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Found 272 results

  1. admin

    Find a reputable Drop Zone

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

    Worlds Longest Touchdown Catch (VIDEO)

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

    The Physics of Freefall

    Without an atmosphere we would continue to accelerate during free fall to ever increasing velocities until we impacted mother earth. Without an atmosphere our parachute would of course be worthless. Hence a soft landing on the moon requires retro rockets to decelerate to a soft landing while parachutes have been used to help decelerate the Martian landers in the thin carbon dioxide atmosphere of mars. In the absence of atmospheric drag we would experience a linear increase in velocity with time as described by: Where ln is the natural logarithm base e and cosh is the hyperbolic cosine function. We can now evaluate eqns (10), (11) and (12) for various times over the free fall period to obtain the acceleration, downward velocity and the distance the skydiver falls. These results are tabulated in Table (1) and corresponding plots are illustrated in Figs (1) through (3). Eqn (11) was used to calculate the plot in Fig (1). We note that as we exit the aircraft at t = 0, our initial acceleration is 32 ft/sec^2, (gravity rules). As the opposing aerodynamic drag force increases with our increasing free fall velocity, our downward acceleration decreases. We see from Fig (1) that our acceleration diminishes to about half of it’s initial value after 5 sec of free fall and all perceptible downward acceleration has ceased after 15 or 20 sec. Our free fall velocity was calculated from eqn (10) and is plotted in Fig (2). It steadily increases over the first 5 seconds of free fall from zero to nearly 90 mph. During the next 5 to 10 seconds our acceleration diminishes significantly as we approach terminal. It is the post 10 sec period of the skydive when our sensation of falling is replaced by the feeling being suspended and cradled by the pressure of the wind. Eqn (12) was use to calculate and plot the free fall distance. It is apparent from Fig (3) that we fall only about 350 feet in the first 5 seconds and at least twice that far in the second 5 seconds. Beyond 10 seconds the plot is nearly linear as we approach a constant terminal velocity. Fig (3) confirms our often used rule of thumb “we free fall about 1000 feet in the first 10 sec and another 1000 feet for every 5 sec thereafter”. Comparing the distance at 25 sec with that at 20 sec in Table (1) we see a difference of about 860 ft, a bit less than the rule of thumb value of 1000 ft. The 1000 ft per 5 sec of free fall at terminal is only precise for a free fall rate of 1000 ft / 5 sec = 200 ft/sec or 136 mph rather than 120 mph used in this example. Hopefully this example and discussion may provide some insight to those who are mathematically inclined and curious about the “whys”.
  4. A Himalayan Adventure That Continues To Reinvent Itself In late October 2014, Everest Skydive is set to enter into it’s seventh year of operation and make it’s eight expedition into the Nepali Himalaya bringing skydiving back to one of the earth’s most remote locations. In between the traditional scenery of climbers, trekkers, sherpas and porters, skydivers and their parachutes will once again be seen flying through the skies of the Khumbu region and Sagarmatha National Park. Arriving at this point, entering a seventh year after the first skydives were made in 2008, has been a path as challenging as any of the paths that lead to Everest Base Camp. Each year, as logistical challenges emerge and operational needs change, the expedition faces a year long challenge to bring skydiving back to Nepal. “Eleven months of hard work for one month in the Himalaya working even harder” has been the mantra of the team and expedition, composed of an international mix of skydivers and mountaineers. Over the years Everest Skydive has seen many changes. Whether it was aircraft support shifting from the Pilatus PC-6 to the AStar B3, or helping promote charities like Global Angels, to opening up new remote dropzones, the Everest Skydive expedition has constantly evolved to meet the needs of the local Nepali tourism industry and to bring high altitude skydiving and canopy flight to higher and higher dropzones. Seven years ago, the idea of safely landing sport and tandem parachutes at 12,350ft MSL was considered by many to be an impossible task. Yet, as each expedition successfully ventured further and further into the Himalaya, landing parachutes closer and closer to Everest Base Camp, this team of international skydivers proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that with today’s modern parachute designs providing cutting edge technology and performance envelopes, that high altitude parachute landings were not just the realm of stuntmen and world record seekers. As each year came and went, stand up landings at dropzones at 15,000ft MSL in Ama Dablam Base Camp, or 16,900ft MSL into the Gorak Shep lake bed, or even 17,192ft MSL onto the Kala Pattar Plateau proved that modern canopy flight and landing was sustainable at these altitudes. As each expedition would come to a close however, the team would search the Nepali landscape for new and exotic locations to bring skydiving into. After establishing those four dropzones in the Eastern Himalaya, the team’s founder Suman Pandey suggested the team head west to Pokhara, a lakeside Nepali tourist location beneath the Anna Purna Range of the western Himalaya. With a DZ elevation of 3,300ft MSL, Pokhara Skydive allowed for the Everest Skydive Himalaya experience without the added cost and complexity of the bail out oxygen systems that the higher eastern Nepali Himalaya region required. Pokhara Skydive then evolved into Everest Skydive’s first “consumer friendly” (not incredibly expensive) skydiving expedition for local tourism based sport and tandem skydiving. Not to be content with just bringing skydiving to the western Himalaya however, the team “borrowed” an AStar in 2013 and went scouting for another remote high altitude location. They found it in a village called Manang, located in a valley with an elevation of 11,500ft MSL, and with the help of the local government, were able to create a sustainable high altitude dropzone in Manang, Nepal as well. With all the exhausting effort put into creating successful skydiving expeditions into the Himalaya each year, the staff was known to periodically take a week off together after Everest Skydive and trek on foot up to Everest Base Camp to connect with the local friends and families that they had become a part of over the years. This expedition to Everest Base Camp received so many questions from friends and family back home over the years however, that the team began to open up the trek and invite others to join in on this life changing experience of making it all the way up to Everest Base Camp. What started out as a handful of friends, turned into a group of twenty people hitting the trails in two stages in 2013 and the 2014 expedition looks to bring between 20 and 30 skydivers and friends of skydivers on a trek to Everest Base Camp with skydiving in the western (and way more affordable) Himalaya region of Pokhara after the trip to Everest Base Camp. One of the strengths of the Everest Skydive expedition and it’s Everest Base Camp and Pokhara Skydive evolution is in the company that the team works with. Fishtail Helicopters has been providing Everest Skydive and their guests with the world’s most reliable high altitude helicopter support. And in a region like the Himalaya, the word “reliable” can be the difference between skydiving all day in a remote location or sitting on a hillside wrestling a parachute container away from a local yak…….Helicopter support for jump operations, helicopter support for medical evacs if needed and most appreciated it would seem……helicopter support to depart the Himalaya after reaching Everest Base Camp. Most everyone that reaches Everest Base Camp feels a little tinge of anxiety as they start to head back down the mountain, as they suddenly realize, with their goal behind them, that they still have a 3 day walk back out of the park to catch a Twin Otter back to Kathmandu. Not Everest Skydive and it’s group however……since the team works directly with the AStar owners, they coordinate flights out from the Himalaya the day after reaching Everest Base Camp. Facing a 3 day walk, instead the team flies out on an 8 minute terrain flying AStar flight back to Lukla Airfield, back to the world. The word “epic” can be a cliché at times, not here though, not on this flight. It has to be experienced to understand it, but for those that already have, they know. That’s the story more or less, seven years of hard work by a small group of highly motivated international teammates that continue to bring the “top of the world” within reach of the skydiving universe. It’s an expedition that continues to grow and evolve like the remote ecosystem around it. And at the end of the day, whether it’s skydiving beside Mount Everest or sharing a lemon tea with a sherpa family and friends, the Everets Skydive expedition continues to make the world a little smaller by bringing people together from different cultures and countries and giving them all the same thing to believe in, that people are capable of accomplishing anything as a team. For more information on Everest Skydive, you can contact Tom Noonan via e-mail.
  5. admin

    Flirting with danger, skirting the law

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

    This method has evolved over the last ~30 years from its military origins into a successful method for training sport parachutists. The student gets 4-5 hours of ground training and is then taken to an altitude of about 3000 feet for the jump. The jump itself consists of a simple "poised" exit from the strut of a small single engine Cessna aircraft. As the student falls away from the plane, the main canopy is deployed by a "static line" attached to the aircraft. The student will experience about two to three seconds of falling as the parachute opens. Subsequent S/L jumps require about 15 minutes of preparation. After 2 good static line jumps, the student will be trained to pull their ripcord for themselves. The student then does 3 more static line jumps where they demonstrate this ability by pulling a dummy ripcord as they leave the plane (the static line is still initiating the deployment). The student is then cleared to do their first actual freefall. The first freefall is a "clear & pull", where the student initiates the pull sequence immediately upon leaving the aircraft. Next is a 10 second delay jump. Subsequent jumps go to progressively higher altitudes with longer delays. After 20 freefalls, and meeting certain other basic requirements, the student receives their A license and is cleared off student status. Safety and Training Forum Find a place to jump in your area.
  8. Image by Brian Buckland Remember hide-and-go-seek? Well: you’re probably better at it than turbulence. So why are so many skydivers still caught off-guard? The answer is probably--predictably--complacency. After all, skydivers aren’t as vigilant about rough air as, say, paragliding pilots. That said: the devil’s invisible rodeo remains a serious hazard for every single person in the air, whether or not their ram-air is meant to get them down instead of up. Most of the time, you’re gonna be lucky. You’ll meet turbulence under a skydiving canopy high enough above the ground that you’ll just rumble around for a little bit before cruising into smoother air. Sometimes, though, your luck will run out. When those bumps happen in close proximity to the ground, turbulence tells a very different (and sometimes quite painful) story. Don’t despair--you can use your grownup-level hide-and-go-seek skills to stay in one piece. Let’s start with the key takeaway: Like the dumbest kid on the playground, turbulence near the ground tends to stick to a few predictable hiding places. They’re gonna hide downwind of solid objects. This includes trees, buildings and anything else that’s tall, sticking out of the ground and wider than a flagpole. They’re gonna hide above differential ground features. You can expect different surfaces--such as the lawn of the landing area and the asphalt next to the hangar--to reflect heat differently. You will feel that difference as, y’know, bumps. Also notable: when the sun heats two dissimilar surfaces to different temperatures, dust devils have the conditions they need to form. These “baby tornadoes” are standbys of desert dropzones, and they can form from uneven heating even when the winds are otherwise calm. They’re gonna hide behind spinning props. Remember shielding your pretty little face from the prop blast as you hopped on the plane? Well, that wind doesn’t go away just because you’re now landing. Keep your parachute (and everything else you care about) well away from the spinning propellers of airplanes chugging away on the ground. In fact, keep as clear of any propellor as you can, whether it’s spinning or not, always. They’re gonna hide behind other parachutes. Parachutes chum up the air (especially behind them) just as much as any other airfoil would. Don’t be surprised when you’re thrown around when you tuck into an ill-advised CReW move--or chase somebody too closely in your landing pattern. Not so bad? Okay. Stop smiling so smugly, though: there are a few factors that make the situation way, way worse. If you bumble into the bumps thrown by these suckers, you’re going to have a bad time. Stronger wind. If the wind is pretty much zero on the ground, you can generally get away with landing closer to a turbulence-throwing obstacle than you would if the wind were hauling (or even moderate). If you see movement in the wind indicators, do yourself a favor and keep clear. Bigger obstacles. The wind will pretty deftly wrap around a narrow tree. A hangar, however, is another story. Tall walls, outbuildings, silos -- they’ll all be bubbling, toiling and troubling on the lee side when the wind is pushing. According to the USPA: “You can expect to feel the effects of turbulence at a distance as far as 10 to 20 times the height of the obstacle that the wind is blowing across.” Do the math: wind blowing across 50-foot-tall trees can cause turbulence 500 to 1,000 feet downwind. Yikes. One of the first diagrams you’re forced to stare at when you get your initial paragliding license (and every skydiver should, by the way) is one that describes rotor. Since paragliders are basically riding the wind that’s coming off of very, very big obstacles, those rotor diagrams are a good macro view of the turbulence that pours into any wind shadow. As an object gets bigger, those diagrams pretty handily describe the way wind tucks around and churns into the empty space on the other side of it. Are you ready to play? Thought so. Now count down from 13,500 and find turbulence before it finds you.
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    Next - Get licensed!

    Be Aware of the Risks Choose a method of training Find a Drop Zone Set a date and jump! Get licensed You've done it! You loved it. We know you did but don't mind you telling us anyway! We gave you a nice cheesy certificate and if you wanted them, you also got some cool photos and a video to impress the whuffos with. So what's next? Do it again! Come back next weekend, and do it again and again until you can give yourself the title of "a licensed skydiver". It takes about 15 to 20 jumps, each with more tasks, until the student is competent enough to jump without instructor supervision. However, if you learn with the AFF method, you can start jumping on your own after seven jumps. Each successive jump costs a little less. Once you're certified and have sold the shirt off your back to buy your own equipment you only pay around $20 for your slot on the plane. That's it! Each country has its own system of skydiving licenses. The USPA has four skydiving licenses, from the basic A license (25 jumps) to the D license (which you are eligible for after 500 jumps.) Once you're a seasoned skydiver there are many disciplines that you can try. Each of these have their own experience and proficiency requirements. Talk to your Instructors before you try something new. It is always prudent to get additional formal training in your discipline by someone qualified. We also strongly suggest you find yourself a mentor. Approach some one whom you respect and trust and ask him or her to coach and guide you through your skydiving career and progress. It is important to have someone you can bounce your plans and ideas off just to test them and get some experienced input. Remember what we said up front: Knowledge, Skill and Attitude. Never stop learning and developing these. Dropzone.com is loaded with useful information at all levels but make sure to talk to your Instructors and Coaches often. Ask them about the advice you get online. They know and understand your skill levels and can help guide you safely on this journey. We'd love to hear your skydiving stories in the Dropzone.com forums, and most of all, we'd love to share the sky with you somewhere at a boogie in the near future. Prev: Set a date and jump! More related information: Skydiving Disciplines Gear Classifieds Dropzone.com Forums Skydiving Glossary
  10. Imagine holding your arm out of a car window as you drive down the highway. The wind you feel is caused by your speed through the air rather than by weather. Skydivers call this apparent wind the relative wind, and it is the single most important element of the freefall environment. In fact, it is the only thing you have to work with in freefall, and from the moment of exit until your parachute opens you must think of yourself as a body pilot instead of a regular person, just as when you go swimming you have to leave your land habits behind. Your adventure in the relative wind begins at the moment of exit. There is nothing particularly complicated about exits and the techniques you use on your first freefall will be the same as those used by skydivers with thousands of jumps. Your exit makes or breaks the skydive, so we spend a lot of time practicing this part of the jump. A weak exit consumes valuable freefall time and puts you in a mental position of having to catch up, adding unwanted stress to your skydive. With a good exit you can get on with your learning and enjoyment at once, finishing the freefall tasks with plenty of time to spare. The two essentials of an exit are presentation and timing. Presentation refers to how you relate to the relative wind. Timing refers to your relationship with the other skydivers. Let's take a detailed look at these aspects of the exit. The body position we use to maintain a comfortable, neutral position on the wind (the equivalent of floating on water) is an arch. We'll learn more about body position soon, but for now you need to think simply about arching into the relative wind. This means that your hips are pushed forward into the wind, your arms and legs are spread out evenly and pulled back, and your chin is up, creating a smooth curve from head to toe. If you imagine lying face down in a shallow bowl with your arms and legs spread out evenly, you are thinking of an arch. In this position you will naturally face into the wind. To achieve a good exit, all you have to do is present your arch to the relative wind. Remember, we're on an airplane flying nearly one hundred miles per hour, so the relative wind is from the direction of flight. (When you see photos of skydivers they are usually presenting their arch towards the ground, but that's because they have fallen long enough to be going straight down so the relative wind comes straight up from the ground.) Once you are poised outside of the airplane, start your arch before you let go. Then it is a simple matter to open your hands, pivot into the wind, and you're flying! As you will soon learn, a relaxed arch is much more smooth, stable, and comfortable than a tense one so try not to think of yourself as falling off of an airplane. You're not; you're flying free. A mental image that might help would be learning to swim. You would be more relaxed and alert if you lowered yourself slowly down a ladder into warm water and let yourself float comfortably before letting go than if you jumped off a cliff into cold, dark surf. Think of the air as a friendly environment, slip into it smoothly as you climb out of the airplane, arch, take a deep breath, open your hands, and float off on the wind! You will note that I didn't say "push off." Until your parachute opens, your last contact with the world of solid objects is the airplane. If you push off, you will have some momentum that will tend to make you go over on your back, just as if you stood with your back to a pool and pushed off of something solid. Just arch and face the wind. As you leave the aircraft, the relative wind (arrow) is parallel to the ground. In a good arch with your head up, you should see only the airplane and sky rather than the ground during the first second or two of freefall. Losing forward speed and accelerating downward, the relative wind gradually shifts from parallel to the ground to perpendicular. This transition takes several seconds. You will not be facing the ground until about eight seconds after the exit. At no time do you look directly down at the ground. Even after the transition is over and you are falling straight down, in a good arch your head is up and your eyes are on the horizon. The aircraft's speed is about 100 miles an hour. When you leave, you lose some of that horizontal speed and actually slow down for the first few seconds. Then gravity takes over and you gradually accelerate to 110 miles per hour. That's why there is no sensation of sudden acceleration - you only gain ten miles per hour in ten seconds! Relax, arch, and face the wind is all you really need to do to achieve a stable exit. But remember that you are jumping with other people. For everyone to have a good exit, you also need group timing. Just as a band starts playing to a count, we'll start skydiving to a count. That count, used all over the country, is "ready, set, go!" It should be done with a smooth, even cadence. Because it's noisy outside an airplane, the count should be loud. Finally (think of a conductor with his baton giving a visual count to the orchestra) you, the conductor, need to give the other jumpers a visible count. We have you bring up your left knee on "set" and turn into the wind on go. Combining these two elements of presentation and timing will almost always result in a smooth exit. Leave out either one, and the exit may funnel, the term skydivers use to describe an unstable formation. Leave both out and a funnel is almost a certainty. But if that happens, don't panic. An arch will fix the problem. Incidentally, it doesn't affect your stability to dive out of the airplane. As long as you are presenting an arch to the relative wind, you will be stable. Unfortunately it takes most people a while to get used to the idea that the relative wind starts right outside the door. If you walk through an airplane door like you would a house door, you'll present your side or back to the wind and lose stability. In the water, walking doesn't work; you have to swim. Air is the same way - you have to fly through the door, not walk through. Test Yourself 1. Skydivers on the outside of an aircraft as they prepare to exit are called floaters. The ones inside the airplane who will dive through the door are called divers. Floaters are further divided into front, rear, and center, depending on their position in the door. On an ASP level one jump, the student is the center floater, the reserve side JM is front floater, and the main side JM is rear. Why is the front floater more likely to have a problem than the rear floater if he cannot hear or see the exit count given by the center floater? 2. Novices diving out of an airplane frequently do a half roll and then recover stability facing the aircraft. What could cause this common problem? Proceed to Chapter 3 (Flying Your Body)
  11. The daily deal discussion has become the latest irritant on par with the topic of SkyRide and often leads to vein-popping, heated discourse similar to any US political exchange between Democrats and Republicans. It can get heated! Generally, there are two positions held about daily deals: Position 1: Strongly Against: Deeply discounting the product while a third party profits on your hard work is not sustainable and does not make sense. Position 2: In Favor: It's a great way to expose your business and bring a lot of traffic through the door. Many businesses, both in and out of the skydiving industry, have found the daily deal to be a dreadful experience. The deal has been misused by offering too many deals, too often, without creating a proper strategy for its implementation. Think of the daily deal like chocolate. Eat it in moderation and it can be enjoyed. Eat too much of it and it will make you sick. The application of the daily deal can be either positive or negative dependent on several variables and is not universally a good idea for all. Three Variables that Dictate Daily Deal Success or Failure: A). Motive - Revenue Generator or Marketing Vehicle? B). Competition in the marketplace. C). How the deal is structured. A. Your Goal for Offering a Daily Deal What is the motive for creating a daily deal? If the motive is to create an infusion of cash to get through a winter or to generate a major profit, then this is a red flag. Offering daily deals annually for a prolonged period at high volumes is unsustainable. If the motive is to use the daily deal as a vehicle to increase awareness about your DZ, then this is a better approach. I view the daily deal more as an advertising expense as opposed to a revenue generator - a big difference. The key baseline is to never lose money on any deal. Creating an intelligent deal limits volume, guarantees a sell out promotion and goes away quickly. The purpose is to maximize exposure based on the size of the database of the daily dealer. Whether you offer 500 vouchers or 2000, your exposure to the database is the same. So, offer a lower volume. B. Competition in the Marketplace If there are multiple DZ's competing in the same marketplace who offer promotions at different price points, volumes and times of year, the marketplace will erode and operators will be forced to cost-cut as profit margins become razor thin resulting in a lesser product. Consumers will refuse to pay the full retail price knowing that if they are patient enough, a deal will soon appear. C. How To Structure a Deal If you elect to offer a deal, how you structure it is most important. If the fine print does not benefit you entirely then it could be detrimental. Below are important keys to structuring a deal: 1. When to Offer Your Daily Deal - Don't (Ever) offer a daily deal during the beginning or during the busiest months of the season. Basic economics teaches that one can charge the most when demand is high, but pricing will slip if a great deal is offered in great supply. A daily deal should only be offered at the end of the busy season when transitioning into the quieter time of year when demand is low. 2. Expiration Dates - Ideally, allow for a lengthy expiration date as opposed to a shorter one. Pushing for a short-term expiration date (six months) puts pressure on certificate holders to redeem, causing high volume in a short period of time. If the weather is particularly poor, rescheduling these deep discounted customers can interfere with availability during the peak season. Here's an example: Many DZ's offer a high volume deal (more than 1000 vouchers) in the month of December (Northern Hemisphere) with an expiration date for May or June of the following year. The purpose is to generate a high volume of business during the cooler months as winter transitions into spring. Conceptually, it's a good idea to maximize being busy and creating work for DZ staff when it's normally a bit quiet. The consequence occurs if the weather is poor during the spring season forcing these discounted jumpers to reschedule into the busy months thus reducing availability for full-retail price paying customers. Offering a longer-term deal (a year) doesn't push so many people en masse in such a short period of time. 3. Deal Pricing a. Know Your Cost. Know exactly what a tandem skydive costs you. Round up when factoring in variable expenses like the cost of fuel. b. Price for Profit. Know the number you would wish to receive before beginning talks with a daily dealer. Profit margins are not significant, but the number MUST result in a profit. If it's at a loss….DON'T ACCEPT IT. 4. Negotiate. Negotiating a daily deal is not unlike purchasing a car from a salesman. Don't show your hand, but let the offer come from the daily deal representative first and build the margin up from there. Remember, there is competition for daily dealers. Several years ago, GroupOn was the only dealer in the space. Today many are fighting for your promotion. Pit one against the other to maximize profit margins. Never pay for credit card fees. Dealers will try to have you pay them. This can be negotiated and should be a show-stopper. Tip: Address this detail last after you're happy with the amount received for each voucher sold. 5. Limit Vouchers - Setting up a good deal should create a vibe or a rush from the consumer base by offering limited quantity over a limited time period. Many DZ's offer too many vouchers to generate cash flow. Again, if the motivator is for a cash infusion (which it often is in this cash flow industry) then becoming cash poor is inevitable once current debts are covered and instructors are paid resulting in an unhealthy cycle of continuously ‘robbing Peter to pay Paul.’ 6. Deal Parameters - Have you ever noticed that popular restaurants or hotels put in their conditions that the deal cannot be redeemed on Valentine’s Day or some other big holiday event? Be sure that your deal doesn’t impede on customers wishing to pay you full retail during boogies or traditionally high volume weekends. Be clear how to handle vouchers after a certificate goes beyond the expiration date. 7. Be Prepared - This is not part of structuring the deal, but it should be part of your mindset. Be prepared for high traffic on the phones when your deal launches and most importantly offer VIP service to these coupon holders. A marketer's challenge is to create a vehicle that drives traffic through the door. Once there, treat them with amazing service in order to wow them. Too often, companies treat people who redeem their vouchers as second-class citizens because of the deal they have. The ultimate purpose of good marketing is to drive traffic and convert customers into loyalists. Suggested Alternative: A More Beneficial Daily Deal Skip the middle man. A more beneficial deal is creating an in-house deal to your customer database. Capitalizing on a customer base that already loves you allows for an easy sale. Offer a deal to your own customer base and offer it for three days only (ideally on Black Friday or Cyber Monday in the USA). In order for this to occur, DZ's must be collect e-mail addresses from all of their customers in order to launch a successful in-house program. Summary If implementing a daily a deal use caution, apply a strategy and execute in moderation. Generating traffic and building your business at an acceptable price point is a process that begins with treating guests like a VIP at every point of interaction. Too often, drop zone operators focus on the skydive to wow the customer as opposed to amazing people by offering a clean facility, high communications and staff who are passionate about service. Building a business without these foundations will create the need for quick cash resulting in a cycle that is damaging to all.
  12. So you've decided to spice things up a bit and jump out of a plane! Or maybe learning how to skydive has been a dream you've had all your life and the time has come to make it happen. Whatever your motive, you're in the door (no pun intended!) of doing one of the most fun things you'll ever do and being introduced to one of the coolest communities you'll ever come across. Of course we're not biased! It’s not always easy to figure out how to go about making your first skydive. If you follow the 5 steps in these articles, you will be well on your way to skydiving and other fun things like learning to fly a wingsuit. Skydiving is a sport where we never stop learning and there is no such thing as a stupid question, so when in doubt, ask! Regardless of what your motives and reasons are, it's important that you understand the risks and requirements before you take that first leap! Start Here: 1. Be aware of the risk 2. Choose a method of training 3. Find a Drop Zone 4. Set a date and jump! 5. Get licensed
  13. There are only two ways to end a freefall. One is to open your parachute, and the other is not to. No one wants it to end the second way. Statistics show that the overwhelming cause of skydiving fatalities are due to the jumper not using a perfectly functional parachute in time. Why does it happen? In order to open your parachute safely, you need to know two things: when and how. The when was discussed in the previous chapter. Altitude awareness is critical and the loss of it is a life threatening situation. The problem can be compounded if the skydiver, running out of altitude, is unfamiliar with his equipment and has trouble deploying his parachute. Add the possibility of a malfunction to low altitude and unfamiliar equipment and you have a perfect recipe for disaster. Therefor you must always watch your altitude and before you ever get on an airplane you should be totally familiar with your equipment. The sport parachute, called a rig in skydiving jargon, is a very simple machine. It must include two canopies, a main and a reserve. The components must be TSO'd, meaning they meet government technical standard orders that require high manufacturing and testing standards. All rigs are worn on the back and consist of similar components. A look at the diagram will show that a rig consists of the deployment system (pilot chute, bridle, and bag), canopy, suspension lines, steering lines, toggles, risers, and harness/container. Deployment is initiated when the container opens and the pilot chute enters the relative wind. The pilot chute may be packed inside the container (all reserves and student mains) or kept in a pouch outside of the container and pulled out by hand, which most experienced jumpers prefer. The pilot chute acts as an anchor in the air, while the jumper continues to fall. As the two separate, the bag in which the canopy is folded is pulled from the container. The parachute's suspension lines, carefully stowed on the outside of the bag, are drawn out until they are fully extended. The bag is then pulled open and the canopy comes out. It immediately begins to inflate as the cells fill with air. Inflation is slowed by the slider which prevents the canopy from expanding too fast. It usually takes three to five seconds from deployment of the pilot chute to full inflation of the canopy. Over the years, parachute design has been refined to a remarkable degree. In fact, square parachutes have no known inherent design malfunctions. Theoretically, given proper packing, a stable deployment, and barring material flaws, a square parachute will never malfunction. However, we don't live in a perfect world, and malfunctions are common enough that no sensible person would intentionally jump without a reserve. The malfunction rate for sport parachutes is about one in every thousand deployments. Nearly all are preventable. The catalogue of possible malfunctions is long, but all you really need to know is that any parachute must have two characteristics. It must be open, and it must be safe to land. Otherwise it is a malfunction. The first characteristic is determined at a glance. The second one, if there is any doubt, is determined by a control check. Should you have a malfunction, the response is simple - pull your reserve. On student parachutes pulling the reserve handle combines two functions. The main parachute is released from the harness, then the reserve container is opened, starting the reserve deployment sequence. For all practical purposes, main and reserve deployments are identical except that the canopies may be of different sizes. Most parachutes used by experienced jumpers have a separate handle for each function of the emergency procedures so you will need some special training when you progress to your own gear. Also, at Skydive Arizona we use only square reserves. If you travel to another drop zone be sure you receive training on their equipment, and find out if the reserve is round or square. Round reserves mean you will need special training. The first factor in preventing malfunctions is a simple one: don't leave the airplane with an existing malfunction. This means that you should always have your equipment checked by a knowledgeable second party to be sure nothing is misrouted or damaged. Prevention extends to packing. When you learn to pack you will learn to inspect the canopy. In the student phase, you have to trust your jumpmasters and packers to be responsible for the condition of your parachute, but you will eventually assume all responsibility. Because of the possibility of a jumper making a mistake, our reserves are inspected and packed by a specialist who holds a Rigger's Certificate issued by the U.S. government, thus ensuring that at least one parachute on every skydiver is technically sound. The second factor in malfunction prevention is one you control: body position. If you think back to the deployment sequence described earlier, the importance of a stable opening becomes apparent. Since the parachute is on your back, if you are facing the relative wind in a good arch it will deploy straight out behind you. If you are unstable, it must find its way past you - between your legs or around an arm, for example. In this situation, the pilot chute could entangle with you, stopping the deployment sequence. Another possibility during an unstable opening is that the lines will feed out unevenly, creating the potential for a line knot that could keep the slider from coming down or deform the canopy to the point that it cannot fly properly. Don't forget, however, that stability is not as important as opening in the first place. Pulling at the correct altitude always takes precedence over pulling stable. An unstable opening does not always result in a malfunction; parachutes are so reliable that the worst that usually happens is a few line twists. Not opening has far worse consequences. Test yourself: 1. While you are a student, your decision altitude, sometimes called your hard deck, is 2,500 feet. If you initiate main deployment at 4,500 feet and nothing happens, how many seconds will pass before you reach the decision altitude? How many will you have used counting and checking before you realize you have a problem? 2. If you know you have a malfunction, why should you pull your reserve at once instead of waiting until the decision altitude is reached? 3. In the old days, skydivers wore their reserve mounted on the front of their harness. If you had a chest mounted reserve, what body position would you want to be in for reserve deployment? 4. How often should you practice your emergency procedures? Proceed to Chapter 6 (Canopy Performance)
  14. 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:
  15. admin

    All About Naked Skydiving

    Advice From Jeff Dawson, The World Record Holder for Birthday Suit Skydives Milwaukee might seem like an odd place to rack up a truly epic number of naked skydives. You might expect conservatism and bitter winters to, y’know, get in the way. However, that’s exactly what Jeff Dawson--based at Sky Knights, near Milwaukee--has been doing for more than two decades. Of a little under 4,000 skydives, Dawson has done 722 of them naked, which is the world record by a long shot. Along the way, he has founded the Society for the Advancement of Naked Skydiving, or “SANS,” which keeps track of the world’s current naked skydiving records. (See what he did there?) At any rate, Dawson presents a wealth of hard-earned wisdom for skydivers eager to strip down before they jump out. Whether you’re doing the traditional birthday-suit huck for your hundredth or a way to pass the time while your jumpsuit is at the cleaners, Dawson has you (un)covered. We reached out with our most pressing questions. Q: Why is it that you love jumping naked so much? Dawson: It started off it was a naughty thing to do. I am a fairly conservative person, and it was naughty, so it was fun. Then it got to be the thing, and now it has become a creature all its own. The fact is that I’m not really a group-skydiving guy. I like just to get out of the airplane and enjoy the world around me by myself, just enjoying the awe of the situation. Naked skydiving makes that just so much better. You are just hanging out there. Nobody can see you. There isn’t a care in the world. That, to me, is pure freedom. I never set out to be the world record holder for naked skydiving. It just happened. I don’t go out to see how many naked skydives I can make; it’s just that I like doing it and the club I belong to is very naked-jumping friendly. I have made naked skydives where nobody has said one word about the fact I was naked. They are just so used to it. I have made at least one jump in every calendar year for almost 21 years, and I have made at least one naked jump every calendar month for 16 years. I did three naked jumps this past December when it was maybe 20 degrees Fahrenheit. At Sky Knights, they call [a wintertime naked jump] a “Dawson Pop” because I’ll be doing a hop-and-pop naked. Q: Okay--some basics. Since we all quite obviously have to wear some gear when we jump out of a plane, what is actually considered a “naked jump”? Dawson: Everybody has their own idea of what qualifies. For the purpose of the Society of the Advancement of Naked Skydiving, we say wrist to wrist and neck to knees. That allows safety equipment: a helmet, goggles, gloves, altimeter, shoes and socks if that’s what you choose to do. I have done only one jump where I was completely, 100% naked (with the rig, of course). No helmet, goggles, shoes, altimeter, socks...they called it a “naked naked” jump. Q: Did you start doing the naked thing before you started jumping or did you start doing the naked thing after you started jumping? Have you always been into naturalism? Dawson: Absolutely not. I made my first naked jump on my 100th skydive, but as far as the rest of it goes, no. I don’t even wear shorts in the summertime; always pants. I have nothing to do with nudism, naturalism...anything like that. Except for the naked skydiving. Q: What was it about that first naked skydive that got you into it? Dawson: Actually, it wasn’t that first one that got me going. Actually, it wasn’t that first one that got me going. I didn’t do another naked jump for probably 3 or 4 years afterward. A young female jumpmaster who liked to skydive naked put together a 4-way for a jumper’s hundredth jump, and she asked me to be a part. I think that was September 2001. The same thing happened a month later in October. We decided that we would see if we could make at least a 2-way every month for a year. We did, and of course there were several other people involved at different times. After a couple of years, she moved away, but I just kept going. Q: If someone is visiting Sky Knights on any given weekend, how likely is it that at least one person is going to be naked at some point? Dawson: Pretty likely. I do it more than most people, of course. If the conditions are right, I usually do my last jump of the day naked. Q: What’s the first step to doing a naked skydive right? Dawson: The first thing you have to do is to see if your dropzone even allows naked skydiving. I travel a lot and have been to a lot of different dropzones and talked to a lot of people about this. You have to understand that there are plenty of dropzones that actually can’t facilitate naked skydiving; where if there is any nakedness going on of any kind, the dropzone will get kicked off the airport because that’s in their contract, or charter, or whatever. Then you have to decide how public you want to make it. Cameras and social media are out there in such prevalence today that you have to be careful that someone’s livelihood could be endangered if this type of thing got out in the way that things do now. Unless you want the entire dropzone out at the landing area with cameras, you’ll have to have help to keep it quiet and under wraps. I blame social media for the fact that naked jumping isn’t as popular now as it used to be. Q: How can you set about controlling those variables? Dawson: If you want to do a naked jump stealthily and not have the whole dropzone watching, you can make that happen by arranging for a separate pass or landing area--or just talking to the people who are on the jump and asking them to turn off their cameras. People should understand that it’s a very legitimate concern. Q: How do you go about preparing for a naked skydive? Dawson: First off, I would definitely suggest doing it with someone who has done at least one before. You will want to decide what you are going to do about clothes. Sure, you’ll have a 200-square-foot toga to wear, but what next? Personally, I have a set of shorts that I wear over my leg straps, and then I have a pocket on one of the leg straps. When I am in the plane, I take the shorts off and put them in my leg pouch to put on after I land. I have seen people tie shorts onto a leg strap with pull-up cords. I knew one person who actually stuffed his shorts in the tail of his canopy. Amazingly, it didn’t affect the opening. You can always stash clothes at the landing area, of course. When you’re gearing up, make sure that your straps are relatively tight. We have a saying for the guys: Make sure that you have your junk in the right spot, because you can always cut away from a line-over but you can’t cut away from a nut-under. Nipples can be a problem, too. You can deal with that by either locating the chest strap above the nipples so that they’re out of the way or use band-aids to reduce the snag hazard, especially if you wear jewelry there. I have never seen it myself, but I’ve heard of at least one person who had jewelry ripped out of her nipple. Q: What’s different about the jump itself? Dawson: What tends to happen is that, after one person decides they’re going to do a naked jump, a bunch of people get on it. It can easily turn into a big zoo, with a dozen people on the jump who have never jumped naked before. That’s not a good idea. Naked jumping is entirely different from clothed jumping in that it changes the amount of control you have over your bodyflight. There’s a whole different dynamic: for instance, coming into a formation. If your mode normally is to come in fairly hot and slow down last minute to enter the formation, you’ll soon discover that that doesn’t work as well with a naked jump because you don’t have the drag. People often find they can’t stop. So if you can do it with 2 or 4 people--something like that--it usually works out better. When you’re in freefall, you’ll feel like the container is falling off of your back--or is not centered--because it’s touching your skin and you can actually feel where it is. Don’t freak out. If you’ve done your straps up nice and tight, it’s not actually coming loose; it just feels different. Also: You don’t want to get too wrapped up in the naked part of the skydiving and forget about all the other parts, which brings me to probably one of the most important parts about naked skydiving. This goes for any kind of extraordinary skydive. You’re still making a skydive, and you still have to do it safely. You have to make sure your equipment is right, and you do all of your checks. It is really easy to get caught up--especially if we’re talking about a 100-jump person--in the excitement of what’s going on, and forget about the things that are necessary. One more word to the wise: Choose a day when the conditions are right for a stand-up landing. If you slide in even a little bit, you are going to know it. Even grass acts like sandpaper. Q: Any final words of wisdom? Dawson: Do everyone a favor and be cool about it. If you go out and flash unsuspecting tandem students and airport authorities, then you’re crossing the line. Sky Knights operates a PAC in the summertime and when I’m ready to make a naked skydive, there will usually be tandems on the load. I won’t surprise them with my nakedness. Before they are even manifested, I’ll find out from manifest who they are, introduce myself and ask if they’d mind if I’m on the same load. I’ll also do that with other jumpers I don’t know. Most people are fine, especially when I tell them it’s going to be a world record--because every time I make a naked skydive, it’s a world record. I try to be sensitive about who is on the load and not make anyone feel embarrassed. Being polite about it has allowed me to do all those jumps. Got at least one naked jump? Join SANS! It costs a whopping $5 dollars to join, and with that membership fee you get a member number, a certificate for the wall of your cubicle, some stickers and a refrigerator magnet.
  16. nettenette

    How to Approach Your Recurrency Skydive

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

    Challenging jump for 25 BASE jumpers

    ALOR STAR: Braving strong winds and limited landing space, 25 skydivers from six countries jumped off the Alor Star Tower here yesterday. They leapt off the tower’s open deck at 105m and were on the ground within 18 seconds. It was the first time that some of them had jumped from such a low level, which added to the challenge. Retired army special forces captain Mohd Norizan Mohd Yunus, 42, said they had to release their parachutes within two seconds. He said a person needed to complete at least 200 normal parachute jumps before becoming a BASE jumper. BASE is the acronym for buildings, antennas, spans and earth – the four types of platforms from where skydivers execute their jumps. “We were in the air for between 13 and 18 seconds only,” said Norizan, who had done 1,233 normal parachute jumps in the last 19 years. Yesterday was his fifth BASE jump. Canadian Linda Pouffard, 26, who was the only woman skydiver, said she could feel her heart beat in every jump she made in the last five years. Policeman Eric Simpson, 40, from the United States, said the low level, strong winds and limited landing space made the jump more challenging. The event was held in conjunction with the Sultan of Kedah’s birthday celebrations and was Menara Alor Star’s inaugural international jump. The skydivers from Australia, Canada, England, Sweden the United States and Malaysia will also participate in the Kuala Lumpur Tower International Jump 2002 on Sunday where they will leap from a height of 300m
  18. admin

    Skydiving and the Recession

    I have noticed in my travels that many drop zones are a little slow these days. The student numbers are down, and we are blaming it on the economy. We have convinced ourselves that there is no way to get blood from a stone, and if the students feel broke, they will not want to spend the money to jump out of an airplane. I’m not buying it. It is true that the world is caught up in negative thinking. It is true that people are scared. But the question I would ask is this: What do people want more than anything in a time of worry? They want a feeling of release. They need to let go of their mundane perspective, filled with limitations, and do something that shifts them into a state of absolute joy. We have exactly what they need. So, now that we know we have the solution to all the world’s problems, we have a job to do. Unfortunately, just because someone needs something doesn’t necessarily mean they will take it. We need to get the horse to water, but we also need to make them want to drink. In other words, we need to inspire them. In order to do that, we need to tap into our own authentic inspiration. Do you remember what it is about skydiving that you love? If you are like me, there are a great many things. There is the social aspect; the people that skydive are the coolest bunch of weirdoes that I have ever met. If the world was made up of just skydivers, life on this planet would be a lot more fun. Then there is the unbridled euphoria that we experience when we are up there. Let’s face it, there are very few experiences that make a person feel like that. Beyond that, there is the never-ending process of learning that makes us realize that we are not done living. The more you learn, the more you want to learn. It is this kind of passion for more that draws a person out of the depressing feeling of “today is yesterday” into a deep desire to push forward into the exploration of what is possible. Once we reconnect with our true love of skydiving, all we need to do is share that feeling selflessly and fearlessly. There he goes again, droning on about fear. Yes, fear is the only thing that is holding us back from talking about skydiving with everyone we meet. Yes, part of what stops us from bringing it up is because we get a bit tired of the feeling of rejection when a die-hard whuffo gives us that eyes-rolled-back “you are crazy” look. If you think about it though, even that aversion has fear at its root. We are afraid of the feeling of rejection. If you hate being told that you are afraid, as I do, you will get off your ass and talk about skydiving to strangers. You will accept that you are in love with the whole thing, and come out of the closet. You know that this is the source of your joy. The more you talk about it, the happier you will be. Hang posters at work and hold informational meetings, perhaps with a few short videos and a real rig for them to see. Sit in a booth at a fair or university and talk about the experience to those who have not yet been there. You will be deeply glad you did. Then I often get the response: “what’s in it for me?” My DZ doesn’t have a finders-fee for bringing in new students. I’ll tell you what’s in it for you. You will get to be your higher self more often than before. You will get to keep your head in the clouds by talking about your true passion. As a secondary benefit, you will inevitably bring in more students. They will help to pay for the aircraft, the repairs to the hangar, the new bunkhouse at the DZ, the new fire pit, the new creeper-pad and even keep the jump prices reasonable despite rising gas prices. Imagine that. We can alter the worldwide trend toward fear-driven hoarding, at least in our little corner of the world. We have the antidote to fear and unhappiness. All we need to do is remember what we have, and share it. The world is in your hands. Get out there and be yourself! --BSG Transcending Fear Specialist Brian Germain is the author of several books, including Transcending Fear, Green Light Your Life, The Parachute and its Pilot, and Vertical Journey. His psychology background, combined with over 14,000 parachute jumps makes Brian uniquely qualified to discuss the important and pivotal topic that he refers to as “Adrenalin Management”. Learn more about Brian Germain here: www.GermainSeminars.com and here: www.CanopyFlightInstructor.com
  19. admin

    Air Adventures AFF: Level 6

    BACKLOOPS AND DELTA TRACKING JUMP SEQUENCE: When your jumpmaster says "GET INTO POSITION", take your position in the door. When you are ready to exit, turn to your right and shout "CHECK IN!" to your main side JM. The JM will respond "OK!" and nod his head when you are ready to go. Do the exit count - "Ready! Set! Arch!" On "Arch!" step to the left, out of the plane. Your JM will not hang on to you during exit. Count to four, maintaining a hard arch. Do one practice ripcord touch. Check your altitude. Turn to find your JM. He will not be hanging on to you, but he will be nearby. Follow your JM's hand signals. When he signals you to turn, do a 360. Check your altitude after each manuever. When he signals you to backloop, pull your knees up to your chest and stick your arms out in front of you in one fast motion. You will feel yourself backloop. When you feel yourself upside down, hard arch to recover stability. Check altitude after the backloop, then find your JM. When he signals you to delta track, put your arms back by your sides, extend your legs and point your toes. Track for six seconds. Recover to a neutral body position. Check your altimeter, then find your JM. At 6000 feet, shake your head to indicate "no more manuevers." Turn 180 degrees away from your JM. Wave off and pull at 5000 feet. Count to five and check your parachute. PERFORMANCE STANDARDS: Begin the backloop, then recover stability. Maintain altitude awareness without reminders. Turn smoothly. Track aggressively in a straight line. LEVEL SIX HINTS: Remember - to start a backloop, be agressive. To recover from a backloop, arch hard. It may take a second to get back over - hold the arch until you feel yourself flip back over. When you begin a delta track, pick a point on the horizon to track towards to avoid tracking in a circle. REMEMBER THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTS OF ANY SKYDIVE: PULL! PULL AT THE RIGHT ALTITUDE! PULL STABLE! LAND SAFELY UNDER AN OPEN CANOPY! Before Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7
  20. The Freefly Training Center (located at Skydive Sebastian, Florida) is incorporating a new program to benefit the freeflyers planning to go to the SkyVenture wind tunnel in Orlando to freefly. The new program is aptly called "FREEFLY THURSDAYS." Every Thursday from 6pm to 8pm starting in November 2002, the Freefly Training Center (or FTC for short) will be conducting training and group coaching for freeflyers willing to have fun and train in the two-hour long flying party. All bookings into the weekly "FREEFLY THURSDAYS" sessions are done directly with The Freefly Training Center (info@freeflytrainingcenter.com). "FREEFLY THURSDAYS" is a combined effort by the FTC and SkyVenture to provide a safe, structured and educational environment for everyone from Florida residents and non-residents alike looking to learn or improve upon their freefly skills. The demand for this education comes from the large influx of freeflyers now visiting Orlando's SkyVenture wind tunnel with the goal of translating their newly formed tunnel skills to the skies. More often than not, however, when freeflyers arrive at the tunnel, they are not joined by other freeflyers and therefore have a hard time assimilating how to efficiently fly with the same body positions they would use while skydiving. By creating "FREEFLY THURSDAYS", the FTC is giving all who join them on Thursdays a way to learn freefly in the tunnel. FTC instructors are on hand to give basic coaching tips and a solid reference to practice maneuvers, grip-management and two-way dynamics. The cost for "FREEFLY THURSDAYS" is based on the time each participant flies. Time is offered to participants in 15-minute "blocks" which may be shared by up to two freeflyers to offset the cost. Participants of "FREEFLY THURSDAYS" also have the option of engaging in private, one-on-one coaching sessions with the FTC instructors. These sessions offer private pre-briefings, intensive in-tunnel coaching, and full video debriefing following the actual flight session. Wind tunnel training has become an integral part of the relative work training regime…so much so that if your team is NOT training there, then you are behind the power curve. This level of tunnel training is exactly what the FTC is promoting for freefly, citing the marked increase of each flyer's learning curve and the ability to accelerate beyond his or her current experience level. The tunnel training lends itself to noticeable improvement even after your first sessions. The FTC is actively involved in training, coaching and the continued development of flight programs for all levels of freeflyers at SkyVenture Orlando on a weekly basis. In addition to the weekly "FREEFLY THURSDAYS," the FTC has scheduled three intensive freefly tunnel camps in December, January, and March. Also, the FTC hosts private tunnel camps for individuals or groups that cannot make the pre-scheduled dates. The tunnel has proven to be a very useful tool to the FTC by incorporating tunnel coaching prior to their "in-air" coaching. The proven program accelerates the level the flyer can obtain by not only removing bad habits, but by also reinforcing presentation and balance in the relative wind. All this may be acquired during an intensive, 15-minute session (which is the equivalent of almost 20 skydives). This amount of training is very cost effective, one-sixth the cost of conventional in-air coaching for the equivalent amount of "air" time. Further information on booking, session arrangement for Private Tunnel Camps or to book into a pre-scheduled Freefly Tunnel Camp, contact the FTC at info@freeflytrainingcenter.com.
  21. 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.
  22. 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!
  23. nettenette

    You Know Nothing About Seatbelts - Part 1

    The History Lesson You Never Got Image by Lukasz Szymanski If you look at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) reports, DiverDriver.com, our own Dropzone.com and the world’s newspaper reports, you’ll notice something interesting: the last couple of years were bad for forced landings, but good for survivors. Since December 2014, the total has been 18 forced landings, involving more than 100 occupants--but only one fatal crash (the May 2016 tragedy in Hawaii, the circumstances of which were too violent for safety restraints to have helped). Every incident is, of course, multifactorial, but there’s a simple reason that more skydivers haven’t been grievously injured or killed in these crashes: correctly installed, correctly used seatbelts. In an incident that involves a loss of power after takeoff and forces a landing, it’s seatbelts that save the jumpers’ (and pilots’) hides. It hasn’t always been this way. Seatbelts for skydivers used to be just as casual as seatbelts for motorists used to be, in the good-old-bad-old days. In the late 1970s, very few jump planes had seat belts. Single-Cessna DZs flew third-hand airplanes that were gutted to reduce weight, while large "destination" DZs flew World War 2 surplus DC-3s and Beech 18s. These war-surplus airplanes had been through so many different owners, and gutted so many times, that the original seat belts were an ancient memory. A few rare jumpers counted themselves lucky if they had a frayed cargo strap to hold onto. A Change in Policy Then a series of bloody accidents in the early 1990s forced the FAA to enforce its preexisting FARs requiring seatbelts for everyone in the sky. These FARS require all skydivers to be seated and belted in for taxi, take-off and landing (as and when that eventuates). It’s easy to forget why this maybe-sometimes-silly-seeming rule was set down, but there’s lots of scar tissue to back it up. Our POPS mamas and papas learned the hard way, so we don’t have to. The first tragedy in this particular series struck at Perris in April of 1992. Contaminated fuel caused a Twin Otter--containing two pilots and twenty jumpers--to lose power at 200 feet over the runway. The engine failed, and the pilot feathered the wrong prop, causing a total loss of thrust. When it came back down, the aircraft over-ran the runway into a drainage ditch. The airplane slammed to an abrupt halt. The fuselage collapsed all the way back to the bulkhead at the rear of the cockpit, killing both pilots instantly and sliding the unbelted skydivers to the front of the cabin, crushing or asphyxiating each other in the process. Six skydivers were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Sixteen died. (For a detailed account, read survivor Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld's book, "Above all Else." Make sure you have Kleenex available when you do.) The second pivotal crash occurred Labour Day 1992, in Hinckley, Illinois. That day, a Beech 18, full of holiday tandems, lost an engine shortly after take-off. They never climbed high enough to bail out. The pilot prepared to force-land in a farmer's field, but got too slow when he reduced power on the good engine. The Beech stalled, flipped and dumped the unbelted jumpers on their heads. Everyone on board was killed. At one of the many, many Hinckley ash dives, Jack Hooker brought a keg of beer and told the gathered mourners that he had been working on a solution. He had installed prototype seatbelts in the Cessna 182 that hauled jumpers during slow days at Hinckley. He sewed custom seatbelts for aerobatic, glider and warbird pilots. It’s a good thing he was on it. Over the winter of 1992/1993, the Federal Aviation Adminisration laid down the law for the USPA: either make seatbelts fashionable, or suffer industry-crushing regulatory consequences. From there, the USPA did a commendable job of popularizing seatbelts among skydivers. During the first AFFI course of January 1993, candidates were told to belt themselves in before taxi or they’d fail the evaluation dive. At the time, it was revolutionary, but the policy was vindicated a few months later--in the spring of 1993--when another Twin Beech crashed near Xenia, Ohio and everyone onboard survived. Soon, seatbelts became the new norm almost everywhere. No Guarantees “Almost everywhere,” unfortunately, hasn’t been able to save everybody. In July of 2006, a Twin Otter crashed in Missouri. There were some seatbelts involved, but they were incorrectly installed and incorrectly used. Unrestrained skydivers slammed into belted skydivers at high speeds. All but two skydivers were killed; the two survivors were critically injured. One of those survivors, an American Airlines pilot, was paralyzed in the accident, therefore losing his career. He took his own life. On August 3, 2008, a Lodi, California-based King Air had a forced landing near Pitt Meadows, Canada. Because the plane had been fitted with just enough seatbelts to satisfy the FAA, but versions that were too short to wrap around the jumpers’ waists. As a result, only the pilot wore a lap-belt--and he was the least injured, because he had a proper seat and seatback. In the hard landing, all seven skydivers slammed forward in the cabin. Nobody died, but everyone on the load suffered grievously, and the jumper on the bottom of the pile ended up with a life-changing list of brain injuries. These days, seatbelts are de rigueur on non-sketchball dropzones around the world--and that’s a relief, because their importance goes well beyond their stopping power in the event of an actual-factual crash. In the next installment, we’ll talk about how seatbelts affect everything from general flight efficiency to wild evasive swerving.
  24. admin

    Air Adventures AFF: Level 1

    INTRODUCTION TO SKYDIVING JUMP SEQUENCE: When jumpmaster says "GET INTO POSITION", take your position in the door. You should be facing forward, with your left foot on the edge of the door. Keep your back low to avoid snagging your rig on the top of the door. When you are ready to exit, turn to your right and shout "CHECK IN!" to your main side JM. The JM will respond "OK!" and nod his head when you are ready to go. Do the exit count - "Ready! Set! Arch!" On "Arch!" step to the left, out of the plane. Try to remain facing forward, and try to hit the wing with your pelvis as you leave the plane. Remember to ARCH! Count to four, maintaining a hard arch - "One thousand! Two thousand! Three thousand! Four thousand!" Do three practice ripcord touches - "Arch! Reach! Feel! Back to arch!" Check your altitude by turning your head to look at the altimeter on your left hand. Look at your main side jump master and shout your altitude at him - "Ten thousand feet!" Respond to any hand signals your main side JM gives you. Check your altimeter once every five to ten seconds, and shout your altitude to the main side JM each time. At 5000 feet, wave off once, then arch-reach-feel-pull. Hang on to the ripcord after the pull! Start counting - "One thousand! Two thousand! . . . . . . Five thousand!" to give your parachute time to open. Check your canopy to make sure you have a good parachute, unstow your brakes, and head back to the landing area. PERFORMANCE STANDARDS: Freefall awareness - Open your eyes and look around! Pay attention to hand signals. Altitude awareness - Check your altimeter once every 5-10 seconds, and tell your JM your altitude. Stability - Maintain the arch during the entire dive, especially on exit. Canopy control - Check your canopy upon opening, and listen to the radio during the descent. LEVEL ONE HINTS: To fix stability problems - ARCH! Check your altimeter at least once every five seconds. Time goes fast up there. Remember to keep your legs out. Don't let them collapse on your butt. REMEMBER THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTS OF ANY SKYDIVE: PULL! PULL AT THE RIGHT ALTITUDE! PULL STABLE! LAND SAFELY UNDER AN OPEN CANOPY! Before Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7
  25. SAMSULA -- What was intended to be an eye-catching start to the annual Bike Week cole slaw wresting event at Sopotnik's Cabbage Patch turned scary this afternoon when a skydiver landed on a woman serving beer at the edge of the huge outdoor makeshift arena. Sherri Lee, 37, of Daytona Beach Shores, was knocked unconscious when the skydiver landed on top of her at about 1:40 p.m. The collision occurred in front of a beer truck where she was walking with a tray of beverages. Within minutes a Volusia County Fire and Rescue team responded, and she was airlifted by helicopter to Halifax Medical Center at about 1:40 p.m. "I didn't even see her," said the skydiver, Clarence Swimm, shortly after the accident. "It wasn't my fault." Swimm, 56, an independent parachutist hired by the Cabbage Patch, said he was uninjured, although "it knocked the wind out of me." He said there was no way he could stop the landing. "It wasn't my fault." Lee was reportedly a volunteer server for the Slovene National Benefit Society. Halifax Medical Center personnel could not release her condition until family members had been notified. But Sheriff's Department spokesman Gary Davidson said she had swelling to the face, left eye and mouth. Although the incident put a temporary damper on the festivities, which drew an estimated 25,000 bikers, the coleslaw wrestling went on as usual about 15 minutes later. Woman still hospitalized after being hit by skydiver 03/09/2001 DAYTONA BEACH -- A Daytona Beach Shores woman injured when a sky diver landed on top of her at the Cabbage Patch in Samsula remained hospitalized Thursday in serious but stable condition. Sherri Lee, 37, was serving beer in the huge outdoor arena set up for the annual Bike Week coleslaw wrestling event when Clarence Swimm, a parachutist hired by the Cabbage Patch to kickoff the wrestling, collided with her as he made his descent Wednesday afternoon. Lee's attorney, Brian Toung of Daytona Beach, said she suffered injuries to her face, head and neck and is now conscious but "very confused." She is in neck traction in the surgical intensive care unit at Halifax Medical Center, and undergoing diagnostic tests. "There is a concern she may have brain and (spinal) chord damage," he said. Her mother, Barbara Mooney of New Smyrna Beach, has been with her at the hospital. Toung said Lee, who lives in Ormond Beach, holds down two jobs as a waitress -- at Pizzeria Uno in Daytona Beach and at the Old Florida Club in Ponce Inlet -- but has no health insurance. She was working as a volunteer server at the coleslaw event and walking in front of the beverage table set up at one end of the arena when the accident happened. Swimm was not injured. Toung said he planned to file suit Friday in circuit court against Cabbage Patch owner Ron Luznar and Swimm, as well as "anyone who could share liability." According to sheriff's spokesman Gary Davidson, no criminal charges are being filed.