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Found 272 results

  1. Spaceland Anomaly, this year's silver medallist freefly team, is hosting its second annual "Insomnia Tunnel Camp" this coming January. Together with tunnel champions Juliana and Fabian Raidel and Joao Tambor, Anomaly hopes to again bring freeflyers of all experience levels to the SkyVenture tunnel in Orlando for an intensive 3 night camp. The camps are designed to be a low cost alternative to more traditional camps, while maintaining a very individualized progression for each student. As in last year's camp, the tunnel time is booked in the midnight to 6AM timeslots, which gives each student a total flying time of 2 hours over the 3 night camp. Not only does booking nights provide cooler temperatures for better air in the tunnel, but it also saves students the price of the daytime tunnel rates. After the first night's session (and many Red Bull cases), everyone adjusted to the graveyard shift schedule. Students slept their days away at the nearby Best Western while waiting for their 10PM warm up sessions at the tunnel. The coaching is the camp's strongest point, and primary focus. Each of the 3 coaches work with the same 3-4 students each night. This gives them the opportunity to tailor individual progressions based on the skill level and preferences of each student. By remaining with their students through all their tunnel time, coaches can see improvement over the 3 nights and pace the learning appropriately. Many of last year's participants started out with an introductory lesson in RW skills, both for safety reasons and to remind them of how much we all have to learn on our bellies. From there, the progression moved to backflying to sitflying, and, for some, an introduction to head down flying in the tunnel. At the end of the camp's 3rd night, students made their way to their respective hometowns with bags under their eys, smiles on their faces, and a lot more freefly skill than they came with. "It's kind of like being in another world, being in the tunnel at such odd hours, but the coaches are energetic and extremely experienced... I know I've improved 100%!" said returning student Jen Dembinski. The next Anomaly Tunnel Camp is scheduled for January 15th - 17th, with available slots going fast. Contact trent@spacelandanomaly.com for more information.
  2. Is it better to be a jack-of-all-trades or a master of one? Is it best to aim singlemindedly for depth, or to barrel out into the wild blue yonder of breadth? If you don't know me, let me introduce myself: Hi. I'm Queen Breadth. The beginning of my airsports career some years ago coincided neatly with critical mass in a pile of new disciplines -- and, conveniently, with my own launch into location independence. Suffice it to say, I was more than happy to race around the candy store with my hungry paws in everything, everywhere. It was manic, it was orgiastic…and it was, in hindsight, perhaps not the best idea. Before I had 150 jumps in my logbook, I had 27 dropzones on the list. I started skydiving, BASE jumping, paragliding and speedflying concurrently enough to be worthy of a tidy facepalm. I got my BASE number in four jumps. I've jumped, hucked and flown on five continents. The Venn Diagram that represents the jumps and flights I've done versus the jumps and flights I've done in new places, with new equipment, in new conditions…well, to be honest, it's pretty much a circle. And guess what? If you show up to a plane, a launch or an exit point with me and you have depth in what we're doing, you're going to be, like, "seriously?!" Seriously. Because -- in all this sexy, sexy breadth -- I've hardly gone to depth in anything. There are a flurry of reasons I'm besotted with breadth, of course. Breadth is a beautiful thing. Breadth gives you flexibility. It forces you to flex the muscles of your judgment; to strengthen them. It requires boldness, but it teaches you to respect the vast library of stuff you don't know. It requires a wide understanding of conditions, and the patience to watch them tell their story to you over the course of hours (sometimes, in the foot-launched stuff, days). It encourages you to develop a unique, procedural approach to novelty that serves you everywhere else in your life. Breadth fills your life in the sky with adventure, introducing you with automatic intimacy to people and places you'd otherwise never have met. But breadth has a dark side. Breadth can kneecap confidence, as it requires you to play in the shallows of an ocean of unknowns. Where depth offers long-term mentorship, breadth offers friendly, experienced passers-by who gauge your skill solely by what they see in clip on Facebook. …And breadth costs a friggin' arm and a leg in excess baggage fees, believe you me. So then, winking at me from the other side of the bar, there's depth. Ah, depth. Depth gives you the confidence of complete focus; if you use it correctly, depth can be a very busy workshop. Working systematically within a certain set of accustomed variables, you can add and subtract one or two and be able to rather scientifically observe their impact. Depth provides a meditative space to make adjustments, removing the big question marks from your gear and surroundings. A bonus, off-label benefit: depth has a way of delivering the assertiveness you need to express any necessary boldness in outside disciplines (to a point). Depth can also dig ruts so deep that they become nearly inescapable. Depth provides rich soil for absolutely gonzo complacency. Depth can result in problematic overconfidence. It can also atrophy your judgment -- one the one hand, you can feel undeservedly godlike in situations where you're quite literally out of your depth; on the other, elements that are simply unfamiliar can easily feel reflexively unsafe. Most nailbitingly (for me, at least), depth can push you into uncurrency outside the blinders. I think, as in all things, it's about finding a balance. Perhaps depth and breadth are the X and Y axes of airsports. After all -- and I'm a living example of this -- neither depth nor breadth work well in a vacuum. But I also think it's about making a conscious choice, and making the trade-offs in full acknowledgement. Doesn't depth work best when you unscabbard your sword and tap the shoulders of what you really want to do? Doesn't breadth work best when you approach it as an adventure-with-airborne-benefits, not as a snarl of jumps to dash between like a semi-crazed corgi in an agility contest? Don't happy athletes strive for both depth and breadth in their right season? Right now, I'm choosing depth. I'm writing this from a wind tunnel in Slovakia. This summer, I traded my accustomed nylon here-there-and-everywhereness for the singular delight of not just doing a bunch of cool stuff in a bunch of cool places but really, deeply learning -- for the fibers of my body to understand, and for the nuances of the practice to be etched forever in my System 1.* Mindfulness of depth and breadth is counsel I wish I'd received at the outset. It may have adjusted some of my early decisions -- not to be more conforming, but to be more aligned with deeper, autotelic goals. And I wish I could share it with more people: The kid who toddles in with the singleminded goal of wingsuit BASE. The new jumper who does something different on every load, running from the feeling of underachievement into the waiting arms of novelty. The guy who tells me he'll try a paragliding flight "after [he's] done with BASE jumping." Where do you sit on the depth/breadth spectrum? Am I missing part of the story? * There's a reason there's a link here. Seriously: Read this. It'll change your world.
  3. 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.
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. admin

    AFF Training - Level 5

    Napoleon Skydiving Center: Level 5 - Turns to Redock II This level is like the last but the turns are 360 degrees and the amount of forward motion is greater. You should be assisting with the spot in the aircraft and with packing on the ground. Under canopy practice a "collision avoidance" maneuver by turning using a front or rear riser prior to releasing your toggles. TLOs 360 degree turns (one before each redock). Forward movement and docking without assistance. Control of all 3 axes (Pitch, Yaw, and Roll). Wave off, then pull at or above 3000 feet. Dive Flow Running Description Roach Hotel Check: Check In. Exit Count: C-182 Prop, Up, Down, Arch; Otter Center, Out, In, Arch. HAM Check: Heading, Altimeter, Main JM. JM Gripswitch: Jumpmaster switches from side to front. More Maneuvers? Yes if above 6000, else no. 360 degree Turns: one before each redock. Forward to Redock. More Maneuvers? Yes if above 6000, else no. Wave Off: at 4500 feet. Pull: at 4000 feet. Primary Canopy Check: Shape, Spin, Speed, Twist. Release Toggles Secondary Canopy Check: Slider, Endcells, Tears, Lines. Controllability Check: Turns and flares OK. Canopy Control: Halfway down, halfway back. Setup For Landing: Downwind at 1000', Base at 500', Final at 200'. Flare: at 10', feet and knees together, PLF if necessary. Collapse the Canopy, Field Pack, and Return. Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7 Level 8
  7. 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.
  8. Jennifer Panicorp of Covington, Washington (USA) is the happy winner of a free complete Aerodyne parachute system, consisting of an Icon harness-container system, a Smart reserve and a main canopy of her choice. On January 6th Jennifer’s e-mail address was drawn as the winning entry in the tombola which Aerodyne organized on its Internet site over the Christmas period. The tombola was open to all website visitors and only required the submission of an e-mail address. The only rule to comply with was that the winner must show a valid parachuting licence in order to claim the prize. With a modest 50 jumps to her account Jennifer is a relatively newcomer to the sport. She received her USPA A licence in September last year. As one would expect Jennifer was quick to return a happy reply to Aerodyne: "OH MY LORDY THAT IS BEYOND COOL!!!! Thank you so much!!!! … I just can't believe this, I'm so excited!! ". Aerodyne’s marketing director, Edward "Bushman" Anderson stated: "The internet is a key element in our communication and we will continue to drive skydivers to our website with these type of events. Within the next month we will introduce a new and more dynamic version of our website. The new site will enhance user experience with a more intuitive user interface and navigation system, The new site is also designed for those users still using dial up connections and loads considerably faster than the existing site". For more information about Aerodyne and our products please go to www.aerodyne-int.com
  9. admin

    Staying Current During Winter

    The winter months are a great opportunity to catch up on all the things we weren’t doing throughout the summer, such as working on our homes, engaging in winter sports, and mending relationships with our non-skydiving friends. It is also a time that can lead to a dulling of our skydiving abilities, and our memory of correct procedures. As a result, the period following a substantial break can be a very dangerous time for skydivers, and a great many injuries come as a direct result of a lack of currency. If we are creative, however, we can keep our skydiving minds warm even when it is cold outside. If you own a rig, for instance, it is quite easy to set up a hanging harness in your house. We have been using a secure chin-up bar for many years, and it works great. All you need is an extra pair of risers, a set of soft links, two climbing carabiners and a doorway. A retired pair of 18 inch risers work best for most doorways, to keep you high enough above the ground to create a good simulation. First, attach the tops of the spare set of risers together with the soft links. Next, loop the risers over the chin-up bar, and attach a carabiner to the large ring on the bottom of the risers. Then all you need to do is clip the carabiners through the three ring attachment hardware on your rig and you are ready to train. Keep in mind that if you are unsure about the security of your chin-up bar or door frame structure, be sure to wear a helmet and have a cushion underneath you just in case things go badly. Some of you are thinking, I don’t need to practice pulling my handles all winter, I am a licensed skydiver. I know what I’m doing. Although we all know this is not the truth, everyone needs to practice their emergency procedures, the point of hanging yourself up goes far deeper than just practicing pulling your handles. There are a great many things you can rehearse and learn while suspended in your own rig. I am not talking about the tired old harness at the dropzone that does not remotely resemble the one you jump. I am embarrassed for our sport when I do not even find one of these old beaters hanging at a training facility. That needs to change. No, I am talking about your own personal rig: your handles, your harness, your home. There are several things you will love about this initially embarrassing practice. One huge benefit is to practice transitioning from your deployment harness configuration to the flying and landing configuration. For most of us, this involves loosening the chest strap, and experimenting with different methods of moving the leg straps slightly forward to make yourself more comfortable. By sitting in the harness for long periods of time, your body can change and become stronger in the ways that allow you to be more comfortable under canopy. You can also explore harness turn inputs by swinging side to side by loading one legstrap at a time, which may illuminate a need to relocate the elastic butt strap between your legstraps. This “freefly bungee” is great for preventing a legstrap from sliding forward in freefall, but if located too high or too short, can prevent harness turn capability while under canopy. A “fastex” pinch-release can allow you to remove this strap entirely, and hanging harness training can prepare you for the new muscle memory of your procedural change. Hanging harness training will also allow you to practice flaring and leaning forward for landing. You can even tie webbing straps to the legstrap articulation hardware and have a friend pull your legs forward when you flare to simulate the pitch change, allowing you to rehearse leaning forward as the canopy pitches back to a higher angle of attack. This will help you to remain in balance for the touchdown, and by rehearsing this process in your downtime, you may even emerge from the ice and snow with more skill than the previous summer. Further, you can maintain your upper body strength in the canopy-specific muscles by lifting yourself up by the front risers dive loops, and by pulling on elastic bungee cords or “thera-bands” attached to the chin-up bar. These are easily acquired from most physical therapists, drug stores or apothecaries. By using carabiners to attach yourself to the suspension system, you will be able to avoid the need to remove your main parachute for the simulation. It will feel slightly different with your main parachute still in the pack tray, but it will be close enough to make the practice a valid training method for staying fresh through the chilly months. It is also helpful to remove your main from time to time, and attach the suspended risers to your rig’s three ring system to practice cutting away. A mattress, helmet and spotter is a really good idea for this practice. This will help you to get a clearer picture of what it actually feels like to chop your main, and may even result in your awakening to the fact that your method of pulling the handles needs work, or that your cutaway system requires lubrication. Be sure not to actually pull your reserve ripcord unless you have a rigger handy. When you do bring it in for your spring repack, definitely give that reserve ripcord a go in a full simulation. All good training requires accurate, complete rehearsal of what you will need to do in the sky. For wingsuit flyers, a hanging harness can be a fantastic training tool for staying current with the post-deployment sequence. Gear up fully and practice riding through the deployment with your knees together and your hands on the three rings. Then rehearse unzipping your arms, unstowing the toggles, loosening the chest strap and then unzipping and dressing your legs. For increased realism, try aiming a carpet blower up at you at the approximate glide angle of the canopy to simulate the relative wind. This will add the pressurization of the wings, making the process surprisingly like the real thing. If you wear your helmet as you do all of this, the simulation will be quite realistic and highly beneficial. Such rehearsal will be very helpful for keeping the habits that save your life fresh in your mind. Be sure to practice malfunction procedures with your wingsuit on as well. The only thing you need to worry about is the doorbell, and the awkward explanation to the mailman. Freefall skills are harder to keep fresh, unless you have a wind tunnel nearby. There are ways, however, to keep sharp without spending a lot of money. An FS “creeper” is a fantastic tool for practicing your belly flying, and creeper parties are a fun way to get jumpers together in the colder months. You can even have creeper competitions to stay on your game. It may feel a bit silly at times, but it is far better than trying to remember the dive pools all over again when the snow melts. I also find that an indoor swimming pool is a great asset in the winter, allowing you to work in three dimensions and play with new possibilities, especially if you have fun-loving skydiver friends. Nose plugs are really helpful for upside down swimming. I also enjoy pulling out my gear in the winter and taking the time to slowly and methodically look over all the details I may not have had the time to check during the fast-paced summer months. Even if you are not a certified rigger, this is your gear and you need to be comfortable with every aspect of the equipment that saves your life. Pull out your main and climb inside your cells; inspecting the crossports, the seams, and the reinforcing tapes. Look for broken stitches, pulls, and damage to the fabric that may have occurred during the jumping season. Inspect the bottom of your lines, your connector links and risers. Be sure to run your finger inside the slider grommets to check for rough spots that will damage your lines. You can also check your line trim by cutting the main away and tying the risers to something secure like a door hinge. By pulling tension on each line group in bilateral symmetry and comparing back to the center cell, you will learn volumes about the condition of your parachute. If you have spectra lines, you will be amazed how much your outboard lines and brakes will shrink over time through friction against the slider grommets, and from lack of loading. For a detailed education on main parachute inspection and an eye-opening retrimming technique, check out this video. Another powerful way to keep your head in the skydiving game is through watching videos. There is a great deal of eye candy on the internet, although not all of it falls under the category of training, or even positive visualization. Be careful what you watch, visualization is a powerful form of training, and some of what you watch can pave the way to higher levels of fear. Furthermore, watching lots of poor technique can dull your image of the “right” way to fly. Fortunately, there are some fantastic instructional videos available, which can actually expand your skydiving knowledge as the snow falls. The Australian Parachute Federation, for instance, created a fantastic malfunction video series called Cutaway. Additionally, here is a link to an in-depth Parachute Flight Safety Video Series, a canopy course ground school for all levels that will far exceed your expectations. To further the goal of expanding your skydiving skill through knowledge, there are also several incredible podcasts on the internet that can bring a wealth of knowledge to your computer, phone or tablet. Skydive Radio, Jump Twenty Six and Radio Skydive UK all provide a wealth of information that can enhance your abilities and literally extend your life. Interviews with leaders in the sport will expand your knowledge of the essential history of skydiving, safety practices, and secrets to get the most out of your airtime. Best of all, you can enjoy this learning in the comfort of your own earplugs. When we remember that most of what it means to be a skydiver actually happens on the ground, it becomes more than obvious that we do not need to turn off our skydiving brains once the chill hits the air. Although it is true that a flight to someplace warm is the best way to stay current in the winter, it is not the only way to continue being a skydiver. With a bit of open-minded creativity and ingenuity, we can continue our training all year long, and even emerge in the springtime with a deeper understanding than we had before. Freezing our thoughts about something we love this much not only increases our risks, it also costs us a piece of ourselves. Pull out your gear and keep the feeling alive, you will be glad you did. -BSG Brian Germain is a parachute designer, author, radio personality, keynote speaker, and has been an active skydiver for 30 years. You can get more of Brian’s teaching at Adventure Wisdom, Big Air Sportz, Transcending Fear, and on his vast YouTube Channel
  10. admin

    Top 10 Marketing Musts

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

    Flight-1 New Course Offerings

    Flight-1 is the world leader in canopy education and progression. From novice pilot through the upper echelons of competitive canopy piloting, Flight-1 has a course that fits every skydiver’s skill set and learning objectives. Flight-1’s courses are set apart from many other canopy courses by the fact that they have been developed by members of the PD Factory Team, which has some of the world’s best canopy pilots and the most experienced canopy coaches involved. If you have any doubts about the skills possessed by the PD Factory Team, taking a look at the video of the “Threading the Needle” stunt they performed last October will show that you’re in the best hands. For years Flight-1 has offered a curriculum for group coaching in canopy handling skills. Their curriculum provides a clear progression for skydivers of all experience levels to continually learn and improve from basic to expert canopy handling skills. Flight-1 courses have been extremely popular over the years and shown great success. Flight-1 have just added 5 new course modules (103 / 201A / 202A / 301 / 302) Airmanship (103): This course follows on from their course 101 “Flying The Modern Wing and course 102 “The Canopy Performance Range”. In “Airmanship” Flight-1 will focus on bringing the skills skydivers have developed into what would be considered a general skydiving environment. The course will revolve around the fundamentals of the skydiving environment, managing the variety of skydivers on a jump to understanding the dropzone environment. It also includes discussions on canopy choice, equipment malfunctions, and avoiding and successfully dealing with canopy collisions. Modules 201A and 202A, “Flying Relative” and “Team Flying” respectively; are designed for individuals that are looking to hone their canopy skills and further develop comfort in flying around other parachutes. Flying Relative (201A): This is the first step in the Flight-1 Air to Air Program. After a safety briefing, the student is introduced to flying relative to another canopy piloted by the coach. Here the pilot learns the true reference of how canopy controls affect the system relative to each other in a one on one environment with an experienced coach guiding them through the jumps. Team Flying (202A): This course leads the student into dynamic team flying and landings. It builds on relative flying, teaching the student advanced dynamic formation flying, turns and landings. The "ultimate wind tunnel" for canopies. The final two courses currently being offered are Precision Performance (301) and Competition Canopy Piloting (302). Precision Performance (301): This course is targeted towards experienced pilots who want to develop their turns and high performance landings. It introduces a logical progression toward increasing power, bringing accuracy into the landing, and preparing to navigate courses and gates. Competition Canopy Piloting (302): This, the course covers the fundamentals of competing that all skydivers need when new to the competition environment. It helps the pilot focus on what is important and how to manage personal skills and tactics to ensure best performance. Flight-1 courses will now be open to more skydivers, as they have decided that while still firmly believing that the best approach is to go through the curriculum in order, the real importance is ensuring that education opportunities be maximized. So long as a skydiver has met the requirements listed below, they will be able to attend the course. Flight-101: Cleared to self-supervise Flight-102: Attended 101 Flight-103: Requirement - B license Recommendation - Attended & completed Flight-1 101 & 102 Flight-201: Requirement - Min of 200 jumps Recommendation - Attended & completed Flight-1 101 & 102 Flight-202: Requirement - Min of 500 jumps Recommendation - Attended & completed Flight-1 201 Flight-201A: Requirement - Attended & completed Flight-1 101 & 102 Flight-202A: Requirement - Attended & completed 201A Flight- 301: Requirement - Min of 500 jumps OR CP Competitor in the last year Recommendation - Attended & completed Flight-1 201 & 202 Flight-302: Requirement - Min of 500 jumps OR CP Competitor in the last year Recommendation - Attended & completed Flight-1 201 & 202
  12. At Work With Kenyon Salo and Team Thunderstorm Kenyon Salo stays pretty busy. When I talk to him, he’s been -- well -- kinda slammed. “I’ve been doing a lot of skydiving, a little bit of BASE jumping, lots of wingsuiting, building the brand of The Bucket List Life, a dynamic lifestyle design community, doing a lot of keynotes, running a bunch of seminars and trainings...” He pauses for a moment. “And I’m leaving for Cozumel in half an hour to go scuba diving for a week. I should probably pack.” Kenyon’s also a professional exhibition skydiver. He’s an athlete on not one, but two skydiving demonstration teams. He’s on the Mile-Hi Demonstration Team (the home team for his dropzone, Mile-Hi Skydiving), which does high-profile demo jumps all over the state. He’s also on the official Denver Broncos parachute team: “Team Thunderstorm.” Thunderstorm is unique in the world: no other team in the NFL has their own team of professional parachutists. The team jumps into every single home game. That would be impressive in and of itself, of course -- but there’s more. The Broncos stadium is as unique as the team that jumps into it. It’s one of the steepest, tightest sports stadiums in the United States. Oh -- and the entire stadium is criss-crossed with metal cables during the high profile games (which is more often than not, since the Denver Broncos are Super Bowl Champions). “As far as exhibition jumping is concerned, the Bronco’s stadium -- or “Sports Authority Field,” as it’s known officially -- is the diamond. There is a not a harder stadium that’s being jumped right now,” Kenyon explains. “A lot of the older stadiums are really splayed out, where the Bronco’s stadium is really upright. And then there are the cables, of course. This is the most technical demo jump in skydiving.” To do what Kenyon and his team do on game day, you have to have quite a resume: you have to be a competition-level swooper, you have to be able to speak eloquently to the media, and you have to land a tiny parachute in wicked conditions. Perfectly. Every. Single. Time. That is, to say the least, a difficult job position to fill. Understandably, Team Thunderstorm is small. It has six members, no more, no less: Jimmy Tranter, Stuart Schoenfeld, Justin Thornton, Kenyon Salo and Allison Reay. The number never changes. If one of the jumpers is unavailable on the day of the jump, that jumper is not subbed out. “The six of us know each other’s flying with great precision,” Kenyon explains, “And we can predict each other, every time. That safety is worth its weight in gold.” The Air Force used to get into that stadium with 250- or 260-square-foot canopies, navigating the stadium’s unusual topography by sinking their big canopies perilously in and executing a low turn before setting them down. It worked. But then the stadium installed more cables and the pre-game show wanted a higher-speed exhibition. Team Thunderstorm had to envision a better way -- and they did. “We decided to jump 97-to-120-square-foot Spectres,” Kenyon says. “The reason we jump those is because we have to dive the parachute across the crowd while still keeping a mandated 50-foot distance above them. We do hook turns into the stadium, down the stands, carving right. We pop a toggle at something like 150 feet, then carve across the field, then land.” “Basically, it’s like parallel parking a Ferrari at 60 miles an hour,” he laughs. “And 99% of the time, we stop between the 20 yard line and the end zone.” The first time Kenyon made the jump he describes as a moment of “terrifying confidence.” He knew he could do it -- after all, he’d made dozens of successful jumps into the empty stadium before he got the green light to join the team on game day. “Prior to being accepted as a team member,” Kenyon says, “I’d take advantage of any practice day I could get. I did a lot of practice when there were no actual games on the field. But I was also practicing at the dropzone. I would fly that canopy as much as I could -- work hard on the turn -- and work with Jimmy Tranter, a phenomenal canopy coach for brand new jumpers as well as for Team Thunderstorm, who gave the final okay to DZO and Team Thunderstorm Organizer Frank Casaras, for me to join the team on game days. Jimmy has got 25,000 jumps. When he speaks, everybody listens.” That constant practice is vital for a jump like this. Even without the dizzyingly steep sides and cable obstacles at the Broncos stadium, stadium jumps are so legendary that they have their own classification in the taxonomy of exhibition jumping. (The classifications are, in order of difficulty: Level 1, Level 2, Level 3 -- and “Stadium.”) This is true because of the super-challenging conditions a stadium creates. The rim of a stadium creates puckering turbulence as the wind hits it from the outside, spilling rough air down into the bowl. These conditions are not for the faint-of-heart. “When we come over that rim,” Kenyon says, “We have to be prepared for anything and everything. You can easily have 12 mile-an-hour wind at the rim and no wind on the field, so that means within 300 feet of difference in altitude you have got a huge difference in wind speed. And it’s often in different directions.” “Our small canopies help with that,” he continues, “Because, as we dive through the stadium, speed equals lift -- and the fluid dynamics also make the canopy rigid for smooth flying and landings. In the Bronco’s stadium, time runs in milliseconds. From the point you come over the rim -- and by that time, you are going very quickly down the field -- you are flying through and underneath a netting of metal cables. “There’s a single place you can enter,” Kenyon explains. “As soon as you do, you’re moving across the field very quickly, and you’re avoiding those cables. All the cables for the field goal cameras sit at 150 feet. The skycam cables come from the top corners and extend down diagonally; there’s around 350 feet of cable there, stretching down to a point the ground from two directions.” He gives a sideways grin. “It’s very challenging, yet every team member is absolutely prepared mentally and professionally for this demonstration.” Challenging, yes. Injurious -- not so far. At time of publication, Team Thunderstorm boasted a 100% safety record. Every team jumper has landed on the field on every single jump, with no close calls. “We have strict parameters that we must follow that are set forth by the USPA (United States Parachute Association) for how demos of this level and caliber must be handled,” Kenyon continues, “Sometimes we have to call it because the cloud ceiling is too low or the winds are beyond our limits. It’s those moments that make this team professional because we always err on the side of caution to make sure safety is paramount.” “Something Jimmy Trantor taught us, which I hold in the highest regard, is that we must constantly update our mental map on these jumps,” Kenyon articulates. “It’s a running inner monologue that focuses your awareness. ‘I made the turn; ‘the winds have changed;’ ‘I’m going down the crowd now;’ ‘I’m getting a little crosswind over here;’ ‘I’m a little bit over the sideline, I’m bringing it back over the center;’ ‘the field is a little wet;’ update, update, update. We spend the entire jump updating our mental patterns and adjusting. Immediately.” It’s a zen exercise to keep a high-quality inner monologue going in a stadium situation -- sometimes at night, with pyro; sometimes in wild conditions; always, with the throbbing energy of a massive, excited crowd. “There’s nothing like jumping out of the plane at 5,000 feet and already hearing the crowd beneath you,” Kenyon exudes. “The crowd sees us exit and just erupts. They are screaming and yelling, and you’re suddenly filled with the knowledge that you’re doing it for them -- the fans that have supported you for seven seasons running; for the camaraderie of the team around you; for the guys playing great football.” And for the love of skydiving, of course.
  13. 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
  14. nettenette

    How Density Affects Your Destiny

    When Tiptoe Landings Disappear Into Thin Air When you come screaming in and tumble halfway down the landing area at a new dropzone, it’s unlikely that you would chalk your misery up to “pressure altitude corrected for nonstandard temperature and humidity.” Maybe, however, you should – and if you know a little more about how it works, maybe you won’t find yourself in that grass-stained position. It’s called density altitude, and the struggle is real. 1. Remember the ball pit. You remember playing in the ball pit in the indoor playground, right? You’d take a running leap into the middle of the pit, diving into a big, forgiving pile of colorful plastic that cushioned your fall. If you took a running leap into a ball pit with just a few scattered balls rolling around at the bottom, you’d expect a different result. The sky is kinda like that. When we talk about air density, we’re referring to the number of air molecules in a given volume of space. High-density air has more molecules -- more balls. Low-density air has fewer. 2. Respect the ball pit. Just like an empty ball pit doesn’t slow you down on your way to the floor, low-density air doesn’t slow down the wing as much as high-density air does. This changes the canopy’s flying dynamics, making the system fly faster – sometimes, much faster – than normal. As you might imagine from the term “density altitude,” altitude has a lot to do with the density of air. It’s inversely proportionate, so higher altitudes have lower density altitude – fewer air molecules in a given volume – than lower altitudes. This makes sea-level landings more docile than those at, say, Mile-Hi Skydiving in Denver or Skydive the Wasatch in Utah. 3. Factor in the other variables. Altitude density is not simply another name for air density. It’s affected by a few more factors. Altitude density combines the effects of temperature, humidity and weather systems with altitude to measure the altitude at which your airfoil behaves as though it’s flying. If you travel for boogies, you may have experienced this in your skydiving career: with a few temperature and pressure changes, your canopy might behave as though it’s flying at Mile-Hi when you’re jumping in Moab. If you’re a little confused by that, you’re not alone. The key to understanding is to know that density altitude tells you where your canopy “thinks” it’s flying under standard temperature and pressure conditions, that highly evasive moment of total equilibrium. The “standard” comes from the fact that temperature and pressure decrease predictably as altitude increases. As such, a “standard” temperature and pressure can be assigned to any given spot on the altitude scale, dropping proportionally with altitude from the standard 15 degrees Celsius at sea level. Take a weather system through that same point, however, and you’ll need to start making some adjustments. a high-pressure area pushes more air density into the equation, and a low-pressure system does the opposite. Heat it up, and the molecules spread apart, lessening the pressure/density; cool it down, and the molecules snuggle in together, increasing the pressure/density. Humidity is a little more complicated, but super-interesting. When the weather is humid, we tend to describe the air as “heavy.” That description is utterly (and somewhat surprisingly) unscientific, as water vapor weighs almost half as much as dry air. When it’s humid, heavy dry-air molecules such as oxygen and nitrogen are replaced by much lighter water molecules, greatly decreasing the density of the air. 4. Review the Cliff Notes. It’s easy to misunderstand (or misremember) the terminology. High density altitude means fast landings. Low density altitude means slower landings. Altitude and temperature are the factors that will deliver the most noticeable changes to the way your canopy flies. Humidity will affect your experience less. (Remember that – in this order – low, cold and dry equals slow, that high, hot and wet equals fast.) Consider upsizing to a more docile rental canopy if you’re making a big jump in density altitude (for example, from a coastal DZ to a high-mountain DZ). Higher density altitude? Your canopy will eat up more altitude in a turn and stall at a faster forward speed. Be ready. When you’re setting up a landing in a place with a significantly higher density altitude than you’re used to, give yourself plenty of room to land (and a bit of privacy for a PLF, if you care about such things). You won’t be able to just plop it down as you’re accustomed to, so focus on flying your canopy all the way through the flare and your almost-certainly-necessary run-out.
  15. 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.
  16. admin

    Balloon Mass Skydive World Record

    Sixteen skydivers jumped into the world record books on Friday 31st May 2002 when they all skydived from one of the UK's largest hot air balloons, 10,500ft above Peterborough Parachute centre nr Sibson. The Cameron A300 hot air balloon was flown by 28 year old commercial balloon pilot David Fish who flies full time for Flying Pictures the countries leading commercial balloon operator. With two twin squirrel helicopters circling the balloon, filming the record attempt for national television, it climbed at between 500 & 800 feet per minute to the target altitude of 10,500 feet. After flying for twenty minutes the balloon was directly overhead Sibson airfield. With the skydivers all standing around the edge of the basket and a rapid decent established all sixteen skydivers exited simultaneously. With the loss of just over 1 tonne in weight the balloon entered a very fast climb, causing distortion and partial collapse of the envelope. Eventually levelling off at just over 11,000 ft. "It was quite a wild ride," explains David Fish, balloon pilot and project co-ordinator. "Pretty much as soon as they all left the balloon began distorting and spinning as it climbed rapidly and all I could do was hold on and wait for it to slow down." Velvet Toilet Tissue, whose hot air balloon was used for the record attempt, built a special softer than ever landing zone for the parachutists. The zone, a 10-metre radius circle covering more than 314 square metres, was made from more than 5000 rolls of softer than ever Quilted Velvet loo rolls. The zone could be seen from more than 10,000 feet and acted as a target for the skydivers. All sixteen made the landing zone, with some making good use of the toilet rolls to soften their landing! Team Members Skydivers: 1. Matt Lee 2. Ian Ashpole 3. Andy Bennett 4. Simon Ward 5. Giles Fabrisv 6. David Sawyer 7. Dorian Harwood 8. Martin Williams 9. Steve Springys 10. Stuart Meacock 11. Rose Leggett 12. Mark Harris 13. Chris Donaldson 14. Andy Guest 15. Dave du Plessis 16. Rhino Pilot: David Fish For further information please contact David Fish @ Flying Pictures Ltd. fish@flyingpictures.com Photos: DSCF Flying Pictures Ltd and Simon Ward
  17. BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A parachutist performed a solo aerial lap over NATO headquarters Wednesday to protest against United States policy on missile defense before landing in a nearby field, where he was arrested. The German protester took to the air to beat tight security surrounding the alliance headquarters in Brussels where President Bush was meeting NATO leaders. Trailing a "Stop Star Wars" banner, the activist from the Greenpeace environmental group flew over the NATO complex using a small motor-propelled parachute. Greenpeace spokesman John Walters told Reuters the man was arrested when he landed. Walters said 17 activists were earlier arrested after demonstrating against Bush's policies on arms and the environment at Melsbroek military airport near Brussels shortly before Bush flew in aboard his presidential jet, Air Force One. Another 12 protesters were expected to be detained after they chained themselves to fencing near the airbase. Some 300-400 demonstrators waved banners and blew whistles near NATO headquarters in a largely peaceful protest against Bush. Opponents of plans for a missile defense shield fear it will effectively rip up the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty and spark a new arms race.
  18. admin

    AFF Training - Level 4

    Napoleon Skydiving Center: Level 4 - Turns to Redock Congrats, you are halfway through the AFF program. In the aircraft you should be paying careful attention to the spotting procedures. On the ground, you should be well along learning how to do a JMPI and packing. Under canopy try using risers (front and rear) for control up high. Though you are still a student, you should start preparing for the time when you will be off student status and jumping on your own. Safe skydiving requires good equipment. Begin talking with your instructors and other jumpers about what type of equipment you should purchase. It is recommended that you start by ordering an appropriately sized jumpsuit, helmet, goggles and altimeter. In fact, you can begin using these items before you complete the AFF program. TLOs Start and stop controlled turns. Forward motion to redock. Wave off, then pull at or above 3000 feet. Dive Flow Running Description Roach Hotel Check: Check In, but no check out. Exit Count: C-182 Prop, Up, Down, Arch; Otter Center, Out, In, Arch. HAM Check: Heading, Altimeter, Main JM. JM Gripswitch: Jumpmaster switches from side to front. More Maneuvers? Check Altimeter, if above 6000 feet signal with a nod yes. If below 6000 feet signal with a head shake no. In either case, JM has the final authority. 90 degree Turns: performed using a combination of bending and tilting the upper body. Initiate by looking over the arm in the direction of the turn. Bend upper body toward the turn at the waist and tilt shoulders by raising the shoulder opposite the direction of the turn by 3--4 inches. Keep arms in the same position at the shoulders and elbows, all motion should originate at the waist. Recover to box man as new heading is attained. Forward to Redock: At the completion of the 2nd turn, the JM will back up from 5--10 feet. Move forward by extending legs at the knees and bending arms at the shoulders. Keep elbows locked at 90 degrees. Hold position until redocked on JM, then recover to boxman. More Maneuvers? Yes if above 6000, else no. Wave Off: at 4500 feet by crossing hands above head twice with a large sweeping motion of the arms. Pull: at 4000 feet. Primary Canopy Check: Shape, Spin, Speed, Twist. Release Toggles, Secondary Canopy Check, Controlability Check. Canopy Control: halfway down, halfway back. Flare at 10 feet, knees together, PLF if necessary. Collapse the Canopy, Field Pack, and Return. Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7 Level 8
  19. admin

    Shin Ito and Jari Kuosma Fly Mt. Fuji

    Shin Ito flying his Katana at about 12000 ft. The jump altitude was just 8000 ft. above ground level measured from the drop zone and because of the rising terrain at exit point our altitude was just over 5000 ft. above ground level. Hiking tracks visible on the side of the 3776 meter high volcano. Last Friday Jari Kuosma and Shin Ito performed wingsuit flights over Mount Fuji, Japan. Mt. Fuji is Japan's largest mountain, at 3776 meters in elevation. The flight was part of an upcoming Japanese documentary feature named "Jounetsutairiku" which is being broadcast by MBS. Both Jari and Shin, exited from helicopter at 12 500 feet. Shin Ito is a world record holder in wingsuit flying and Jari is both a professional wingsuit pilot as well as the owner of Birdman. The documentary will be aired on the 1st December 2013. "Part of the preparation was to check our jump craft, Eurocopter AS 350, that turned out to be a perfect lift, 10 minutes to altitude and very convenient stepping skis." "Our wingsuits taking a rest under the Japanese sun. BIRDMAN Katana was our primary equipment for the flights. The brand new wingsuit design is still a prototype and it is made for to reach very high speeds to cover the maximum distance." "We spent one day getting used to Japanese air near Narita airport. Airspace is very limited and we can only get 8000 ft., which is the max we will get at Fuji, 8000 ft. AGL." Mt. Fuji seen from freefall before opening the canopy. The weather conditions can change quickly at the mountain and winds regularly exceeds over 100 km/h on the top, like the jump day afternoon. Jari who filmed the aerial part of the documentary carried four GoPro 3’s and a Garmin Virb on his Z1. Shin carried two GoPro 3’s and a Garmin Virb on his belly. Mt. Fuji in an active volcano that erects to 3776 meters. Wind direction is west most of the time and the wind speeds exceed 10 m/s over 300 days a year. Team Fuji Birdman was prepared and had permits to wait for three weeks for the right weather conditions. After a three day weather hold three jumps were made November 22nd 2013. Jari Kuosma carrying five cameras to capture all the action from different angles. Shin Ito flying towards the DZ 3 km away, an empty parking lot that also served as a heli-pad. Last poses for the film crew of Shin & Jari after a very great day. Fuji-san on the back ground.
  20. Skysurfers, Skydivers, jumpers at all levels remember Rob Harris as the twice World Champion Skysurfer, as the first Extreme Games Skysurfing Champion, but most of all as The Humble Champion. Rob helped to bring the sport of skysurfing to the public eye in an exciting, fun, and classy style. He accomplished this through his creative talents, his disciplines, his passion for skysurfing, and most importantly through helping others while seeking his personal best. Rob became a role model in the sport he loved the most, inspiring many to do their first jump and some to go into competition. He was the Pied-Piper for many DZs. Now, in Rob's memory, TRHF is zealously asking all DZs and jumpers to help continue Passing the Torch of a Humble Champion. The Harris Family has donated Rob's AAD Cypres by AirTec to TRHF. The Foundation is now offering chances for the Cypres in hopes of generating funds for its charitable obligations in the year 2000. SSKI Inc. has donated the 4-year check plus batteries!! The drawing will be announced and held some time during the year. Your help is needed in distributing and/or posting entry form flyers at your DZ as soon as possible (Please make your own copies of the entry form flyer). This same information is on TRHF web site http://www.robharris.org/ as all tickets will be sold through the mail by the Foundation.All you have to do to help is: Make copies of the entry form flyer and distribute them or post them at your DZ in a place accessible to all students and jumpers. Encourage your students who plan to be future jumpers, and those jumpers who don't own an AAD to purchase a chance. Any PR generated at your DZ for this worthy cause will be most appreciated. The Board of Directors of TRHF and the Harris Family thank you in memory of Rob's passion for living, and hope to hear you say: "Yes, we'll help to continue Passing the Torch of a Humble Champion." Blue Skies Forever! You can download a PDF Enty Form here. THE ROB HARRIS FOUNDATION 1217 Third Street Manhattan Beach, CA 90266 Phone: 310.379.1697, Fax: 310.374.1712 Email: BlueSkies53@earthlink.net Website: http://www.robharris.org/ TRHF is a non-profit organization (501C3)
  21. admin

    Jumping with Weights

    This article applies to FS belly flying, not Freefly or Canopy piloting. Safety first Wingload: Before considering jumping with weights please consider if you are comfortable with the higher wingload of your canopy. You will fly faster with the weights and if you are already pushing your limits then it may be unsafe or unnecessarily stressful. When choosing your canopies it may be a good idea to choose one size larger to allow for wearing weights. Water landings: You cannot swim with weights on! So please consider this if you are jumping near water. A weight belt is a clear advantage in case you have to dump the weights to allow you to swim. A tight jumpsuit and a weight vest are not good when landing in water, you cannot swim with the vest and it is nearly impossible to get off in the water. Health: Please consider if your body can handle the extra stress of jumping with the weights. If you have a bad back, a hard opening while wearing a heavy weight belt could be really bad for you! Comfort: Not exactly a safety aspect but weights can be really uncomfortable. Safety of others: Please make sure your weighs are firmly attached to your body. Losing or deliberately dropping weights can kill people on the ground, destroy houses and sink boats! Then why would anyone choose to jump with weights? Considering the safety and comfort issues why would anyone consider jumping with weights? Because it makes you a much better FS skydiver! Unless of course you naturally fall fast. When you see top performing skydivers, you will see that more than half of them wear weights. They do it because it is a clear performance advantage. Weights is a personal thing Just like your body shape and flying style are unique, so is your need for weights. The big or dense people don't need weights at all, and could do the rest of us a favor by choosing a jumpsuit that will slow them down. Smaller or skinny people often need weights, but the amount varies significantly. Definitions Just to make sure everyone is one the same page, two definitions; The Ideal fall rate is your fall rate when you are in freefall alone in a neutral comfortable body position without trying to go either fast or slow. (Mine is 187 km/h - 116 MPH) The Fall rate range is the range of speeds at which you are able to fall when trying to go faster or slower. (Mine is 160 - 220 km/h or 99 - 137 MPH). The purpose of weights The purpose of jumping with weights is to increase your Ideal fall rate and shift your Fall rate range upwards. In other words, to make it easier to fall faster and keep up with your team. The fall rate range of most skydivers is +- 30 km/h (+-20 MPH) from the ideal fall rate. The heaviest weights people are comfortable jumping with will give an increase in ideal fall rate of 20 km/h. The body is therefore much stronger at controlling the fall rate than by wearing weights. What a lot of people don't understand is that the weights will not actually make you fall faster! With the weights you will fall at the rate of the team, and without the weights you will fall at the rate of the team, you will just struggle more to do it! This of course assumes that you have a reasonable range, if you don't then you should work on improving it. Avoiding struggling to maintain a higher than ideal fall rate is the real propose of jumping with weights. What happens is that it requires attention to fall faster than the ideal fall rate, attention unnoticed taken away from flying your slot, turning points etc. Less attention on what you are supposed to do will make you perform at less than your potential. Wearing the right amount of weight, so you don't need attention on falling fast, will free your mind to be a better skydiver. With the right amount of weight you will notice that you are stronger, can move and turn faster, be more aware of what is going on around you, and you will make fewer mistakes and brainlocks. How to know if you need more weight If you need much more weight (5+ kg) then it is easy to feel because you are struggling a lot to fall fast, or you may not be able to keep up with your team. If you don't need that much then it is very likely you will not notice you are struggling. Things to look for indicating you (or others) need more weight; 1. You pop up a little during challenging moves or if unexpected things happen 2. You feel unable to move as fast as you normally can 3. You feel slightly unstable 4. You fly with your hands above your head Video of your jumps can be great for seeing these things since you may not notice during the jump. How much do I need? How much weight you need for a given jump is surprisingly complicated! Obviously, it depends on your ideal fall rate and the fall rate of the team you will be jumping with. For the first jump with a team it is a guess, and then you adjust the amount of weight to match your ideal fall rate to that of the team. It may take several jumps to get it right. As I wrote earlier the body is much stronger than the weights at controlling the fall rate, so don't be afraid of taking more weight, it takes a lot before it makes a real difference. Actually, I doubt anyone will be able to feel any difference if 1 kg (2 pounds) is added. How fast will it make me fall? Assuming everything remains the same, then adding 1 kg will increase your ideal fall rate by 1 km/h (1 pound gives 0.3 MPH). This is true for all but the most extreme body shapes. However, everything does not remain the same! The weight will change but so will the balance and the forces on the body. If your body is very flexible then a weight belt will pull your hip down and effectively make you arch more and thus make you fall even faster. There are several other smaller effects that also change the fall rate, so it is quite complicated and not possible to calculate exactly how much weight you need. A rough guide is; Inflexible body: 1 km/h per kg added (0.3 MPH per pound added) Very flexible body: up to 2 km/h per kg added (0.6 MPH per pound added) Please be conservative when adding weight and keep you increments at maximum 2 kg (4 pounds). Never make big changes in the amount of weight, the result may surprise you! Seeking advice When you are in doubt about how much weight you need (and you will be in doubt), seek advice from an experienced FS skydiver with a body shape, size and weight similar to you. Don't ask the big guys who have never jumped with weights, they may be highly experienced skydivers but they haven't got a clue about your needs. Often they will give useless advice like "You just need to arch more!" or my favorite "Take off your booties!”. Have fun, improve on every skydive and be safe! Jacques Jonsman is an engineer, serial entrepreneur and product & business innovator. He is an FS instructor and has been skydiving for 21 years.
  22. admin

    Submissions for Logbook Entry Book

    Laurie Steel and co-author A.T. Clinger are working on a skydiving book and are looking for support from the skydiving community. We are looking to represent the sport in a way that has yet to be explored, and give both other skydivers as well as non-jumpers a view of our world. What we ask from personnel at your drop zone is that they pick out their two favorite or most memorable logbook entries (whether new or old ones), and have them photocopied and sent to us. We would like to make a collection of these pages, as well as a one-page biographical section for each contributor and a quote to be placed under each person's entry. Intermixed with the bios and logbook entries will of course be the requisite cool skydiving pictures that we all love so much! In short, those of you who would contribute to this project will have the privilege of being immortalized in a book about our sport. This project isn't expected to make much in the way of revenue, so all we can offer is the chance for recognition for being one of the few that has experienced the ultimate freedom of human flight. Drop zone personnel are asked to forward this letter to all of your skydivers, both famous (as well as infamous) and low-timers to get total representation of our sport from all angles. We all deserve to be famous for something--why not for something we all love? Interested parties may e-mail the authors at the following addresses for more specific info: thrill_seek@yahoo.com or lbargrl@cs.com Those who are interested may send photocopies of their logbook entries, as well as any photos they wish to be included to either of the following Addresses: Book Info 6549 34th terrace north St. Petersburg Florida 33710 OR Book Info 902 Northwood Dr. A-8 Murray, Kentucky 42071 **When Logbook entries are received, we will send a biographical info form for contributors to fill out** **Photos will not be returned, so please make re-prints of your originals** Logbook entries may also be faxed to the following #: 727-347-4329 Blue Skies! A.T. Clinger and Laurie Steel
  23. nettenette

    Love Across The Risk Continuum

    Here are two irrefutable facts: Anyone who is doing more than me is a sketchball. Anyone who is doing less than me is a pussy. Funny? Kinda...but if you've spent any time around airsports, you know how true that is. I'm sure there are myriad examples that demonstrate the universality of this bilateral ruleset, but for the purposes of discussion here, I'll use it to illustrate the most difficult part of being -- and loving -- an airsports athlete: risk asymmetry. Risk Identification Risk identification is a spectrum phenomenon. You can picture the risk continuum as a horizontal line, marked evenly from 0 to 10 to illustrate the range between total risk intolerance and extreme risk tolerance. To avoid using value-implicit words like "high," "low," "more" and "less," I'll use your mental picture of that diagram to describe two differential places on the scale like this: left and right. Each athlete identifies him/herself somewhere along this continuum. Generally, he/she "picks a spot" in the early career and holds to it as a part of his/her identity indefinitely. Empirically speaking, it seems to take a significant external event (i.e. a close friend's death, the birth of a child, a marked risk tolerance shift in the athlete's close collective, etc.) to effect a change to the athlete's self-assignment on the spectrum. However, one event does not seem to affect much more than frustration, resentment and rebound: the intense friction caused by risk asymmetry. If you have any engagement whatsoever with airsports, you're no stranger to this phenomenon. Most saliently, risk asymmetry is uncomfortable. It can disrupt your focus on planes, at exit points and at launches. It can cause you to swell with illogical self-satisfaction. It can launch you into an absurd fit of anger. It's a strong trigger point. When another athlete posts a video online that inspires your "sketch rage," you're experiencing risk asymmetry. When you hear another athlete grumbling about another jumper's antics at the table next to you at the DZ pub and you roll your eyes, you're both experiencing risk asymmetry. When your partner expresses the desire to kick up (or dial down) their demonstrated risk tolerance and you formulate an argument against it, you're experiencing risk asymmetry. The third example is what I'm keen to address here. If you love somebody, whether as a lover, family member or close friend, you'll naturally want them to demonstrate a position on the risk continuum that matches yours exactly. Unfortunately, ain't gonna happen. This phenomenon has depth-charged many a partnership. Luckily, it doesn't have to bust yours. 1. Remember: all relationships are risk-asymmetric. Even if you haven't yet experienced an incident that highlights the risk asymmetry in your blissful union, be aware: it's coming. No two people sit in precisely the same place on the spectrum. Have your tools ready. 2. Make it a conversation. Curious? Take two pieces of paper and draw out a ticked line across both. Title each one "Risk Continuum." Mark a 0 on one side and a 10 on the other. Give one to your loved one, then go into separate rooms to place yourselves on the spectrum. When you're done, come back together and talk about it. You both may be very surprised at where the other self-identified -- and why. This insight can be gold. 3. Don't escalate. It's easy to get very dramatic about someone else's decisions in airsports. The temptation is strong to throw around life-and-death hyperbole in order to turn up the volume of the argument. Right-spectrum and left-spectrum partners use this fallacious logical crutch equally. That's a shame, as it's a totally ineffective strategy. No matter what side of the spectrum you're on, you can expect a similar result: your sparring partner will simply tune you out, and you'll be exhausted. 4. Expunge the word "selfish" from your vocabulary. Left-spectrum folks: You are not selfish for wanting your loved one to be safe. Right-spectrum folks: You are not selfish for wanting to explore to the edges. You are both selves, and you both want things from your lives. One's desires are no more inherently important than the other's. "-Ish" is a diminutive; when you use it, you're demeaning both yourself and the object of the descriptor. Stop. 5. Try on a different feeling. A partnered pair of my good friends, both of whom are airsports athletes, framed this one perfectly for me. "When I get upset," she told me, "I just try another feeling on for size, to see how it feels." Angry? Try pride. Despairing? Try curious. Browse until something fits you better. 6. Choose the relationship. If you don't want to keep a risk-asymmetric relationship, that is by all means your prerogative. Even if you're related, you have the choice to open up enough distance between you that the other's choices do not actively and perpetually cause you pain. However: if, after deliberation, you decide that you want to keep your relationship active, you need to choose it -- and choose it like it's your day job. Choose it over venting to your friends. Choose it over angry SMSs. Choose it over passive-aggressive sulking. Choose it over deciding to stay angry. Choose it over and over and over. It's key to note that "choosing the relationship" doesn't automatically mean the choice of the relationship over the choice to participate in the frictive activity. Instead, set expectations that ritually emphasize the relationship's mutual importance. For instance: the right-spectrum member communicates with the absent left-spectrum member at certain pre-determined points in the activity, and the left-spectrum member always responds with a phrase of encouragement. This must be done with religious adherence; if so, it can help both parties enormously. 7. Don't kick yourself. None of this is easy. Not one tiny bit of it. It's not easier to be on one side as opposed to the other. It's not easier in any unique configuration of relationship. It's not easier when you're both athletes, and it's not easier when you're not geographically contingent, and it's certainly not easier when either or both of you are pretending to want something you don't want. If you're struggling with this, you're not alone. Look around you in the airsports community: we're all right there with you, whether or not we're talking about it. Take heart, and take the hand of your pussy/sketchball partner. They need you, too.
  24. The author launches her Ozone Firefly into the Lesotho sky Paragliding (and its zippier cousin, speedflying) owes much to skydiving. From the early footage of a group of 1970s skydivers ground launching their parachutes off of small hills to the early ram-air skydiving canopies used for quick descents by French mountaineers, the sports have had innumerable points of crossover. The sports only truly split in the later 1980s, when engineers started to redesign the ram-air canopy to stay in the sky like its triangular free-flying cousin, the hang glider. The modern paraglider (and speedwing, for that matter) is, indeed, similar in some points of design to a steerable skydiving canopy. That surface similarity leads a lot of athletes to throw themselves bodily into the mission of crossing over--often, by buying a secondhand wing and hauling it up a hill for some trial-and-error training. I can’t even start to tell you what a bad idea that is. To the untrained eye, a wing may look similar to a skydiving canopy. The differences, however, are plentiful. They are important. Ignore them at your peril, dear reader. Any skydiver looking to kick off a career under a paraglider or a speedwing must be crystal-clear on one concept: the two airfoils have very different flight characteristics, which require completely different pilot technique in order to fly well and safely. Here’s how. 1. Know this: This nylon, she is a stranger to you. First, let’s get one thing out of the way: paragliders and speedwings are not parachutes. They are foot-launched airfoils, only packed into a bag for storage and transport, then laid carefully out on the ground at the launch and coaxed into the airflow by a strapped-in pilot. Among other things, neither paragliders nor speedwings have drogues, sliders or containers. The wing attaches to the system with carabiners. They have thinner, more complicated risers. They have many, many more cells than their parachute cousins. Make no mistake: these are different beasts almost everywhere you look, once you’re really looking. Most importantly: Unlike a parachute, a paraglider never has to deploy. Therefore, designers are able to focus on building much higher-performance flight characteristics into the wing than a skydiving canopy can deliver. 2. Check your ego. Do not make the mistake of thinking that, since you’re a skydiver, you’ll be able to pick up a paraglider and teach yourself to fly. You can not, meat muppet. It is vital to seek out proper instruction. As a student paraglider pilot, you won’t throw yourself into the air right away. Instead, you can expect to spend plenty of time on the ground, ground handling (“kiting”) and launching a beginner wing in various conditions. You’ll also be learning how to manage an airfoil that is very large (and very opinionated) compared to the wee little scrap of nylon that saves your life when you jump from a plane. Example: This author knows one very famous, legendarily talented BASE jumper and world-champion skydiver who has suffered exactly one bad injury in his airsports career. The mechanism of injury was a self-taught paragliding kiting session gone terribly awry. Guaranteed, this was a guy who had way more of a right to insist that he was going to be fine than you do. Ow. As a student learning under a licensed PG/speedflying instructor, you’ll learn the procedures for managing these dynamic changes in flight characteristics. Often, the appropriate response is entirely different to the actions you’d take as a skydiver. You are going to need these hot tips as you progress. 3. Shake your bad habits. If you ask a PG/speedflying instructor what it’s like to teach the sport to an experienced skydiver, they’ll tell you that such students tend to have a few bad habits: Immediately running for take-off instead of kiting the wing (which is one of the best ways to gauge the conditions and “warm up” for the flight) Over-reliance on the brakes as opposed to weight-shift, leading to dangerously “toggle-happy” behavior Poor handling of collapses and stalls, which results in painful forehead-slapping injuries on the part of the instructor Little patience for the important work of learning aerodynamics and meteorology Reduced caution regarding flying conditions and personal limitations If you see yourself exhibiting these traits, chickity-check yourself posthaste. Don’t be a “typical skydiver” on the hill and give the “real” pilots more reason to refer to themselves as “real” pilots. 4. Become an amateur meteorologist. If you’re an experienced skydiver, you’re undoubtedly used to knowing exactly two things about the weather: if it’s too windy to jump, or if it’s too cloudy to jump. Once you take up paragliding and speedflying, get ready to add, like, hundreds of layers of complexity. Launching, landing and flying a paraglider or a speedwing isn’t the end of the game. The heart of paragliding is lots of time spent in a very active sky, so students of the sport must learn a lot about both macro- and micro-meteorology. You must learn about the effect of terrain – literally, from mountains to molehills – on wind patterns, about the different types of clouds, about atmospheric stability, about daily weather cycles and about thousands of other subtleties of the sky you play in. 5. Get used to “parawaiting.” On the launch, there will be no announcement from manifest telling you to get your gear on. You and you alone will make the call as to whether or not it’s safe and appropriate to fly. Especially if you branch out into the solo-launch-intensive hike-and-fly side of the sport, your individual skill, judgement and discipline will rule the day. In many cases, your judgement will tell you to sit down and wait – sometimes, hours – for conditions to improve. In other cases, you’ll have to bin flying for the day. Hike-and-fly pilots may have a long, grumpy hike back to the car. Parawaiting is part of the sport. Accept it. Sure, it’s not skydiving – but that’s why you want to branch out, no? Done intelligently, cross-disciplinary training will only make you a better, stronger, smarter extreme athlete. Rise to the challenge.
  25. admin

    AFF Training - Level 8

    Napoleon Skydiving Center: Level 8 - Solo Dives Congratulations on your successful completion of the New Napoleon Skydiving Center's Accelerated FreeFall Program. You are probably wondering "Where do I go from here?". The answer is that whether you have 10 jumps or 10,000 jumps, there is always more to learn. As an AFF Level VII graduate, that journey begins with (surprise) level VIII. The Level VIII program is a series of solo dives designed to accomplish three goals: Perfect the skills learned in the AFF program. Build confidence in your ability to exit an aircraft at a lower altitude (should that need arise). Develop the ability to identify and use a rig equipped with a "hand deployed" main pilot-chute. These goals will be accomplished over the 4--8 solo dives of the Level VIII program. Once these goals have been reached, you'll be ready to start making coached dives with experienced skydivers to work on your air skills. Relax, have fun, be safe, and see you in the coaching program.... AFF Level 8 (Page 1) - AFF Skills The first phase of the NSC Level VIII program is a series of two to four solo dives to practice the things you learned in the AFF program. The emphasis here is on having fun and building some confidence your ability to skydive "on your own". You will also be practicing for the next phase which is a low altitude "clear and pull" dive. TLOs Perfect ability to perform poised and diving exits. Perfect ability to start and stop controlled turns. Practice backloop and frontloop maneuvers. Practice tracking to gain horizontal separation for opening. Practice for "Clear and Pull" by maintaining stability while performing a PRCT within 5 seconds of exit on at least two dives. Maintain good altitude awareness. Perform dives in a safe manner. Wave off, then pull at or above 3000 feet. Land within 20 meters of target (record distances in logbook). Dive Suggestions The exact format of these solo dives is up to you, but it will probably resemble the AFF Level VII dive flow somewhat. It is important to use a good ground reference when practicing turns to enable you to judge your ability to start and stop them on heading. When practicing tracking, do so in a direction perpendicular to the aircraft's line-of-flight to stay clear of groups exiting before or after you. It is suggested that solo jumpers leave the plane after the smallest RW group, but before tandems and AFF groups (which open higher). Remember that the priority on all skydives is Pull, Pull at the assigned altitude (before 3000'), Pull stable. AFF Level 8 (Page 2) - Low Altitude Exit Throughout the AFF program, dives were performed from high altitudes to give a maximum amount of freefall learning time on each dive. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, skydivers must often exit the aircraft at lower altitudes due to mechanical or atmospheric problems. This dive is to get you acclimated to the lower altitude exit. TLOs Ability to perform a stable exit. Initiation of deployment within 5 seconds of exit. Land within 20 meters of target (record distance in logbook). Dive Suggestions The first low altitude exit should be performed between 4000 and 5000 feet. The exit is not dramatically different than the exit you used for Levels I--VI (poised exit). In this case though, you will be initiating the main ripcord pull before reaching terminal velocity (which would take about 10 seconds). To insure stability at subterminal speeds, a hard arch position is used. This is accomplished by putting the hips and chest into a "maximum arch" position. Additionally, the arms and legs are extended straight. When performed correctly, it should look like the letter "X" when viewed from the front or back. When performing the actual dive, exit the aircraft from the poised position and perform a hard arch. Give a two to three second count and then initiate a main ripcord pull in the usual manner, recovering immediately to the hard arch position. This dive is also good for practicing your spotting skills since you will probably be the only one exiting on this pass. Remember that you are not at terminal velocity, so a 3 second delay translates to only about 150 feet of altitude loss (versus a 500 foot altitude loss at terminal velocity). AFF Level 8 (Page 3) - Transition to Hand Deploy Most experienced skydivers use rigs employing pullout or throwout main canopy deployment systems. These systems eliminate pilotchute hesitation and make packing easier. They also demand more proficiency of the jumper. TLOs Understand and identify pullout and throwout deployment systems. Be able to pack a throwout deployed pilotchute. At least ten practice pulls on a throwout deployment system. At least one jump with a throwout deployed main canopy. Land within 20 meters of target (record distance in logbook). The Pullout Deployment System Though it was developed after the throwout system, the pullout deployment system is actually more like a traditional ripcord deployment system. In the pullout system, the deployment handle is attached to a straight closing pin and to the base (or bottom) of a springless pilotchute. As the deployment handle is pulled, the pin is first extracted from the container closing loop. As the handle is pulled further, the pilotchute is pulled from the now open container and inflates, pulling the handle from the skydiver's hand. The handle is usually mounted on the bottom of the container. The Throwout Deployment System The throwout system was the first "hand deployed" pilotchute system developed. The handle is attached to the apex (top) of the pilotchute. The pilotchute itself is externally packed (usually in a pocket on the legstrap or bottom of container. The pilotchute is extracted from its pocket and released at arm extension. It then inflates and pulls a curved pin from the closing loop, opening the container. Using a Hand Deployed System In any hand-deployed system, there are several things to be aware of: Stability is important. If activated in an unstable position, the hand deployed pilot chute can easily entangle with the jumper. Note that this does not mean that the pull can be delayed until stability is achieved! The priority is still Pull, Pull by the assigned altitude, Pull stable. The pilotchute should be released at full arm extension. Releasing it sooner can allow it to be "sucked" into the jumper's burble. The handle will be in a significantly different position, possibly one that cannot be seen. To prepare for your first hand deployed jump, have a staff member demonstrate the correct technique for folding the pilotchute. Then make several (ten or more) practice pulls on the ground, concentrating on maintaining good form and a good arch. Finally, perform at least one skydive using the hand deployed system. Plan your breakoff and pull at least 1000 feet higher than usual to allow for the new deployment procedure (but make sure to alert others that you are doing so). Where do I go from here? Now that you have completed the solo dives of the level VIII program, you are ready to begin skydiving with others. Your immediate goal should be to qualify for a United States Parachute Association "A" License. The minimum requirements for that license beyond what is accomplished in the AFF program are: Twenty (20) freefall jumps including 5 minutes of total freefall time. Landed within 20 meters of target on 5 jumps. Unintentional water landing training. Participation in at least three 2--way relative work jumps. Pass a written exam. Note that application for any license requires documentation of the requirements (usually a logbook entry). When you are ready, you may contact any of the AFF Instructors for information on taking the exam and applying for the license. You should also have begun accumulating your own skydiving gear. At a minimum, you should already have ordered or received: A hard, Protec style, helmet (which NSC requires until 50 jumps). A jumpsuit appropriate for your size and weight. A visually accessible altimeter (either chest mounted or wrist mounted). Goggles. You should also be in the market for a complete rig (main parachute, reserve parachute, and harness/container system). There are many manufacturers of parachutes and containers, each of which produces several product lines and sizes. Ask staff and other jumpers for suggestions on the type of gear they recommend (but remember they are only suggestions). A new rig will cost between $2500 and $4000 depending on the choice of components. A used rig will cost less, but should be carefully inspected by an FAA rigger prior to purchase. There are many other items that are useful for skydiving, many of which can be obtained through regular sporting goods sources. Gloves are necessary for skydiving whenever the temperature on the ground or at altitude drops below 40 degrees farienheight. Equipment should be stored and transported in a protective container like a duffel, gear bag, or hard case. A USPA Skydiver Information Manual has information necessary for passing the license exams and performing special dives like night or demonstration jumps. Finally, keep in mind that you are entering a new sport quite unlike any you previously have experience with. Jumping with others will be helpful, but you must carefully determine the experience level and ability of those wanting to "coach" you. Just like "Two drowning men cannot save one another", two recent AFF graduates cannot effectively teach one another to skydive, and may actually represent a hazard to each other. NSC offers several coaching programs and many jumpers enjoy coaching novices. Staff members can introduce you to available coaches who we feel do a good job. If you have questions about the ability of someone wanting to coach you, ask. Freefall time is expensive and we want you to make the most of yours. Good luck, have fun, be safe. Dale Southard, Safety and Training Advisor, Napoleon Skydiving Center, AFF/I, VTM, Sr. Rigger, D--11216 Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7 Level 8