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Found 275 results

  1. The first controlled dock between a canopy pilot and a skydiver in freefall is a fact! In the skies of DeLand, Florida, around four o'clock in the afternoon on April 17th, Jari Kuosma, wearing a Skyflyer wingsuit, did a controlled dock on the ankle of Vladi Pesa who was flying his Performance Designs Velocity 84. Kuosma is the president of BirdMan, Inc. and has 2100 jumps in total, 1100 of those are wingsuit jumps. Pesa has 8,000 jumps and is an experienced canopy swoop competitor, AFF JM, tandem master, and a BirdMan instructor. Videographer Todd Sutherland, flying his Skyflyer along side of Kuosma, was there to capture the magic moment. Pesa wore a weight bag of 30 pounds; his wingloading was 3.5 to 1. His canopy risers were specially designed for this project in order to increase the speed and vertical decent of his Velocity. This was Pesa's and Kuosma's 17th attempt trying to close the gap between canopy and wingsuit. "We flew in close formation - within inches away from one another - during the last six attempts," said Kuosma, "but I had a hard time closing that final gap since I was at the edge of my Skyflyer's performance envelope." "This flight was the physically hardest of all," said Kuosma. "Unfortunately Vladi's canopy turned 180 degrees on deployment, which made him travel at a high rate of speed in the opposite direction of what we had planned. Todd and I almost lost our faith, Vladi seemed to be miles away and there was no way he was able to see us on the horizon. Just prior to break off, though, we saw each other and I just went for it." On this attempt I tried a new angle of attack. In past jumps, I had been flying above Vladi's canopy, just off the edge of his wing and arching to come down to his ankle. This time I still flew parallel to and above his canopy, but further away horizontally; I got to his ankle by doing a vertical side slide," Kuosma says. Break off was planned at 5000 feet to give Jari time to safely deploy and Vladi the chance to unlock his risers and prepare for an intense landing. "The weirdest part was looking at Jari breaking off and deploying his parachute right next to me while I was already under canopy," said Pesa. "How are the landings you wonder? - FAST !!" A Larsen & Brusgaard ProTrack recorded Jari's average vertical speed at 35mph. The two estimate their forward speed at 60-70mph. The two are planning to do more attempts in the next few days in order to get better video and still footage to show the world. It is not an easy task to capture such a unique stunt on film. "Southerland is doing a great job staying with us though," says Kuosma. Kuosma and Pesa warn jumpers to not attempt this stunt without consulting them. You can contact Kuosma at the BirdMan office, (386) 785-0800 or Pesa at (386) 801-6295. Wing Suit Discussion Forum BirdMan, Inc. Web Site
  2. For most skydivers, the reality of human flight is a dream come true. This May, a group of skydivers in Illinois will seek to make someone else's dream come true while remembering a few friends who have died living theirs. Team Funnel is a loose organization of skydivers dedicated to the belief that no one should have to jump alone. With an emphasis on safety and inclusion, the more than eighty members across the world achieve their mission by seeking out low-timers and visitors at their home drop zones and organizing skydives and educational and social events to spread the joy and camaraderie of skydiving. In the Fall of 2001, Team Funnel lost three members to skydiving accidents. In honor of these members, and in honor of all passed skydivers, Team Funnel will hold the first annual Team Funnel Memorial Boogie on Saturday, May 25, 2002, at Skydive Chicago, in Ottawa, Illinois. By remembering their fellow skydivers with a charity event, Team Funnel hopes to not only support the Make-A-Wish foundation, but also bring skydivers together in a relaxed, non-competitive atmosphere. Team Funnel co-founder Bill Homer summarizes the mission by saying, "even though we have lost some close friends, we want to remember them in a hopeful way. They lived their dreams, and we must continue to live ours, and pass the joy it gives us on to others." The primary goal of the event is to make one child's dream come true, through the resources of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Funds will be raised through three activities: A raffle, offering prizes such as merchandise from all the major manufacturers in the industry, coach jumps with some of the nation's leading freeflyers, gift certificates from Ottawa area merchants, and massages, video, rigging, and other services. Raffle tickets will be sold in advance and at the door for $5.00 each, or 5 for $20.00. A silent auction featuring bigger-ticket items such as the chance to skydive naked with beautiful women. There will be a $10.00 charge for unlimited bidding in the auction. A sunset barbecue on the docks of the Skydive Chicago swoop pond, with tickets going for $10.00, $5.00 for children under 8 years old. 100 percent of the proceeds from this event will be donated to the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Held concurrently with Skydive Chicago's Memorial Day Boogie, the weekend will also include organized loads for all kinds of flyers, induction of new members into Team Funnel, and discounted skydives for registered participants in the Skydive Chicago Boogie. For more information about the event or Team Funnel, visit www.TeamFunnel.com and follow the link to "TF Memorial Boogie." To make a donation or purchase raffle tickets in advance, please email TequilaBill@TeamFunnel.com. For directions or more information on the Skydive Chicago Memorial Day Boogie, please visit www.skydivechicago.com.
  3. The Monkey Claw Freefly Team and Freefly School had a busy 2001 season and it preparing for an even busier 2002 season. The Monkey Claw Freefly Team is based at Skydive Cross Keys, in Williamstown, New Jersey. The Team consists of Glen "Stuey" Newman, Tim Miller, Adam Rosen, Heath Richardson and Bert Navarette. They train at their home DZ and run a school where they instruct freefly students of all levels. On a regular basis they load organize freeflyers of all skill levels at Cross Keys. The 2001 season included their Annual Monkey Jams over the Memorial Day and Labor Day holiday weekends. At these events freeflyers travel from across the globe to participate in big ways, tracking dives, tube dives as well as some one on one coaching with Monkey Claw. Every night there is plenty to entertain the hundreds of skydivers registered for the event. There is free food, free beer and fun activities that are always kept a secret until the last moment. Last year someone lit himself on fire (this year it was on purpose), there was a bungee racetrack and a psycho swing. All of the other amenities at Cross Keys are available as well, the Long Delay Café, the Tiki Bar, the swimming pool and the Booze Cruise. Away from Cross Keys the Team traveled to many events and DZ's for coaching and load organizing. Some of the places included Lost Prairie, Quincy, Skydive Delmarva and Chicagoland. Chicagoland will also be the home of the first Monkey Claw Satellite School run by Brandon Park with visits from the rest of the team throughout the summer. New for this season Skydive Cross Keys has its own fleet of aircraft's for all jumpers. At Cross Keys you have your choice of jumping from a Caravan, Skyvan, Super Otter, Biplane, Helicopter and of course a Cessna. Square 3 is located right on the DZ for all of you equipment needs. There are hot showers, bathrooms and plenty of camping areas on the premises. The Long Delay Café keeps jumpers fed throughout the day and the beach, Tiki Bar and Swimming pool are located right next to the landing area. The Team just returned from the 2nd Freefall Festival in Puerto Rico where they were coaching and load organizing throughout the boogie. Over 200 skydivers from around the world attended the event and records were broken for number of registrants, loads flown and skydives made. For the upcoming season the calendar is still being put together. Of course there will be the annual Memorial Day and Labor Day Monkey Jams and the theme for the first Jam has already been chosen. The team will be traveling to Chicagoland as well as Lost Prairie for the Voodoo Rendezvous. There are a lot of other events that are still being finalized at the moment. If you want to learn more about Monkey Claw you can visit their website at www.monkeyclaw.com. At the site you can find photos, videos, a list of events and you can contact the members for more information. Adam Rosens Monkey Claw GalleryAll photos by: Adam Rosen
  4. Troy Widgery, founder of Go Fast, stands atop the company Range Rover in front of their building at 1935 W. 12th Ave. in Denver. Maybe that's why Denver native Troy Widgery, a skydiver, has poured all his energy and money into Go Fast energy drink. He's trying to pry his way into a $275 million industry dominated by Red Bull of Austria and U.S. beverage giants Anheuser-Busch and Hansen's. So far, sales are up for the caffeine and herb-packed beverage, which was launched in November. Go Fast is sold in liquor stores, bars and shops around the state, including The Church, Sacre Bleu, Java Creek and Mondo Vino in Denver. This year, Go Fast Beverage Co. expects to go a lot faster. National Distributing Co. today will begin pushing Go Fast to its 7,500 accounts statewide. Other distributing deals are in the works, said Widgery, whose latest passion is kiteboarding, a hybrid of surfing and parasailing. "When you were a little kid and wanted to get lifted by your kite, that's kind of what happens," he said, describing the new sport he learned in Hawaii and Mexico. But Widgery is spending more time these days on a forklift in Go Fast's warehouse. The company is ramping up marketing, and he's out rounding up new capital for growth. In 1996, Widgery started Go Fast Sports, a clothing company that sells mostly to motorcycle, bike and surf specialty stores. The 35-year-old Cherry Creek High grad also owns Sky Systems Inc., a 14-year-old company that designs helmets for skydiving and other extreme sports like water-ski jumping. Sky Systems makes a patented product called Tube Stoe - essentially a rubber band that's used to pack a parachute. Sales from Tube Stoe helped Widgery fund Go Fast Sports, which has since grown about 300 percent a year, he said. "Because of our involvement with extreme sports, last year we saw the market potential for an energy drink and we wanted one that was better than the current drinks out there," Widgery said. "A lot of energy drinks give you a kick that makes you sort of jittery and you drop off quickly. Ours is smoother and more sustained. Ours has the least amount of sugar." Most "true" energy drinks include stimulants caffeine and ginseng and the amino acid taurine, Widgery said. Go Fast also contains guarana and ginko. Some stimulate the mind and others the body. Some industry watchers question whether energy drinks, which sell for $2 a can, are just a fad. Can they pose health risks? The nutritional research is inconclusive, but some critics fear the greatest detriment is mixing energy drinks and alcohol because the stimulants can fool a person into thinking they're sober enough to drive. Widgery said a number of nutritional experts and chemists formulated Go Fast. Regas Christou, owner of The Church, hasn't had problems with the drink and said that Red Bull and Go Fast sales are strong. "A lot more people are drinking more of the energy drinks," Christou said. "Every single egg is in the basket," Widgery said. "I believe in it. The energy market is here to stay." Energy drinks have been sold in Europe for more than a decade, Widgery noted. In the United States, sales skyrocketed to $275 million last year compared with $130 million in 2000, according to Beverage Marketing Corp. Widgery expects fallout in the energy drink category because he said only a handful of the so-called drinks actually have ingredients to get your heart and mind racing. Go Fast is in discussions with an Oklahoma-based bicycle parts distributor, which is interested in selling the drink to its 7,000 bike store customers nationwide. Widgery met earlier this week with a New York nutritional ingredients supplier who wants to take the product to China. For all his confidence in Go Fast, Widgery's voice is even-keeled when he talks about growth. "We want to make the brand grow properly, and not just oversaturate the market," he said, noting the target energy-drink consumers are young and discriminating - those who seek what's on the fringe, not mainstream grocery products. "The brand has to maintain its soul," Widgery said. "You have to appeal to the "go fast' type of person." ~ Denver Post
  5. admin

    Breast by far

    Cup a load of this, girls! Forget the Wonderbra, here comes the no-blunder bra. Gorgeous TV presenter Gabrielle Richens shows off her curves in a futuristic creation which promises to keep a firm grip on ample bosoms at very high speeds. Designer Louise Cain, a keen skydiver, came up with the idea after seeing what effect the extreme sport had on well-endowed girls' assets. The G-Force resistant bra uses shock-absorbing springs and hydraulics in its high-tech cups to prevent bounce. It will also leave breasts the pairfect shape at any angle - even upside down. Louise - who unveiled her prototype in London recently - said: "Skydiving does the most unflattering things to your chest. When I was pregnant my breasts ballooned to a double F but I still did a lot of sports. It left me wishing for something that would keep them under control. "I also have a couple of large-breasted friends and one said after a night out clubbing, she was so painful from all the jumping around." The 36-year-old, of Catford, south London, took inspiration from hit PlayStation 2 game WipEout, an anti-gravity racing simulation, and aimed to create a bra that responded to movement but also looked good. She added: "Every way you move, the springs and hydraulics work together to readjust and keep the bra's shape. We've had very positive feedback from those who have worn it. They couldn't believe it at first." Sexy Gabrielle, 26, who presented Channel 5's Desert Forges and modelled for Asda, agreed. She even hailed it as the bust thing to happen for women since push-up bras. The stunner said: "It feels fantastic and is incredibly comfortable. It gives great cleavage and is the type of bra you can where for sport because it keeps everything well contained. "Push-up bras are actually quite uncomfortable and this is definitely an improvement." Louise is now looking for support from lingerie manufacturers to get her sexy number out in front of shoppers. Two versions are planned, one for clubbing and one for sport. But she hopes it will also prove a winner with female astronauts as it promises a firm round breast in any atmospheric pressure. And if Gabrielle's planets are anything to go by, it's sure to send sales rocketing. ~ The Sun
  6. WILSON -- Marni Evans literally "dropped in" for her 90th birthday party Saturday afternoon, jumping from an airplane cruising over her farm at 12,000 feet. She said she wanted to show her friends that age is just a state of mind, even when you're nearing the century mark. More than 100 well-wishers waiting in a pasture at Springhill Plantation craned their heads upward as a dot in the sky slowly became recognizable as the form of Evans and skydiving instructor Tom Tharp dangling from a red-and-white tandem parachute. Scott Smith of Jackson and Keith Nielson of Lafayette, who followed Evans and Tharp from the plane, landed first, drawing "oohs" and "aahs" from the crowd for their flawless touchdowns. A few seconds later, applause rippled around the pasture as the guests watched Evans and Tharp float to the ground. The crowd rushed forward to capture on film and videotape the big smile lighting Evans' face while she wriggled out of her jumpsuit and gear. "It went flawlessly. It was a super day and a super crew. I'm proud of all of them, especially my mom," said son Kirwin Ross, as he aimed his camera at the group. "It's going to be like stepping on a pillow," Smith had predicted before the skydivers took off from the landing strip at Jackson. Except for Evans losing her balance when Tharp bumped into her, Smith's prediction was on the money. Still, more than one person waiting in the audience was apprehensive. "Some people were hoping it would rain so she wouldn't get hurt," guest Henry Chase said. But the weather couldn't have been better. Before climbing into the Cessna 210, Evans wisecracked with pilot Tom Allain of Baton Rouge and the others almost nonstop, but grew serious for a moment to explain the purpose of her adventure. "The whole objective of this is to let these young people know that you don't have to get old just because you've been here a long time," Evans said. "Stay active ... stay alive as long as you live," she said. Evans is the oldest student Tharp has tutored in the sport of skydiving. "I've jumped with an 84 (-year-old), so this is my record," he said during the flight preparations. "She doesn't have to worry; this is my second jump," he joked. As she donned her jumpsuit and harness, Evans told the group the jump would be a first, but not for wearing a parachute. She explained that she had strapped a parachute on all the time while learning to fly in her younger days. Evans' exploits were a theme among the guests as they watched the plane make lazy circles in the sky to gain altitude. They spoke of her athletic prowess, her earning many awards in Senior Olympics competitions, her volunteering to lead exercise classes at a nursing home and her arriving at her 80th birthday party in a helicopter. Arriving for the party, Ann Reiley Jones held a sheet of paper in her hand. "We were asked not to bring gifts, but I wanted to do something, so I wrote down 90 adjectives to describe Marni," Jones said. "It wasn't hard. I thought of 10 more on the way over here."
  7. ALOR STAR: Braving strong winds and limited landing space, 25 skydivers from six countries jumped off the Alor Star Tower here yesterday. They leapt off the tower’s open deck at 105m and were on the ground within 18 seconds. It was the first time that some of them had jumped from such a low level, which added to the challenge. Retired army special forces captain Mohd Norizan Mohd Yunus, 42, said they had to release their parachutes within two seconds. He said a person needed to complete at least 200 normal parachute jumps before becoming a BASE jumper. BASE is the acronym for buildings, antennas, spans and earth – the four types of platforms from where skydivers execute their jumps. “We were in the air for between 13 and 18 seconds only,” said Norizan, who had done 1,233 normal parachute jumps in the last 19 years. Yesterday was his fifth BASE jump. Canadian Linda Pouffard, 26, who was the only woman skydiver, said she could feel her heart beat in every jump she made in the last five years. Policeman Eric Simpson, 40, from the United States, said the low level, strong winds and limited landing space made the jump more challenging. The event was held in conjunction with the Sultan of Kedah’s birthday celebrations and was Menara Alor Star’s inaugural international jump. The skydivers from Australia, Canada, England, Sweden the United States and Malaysia will also participate in the Kuala Lumpur Tower International Jump 2002 on Sunday where they will leap from a height of 300m
  8. Laurie Steel and co-author A.T. Clinger are working on a skydiving book and are looking for support from the skydiving community. We are looking to represent the sport in a way that has yet to be explored, and give both other skydivers as well as non-jumpers a view of our world. What we ask from personnel at your drop zone is that they pick out their two favorite or most memorable logbook entries (whether new or old ones), and have them photocopied and sent to us. We would like to make a collection of these pages, as well as a one-page biographical section for each contributor and a quote to be placed under each person's entry. Intermixed with the bios and logbook entries will of course be the requisite cool skydiving pictures that we all love so much! In short, those of you who would contribute to this project will have the privilege of being immortalized in a book about our sport. This project isn't expected to make much in the way of revenue, so all we can offer is the chance for recognition for being one of the few that has experienced the ultimate freedom of human flight. Drop zone personnel are asked to forward this letter to all of your skydivers, both famous (as well as infamous) and low-timers to get total representation of our sport from all angles. We all deserve to be famous for something--why not for something we all love? Interested parties may e-mail the authors at the following addresses for more specific info: thrill_seek@yahoo.com or lbargrl@cs.com Those who are interested may send photocopies of their logbook entries, as well as any photos they wish to be included to either of the following Addresses: Book Info 6549 34th terrace north St. Petersburg Florida 33710 OR Book Info 902 Northwood Dr. A-8 Murray, Kentucky 42071 **When Logbook entries are received, we will send a biographical info form for contributors to fill out** **Photos will not be returned, so please make re-prints of your originals** Logbook entries may also be faxed to the following #: 727-347-4329 Blue Skies! A.T. Clinger and Laurie Steel
  9. A former Royal Air Force skydiver who lost a leg after he crash-landed into Aston Villa football ground will kayak around the UK to promote blood donation. Television viewers and football fans watched in horror as Nigel Rogoff plunged into the roof of a spectator stand at Villa Park during a premier league football match in December 1998. Mr Rogoff was taken to Birmingham City Hospital where he received a massive blood transfusion - the equivalent of 120 pints - to treat life-threatening injuries to his legs and pelvis. Mr Rogoff said: "I realised that I owed my life to every person who had donated blood. "I had never thought about giving blood before my accident but I realised afterwards that we need to increase the donor base." The National Blood Service campaign aims to recruit 400,000 new blood donors in the UK and will urge two million registered donors to keep on giving. Mr Rogoff launched the challenge with former RAF serviceman David Abrutat, whose life was saved by a blood transfusion after he broke his back in a car accident in March 2000. Mr Abrutat, now a paraplegic, will travel on a handbike. "Hopefully people will see two guys who have survived major trauma who want to get on with their lives and want to promote the National Blood Service in a very proactive way," said Mr Rogoff. The skydiver was part of a seven-man display team when he crashed into the Trinty Road stand at half-time in December 1998. He spent months in hospital with two broken legs and a fractured pelvis, and eventually had his left leg amputated. The two men will take four months to complete their challenges. They will set off from Tower Bridge in London next April.
  10. The ageing Dakota transport lurched and bumped far above the Normandy beach. The Paratroopers inside wished they were already over the Drop Zone, it was hot inside and even with the door open not enough air was circulating. At least it had not been a long flight. The despatchers eyes watered as he peered outside the fuselage into the slipstream. Ahead was the town of Merville and to one side the coastal battery. He pulled himself back into the aircraft and took a deep breath. "Stand up". "Hook up".The Port stick struggled to their feet and snapped the hook at the end of their static lines onto the overhead cable. "Check equipment". Each man checked his static line, his helmet fastening, his reserve hooks and flap covering the reserve chute handle. Satisfied all was as it should be, each man then checked the jumper in front, making sure the others static line ran clear and there was nothing visually wrong with the back of the Parachute."Sound off for equipment check" the despatcher shouted. "Twelve OK! shouted the last man and slapped the shoulder of the person in front. This was repeated by each jumper until it reached the lead man. 'Number One OK, Port stick OK!" The despatcher put his hand to his headphones and pressed the cup closer to his ear to hear the pilots commentary better. "Two minutes" came the call from the pilot. The despatcher had another quick look outside the aircraft to satisfy himself of the Dz location and called "Action stations" at the same time pointing to the door. The first man stepped smartly into the door frame, almost a drill movement. His left hand snapped the static line towards the despatched who grasped it firmly. His hand, now free was placed on the door frame to steady himself and his right hand rested on the top of his reserve. He looked out at the horizon and into the clear blue french sky. Behind him the rest of the stick closed up."Red on! He tensed, his mouth suddenly seemed very dry and it was hard to swallow."Green on, Go!" Number one stepped smartly into the slipstream and was tumbled away into the turbulence below the aircraft followed rapidly by the rest of the stick. He gasped as the Chute opened above him and the pressure of his reserve threatened to squeeze all the air out of his lungs. The moment passed quickly and allowed him to check his canopy. Turning the chute he satisfied himself he was in no danger of a collision with any other jumper and looked for the DZ. 2000 ft below he could see the battery clearly marked out in the lush green Normandy fields. It was now time to think about his landing. Far below a dirty water filled ditch beckoned uninvitingly as he once again turned into wind and assessed his drift. No, this was not the Normandy invasion,niether was it a scene from a film. The Pathfinder parachute group had just jumped onto the Merville gun battery in front of the survivors of the original airborne assault, The 9th Battalion the Parachute Regiment. This was there anniversary and for Pathfinder it was the second time they had jumped here at the personnel invitation of the Veteran battalions committee. 80% of Pathfinder are either serving or retired paratroopers from all over the world and so the honour bestowed on them by the 9th was appreciated. Pathfinder was the brainchild of Sgt Roy Mobsby and Bdr (retired) Ron Ball.Roy had started off as TA Paratrooper in 10 Para and Ron had served with 7 RHA. They had both answered an advert to jump in Holland at Parcentrum Texel and earn their Dutch wings. Whilst there they were introduced to the IAAV,the International Association of Airborne Veterans run by Mike Epstein who had served with the US Airborne. This organisation used its contacts to attend parachute courses around the world and earn the host countries parachute brevets. With advice from the IAAV a small group of British airborne veterans were formed into a non profit Parachute club with the aim of following in their footsteps. The first year was a bit slow with only two small courses being jumped at Paracentrum Texel . Word passed slowly passed around that here was a group filling the gap between military parachuting and sport parachuting. The membership rapidly increased, not only from England but from abroad. Soon Danish LRRP,Japanees Rangers, Dutch, German,Estonian,French,American,Canadian soldiers both retired and serving swelled the ranks. It takes a different type of bottle for static line and freefall and not many can achieve both. Paratroopers feel that 2000 ft is high whereas a freefaller will tell you that is their lowest safety high before they become a stain on the landscape. Pathfinder allows a retired paratrooper to continue jumping in the style has been trained in and without a weapons container or a three hour low level flight it becomes enjoyable. In order to jump safely and legally all jumps are carried out at civilian minimum drop height but are the 'Walk out the door" exits that paratroopers are used to. With nearly three hundred members spread over sixteen countries the "Airborne "really does exist. As many of the jumpers noted, jumping with Pathfinder is like being back with the Airborne. Although Pathfinder boasts a Brigadier, several Colonels and Majors within its ranks no rank is used nor does it need to be. All jumpers no matter what rank or nationality are there for the same reason, to enjoy jumping round canopies. To jump in the style they were all trained in and to uphold the traditions of the Airborne in an age when it is fashionable to promote peace and unfortunately forget our veterans and their sacrifices whilst doing so. The group keep the military and the Paras in the public eye when the army cannot afford to do so themselves. Until recently the group felt they were the only people who still had faith in the use of Paras in modern war. That was until the American Airborne jumped into Afghanistan renewing the MOD planners interest in Airborne assaults. Within the group are a few civilian jumpers who have never been in the forces. These are usually re-enactors from Airborne units who having portrayed Paratroopers wish to find out what it is really like. Pathfinder give these people the opportunity to experience the end result without having to suffer "P" Company like the rest of the group had to. These people do not consider themselves Paratroopers but have a better insight into what makes the airborne some of the best soldiers in the world. In 1999 Pathfinder was given the opportunity and honour to jump with British Regular and TA Paratroopers at Ginkle Heath as part of the Arnhem anniversary jump. Two former Soviet AN2 jumpships were pressed into action and twenty five members from six countries jumped onto the heath. The jumpers were then carried by re-enactors in over 40 restored "Willies" jeeps around the battlefield area. Most of the jumpers had at the request of a British veteran bought WW2 battledress to make the jump more realistic. This was well received and as a result we had an invitation from the veterans of the 9th Battalion the Parachute regiment to jump at their anniversary onto the Merville gun battery in Normandy. This was successfully completed in 2000 and 2001 putting out over 40 jumpers each time. A cargo drop was also carried out by 47 Air Despatch sqn and a bail out by the jump masters from a higher altitude as a tribute to the despatchers and aircrew who had died on these missions. The cost of all the displays was met by the jumpers who raised the thousands of pounds needed to hire the aircraft and chutes. Several static displays have been carried out on Pathfinders behalf by re-enactment groups who portray "Pathfinder" units. Pathfinder only supports groups who's members are ex para or who have attended their basic course at Texel.The basic Dutch Military Parachutist course at Texel is used as a safety guide. All new jumpers must attend this course in order to maintain a safe standard within the group. With so many different member nationalities, all with different methods of training to achieve the same aim, it is essential to have a common syllabus for jumping. The British system is taught to all at Texel by Dutch instructors speaking better English than we do. So many courses have been taught at Texel that it has been adopted as the groups home DZ. The staff are all friendly, the training amongst the safest and best in the world and the area is ideal for jumping. British GQ canopies are mainly used for the courses. Due to the BPA phasing out round canopies in England, Pathfinder cannot jump in its home country but is nethertheless welcomed in many other countries. All jumpers must be fully insured and thanks to a British based company have the best parachute insurance money can buy. Pathfinder have jumped for Cromwell productions and Channel five's British heroes series. In 2000 Pathfinder became affiliated to the EMPA,a predominatly German Para lead organisation with the same aims. This has now opened up the European military parachute circuit for Pathfinder members. Next year will see the Airborne brotherhood spread to more countries by our members and we look foreword to bigger and better jumps. For more info visit the web sites below or email Roy Mobsby Col Holemans International Para page Pathfinder PageBy Roy Mobsby
  11. A SKYDIVING school has been ordered to pay two of its students more than $600,000 in damages after they collided during a jump. Sydney Skydivers Pty Ltd was found to have breached its duty of care and ordered to pay damages for injuries and loss of work suffered by the men. The NSW District Court heard that Christopher Charles Morton, 33, was making his first jump and Michael Richard Warren, 26, his third when the collision occurred on December 14, 1997. They had both attended a training day before they jumped out of the plane near Picton, south-west of Sydney. The instructors were the first to reach the target area, marked by a large cross. They were then to direct the movements of their students using large arrows and batons. When Mr Morton and Mr Warren were about 30 metres above the ground and had their parachutes open, they collided and fell to the ground "with considerable force", Acting Judge Clifford Boyd-Boland said today. He blamed the collision on one of the instructors, Helen Perry, saying her sense of direction was confused when she landed just 90 seconds before the students. She therefore pointed her student, Mr Morton, in the wrong direction, Justice Boyd-Boland said. "I find it was the conduct of Perry and the confusion she had, surrounding the direction she was giving, which led to the collision," he said. He rejected a suggestion that Mr Morton had failed to follow the direction indicated by Ms Perry's arrow. The collision could also have been avoided if the two students had more than a 20 second interval between them when they jumped out of the plane, Justice Boyd-Boland said. Despite the 20 second gap, both students were at the same height when the collision occurred. "It became an added risk in an already risky procedure and would be best avoided," Justice Boyd-Boland said. Mr Morton suffered a fractured pelvis and injuries to his right shoulder, spine, head and severe shock in the fall and was today awarded almost $277,000 in damages. Mr Warren received fractures to this right arm and injuries to his spine, head and severe shock, and was awarded about $328,000. ~ From AAP
  12. Hundreds of people called 911 Tuesday after seeing six parachutists who were trailing plumes of red smoke land at Austin High School. "People thought we were being invaded," said Ed Harris Jr., director of emergency communications for the Austin Police Department. Wrong. It was the Army's Golden Knights parachute team landing as part of a recruitment drive. It certainly didn't look like that to Leila Levinson, who called 911 about the soldiers with black and yellow parachutes she saw floating through the air as she drove down MoPac Boulevard. "I saw everybody put on their brakes and pull over to the side," Levinson said. "My heart started pounding, because I thought it was anthrax or smallpox and I was evaluating how far it was from my son's school." The landing was reminiscent of the 1984 movie "Red Dawn," in which invading communist paratroopers land at a Colorado high school. No invaders, Tuesday's paratroopers graciously greeted students, said Kathy Uplinger, an assistant principal at Austin High. The Golden Knights frequently appear at schools and public events, said 1st Sgt. Harlan Dobbs of the Army's recruiting division. "I've been in recruiting for 12 years and watched them jump 30 times and never had anything happen like this," he said. "Everybody is in a state of alert right now." The Federal Aviation Administration, city and school district police and the media had been notified of the jump, officials said. Paul Boyce, an Army spokesman at the Pentagon, said the Army is careful to work with communities where the parachute team is jumping. "We are greatly empathetic with the concerns of the community." ~ American-Statesman.
  13. Precision Aerodynamics is one of at least two manufacturers who have been advertising emergency escape chutes for high-rise buildings. Although the concept of using parachutes as a last ditched effort to escape from a building isn't new there has been new interest in the wake of the 11 September terrorist attacks in New York. Below is an exert from Precision Aerodynamics' web site. Let us know what you think of the idea. Emergency Building Escape Parachutes - A complete system ready to go including carrying bag and video. Training Required The EscapeChute is our emergency parachute system that has been specifically developed for low altitude exit and deployment. A typical scenario for its use might be by high-rise tenants in the event of fire or earthquake. You would never travel beyond swimming range from shore without the benefit of a life preserver. If you work or live in a high-rise building at an elevation that is beyond the reach of firefighting or rescue apparatus, your best hope for an emergency escape might not be found in the crowded stairwell. With the EscapeChute, you might easily deliver yourself to safety within a few precious seconds at a time during which those few precious seconds may make all the difference. The EscapeChute canopy design is a slight variation of our popular B.A.S.E. equipment that is commonly used by sport enthusiasts who jump from low elevations like cliffs, bridges, and buildings, etc. By following the simple instructions, the parachute is automatically deployed for you. All you have to do to initiate deployment is to jump out the window and away from the building. Simple steering and landing techniques can deliver you to the surface with confidence. The EscapeChute is available in 8 different sizes for persons ranging from 100-250 lbs. Contact PA for detailed information. Custom Order - from $1575.00 Let us know what you think in the forums, and take our poll on the main page.
  14. Like approximately 300 fellow BASE jumpers and more than 200 rappellers, 73-year-old Jim Guyer has been grounded from Bridge Day 2001. And he's fighting mad about it. "It broke my heart to talk to the folks at the Holiday Inn about the cancellation," Guyer, a resident of Hendersonville, N.C., said Friday. "There's going to be millions of dollars lost in economy for the local area." "If they don't hold Bridge Day, they better stop every pro football game coming up Sunday," he continued. "What's the difference? It's absurd." Guyer alleges the National Park Service is seizing the cancellation of this year's festival as a means of halting Bridge Day altogether. In fact, he says that in early September he talked to an assistant superintendent for the New River Gorge National River named West, and that West said the NPS "wanted to get rid of it (Bridge Day) anyway." Henry Law, assistant superintendent at the local NPS headquarters in Glen Jean, said it was he who talked to Guyer, and Law refuted Guyer's interpretation of his remarks. "That's totally untrue (that he said the NPS wanted to abolish Bridge Day)," Law remarked. "The National Park Service is not in any way, shape or form trying to shut Bridge Day down. "The decision to cancel it this year was with the Bridge Day Commission. We have one person on that. We're not the overriding factor." Guyer has recently been twice denied by the NPS in his quest for a permit to skydive from El Capitan in California's Yosemite National Park, decisions he's appealed to the Department of the Interior. And he's been vocal to various lawmakers concerning his displeasure with the NPS. "The NPS wants to have control over the people," Guyer said. "I was simply trying to give him (Guyer) a nice piece of advice," Law remarked. "I told him that if he continues in the courts, it may affect future activities in all national park properties, including Bridge Day. "He (Guyer) believes what he wants to hear." Guyer, an engineer who first began parachuting a half century ago but only recently took up skydiving and BASE jumping activities, participated in Bridge Day 2000, his first. In place of a full-fledged Bridge Day, Guyer - a Korean War veteran and a retiree from Phillip Morris Co. - has proposed to Fayette County Sheriff Bill Laird that a scaled-down Bridge Day ceremony be staged Oct. 20, one that would allow five people to jump off the bridge in a symbolic gesture, as well as having a short, patriotic-themed ceremony to honor those felled by recent terrorist attacks. © The Register-Herald 2001
  15. A Grande Prairie man is suing the operators of the Edmonton Skydive Centre for $5.4 million over a jump that went wrong and left him a quadriplegic.In a lawsuit filed with the Court of Queen's Bench, John Minue says he took parachuting lessons through the centre in September 1999 which included basic training in jumping from an airplane and landing. His instructor told him that to land safely he had to "flare," a procedure that controls the speed of the parachute as it approaches the ground, according to the statement of claim. The instructor was supposed to let him know over a one-way radio when to flare, the lawsuit says. It alleges that once Minue jumped, he was directed away from the landing zone to a field, but communication ceased before he was told to flare. Minue claims he landed at high speed and out of control, making him tumble forward when he hit the ground. This caused serious injuries, including spinal-cord damage that resulted in quadriplegia, fractured neck vertebrae, a broken thigh and a dislocated shoulder, the lawsuit says. The document says that as a result of his injuries, he will need care and supervision from an attendant for the rest of his life. It doesn't state what his current state of health is, however. Minue contends his instructor and Para Aerosvc Inc., which operates the centre, were negligent for not telling him he might need to flare on his own if radio communication failed. They also breached their agreement to provide adequate training for a beginner to learn to skydive safely, the lawsuit says. Among other problems, he claims he wasn't properly instructed in landing procedures and shouldn't have been directed to an area where it was harder to land. Statements of claim contain allegations which haven't been proven in court. No statement of defence has been filed in the case.
  16. TWO student skydivers who plunged to the ground after a mid-air collision during a training jump are suing the company that was teaching them how to parachute. Christopher Charles Morton, 33, was in hospital for four days and off work for six weeks after the accident, which also involved Michael Richard Warren, 26, at Picton, south of Sydney, on December 14, 1997. Mr Morton and Mr Warren are suing Sydney Skydivers Pty Ltd in the NSW District Court, claiming the company was negligent by failing to ensure its employees were adequately trained and that it failed to exercise due and proper care for the safety of its students. Their barrister, Andrew Morrison, SC, told Acting Judge Clifford Boyd-Boland it would be their case that the system for novice skydivers put in place by the company was "thoroughly unsafe". Mr Morrison said the pair were "some significant distance above the ground" when they collided and fell. Mr Morton, a master of the Sydney Harbour tall ship Bounty, suffered a fractured pelvis and injuries to his right shoulder, spine, head and severe shock. Mr Warren, a former coalminer, received fractures to his right arm and injuries to his spine, head and severe shock. Mr Morton told the court a friend, his girlfriend and he had decided to buy each other skydives for Christmas presents that year. He said that after a day of training he went up in a plane to do his first jump with several instructors and fellow student Mr Warren, who was then doing his third jump. They were to aim for a cross marked on the ground and were directed by instructors moving large arrows and using batons to show them which way to turn. "I thought I was doing really well because I was coming up to the cross," Mr Morton said. But he said when he was about 30 metres from the ground and while watching his instructor, who was also on the ground, he and Mr Warren collided. He said his canopy collapsed and he hit the ground. The company is being sued under the Trade Practices Act, with Mr Morton and Mr Warren alleging the services supplied by the company were not supplied with due care and skill. The company's barrister, Greg Curtain, told Judge Boyd-Boland there would be evidence Mr Morton and Mr Warren failed to follow instructions to watch the "target assistant" on the ground and that Mr Morton went in the opposite direction to the way he was directed. Mr Curtain also said there would be evidence that there was nothing wrong with the way the company's operation was carried out. The hearing is continuing.
  17. Anthony White of Ottawa is a base-jumper who leaps from tall buildings at night to avoid the law. Next month, he'll be in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur to compete in an event that begins on the roofs of the world's tallest buildings, the twin 1,483-foot Petronas Towers, and hopefully ends safely on the streets below with the aid of a parachute. White is one of 50 base-jumpers, including another Canadian, Lonnie Bissonnette of St. Catharines, Ont., who have been invited to compete in the international event. "It's quite the rush," says White, a 21-year-old waiter who has heard many shocked voices coming from the balconies he has passed in his numerous descents. "It's a thrill to me when you explain what you do and people shiver." To participate in the extreme sport of base-jumping, participants need somewhere to jump from, and it should be at least 300 feet high, although White swears he has jumped from many structures that are considerably lower. High-rise buildings, bridges and even cliffs will do. Once a base-jumper kicks off, he or she attempts aerial gymnastics before pulling the rip cord on the parachute. However, except for sanctioned events in North America, base-jumping isn't considered legal. In Canada, base-jumpers can be charged under provisions of the Criminal Code with mischief and/ or trespassing. So, to practise his sport, White has become a Batman of sorts, taking to the tops of Ottawa-area buildings in the middle of the night, when traffic is minimal and police are less likely to be alerted. Although White won't disclose the locations of his jumps, he says there are a dozen suitable buildings around Ottawa, with the 333-foot Tower C of Place de Ville being the highest. White says he normally jumps from an Ottawa building once a month and has also jumped from buildings in Toronto and Montreal. This past weekend, in preparation for Kuala Lumpur, White and Bissonnette jumped from eight buildings in Ottawa and Kanata, all after midnight. While it takes a particular type of individual and plenty of sky-diving experience To become a base-jumper, White acknowledges that getting to the sites is a part of the challenge. Some buildings provide access from stairwells to the roofs, but most don't. "I've climbed up the outside of buildings, I've climbed balconies," he says. "Different buildings require different methods. There's security in lobbies and elevators you have to get around. Some of it is common sense. The trick is to blend in and go late at night." For all the inherent dangers of base-jumping, White and Bissonnette say they never cut a lock or damage property for the sake of a jump. "If we start going into buildings and taking crowbars to locks, that's not good for anyone and that's not going to help us out," says Bissonnette, a 36-year-old who lays ceramic tile for a living. "If anything, what we do is simple trespassing. To do anything else is breaking and entering. Our saying is: We take nothing but pictures and leave nothing but footprints. "Some people might think it's cool to take something as a momento, but then you cross the line into a theft thing. We want positive exposure for the sport." See JUMP on page D3 White and Bissonnette say they've run into some trouble with police. Reaction from police officers, they say, varies: Some have called them irresponsible, while others have congratulated them for their nerve and skill. The two are optimistic that, if the sport gains positive media coverage, as opposed to being mentioned only when a fatality occurs, it will gain acceptance in the same light as other extreme sports. They hope sanctioned events in Canada will soon be here. There have been horrific accidents. This month, a 27-year-old female base-jumper from San Francisco died when her chute failed to open completely after she leaped from a cliff near Rome. White is well aware of that accident, and says base-jumpers must be aware of all the dangers. He says he never jumps before going through an extensive mental check-list of what can go wrong and how to cope in any given situation. "Yeah, people die," White says. "It could be anything. It could be the deployment of the chute, but it's rare now that it's the gear. Usually, it's human error, but I think about it every day, every time (I jump). The fear has to be there, it should be there. Otherwise, you're in for a big surprise one day. "There's wind, there's how the parachute opens, there are lots of things that can happen. It's very unforgiving. (The danger) is always there, but mentally you have to prepare for all the scenarios and rehearse everything that can happen. It's not a hangover-friendly sport." Parents Penny and Ron White admit to having occasional sleepless nights when they discovered the nature of base-jumping, but say their concerns have eased because of the safety preparations that go into each jump. Besides, given the nature of their son -- who, as he was growing up, found mainstream sports such as baseball, gymnastics and competitive swimming to be boring -- they recognized they couldn't talk him out of jumping. "He came home from a skydiving course when he turned 18, and he said, 'I've found what I've wanted to do my whole life,'" Penny White says. "This base-jumping came from sky-diving. I would have never thought that sky-diving was rather safe, but it is compared to this." Base-jumping has similarities to sky-diving, but few experienced sky-divers try the other sport, primarily because of the risks. For example, a sky-diver has the luxury of a backup parachute if the first one doesn't open, and more time to handle bad situations if they arise. White, who has 650 sky-diving jumps under his belt, was discouraged from base-jumping when he first tried to get involved. He admits to much trepidation before his first jump. "I bought the equipment, I assembled it and I researched it on my own," says White, who also teaches sky-diving part-time and has tested equipment for the military. "After jumping off a (radio) antenna and experiencing far too much radiation, I got calls from some people. They knew I was serious." White was steered to the Bridge Day Festival in Virginia, a conference of base-jumpers and every October home to one of the few sanctioned events in North America, where he met Bissonnette. White claims his craziest feat came there: five somersaults before deploying his chute, two seconds before impact. It was a performance that helped earn him an invitation to Kuala Lumpur. In addition to trying to find jumping spots in the Ottawa area, White has jumped from bridges in Shawinigan and from the tallest windmill in the world, in Grandes-Bergeronnes, near the Gaspe. After that, White picked up notoriety within the sky-diving community for an appearance on Outdoor Life Network, scampering out of a glider in mid-air and performing stunts alongside the plane. Bissonnette has been base-jumping for five years, three years longer than White, but stops short of calling himself White's mentor. Instead, he says they jump together because they share the same personality. Still, he says, being experienced helps in dealing with younger jumpers. "I might have been in a similar high-stress situation and said something doesn't seem right, and talk about what I did in that situation, but that doesn't mean it's right for everybody," says Bissonnette, who says he won't base-jump with anyone who hasn't performed at least 100 sky-diving jumps and fails to show an incredible aptitude. "It's not just a single skill you need. First of all, you have to have the kind of personality to do it. You have to be able to think under severe stress. When you jump, you have to have all your senses heightened. You have to think fast, knowing how to handle every situation. "There are not a lot of people who can do that when their life depends on it. It's not like we walk up to a site and just jump off the edge. You have everything playing through your mind, you have to look at objects from a whole lot of angles." Obviously, when base-jumpers look at buildings, radio towers and bridges, it's not for the architecture. Instead, the structures represent the potential for the next great jump into the unknown. "It's a personal challenge," White says. "I guess it's a way of helping you conquer your fears all the time."
  18. Grahamstown, South Africa - Candidate attorney and naked skydiver James "Buttman" Reilly, 36, was officially cleared of any impropriety by the Cape Law Society on Tuesday. Reilly has also received an extraordinary apology from the partner of the lawyer who lodged a complaint against him. South East Cape Attorney's Association president Raj Daya called the society's decision a "victory" for the profession. "The overwhelming support James got from within the profession shows that lawyers are not a bunch of stiff boards," he said. Reilly's competition-winning leap into freezing air - naked but for a stick of deodorant taped firmly to his manhood - won him a small car in a radio competition for the zaniest act two weeks ago. The society said in a statement that James's act was irrelevant to his application to become an attorney. After considering a report, Cape Law Society president David Macdonald released a press statement yesterday saying: "The Council took note of the fact that the media reports at the time presented the incident as indeed, no more than a stunt or prank; that there was no sense of public offence reflecting on the attorney's profession as such." The partner of the lawyer who complained to the society had personally sent James a note apologising for his partner's actions. "I really appreciated that," said James, adding that he "never doubted" the law society would reach a decision in his favour, but still felt "relieved" when it arrived. - ECN Previous article.... Buttman's wings clipped07-24-2001 Grahamstown, South Africa - Naked skydiver and candidate attorney James Reilly, 36, has been temporarily barred from entering the legal profession after an unnamed Port Elizabeth attorney lodged a formal complaint that his stunt was "improper". Reilly's jump into minus 12 degree air 4km above here last week won him first prize in 5fm radio station's Speedstick Give-it-Stick competition for the whackiest act. Reilly won a new Peugeot in a blaze of national and regional media coverage. News photographs of his naked backside flying through the air earned him the nickname "Buttman". However, Reilly, who was due to be admitted as an attorney at the Grahamstown High Court on Thursday, will now have to wait until the Cape Law Society has properly investigated the complaint. A highly upset president of the PE branch of the SA Attorney's Association Raj Daya said the law society was obliged to deal with the complaint and a committee has been set up to investigate the matter and advise the society whether Reilly's behavior was improper. Daya said: "It is ridiculous that the matter reached the law society." He said what Reilly had done had injected some positive energy into a profession that was suffering from "terminal cancer". 'We had one big laugh about it' "He (Reilly) discussed the matter with me beforehand and asked whether I believed any problems could result. I said 'I hope you win the car'." On the day Reilly's stunt was publicised in the media, Daya had been attending a conference in Knysna together with the law society's president, director and other senior members of the profession. "We had one big laugh about it." "All that is happening now is a procedural issue due to this complaint. This attorney (who issued the complaint) should go for a ride with James in his new car. I think it's a matter of sour grapes. I am terribly upset that it has reached such a ridiculous stage."" He felt that if Reilly was not be admitted to the roll of attorneys, the law society would be "seriously misusing it's powers. "James is not fresh out of university. He is an honorable person respected and held in esteem by his colleagues. His stunt has won the hearts of the public at large and not admitting him would be stretching the moral code a bit too far. "There are much more serious allegations on a daily basis. The law society should be using its time to investigate issues of a much more serious nature." Cape law society director Susan Aird said the matter was to be tabled before a council meeting on Monday. Aird said she could not express any personal opinion. - ECN
  19. The first year's production of a new plane built by Hamilton-based Pacific Aerospace is sold out. The maker of military training and topdressing planes last night unveiled the PAC 750XL at a gathering which included Deputy Prime Minister Jim Anderton. The company hopes the new plane will become a multimillion-dollar export earner. It is expected to generate $20 million a year in sales. Staffing will have to expand by nearly 50 per cent at the company's Hamilton Airport base to cope with the new aircraft, which will be in full production within a year. The first 10 have been sold to United States skydiving operations, and the Australia Army is also interested. Pacific Aerospace managing director Brian Hare said the 750XL would be capable of fulfilling roles undertaken by the New Zealand Air Force's Iroquois helicopters in East Timor. Operating and maintenance costs would be well below those of the helicopters. Other uses include sightseeing, and there are plans for a floatplane version. General manager Graeme Polley said the 750XL was based on the Cresco topdresser, and could lift two tonnes of freight or carry up to 17 skydivers or nine passengers. The single-engined aircraft, which will cost just over $2 million, has short take-off and landing capability and can use unprepared airstrips. Mr Polley said Australian Army officers had been to Hamilton to look at the aircraft. Able to cruise at 150 knots for five hours with nine passengers, the turboprop-powered plane is expected to make an impact in remote areas in First and Third World countries because of its landing capabilities. It also has a high climb rate - it can carry a full load of 17 skydivers to 14,000ft in 12 minutes. Ultimately, the production rate will be one a month, and Pacific Aerospace hopes to make 10 in the first year. However, a driving factor in meeting demand would be getting trained staff, Mr Polley said.Pacific Aerospace needed another 20 sheetmetal workers to meet demand for its existing aircraft types, he said. A further 20 to 25 staff would be required for the new plane. Pacific Aerospace employs 100 staff and has an annual turnover of $25 to $30 million. That is projected to increase to up to $50 million once the 750XL is in production. Mr Hare said inspiration for the new plane came during a discussion "over a beer" in 1999. An American visitor, impressed with the Cresco, told Mr Hare it was too bad that it could not be adapted for skydiving. "By February 2000 we had plans on the drawing board," Mr Hare said. "But as the design evolved we realized that the 750XL's performance characteristics would be such that it would meet a lot of other needs as well." As well as the Cresco, Pacific Aerospace makes the Fletcher topdressing plane, and the Airtrainer basic military training aircraft, which is used by the RNZAF and other air forces. The company already makes components for Boeing 777 and 747 planes, as well as for the Airbus A330 and A340 and the McDonnell Douglas F18 Hornet jet fighter. It has produced components for the Anzac frigates and United States Marine amphibious armoured personnel carriers.
  20. MARINA, Calif. -- There he was, high above Monterey Bay, a yellow speck rocketing across the gauzy sky. Birdman was tracing a line due east, maybe 100 mph, following the braided shoals of the Salinas River. The ground was approaching at about 60 mph. Graceful from afar, close-up he looked like a flying squirrel in an Elvis get-up. Mark Lichtle had jumped out of a plane at 12,900 feet and was trying to soar two miles inland before deploying his parachute. For a minute and a half, the 42-year-old skydiver kept gravity at bay, moving forward much faster than he was descending toward that famous dark soil of Steinbeck country. Mark Lichtle: Featured Photographer Mark's Galleries Lichtle is one of a growing flock of jumpers who wear wing suits. Designed by BirdMan International, the suits keep humans aloft with nylon wings that extend from the wrists to the hips and inflate as air starts to rush into them. Another wing, like a bird's tail, connects to both legs. "It's like slow-motion skydiving," Lichtle said. "You can stay up longer and go farther. The wing suit has allowed us to feel as close to flight as possible." Since they became commercially available in 1999, BirdMan suits have given skydivers a new rush, and provided a new impetus to base jumping--hurling oneself off buildings, bridges and cliffs. Lichtle is a retired mortgage broker from San Jose who films other people enjoying such adventures, often while jumping himself. Recently he leaped off a tower in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and in Mexico he jumped 1,200 feet into a cave called the Basement of the Swallows, which itself could swallow the Empire State Building. Wing suits are for experts only. The company recommends that a skydiver perform at least 500 parachute jumps and then take special bird-flying instruction before putting on wings. Although there is an emergency mechanism to cut away the wings, the diver's arms are very restricted while flying. "It's like skydiving handcuffed, and your head is your first point of contact with anything else," Lichtle said. Vladi Pesa, a BirdMan dealer and wing suit instructor, said that once students learn to control the suit, it revolutionizes their diving. They can do loops and barrel rolls and carve across the sky as if it were water or snow. "It completely changes the flight path," Pesa said. "You can do formations, flying like a flock of birds. You can double your free-fall time." Skydivers have long experimented with artificial wings and were called birdmen. In the mid-20th century, the practice was akin to jumping from a plane in a cheap Batman costume. From 1930 to 1961, according to Birdman International, 72 of the 75 people known to have tried such stunts died. The problem was, and still is, that skydivers need to be stable when they deploy their chutes. If some homemade wing has you spinning like a fan out of control, you're history. In the 1990s, skydivers began experimenting again, this time with wings that had no hard parts and were easier to keep in control. A Frenchman named Patrick DeGayardon got it right--for a while. He performed successful wing jumps until 1998, when he tried to sew a little pillow beneath his parachute to get rid of a pocket of dead air behind his derriere. Unfortunately, he sewed the chute itself to the pillow and didn't try to deploy it until too late. He plunged from life to legend. About that time, a Finn named Jari Kuosma came up with the idea of a commercial wing suit. A Croatian friend designed it, and BirdMan International was born in 1999. It has sold about 1,000 suits, ranging from $600 to $1,000. Kuosma has been trying to tinker with designs to slow down the speed of descent even more, allowing birdmen to swoop up and for a moment, maybe, achieve zero vertical velocity. "We are getting very close to zero," he said. "I am going to land this thing without a chute one day." Hopefully, not like the 72 others. Kuosma said he slowed the downward speed to 10 mph on one flight, whereas a normal skydiver falls at about 120 mph before throwing the chute. Others say birdmen haven't gotten much slower than 40 to 60 mph. On a cool summer day, with a briny wind coming off the bay, Lichtle suited up at the Marina Airport, an aging corrugated affair with old barracks and ragged windsocks. He harnessed himself into the six zippers and shuffled like a penguin to the runway. He wore a helmet--aptly designed by the Bonehead company--shaped flat like Frankenstein's skull, on which he mounted his camera. "Birdman!" an onlooker shouted, as an instructor explained the wing suit concept to curious students. Soon after the plane lifted off, the other skydivers on board jumped out right over the airport. Lichtle told the pilot to drop him a couple miles away at the coast. He wanted to see if he could get back to the airport on his own wings. He has to get used to his new suit, which is for advanced divers and "a little twitchy." Still, because he is more streamlined through the air, the sensation is a lot smoother and more liberating than regular skydiving. "You don't have the hard wind on your body," he said. He leaped alone over the beach and, at first, fell like a rock. Then in several seconds, the air went through the vents of his wing, and floom, they inflated. He was aloft, aiming roughly for a rusted water tower at the airport. But up at 12,000 feet, a strong head wind was blowing off the land. Lichtle was going about 100 mph into the wind and hurtling down about 65 mph. He watched his altimeter and studied the oaks and artichokes below. Flatbed trucks tooled along the farm roads. He realized he was not going to reach his goal and threw his chute at about 3,500 feet, still a quarter mile west of the airport. He drifted east with the wind and spiraled down with the other divers, undaunted. An eagle he wasn't. Still, Lichtle was unruffled. "This is really the closest you can get to a bird."
  21. admin

    Buttman flies again

    Grahamstown, South Africa - There was mirth and amazement when a naked skydiver landed on the Grahamstown army's parade at 8am yesterday morning. Unfazed, the first words Port Elizabeth candidate attorney James Reilly, 36, shouted to the 100-odd soldiers were: "Reporting for action, Sir!". Reilly jumped naked from 4 000m into minus 12 degree air as part of radio station 5fm's Speed Stick Give-it-Stick competition for the wackiest act. He leapt from the plane wearing only a stick of the deodorant bound with sticky tape to his penis. Before the jump, a nervous but excited Reilly was seen running around the EP Skydivers' clubhouse in the nude. The naked Reilly climbed into a light plane at 7.15am and jumped 45 minutes later. Speaking through gritted teeth, he said he endured a 50-second free fall at 200km/h "to get down quicker. It's cold man!" Although he said he was scared of landing barefoot on the gravel, ECN witnessed his agony as he removed the plastic tape. Mr Reilly yelled "Aaaaagh!" for almost 30 seconds as he stripped the binding off, even though his wife Michelle had said playfully: "I'm going to take that off!" She said: "It's madness what people will do for a car." Reilly was bidding to win a five-door Peugeot 206 sedan in the Speedstick Give It Stick And Win a Car Competition. 5FM DJ Kevin Fine said one competitor had "a stick tatooed to her bum." Mr Reilly will be admitted to the bar in the Grahamstown high court on Thursday.
  22. Tony Blair was briefing ministers in the garden of No 10 when they were interrupted by an object dropping out of the skies. It was a 22ft red and yellow paper streamer attached to a large cardboard tube - dropped by Army skydivers to test the wind speed before their jump. It reportedly landed in a minister's lap, blowing paper over Mr Blair. Today a security probe was launched into the incident, which happened yesterday. The skydivers were the Royal Artillery's Black Knights, making a spectacular descent over the Thames, landing by the London Eye. The streamer was dropped by the jumpmaster, Sergeant Tony Goodman, and a gust of wind swept it across Whitehall. Police looked on helplessly as the colourful mass descended. A source said today: "It caused one or two twitches when it appeared above Downing Street. We are looking into any possible security implications." The Army had no idea of the consternation they had caused. Sgt Goodman said: "As far as I was concerned everything had gone fine." Once they arrived back at Woolwich Barracks "everything went mental", he said, adding: "We got phone calls from Whitehall, Land HQ and all these high-ranking people demanding to know what we'd thrown out of the plane. Later we were told the streamer had hit Tony Blair." A Downing Street spokesman admitted: "There was some sort of streamer in the garden. We're not prepared to say whether the Prime Minister was in the garden at the time." Tube hits Tony at No 10 Frank O’Donnell TONY Blair demanded an immediate inquiry yesterday after government business was temporarily paralysed by the first recorded tube strike in Downing Street. The Prime Minister was brainstorming with ministers in the garden of No10 when he was struck by a 22ft red and yellow paper streamer ... attached to a cardboard tube. As the serious business of running the country took a back seat, ministers found the alien object stuffed with headed notepaper from the Army’s Royal Artillery Black Knights skydiving team. A high level investigation quickly discovered the object had been tossed from a plane to test wind speed and direction. As police looked on helplessly, a gust of wind had blown it straight over Downing Street and into the lap of power. The six-man skydiving team - who denied it was the most carefully-orchestrated publicity stunt in history - made the leap on Wednesday to publicise a forthcoming dance and music charity show. Clad in fancy dress, the soldiers dropped over the River Thames to land within feet of the London Eye, unaware of the government windfall. The tube was thrown by Sergeant Tony Goodman, who said: "As far as I was concerned everything had gone fine, but apparently the streamer hit Tony Blair." He said calls started coming in from Whitehall and Land HQ demanding to know what he had thrown. His superior, Captain Dan Lott, said: "We do apologise for interrupting government business but it was a legal requirement to throw out the streamer before the jump, for safety reasons. We don’t want the men ending up in the North Sea." He added: "I’m sure that the Prime Minister has a sense of humour."
  23. admin

    Beatles fall from the sky?

    It isn't every day you see John Lennon drop out of the sky. Or Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison, for that matter. Well, the skydivers at Lisle Eyes to the Skies Balloonfest Sunday weren't actually the four mopheads from Liverpool themselves, but they looked an awful lot like them. The Flying Beatles skydiving exhibition, complete with an American flag held by one of the "band members," was the pinnacle of a "Beatle-ful" day at the Lisle festival. In a celebration of the true millennium this year, the Eyes to the Skies committee wanted to bring in bands commemorating every decade from the 1960s on, said co-chairman Wayne Dunham, and each day of the festival would honor a different decade. But for Sunday, they wanted something a little different. "We thought, let's get a group that encompasses the last 50 years," Dunham said. Who better than The Beatles? So Dunham found three popular Beatles cover bands - "1964" ... The Tribute, British Export and Revolver - to play songs from three separate phases in the band's career. The Flying Beatles, a skydiving group out of Ohio, were the final ingredient of the day, jumping both when the festival opened and then later on in the evening, equipped with lighted jumpsuits. But Joe Maude of Glen Ellyn said he was a bit confused. "They had the American flag between them," he said. "Shouldn't they have had the British flag?" He and his wife Sue brought their 8- and 10-year-old sons - both avid Beatles fans - to the festival specifically to see the tribute bands. "We have a 15-year-old daughter who wouldn't come because the Beatles aren't hip," he said with a laugh. But there were hundreds of people sitting on a hill listening to the bands that thought otherwise. "We actually had several hundred people on the hillside before we opened," Dunham said. Tim Bedore of Naperville said he was impressed with the Eyes to the Skies music selection this year. "I think there should be more copy bands at fests, and The Beatles are the best of the bunch," he said. "I'd rather hear this than some band from the '70s that only had a few hits."
  24. PARIS –– A French parachutist was detained after he jumped from the top of the Eiffel Tower to win a bet, police said Monday. The 38-year-old Paris man was arrested early Sunday. He had jumped from the third and uppermost floor around 1 a.m., sailing down to land smoothly near the foot of the tower. He was immediately detained by police. The parachutist, whose identity was not revealed, entered the tower while it was open to the public and hid after closing time. Police had not decided whether to press charges. The third floor of the Eiffel Tower is 940 feet above the ground. The total height of Paris' best-known landmark is 1,056 feet.
  25. BRUSSELS (Reuters) - A parachutist performed a solo aerial lap over NATO headquarters Wednesday to protest against United States policy on missile defense before landing in a nearby field, where he was arrested. The German protester took to the air to beat tight security surrounding the alliance headquarters in Brussels where President Bush was meeting NATO leaders. Trailing a "Stop Star Wars" banner, the activist from the Greenpeace environmental group flew over the NATO complex using a small motor-propelled parachute. Greenpeace spokesman John Walters told Reuters the man was arrested when he landed. Walters said 17 activists were earlier arrested after demonstrating against Bush's policies on arms and the environment at Melsbroek military airport near Brussels shortly before Bush flew in aboard his presidential jet, Air Force One. Another 12 protesters were expected to be detained after they chained themselves to fencing near the airbase. Some 300-400 demonstrators waved banners and blew whistles near NATO headquarters in a largely peaceful protest against Bush. Opponents of plans for a missile defense shield fear it will effectively rip up the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty and spark a new arms race.