helped skill up the XRW crew and the Dubai wingsuiters added another layer of innovation as people got their skills and confidence up the complexity of what was being attempted increased. By the end of the week it became important to get to the emplaning area early because it was a creative process to work out exit orders because the normal assumptions about exit order did not apply. Some old farmers returned which added the special vibe that is Funny Farm. Douggs was in charge of everything comical, so that the hot shots didn’t take themselves too seriously (which becomes challenging when Elad is slow mo-ing every rad manoeuvre and bathing you in day tape glory). Swoop comps involved directives like the running man, the turtle and some other crazy names which were always accompanied by laughter and an animated explanation of how they were to be performed, including historical information of who won these comp categories in farms gone by. After a recommendation from Robbie that only already competent swoopers participate, this advice was ignored by Spready who though he would give it a go anyway, not successfully. The comps were embraced by the mega swoopers who added entertainment to their exceptional skill and created a daily gathering at the pond to watch the triumph and failure. Luke Scab was a key leader in the commitment to running the pond every jump and quickly ran out of dry shoes but was a crowd favourite and didn’t need the services of Kenny the Gold Coast lifesaver who was on standby. No Shortage of Variety The day tapes were epic and long trying to keep up with all the new and cool things that were being done by so many groups each day. There were wingsuiters chasing the Yak. XRW with wingsuiters, canopies and planes. Full loads of Static mixed formations being carved around by a plane loads of movement flyers. Heaps of wingsuiters and freeflyers tearing it up in every orientation. Douggs’ ‘barely moving forward jumps’, Ariel silks from a tandem with canopies, and much much more. The United Nations could take a leaf out of our book for bridging the cultural divide. Just watch the video its MEGA! With the exception of Spready’s inspection of the bottom of the pond and Jeff’s in-flight seminar on drag differentiation. Everyone was safe during the week which keeps the event in good spirits and stops Robbie from increasing his angle as he stomps across the landing area towards the jumper who has made a questionable safety choice. You know if you are getting out the protractor as he approaches and it is anywhere from the 80-45 degree angle you need to start making excuses fast. The Convery brothers are always manage to rile up Robbie and Irish continued to stir up Robbie after hours with his MC gig, must be something about the Irish Ranga combo that causes fireworks and entertainment to the crowd. Ready was the hero of party night for epic vision that at first glance appeared to be a dead tree. Which he erected in the landing area and set it alight, a leaf blower turned into a flame thrower as they pumped oxygen into the burning 3m log. With the regular camp fire covered in cooper flakes burning green, the flaming tree spewing heat and light into the sky, some flares being thrown around and the flashing lights on the drone flying overhead, was visually spectacular and was quite an experience for everyone with a bit on. Funny Farm is hard to describe accurately, just trust me when I say if you ever get the chance to come, make it happen. This is one event that for sure couldn’t happen without endless support from sponsors the Australian Parachuting Council, South Queensland Parachuting Council, Cookie, Downward Trend Rigging, LVN lifestyle and NZ Aerosports and the Mulckey Family who allow their normally tranquil farm to be turned into our playground for one week a year. Stats from the Week 2992 slots, 225 loads, 14500 litres of fuel, 224 Cartons of beer, 120 Jumpers, Two Caravans, One 182 and a YAK 52. Heaps of Kouta, Feckin Bewm. Who’s Hungry and gooood could be heard too. And Major Lazer ‘Lean on’ played approximately 45 times. *** Disclaimer: some of these stats might not be entirely accurate*****
  15. admin

    Point Break Remake Trailer

    For those skydivers old enough to remember the early 90s, they will also surely recall the movie Point Break. Released in 1991, Point Break was centered around a group of surfers who robbed banks while wearing masks of ex-presidents. An undercover agent, Johnny Utah, was sent in to the world of the 'ex-presidents' as they called themselves, to gather information. Johnny Utah however, finds himself forming a bond with those he is trying to help apprehend. Despite the scenes of surfing and action, the movie has been best known for the skydiving scenes, which while certainly not the best, were some of the most memorable to viewers. It was clear that story and script were never high on the priority list, and the film focused almost entirely on the action sequences, of which there were quite a few. Point Break was the kind of movie you either bragged to your friends about loving, or the guilty pleasure movie that you kept in an unlabelled VHS container and only watched once the kids and wife were asleep. Well, good news for fans of the original movie is that the ex-presidents are back, and this time they're at least twice as extreme and in 3D. The remake of Point Break is set for release later this year (25 December) with the first official trailer now released. In the 24 years that have passed since the initial movie release, the ex-presidents have evolved to not only be surfers and skydivers, but masters of almost all extreme sports, from motorcross and snowboarding to BASE jumping. The movie will be released in RealD 3D, so you can make sure that you feel immersed through the likely unrealistic and exaggerated stunts (assuming they stick to the original formula). And who wouldn't want to experience quotes like "The only law that matters is gravity" in surround sound. It's not clear yet how the plot of the remake will differ from the original and which scenes will carry over, but from the trailer we can already know to expect some tracking and BASE jumping, and one thing is for certain, dropzones are likely to experience higher tandem requests in the first quarter of 2016. Jokes aside, it's difficult to gauge what to expect from the remake, and perhaps it seeks to give us just that which it did over two decades ago, this time without Swayze and Reeves - but instead with more stunts, more sports and more over the top action. Are you going to be adding this to your watch list, or to your avoid list?
  16. Dean Potter's Moon WalkWorld reknowned extreme athlete Dean Potter was among the two people killed this weekend during a BASE jump in Yosemite Valley. Potter and Graham Hunt passed away on Saturday when attempting a night time wingsuit jump from Taft Point, a 7,500 foot exit point within the Yosemite National Park. The incident occurred on early Saturday night, and at 21:00, after both Potter and Hunt failed to respond to radio calls, the park officials were informed. Shortly after search and rescue crews had begun searching. The search crews were able to deploy aerial assistance on Sunday morning, when a search helicopter then spotted the bodies of both Potter and Hunt, reportedly with their parachutes undeployed. At the time of publication, there was still little information as to what may have happened during the flight that would cause both individuals to suffer the same fate, with both parties having extended knowledge of the area and geography, though it is speculated that the two BASE jumpers had undertook a more challenging line in their wingsuit flight from Taft Point, where it is currently illegal to BASE jump. While both Potter and Hunt were well known for their climbing and BASE jumping adventures, Potter was often seen as a face of the Yosemite climbing community, having established himself as a leading climber over the years and widely being considered one of the greatest climbers of his era. He dropped out of college to persue his climbing, where he grew his love of free climbing, speed climbing and slacklining. He later began BASE jumping, and became well known for his close relationship with his dog Whisper, who he would BASE jump with. Potter had an impressive record of first ascents and some unbelievable free solo climbs under his belt; it would be hard to argue that he was one of the best at what he did. Potter was no stranger to controversy and both his BASE jumping and climbing decisions landed him in some hot water. His BASE jumps with Whisper lead to an outcry by some, while sponsor Clif Bar severed their sponsorship with Potter, because they wanted to distance their brand from BASE jumping and the associated dangers that is poses. He caused the biggest stir when he free solo climbed Delicate Arch in Arches National Park. Douglas Spotted Eagle wrote a piece on the life of Graham Hunt which is published on Basejumper.com, an excerpt of which reads: "Graham was a skydiver and BASE jump/wingsuit pilot, but what he was also well-known for, is his climbing ability. Whether climbing a rock carrying a chainsaw as a firefighter, or simply needing to get to the exit point, Graham excelled as a freeclimber. His strength seemed almost inhuman. He first came to Skydive Elsinore in 2012 with a tracking suit in hand, and was a machine. Jump, pack, jump pack. Graham didn't socialize much, but always had a smile on his face and was very approachable. His girlfriend asked me to help her pick out a birthday gift for him, and he received an L&B; Altitrack for his birthday that year. He asked me to help him figure out how to look at the data, and in the same conversation, asked about a first flight course. Graham seemed extremely heads up during his first flight course, and I attributed that to him being a very aware tracking suit pilot. Later I learned that he'd previously had a first flight course before he had 200 jumps, at another dropzone. I asked him why he had asked for a first flight course with me, and he answered "I heard you do it differently, and I'm looking for all the knowledge I can find." Read More Tributes for the duo poured in over social media:
  17. admin

    Exceeding Expectations

    Image by Lukasz Szymanski The challenge for any business is to exceed the expectations of its customers, especially when expectations are already high. The businesses that can pull this off will gain loyalty and earn valuable word of mouth marketing from their satisfied customers. Exceeding expectations is a challenge for the skydiving industry. Everyone who books a skydive already has very high expectations… after all, this is a major event in many people’s lives. Having traveled and visited drop zones all over the US, one of the biggest issues I see is a narrow sightedness when it comes to the guest experience. Too often, drop zones are focused on doing just one thing well: the skydive. Though this is definitely what we should be focused on (it’s what people are there for), we’ve lost sight of the complete experience; if the operation isn’t running efficiently, high expectations will turn to disappointment in short order. The common culprit in a poor customer experience is wait times. No one likes to wait. Yet here we are, charging a premium price, taking reservations and then expecting people to happily wait for several hours before they jump. Informing customers about wait times over the phone and in e-mail confirmations (usually 3 - 5 hours) doesn't make this practice any more acceptable or palatable to our customers who are conditioned to expect instant gratification. In a world where we can order something on Amazon.com and have it show up at our doorsteps the next day (or in some markets, the same day), we shouldn’t expect our customers to adapt to our antiquated practices. Rather, we should be challenging ourselves to find ways to better adapt to modern customer expectations. If we fail to do this, we will undoubtedly face the fallout of negative reviews online. How To Exceed Expectations To exceed expectations, a business must recognize its weaknesses through the eyes of the customer. The best way to do this is to ask them. However, if you want honest feedback, don’t survey your customers immediately after their skydive; they’ve just had one of the most amazing experiences of their lives, of course their immediate feedback will be positive. When I managed a DZ, I was always under the impression that we were doing a great job because when I surveyed customers following their skydive they always raved about their experience. Only when I started to survey our guests 24 hours after their jumps did I become aware of organizational problems that needed to be addressed. These ranged from employee language on the plane, (not good when your business is located in the Bible Belt) to major frustrations with wait times, to dissatisfaction with media quality. If you want to have a finger on the pulse of your organization, survey your guests after they’ve had time to come down from their initial adrenaline high. If they’re dissatisfied, they’ll typically tell you! Understand The Touch Points There are usually 20 interactive points of contact that a customer will have with a drop zone. If a DZ wants to gain a competitive advantage in a busy marketplace and see digital word of mouth marketing spread, they should be focused on improving these customer touch points. The goal should be to reach a five star level of service at every touch point. This is not an easy task, but it’s what has separated brands like Disney, The Four Seasons, REI and Zappos from all of their competition. This way of thinking should not be precluded from skydiving - especially considering the time and expense that goes into running a DZ. If we’re investing so much time and money into our operation, why not be the best we can be? Below is a list of 20 customer touch points every DZ should be aware of. I challenge all of my clients to rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent. The caveat is that the score for each touch point must be graded on the organization’s weakest link within the category. For example, if four out of five instructors give great service and one is average, then the score must be graded on the weakest instructor. Now you see the challenge! The Touch Points Website Social Media E-mail exchanges Phone Interactions Road Signage Parking Lot (the condition of it) Greeting at manifest Condition of the bathrooms Quality of DZ Food (snack bar or vending machines) Quality of training Wait Times to Make Skydive Presentation of the Jumpsuits Presentation of the Instructor Presentation of the Videographer The Aircraft The Ride to Altitude The Skydive Time it Takes To Receive Media Quality of the Media Quality of Materials (certificate of achievement) The Closing (defined as a thought out ending highlighting accomplishment) In today’s digital world, word of mouth can make or break a business. If you want to leverage this powerful tool to your benefit, then you have to start consistently exceeding customer expectations. Take a step back and view your business through the eyes of the customer. Focus on the entire experience, not just one element within it. Remember, the actual skydive is only one component of the overall customer experience. Strive to make every component as incredible as the skydive itself, and you’ll turn customers into raving fans.
  18. admin

    The Evolution of Jetman Dubai

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

    Hey Bro, Check Out my Go Pro

    The sleek, low-profile design, an easy-to-use system, so small it’s hardly there, and it’s oh-so-glorious high quality images – the Go Pro, Hero. In this social media society, the Go Pro is seductive, yet it’s oh-so-risky. For all you rebels at heart, those willing to learn, and especially those with less than 200 jumps - let’s lay down some tracks about being courted to don the camera. As an AFF Instructor and having been in the sport for nearly two decades, I have developed a hearty outlook about jumping a camera. But let’s slip on a bit of perspective mixed in with a bit of old school and new school thinking. So to round out this discussion, I interviewed two well-respected and well-known camera flyers about the topic – Norman Kent and Brian Buckland. Norman Kent, a life-long photographer and artist has been jumping a camera since 1975. Norman only wanted to try skydiving once. However, he experienced something so captivating, he saw an opportunity to capture the moments of beauty that was so different and so freeing in the sky. He admitted to be a fast learner, however he first strapped on a camera only having 24 jumps – it was a Kodak Instamatic with 126 cartridges. Norman didn’t have a skydiving photographer mentor. In fact, there weren’t many people strapping cameras on their heads in those days. It was an arduous and expensive venture for those willing to try. And for Norman, he made his own contraption by using a motorcycle helmet with no chin cup, wired a mechanical plunger, and confessed he didn’t know anything. So as he jumped his equipment, the air pushed the helmet up and the buckled strap choked him as the helmet moved all over his head and he fumbled in the sky. While these set backs were disappointing, it did not detour him. Instead, he was motivated to invent something that worked better - this approach lead to many camera helmet and jumpsuit innovations over his career, leaving a legacy of pioneering in camera flying. I asked Norman what he thought of today’s USPA’s current regulations for jumpers to wait until they had 200 jumps to fly a camera. “Regulation is a good idea, a good guideline,” he says. “It sounds hypocritical to say because I started with the ‘yahoo’ approach, but it’s wise to wait.” I’ve known Norman for a long time. I’ve seen him jump enormous contraptions carefully constructed upon his head. He’s a proficient and a well-respected camera flyer and we talked how different it is today with the Go Pro being so small. I ask him if he sees any dangers. “It all comes down to the attitude of the jumper,” he begins. “Because the Go Pro is small, it’s inviting people to use it who aren’t even in photography. It’s [jumping a camera] not so simple and there are dangers involved.” Norman and I both agreed that there is a shift in thinking in skydiving from the renegade days of the past. The development of tandem jumping and social media have greatly changed the image our sport, attracting more types of people to experience skydiving that the thinking of the past has to change. Norman elaborates, “People learn so differently that I’m not pro-regulating, I’m pro-educating. We need to develop a training or an awareness program [about jumping a camera.]” Although he recognizes the dangers happening, he also sees this as an opportunity for the sport. “This is an opportunity for coaches and instructors, for inventors, for schools…” Norman is currently working on a project for a You Tube production geared towards camera flying educational purposes coming out later this year. Let’s bring it back in the day where these young lads photographed below are sporting some serious state-of-the-art camera gear in 1988. Brian Buckland comes from an entirely different background. Brian made his first jump in 1994 and didn’t jump a camera until 5 years later and racked up about 500 jumps. Brian’s philosophy was to become a proficient flyer first; so he logged about 200 belly jumps, then learned how to freefly. During this time he notes that he was becoming more aware of his routine with gear checks, canopy skills, and landings. Finally the time came and he strapped on his first camera – a Canon Rebel 2000, with film. Brian went to Radio Shack after buying an off-the-shelf flat top camera helmet to wire up a shutter release. He admits to being nervous since his routine greatly changed with having to be concerned with battery life, clean lenses, and correct camera settings, in addition to checking his gear and high fiving everyone. When he landed from his first jump, he looked over his wares and was surprised how well they turned out. He submitted them and they were published. “I learned about photography after the fact [of getting the first photo published]. So I went to a continuing education course for photography and started translating that to the sky.” Over the years Brian has developed a systematic routine and is busy the entire flight making sure everything is in order prior to jumping. “It’s important to be comfortable with gear, build good habits, and safely skydive with others.” Brian also didn’t have any skydiving photography mentors. However, he looked up to the likes of Norman Kent, Joe Jennings, Mike McGowan, Tom Sanders, Craig O’Brien and later, Jason Peters. Now with established photographers in the sport, I asked Brian what he thought of USPA’s camera regulations. “The numbers are decent because the time in sport and time in the air are important in building a comfort level. Adding something new when you’re new and not comfortable with the everything else, something like a camera becomes a distraction.” Both Norman and Brian elaborated how the common attitude is, “it’s [Go Pro] not a camera, it’s so small, you-don’t-even-notice-it” attitude. Brian conveyed a story how, against his advice, a tunnel instructor with about 100+ jumps had lost two Go Pros! And we’ve all seen the photo on Facebook with an AFF student’s pilot chute wrapped around an instructor’s Go Pro. The Go Pro is a snag hazard and most people who wear them use non-cutaway helmets and screwed on mounts. This is an excerpt from USPA on September 1st, 2011: Adhering to Camera Recommendations USPA has been receiving an increasing number of calls and e-mails from Safety & Training Advisors and instructors regarding what to do about inexperienced skydivers who want to jump with small-format video cameras, such as the GoPro. Many new jumpers seem to feel that the small camera does not pose a risk, and they simply want to wear the camera while jumping. For that reason, the new jumpers do not consider this to be a video jump that falls under the 200-jump recommendation in the Skydiver’s Information Manual [SIM]. The truth is that even though the camera itself may be small, it still represents a significant snag hazard to any jumper. This is especially true considering the various camera mounts jumpers use. In addition to the snag hazard, no matter how much a jumper thinks the camera will not become a distraction during the jump, it will. There are plenty of cases of newer jumpers forgetting to fasten chest straps or creating dangerous situations in freefall, etc., that were directly attributed to the distraction of the camera. USPA’s camera recommendations appear in Section 6-8 of the Skydiver’s Information Manual. Be sure jumpers at your drop zone are following these guidelines. They exist for very important reasons. The SIM is an excellent outline about camera safety and requirements, but it doesn’t educate. I agree that too many people have a careless attitude about the jumping camera equipment too soon and that we need more education. We’re fortunate to have an organization that mediates our government relations, memberships, insurance, etc. However, they do not govern, they suggest and that gives us the freedom to self-police safety amongst ourselves. If we want to see change for the better, we need to take it into our hands and pass on good information. Allowing newbie’s to jump camera equipment just because they’re “heads up” isn’t a qualifier to allow them the privilege to wear one. I visited a DZ and asked the S&TA; about their policy of jumpers with sub 200 jumps wearing a Go Pro. The answer I received was, “If their heads up, it’s ok.” I quizzically looked at him and said, “How do you know he’s heads up? Have you jumped with him?” Two hundred jumps is, although not the best, a measure of experience. At least I can assume they’ve earned their B-license (including the canopy progression) and have a bit of time and experience. I don’t have a chance to jump with everyone to qualify someone with sub 200 jumps “heads up,” and who’s to judge whose heads up anyways?! There’s so much more to just jumping a small-little-thing like the Go Pro. Because of social media, there are ethics that ought to be tied into this conversation. Excited newbie’s may use their footage unjustly and this effects more than the person jumping it. For example, Gerardo Flores – an uncurrent, 30-jump wonder sneaks a camera on his jump and has a “near death experience” that goes viral on the web. This situation affected the skydiving community negatively and gave a sneak peak to the public how “reckless” skydivers can be. Not to mention other videos that go live streaming on the web. I asked Brian what advice he’d give to those thinking about jumping any kind of camera and he said, “Be comfortable with yourself well before strapping on a camera. Be proficient under the parachute, build your awareness, know your emergency procedures, know your gear and wear the proper gear. Then, learn about the camera prior to jumping it.” Although Norman and Brian didn’t have mentors, both have been a huge help and inspiration to aspiring camera flyers over the years. Both have made themselves available to help give direction and may be reached through their websites, www.BrianBuckland.com and wwww.NormanKent.com. And stay tuned for Norman’s upcoming video on You Tube, "The Dangers of Being a HERO". Now, for all you rebels at heart and those willing to learn, I cannot tell you what to do but share my experience. However, when you meet the camera flying requirements, it’s like earning the rite of passage to don a camera on your head. Throw in a bit of education in there and believe me, it’s totally cool and absolutely worth the wait.
  20. mad

    BlueManifest

    online software to manage all activities on your dropzone: http://www.bluemanifest.com/en/
  21. Christopher Jones, a 22 year old from Perth, Australia - has found himself in the spotlight of news agencies over the past 24 hours. On 1 March 2015, Christopher uploaded a video to Youtube of him suffering a seizure during his 5th level of AFF training at WA Skydiving Academy. According to him, the video was originally recorded about 3 months ago but due to travelling, he only got around to uploading it now. Within 24 hours of uploading the video had received over 2.5 Million views and been picked up by news centers around the world. In the video, you can see Christopher Jones being assisted by his instructor, Sheldon McFarlane - as he gets his foot placing in the right position for his exit. After exiting the aircraft, he is seen establishing his body position and things seem to be going well, but soon Mr Jones, who was described by the Dropzone Chief Instructor as "The perfect student" up until this point, begins to lose control of his body position. Instructor Heroics Gets Main Deployed at 4000 feet McFarlane, who while unaware of the fact that the problem was a siezure, could see that Mr Jones was in trouble, and began an attempt to get close enough to him so that he could help in the release of his parachute. After a failed first attempt, Mr Jones is seen gaining speed, plummeting towards earth. Despite the difficulty in catching up with the student's speed, McFarlane then managed to grab a hold of him and release his [parachute, at around 4000 feet. When interviewed about the incident, McFarlane stated that even though he knew that the AAD would deploy, he wanted to ensure that the student had as much time under parachute as possible. This proved to be a wise choice and Mr Jones regained consciousness at 3000 feet, allowing for him to gain control and in turn safely land his canopy. While AADs deploy vast majority of the time, there have been incidents where the AAD has failed, and getting the chute deployed manually will almost always take preference over relying on the automatic activation device. Questionable Medical Clearance Mr Jones has had a history of seizures in the past. Originally wanting to become a pilot, Jones had to put that dream aside due to his epilepsy. A doctor-issued medical statement is required before one is able to begin AFF training. Mr Jones' specialist gave him the all clear for his training, with Jones not having suffered any seizures for four years prior to this incident, a subject that has caused some debate of its own, with many doctors feeling as though skydiving would be an activity that no epilepsy sufferer should partake in, due to the risks. Unfortunately with the occurrence of this incident, he will no longer be able to continue his skydiving career, for obvious reasons. While seizures can be unpredictable and occur at any time, stress is thought to play a role in many cases. Naturally undergoing a skydiving program where not only are you aware of the safety risks, but also have the added pressure of passing or failing your level progression, stress will almost always be heightened.
  22. A skydiver at the Oklahoma Skydiving Center pointing out their landing pattern. Image by Corey Miller When we teach students how to skydive, the lessons do not just stop after the first jump course. One important skill all skydivers need to know is how to navigate through the landing pattern. I have heard instructors refer to talking to students on the radio as “remote controlled skydiving” because they guide the student where they want them to land, and they tell the student every turn to make. If we are supposed to teach our students how to pilot their canopy, then we must ask ourselves, “How is this enabling the student to learn?” In this article I will discuss a method of teaching the student how to pilot their canopy that is not only easy to use, but also allows the instructor on the radio to remain in control if the student needs additional guidance while descending under canopy. Teaching the student piloting skills starts in the classroom. Of course we teach the students the SOPs and to make sure they have a canopy that is Square, Stable, and Steerable; but now what? Do we just give directions to the student over the radio? Realistically, for the student who just opened their canopy for the first time we, as instructors, will probably have to do that. The student has emotions of excitement and fear going through their mind while adrenaline is going through their body. This mixture can make anyone confused, so don’t be surprised if the first time in the landing pattern you are flying a “remote controlled skydiver”. Having said that, let’s discuss how we are going to teach the student to navigate the pattern and eventually, be removed from radio status. I like to start this process with a laminated picture of the landing area and a grease pencil. With a laminated picture the instructor should sit down with the student and first, have the student draw an arrow showing the direction of the wind. Now we know that the student is aware of the wind direction and we do not have to assume that they do. Next, have the student point out where their “playground” is going to be. For those who do not use the term “playground” that is the area where the student can fly their canopy, while they are descending to the proper altitude to enter the landing pattern. Next, have the student make a mark showing where they will enter the downwind part of the landing pattern and at what altitude this is supposed happen. This is the time the instructor can discuss at what altitude to leave the playground and to start thinking about the landing procedures they covered during the first jump course. Additionally, let the student know that next time things could be different due to wind direction and speed. Next have the student show where, and at what altitude, to make their turn for the base leg of the landing pattern. Since an aerial picture of the drop zone is be used, the instructor can point out hazards and landmarks at this point. For me, I like to point out a grass runway at the drop zone and to tell students not to go pass it figuring it is better for them to have to walk back a little bit than to risk getting too close to the hanger or the active taxiway. Finally, have the student show where, and at what altitude, the final turn would be. At this point the instructor should reiterate the importance of the wind sock, what altitude to stop turns and to do only small corrections, and of course, when to flare. Since the student is making marks on a laminated picture, it is a good training aid to keep and to use when debriefing the student after the jump. The instructor can point out how the plan and the actual landing pattern were different. The instructor then can talk about how safety could have been affected and discuss a plan for improvement. After the debriefing the student, just wipe the photo clean and use it for the next student. Now, let’s talk about our first jump student some more. When teaching a first jump student, I do not advocate going through all of this in great detail on their first jump. Instead, have them look at the picture. Ask them about where they would want to be at 1,000 feet. Where would they turn for the base leg and final leg of the landing pattern? If we, as instructors, get into too much detail for the first jump the student can have a sensation overload and forget everything. Additionally, a sensation overload could make the experience less enjoyable and possibly hinder the chances for repeat business and some good word of mouth advertising. By just showing them what will be happening we can reduce the student’s anxiety by reducing their fear of the unknown. Additionally, if there should be a radio failure while the student is under canopy, having shown them on a photo of the landing zone and discussed where they should be in relationship to various ground features we have just increased the chances for the student to land safely. Author Bio: Corey Miller is a C rated skydiver who held both coach and IAD instructor ratings. He holds a Master in Aeronautic Science degree with specialties in Teaching and Human Factors. He currently works as an Instructor/Quality Assurance Inspector in the Aerospace Industry. He calls the Oklahoma Skydiving Center his home DZ.
  23. admin

    History of Women in Skydiving

    In celebration of women’s history month we decided to take a look at the role of women in the history of skydiving. Although only about 20 percent of all skydivers are female, women have been there right from the start, conquering the skies alongside their male counterparts. As soon as man figured out how to fly, he also had to find a way to save himself if something goes wrong with his flying device; which is why the first parachute jumps were all done from balloons. Some women made a living from parachuting in the early days, doing it not only for the thrill, but also to entertain the crowds. First Female Parachutists Jeanne-Genevieve Garnerin, wife of Andre Garnarin, inventor of the frameless parachute and avid balloonist, was the first woman to descend under a parachute. She did this on 12 October 1799, from a 900 meter altitude. Jeanne continued to tour with her husband in France and all over Europe, completing many balloon ascents and parachute descents. The bug also bit her niece, Elisa Garnerin, who started flying balloons at only 15 years of age and completed 39 professional parachute descents between 1815 and 1836. Kathe Paulus was another woman who had a great impact on skydiving as we know it today. In collaboration with her husband, Lattermann, she developed a parachute prototype to make their balloon flights safer. This was one of the first inventions of a collapsible parachute – the parachute was folded and packed into a bag. Unfortunately Latterman died trying out their invention when his parachute failed after jumping from a balloon, but Paulus made it to the ground safely. She improved the invention and made good money from sales during WW1, although she lost her fortune later because of inflation. By August 1914, Kathe Paulus had made about 70 exhibition descents in her safety device. Kathe Paulus on a balloon flight Jumping from a Plane Georgina Ann Thompson, known as Tiny Thompson, became the first woman to parachute from a plane on 21 June, 1913 over Los Angeles. Georgina was destined for a life of poverty, working 14 hour days in a cotton mill before skydiving changed everything for her. She got married at age 12, became a mother at 13 and lost her husband soon thereafter. Georgina was 15 when she first saw Charles Broadwick’s famous parachute show and felt so inspired she insisted on joining his troupe. She soon earned the nickname “Tiny Broadwick” or “Doll Girl” because of her small size and was a great hit at the carnivals. Dressing up in ruffled bloomers, pink bows and ribbons in her hair, Tiny drew large crowds everywhere she went with her daredevil manoeuvres. She was soon approached by famed pilot, Glen Martin, who wanted her for his airplane shows. Charles Broadwick developed a silk parachute for Tiny, which was packed into a knapsack attached to a jacket using harness straps. A string was woven through the canvas covering of the parachute and attached to the plane’s fuselage. As soon as she jumped, the cover would tear away and the parachute would fill with air. For her first airplane jump, Tiny sat on a trap seat, outside the cockpit and behind the wing. The parachute was on a shelf above her. Glen Martin ascended to an altitude of 2000 feet, where Tiny pulled a lever, allowing the seat to drop out from underneath her. The parachute opened up and she floated down gently, landing in Griffith Park. Tiny later also became the first female parachutist to land in water. In 1914, during a demonstration jump from a military plane that went horribly wrong, Tiny became the first person to do a planned free-fall. During this jump, the line of her parachute became tangled in the plane’s tail assembly. The wind was whipping her around and it was impossible to get back into the plane. Tiny however kept her cool and decided to cut all, but a short piece of the line and plummet toward the earth. Pulling this line by hand, she freed the parachute to open up, demonstrating the principle of the rip cord. By surviving this accident, Tiny showed that it wasn’t necessary for a parachute to be attached to a plane in order to open it. It was possible for a pilot to safely jump from a damaged plane. Georgia Thompson (Tiny Broadwick) Through WW1, Tiny worked as an advisor for the U.S. Army Air Corps. During her life, she made over a 1000 jumps from planes and survived several mishaps. She once ended up on top of a train; got tangled up in a windmill as well as high-tension wires. Despite suffering numerous injuries during her career, she lived a long and full life, dying at age 85. Women in Skydiving Today 63-Way Head Down Women's World Record Ever since the first female pioneers made their first jumps, women have been setting new records in skydiving. We decided to compile a list of some of the most impressive female skydiving achievements to date: A new world record for the largest female head-down freefly formation was set in 2013 in Arizona, where 63 women linked arms for a minute and a half to hold the formation. The women ranged in age between 20 and 52 years old and reached speeds of over 165 mph as they were falling upside down, head first toward the Arizona desert. Participants came from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, England, France and Russia. The world record for the largest all-female skydiving formation is held by 181 women from 31 countries and was set in Perris, California. With this feat, the women managed to raise over $900,000 for the fight against breast cancer. This record will be challenged in October 2014 when an attempt is made to exceed 200 jumpers. U.S. skydiver, Cheryl Stearns, holds the record for the most parachute descents by a woman, with a total of 15,560 in August 2003. To date, her total amount of skydives has exceeded 18,000. She is also the Guinness World Record holder for the most jumps in 24 hours by a female skydiver, with 352 jumps in 1995. The oldest person to have done a skydive jump is Hildegarde Ferrea, who was 99 years old when she did a tandem jump in 1996, at Dillingham Field in Oahu, Hawaii. 181-Way Women's World Record Conclusion Skydiving is a sport where female skydivers may be in the minority, but looking back in history we see that women have played a very important role through the years, directly and indirectly to help develop the sport to what it is today. We expect that this is also how it will be in the future and look forward to seeing more achievements and inventions from the fairer sex.
  24. The expansion of iFly indoor skydiving centers continues, this time with development planned for the Middletown, Ohio area. Start Aviation LLC and iFly Corp recently signed an agreement that would see a vertical wind tunnel build in Middleton. Though the exact location of where the tunnel will be built is still undecided, Middle Regional Airport has been listed as a potential location. Start Aviation LLC is the operator of Start Skydiving, a dropzone that has in recent years shown itself to be one of the best in the country, while iFly has shown its dominance in the global wind tunnel market with more than 20 wind tunnels located around the world, and the company continuing to show impressive growth. While still in the early stages, aspects of the project have been released; such as the plans for the indoor skydiving location to include a restaurant, classroom and an office. With the development of the Middletown tunnel, there will be a total of 15 iFly tunnels in the United States, several of which have been established in the past couple years. With the next closest tunnel being located in Chicago, the city hopes that the new attraction will bring in visitors from surrounding locations.
  25. admin

    Boost Your Marketing with Lagniappe

    Image by Czapla As the skydiving market continues to grow and more dropzones open their doors, finding creative ways to make your DZ stand out from the competition is more important than ever. One simple way to gain a competitive advantage is to add lagniappe to your arsenal of marketing tools. What is Lagniappe? (pronounced lan-yap) A Cajun French word often associated with New Orleans, lagniappe is best defined as “a little something extra.” If you've ever checked in at a Hilton DoubleTree Hotel and enjoyed a warm chocolate chip cookie at the front desk, you’ve experienced lagniappe. If you’ve flown Southwest Airlines and checked your bags free of charge, you’ve experienced lagniappe. These “little extras” are not an afterthought, they are an important component of the marketing strategy for companies big and small around the world. Small Business Strategy: Lagniappe My parents run an eco-kayaking tour (Antigua Paddles) on a small Caribbean island. Everyday they compete against 98 other companies for the same cruise ship passengers visiting the island for a few hours. The competitive environment is cutthroat, and my family has needed to use some creativity in order to stand out. Over the past few years, TripAdvisor reviews have become the number one source of marketing for businesses in Antigua. In order to trigger lots of 'talk' on TripAdvisor, my parents have made lagniappe a key component of their marketing strategy and it shows: they are currently ranked number 3 out of 100 attractions on the island. How They Do It - After a fabulous three hour tour combining kayaking, hiking, and snorkeling, guests are offered two unexpected things: a chilled, scented face towel to freshen up and homemade banana bread, baked fresh every morning at 7:00am. Their guests love it. If you take a moment to read some of their TripAdvisor reviews, you'll see just how many people comment on the face towels and banana bread... it's literally like putting the cherry on top of a dessert. How to Use Lagniappe at Your DZ Here are a few examples of how you can incorporate lagniappe into your daily operations at the DZ: 1. Free 'ice pops' or freezies. This is an inexpensive gesture that your guests will love while waiting to make their skydives especially during the warm summer months. Kids love this and if you can please impatiently waiting children, parents will love you for it! 2. Complimentary Coffee Mug or Shot Glass - This is a great lagniappe to gift after the skydive. It can be a bit expensive, but there are sources on the web to get some great deals. Check out alibaba.com for the most inexpensive logoed gift ideas. 3. Starbucks Gift Card - If someone leaves a positive review on your Facebook page after their skydive, send them a handwritten thank you note with a free $5 Gift Card to Starbucks or another local coffee shop. If they loved you before, they'll love you even more now! And, added bonus, they’ll probably talk about your unexpected gesture on their social media channels. 4. Discount Fish Bowl - After your guests have made their skydives, have them reach into a fish bowl to draw a ticket for a discount for any merchandise in the store. Discounts range from 5% to 25% off... of course the majority of the tickets will be for 5% off. This is fun for the customer, builds goodwill and it'll encourage guests to think about buying merchandise... everyone loves a deal! 5. Free Reserve Repacks - Reward your licensed skydivers for buying their systems with you instead of going to the big name retailers in the magazines - offer two free reserve repacks when purchasing directly with you. 6. Free Tours for Kids - On a weather hold? Get the kids together and take them to the loft. Allow them to put on a rig, show them the cutaway procedures, teach them where the reserve and main are. As mentioned above, if you can make the kids happy by enhancing their experience, you'll make the parents very happy. The only cost is time. 7. Special Cards - Have your reservations team find out if there are any special occasions with anyone in a group... bachelor parties, birthdays, anniversaries etc. When the individual arrives, surprise them with a special card signed by the staff wishing them a great day in the sky! Executing this is easy - have the staff sign a dozen cards in advance and then have the person taking the reservation, customize it. The recipient will be amazed! 8. Fresh Cookies - This is doable and awesome. Take a page from DoubleTree or Otis Spunkmeyer and offer free cookies to each person after their jump! Good incentive to get people into your store... all you need is a small toaster oven and cookie dough. 9. Personalized Thank You Card for AFF Students - Have AFF instructors fill out personalized cards on a "Jump Well Done" and mail them the same day. Your AFF students will feel encouraged and feel part of the DZ family when they receive their card on Monday. 10. Give Out a Free Beer - Have a bar at your DZ? If so, award your guests with a ticket for a free draft beer or soda. Getting people in the bar after their jump will probably result in some food sales. If you don't have a bar on the DZ, work with a local bar in town...they'd love the extra traffic and your guests will enjoy a cold one at no cost to you!