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Found 275 results

  1. donaldchankaon

    Beginners knowledge on skysurfing

    The competitor with the lowest total time at the end of the 5 rounds of competition is the winner. The performance is recorded using a very high powered camera on the ground, the competitor leaving the aircraft at 2200 mts and after a few seconds to build up speed commence their sequence. The world record time is currently 5.18 sec (Male) and 6.10 sec (Female). In skysurfing, a jumper attaches a board, similar to a snowboard or wakeboard but made specifically for skydiving, to his feet and performs aerial acrobatics in freefall, including flips and spins. Lew Sanborn and Jacques Istel started the first commercial drop zone and training center in 1959. While skysurfing is visually appealing and has been included in events like ESPN’s X Games, few jumpers still pursue this challenging discipline. When leaving an aircraft, for a few seconds a skydiver continues to travel forward as well as down, due to the momentum created by the aircraft's speed (known as "forward throw"). The perception of a change from horizontal to vertical flight is known as the "relative wind", or informally as "being on the hill". Each event has a “working time” within which to repeat the sequence as many times as possible. During the tandem jump the instructor is responsible for emergency procedures in the unlikely event that they will be needed, therefore freeing the student to concentrate on learning to skydive. Skydivers reach terminal velocity (around 120 mph (190 km/h) for belly to Earth orientations, 150–200 mph (240–320 km/h) for head down orientations) and are no longer accelerating towards the ground. In freefall, skydivers generally do not experience a "falling" sensation because the resistance of the air to their body at speeds above about 50 mph (80 km/h) provides some feeling of weight and direction. Other training methods include static line, IAD (Instructor Assisted Deployment), and AFF (Accelerated Free fall) also known as Progressive Free-Fall (PFF) in Canada. A demanding freefall exercise of specified turns and loops executed very precisely at speed, and under tight control. At normal exit speeds for aircraft (approx 90 mph (140 km/h)) there is little feeling of falling just after exit, but jumping from a balloon or helicopter can create this sensation. The panel of judges judge from the recording media. The first three concern teams of either 8 or 4 plus their camera flyer performing a series of pre-determined patterns (formations) in a repetitive sequence whilst flying in a face to earth configuration. Style and Accuracy remained the primary discipline throughout the 1960s, and Relative Work continued to develop with the first 6 and 8 man formations being completed. Many people make their first jump with an experienced and trained instructor – this type of skydive may be in the form of a tandem skydive. All of their work is recorded by the camera-flyer, and the panel of judges sit in front of a screen and make their individual decisions. Each competitor is timed from the start of the “series” to the end and time points are added for penalties such as a turn completed off heading or a loop deviating from the axis. At this point the sensation is as of a forceful wind. The 1960s saw the beginnings of the first non-military drop zones, and non-military training methods. They developed a civilian training method with the belief that any intelligent person could be taught the basics of a parachute jump and jump the same day. They are judged on the number of correctly completed figures they make, and the team with the highest number at the end of 10 rounds of competition will be declared the winner.
  2. admin

    Next - Get licensed!

    Be Aware of the Risks Choose a method of training Find a Drop Zone Set a date and jump! Get licensed You've done it! You loved it. We know you did but don't mind you telling us anyway! We gave you a nice cheesy certificate and if you wanted them, you also got some cool photos and a video to impress the whuffos with. So what's next? Do it again! Come back next weekend, and do it again and again until you can give yourself the title of "a licensed skydiver". It takes about 15 to 20 jumps, each with more tasks, until the student is competent enough to jump without instructor supervision. However, if you learn with the AFF method, you can start jumping on your own after seven jumps. Each successive jump costs a little less. Once you're certified and have sold the shirt off your back to buy your own equipment you only pay around $20 for your slot on the plane. That's it! Each country has its own system of skydiving licenses. The USPA has four skydiving licenses, from the basic A license (25 jumps) to the D license (which you are eligible for after 500 jumps.) Once you're a seasoned skydiver there are many disciplines that you can try. Each of these have their own experience and proficiency requirements. Talk to your Instructors before you try something new. It is always prudent to get additional formal training in your discipline by someone qualified. We also strongly suggest you find yourself a mentor. Approach some one whom you respect and trust and ask him or her to coach and guide you through your skydiving career and progress. It is important to have someone you can bounce your plans and ideas off just to test them and get some experienced input. Remember what we said up front: Knowledge, Skill and Attitude. Never stop learning and developing these. Dropzone.com is loaded with useful information at all levels but make sure to talk to your Instructors and Coaches often. Ask them about the advice you get online. They know and understand your skill levels and can help guide you safely on this journey. We'd love to hear your skydiving stories in the Dropzone.com forums, and most of all, we'd love to share the sky with you somewhere at a boogie in the near future. Prev: Set a date and jump! More related information: Skydiving Disciplines Gear Classifieds Dropzone.com Forums Skydiving Glossary
  3. Marketing execs love to throw around industry jargon to make themselves sound like marketing experts. Terms like ROI, target demographic, disposable income, call to action and spiral binders with graphs and charts showing positive gains look and sound legit. Don’t believe the hype. All this ‘marketing-speak’ sounds good, but the majority of marketing execs who work for broadcast, TV and print don’t understand the skydiving industry and mistakenly apply successful campaigns used for other industries to our own. Before buying in to a marketing plan, understand three major reasons why mass media ads don’t give a return: 1. A Tough Call to Action. Strong marketing plans offer a call to action prompting an individual to respond to an ad. Few ads challenge people to do something that may result in one‘s death. Though death is an unlikely result, it weighs heavily for Joe Public to actually commit to calling a DZ and making a booking. 2. Recruitment. Think about it, how many people come to a DZ alone? It happens, but it’s the exception to the rule. Students usually recruit a friend to share in the fear, anticipation and excitement of the experience. Not only does one need to spend time considering whether they should jump, but then need to recruit a friend, which takes time. 3. Disposable Income. How many of us have an extra few hundred dollars lying around? Many mass media ads for activities are more affordable than your average price for a tandem skydive. Combine the obstacles of having to consider making a jump, recruiting a friend and saving money and you’ll find that a lengthy amount of time has gone by before the phone begins to ring. Some will argue that advertising creates brand awareness and this is true, but there will only be a small percentage who see and hear an ad that follow through all of the steps to make it to your DZ. Bottom line: a poor return on investment. Most DZO’s have been happy to break even on their mass media campaigns after they’ve launched. The Affordable and Effective Approach The most effective kind of marketing harnesses the exhilaration of your current customers. Firstly, give these guests a reason to come back to make a second jump. No longer does this need to be a ‘once in a lifetime experience.’ These guests will recruit their full-retail paying friends to experience life’s greatest adventure. Secondly, equip your guests with a means to advertise your DZ utilizing social media by sharing videos, photos and check-ins. Top Five Marketing Basics Every DZ Should be Implementing Online Reservations. If you’re a DZO who says that you don’t want to miss on the personal interaction with guests while making a booking, then this is the first marketing change to be made. If someone desires to spend money with your company at two o’clock in the morning, let them! Don’t force your potential customers to spend money with you on your terms. Social Media. The biggest corporations in the world are actively engaging with people through social media. If you are putting a couple posts out here and there then you’re missing a huge opportunity that the business world has come to embrace. Creating a social media plan is necessary, should be organized and well structured. This is a legitimate and inexpensive way to market the business. Video E-mails. Embrace your customer’s enthusiasm by using a service to e-mail guests their videos. Be sure the DZ’s branding, phone number and website is included because these videos will be shared everywhere. This is an example of getting your customers to market for you. Database Collection. Updating your DZ database is a critical piece to the marketing pie. Collecting e-mail addresses will allow for broadcasting your marketing message to a clientele that knows how great you are. A professionally designed newsletter offering specials during the holidays will reap rewards to the bottom line. Surveys. How do you know your strengths and weaknesses? Allow your customers to tell you by seeking their feedback. This should never be done at the DZ ten minutes after your guests have jumped. An online survey should be sent 24 hours after a jump allowing for anonymity and comfort to provide honest insight about the experience. In order to have a finger on the pulse of the operation and understand the weakest areas of the customer experience, surveys are invaluable. Finally, the best marketing is word of mouth. Examine every interaction your guests experience with the operation from the website, cleanliness of bathrooms, presentation of the instructor, cleanliness of jumpsuits etc. and be sure to amaze your customers. Having a plane with instructors who can safely execute skydives is not enough. The details that surround the experience is just as important as the skydive to ensure your customers aren’t just happy, but thrilled with the experience.
  4. Thanks to social media, word of mouth marketing has become the most powerful marketing tool in the industry. This approach to marketing is exciting for some and a nightmare for others because the message cannot be controlled. Word of mouth spreads like wildfire by a few keystrokes of an individual who either loves or hates your service. For a business to thrive in today's tech savvy world, an owner must view opening the doors each morning as a theatre company on opening night…you're putting on a show. Each day businesses are putting on a performance for each customer who are armed with amazing technology to tell the world about the performance. It's time to start dancing! Perhaps no image is more synonymous within skydiving as the famous 'infidel' tattoo that went viral on social media bringing attention to a drop zone that no business owner would desire. Through the Eyes of the Consumer Imagine if you were invited to be a secret shopper. Your assignment would be to take a date to the nicest, most expensive restaurant in town. This restaurant would only be visited on the most special of occasions because of its high price point. Excitedly, you accept the offer and look forward to enjoying a quality meal in a romantic setting with that special someone in your life. In consideration of your assignment, what would it take to rate the restaurant a perfect five stars? One would think that the rating centers around the meal, but with more thought there are several interactions that take place before the food reaches the table. Consider these eleven judgement points that lead up to the presentation of the food: Website - In preparation for your meal, you elect to review the menu online. This is the first interaction with the restaurant. What image and feeling does the site convey? Hopefully it's positive as you send the link to your date to show where you're going... we want her to be impressed! Directions - How easy or difficult is it to locate the restaurant? There's nothing more frustrating than getting lost! Parking - Is parking readily available or are you circling the restaurant trying to find any opening? Greeting - What is the greeting like when you arrive? For the price point and experience, we hope it's positive and warm! Cleanliness - What is the appearance of the restaurant? This will set a tone. Hopefully, the soles of your shoes aren't picking up tons of dirt because the floor hasn't been swept in days. Wait Time - How long does it take to be seated especially as you have a reservation? If you've made arrangements ahead of time, the wait should be minimal. Interaction - What is the interaction like with your server? The gratuity will be high after the cost of this meal…we hope it's good! Beverages - Having placed an order for drinks, how long does it take for them to arrive? If this is a first date, you may need that beverage to arrive sooner than later to ease the awkward silence! Bathrooms - While awaiting drinks, you visit the bathroom. No one likes a dirty bathroom...anywhere. Food Order - How long does it take for the server to take your order for food? Do you like to wave at a server when it's time to place the order? Food - How long does it take for the food to arrive since you made the order? "Maybe the lamb is being flown in from New Zealand?" Once the food has arrived there are more interactions with the server, an offer for dessert and the bill. If the food was perfect, and the eleven interactions prior to the meal were average, would you award the restaurant five stars? Though all of the interactions leading to the meal are all small details, when added together become significant. To receive a true five star review, no detail is too small. Above: excessive waiting is a major issue at DZ's around the world which only lessens a customer's experience. Between the price point and high expectations, this will not win any five star reviews. As other businesses have had to adapt, so must our industry. As in the secret shopper example above, replace the meal with the skydive. We must strive for five stars and examine every interaction a customer has with our DZ's to ensure it's never average, but always exceeds expectation. Our customers are not just our tandem or AFF students, but fun jumpers and the staff that work for us as well. The key to harnessing word of mouth marketing is to allow service and professionalism to be as important as the skydive itself. No detail too small when offering the single greatest experience life has to offer.
  5. gleison

    Safety during workouts emergency

    Technology has greatly helped aviation professionals when it comes to security. Modern equipment has made life easier for riders who venture into the sky to protect us from enemies. 1. What are these items? This equipment simulates parachute for emergency exits. One such device is highlighted by its quality in graphic detail and faithful performance during simulation, because you can imagine yourself in midair and plummeted. 2. What do they do? The sensations are basically the same for an emergency situation trying to make almost one real moment of danger. 3. How does it work? The pilot is inside the device that looks like a real parachute and put a helmet and has a motion sensor. The pilot should be in full uniform as if in a confrontational situation in midair, making it even more faithful simulation. 4. When connected. The device, when connected, is being monitored by an experienced trainer and a specialist in the system, which will be recorded all data collected during the simulated flight for further research. 5. What more simulator used by these professionals? One of the most widely used equipment for testing the simulator is created by the company e.sigma. This simulator is called SOKOL and has a wide range of resources capable of solving problems that occur during flight. He has a different system for more complete simulator training for emergencies in the air. 6. The pilot. The pilot, when the simulator should be fully equipped for safety and to look real. The pilot visualize the environment in a free fall and feel the difficulty of the force of the wind and rain through a "glasses" 3D quality equipped with a motion sensor, with which the pilot may make light or rapid head movements that not lose sight of the focus of the landing. In addition to the visual effects are sound effects that are nearly real simulate the sound of wind, rain and other climatic obstacle or not. 7. Virtual environment .. The simulation begins with the rider "in" the aircraft, then it jumps, which actually is skipping a step equipment. But there is a simulation of an ejection cabin of an airplane, which in an emergency can make the difference between surviving or dying. The software allows to simulate different environments perfectly fall, terrain and weather, not to mention that before starting the workout safety instructor will program without knowing the pilot, some emergency situations that may occur in normal flight. 8. The equipment. The simulation system consists of support where the rider is, computer monitoring, sensors that are connected to computers and the pilot, as well as specific software. The system is very interactive and easy to use, anyone can operate it. The simulator is suitable for specific training, therefore, are used to simulate situations of extreme emergency, however, are also used in military selections, ie, it is not a virtual toy, but a life saving device.
  6. MissMelissa

    AFF Students Are Awesome

    AFF students are awesome! They are incredibly excited, nervous, and sometimes quite hilarious. Ben Lowe and I have complied some of our favorite experiences with teaching and getting to know some of our students over the last few years. A graduated student of mine came up to me as calm as could be. The way he looked at me was that he was in trouble.I asked him, “What’s up?” “I had a cutaway,” he replied. “That’s awesome! You saved your life!” I replied as thrilled as could be. “What type of malfunction did you have?” “I think it was a hard opening.” “How do you know it was a hard opening?” “I opened up so hard I lost my shoes.” Ben and I had a student who sheepishly walked in the student room on a Sunday morning. “Good morning,” we said. “How are you?” Laughing he replied, “I’m at church!” Ben and I look puzzeld at each other, “Church?” “Yes, I tell work that I have to go to Church Sunday mornings so I can jump!” One of our favorite water training responses: I had a student who wore a digital altimeter that recorded her freefall speeds and liked writing them down in her logbook. She was about my size, 5’3” 120 pounds. After one jump she ran out of a room holding her altimeter high. “Melissa! Melissa! I reached a max speed of 168mph! That’s a freefly speed!” Ben and I always give our student’s the opportunity to always ask us questions, even after they graduate. This was one of our favorite downsize questions: We had a student who repeated Level 4 several times. Although discouraged, she kept moving forward and ended up graduating to her A-License. The following season after accumulating 100 jumps and tunnel time and ran up to Ben, “I want to do a jump with you to show off my bad ass 360° turns – in control!” Ben had been working with a student on exits for several jumps. She finally just said, “I’m terrified about jumping out of the plane. I’m just gonna throw myself out, then get stable.” I was walking into the student room and I had overheard several students giving shout outs for their landing stats. “I have 2 corn landings,” one says. “I have 1 corn and 1 bean landing,” says another. “Oh yeah, I have 1 corn, 1 bean and 1 runway landing,” he said laughing with a few gasps and questions. Then another pipes up. “Well I landed in the corn 2 miles away!” and the laughter ensued! It’s pretty tough as an Instructor to beat YouTube these days. But you have to stand your ground! Teaching is something Ben and I also take seriously as we know our actions will make a lasting impression. However, the rewards are great as we get to meet so many different people and watch them progress in the sport we’re so passionate about. If you’re an AFF student, I encourage you to keep going and keep learning! Got any interesting stories about what you've heard coming from AFF students? Share them with us in the comments section below... Find good articles here: http://www.melissaairheart.com/category/education/
  7. admin

    The Business Behind Skydiving

    Short of going to the moon, skydiving is the greatest adventure life has to offer. Everyday lives are changed & comfort zones blown wide open! Skydiving is therapy and a respite from the grind of life. Having a bad day? Make a jump and see if it's as bad when you land. An Activity or an Experience? So, what are DZ's offering? Many DZs sell the experience while others sell an activity. We have all seen these things: Instructors who look as if they just got out of bed, ripped or dirty jumpsuits, staff arriving late, foul language within earshot of students, sexual innuendo or inappropriate jokes about death, the list goes on. We've witnessed it, yet we're not surprised by it. The expression "It's skydiving" is the blanket phrase that's thrown over this behavior. Let it be made clear, It's NOT skydiving, it's a mentality. The mentality derives from the origins of our sport when DZ's were built on an individual's passion to continue to jump post military service versus the creation of a DZ with a viable business plan. The introduction of tandem skydiving created a sustainable business model which has allowed for major skydiving centers like Chicagoland Skydiving Center, Skydive Spaceland, Skydive Carolina and Skydive Elsinore to thrive. The reality is the sport is still extremely young relative to other sports and we are still finding our way into the mainstream. To get there we must break the mentality that excuses poor service. Skydiving has evolved from barnstorming DZ's to multi-million dollar facilities Breaking the Chain The majority of DZ decision makers hire by plugging in an individual's experience level into the position while forgetting a more important consideration: a passionate personality. If greater significance was placed on one's personality first and years in the sport second, there will be a major shift in the business of skydiving. Having an instructional staff that is passionate about pleasing the customer will benefit the DZ with additional business- GUARANTEED. I'm not suggesting safety be compromised by hiring less experienced instructors. I'm suggesting that DZO's be more selective in the people they hire by weighing personality as heavily as experience. Customers want to have a relationship with a person not with an organization. Personal touch is what takes a company from good to great. Happy customers will create a word of mouth marketing campaign more valuable than any mass media expenditure from a DZ. Great customer service is a DZ's greatest marketing plan. All of us are consumers. If we spend more than US$300 for a service (tandem plus video and stills) what would the expectation be for the kind of service we should receive? Add the variable of a high risk activity and we'd like to feel that we are being well taken care of. Negative attitudes cannot coincide with the business side of the sport. Our sport is too good, too fun, too pure, too life changing to be anything other than the greatest experience in the world with the greatest people.
  8. ChrisD

    Peripheral Vision

    Measuring “Spotlight Effect” Interference On a Peripheral Vision Matching Task. ChrisD Abstract In historical peripheral studies, peripheral stimuli are presented and measures are taken on known central task behaviors and the effect on the main task is measured. In this experiment a dual task peripheral stimulus is presented and a central task is presented using Eriksen & Eriksen’s (1974) “Attentional Spotlight” paradigm. What makes this study interesting is that the central field is completely flooded with stimulus thus making parallel processing aka Treisman’s “features and objects” paradigm compared with very fast and multiple serial searches, independent of the search/ experimental paradigm used. Thus regardless of the serial or parallel search debate, effects of a central stimulus presented in a varying attentional spotlight area can be measured reliably regardless of the attention demands of a task. Early results suggest stimuli presented within the attention spotlight have a pronounced and unavoidable linear negative effect on varying levels of peripheral task performance. Discussions on subject age and behavior/ occupation requiring a high degree of attentive awareness/ vigilance such as driving or piloting are discussed also. Introduction Current perceptual/ cognitive research may be limited by methodological hindrances. Computer screens by their very nature limit current visual field measurements, which generally cover 1 degree to 20 degrees of the visual field depending upon the subjects distance from the computer screen. Further complicating visual research paradigms is the fact that perception is mainly a binocular phenomenon. This complicates visual search paradigms considering pre-attentive features that may or not, “pop-out” (Treisman, 1986), primarily a parallel search process, as compared with more attention driven, serial search paradigms. Further complicating this is the switch from a wide processing area to a relatively small and restricted area for intense serial processing during periods of intense concentration or high stress (Murata 2004). Understanding these two paradigms has great implications for any subject that depends upon these visual perceptual systems for their particular task, such as pilots or motor vehicle operators. Many researchers have suggested two distinct visual attentional systems. One wide area resource gathering system that quickly switches to a serial search with a very narrow, less than 2 degrees of visual field angle, field of view which is also called the “spotlight effect.” (Spotlight effect known about since the 1950s, generally attributed to Eriksen & Eriksen, 1974, and Posner, various.) This switching effect which Rufin VanRullen (2004) points out is highly dependent on attentional load or how many tasks an individual is involved in. He refers to dual task activities as the: “…two distinct attentional resources paradigm.” However with small computer screens this visual spotlight effect, parallel, serial search processing paradigm suffers as subjects can readily switch search areas or due to the narrow visual field, they can readily conduct a quick search of relevant features with their attentional spotlights. As an example Crundall, et al., (1998, 2002) research supports this as when experienced drivers visual information acquisition is different than compared with inexperienced drivers that use different and limited visual field areas as an example (Ruff 2004, et al.). This highlights the parallel/ serial confound by studies using limited visual areas as the subjects can utilize fast serial searches due the restricted viewing area and or utilize parallel searches due the same reason. Other research paradigms present realistic driving simulators and or real driving studies and label the driving task as the primary or spotlight effect and vary and measure the effects of various peripheral stimuli and the effects of these peripheral stimuli upon the central (spotlight) task performance (Ruff 2004). Frequently the perceptual tasks whether dual or single, complicated or simple place extraneous demands upon the simulation (Recarte et al. 2003, Ivanoff et al. 2003). Additional studies have subjects attend to varying visual tasks to measure the area of this attentional visual field narrowing by varying central task loads (Horrey et al. 2004). This amounts to a perspective switching in a sense as too exactly which is the spotlighted effect or the peripheral task becoming the spotlighted area. Perspective switching between central tasks being affected by varying peripheral loads or intrusions, compared with peripheral tasks becoming the central task. In other words the subject can move the spotlight; the subject determines which is the spotlighted area merely by directing attention to the stimulus, whether in the central area or the peripheral area! A corollary to this idea is the general dearth of research on central field of view influence on peripheral tasks. Whereas there is much research and a generally accepted view that certain peripheral stimulus can attract attention even in high attentional demanding environments, this experiment tries to study the effect of a central stimulus while performing a dual peripheral vision task, independent of the constraints imposed upon the subject by narrowed visual fields popular in computer research and imposed by the dominance of task experienced in real or driving studies. I.e. in real driving or acquisition type studies the subject by the very nature of the task is pre-occupied with that same task! In this experiment the peripheral area is flooded with stimulus and the effects of a central intrusive distractor flood the area of this spotlight regardless of any search paradigm or eye position. Thus the effects of this spotlight can be discerned from a peripheral task when the subject (hypothetically) is unable to use the central spotlight to complete the peripheral task. Additionally discussed are general effects of the narrowing attentional spotlight whether it is a perceptual phenomenon or a cognitive phenomenon and the effects of stress upon subjects of varying ages (Roge 2004, Recarte et al. 2003,) and of particular concern is the phenomenon of perceptual blindness/ inattentional blindness experienced by some subjects during the course of this experiment (Simons, Chabris 1999, Lavie 2005). Method Seven participants ranging in age from 24 to 72 “volunteered” to be subjects for this experiment, although not all subjects finished a full set of trials. Occupations ranged from retired, full time professionally employed, disabled, to college students. The setup and apparatus included commercially available emergency warning “strobe” lights, a hand stopwatch and various manual switching devices and a power supply. The lights came from the factory with 12 pre-programmed flash patterns, depending upon pattern selected, the flash patterns ranged from a simple one second flash to a barely discernable 4 flash in 500 millisecond alternating with a persistence delay of 250 milliseconds with an intervening blank period of 150 milliseconds. The lights were, according to the manufacturer capable of being synchronized to a very high degree of reliability less than 50 milliseconds of variance and the flash duration less than 1 millisecond of residual after glow. Two amber lights capable of 3000/ meter candela (daylight) were positioned at the periphery of a centrally seated subject at about 180 degrees to 160 degrees of visual angle. The lights were roughly 5 feet apart. The lights were synchronized to flash in various patterns. The patterns were categorized into three distinct degrees of difficulty: easy, med., and hard, based upon subjective subject reports, and initial practice runs based upon increasing reaction times for a correct response. Responses were limited to “same” for conditions when the right and left peripheral lights flashed the exact same pattern. And “different” for when the flashes were not the same pattern. A central distractor white light was positioned roughly in front of the subject about 30 inches away, this light was capable of 16,000 candela’s (roughly the amount of light on a clear day in a blinding reflecting snowfield.) All lights were adjusted to roughly the subject’s eye level in height from the floor. Gender and age information was the only personal information taken although most subjects volunteered any relevant medical and occupational information. All subjects were asked if they had any prior epileptic or seizure medical conditions, as lights of this intensity and duration have induced seizures in test subjects sensitive to these disorders. Basically a triangular pattern was formed with the subject in the center. The procedure consisted of setting the peripheral side amber lights to flash either the same or different, only response times for correct trials were collected as it became problematic to collect incorrect identifications, either the response time persisted into minutes or a correct discrimination was impossible. See Recarte 2003 p. 124 for a more complete discussion of this rational. 10 combinations of flash patterns were selected, categorized and presented to subjects in a random fashion. Two sets of these patterns were a repeated designs measure to enhance internal and construct validity. After an initial 500 or no millisecond delay a white distractor flash was concurrently presented in all trials, the only thing that varied as far as the white distractor was the initial onset of 0 millisecond delay to 500 millisecond delay. This created two conditions: a peripheral matching task, and a peripheral matching task with a central distractor, the white distractor delay could not be accurately measured and was not included to make more than two conditions. Initially the distractor was presented immediately after the matching task, but it became evident that a rapid identification was taking place so the distractor presentation and matching tasks were randomized to eliminate this “learning effect.” A more robust and or accurate timing system to measure reaction times was desired by this experimenter to see if any interaction effects could be discerned as this setup only allowed for reaction times to be roughly taken for the two conditions of correct responses. Some subjects reported “they thought” they had an initial decision but the central field distractor delay “might” have influenced this. More accurate reaction time measures could have teased this out. Sample Data Collection Form: Flash Pattern RT RT + Distractor Single Flash + Single Flash ------------- ---------------- Single Flash + Double Flash ------------- ---------------- Signal Alert + Signal Alert ------------- ---------------- Double Flash + Double Flash ------------- ---------------- Double Flash + Signal Alert ------------- ---------------- Signal Alert + Signal Alert ------------- ---------------- Signal Alert + Double Flash ------------- ---------------- Single Flash + Com Alert ------------- ---------------- Double Flash + Double Flash ------------- ---------------- Comet Flash + Com Alert ------------- ---------------- Gender Age --------- ----------- Data: Paired Samples Test Paired Differences t df Sig. (2-tailed) Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean 95% Confidence Interval of the Difference Lower Upper Pair 1 EasyFlashDistractor - EasyFlash 1.43773 2.55078 .54383 .30678 2.56868 2.644 21 .015 Paired Samples Test Paired Differences t df Sig. (2-tailed) Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean 95% Confidence Interval of the Difference Lower Upper Pair 1 MedFlashDistractor - MEDFlash .62842 1.38316 .31732 -.03824 1.29508 1.980 18 .063 Paired Samples Test Paired Differences t df Sig. (2-tailed) Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean 95% Confidence Interval of the Difference Lower Upper Pair 1 HardFlashDistractor - HardFlash 1.76200 1.26944 .56771 .18579 3.33821 3.104 4 .036 Results and Discussion: The results show a very pronounced distractor effect on the peripheral matching task, the reaction time increase of 1.44 seconds for the easy condition, .63 seconds for the medium condition, and almost 2 seconds for the hard condition. Cited in Horrey (2004), Horrey & Wickens (2002) found reaction time losses of up to 2.9 seconds in a study where they manipulated two peripherally located tasks, in fact they found that one peripheral task and one central task was about as half demanding as the two peripheral task. Recarte (2003,) also found similar reaction times and adds: “The abrupt onset of a stimulus may produce a stimulus-driven attentional capture…This capture may or may not occur or may lead to processing impairment” (p.120). This matching task experiment when in the distractor mode is in agreement with this “exogenous” shift (Ivanoff et al. 2003). In other words some of these real world peripheral events are not under the subject’s control. Endogenous shifts are defined as having some “volitional control,” where exogenous shifts are an automatic process (Ivanoff 2003). This experiment tries to produce distractions of the exogenous shifts in attention. Which means the spotlight effect is or takes place wherever the subject places his/ her attention. This also places great weight that topics such as cognitive workload and visual field funneling are cognitive processes more than a perceptual phenomenon. Joe Lin Chiuhsiang phrases this as: “…higher the cognitive task the worse the performance… (2006). In other words any stimulus that takes away from the task at hand has the ability to reduce the performance of the primary task at hand. Two subjects in this experiment whose data was not included in the mean totals may have experienced this perceptual blindness, as evidenced by the repeated measures results. In the first trial the subjects including the 71 year old male performed reasonably well, being able to discriminate matching patterns in the easy and med. Categories. Then by random assignment a hard perceptual task was presented. After the hard task which basically “locked-up” the subject, poor across the board performance was noted and the subject was unable to finish all of the trials. This same subject reported that “they were highly concerned about their performance” and “by trying harder” (greatly increased cognitive load) they were unable to “see the flashes, anymore.” In an effort to show the subject in fact the peripheral flashes were different or same the visual angle was moved successively decreasing to about 5 degrees of central visual angle. At this point in time the subject was able to discern correct responses only if they were over 1 full second, whereas a few minutes before hand they were doing reasonable well with 250 millisecond discriminations. This is exactly similar to what Chun & Wolfe (2000) mean when they say: “What you see is determined by what you attend to…,” this is also the danger hidden in Simons and Chabris work. On an Aquatics blog the following quote sums up many researchers’ findings and opinions on this subject: Real-life case studies of this blindness include drivers running over bicyclists, train engineers plowing into cars, submarine pilots surfacing under ships and airline pilots landing on other planes. In each case, the object or obstruction should have been easily noticed but was not. That’s because even though the observers were “looking” right at the missed events, their attention was focused on other visual stimuli, or they were otherwise cognitively engaged (e.g., talking on a cell phone). Strikingly, those involved in these crashes usually have no idea there was an object there, and cannot explain their failure to have seen it. http://www.aquaticsintl.com/2004/nov/0411_rm.html One observation worthy of mention is in the medium task difficulty category mean time is less than the hard or easy category. This is the point where the experimenter noticed different strategies being applied to the matching task. As the difficulty level increased as compared with the easy condition the subjects could no longer count the flashes or turn their head fast enough, it was at this point the matching experiment truly became a peripheral task and also a stumbling block for many of the older subjects and some younger ones as well. Many studies: Olsson et al. 2000, Crundall 2002, and others also refer, sometimes indirectly, to various search/scan paradigms, that differing levels of experience and training on subjects has on performance. A complete discussion of this is beyond the scope of this paper but the author is well versed on the subject. Suffice to say older drivers and many others have physical as well as cognitive strategies that narrow the useful field of vision whether perceptual or cognitive required to operate complex fast moving machinery where mistakes have dire consequences. This experiment supports much of published studies similar in nature and should be kept in mind every time you place a cell phone call, reading a road map, eating anything, dropping anything, looking at road signs, following too closely, or just about any activity other than…while operating this equipment. References Australian Transport Safety Bureau. Australian Government. Limitations of the See and Avoid Principle. 1991/ 2004 reprint. Chun M., & Wolfe J. (2000). Visual Attention. Blackwell Handbook of Perception, Chapt. 9. CogLab reader, Various. Crundall D., & Underwood G. (1998). Effects of experience and processing demands on visual information acquisition in drivers. Ergonomics, V. 41. N. 4. 448-458. Crundall D., & Underwood G., and P. Chapman (2002). Attending to the Peripheral World While Driving. Applied cognitive psychology, 16, 459-475. Department of Transportation, Electronic Billboards and Highway Safety 2003. Goolkasian P. (1994). Compatibility and Location effects in target and distractor processing. American journal of Psychology, Vol. 107. No. 3. Pp. 375-399 Horrey W., & Wickens C. D. (2004). Focal and Ambient Visual Contributions and Driver Visual Scanning in Lane Keeping and Hazard Detection. Proceedings of the human actors and ergonomics society, 48th Annual Meeting- 2004 Ivanoff J., & Klein R. (2003). Orienting of attention without awareness is affected by measurement-induced attentional control settings. Journal of Vision, 3. 32-40. Lavie N. (2005). The role of perceptual load in visual awareness. Brain Research, Elsevier Science Direct, Umass Boston Healy Library, 1080. 91-100. Olsson S., & Burns P. C., (2000). Measuring Driver Visual Distraction with a Peripheral Detection Task. Volvo Technological Development Corporation, Sweden. Recarte M., & Nunes L. (2003). Mental Workload While Driving: Effects on Visual Search, Discrimination, and Decision Making. Journal of Experimental psychology: Applied2003, Vol 9, No. 2, 119-137. Roge J., & Pebayle T., et al. (2005). Useful visual field reduction as a function of age and risk of accident in simulated car driving. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, May. V. 46. N. 5. Simons D., & Chabris C. (1999). Gorillas in our midst: sustained inattentional blindness for dynamic events. Perception, 28. Pp. 1059-1074. VanRullen R., & Reddy L., & C. Koch (2004) Visual search and dual task reveal two distinct attentional resources. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 16:1. Pp. 4-14. http://www.aquaticsintl.com/2004/nov/0411_rm.html http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/departments/nrd-13/driver-distraction/Topics033080034.htm various other sources…
  9. Note: This article refers to skydiving and regulations in the United States. Refer to your country's civil aviation regulations for how to do this safely and legally in your country. Disclaimer: The interpretations of the regulations referenced in this article are that of the authors. Abbreviations and acronyms: FAA: Federal Aviation Administration CFR: Code of Federal Regulations (new designation) FAR: Federal Aviation Regulations (old designation, still often used.) FSDO: Flight Standards District Office Important web pages and documents: FAA web site: www.faa.gov FAR 105, Parachute Operations. Can be found in Section 9 of the USPA Skydiver's Information Manual (SIM) Advisory Circular AC-105-2C, Sport Parachute Jumping. Can be found in Section 9 of the USPA Skydiver's Information Manual (SIM) FAA Aeronautical Information Manual (AIM) Why we need this information It seems like every skydiver eventually wants to skydive into an area or event that is not at a regular dropzone or skydiving center at an airport. And no wonder, because it is fun, exciting, and a challenge, plus the scenery is sometimes much better. Imagine jumping at your family reunion into a huge field out on your uncle's farm in the country, and bringing along some of your skydiving buddies. You can't get much better than that. But it does take a bit of preparation to do jumps like this safely and legally. Unfortunately, nearly every time a skydiver asks about how to go about jumping somewhere other than their normal dropzone, they will get a number of answers that are incorrect or incomplete. Why the confusion? Well, one reason is because the regulations associated with parachute jumping, FAR 105, changed in 2001. Many of us who have been skydiving a long time tend to remember the wording of FAR 105 before this change. Jumping into the various type of airspace For a detailed explanation of the airspace in the U.S, you can refer to official FAA airspace documents. There are also many tutorials on airspace, as pilots must learn about airspace classifications when learning to fly. Related Section: FAR 105.25, Parachute operations in designated airspace (a) No person may conduct a parachute operation, and no pilot in command of an aircraft may allow a parachute operation to be conducted from that aircraft— (1) Over or within a restricted area or prohibited area unless the controlling agency of the area concerned has authorized that parachute operation; (2) Within or into a Class A, B, C, D airspace area without, or in violation of the requirements of, an air traffic control authorization issued under this section; (3) Except as provided in paragraph (c) and (d) of this section, within or into Class E or G airspace area unless the air traffic control facility having jurisdiction over the airspace at the first intended exit altitude is notified of the parachute operation no earlier than 24 hours before or no later than 1 hour before the parachute operation begins. Paragraph 1 refers to two special types of airspace. It is unlikely that you will ever want or need to jump into that airspace unless you are with the military or with an exhibition skydiving team. It includes airspace around government and military buildings and installations. Paragraph 2 refers to airspace into which you must get authorization to jump. It includes controlled airspace up to, and above altitudes of Flight Level 180 (18,000 feet MSL) and above, airports with operating control towers and/or radar approach control. It is possible that you might want to jump into such areas and airports. Paragraph 3 refers to airspace that is the most likely type of airspace that you will encounter in rural areas or away from larger cities. "Giving notification of the parachute jump to Air Traffic Control" is the key information in this paragraph. Advance "notification" to Air Traffic Control is not required when jumping at a location in Class A, B, C, or D Airspace because an advance “authorization” is required from the respective controlling agency. The requirements for communication with Air Traffic Control during the jump are specified in FAR 105.13, Radio equipment and use requirements. NOTAMs A Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) is defined as "time-critical aeronautical information, which is of either a temporary nature or not sufficiently known in advance to permit publication on aeronautical charts or in other operational publications." NOTAMs are filed (by phone or online) with an FAA "Flight Service Station". A Flight Service Station is an FAA briefing facility that provides information and services to pilots, for example, providing information related to flight planning. If a parachute jump is planned at a location where jumping is not normally done, filing a NOTAM for this activity will increase the safety of flight in the vicinity, because pilots that look up the NOTAMS during their flight planning will know about the planned jumping. NOTAMS for parachute jumping are not normally required, but are a good idea, especially if you will be making a number of jumps on a particular day. Filing a NOTAM (with a Flight Service Station) is not sufficient for "giving notification" as described in FAR 105.25 paragraph 3. Notification needs to be made with the Air Traffic Control facility of jurisdiction, in most cases an Approach Control Facility or an Air Traffic Control Center. Although the phone numbers for these facilities can be found in various locations they can usually be obtained by contacting the Flight Service Station (FSS) at 800-WX-BRIEF (800-992-7433). Here is where the confusion lies The following is from the 1997 version of FAR 105. Sec. 105.23, Jumps in or into other airspace (a) No person may make a parachute jump, and no pilot in command of an aircraft may allow a parachute jump to be made from that aircraft, in or into airspace unless the nearest FAA air traffic control facility or FAA flight service station was notified of that jump at least 1 hour before the jump is to be made, but not more than 24 hours before the jumping is to be completed, and the notice contained the information prescribed in Sec. 105.25(a). Notice that "notification" is required, but that back then this notification could have been given to the nearest Air Traffic Control facility or to a Flight Service Station. Most of the time the notification was given to Flight Service, because pilots were used to contacting Flight Service while planning flights, and because contacting flight service by phone required only remembering a single nationwide phone number. Contacting the "nearest" air traffic control facility or the facility with "jurisdiction" required more research. It is likely that back then, when notification was given to Flight Service about a parachute jump, that Flight Service personnel simply referred to the "notification" as a NOTAM, thereby perpetuating the misconception that a NOTAM was being filed, or even that it was required. Jumping at another airport (where skydiving is not normally done) Related regulation: FAR 105.23, Parachute operations over or onto airports (b) For airports without an operating control tower, prior approval has been obtained from the management of the airport to conduct parachute operations over or on that airport. There are additional requirements for jumping at an airport with a control tower, but paragraph (b) is the important part for when you want to make a jump at a small airport. You must have the approval of airport management. The FAA changed it from “manager” to “management” at some point in the past, presumably, to require permission from the Airport Board, City Authority, etc, to preclude a single “Manager” from giving permission where a larger body actually has control. Certainly, most private airports would only have a “manager” but proceed with caution when receiving approval from an “airport manager” at a public airport. For a number of reasons it would be much better to have written approval from the actual airport management. Advance "notification" to Air Traffic Control is not required when jumping at an airport in Class A, B, C, or D Airspace because an advance “authorization” is required from the respective controlling agency. The requirements for communication with Air Traffic Control during the jump are specified in FAR 105.13, Radio equipment and use requirements. Demo (Exhibition) Jumps Related regulation: FAR 105.21, Parachute operations over or into a congested area or an open-air assembly of persons (a) No person may conduct a parachute operation, and no pilot in command of an aircraft may allow a parachute operation to be conducted from that aircraft, over or into a congested area of a city, town, or settlement, or an open-air assembly of persons unless a certificate of authorization for that parachute operation has been issued under this section. What constitutes a "congested area" or an "open-air assembly"? Well, now we are getting into the interpretation of the regulations. Parts of Advisory Circular AC-105 were written specifically to cover these questions, but there is still a bit of interpretation to do, and the FAA may interpret a particular landing area differently that you might. If you are jumping into an event like an air show, much of this documentation may already have been taken care of by the organizers, who may have simply added "skydivers" to the show's performers, but you would of course need to check with the organizers to be sure. The FAA will usually require that a "Certificate of Waiver or Authorization" (COA) be obtained for most exhibition jumps of this type, which will require that a FAA Form 7711-2, "Application for Certificate of Waiver or Authorization", be submitted. This application may need to be submitted in advance of the planned parachute jump(s), because the FAA has ten days in which to respond to the request. The Certification of Waiver or Authorization that you receive in response to your request will specify the conditions and limitations of the jump. These conditions may include the requirements that you give notification to Air Traffic Control of the jump and/or file a NOTAM. Either or both may be specified. Note: the completed, original COA is usually required to be on board the aircraft at the time of jump operations. The requirements for communication with Air Traffic Control during the jump will exist as usual, plus, Air Traffic Control radio frequencies and other procedures may be specified in detail in the COA. Note: This section of this article is not intended as a tutorial on organizing exhibition jumps, but is included mainly to compare the regulations associated with exhibition jumps with those of jumping into other areas. The best source of information about exhibition jumps would be a jumper that has organized exhibition jumps in your particular FAA region and has worked with that region's FSDO. The USPA Skydivers Information Manual (SIM) also contains a section "Exhibition Jumping and Rating". Jumping at the family reunion So the bottom line question becomes, “How do I legally jump into my family reunion on my uncle's farm out in the country?” First of all, make sure that everyone jumping into the area is qualified and skilled enough to safely do so. If you are a USPA member, please realize that you must still follow the BSR’s whether you are jumping at a USPA Group Member DZ, a non-Group Member DZ, or into your uncle’s farm. The BSR’s apply to each individual member regardless of where they make the jump, for example, the landing area requirements. Make sure it is really “out in the country” (Class E or G airspace.) A pilot will help you determine that if you do not know how to read aviation maps. If it is close to a town you will need to determine whether it is really an “uncongested “ area, and this includes both the landing area on the farm, and the place you will be exiting. This means not over a subdivision and not over a school. The FAA will always err on the conservative side when determining if an area is congested, so you will want to be conservative too. Advisory Circular AC-105 includes guidance on this. It is suggested that you not contact your local FSDO. Simply providing the required "notification" should be sufficient, assuming that the airspace is Class E or G. Provide notification as required by FAR 105.25. This notification will usually be to a “Center” or Approach Control facility. As the facility may not be one that routinely receives such notification, it may be helpful to have a copy of FAR 105.25 in hand so that you can read it to the individual if they are not familiar with it. Always be polite but remember that you are giving a notification, not asking for permission. Make sure the pilot knows to communicate as required by FAR 105.13. Look for other air traffic as usual while spotting. Jump and have fun!
  10. admin

    Australia is getting a Wind Tunnel

    Australia is getting a Wind Tunnel! Finally! With almost 40 Indoor Skydiving facilities around the world, for some reason it has taken several attempts over the last 10 years to build a state of the art tunnel in Australia. It came down to a group of courageous guys to spend the last 3 years finding a site, finding the right equipment, getting the best team together, and figuring out an innovative way of raising the funds (listing on the ASX) to make it all happen. Danny Hogan and Wayne Jones, both ex SASR servicemen, have done what many people thought was impossible. Indoor Skydive Australia Group (ISAG) successfully listed on the Australian Stock Exchange (IDZ) in January and started construction of a 16.4ft SkyVenture tunnel in February. One of the world’s largest and most technically advanced, the location is part of the Penrith Panthers facility, Western Sydney. It will operate under the global franchise brand of iFLY as iFly DownUnder, which brings unrivalled experience and technology from manufacturing 24 tunnels around the world. Launch is scheduled for first quarter 2014, You can keep track of the progress on Facebook/iflydownunder or by registering at iflyDownunder.com.au. What does this mean for Australian Skydiving? Australia – you go there to see kangaroos, koalas, crocodiles, pristine beaches or that big red rock in the middle of the dessert! It’s known for great walking, diving, surfing and now we can add flying to the list of tick boxes. The tunnel will revolutionize skydiving in Australia and turn novice skydivers into awesome skydivers. It will slow down the ‘attrition’ rate of skydivers leaving and introduce new people to the sport. It will become the catalyst for a sporting Evolution in Australia that has never been seen before. It will create an entirely new sport of BodyFlight in its own right and introduce skydiving to those who can’t yet fly - from 3 and up. In summary – it’s a good thing for skydivers, skydive operators and every Australian who has always wanted to fly. There are already some amazing Australian skydiving boogies on the map; The Equinox Boogie in Queensland attracts flyers from all over the world, some who come back year after year. Funny Farm is an invitational boogie in the outback which sees international coaches load organising some of Australia’s hottest flyers and the Full Moon Boogie in Victoria is now making a name for itself with Mike Carpenter (Volare) and Mike ‘Friday’ Friedman (Arizona Drive) organising at the event in recent years. In addition to the big name coaches, Australia truly does have some of the best scenery around. From unspoilt coastlines with clear blue oceans to forests, gorges and red earth. Combine these with the welcoming Aussie spirit and a wind tunnel and Australia is shaping up to be a great all round skydiving destination. So next time you plan a trip down under, make sure you bring your jumpsuit as well as your thongs! Many of the iFLY Downunder team are active skydivers and the centre will be built with skydivers in mind. There will be a skydiver’s lounge if you need to take a break and relax between sessions as well as the usual debriefing video stations and team rooms. Located in Penrith, a suburb in Western Sydney there’s plenty to do around the tunnel, whether you enjoy wakeboarding or white water rafting, need a hotel for the night, a good feed or a day relaxing in the nearby Blue Mountains national park. The team are striving to create a positive learning environment, where all abilities are welcome and where flyers come to meet like-minded skydivers. We also need to mention the level playing field that will be created when Australian teams can finally train in an Australian tunnel. The Australian VFS team ‘The Addicted’ completed 11 hours of intensive training with Steve and Sara Curtis (Arizonal Arsenal) and Mike ‘Friday’ Friedman (Arizona Drive) in order to learn the new open VFS dive pool. Team member Lucas Georgiou stated that “a tunnel camp was really the only way we could get up to date with the recent changes”. 8-way team ‘Velocita’ also trained in a 16ft tunnel before the Dubai Mondial, that’s 8 people who now won’t have to pay for expensive airfares abroad to team train. You can expect to see Australia raising its standard in prestigious skydiving competitions around the globe from 2014. It’s not just for the top teams that will raise their game using the tunnel. You only need to look at the numbers of new rookie teams taking part to see what influence the tunnel has. In the UK, which currently supports 3 wind tunnels and a fourth one on the way, the numbers of teams competing in the British Nationals has increased each year. 2012 saw a record 54 teams competing in the 4-way alone, bear in mind most of the skydiving season is spent waiting for the clouds to clear! iFLY Downunder will hold regular skydiver events, competitions and tunnel camps for everyone from new tunnel flyers to those wanting to work on VFS, 8-way or the new ‘Dynamic’ discipline emerging from Europe. Prices, operating hours and additional information will be released later this year. Anyone wishing to host a tunnel camp should contact holly@indoorskydiveaustralia.com.au for more information and if you hold a current IBA tunnel instructors rating and are interested in moving to Australia please email your CV to admin@indoorskydiveaustralia.com.au. www.iFlyDownunder.com.au Construction Corner The Ground Breaking ceremony took place on 4rd March 2013. Raybal Constructions are working intimately with Indoor Skydive Australia Group and SkyVenture. Early bulk excavation completed and contiguous piling is now well underway with a total of 300 cubic metres of concrete to be poured. The facility footprint covers 655m² with an overall area of 2160m². Fabrication of SkyVenture components is now into its third month. For the latest progress follow us on Facebook/iFLYdownunder or register at iFlyDownunder.com.au
  11. admin

    Power-Pitching

    This little article is about the art and science of skilfully and quickly pulling out of a dangerously low dive. You can apply this skill to many aspects of parachute flight, but the scope of this article will hone in on keeping you above ground if you turn too low, in more ways than one. When you turn close to the ground, the likelihood of your survival has a great deal to do with suspension line tension. If you are not currently connected to your canopy, you can't pull out of a dive all that quickly. Maintaining positive "g's" requires a smooth reduction of the angle of attack when performing a turn or dive, and graceful coordinated turns throughout your approach. If you feel the parachute pulling away from you in a balanced manner, you are prepared to nose her up whenever you want to. The process of pulling out of a dive clearly has something to do with bank angle, but it has much more to do with pitch. This is the fore-aft pendulum axis, like on a swing-set. If you begin increasing your pitch as soon as you get that funny feeling, and leave the rolling out for after you feel the load increase, you will recover far sooner than if you went straight to fixing the roll problem. Fly the pitch first, then progressively reduce the roll angle when you feel heavier. In doing so, you are literally creating time to fix your problems. In short, nose her up wherever you are, and then deal with the rest of your flight. The pitch responds to a variety of inputs. A tap in the rear risers will nose you up a bit, as will releasing application of the front risers. Such inputs may even level you off to zero descent, provided that you have the altitude. Rears are, however, a terrible way to pull up from a dive executed dangerously low. When you get down and dirty, brakes simply have more bite. Knowing that different inputs have different recovery times, this leads us to the exploration of what kind of brake input moves the pitch fastest. So it turns out, a short, sharp, powerful burst-and-hold of six to twelve inches will move your pitch more, sooner and more effectively than twice the quantity of control input when applied with a slower control motion. Fast works quicker. This is what I refer to as "Power Pitching", and it is an essential skill for all canopy pilots who would like to join the ranks of the old fart club. It is all a matter of airspeed. When the angle of attack is increased swiftly, while the airspeed is still quite high, there is more effect to the direction of flight. When you are in half brakes, for example, you have a slower pitch response, and the resulting level-off is weak at best. Watch scared students land and you will get to see this principle over and over. When a canopy is traveling at high speed, on the other hand, in the first one third of the control range, the bang-for-your-buck is far higher when it comes to maneuvering capability than the lower end of the range will ever hope to offer. This is because the wing is traveling faster, and drag increases as we go faster. That is why a patient pilot who waits for the correct time to flare and then gives one smooth, decisive motion from zero brakes to quarter brakes usually ends up with a glorious level off. The top of the control stroke is the heart of your power to change the direction of flight. Consequently, if you fly smooth coordinated harness-led turns with your toggles mostly up and your tail out, your first pulse of brake application will pop you up out of a steep dive surprisingly quickly. It is true that some parachutes recover more powerfully from a dive than others due to good design, but every parachute recovers far sooner when good technique is used. There are, however, limits to every technique. There is a point when a PLF is just not enough to prevent pain, and there is such a thing as a sloppy turn thrown too low. Don't do this if you want to get old. Fly consistent patterns that work for your landing area and parachute specifics, and relax into having more fun. Most of the time this stuff is not necessary at all. Once in a while, on the other hand, the one with the most Jedi skills wins. In the end it is a calm heart combined with skilful execution that ultimately leads us to glorious recoveries and beautiful landings. As we grow into what it means to us to become a better skydiver, we reach for expansion of the diverse skill-set that will allow us to skydive with our grandchildren. Wonderfully, skill is more fun, and skill is safety. Brian Germain is a parachute designer and test pilot, and runs canopy flight skills and safety courses all over the world. Brian has made over 14,000 jumps in his 25 years in the sport. He is also the host of the “Safety First” segment on SkydiveRadio.com, and the creator of many educational You Tube videos. Brian is the author of the widely popular canopy flight text The Parachute and its Pilot, as well as Transcending Fear, Greenlight Your Life, and Vertical Journey. His websites are www.BIGAIRSportZ.com and www.Transcendingfear.com and his YouTube channel is: www.youtube.com/bsgermain
  12. Meso

    Top Skydiving Mobile Apps

    Skydiving Logbook (Android / iOS) Skydiving Logbook is an extremely popular application for both Android and iOS devices. The application allows users to log jumps with information such as jump #, aircraft, gear used, type of jump, delay, cutaways, notes and more. A unique feature is the ability to have licensed jumpers sign your logbook entries using the touchscreen. The application also caters for gear related information, allowing you to tie your gear item to their serial number and to set up service reminders on gear items. One is able to sort easily through the display of specific information that is recorded during your jumps, such as total jump counts, cutaways etc. You're able to manage your dropzones and aircraft, as well as setting a home dropzone. Another feature that's offered with this application is the ability to calculate and manage wing load information. The ability to import and export data from the application also means that you can perform frequent backups onto external devices. Overall, this application is packed full of features and it's clear that the developer has done something amazing with it, offering a great application to the skydiving community for free, in fact to quote their download page: "This application is free and always will be." Price: Free Ratings: 4.5/5 based off 123 votes on Android. 4.5/5 based off 6 votes on iOS. Download: Android: Skydiving Logbook iOS: Skydiving Logbook Skydiving Draw (Android) There are a few apps out there at the moment that cater to formation skydiving, Skydiving Draw is the more popular of the apps available. It allows you to manually create or to randomly generate formation sequences which are then presented in visual form though graphic images. The application provides you with the ability to copy and share your formation sequences, as well as the ability to export them as a PDF file, allowing for the easy print of such documentation onto paper, for training purposes. You are also able to save and load your sequences, this is something that while being worked on by other applications for future releases, wasn't yet available. Price: $3 Ratings: 5/5 based off 17 votes. Download: Skydiving Draw Canopy Calculator (Android) This app for Android devices is a small and basic application which calculates canopy size and wing load based off body and gear weight. Naturally with such a lightweight application there isn't really too much to say about it, but the app seems very stable on most Android devices and can come in as a useful tool, also at only 80kb in size and as a free download, there is really no reason not to have it. Price: Free Ratings: 5/5 based off 8 votes. Download: Canopy Calculator BASEline Flight Computer (Android) This application is more of an honorable mention, as the truth is, we really don't know just how well it works. On paper though, this looks to be a great application, if one has the correct mobile device that can support all of the functionality. BASEline Flight Computer is an application which is designed to improve flight performance, offering real-time feedback by both visual and audible means. The application claims that it uses the phone's sensors to determine things like altitude, glide ratio, tilt, speed etc. BASEline Flight Computer offers the user the ability to program your mobile device into an audible altimeter. Though naturally one should never rely on your mobile device to act as your altimeter. There is also a built in log book which has altimeter and gps recordings. IMPORTANT It is vitally important to note that this application should not at any stage be used as a primary means for altitude awareness, and to exercise extreme caution when using it in a skydiving or base jumping environment. The maker also strongly recommends that this device only be used with barometric altimeter sensors, which are only available on select few mobile devices. GPS data is not reliable for altitude readings, and even with barometric altimeter sensors, the readings may not be reliable. The developer ends the description with the line: "Software is provided "as is," with no warranty of any kind. Skydiving is dangerous, don't be stupid." This application has a lot to offer, as mentioned above. The real question is- How well does it work? Price: $6 Ratings: 4/5 Stars based off 1 vote. Download: Baseline Flight Computer Which skydiving apps have you got loaded onto your smart phone?
  13. admin

    The Great Book of BASE - Review

    Base jumping is something that I’ve not had a desire to do, so it was understandable that when I was presented with the opportunity to read and review "The Great Book of Base" that I did so with some level of skepticism. You see, I've always had preconceived ideas about BASE jumpers, their discipline, and the personality types involved - ironic when you consider the very notion, a pet peeve of mine, general skydivers have regarding canopy piloting/swooping. "The Great Book of BASE" helped turn that thinking on its head. The Author, along with oftentimes anecdotal experiences with other BASE jumpers, paints a vivid yet methodical view of the world of BASE jumping. The book itself begins with a rather heavy handed push warning readers of the dangers of BASE jumping. Something, that while necessary, wears a little bit on the reader at times. It was the only part of the book I found a little difficult to get through - not because the warnings were invalid, or not to be heeded, but rather it felt like the Author was attempting to offset any potential future litigation. There is something about this book that should be clearly stated: This book will NOT teach you how to BASE jump, nor is it the intention of the Author for it to do so. What the book does do, and in my opinion does very well, is give the reader a solid sense of a path to follow in the BASE world. It's a guide and a reference book, something you read multiple times in your BASE career and refresh the things you need to. For newer (and perhaps even some seasoned jumpers) the book discusses the myriad of things a BASE jumper should consider from etiquette (site burning, etc), mentorship (something the Author is a avid believer in), various types of BASE jumps and locations, detailed explanations on various weather phenomena that can affect the outcome of the BASE jump, and even the types of skydives a future, or current, BASE jumper should spend time working on to give them the greatest chance of having a positive BASE experience. Also noteworthy is how the Author takes some time to dispel myths, largely prevalent in the regular skydiving community, about altitude BASE jumps. All the subjects mentioned above are discussed in depth, but not so much so that they become a chore to read. Quite the opposite in fact, and the Author does a spectacular job of keeping the reader engaged in the topic being discussed - not always an easy task when discussing technical topics. The book is well edited and written. The only real complaint I had about the layout, and it's a minor quibble, is that the Author refers to DBS (Deep Brake Setting) at one point, but doesn’t actually explain the acronym until a later chapter. As a non-BASE jumper, this term had me scratching my head until it was later explained. So what does this mean for you, the reader? Well while I still have the opinion that BASE jumping is not for me I have a newfound respect for participants in the sport. Additionally I can say that if I ever were to reconsider my BASE jumping career, I would certainly have this book on my bookshelf and use it for guidance on the next steps to take. I definitely will be recommending to some of the local BASE jumpers I know. Safe BASE jumps. Overall: Highly recommended
  14. admin

    Air Adventures AFF: Level 7

    GRADUATION DIVE JUMP SEQUENCE: The JM will check the spot, then tell you to exit. When you are ready to exit, just dive out of the plane like Superman. Do not check in. Get stable as soon as possible after exit. Turn to find your JM. Track towards him when you find him. Follow your JM's hand signals. Remain close to him throughout the dive. When he signals you to turn, do a 360. Check your altitude after each manuever. When he signals you to track towards him, use forward motion to get closer to him. When he gives you the delta-track signal, track for five seconds. If he drops below you, arch harder to increase your fall rate. If he floats above you, arch a little less to decrease your fall rate. At 6000 feet, shake your head to indicate "no more manuevers." Your JM will not remind you if you forget. Turn 180 away from your JM and track for five seconds, then stop. Wave off and pull at 4000 feet. Note the new altitude. Check above you as you wave. Count to five and check your parachute. PERFORMANCE STANDARDS: Remain stable 100% of the time after exit Demonstrate tracking, fall rate control, and tracking skills Demonstrate altitude awareness despite distractions. Perform breakoff procedure at 6000 feet. Stable solo waveoff and pull at a lower altitude (4000 feet, plus or minus 500 feet.) LEVEL SEVEN HINTS: Be altitude aware! Your JM will not help with altitude clues, and may try to distract you. Do not let him! Remember - the pull is lower than previous dives. You have more time between "no more manuevers" and the pull. During the track, be sure to pick a point on the ground to track towards so you don't track in a circle. Expect the unexpected. This is your final dive as a student, and your JM will be testing you to see if you can safely jump on your own. 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
  15. 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.
  16. admin

    Learn to Skydive Online

    When we first posted that we were launching a live online canopy course, the beginning of many online adventure safety courses, a number of people asked me if I was joking. In the adventure community, actions have always spoken louder than words, and the internet is for surfing entertaining videos, not training. Although I fully understand the irreplaceable value of on-site instruction, there is a lot of work to do in a short time to get it done. People are dying out there. USPA has wisely issued a mandate to help promote participation in canopy courses in order to expedite the proliferation of the information that saves lives. This is a wonderful step, however the limited number of highly skilled canopy flight teachers causes a bottle-neck of resources. We need the information to get out there faster than we have the ability to spread it. Hence we find ourselves in the place that inspires innovation like no other, need. Live online “e-learning” programs have been fully embraced by the corporate world in recent years, and increasingly by universities and colleges as well. The choice to go with these high tech teaching systems has been partly financial, as it is far cheaper to implement than in-person training in the long run. It is also far greener because instructors no longer need to travel as much to accomplish the same goals. Lastly, corporations and learning institutions all over the world have chosen to use the internet for education because of the vastly increased scope of potential students, as distance can be taken out of the equation. These compelling reasons have caused significant advancement in the technology that makes remote teaching possible, and huge breakthroughs have been made which allow interactions to be surprisingly natural. Further, online testing can be utilized to allow instructors to get a feel for how well they are conveying the information, and what they need to focus on in the next sessions. The implementation of this new model of instruction is still very much in its infancy, however we are already finding that this futuristic method of information proliferation actually has several benefits over in-person training. When you take a canopy flight course, for instance, you cannot control the weather. In most cases, the instructor is flown in from far away and is only on site for one weekend. If the weather does not cooperate, you are in for an all-theory course. With online courses, we are able to teach the group over the course of a month. Chances are, the students will get the opportunity to jump in that time to practice what they have learned, and even get someone to video their landings to upload for the next course. Even if the participants do not get to jump, the longer duration of the course allows for deeper information association and transfer to long-term memory, as well as giving the students the opportunity to formulate better questions to help them get exactly what they want out of the experience. If they don’t remember something from the class, they can even log onto the website and watch the course all over again. This is not possible in the traditional instruction paradigm. Some will say, “But there is no substitute for being able to ask questions of your instructor in the flow of the session. The new live online training systems allow participants to “raise their hand”, so-to-speak, and get the answer they need when they need it. If the students have a webcam as well, the interaction between the student and teacher is nearly as intimate as an in person discussion once the participants grow accustom to the new medium. For some people, this online format actually allows them to come out of their shells a bit more since they are not actually in a room full of strangers. There is no doubt that on-site, hands-on instruction will remain the backbone of all adventure training. There is a great deal that can only happen in a purely organic environment, which is why people like me will continue to pound the pavement and travel to a new dropzone almost every weekend. It is essential. However, the vast majority of skydivers do not have access to such camps but once or twice per year, and by then many of them will have already gotten hurt or even killed. If we are to truly strive to improve the safety of our sport in every way possible, embracing eLearning is an indispensable step toward getting the information out there in a reasonable time frame. The internet transcends time and space like nothing else known to mankind, and if we are serious about safety, than we must cast aside our reservations, and like the first pilots of ram-air canopies, we must give it a whirl. The fear of change is understandable. When we change, we risk things getting worse. However, if we do not try to improve and evolve, in the context of a changing environment, we are essentially moving backwards. The technology passed down to us from wartime allowed our sport to come into existence, and now the corporate world, sometimes equally sinister, has created a technology that will allow great students to connect to great teachers, anywhere in the world. The precious information that was once held by only a few mentors with a limited number of weekends in the year can now be disseminated at an exponential rate, and the possibilities for improvement of our sport and other adventure pursuits are endless. This is a truly incredible time. So when someone asks me if adventure training through eLearning is a joke, I have to ask them to consider the possibility that any initial resistance to change is merely the inertia of habit and a little bit of fear. The future is being born right now in the present, and all we need to do to move forward into the vast potential of this new era of instruction is an open mind and a sense of adventure. Brian Germain is a parachute designer and test pilot, and runs canopy flight skills and safety courses all over the world. Brian has made over 14,000 jumps in his 25 years in the sport. He is also the host of the “Safety First” segment on SkydiveRadio.com, and the creator of many educational videos. Brian is the author of the widely popular canopy flight text The Parachute and its Pilot, as well as Transcending Fear, Greenlight Your Life, and Vertical Journey. His websites are www.BIGAIRSportZ.com , www.Transcendingfear.com and his online training programs can be found at www.AdventureWisdom.com. Brian’s highly aclaimed YouTube channel is: www.youtube.com/bsgermain
  17. DSE

    Camera Considerations 101

    Flying with a camera can be a lot of fun, and is a reasonably easy goal for new skydivers to achieve. The USPA SIM Section 6.8E recommends that a skydiver have 200 skydives before putting on a camera. The first question often asked is “Why 200 jumps?” I believe the answer to that question is that in times past, the D license (which at one time required only 200 jumps) meant that a skydiver had experienced enough of the basics of skydiving that he/she could begin exploring additional responsibilities during a skydive. By no means is anyone with only 200 jumps generally prepared to be a good nor safe camera flyer, but everyone needs a benchmark from which to begin. This article isn’t about debating the merits of jump numbers; I’d recommend potential camera flyers stick with the SIM and the findings of the USPA. Before beginning, you’ll need to make a couple of gear decisions straight off, and this article is to help you prepare for those decisions. HEADGEARChoosing a helmet is the first and potentially most important decision in flying a camera. There are a lot of good helmets out there; each manufacturer has their own ideas about why their helmets may be better than another helmet. What your first decision will be isn’t as much about a brand, but rather a type. P>There are two types of helmets; those that are primarily side mount, and those that are primarily top mount. Most side mount helmets do offer at least a small top area to which a second camera or other fixture may be mounted. Most of the top-mount helmets are designed to place everything on the top of the helmet. Each type of helmet has its own advantages and disadvantages. Freeflyers and inside RW/FS skydivers tend to prefer side mount camera helmets not only because of the profile of the helmet, but due to the way the air moves around the helmet. Those that are shooting four/eight-way FS might prefer a top mount not only due to the greater stability of a flat-top profile, but that the larger top area allows for two cameras to be mounted (one acts as a backup in case a camera fails in competition). Commercial photographers tend to prefer flat top systems so that they can mount larger cameras, or have enough space to mount a DSLR and video camera from the same perspective point. One point to consider aside from the primary flying format; top mount helmets with properly centered weight are less injurious to the neck over repetitive openings. VIDEO CAMERAVideo camera models change pretty quickly, so it’s pointless to recommend models vs features. While recommending a brand is tempting to avoid, Sony camcorders have a strong position in the skydiving market for several reasons. -External control. This is very important, as you’ll want to know whether the camera is on, recording, battery failing, or nearly out of media. There are a couple brands of control devices that provide this information. -Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS). This is fairly important for freeflying, and much less of an issue for tandem shooters. Avoid Optical Image Stabilization in most cases. The floating lenses of an OIS system makes it difficult to shoot a stable image under any but the most optimal shooting situations (very difficult to achieve). Small is in; cameras don’t need to be large to produce large results. Keep weight on your head to a minimum and your neck will thank you over hundreds or thousands of openings. If your intent is to wear a camera merely to document skydives with friends, low-cost camcorders such as the GoPro Hero and similar small cameras are wonderful. If your eventual goal is to work towards shooting tandems or teams, you’ll want to consider a higher quality camera. A current favorite is the Sony CX series of camcorders. LENSESMost camcorders do not offer lens widths sufficient for most inside or tandem-oriented skydiving. Wide angle lens adapters are commonly found on camcorders used for skydiving. For most skydiving use, a .5 or double field of view lens is sufficient. If you’re flying inside video for FS or Freeflying, a .3 or more than double wide field of view is generally desired. Anything more wide than a .3 is typically going to be relegated to handcam or specialized use. Depending on the size of the camera’s lens thread, a step-up or step-down ring might be necessary. Step-down rings almost always assure a vignetted shot (black circle around your video frame), whereas step-up rings rarely cause a vignette. Step-up and step-down rings are very inexpensive. Some are plastic, others are aluminum. Some professionals prefer plastic rings so that if a riser strike or line catches on a lens and tears it off, the plastic ring will give way before damaging the camera. While this is likely true, plastic rings also deteriorate in strength when exposed to sunlight. If you use a plastic step ring, be sure to periodically inspect it to be sure it’s not become brittle or cracked due to sun exposure. RINGSIGHTSAlthough it’s tempting to want to outfit a helmet with everything right from the start, it’s a good idea to add parts one step at a time. A ringsight is a good tool for some disciplines; it helps the videographer know where the camera lens is looking, and some types of ringsights help with framing and distance. Ringsights aren’t necessary for inside shooting of FS or Freeflying. No matter what, a ringsight is a snag hazard regardless of how much care is taken to prevent it from being so. The risk can be lessened, but not entirely removed. The ringsite should be one of the last accessories added to a camera helmet. In lieu of a ringsight, consider a “paper asshole” or a punch hole reinforcement sticker, mounted on your goggles. This can serve the same purpose and yet completely remove the snag hazard of a ringsight. A circle or dot can be drawn on goggles as well. To sight in a dot on a goggle; face a plain wall on which, you’ve taped a target. A paper plate works well for this exercise. Stand back from the wall at a distance of about ten feet. Put on the camera helmet, turn on the camera, and have a friend hold your head/helmet so the paper plate is dead center in the camera’s display. Keep your eye looking forward; don’t be tempted to roll the eyeball up/down/sideways. Keep it straightforward. It might take a moment to get comfortable holding your eye straightforward while a friend guides your head/helmet to the centerpoint/target. Once you’ve relaxed, focused on the target, and the target is in the center of the camera, mark your goggles (one side only, usually the right side) with a DRY ERASE marker. Remove the helmet, remove the goggles/glasses, and then put them back on and check to see that a reasonably accurate target acquisition occurs. Otherwise, repeat the aiming/targeting process. It’s worth mentioning once again however, a ringsite should be one of the last accessories added to a camera helmet when you’re a newcomer to camera flying. A ringsight adds an unnecessary snag hazard. STILL CAMERAAgain, it’s very tempting to buy a camera helmet with everything in one shot, and as mentioned previously, is a poor decision for newcomers to camera flying. Learning to fly with a video camera will help develop the skills necessary for flying a still camera. DSLR cameras are popular, as they record stills to a memory card, making for fast previewing of photos taken during a skydive, and for tandems, DSLR’s are necessary for fast delivery of photos to tandem students. Though Canon and Nikon are both popular brands of cameras for skydiving, most any kind of camera can be modified to accept a bite, tongue, blow, or hand switch for taking skydiving photographs. MOUNTING DEVICESThe device used for mounting a still or video camera to the camera helmet is critical, particularly for video cameras. If the mounting device isn’t rock-solid, the camera will shake or shudder in freefall, resulting in an unstable image. Sometimes this shudder/shake will be blamed on the video camera when the blame lies squarely on the camera mount. Check whatever mounting device you’re considering to be sure it will not move either at the time of purchase, or after it’s been in use for a period of time. Personally, I’m a big fan of the Cookie Composites Padlock systems and the Really Right Stuff mounting systems. Neither are inexpensive, but if you want solid video and clean stills, a solid mounting system is critical. CONTROLLING SYSTEMSCamcorders and still cameras need hands-free operation. Video cameras can be manually started/stopped in the aircraft, but for convenience and comfort, most camera flyers use a control system of some sort. Sony tapeless systems offer essentially one controller choice; the HyPeye products from GetHypoxic. All of the camera control systems also offer an indicator that indicates the status of the camcorder such as Power On/Off, Standby, and Record modes. In lieu of these indicator devices, you can always wear a small mirror on the wrist next to the altimeter, and view the Record light on the camcorder. I’d recommend a plastic mirror vs a glass mirror in case your wrist strikes the side of the aircraft. Still cameras/DSLRs require some sort of trigger device to cause the camera to snap a shot. Conceptus manufactures tongue and bite switches for Canon cameras. Custom Nikon switches are available from The Ranch Pro Shop and other resellers. Some Pentax cameras use the Canon connection (2.5mm plug). It’s difficult to recommend a bite switch, hand switch, tongue switch, or blow switch; everyone has a preference. I personally prefer a tongue switch, but many friends like bite switches. Some like hand switches. You can also “roll your own” from inexpensive parts available at Radio Shack. JUMP SUIT/CLOTHINGSome camera flyers opt for jumping with or without a camera suit, or a suit with “wings.” Although it’s a personal preference, camera wings provide the camera flyer a more stable flying platform (when used correctly) provide the for a great deal of range and control that isn’t quite so easy to achieve when wearing a standard jumpsuit or freefly suit. If you’re looking at flying with tandems, wings are often an important part of the jump. If you’re shooting freefly work, you probably won’t want to wear wings. There is a lot to learn about flying a camera. Getting good at RW is perhaps the best thing you can do to prep for flying a camera with tandems and four/eight way teams. Understanding burbles, trapdoors, safe zones, and having good belly skills that include side sliding, the ability to orbit, and a very broad fallrate are all important aspects of camera flying. This article does not discuss the challenges of camera flying and make no mistake; there are many dangers. One such danger, is that the camera flyer is always focused on the action in front, and never able to turn to see what’s happening behind him/her. Another danger is that in order to “get the shot” some camera flyers lose altitude awareness and may find themselves well below appropriate deployment altitudes. Spend time talking to the camera flyers on your dropzone, reading the forums, and pay attention to some of the videos you’ll find on Skydivingmovies.com, YouTube, and Vimeo. All have examples of good and bad camera flying. You can learn a lot just from watching the techniques of others.
  18. This past week saw the opening of the voting process for the 2013-2015 USPA Board of Directors. Voting shall continue through the months of November and December with the closing date for submissions being the 31st of December 2012. The voting, which is open to all USPA members will result in the selection of representatives who will handle the direction and policies of the USPA until the end of 2015. The USPA allows for voting to take place either through written submission or through electronic voting. The voting form can be found in the November issue of Parachutist magazine, as well as online in a .pdf format. For those new to the process of the USPA election, the USPA's board consists of 22 members, with 8 national directors and 14 regional directors. These members are elected by the entire USPA membership and members from the regions where the directors reside, respectively. There is not a difference in the authority held by either a regional or a national director. National Director Nominees Members are able to vote for up to eight national director nominees. One is able to vote for any of the names that appear on the official ballot, or to write in the name of a candidate or multiple candidates that do not appear on the ballot. The eight nominees with the highest amount of votes will be elected as the 2013-2015 national directors. Regional Director Nominees Members are able to vote for one regional director nominee. The candidate must reside in the same region as the voting member, as per the address on the members USPA file. In cases where a region may have either no candidates or a single candidate running, members are able to cast a write-in vote for any member that is a resident of the member's reigion. Download USPA ballot form (Right click and 'save as' to save to your computer) Paper Ballot Voting The USPA has advized that members who wish to cast their votes via the method of paper ballots must do so either by using the voting form that is included in the November issue of Parachutist magazine, or by downloading and printing the voting form from the USPA website. As per the USPA, "Ballots containing more than eight national director votes, or more than one regional director vote will be disqualified." It is important to note that the forms which have been downloaded for paper ballot voting must be completed in the handwriting of the USPA member and digitally marked or signed submissions will not be accepted, further more these cannot be faxed or e-mailed. Electronic Voting USPA members received an e-mail from VoteNet which provided instructions and the means to cast an electronic vote. There were a number of cases where members failed to receive the e-mail, for those people who failed to receive the e-mail in question, the USPA advises that you either contact the membership department and verify your membership details and e-mail address, or that you resort to using the paper ballot method listed above. You are able to contact the membership department either by telephone at (540) 604-9740 or via e-mail at membership@uspa.org. Members are allowed one vote, either by electronic voting or via paper ballot, if more than one vote from a single member is received it will be the first received ballot that is counted, while any others will be discarded. The first board meeting of 2013 will occur on the 22nd to the 24th of March in Daytona Beach, Florida and will see the new directors for the 2013-2015 term seated, the meeting will also see in the election of the new USPA officers. You are able to partake in or follow discussions regarding the 2013-2015 USPA election process via the forums.
  19. DSE

    The AFF Two-Step

    Receiving an AFF Instructor rating is one of the pinnacle points of a skydiver’s continuing education and experience in the sport skydiving world, and has been a personal goal of mine for approximately two years. I was sure that the moment I had six hours of freefall time and my C license, I'd be able to knock this thing out fast. How wrong I was... This badge is likely the most expensive badge in the skydiving world When I first began skydiving, I was presented with the opportunity to spend some time in the tunnel at Perris, CA, with Ed Dickenson and Jay Stokes. I immediately took Ed up on his very generous offer to help me in my progression towards being a camera flyer. At 27 jumps, I entered the tunnel to learn some of the techniques I’d later use to fly with tandems, four-way, and fun jumpers. The video is hilarious.While I waited for Ed, we hung out at the school in Perris, and I overheard many conversations taking place between students and instructors. It was at that point I decided to become an instructor. Jay Stokes, Ed Dickenson, and Jack Guthrie all encouraged me to look towards that goal, yet six hours of freefall and a C license seemed so far away at that point, it quickly fell off the radar. I was having a hard time waiting for my 200th jump just so I could put on a camera anyway, let alone being an instructor.When I hit 200 jumps, I immediately got my coach rating. Alright! I was prepared to be unleashed on unsuspecting just-off-AFF-students.My first coach jump went great and filled me with a confidence that I had never before experienced. My third coach jump didn’t go so well with me finding myself very low, opening at an altitude that got me grounded for the weekend. Little lessons seemed to constantly present themselves. Although most of my wingsuit coach jumps have gone well, I once took a student with only 160 jumps. Bad decision; he had a cutaway (on a rig he'd borrowed from me) and I'm grateful that's all that occurred. I grounded myself for the weekend, and learned that lesson the hard way.It seems like most of us have stories like that; this one was my moment of enlightenment. Over the next two years opportunity to teach, be taught, sit in on teaching experiences, and grow within the sport continually presented themselves. Like many skydivers, I surely thought I “had it all” in the 500 jump range when in truth, I was merely beginning to understand how much more there was to learn. As one skydiver repeated over and over (and over), “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Well…he’s right. I was discovering how little I knew, how far I had to go, and I was finding myself on the road of discovery.Being part of the qualification process for the 71 Way Wingsuit World Record opened my eyes to what good wingsuit instruction could be. I gained information over the last year that is integral to the first flight process as well, taking instruction from Scott Campos, Scott Callantine, Sean Horton, Justin Shorb, Jeff Nebelkopf, Scotty Burns, and several other very experienced wingsuit coaches. Like most skydivers, I've experienced great coaching and not-so-great coaching in my skydiving progression. Being present when a friend was part of a tragic incident at the start of the year convinced me that I needed to know more about instruction, and I began looking at available AFF course opportunities. At the PIA conference, USPA President Jay Stokes informed me that Certification Unlimited (Jay’s instructional entity) was putting up a Coach and AFF course at Skydive Arizona in the following weeks. Timing was going to be tough, as I had some minor surgery scheduled, but I was excited to take advantage of the closeness of the opportunity, at one of my favorite dropzones, and in warm weather while it was freezing back home. Image Left to Right: Alex Chrouch, Jay Stokes, Craig Girard, Kelly Wolf, Nikos, Eliana Rodrigues, Douglas Spotted Eagle Arriving in Eloy on a Saturday, I was completely pumped to start my education then and there. After all, I have 1300 jumps, 19 hours of freefall time in a couple of years, so this was going to be a fun cakewalk, right? I mean, I’ve got more than three times the requisite hours, lots of experience teaching, how hard could it really be? I’d taught parts of many First Jump Courses, taught many wingsuit students, and sat in on several courses. I knew I was ready. How incorrect my thought process would prove to be. Jay began with the syllabus and schedule for the course. It was daunting, but still appeared to be not insurmountable. We did a bit of class work that night but the real class began in earnest Sunday morning at 8:00 a.m. with the dew wet on the grass, sunrise barely behind us, and no coffee in sight, Jay smacked the class between the eyes with a number of videos that showed why the AFF program is so important, why the training would be very precise, and why each jump would be rated with “Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory” with no grey areas. “I’d bust my own mother if she wasn’t doing it right” is something we’d occasionally hear. And I believe it, but wasn’t intimidated by the concept. In fact, the only thing that had me intimidated was learning that repeat World Champions Craig Girard and Eliana Rodriguez were in my class. It’s somewhat difficult for a Hyundai to shine when parked between two Ferrari’s, right? I knew I’d nail this stuff in a heartbeat. The written test was a cakewalk, just missing one question. And that question used math. To say “I suck at math” would be akin to suggesting that “Omar is an OK skydiver.”I use a calculator for two plus two. True story. The ground training process is specific, but I’m used to this stuff, it’s pretty basic if you have the program down (thanks TDog, for providing some good pointers).Passing the written test indeed was a cakewalk compared to what came next... the in-air practicals. Game-on, kids….We were assured the first jump would be our one opportunity to experience a “good student practice jump” where the student would behave and do essentially everything instructed, exactly as instructed.True to his word, Jay jumped like a perfect student. I was on the main side, Alex on reserve side.The jump went well from the Otter; no exit problems, the student responded perfectly to my signals, even if I was a little amped and anxious on this first jump. I thought Alex and I were a solid team. Suffice it to say that Alex did an outstanding job of flying his slot, keeping eye contact with his partner (me) and of doing his part in keeping our “student” corralled.Next jump, Jay paired me and a different partner with Kelly, a newly-minted AFF Instructor Evaluator.She went out the door with legs both bent forward at unique angles, arms in every direction but straight forward, and the only guarantee we had was that she wouldn’t roll onto her back during this practice jump. Manhandling her into a level position without punching her required a great deal of strength. My partner lost his grip, floated up, and next thing I knew, I was alone with my student. I wasn’t going to let her go, except I was required to. And did so.She flew away, turning like a propeller just starting up and gathering speed as she backslid, turned, and orbited. I knew I had fewer than 15 seconds to catch her (which sounds like an eternity, but in truth, it’s the blink of an eye for the second jump as an AFFI Candidate). I caught up and had her blocked in a few short moments, but those same moments seemed like an eternity in themselves. She grinned and decided to go the other way. I think what troubled me wasn’t that the grin was mischievious; it was evil, clearly payback for what she had been subjected to as an AFF candidate. Cruel, cold, calculated evil. But we were having fun, right? My partner was floaty, at least 20’ up and 20’ out from where our student was spinning, but he did eventually make it most of the way back in. I ended up on the reserve side after her spins and subsequent blocks, and so the dance at the bottom was a little different; it was my first experience with dancing on the left. I pulled the handle, deploying my student and she looked at me with a grin that made the previous evil smile appear to be innocent; I’d failed to ride through the actual deployment. The triumph I’d felt at properly feeling the rhythm and cadence of the dance evaporated like palm sweat in a 120 mph wind. Moving on before I exaggerate more than I already am….let’s look at the third jump of the afternoon. It was beautiful. Stunning. The sort of sun and sky that Eloy is famous for, and it was about to be spoiled. This time, I had no partner and no one on whom to place blame for the carnage that was about to occur. Combat Wingsuiting, combat RW could not have prepared me for a single, main side exit in which my student extended arms straight forward, legs nearly as much so, almost as if she’d been laid over top of a fence to dry, face down. I muscled her so that she remained belly to earth and she obviously didn’t like that action very much. She immediately pretzeled her legs with the right leg looking like it was flying over a hurdle in a heat, and the other leg bent 45 degrees forward and bent again at the knee. It was like she was performing a classic freestyle position but on her belly instead of her toes pointing straight down. Arms were practically folded above her head, and it was all I could do to force an arch. Duh…throw a hand signal and there might not be quite so much force necessary…. Thumb down, she arched like a pro. “Today’s skydive is brought to you by the letter ‘U’” as she arched so hard that she plummeted. Thank heaven I hadn’t asked her to wear the lead. I don’t like lead much, and my fall rate range is pretty broad. All those tandems and AFF videos have helped. OK, she’s settled out. Calm, flying great, she gets a thumbs up and a terror-laced grin from her instructor. I give her signals to do a practice pull and toe taps. She does great and so therefore has earned a release. I released and she backslid from the moment I let go of her harness. Damn, that girl is fast, but so am I. I chased her with a side-slide, threw her a legs-out signal. Wow….look at her move forward! Faster than she was going backwards. Now, I’m orbiting and don’t even realize it until I’m looking at her butt in my windshield. So…forward I go, and out goes the hand signal for arch; I was behind her. She didn’t have a rear-view mirror so my only option was to slide sideways, slide my left hand under the BOC as I started to slide past, and toss her another “arch” symbol. Whew! She settled out….Mr Toad couldn’t have had more of his way with me than Kelly did on that skydive. And that was just the first day…. Variations on the theme make for a colorful tale; the ground experiences as we prepped to get into the aircraft were equally interesting but it would spoil the movie if I share too many of the instructor’s tricks as they acted the part of wayward students. Suffice it to say that they’re there to help you succeed, but also there to allow you to fail if you’re not on your toes and looking out for the best interests of the student at all times. The dives aren’t about you, they’re about being sure your student is getting the appropriate attentions and instruction at all times. I won’t bore you with further details of the skydives because they’re all about the same sort of story; carnage, deceit, evil appropriations of an examiner that demands you be able to drive forward in a sideslide while dropping like a stone to do an assisted rollover as they’re spinning with a maniacal grin, laughing at the poor sap chasing them. It’s like “Hare and Hound” with Dr. Dimento as the wily rabbit, always one step ahead. Just as you catch up, they cooperate. In the moment you breathe a sigh of relief, they’re on to the next trick. Carly Simon going through my head with “Anticipation…” Lest you think I exaggerate too much, grab any AFF instructor who has had Jay’s program or anyone who Jay has taught. They’ll tell you I’m not kidding and if truth be told, I’m underselling the experience. Lemme share a small story; If you deploy your instructor/student “for real” by pulling their hackey, it’s an automatic Unsatisfactory and regardless of whether you did everything previous right or not, you weren’t successful on this skydive due to that one fairly significant factor. “Students” wear a simulated hackey that AFF candidates are required to pull at a specific point in the skydive. AFF Candidates will hold the simulated hackey handle til they meet up with the instructor on the ground.Jay didn’t care for the fact that I kept stuffing the hackey handle down my pants when it came time for my own deployment. On my last skydive, we’re standing in the door of the aircraft and my ‘student’ is going through “check out” and in his up/down/arch mode when I realize there is no simulated hackey visible on his main-side lateral.I’m screwed. I absolutely must deploy my student at the bottom of the skydive. I must pull the simulated hackey and show the instructor that I pulled and that I rode through the deployment. That small handle is the proof in the putting that I did exactly as I was trained to do. In other words, those handles are important. What to do, what to do? Worry hammered me throughout this skydive, my last in the series of eval dives. With a “Satisfactory” I’ll be able to catch my flight scheduled to leave Sky Harbor in about two hours. If I get an “Unsatisfactory,” I’m not going home and believe me, the price for that would be very high. I have commitments outside of skydiving, y’know? The point of do or die is one that lasts for about three seconds or 500 feet. I make my decision and dammit, I’m sticking to it. Maybe. I reach for my student’s leg gripper, look at my altimeter and begin the process. I’m counting down. By now, the “dance” is so freakin’ ingrained in my head that I’m doing it in my sleep, so much so that I’m convinced I did it perfectly on this skydive even though video shows I didn’t. Reaching over to where the simulated hackey was supposed to be, I spied it turned behind the lateral. Gave it a yank at the last possible moment, and proudly raised the simulated hackey as I ducked my head beneath his deployment hand (the last thing you want to experience is a bridle wrapping around your neck, or having the deploying hand knock you in the side of the head; it might be construed as interfering with the student). And rode out his deployment. The last thing I remember seeing as my instructor lifted above my head was his look of wide eyes, pointed finger, open mouth, and the smile on his face. We got to the ground, I watched my student land, and debriefed the skydive.Mirth in my instructor’s eyes, he says “Nice job. Now tell me what you didn't like about that skydive."A grin crossed his face told me he was well aware of the location of the simulated hackey. And, I knew I’d passed the program at that point.A wave of relief passed over me and I felt like falling to my knees and crying myself dehydrated, but I doubt any moisture would have come forward. I’d forgotten to rehydrate in my excitement of this last day. I was drained. I was pwn’d. I was reduced to jelly and tissue in this last moment. No way, no how would I have signed up for this experience had I really known what was in store for me, of this I was sure. All week. But… At the end of the week’s worth of mental, physical, and emotional torture, after hearing Lou Gossett in my subconscious screaming “I WANT YOUR D.O.R.!!!,” I’m a better skydiver. I’m a better person, and I’m a more informed instructor. I now know a little more about what I don’t know. As I said before, I'm now firmly on the road to discovery. "SATISFACTORY" or "UNSATISFACTORY", anyone who endures the process will come out a better person on the other side of the hellfire. I promise. I now have a new respect for those that have undergone this process before me. I understand why they are looked to with a unique sense of appreciation at every dropzone, I understand that the program is as much or more about teaching the next step in the educational process of qualified skydivers as it is about providing a license to teach the uninitiated. The AFF rating is a license to teach but it’s more a license to learn. In roughly 18 skydives, I learned a lot about what students can and will do. I learned how to best manage those situations with my new found abilities, and learned that if in 18 controlled scenarios I could learn this much, how much can I learn in a year, two years, five years of teaching a variety of students? I’m excited at the prospect. Respect and appreciation is due where it’s due, and I’ll take the opportunity to point out that as skydivers, we all have foundations made up of the bricks of those around us. Jack Guthrie, Jay Stokes, Ed Dickenson, Norman Kent, Mike McGowan, Debbie Z, Lance B, Kelly W, Joey, Chris, Phil, Blake, Craig, Eliana, Alex (I’ll jump with you any day, kid), Nikos, Jeff, Justin, Scotty, Scott, Chuck, friends on dropzone.com…and so many others are the bricks that have helped pave the road on which I have driven as a skydiver seeking more knowledge. I don’t know how to thank you all for the inspiration beyond paying it forward and being the best instructor I can be as you have been great instructors in my life. OK, enough lovefest. Thank you. It's the little things that make the difference on a skydive whether for the better or worse. Taking instructon from Norman Kent's camera course that taught me to anticipate movement, taking instruction from Ed in the tunnel that helped me develop a very high range of fall rate for a heavy person, and being part of numerous FJC and FFC courses helped me develop a comfortable ground patter and rhythm. All the pre-AFF prep you can do, I recommend you take the time to do it. You'll be glad you did. Whether you went through AFF, Static Line, IAD, take a moment to thank your instructors; they worked hard to get to where they are, to be at a point where they can intelligently and safely teach others, including yourself. It’s a big, dangerous world out there and instructors walked just a few feet ahead of you, checking to make sure it’s the best environment within which we all learn. Buy em’ a beer, give em a smile, even if it’s been a long time passed by. Receiving my rating from Jay Stokes, Certification Unlimited (and current President/USPA) In the event you’re wondering by now, students are a little less safe; I squeezed through my AFFI course. It’s an expensive patch and logbook endorsement, but one I urge towards anyone with an inkling to teach. I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. Blue skies and puffies.... ~dse
  20. In this book world famous competitive skydiver and coach Dan Brodsky-Chenfeld presents proven tools and techniques for success and explains how they can be used in everyday life. Dan survived a plane crash from which sixteen of the twenty-two people on board were killed. He was left critically injured and woke up from a six-week-long coma with a broken neck, broken skull, severe head trauma, a collapsed lung, and other serious internal injuries. Against all odds, Dan recovered and went on to become one of the greatest competitive skydiver in the world. His book is available on Amazon.com Waking Up Something was wrong. I was groggy, fading in and out. My body felt tired, weighted down. What was going on? I tried to see but my eyelids were too heavy to lift. I summoned all the strength I could but still didn’t have the power to peel them open. The last thing I could recall was training with my new skydiving team, Airmoves. After nine years of competition, much of which was spent living in my van and eating out of a cooler so that I could afford team training, the owners of the Perris Valley Skydiving Center in California had presented me with a team sponsorship opportunity. I would get to pick and run the team. They would cover the training costs. This was it, the opportunity I had always hoped for. Since money wasn’t an issue, I was able to pick the teammates I most wanted. The first person I called was James Layne. I had known James since he was eleven and had taught him to jump when he was only fourteen. His whole family had worked at my drop zone in Ohio. James was like a little brother to me. Even before his very first jump seven years earlier, we had decided that someday we were going to win the national and world championships together. This was our chance, a dream come true. Troy Widgery was next on my list. Troy was a young entrepreneur and good friend whom I had coached when he was on the University of Colorado Skydiving Team. At the collegiate national championships a year earlier, I had told James and Troy that somehow, someday, I was going to get them both on my team. Richard Stuart had been the camera flyer on my previous team, the Fource. But like me, Richard still just hadn’t had enough of team training and competition. To fill the one remaining position, I held tryouts. Tom Falzone outperformed the rest and completed the team lineup. Perris Airmoves was born. We were five months into our training and had made about 350 practice jumps. Everything was going better than I had ever imagined, and I have quite an imagination. We were improving at an unheard-of pace and had already gone head-to-head with some of the top teams in the country. The U.S. Nationals gold medal was in our sights. And then . . . The crust on my eyelashes glued them shut. Using the muscles in my forehead, I finally pried them open a crack. A faint white light was all I could see, like I was inside of a cloud. It was silent. Where was I waking up? Was I waking up? Was I dead? I had no idea what was happening, how I got here, or what was going on. But I did have one absolutely vivid image in my head, a crystal clear picture of something that seemed to have happened just moments before waking up. It wasn’t a dream. It was as real as any real-world experience I had ever had. I could remember the entire thing, every action, every word, and every thought. It went like this: I was in free fall. Almost as if I had just appeared there. I love free fall, and finding myself there at that moment seemed natural. I was at home, at peace, part of the infinite sky. But after a few seconds I noticed that this wasn’t normal free fall. It was quieter. The wind wasn’t blowing as fast. I wasn’t descending. A gentle breeze was suspending me. It was okay, it was fine. I was floating, flying, but it wasn’t right. What was I doing there? I wasn’t afraid. I felt safe, but confused. I looked up and saw James flying down to me just as if we were on a skydive together and he was “swooping” me. His expression was that silly, playful smile he so often had in free fall. He was obviously not confused at all. He knew exactly where he was and what he was doing there. He flew down and stopped in front of me. Still with a smile on his face, he asked, “Danny, what are you doing here?” I answered, “I don’t know.” James said, “You’re not supposed to be here, you have to get back down there.” I began to get a grasp of the situation. I asked him, “Are you coming with me?” His expression changed to one with a hint of sadness. He said, “No, I can’t.” I tried to persuade him to change his mind, “C’mon, James, we were just getting started. You gotta come with me.” James raised his voice, interrupting me. “I can’t!” It was obvious that the decision was final. It seemed as if it wasn’t his decision. He continued with a gentle smile. “I can’t, but it’s okay. There are more places to go, more things to do, more fun to have. Tell my mom it’s okay. Tell her I’m okay.” For a few seconds we just looked at each other as I accepted this for the reality it was. He changed his tone and spoke with some authority as he gave me an order. “Now,” he said, “you need to get back down there. You need to go get control of the situation.” I unquestioningly accepted this as well, still not knowing what the situation was that he was referring to. James stuck out his hand palm down, the way we always did when practicing our “team count,” our “ready, set, go” cadence we would use to synchronize our exit timing. A couple of minutes before exiting the plane on a training jump, we would always huddle up and practice this count. The purpose was as much to get psyched up for the jump as to rehearse the cadence. I put my hand on top of his. He put his other hand on top of mine. I put my other hand on top of his. We looked each other in the eyes. Both of us with gentle smiles of love and confidence and sadness. James started the count. “Ready.” I joined in as we finished it together. “Set. Go.” As was our routine, we clapped and then popped our hands together, locking them in a long, strong, brotherly grasp. James had one more thing to say, and he said it with absolute certainty, “I’ll see you later.” It was clearly not a “good-bye.” I had no doubt that we would see each other again. Before I had even thought about an answer, the words “I know” came out of my mouth. Slowly I started to descend. As I did, James began to fade from my grip. The wind picked up as I was now falling through it, no longer suspended by it. Everything went black. As I woke, James’s words, “Get control of the situation,” still rang clearly in my mind. If only I knew what the situation was. I knew I wasn’t dead. I squinted, trying to see more clearly. The white light slowly brightened. A few small red and green lights came into view. As if coming from a distance, faint electrical beeping sounds began to reverberate from the silence. My vision started to sharpen. I could see I was surrounded with lights, gauges, hoses, and wires running in every direction. The glowing white light wasn’t the heavens. It was the bedsheets and ceiling paint of an ICU hospital room. I stared straight up from flat on my back, the position I found myself in. What’s the situation? I thought that James and I must have been in some kind of accident together. James was gone and I wasn’t. I tried to pick my head up to look around the room. My head wouldn’t move. I tried to turn my head to look to the side; it wouldn’t move. Oh my God, I thought. I can’t move my head. I’m paralyzed. It can’t be true. Don’t let it be true. This can’t be the situation. I was filled with a sense of fear far greater than anything I had ever experienced before. I felt myself starting to give up and caught myself. Don’t panic, don’t panic. I closed my eyes, took a breath, and tried to calm down. It’s got to be something else, there has to be more. I told myself not to come to any conclusions too soon, to pause and re-evaluate the situation. I started again. I opened my eyes. I could see a little more clearly now, and there was no doubt I was definitely in a hospital bed complete with all the bells, whistles, buzzers, and instruments. I tried to move my head again. It wouldn’t budge. “Stay cool, stay cool. Try something else,” I told myself. I tried to move my toes. I thought I felt something, but I couldn’t lift my head to see them to confirm. I remembered hearing about people who were paralyzed but had ghost movements when it felt as though they could move even though they couldn’t. “Stay cool, Dan, stay cool. Look for options. Try something else.” I had to talk myself through it every step of the way.I tried to wiggle my fingers. It felt like they moved. I tried to move my hands. I could swear they worked. Did they move? I couldn’t turn my head to see my hands but nearly stretched my eyes out of their sockets trying to look down to verify that my hands were actually moving. Peering past the horizon of the bedsheet, there were no hands in sight. I tried to lift my hands higher. They felt so heavy. Were they moving, or was it my imagination wishing them to move? Slowly, I saw the bedsheet rise. Like the sun rising in the morning, slow but certain. I brought my hands all the way up right in front of my face, trying to prove to myself that it wasn’t a hallucination. I stretched out my fingers, clenched my fists, and then stretched them out again. I put my hands together to see if my right hand could feel my left and my left hand feel my right. They worked. Yes! What an incredible relief. My arms and hands weren’t paralyzed. Okay, so far so good, back to my legs. I tried again to move my toes and lift my feet. They were too far away to see and too heavy to lift. I gathered all the strength I had, as if I was trying to bench-press four hundred pounds, and focused it on my knees. Ever so slowly, the bedsheet started to lift. Slowly my knees came up high enough that I could see they were moving. I wasn’t paralyzed, not at all. Get Dan's Book from Amazon.com I still didn’t know what the situation was, but no matter what, it wasn’t as bad as I had feared. I felt a sudden relief, and though I had never been a person who prayed very often, without even thinking I found myself thanking God forlessening my burden. Why couldn’t I move my head, though? I reached up with both my newly working hands to feel my head. As I did, I came in contact with two metal rods. As I explored further I realized my head was in a cage. I couldn’t move my head not because I wasn’t capable but because it was being held still by a halo brace. My neck must be broken. But for a person who moments earlier thought he was completely paralyzed, a broken neck seemed like the common cold. The experience of thinking I was paralyzed from head to toe was truly a gift. It would forever put things in perspective for me. I decided at that moment that I would never complain about my injuries, no matter what they were. But what had happened? I asked the doctor, but he skirted the question and instead filled me in on my condition. In addition to breaking my neck, I had a collapsed lung, cracked skull, a severe concussion, and crushed insides causing other internal injuries. It’s hard to believe, but none of this really fazed me. It was still much better news than I had feared. I asked him again, “What happened?” He acted like he didn’t hear me. The doctor was concerned about the nerve and brain damage but seemed confident that I would ultimately be able to walk out of the hospital and lead a relatively normal life, as long as my normal life didn’t include any contact sports or rigorous activity at all. I would certainly never skydive again. A little while later, Kristi, my girlfriend, came in. I asked her what had happened, but she dodged the question. I kept asking her, pushing her; I had to know. Finally she said, “It’s bad, Dan, it’s so bad.” That was the first time it occurred to me that if James and I were in an accident of some kind, it was likely that the other members of Airmoves were in the same accident. I asked her again what had happened. “It’s so bad” was all she could say. I pushed her relentlessly. Finally, she told me. There was a plane crash. A plane crash? I hadn’t even considered a plane crash. I realized what that could mean and tried to prepare for the worst, that my entire team may be gone. The sudden emotional barrage that hit me was overwhelming. I was starting to lose control and caught myself. I closed my eyes, took a breath, and calmed myself down. I later learned that Kristi had been by my side since the crash. She and my friends and family did not know how, if and when I woke up, they would tell me that James was gone. I asked her, “How’s my team?” She tried to speak, but still, the only words she could muster were, “It’s bad, Dan, it’s so bad.” I needed an answer. I said, “I know James is gone. How is the rest of the team?” She froze in disbelief. She looked at me, staring deeply into my eyes, and asked, “How do you know that?” I answered directly, “He told me.” She continued to stare at me, wondering how that was possible. Almost relieved that I already knew about James, Kristi told me that, compared to me, my other teammates were fine. Troy and Tom were banged up and had broken a few bones. Troy had to have surgery on his hip. But all things considered, they were basically okay. Richard had missed the plane. His camera helmet broke just minutes before we boarded, and he had asked another cameraman to take his place while he went to fix it. In the thousands of training jumps Richard and I had together, I could never remember him missing a jump. Kristi was quiet. There was more. We were flying in the Twin Otter, which carries twenty-two people. It was worse than I thought, way worse. For some reason, I had assumed that Airmoves had been alone in a single-engine Cessna. Of the twenty-two people on board, sixteen had died in the crash. Most of them my friends, including Dave Clarke, the cameraman who took Richard’s place. The emotional bombardment continued as Kristi told me who we lost. The names included members of Tomscat, a team from Holland that I was coaching, the pilots, instructors, and camera flyers who worked at the skydiving school, and students who were there for their first jump, in what was supposed to have been an experience of a lifetime for them. Kristi was right: It was bad. So, so bad. Because I was just learning about this, I had assumed that it had all just happened. As I was absorbing this information, I was hit with another shocker. The crash had occurred over a month ago. I had been in a coma for nearly six weeks. How could that be? I picked up my arms and held them in front of my face. They looked skeletal. I had lost forty pounds. I touched my face and discovered a beard. It was true. What hell the families and friends must have been going through over the last month while I had the luxury of being unconscious. What sorrow and grief they must have been experiencing. I felt so badly for them, and guilty that I wasn’t there to be with them through this difficult time. It immediately occurred to me that I had to be strong. It may have been new to me, but they had been dealing with it for over a month. I was experiencing this grief for the first time, but I would have to do so on my own. I didn’t want to drag my friends and family back through it all again. If only they knew what I knew. If only James had been able to share with each of them what he shared with me. I knew that our friends were gone, but that they were okay. I knew they had more places to go, more things to do, and more fun to have. I knew we hadn’t said good-bye, only, “See you later.” I wanted to share this with everyone, but I also knew that they would think I was nuts and that the brain damage I had suffered was more severe than they thought. I kept it to myself, except for telling one person. As James had requested, I called his mother, my dear friend Rita, from my hospital bed and passed his message on to her. “You need to go get control of the situation.” What exactly did James mean? I thought about that a lot. I believe he was alerting me to the fact that I was about to wake up in a different world than the one before the crash. I would be arriving in the middle of a situation that was overrun by sadness, fear, helplessness, and defeat. I believe he was warning me that many people were going to try to define the situation for me and tell me what my limitations were. He was telling me not to be a victim, not to let anyone but me decide my fate and that I didn’t have to let go of my dreams. There was more to “life” than what we experience in this physical world. He was telling me it was all okay. James was reminding me that prior to the crash, I had taken control of my life. I had found an activity that I loved, pushed myself to be the best I could possibly be at it, and set my sights on becoming the best in the world. I had shown the courage to follow my dreams and the faith in the world to believe that the few things that were out of my control would work out as they should. This attitude toward life had never steered me wrong in the past. And it wouldn’t then. I believed him. I trusted him. And I decided. FOLLOWING YOUR DREAMS Human beings are born dreamers. Through dreams we explore our limitless imaginations and consider the true possibilities of things we perceive to be impossible. Most great human achievements began as someone’s impossible dream, a crazy fantasy. It was the dreamers of their day who imagined electricity, flying machines, walking on the moon, running a four-minute mile, or instantly communicating on a cell phone or the Internet. All of these were considered impossible right up until the moment they actually happened. Soon after, they were thought of as everyday occurrences. Our dreams provide us a stage from which we can fantasize about things that don’t seem feasible within the constraints of our physical realities. They encourage us to question our often false perceptions of the limits of those realities. Through our dreams we are open to exploring all possibilities. Without our dreams, we too often surrender to our established limitations and underestimate our true potential. Dreaming is an essential part of what it means to be human. The same way we are born hungry and need to eat to grow, our minds and souls crave inspiration and need our imaginations to show us all what we are truly capable of being and doing. It is human nature to want to expand our capabilities. As long as we can imagine reaching the next level in our chosen field, most of us will instinctively want, and choose, to do so. Once babies have crawled, they want to walk. As soon as they walk, they want to run. Once they can run, they want to jump. We are rarely satisfied with where we are while we can still imagine, and believe, that we can do more. Few things have the power to motivate and inspire us to reach for our full potential the way our dreams do. Successful people from every walk of life—be they athletes, musicians, soldiers, doctors, policemen, firefighters, entrepreneurs, or entertainers (just to name a few)—usually agree on one thing. As children, long before they ever achieved success in their field, they dreamt and fantasized about becoming great at what they did. It wasn’t money or fame that inspired them as children. It was the pure love and purpose for the activity itself. Most of them can hardly remember a time when they weren’t insanely passionate about it. Every dreamer is not successful. But every successful person is a dreamer. As children, we all had dreams like these. But in our early years, most of us were discouraged from believing that we could actually live our dreams and achieve our highest ambitions. We were more often pushed by family, friends, and society in general to take a more secure route, keep our expectations low, and avoid failure and disappointment. We were guided by advisors to go after goals they thought we had the best chance of accomplishing, ones that didn’t demand too much effort from us. As opposed to looking at things from aperspective of abundance, we chose to see things from a minimalist perspective. Minimal desire leads to minimal goals, requiring minimal effort. Since we would be aiming so low, the likelihood for success was high so there was minimal chance for disappointment. But is the definition of success aiming to be half of what we are capable of being in a field that we tolerate but certainly aren’t passionate about? I don’t think so. And fortunately for me, my family didn’t think so either. Like it? Read the rest: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1616084464/dropzonecom http://www.danbrodsky-chenfeld.com/
  21. admin

    Skyconcept Robbed - Needs Your Help

    We received an e-mail today from Skyconcept in Germany, that they are the victim of a robbery which occurred late last month. We feel we should get this information out there and try help them in recovering their stolen property. We are hoping that someone may have information that can lead to the recovery of the stolen gear. Below is a copy of the e-mail from Skyconcept. "Dear skydivers and people, In the night of the 27/28th september someone broke into the premises of the skydiving company SKYCONCEPT from Germany at the drop zone Skydive Westerwald – Airport – Auf der Hub 4 – D-35767 Breitscheid... They have STOLEN our complete skydiving equipment. Please take a look in attachment. There you find all details about the stolen harness/containers, main canopies, reserve canopies, AADs and other skydiving equipment. If anyone in the world sees those items somewhere please contact directly Mr Sasha Manojlovic at: Mobile: +49 ( 0 )177 205 8 267 or +49 ( 0 ) 177 650 5 371 Email: sascha@my-skyconcept.de or yvonne@my-skyconcept.de If you see any piece of this equipement anywhere in the world please give us notice, all tips and notices that lead to the stolen equipment will be awarded with a value of 2000 EUR in various skydiving equipment. Please send this mail to all skydivers of the world to public our list in the best way. Thanks in advance. Sascha " In addition to this, Skyconcept have listed the stolen gear in our database, where the exact details of each item and their serial numbers can be located. http://www.dropzone.com/stolen/
  22. Imagine holding your arm out of a car window as you drive down the highway. The wind you feel is caused by your speed through the air rather than by weather. Skydivers call this apparent wind the relative wind, and it is the single most important element of the freefall environment. In fact, it is the only thing you have to work with in freefall, and from the moment of exit until your parachute opens you must think of yourself as a body pilot instead of a regular person, just as when you go swimming you have to leave your land habits behind. Your adventure in the relative wind begins at the moment of exit. There is nothing particularly complicated about exits and the techniques you use on your first freefall will be the same as those used by skydivers with thousands of jumps. Your exit makes or breaks the skydive, so we spend a lot of time practicing this part of the jump. A weak exit consumes valuable freefall time and puts you in a mental position of having to catch up, adding unwanted stress to your skydive. With a good exit you can get on with your learning and enjoyment at once, finishing the freefall tasks with plenty of time to spare. The two essentials of an exit are presentation and timing. Presentation refers to how you relate to the relative wind. Timing refers to your relationship with the other skydivers. Let's take a detailed look at these aspects of the exit. The body position we use to maintain a comfortable, neutral position on the wind (the equivalent of floating on water) is an arch. We'll learn more about body position soon, but for now you need to think simply about arching into the relative wind. This means that your hips are pushed forward into the wind, your arms and legs are spread out evenly and pulled back, and your chin is up, creating a smooth curve from head to toe. If you imagine lying face down in a shallow bowl with your arms and legs spread out evenly, you are thinking of an arch. In this position you will naturally face into the wind. To achieve a good exit, all you have to do is present your arch to the relative wind. Remember, we're on an airplane flying nearly one hundred miles per hour, so the relative wind is from the direction of flight. (When you see photos of skydivers they are usually presenting their arch towards the ground, but that's because they have fallen long enough to be going straight down so the relative wind comes straight up from the ground.) Once you are poised outside of the airplane, start your arch before you let go. Then it is a simple matter to open your hands, pivot into the wind, and you're flying! As you will soon learn, a relaxed arch is much more smooth, stable, and comfortable than a tense one so try not to think of yourself as falling off of an airplane. You're not; you're flying free. A mental image that might help would be learning to swim. You would be more relaxed and alert if you lowered yourself slowly down a ladder into warm water and let yourself float comfortably before letting go than if you jumped off a cliff into cold, dark surf. Think of the air as a friendly environment, slip into it smoothly as you climb out of the airplane, arch, take a deep breath, open your hands, and float off on the wind! You will note that I didn't say "push off." Until your parachute opens, your last contact with the world of solid objects is the airplane. If you push off, you will have some momentum that will tend to make you go over on your back, just as if you stood with your back to a pool and pushed off of something solid. Just arch and face the wind. As you leave the aircraft, the relative wind (arrow) is parallel to the ground. In a good arch with your head up, you should see only the airplane and sky rather than the ground during the first second or two of freefall. Losing forward speed and accelerating downward, the relative wind gradually shifts from parallel to the ground to perpendicular. This transition takes several seconds. You will not be facing the ground until about eight seconds after the exit. At no time do you look directly down at the ground. Even after the transition is over and you are falling straight down, in a good arch your head is up and your eyes are on the horizon. The aircraft's speed is about 100 miles an hour. When you leave, you lose some of that horizontal speed and actually slow down for the first few seconds. Then gravity takes over and you gradually accelerate to 110 miles per hour. That's why there is no sensation of sudden acceleration - you only gain ten miles per hour in ten seconds! Relax, arch, and face the wind is all you really need to do to achieve a stable exit. But remember that you are jumping with other people. For everyone to have a good exit, you also need group timing. Just as a band starts playing to a count, we'll start skydiving to a count. That count, used all over the country, is "ready, set, go!" It should be done with a smooth, even cadence. Because it's noisy outside an airplane, the count should be loud. Finally (think of a conductor with his baton giving a visual count to the orchestra) you, the conductor, need to give the other jumpers a visible count. We have you bring up your left knee on "set" and turn into the wind on go. Combining these two elements of presentation and timing will almost always result in a smooth exit. Leave out either one, and the exit may funnel, the term skydivers use to describe an unstable formation. Leave both out and a funnel is almost a certainty. But if that happens, don't panic. An arch will fix the problem. Incidentally, it doesn't affect your stability to dive out of the airplane. As long as you are presenting an arch to the relative wind, you will be stable. Unfortunately it takes most people a while to get used to the idea that the relative wind starts right outside the door. If you walk through an airplane door like you would a house door, you'll present your side or back to the wind and lose stability. In the water, walking doesn't work; you have to swim. Air is the same way - you have to fly through the door, not walk through. Test Yourself 1. Skydivers on the outside of an aircraft as they prepare to exit are called floaters. The ones inside the airplane who will dive through the door are called divers. Floaters are further divided into front, rear, and center, depending on their position in the door. On an ASP level one jump, the student is the center floater, the reserve side JM is front floater, and the main side JM is rear. Why is the front floater more likely to have a problem than the rear floater if he cannot hear or see the exit count given by the center floater? 2. Novices diving out of an airplane frequently do a half roll and then recover stability facing the aircraft. What could cause this common problem? Proceed to Chapter 3 (Flying Your Body)
  23. Every skydive starts before you board the airplane. Before you get on the airplane, you should be totally prepared for the jump ahead. This means that you know exactly what you are going to do on the jump and have had your equipment inspected. Make sure you have your helmet and goggles, remove jewelry and take sharp objects out of your pockets, tie your shoes tightly, and so on. Each jumper is responsible for their gear, and you should always check to be sure you have everything necessary for the skydive. Another part of the ground preparation is being ready to board the aircraft on time. Jump planes are just like airliners: they can't hold up twenty people because one wasn't ready. At the start of your skydiving progression, your jumpmaster will usually take care of reserving your slot on an airplane after you are completely trained and outfitted with the necessary equipment. It is then your responsibility to stay in the area and gear up at the appropriate time with your jumpmasters. Before you Board: 1) It's too late to ask questions once you are in the airplane, so before you board know exactly what you will do on the skydive and review your emergency procedures. On the ride to altitude you should review the dive mentally, imagining a perfect performance. Keep in mind, however, that you are not compelled to jump from the airplane just because you happen to be on it! If you realize on the aircraft that you are not ready to jump, you may ride down with the airplane. 2) Check your gear. Your jumpmasters will help you to be sure everything is correctly routed. Be sure your altimeter is set to zero, your goggles are clean, etc. If you will be boarding an airplane when its engines are running, keep a good grip on your goggles and gloves! 3) Stay close to your jumpmaster and away from the propellers, other aircraft, and any other hazardous objects. Remember that the pilot may not be able to see you when he is taxiing the airplane; he always has the right of way. Once you are in the airplane, sit where instructed. Be sure to wear your seat belt until you are high enough for an emergency exit. It is also a good idea to put your helmet on for the take off. Your two responsibilities in the airplane are to minimize movement and to protect your deployment handles. Avoid snagging not only your equipment but that of other jumpers. Until we are on jump run you should stay seated. Then, at the jumpmaster's command you can get to your feet and move carefully to the door. As you move about in the airplane, watch out for door handles, emergency exit releases, seat belt buckles, etc. While inside the airplane your job is to protect your parachute! Most of your jumps will be done from our larger, twin engine airplanes. Exactly which airplane depends on how many people are jumping and the aircraft maintenance schedule. You should have familiarized yourself with the aircraft door, handles, and steps before boarding. Most of the time the more experienced jumpers will exit first for a simple reason: students open their parachutes higher than experienced jumpers. To preclude the possibility of jumpers from different groups colliding, exits are staged several seconds apart and planned with the opening altitudes in mind. That way we get both horizontal and vertical separation between groups. If you are leaving first because of unusual circumstances, have your jumpmaster fill you in on what to expect. The jump run itself is flown into the direction of the wind. This gives the airplane the slowest possible ground speed . In other words, it is over the drop zone (DZ) longer than it would be if it was running down wind. The pilot uses GPS (Global Positioning System satellites) to tell him exactly where he is, and when he is over the spot , or correct exit point, he turns on a green light back by the door, telling the skydivers to exit. Should the exit sequence take so long that the last to leave might not make it back to the airport, the light will go off, indicating that the remaining jumpers should stay in the airplane for a second pass over the drop zone. Incidentally, since you will usually be getting out late in the line up, and since the jump run is into the wind, you have a way of knowing which way the wind is blowing as soon as your parachute opens. Imagine a line from the landing area to a point directly below you. That is the wind line - if the pilot was right about the spot. Test Yourself: 1.Why do we take our seatbelts off once we are above 2,000 feet instead of wearing them all the way to altitude? Continue to Chapter 2 (Exits)
  24. admin

    The Skydiving Handbook

    Welcome to skydiving, perhaps the most exciting and unusual sport in the world! You are at the beginning of a path thousands of people have safely followed for over thirty years. In that time, experience has shown that some approaches to skydiving work better than others. This handbook is designed to supplement the practical instruction you will be receiving from our instructors, all of whom are certified by the United States Parachute Association. During the course of your training we will cover the basic principles around which skydiving is built. While actual dive sequences and hands-on training will be given to you by our instructors, this handbook will explain the concepts behind the activities and allow you to study important principles at home. Skydiving terms are clickable the first time they appear, which takes you to the glossary. Be sure to have your jumpmasters explain any concepts that remain unclear. Although underlying principles will not change, they may be easier to understand through a different explanation, drawing, or analogy than the ones offered here. I encourage your questions; some of the principles covered are not immediately obvious. As the author, I also invite your comments and criticism - this first edition is sure to have many oversights and flaws. In the Aircraft Exits Flying Your Body The Skydiving Universe After the Freefall Canopy Performance Landings After the Landing Blue skies and safe skydiving; Bryan Burke
  25. Your square parachute is the result of two decades of design refinement. Like a glider, it can fly straight and level or turn, slow down, spin, and even stall. As the pilot, where you land and how you land is totally up to you. Practice, combined with a clear understanding of how your parachute works, will allow you to land softly, exactly where you want to, every time. When your parachute is inflated, the pressurized air filling the tailored cells causes it to take on a wing shape. A parachute has a fixed angle of incidence, built into it by the length of the lines. The "A" lines in front are shorter than the "D" lines in back, causing the wing to point slightly down. It essentially flies forward and down on the slope of the angle built into it. This angle causes it to fly about three feet forward for every one foot down, giving it a 3 to 1 glide ratio. In other words, on a calm day a parachute opened at 4,000 feet could fly a straight line distance of 12,000 feet before landing! The speed at which it flies is about 20 miles per hour forward and 6 to 8 miles per hour down when the canopy is in full glide with the control handles, called steering toggles all the way up. The toggles are also referred to as brakes, since pulling both down slows you down. Pulling down on the right toggle pulls down the back right corner of the canopy, slowing it down and creating a turn to the right. At the same time, the slow side looses lift and the canopy points downward in the direction of the turn, increasing the vertical descent rate. One of the most important handling characteristics of parachutes is that their descent rate always increases in a turn! This phenomenon is by far the greatest cause of parachuting injuries. With this in mind, you must take care to always plan your landing so that you will not be forced to do any major turns below 100 feet. How slow or fast you turn is in direct proportion to how far you pull down the toggle, as is the change in your descent rate - fast in a sharp turn, slower in a mild turn. If you pull down on both toggles simultaneously, the canopy's forward speed decreases. The slowest you can go is about five miles per hour forward. Generally you should fly your canopy as fast as possible - toggles all the way up. This is because the more air the wing has passing over it, the better it flies. In fact, in sustained deep brakes so little air passes over the wing that the descent rate increases significantly. You can even cause the canopy to stall, which means it gives up flying altogether. Normally student canopies have the control lines calibrated to make a stall condition difficult or impossible to get into. Whenever you jump an unfamiliar canopy, you should always do a series of turns and practice flaring (pulling both toggles down simultaneously) above 1,500 feet in order to acquaint yourself with its handling characteristics. Why 1,500 feet? Your CYPRES automatic activation device that deploys your reserve in an emergency is calibrated to fire at about 1,000 feet. It may mistake radical maneuvers under a good canopy for a malfunction and could deploy your reserve if you are aggressively turning or stalling the canopy below 1,500 feet! This is not only dangerous, but expensive. Recharging the CYPRES and repacking the reserve costs $170. If the CYPRES fired because of your mistake, you are the one who pays! Besides the canopy's handling characteristics, the parachute pilot must consider the surrounding conditions. Two variables are present to some degree on every jump; the spot and the winds. Let's take a look at spotting and how it affects you. Imagine the simplest jump possible. Let's say you are going to exit the airplane at 3,000 feet and your parachute, instead of gliding, descends straight down. There is no wind. In such conditions if you opened directly over the target, you would land on it. If we add a ten mile per hour wind, the spotter would have to determine how far the unsteerable parachute would drift and plan for the jumper to open that much further up wind of the target. Now let's say he has three parachutists leaving at ten second intervals. He must plan the initial exit so that all three will land as close as possible to the target: the first would be short of the target, the second right on, and the third would be long. In our case, the spotter is looking down from 12,500 feet, has to guess about the wind, and has only a rough idea of how long each group will take to exit. Fortunately square parachutes are maneuverable enough to compensate for the variables. As a novice you will usually leave late in the exit order which means that for you the spot will usually be long. This can be useful, because it means all you have to do is locate the landing area and fly towards it. As you do you can think about the wind line (remember chapter one) and check for other wind indicators such as wind socks, the shadows of clouds moving over the ground, smoke or dust, and the direction other parachutes are landing. You need to do this, because the wind is the second variable you need to think about. On a calm day, your ground speed will be the same as your canopy's forward speed - about 20 miles per hour. But when there is any wind, it will affect your ground speed. If the wind is blowing five miles an hour, you are now in a river of moving air. You don't feel like your speed changes, because your air speed is the same. But your ground speed is not. Facing into the wind, or holding, your ground speed is reduced by five miles per hour. When you turn and fly with the wind, called running, you add the wind speed to your canopy speed, resulting in a ground speed of 25 miles per hour. Test yourself: 1. When you are crabbing (flying at 90 degrees to the wind) in a 10 mile per hour wind, what will your path over the ground look like? 2. The slowest your parachute can go is about five miles per hour in full brakes. Flying into a ten mile per hour wind, what would your ground speed be? Proceed to Chapter 7 (Landings)