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  1. It's that time of the year again, where we pull out the credit card and bite the bullet to bring some festive joy to our friends and family. But we've spoken to the guys over at Para Gear and ChutingStar and had them send us over some options for Christmas gifts that will get your family or friends grinning without breaking your bank. Golden Sky Closing Pin Earrings - $40These custom Golden Sky Closing Pins Earrings are like no other. Available in Sterling Silver, 14kt Yellow Gold and 14kt White Gold. Earrings are 1" in length. Sterling Silver earrings in stock. Turnaround time for the 14kt Gold closing pin earrings is approximately two weeks as these are made to order by Golden Sky Jewelry. Available at ChutingStar GoPro LCD Touch Bacpac - $79.99The LCD Touch BacPac™ is a removable LCD touch screen for GoPro Hero3, Hero3+, or Hero4 cameras. (*Limited compatibility with original HD Hero and HD Hero2 cameras, requires firmware update. Touch functionality is not compatible with HD Hero2 and older cameras). As a removable accessory, the LCD BacPac keeps your camera as small and light as possible, yet provides the convenience of an LCD screen when attached. Camera not included. *US Only Available at Para-Gear LEGO Skydiver / BASE Jumper - $9The perfect companion for the home or office of any skydiver or BASE jumper. This LEGO minifigure is all geared-up to jump, and that adrenaline is coursing through his body. Time to jump! This is an official LEGO Skydiver/BASE Jumper Minifigure. The packaging has been opened to verify it is the skydiver, but the item is brand new. Available at ChutingStar Limited Edition Robin's Egg Blue Alti-2 Altimaster Galaxy Altimeter Gift Package - From $161Unique . . . Thoughtful . . . Perfect! Every gift giver wants to hear those words from the skydiver they love after the present is opened and the treasure inside is revealed. Just in time for the holidays, we have made your shopping effortless! This limited edition galaxy makes a perfect holiday gift. Fresh out of the Alti-2 workshop: a Limited Edition Altimaster Galaxy. Crafted exclusively in Robin's Egg Blue with a Swarovski Crystal pointer setting, this once in a lifetime offering is limited to 100 altimeters. It comes elegantly wrapped in a matching color gift box to add style to any occasion. Available at Para-Gear Available at ChutingStar Cookie G3 Helmet - $379Welcome to the G3 headgear, Cookies latest release full-face headgear and a result of significant refinement of the previous full-face headgear. The G3 features the original VMech Visor Locking System that works unlike any other in the industry. The system makes for easy opening and positive locking of the headgear visor. The visor is 2mm polycarbonate and features a complex curved design for extra strength, unsurpassed field of view and an anti-fog coating. The headgear's cinching system is simple and secure, adjustment can be made to customize the headgear fit and once locked down just throw the headgear on and jump. Available at Para-Gear ChutingStar eGift Card - From $25The ChutingStar eGift Card is the perfect gift for your buddy, family member or sweetheart! Available in any denomination and it never expires. The ChutingStar eGift Card is sent via e-mail and can be used at anytime for any products online at ChutingStar.com. Vouchers available from $25 to $1000 Available at ChutingStar PG Headgear Bag - $35The PG Headgear Bag is designed for today’s full-faced headgear. Made from cordura. It features a padded contoured shape to snugly fit most full-face headgear, a clip strap for easy hanging, strong zippers, and a protective pocket for gloves, goggles, altimeter, etc. Available at Para-Gear Parachuting Flipping Santa Musical Christmas Ornament - $19This large parachuting Santa Claus sings Jingle Bells while he performs front flips and back flips under a round parachute! The perfect skydiver Christmas ornament! Available at ChutingStar Kroops I.K.91 Goggles - $24.95 The I.K. 91 is an ultra lightweight and very comfortable goggle. The multilayer foam sinks into your face like a soft pillow making it very easy to wear for long periods of time. The spherical lens gives you a great distortion free view with totally unobstructed peripheral vision. The mirrored blue and the red lens color is a gradient to provide sun protection from above while still allowing you to see the ground clearly below. The narrow headband easily fits over or under your headgear. Available at Para-Gear Happy shopping!
  2. Para Gear is interested in photographic submissions that you may have for the 2017 - 2018 Para Gear Catalog #81. We have taken the time to briefly describe the format and certain criteria that we look for, in order to help you to see if you have something worth submitting. We have included examples of previous catalog covers for your reference, on Facebook or here on Dropzone.com Over the years Para Gear has used photos from all of skydiving's disciplines. We do not have a preference as far as what type of skydiving photo it is, rather we look for something that either is eye-catching or pleasing to the eye. In light of the digital age, we are also able to use photos that in one way or another may be less than perfect and enhance them, removing blemishes, flipping images, altering colors, etc. The following are preferences. However what we prefer and what we get, or choose, are not always the same. If however we came down to a choice between two photos of equal quality, we would opt for the one that met more of our preferences. We typically prefer that the photo be brighter. In the past we have used sunset photos and even a night jump photo, although by and large most of the photos are daytime. We like the subject of the image to have contrast with the background. Subjects that are wearing brighter more colorful clothing usually stand out more. We prefer to have the people in the photo wearing equipment since that is what we sell. Headgear, goggles, jumpsuits, altimeters, audible altimeters, and gloves are all good. We also prefer to see skydivers wearing head and foot protection. We do not print any BASE jumping nor any Tandem photographs. No submissions of these will be accepted. We are not interested an any photos of individual or groups of skydivers standing on the ground Front and back covers from the previous catalog (Issue #80) Our basic criteria is as follows: Vertical Format. The front and back covers of the catalog are both in a vertical format. We can use a horizontal (landscape) shot, as opposed to a vertical (portrait), and then crop it as long as the image lies within a vertical cropping. Photo Quality. The front and back cover shots will be printed as 8 ½ x 11 in 300 dpi format. Any film that can hold its quality up to this size and print dpi is fine. Digital format is preferred. In the event of a final cover choice, we prefer to be sent the original digital image or slide for getting the best quality out of the image. Back Cover Photo. The back cover photo is no different from the front except in one respect. We need to have room on the left side of the image for the thumb index. In the past we have taken images and been able to horizontally flip them thereby creating this room. Originality. Anything that is original, eye-catching, or makes someone take more notice of the catalog covers is something we look for. It could be a photo from a unique camera position or angle, a scenic skydive, shots under canopy, landings, etc. We look for photos that have not been previously published and most likely would not accept them if they have, as we want a photo that no one else has seen yet. We also do not want any photos that are chosen as the front or back covers to be used for other non Para Gear advertising for a period of one year. Para Gear offers $500.00 each for both the front and back covers we choose. Our current deadline for catalog cover submissions is January 16th 2017. Sending sample pictures by e-mail to [email protected], If you are sending sample digital pictures please note that they do not need to be in a very large format. If we like the sample picture we will then ask you to send the higher quality original. Please feel free to contact me directly with any questions. You can stay up to date with Para Gear via both Facebook and Twitter.
  3. 10 Skydiving myths and facts 1. Talking while falling? So, unlike many blockbuster films like Point Break, you cannot hear anything while in free fall. During a tandem skydive the wind travelling past you at over 100mph makes it pretty much impossible for you to hear your buddy! 2. Parachute deployment What happens when you deploy your chute? Do you go back up? No. No you do not. What you are seeing in many skydiving videos, is all an illusion. What actually happens is the cameraman continues falling when the other opens their chute, giving the impression that you go back up. 3. Most skydives in a single day The current record stands at 640 jumps. Jay Stokes of Greensburg jumped on average every 2.25 minutes, using 3 planes to get up to the right height quicker. 4. Youngest ever skydiver The youngest person to have skydived is four year old Toni Stadler from South Africa. Toni was strapped to Tandem Master Paul Lutge's chest as they leaped out of their single-engine plane 10,000 feet above the earth, free falling for half a minute before opening the parachute. 5. Oldest ever skydiver Frank Moody has the record for the oldest skydiver, at age 101, he made a tandem jump on 6 June 2004 in Australia. 6. Will opening the parachute hurt?Skydiving myths facts Many people think that when they open a parachute that the sudden 'jolt' from falling at 120mph to just 5mph will cause some kind of injury. However, modern parachute designs mean that the canopy opens gradually and the fall in speed is also gradual meaning you experience little or no jolt at all. 7. Fastest ever free-fall Felix Baumgartner holds this record from his Red Bull Stratos space jump. He reached a speed of Mach 1.24 or 834mph, breaking the sound barrier! 8. Most skydives Don Kellner Has jumped over 41,000 times in his life! Making him the most experienced skydiver, EVER. 9. Biggest formation skydive The current world record for the largest formation skydive is 400 people, set in Thailand in 2006. They held the formation for just over 4 seconds. 10. Skydiving is safe! Approximately 3.1 million skydives occur annually. Out of this, the average number of fatalities is around 55 which is less than 1% of the jumps that take place! For more skydiving updates and information, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.
  4. Exits at the Baltic Boogie 2015 Image by Konwent Photography There are a number of ways to kneecap a boogie, and they often have something to do with your gear bag: a forgotten helmet that lands you in a beat-up student ProTec all week; a forgotten suit that leaves you slippery and gripless; the dreaded out-of-date repack card. When you’re gathering up everything you need for a week of rapid-fire skyjumpin’ in a far-off location, it’s easy to forget a (key) detail here and there. Maybe this--my personal packing checklist--might help.* The Basics Rig(s) Helmet(s) Suit(s) (wingsuit/tracking suit/belly suit/tunnel suit/freefly suit/sit suit/dinosaur onesie/all of the above) Dytter Altimeter Gloves Your preferred skydiving kicks Your credit card (and a healthy sense of realism about how thoroughly it’s about to be abused)Paperwork In-date parachute association license In-date reserve repack card AAD air travel card (like the one, from Cypres, or this one, from Vigil) so you aren’t caught off guard at any check-in you may pass through during your skydiving careerRig Protection Packing mat/drag mat: preferably, with a sun cover, riser holders and at least one pocket (If your mat doesn't have a sun cover, bring an old towel to cover your gear during any short moments you need to leave it in the sun.) Bonus points if you sew your own. Extra bonus points if you sew me one. A sturdy, high-quality suit hanger with molded shoulders (to hang up your suit(s) well away from the dirty hangar floor)Tools Several pull-up cords (or your trusty power tool) Leatherman, Swiss Army knife or other sturdy multi-tool Line routing card Hemostat or tweezers (for those moments when your fingers are just too big for the job)Replacement Materials Extra closing loops Rubber bands, both large and small (or Tube Stoes, if that’s your jam) Any special batteries you might need for your doodadsLogging and Note-Taking Materials Logbook. (If you don't keep a digital version, keep the paper book in a Ziploc bag because--let’s be real--you always spill either coffee or beer on that thing.) Ballpoint pen Pencil/eraser Sharpie Notepad (for sharing information with other skydivers, such as phone numbers and scrawled threats) Labeling tape (to mark everything with your identifying information)Camera Stuff * Note: Obviously, serious, like, aerial cinematographers have a much more nuanced kit than this. This is a starting point. Label everything. Camera. Or, y’know, cameras...but try not to cover the entire surface area of your body with ‘em. Waterproof case Non-waterproof case (for dry situations where you prefer better sound over better equipment security) Mounts Mount wrench Sync/charge cable Microfiber lens cleaning cloth and solution Extra SD cards, labeled clearly with identifying numbers (those little SD card wallets are nice)Comfort Buff(s) Non-perishable "emergency" snacks A water bottle (or rollable Platypus bottle) with flavor packets, teabags or whatever else entices you into actually sucking on the thing at regular intervals UV-protective sunglasses Sunscreen Kneepads Clean sweat rag Ponytail holders Rehydration packets (because that beer truck may well sneak up on your blind side)Additional Tips Label everything. Lots of skydivers on the DZ will have exactly the same items that you do in their packing kit for skydiving, from closing tools to helmets. If unlabeled items go missing from your kit, it’s likely not an issue of dishonesty -- just mistaken identity. Labeling often solves the problem before it arises. Keep it clean and organized. Keep like with like in separate bags within the larger gear bag, and keep everything protected from dust, dampness, dirt and sun. Make it easy to find every individual item, and you’ll save hours of time in the long run. Get an idea for what your access to the facilities is going to look like at the boogie. We’re talking cooking; laundry; showers. If you’ll need to carry in coins for showers and laundry--or if you’ll have to pre-buy something like laundry soap before you drive out into the hinterlands, or something along those lines--you’ll be glad you knew about it and planned accordingly. Ask around about the experience you can expect at the boogie you’re planning to attend. Skydivers who have been there before will be glad to run down the highlights and challenges for you. Even better: you might end up convincing them to join you for a reprise. *If you have additions to this list, by all means PM me!
  5. This week saw the loss of two skydiving heavy-weights, Pat Works and Scotty Carbone, in separate incidents not related to skydiving. Both Pat and Scotty were long time members of dropzone.com and legends within the skydiving community as a whole. Pat and Scotty couldn't have been more different in personalities, though they garnered both love and respect from fellow skydivers in their own individual approaches to life. Scotty Carbone It's difficult to say anything on Scotty that hasn't been talked about already on dropzone.com. In fact, a thread started way back in 2002 sought to bring together both stories and rumors relating to Scotty, titled "Who is Scotty Carbone?", which gathered more than 150 responses including individuals such as Bill Booth who shared his own story on Scotty. Although controversial at times, Scotty's brash nature and loud personality was accompanied by a willingness to help others and an unmatched ability to bring smiles and laughter to those around him. He will always be known as a man who followed his own path and didn't allow others to dictate how he should live. Not only was Scotty a well known personality in the community, but he was also a skilled skydiver with plenty of jumps behind his name and 'more cutaways than most people have jumps'. Scotty Carbone Memorial Thread Pat Works Pat Works will always be remembered for his contributions to the world of skydiving. He was a key participant in the creation and overall establishment of the relative work (formation skydiving) discipline back in the 1970s. In the 1990s he again played a crucial role in the development of VRW or vertical formation skydiving as it is now known. An extremely skilled skydiver with more than 8000 jumps behind his name, Pat sought to share his knowledge of the sport through his writing and authored several popular books, including: "United We Fall", "The Art of Freefall RW" and "The Art of VRW: The Way of Freefly" Pat was truly spurred on by his eagerness to teach and was never shy to hop onto the forums and share his knowledge with others. He was also a member of the Skydiving Museum with roles as historian, museum curator, collections and curatorial committee. Although he has left us, Pat's contributions towards the sport shall be noticed for decades to come. Pat Works Memorial Thread We thank Pat Works for his considerable literary contributions to the sport and Scotty for being himself and bringing a smile to those around him. BSBD
  6. I often get asked by Whuffos "Why do you jump out of planes?" At first it's always fun to say "Because the door was open" and after a few laughs I try to explain. I try to explain the 60 seconds of absolute peace. That 1 minute that nothing else matters and you're 100% focused on the moment and what you're doing. To a non jumper that explanation isn't ever really good enough I feel, and often refer to the cliche quote of "To those that jump, no explanation is necessary, and to those that don't, no explanation is possible" Because it's the closest thing to the truth. I feel lucky to be apart of a community of amazing people! People that put aside status, careers, race, politics and are so excited to share the amazing sport of skydiving with new jumpers like myself. I didn’t know that about skydivers when I did my first tandem jump, nor did I know that I would end up traveling all over the US, meeting people from all walks of life, people I would end up calling friends and my sky family. However, one thing I do now know, is how thankful I am to have started this journey. Everything started for me on October 14th 2013 and the set of upcoming random circumstances would lead me to so many different Dropzones around the US, which resulted in me being asked to write this story. I was working in an industry where it was common to work really hard for 4-5 months and then take a couple months off. Right after my work season ended I decided I was going to skydive. A decision I arrived at due to various circumstances I found myself in. I was previously in the army and broke my foot the week before airborne school and always regretted not being able to jump and be apart of an airborne unit in the army. A few years after that I was working on my pilots license at a very small airport in Goshen Indiana that had a small skydiving operation on the other side of the field. Other than hearing "Jumpers Away" and making sure I didn't hit any of them while practicing take off and landings I never made it over there, even though I told myself repeatedly that I would try. Then a couple years later I met a guy by the name of Tim Kelly, randomly on a cruise ship and he had just started his skydiving training a few months before and was so excited to share with me his excitement and how awesome the sport of skydiving was! These events always left me wondering if I would take the time away from flying and scuba diving to start a new hobby. Getting LicensedSo there I was in La Porte, IN several years later and woke up one morning and decided today is the day! I'm gonna jump out of a plane! I called all the Chicago DZ's and none of them could take me because I weighed 260 lbs. so I called around the Indianapolis area and it was the same result. A friend told me "I think they jump over in Plymouth call them" At this point I was pretty discouraged, but I had already made up my mind that somehow I was going to do a skydive! I couldn't believe that all the big operations couldn't accommodate me, but somehow the little DZ 25 min down the road might be able to. I called them up with my situation, desperate to jump, and the DZO said "Come on in. We will take a look at you and depending on your height and build we can take you if it's safe to do so". Dropzone #1! I hopped in the car alone and drove straight to the DZ! After arriving a gentleman named Steve Verner came over and after weighing me and sizing me up decided that it was no problem. The main parachute was rated for our combined weight and he was more than confident (with over 10,000 jumps) to safely take me on a tandem skydive. I was beyond stoked! And started filling out paperwork, watching the mandatory videos and soaking up every bit of instruction Steve was giving me. The plane ride up consisted of Troy the DZO and Pilot on that day, Steve my Tandem Instructor and his wife Jenny the videographer. It was a 20 minute ride of smiling, while also refreshing everything I had learned on the ground. I was very impressed at all the attention that was put into safety! 10,000 feet, door opens, head back followed by 40 seconds of amazement! As soon as we landed I said I have to learn how to this! I don't care what it takes, let's get started! That day I filled out a USPA membership application and scheduled ground school, along with my 2nd mandatory tandem, which I scheduled for the next day at the same DZ (Plymouth Sky Sports). After completing my ground school and 2nd tandem the next day I bought my first Cookie G3 Helmet. I was also measured and even ordered my first jumpsuit. I was already committing to the sport after only 2 jumps! The Dropzone would be closing for the winter 2 weeks later and the upcoming weather wasn't looking great either. I would have to wait until the next season or travel somewhere warmer to continue training, which is exactly what I did! Dropzone #2 I called several Dropzones in Florida because I was told that with my weight and being a student, I would need a 300 sq ft Canopy to start my training (300lb Exit weight). After about my 5th call the Florida Skydiving Center in Lake Wales Florida, they told me to come on down! They had a rig that would fit me and instructors to provide the training. 1 week later I rented a small 1 bedroom house in Lake Wales and walked into the DZ to fill out paperwork. After spending a few days on a weather hold I decided to drive up to Deland and order my first container from Mirage. Apparently most people don't order their first rig until they know they are going to make it through the training, but I was committed and in my mind there was no turning back! The manager measured me and helped me design my custom green and black colors and then the wait would begin! 2 days later after a very successful AFF Level 1 skydive and a very bad no flare/no wind landing that left me wondering if I could even stand up or wave my arm to ensure my instructor I was ok (as he pleaded with me over the radio). As I heard the words "Holy Shit Bro, are you alive?" coming from a golf cart that was approaching me, I learned there was a lot more to skydiving than simply jumping out of a plane. Yes, I was alive. It was while being driven back to the hangar on the golf cart that I learned the importance of a flare. 6 hours later while in the emergency room at the VA hospital in Orlando I would also learn that a mans ACL doesn't agree with 300lbs falling from the sky without a proper flare. A lesson I wouldn't forget. Dropzone #3 4 months later I was fully healed up and working in San Antonio Texas. This is where I would resume my training at Skydive San Marcos. My new rig was completed and I showed up at the DZ looking like a seasoned pro in my bright colored jumpsuit, helmet and new rig (but still had no idea what I was really doing). They would confuse me for a licensed fun jumper who was waiting to fill out a waiver when I was really there to start with my 4th overall jump and only my 2nd solo! After telling them an interesting story and that I was actually brand new they paired me up with 3 of the most amazing instructors I have met to date. Hank, Kevin & Pun. These were the guys that would train me now that I was healed, give me my confidence back and nurse me through 3 months of weather holds and countless times riding the plane down with other students, due to the winds kicked up too high. I stayed at San Marcos through jump 15, when a new Dropzone opened not far down the road. I ended up taking a trip there with some of my new skydiving buddies to check it out. Dropzone #4 I decided to continue my training at Skydive Lonestar because at this point I was on coach jumps and they would allow me to use the new rig I had sitting in my car. Something the other DZ wouldn't allow me to do per their rules. This would save me gear rental fees and allow me to start getting comfortable in my own rig. The Dropzone had only been open a week and I would be their first AFF student. The staff and DZO was amazing, salt of the earth people. For days and days they would send the Otter up with only 6 or so people just so new guys could jump and I could keep training. I would always be grateful for this and wouldn't realize until later how rare it was. I would complete another 5 jumps there before moving to Houston. Dropzone #5 I moved to Houston and Skydive Spaceland would become my new home for a while and 5 jumps later I earned my A license! It felt great to finally be a real skydiver because it had been 9 months, 5 Dropzones, several instructors and 1 injury later that I was finally able to achieve this goal. I would then learn the meaning of "BEER!" As I got my A license and stamp at Skydive Spaceland. I would learn that tradition again a few weeks later when I would biff my landing and my cutaway handle would be pulled between myself and the ground while sliding 10 feet across wet grass. (I guess that doesn't happen a lot and I have yet to see it happen again) It was apparent when the skydiver picking up his canopy 30 feet from me yelled "How the fuck did that happen! I have never seen a reserve pilot chute pop out while someone was sliding across the ground before! I bet you owe beer for that one!” Needless to say the gas station down the street would get to know me well in those first weeks. Dropzones 6-77 Over the next year while traveling all around the country for work and taking some trips, going hours and even hundreds of miles out of the way just to jump at a new Dropzone I would figure out why I was traveling to all these DZs. I loved to jump, as anyone that completes training does I'm sure, but I found that in all my life that skydivers was the most interesting and awesome people that I have ever met. They are the only group of people (besides poker players) that you could sit amongst people without worrying about class, race, work status and discuss something you truly loved and share stories and drink beer and it would never get old. A member of the PD factory team would jump with you just to help you learn, guys and girls with thousands of jumps would share there knowledge and not make you feel inferior; But instead would share their experiences to help better everyone around them. I figured as long as I was traveling anyway I would make it a point to go to as many Dropzones and boogies and I could and seek out these amazing people to hear there stories and learn from them. Heading For 100It was probably about Dropzone 20 or so that I was jumping with new friends and the fact came up on how many DZs I have been to. It wasn’t strange to me to travel all over the country for work or to find new dropzones because i desperately wanted to keep jumping! However to my new friends that always jumped at the same DZ since they got licensed they found it very interesting because in a lot of cases 1 plane is all they knew. I met 100’s of people that had only jumped from a 4 person Cessna and nothing bigger. I decided then that since I was able to travel, that I was going to make it a goal to visit 100 Dropzones and try to jump at as many as I could, and from as many different planes, helicopters and balloons that I could. I knew weather would play a part and some places would only take tandems, but I was gonna do my best and just have fun with it. I started taking the "Selfies" next to the DZ sign early on to document my journey. Several years earlier I drove to all 48 continental states and did the same thing. A lot of people watched my journey on Facebook and thought it was fun, so I thought it would be a good idea for skydiving as long as I was out here doing it anyway. More of Justin's images can be seen on his Dropzone.com profile Common QuestionsNow I could write pages and pages about my experiences, stories, boogies, jumps etc etc. But as I travel and people find out that I have jumped so many places and will continue to I get a lot of the same questions which I'm always happy to answer and still developing new answers as I jump. So I wanted to share a few of those Q&A;'s at the request of Dropzone.com and because I know I had a lot of the same questions about different places. 1. What's the nicest Dropzone you have been to? That's a hard one to answer because there are a lot of nice DZ's. However my personal choice is CSC (Chicagoland Skydiving Center) Their facilities are amazing, all there rental equipment is top notch. The staff there go above and beyond to welcome new people to the sport and they have the nicest gear shop and restaurant in the country in my opinion. It was pretty much built for skydiving. The DZO is one of the friendliest guys you would wanna know. I don't just mean a friendly skydiver but Doug is just a pleasant friendly person in general and his attention to detail in running his operation is second to none. All of these things make it the nicest facility that I have had the privilege of jumping at. 2. What's your favorite Dropzone? Always a difficult one to answer because it's really a 6 way tie for different reasons and the people that jump and work at these Dropzones make them a great time not only to jump at but to also hang around and have fun. They also all have a very high level of respect for safety and people willing to help you learn from your mistakes when you mess up. Those would be Skydive Windy City in Michigan City, IN. Skydive Spaceland In Texas, Chicago Land Skydiving, Skydive Chicago, Skydive Lonestar and Skydive San Marcos. I have jumped at these places more than any other and I have good friends at each of these DZ's which makes them really fun to jump at when I can. 3. What's the best view? For me that's a tie between Skydive Utah & Skydive Windy City. Utah has these amazing mountains and the view of the Great Salt Lake. Growing up and living most my life in the Midwest I don't get to see mountains a lot and certainly not jump near them so Utah is amazing. I also love Skydive Windy City. I consider this my home Dropzone (formerly Plymouth Sky Sports) and between all the trees that surround the DZ and the view of Lake Michigan and the Chicago City Skyline on clear days it makes it a beautiful jump! 4. What's the best gear store? Well in my mind there is no contest and that's Rock Sky Market. They are located at ChicagoLand Skydiving Center and literally have everything a skydiver could want in stock and probably with several different colors to chose from. I have purchased almost all my gear from Steve and Jenny since day one when they were selling t-shirts and pull up cords out of the corner of a hanger in Plymouth and they are the best people to work with. Not only are the knowledgeable on so much with years in the sport and well over 10,000 skydives between them but they have first hand knowledge on most of the products because they jump almost daily and use them. Between everything being right there to buy that day, there knowledge and the excellent customer service it's no contest in my mind. 5. How many DZ's have you jumped at in 1 day? The most different Dropzones I have jumped at in 1 day is 3 and all 3 was in different states. I started off at Skydive Midwest in Wisconsin for a fun jump and then went down to Chicagoland Skydiving Center in Illinois to buy a helmet case and jumped there then on my way home I jumped at Plymouth Sky Sports in Indiana. That was an exhausting day. 6. What's your favorite boogie? This is always a tough question but the 2 that come to mind are Summerfest and Couch Freaks. I don't know if they will hold the Couch Freaks boogie in Fort Dodge again and I might have attended the last year for it but I had a blast! Just read the back of the boogie tickets and you know you're in for one hell of a ride! I really hope they have that boogie again because the stories from the old timers there about the start of big event skydiving are second to none. As a new jumper at the time I attended I really got an education! Summerfest is also amazing with the amount of planes that come in you can really jump as much as you want. From the fireworks and glowing wing suit flights to the dinner time meals and dancing into the night. Summerfest at Skydive Chicago is really a top notch boogie! To finish things up I’m really thankful for all the friends I have made along my journey and hopefully will continue to make. All of these opinions are of course my own, and being so new in the sport I’m sure they will continue to change as I learn and grow. I hope to hit 100 DZ’s and a few more boogies before summer is over. I hope in writing this article that the 1,000’s of jumpers who are in there comfort zone of 1 DZ will get out and experience some new DZ’s and make some new sky family. I haven’t had a bad time yet and all dropzones are welcoming to new jumpers I have found and are excited to share there stories and there sky with you! -EFS- Justin Baker B-40015 -Blue Skies-
  7. When the first astronaut landed on the moon, it was "one small step for man." Now, 47 years later, the next "giant leap for mankind" will be made by a skydiver hurtling 25,000 feet down to earth – without the help of a parachute or wing suit*. This first-of-its-kind event will be broadcast LIVE Saturday, July 30 (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed), on FOX, when world-class skydiver Luke Aikins jumps out of a plane with nothing but the clothes on his back and lands safely in the Southern California desert as his family and friends wait for him on the ground. The special will offer an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into Aikins' training and preparation, before culminating in the historic skydive. A third-generation skydiver, the 42-year-old husband and father has 18,000 jumps under his belt and helped train Felix Baumgartner for his historic Stratos jump. While he has performed a variety of skydiving stunts for tentpole action films, this will be his most challenging jump ever. By negotiating his fall and landing – using only air currents – Aikins will make skydiving history. "Whenever people attempt to push the limits of what's considered humanly possible, they're invariably described as crazy," said Aikins. "But to me, this jump is simply the next logical step in a lifetime of extreme challenges." The Stride Gum brand from Mondelēz International, Inc. is sponsoring the historic live stunt experience. "When we first heard what Luke Aikins was going to attempt, our jaws hit the floor," said Bonin Bough, chief media and e-commerce officer for Mondelēz International. "Bringing Luke's vision to life will redefine what's possible for skydiving and stunts moving forward. His focus, courage and intensity inspire us on so many levels." "Luke is actually a very down-to-earth guy," said Laura Henderson, global head of content & media monetization at Mondelēz International. "But his thinking is so bold and intense that we all felt this was the perfect event to team up with as we launch our new mad-intense Stride Gum campaign." Perhaps no one is better prepared to take on such a challenge than Aikins. In addition to his movie stunt work, Aikins serves as a safety and training advisor for the United States Parachute Association (USPA) as an instructor to the instructors. As the owner of Para Tactics, Aikins provides advanced skydiving training to elite military special forces. He is also a staff member at Kapowsin Air Sports in Washington and has contributed to the family legacy with three world records. "Everyone is calling this my 'coming-out jump' – which is ironic considering I've been skydiving since the age of 16," said Aikins. "But nothing even comes remotely close to this. I expect Heaven Sent to change me, skydiving and the future of live spectacles forever. It's going to be mad-intense and I'm thrilled to have Stride Gum on board as my teammate." STRIDE GUM PRESENTS HEAVEN SENT will be broadcast live as a one-hour special on Saturday, July 30 (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX. Co-created by Chris Talley of Precision Food Works and Amusement Park Entertainment's Jimmy Smith, the event is being produced by Mondelēz International, Amusement Park Entertainment, and four-time Emmy winner Al Berman. In addition to the FOX broadcast, the event will be available via online streaming and pay-per-view around the globe. "It's not every day you get a chance to be part of something that's truly historic," remarked Talley. "We're very proud to support Luke in this amazing endeavor. Minds will be blown all over the world when Luke makes his giant leap." "HEAVEN SENT is the epitome of what we do at Amusement Park: create a larger brand story that is so compelling, it can't help but become part of the cultural landscape," said Smith. "I've never worked on a project so inspiring and mind-boggling all at the same time. It's one of those events where perhaps over a billion people will remember exactly where they were when Luke made history. Dope!" Aikins' leap represents the culmination of a 26-year career that will set a personal and world record for the highest jump without a parachute or wing suit. In fact, it's precedent-setting, since it's never been done before – period (at least, not intentionally). "Of course, this is a personal goal, but I'm certainly not doing it alone or in a vacuum. Beyond all the marketing hype, this is a once-in-a-lifetime feat that has taken the world's best skydiving experts, scientists and engineers many lifetimes to pull off," added Aikins.
  8. Dave Rhea gives his Skyhook a workout over northern Arizona Photo Credit: Dave Rhea You’re as ready as you’ll ever be. Right? You know what a malfunctioning main looks like. You know the sequence*. You’ve done your homework (like we reviewed last time). Before you pull that handle, though, make sure you know the rest of the story: how to make that reserve ride as un-traumatic an experience as possible. 1. Do not overthink itIf you believe that your main is unlandable, you are going to have a reserve ride. Lots of skydivers have landed under reserves, realizing later that the problem was solvable. Lots of skydivers have also gone in while striving to sort out malfunctions that did not get solved. Pick your poison. 2. Do not worry about stabilityThis is the very least of your problems, as you are on the world’s most intractable timer. Worry ONLY about altitude. 3. Pull the cutaway handle until no lower than 1,000 feetIf your pull is sufficiently low (shame on you for that, by the way--gotta say it) and you have an unlandable main, you’ll be testing your reserve’s opening characteristics in the most potentially lethal way. Take note: the USPA not-so-recently raised the minimum deployment altitude even for eminently experienced D-licensed jumpers. Initiating a reserve ride below 1,000 feet isn’t always deadly, but it has an unnerving tendency to be. Don’t take the chance. 4. Hold on to your handles...or, y’know, do your best. If you manage it, you’ll save a bit of money, and you’ll save face when you land. 5. Make sure it’s outArch and look over your shoulder for the reserve pilot chute. Reserves deploy fast, so this head position may rattle your neck – but if the pilot chute is somehow caught in your burble, this should either shake it loose or make it clear to you that you need to do some burble intervention, stat. 6. Keep an eye on your free-floating mainHowever: do not try to chase it and grab it in the air. (People have died doing that, bigshot.) Don’t “chase the bag” if it means you’ll land in a dangerous LZ. Use landmarks to get a bead on where the gear is headed, then take a deep breath, leave it to the fates, and prioritize your mortal coil. 7. Remember: Your Cutaway, Your BusinessWhen you land a reserve, you’re going to be the talk of the DZ (for about five minutes, usually). During that five minutes – longer, if the loads are turning slowly – you’ll probably be approached by a gamut of big talkers and would-be mentors, questioning your malfunction and eager to discuss your decision to cut away. My advice: speak to your trusted mentors and co-jumpers about it in private, and tell the rest to go suck an egg. When you suddenly need to get proactive about saving your life in the sky, make no mistake: you are absolutely alone. In the entire world, there exists only you and two handles. Your cutaway is your business. You were there. They were not. Review your own footage to determine the nature of the malfunction and review alternative methods of correction, if applicable. 8. Buy a bottle of posh booze for the rigger who packed the reserve you rode, and keep the reserve pin for posterity. It’s tradition. * Arch, look down at your handles, grasp the handles, pull cutaway, pull reserve.
  9. admin

    Parachute Malfunctions

    A malfunction is any failure of the system to provide a normal rate of descent and this includes loss of canopy control. Malfunctions are normally caused by one or a combination of the following: bad packing, poor body position during canopy deployment and/or faulty equipment. There are some malfunctions, however, that just happen (Acts of God); parachutes are good but not perfect. Failures of the main parachute can be divided into two areas. Either nothing comes out and you have a total malfunction or the canopy starts to open but something is wrong with it and you have a partial malfunction. Each of these two areas will be broken down still further in this chapter. It is because of the possibility of an equipment malfunction that the USPA’s Basic Safety Requirements list the opening altitude for students at 3,000 feet AGL. (For tandem jumps, it is set at 4,000 feet AGL. For A and B licensed skydivers, it is set at 2500 feet.) The BSRs and the FARs require that a second (reserve) parachute be worn for all sport jumping. It is important that you are drilled in its use. But even with the stated opening altitude safety margin or cushion, you must be aware of the time, speed and distances involved. If you exit the aircraft at 3,000 feet AGL, for example, you will begin to accelerate; you start off at zero vertical speed and then fall faster and faster until you reach terminal velocity (more about that later). If you didn’t have a parachute, it would take you about 22 seconds to reach the ground. In the case of a partial malfunction, you will have a little braking from your canopy and this means even more time. But even if you have a total, allowing for reaction time, you should be open under your reserve at well above 1,500 feet. In fact, while it seemed like an eternity to you, your friends on the ground will tell you that you performed your procedures quickly and efficiently; you will be surprised at how fast you react to a malfunction. Your main parachute takes 3-4 seconds to open and the reserve may be just slightly faster. Even at terminal velocity, which in a face-to-earth,stable position is about 110 mph, (the fastest you can fall in that position), four seconds translates into about 700 feet. If you haven’t been jerked upright by the sixth segment (second) of your exit or pull count, you should already be into the emergency procedure for a total malfunction. Static lines not hooked up, in-tow situations, lost or hard ripcord pull or pilot chute problems have already been discussed and won’t be repeated here. Total MalfunctionsOf all the possible equipment malfunctions, the total (pack closure) is the safest to deal with because there is no other garbage over your head to interfere with the deploying reserve. While the total is the easiest malfunction to rectify, remember it also presents you with the least amount of time in which to act. Do not spend time trying to locate a lost handle; you do not have time. Do not waste time breaking away; a loose riser could tangle with a deploying reserve. When in doubt, whip it out. (Pull the reserve ripcord.) Partial MalfunctionsA partial malfunction is one in which the canopy comes out of the container but does not properly deploy. The canopy may not inflate (e.g. a streamer that hardly slows your descent at all) or it may take on some air and be spinning violently (e.g. a line over or slider hang-up). You could have an end cell closure that will probably slow you enough for a safe landing. So, partial malfunctions may be major and minor. An additionally important consideration is that they may be stable or spinning. Most partials can usually be attributed to an error in packing or poor body position on opening. Some partials, however, just happen. Some partials are so minor, most instructors do not even classify them as malfunctions; they call them "nuisances." Some of these things that just happen are line twists, end cell closures and a slider that has not fully descended. These are correctable problems which you will be trained to handle. A good canopy is rectangular (square) and flies straight once the slider is down and the brakes are released. It is stable through the flare and turns properly with the correct toggle inputs. (Remember the controllability check?) Major partial malfunctions. Ones that you don’t waste time to correct. Bag lock presents you with trailing lines, bag and pilot chute but the canopy will not come out of the bag. This problem is not likely to clear itself. Breakaway and pull your reserve. Horseshoe. This malfunction can result from bad maintenance, failure to check equipment and incompatible canopy/container systems. It can happen when the locking pin or ripcord is dislodged from the closing loop, allowing the bagged canopy to escape before you have removed the pilot chute from its stowage pocket. The horseshoe can occur if you tumble during the deployment sequence, allowing the pilot chute to catch on your foot, your arm, or some other part of your body, but these are rare occurrences today. Another possibility is a poor launch of a pilot chute from your container, allowing it to fall back into your “burble” (the partial vacuum behind you) where it can dance around and snag on something, preventing it from properly deploying. Improper hand deploy procedures can lead to the pilot chute being caught on your arm. The danger of a horseshoe malfunction is that a pulled reserve may tangle with the horse-shoed main as it tries to deploy. If you experience a horseshoe, and you are using a hand deployment technique, pull the main’s hand deploy pilot chute immediately. Then, and even if you can’t pull the main hand deploy pilot chute, execute a breakaway and deploy the reserve. Chances are that there will be enough drag on the lines and canopy to separate the risers from their attachment points and present only a single line of “garbage” for the reserve to clear (rather than a horseshoed main). Violent spin. Unless you can tell immediately that you have an unstowed brake, breakaway and pull your reserve. If you have plenty of altitude and the problem is not compounded by line twists, push the toggles down to the crotch for two seconds, then let up slowly. If the spin continues, break away and pull your reserve. Line overs can occur when a brake lock releases during the opening sequence allowing one side of the canopy to surge forward over itself, or due to a packing error or an Act of God. If you are on a very high clear and pull, you may try to pull down on the end lines (by the risers) to make the other lines slip off. However, if you deployed at the normal pull altitude, you do not have time for this maneuver on the main. Break away and pull your reserve ripcord. If this happens on a square reserve, pulling down on the side the lines are over is your best hope, along with a great PLF. Partial Malfunctions That May Be Majors Or MinorsPartial malfunctions that may be majors or minors. You may have time to make a decision as to how to handle them. Rips and tears are not common on ram-air canopies and may usually be ridden in. Even a rip from leading edge to trailing edge on one surface can probably be controlled. Internal rips may not be visible. See whether the canopy is controllable with toggle pressure no lower than your shoulder. If your controlability check indicates a serious problem, break away and pull your reserve ripcord. If the check does not indicate a serious problem, make slow, shallow turns and flare slowly for landing. The snivel is a slow, mushy opening. The canopy’s fabric weave opens up slightly after a few hundred jumps and becomes more porous. Higher permeability leads to sniveling. Look up after pulling to watch your canopy open. Learn to distinguish a slow-opening snivel from a never-opening streamer. Sometimes replacing the pilot chute will lead to quicker openings. Try packing the nose of the canopy in different positions but check with a rigger before you experiment. Contact the manufacturer about resetting the brakes two inches higher. Then the canopy will take to the air with the tail somewhat higher giving the leading edge a better bite of air. Slider hang-up, at the canopy. The slider may hang up at the top of the lines because it is caught in the lines or caught on the slider stops. Grommets become battered and rough as they slide down and hit the connector links at the risers. The links should be fitted with plastic sleeve buffers. Make sure the grommets are smooth. A slider hang-up at the canopy is a high-speed malfunction and will be hard to clear. You may be upright but you are descending quickly. There is little time to deal with a slider hang-up at the canopy, so jettison your main and pull your reserve ripcord. Slider hang-up, halfway. A slider hang-up halfway down the lines will slow you down but possibly not enough for landing. Check your altitude and if there is time (you are still above the decision altitude for emergency procedures), release the brakes and pull the toggles down to your crotch for two seconds in an effort to stall the canopy and relieve some of the spanwise spreading of the canopy. Repeat if necessary, pump the steering lines up and down. If the slider descends to within 10 or 12 inches of the connector links, that is close enough. Sometimes, the slider is caught higher in a suspension line or steering line. Let both toggles up to determine whether the canopy will fly straight. If you have to pull down the opposite toggle to more than shoulder level to maintain straight flight, the canopy will probably be unstable. If you don’t gain total control of the canopy by the decision altitude (sometimes called the hard deck), break away and pull your reserve ripcord. If the slider comes down the lines halfway and stops, the canopy has probably changed in some way. After you are safely on the ground, measure the line lengths and compare opposite lines. Check the slider grommets for damage. Bring the canopy to the equipment manager (if it is student gear), your rigger, or send it to the manufacturer for inspection. Broken suspension line(s). Most line breaks only put the canopy into a slight turn. Correct the turn with opposite toggle pressure. Occasionally the broken line causes the slider to hang up. Do a controllability check. If there is any internal damage to the canopy, it will not perform as expected. Failing a controllability check will dictate a breakaway and a reserve deployment. Minor MalfunctionsMinor malfunctions are more like nuisances that can be dealt with and don’t threaten you unless they get worse or are complicated by other problems. Line twists. Sometimes, the bag rotates a few turns as it lifts off. Now you may find it difficult to get your head back to look up at the canopy. The problem is that the risers are closer together and twisted instead of spread. These twists can happen with or without your help. If you are kicking, rocking or twisting just as the bagged canopy lifts off, you can impart a twist to it. The principle is the same as when you give a Frisbee disc a flip of the wrist on launch. Line twists are more common on static line than freefall jumps. Determine quickly whether the canopy is flying straight, your altitude and which way the lines are twisted. Reach above your head, grab the risers and spread them to accelerate the untwisting. If necessary, throw your legs in the twist direction. Line twists are worse on a ram-air canopy than a round because you cannot pull down on the steering lines to control the canopy until the twists are cleared and this may take up to 30 seconds. If the canopy is spinning in the same direction, you may not be able to untwist faster than it is twisting. Do not release the brakes until untwisted. While you have the risers spread, check your canopy to make sure nothing else is wrong with it. A spinning canopy descends quickly. If you haven’t untwisted the lines by 1,800 feet AGL, break away and pull your reserve. Premature brake release. Ram-air canopies are packed with their brakes set to prevent the canopy from surging on opening. If one brake releases on opening, the canopy is likely to turn rapidly which can escalate into a spin and/or an end cell closure if not corrected immediately. If the canopy doesn't have line twists, grab both toggles and pull them down to your waist. (Grabbing both eliminates having to choose which one to pull.) This maneuver will release the other brake, reduce your forward speed, stop the turn and let you see if any lines are broken. If the premature brake release is compounded with line twists, releasing the other brake may have some or no effect. Be aware of your decision altitude and try to unspin from the line twists. If you are sure that just one steering line is still set in its deployment setting, you might try to release it. Broken steering line. When you find one of your steering lines has snapped or floated out of reach, release the other brake and steer the canopy by pulling down on the rear risers. Do not try to steer with one control line and the opposite riser. The turns will be inconsistent and you may find yourself in a dangerously low turn when you flare for landing. Pulling down on the risers may be hard but it will steer the canopy. The canopy will probably want to turn in the direction of the good control line. If you cannot make the canopy fly straight with the opposite riser, break away and pull your reserve. If the broken line wraps around the slider, do not try to pump the slider down any further. It will only make the turning worse. Reserve some energy to pull down on both risers at about ten feet from the ground to flare the landing. You want to start this flare lower because pulling down on the risers results in a more pronounced flare. Steering line(s) won’t release is similar to dealing with a broken steering line, except that one may release while the other won’t. If neither steering line releases, simply fly the canopy to a safe landing using the rear risers. If only one releases, then you can pull that steering line down to the point at which the canopy will fly straight, then control the direction the canopy flies by either using the rear risers or using the one working steering line. Quite often, you will have time to grab the riser of the steering line that won’t release and work towards getting it released. Be mindful of your altitude as you work on the problem. You don’t want to steer yourself to a hazardous landing while you are distracted with this release challenge. Pilot chute "under/over" problems. The pilot chute may fall over the leading edge of the canopy and re-inflate underneath, usually causing a turn in the distorted canopy. Attempt to stall the canopy slightly so that it backs up, possibly allowing the pilot chute to come back up and over the front of the parachute. If the canopy cannot be controlled with toggles, break away and pull your reserve ripcord. End cell closures occur when the pressure outside the canopy is greater than the pressure inside. They usually happen during canopy surge on opening but they can also be caused by radical turns or turbulent air. Turbulence can occur on hot, no-wind days, on windy days downwind of trees and buildings, and during stormy conditions. Lightweight jumpers under large canopies (called low wing loading) will experience end cell closure more frequently. To avoid end cell closure, fly with one-quarter to one-half brakes. To counteract end cell closure, push the toggles down to your crotch for a few seconds, until the cells inflate, then let the toggles up slowly. Repeat if necessary. End cell closures are not a major concern. Keep the canopy and land it if it is not spinning. If the end cells collapse below 200 feet, do not try to re-inflate them.Pull to half brakes to stabilize the canopy. When you flare for landing, the cells will probably pop open. Combination MalfunctionsWhen confronted with more than one malfunction, correct for line twists first. The canopy will be uncontrollable until the twists are removed. When in doubt, whip it out, especially if you are at or below decision height (1800 feet AGL). Two Canopies Open You may find yourself confronted with two fully open canopies. This can happen in several ways: The automatic activation device on your reserve could fire when you are happily flying your canopy through 1,000 feet; you may have reacted very quickly to a pilot chute hesitation without effecting a breakaway; or the main release system may have failed to separate during an emergency procedure. If the two canopies take off at different times, they may not deploy into each other, but you need to be prepared to handle that possibility. At the Parachute Industry Association Symposium in Houston in 1997, a detailed report was presented on the performance of two ram-air canopies out — a very dangerous situation. First, quickly check the condition and position of the main and reserve canopies, then make your decision based upon the following: If the two canopies are flying side by side, steer yourself to a safe landing area by using gentle control inputs on the larger canopy. Due to the nearly doubled surface area supporting your weight, the effective lift of the parachute system will make flaring the canopies unnecessary. Flaring one could create a hazardous situation, especially close to the ground. If the two canopies are both flying downward towards the ground (called a downplane), jettison the main. Note:Certain reserve static line lanyards may have to be disconnected so as not to foul the reserve parachute when the main is disconnected. Ask your instructor about the specifics concerning your system. If the canopies are flying one behind the other and in the same direction (called a biplane), make gentle steering inputs with the lead canopy (which is usually the main). Do not release the rear canopy’s deployment brakes. Do not flare the landing. If the reserve container has opened but the reserve canopy has not yet, or not completely deployed, make gentle steering inputs with the main and try to haul in the reserve and stick it between your legs. Tandem Jumping MalfunctionsTandem jumping malfunctions may be aggravated because the weight is doubled while the effective drag area of the two falling bodies is not. As long as the drogue pilot chute has been deployed properly, freefall speeds are about the same as a single skydiver. If the drogue is not deployed or fails to work properly, the terminal velocity will be much faster than that of a single skydiver (110 mph); perhaps as much as 160-170 mph. The greater speed places a much greater strain on the parachute system and on the jumpers. Large Ring And Ripcord HandleOlder harnesses used a plain round ring for the largest of the rings in the 3-Ring canopy releases. When the main canopy is jettisoned, the largest of the riser-release rings remains on the harness. If the rings flop down on the lift web, the one near the reserve handle may be mistaken for that handle. Both are large silver rings and the reserve handle may have shifted from its normal position. Some jumpers have broken away only to tug on the wrong ring. Some never lived to tell about it. Newer equipment may have a shaped large ring or a smaller (mini) ring that is more difficult to confuse with the reserve handle. If you have older equipment, you should be aware of this potential problem. Change Of Emergency ProceduresAnytime you change your equipment or emergency procedures, make sure you are thoroughly trained. Practice in a suspended harness until proficient on the new equipment. Each corrective procedure is different and you must not waste precious seconds in an emergency thinking about what you should do. You must act automatically and quickly. Review your emergency procedures prior to each jump and touch all your handles before you proceed to the door. Breakaway TrainingBreakaway training is essential to assure that it will be accomplished completely, quickly and well. Training must take place in a suspended harness that is easy to rig up. Simply tie an old set of risers to an overhead beam and attach them to your harness. The drill must be repeated again and again until it becomes mechanical and automatic so that you will perform correctly and without hesitation should the time come. When you take your reserve in to be repacked, ask your rigger if you may practice the breakaway to include the reserve pull. It is a valuable experience and in this controlled environment, it is safe for your gear. Emergency PrioritiesThink about and review the seven priorities of skydiving: Pull - Open the parachute. Pull by the assigned altitude or higher - whether stable or not. Pull with stability - to improve canopy-opening reliability. Check the canopy - promptly determine if the canopy has properly opened and is controllable. If necessary, activate the reserve - perform the appropriate emergency procedures if there is any doubt that the main canopy is open properly and is controllable. Land in a clear area - a long walk back is better than landing in a hazardous area. Land safely - be prepared to perform a PLF with the feet and knees together to avoid injury. Canopy CollisionsLet’s assume that your canopy has just opened properly and you are reaching up for the toggles when suddenly, you look ahead and see another canopy coming directly towards you. What should you do? If the collision is avoidable by steering to the right or left, choose the right. The turn to the right is virtually universal in all forms of navigation. If the collision is unavoidable, spread your arms and legs out to absorb the impact over the most surface area possible. Chances are that spreading out will allow you to bounce up and over the lines and canopy you will be colliding with. You may get a bit hurt, but you will be alive so long as you don’t make full body contact with the other jumper. If you find yourself entangled with another parachute, the general rule of thumb is that the lower person has the right to perform emergency procedures first. Communicate with each other as to what you want to do, what you’re going to do, then do it while you still have enough altitude to do it safely. Most canopy collisions occur during the landing phase of the skydive, when too many people are trying to get into one tiny area all at the same time. Vigilance in canopy control and choosing a less congested area can help avoid this emergency. If you do end up tangled at an altitude too low to break away (less than 500 feet AGL), ride about half brakes and get set to do a fantastic PLF.
  10. Photo credit: Cornicello PhotographyiFLY Indoor Skydiving and the International Bodyflight Association (IBA) are proud to announce that Catriona (Cat) Adam has become the first woman ever to be certified as a Level Four Instructor/Trainer in the sport of indoor skydiving. Level Four Instructor/Trainer is the highest level attainable under the standards established by the International Bodyflight Association. During the 12 years iFLY and the IBA have been certifying instructors and trainers, more than 650 instructors have met IBA standards for Level One Instructors, and only about a dozen of those instructors were women. Of those Level One Instructors only about two dozen men have gone on to become Level Four Instructor/Trainers. The path to attaining Level Four Certification requires intense training, commitment, experience, the strength and ability to withstand rigorous physical demands of flying, coaching and teaching flyers from first-time flyers to world champions, and the determination to be the absolute best. Chris Dixon, Lead Instructor/Trainer at the IBA, said, “At every level, Cat made it clear she could meet or exceed the requirements for advancement; all she needed was the opportunity to excel.” iFLY’s current expansion plans have increased the need for qualified Level Four Instructor/Trainers. One of the responsibilities of Level Four Instructors is to teach the new instructors what is necessary to meet iFLY’s expansion plans. Photo credit: Cornicello Photography“iFLY is expanding, and we depend on Level Four Instructor/Trainers to teach and maintain the highest level of safety within the instructor group,” said Chris. “While many of us were hoping Cat would succeed, we also knew she and all other instructors would have to meet or exceed the safety standards expected of every other Level Four Instructor/Trainer, no exceptions. All those who know Cat are not surprised she reached her goal of becoming the best, and all of us are thrilled for her, but we also know and respect how hard she worked to master every challenge in the training and certification process. We know she will continue to be the best, share her experience and dedication to safety with others and hopefully inspire more women to join us as instructors! iFLY is better for having her on the Level Four Instructor/Trainer team.” “While I am proud of my accomplishment and appreciate the opportunities given to me to advance,” Cat said, “I must admit while watching my first class of instructors I trained working with their first class of first-time flyers, I was like a mama goose nervously watching her fledgling geese fly for the first time. I was also very proud of them and their clear focus on the safety of their new students!” Photo credit: Cornicello PhotographyCat will continue to train new instructors, help maintain and increase the safety of everyone flying in an iFLY tunnel and continue improving her personal flying skills. To Cat, the sky is not a limit; it represents limitless possibilities. Skydiving and tunnel accolades 2014 Gold : 2-way dynamic advanced IBA tunnel competition 2014 Silver : 4-way dynamic advanced IBA tunnel championships 2013 Participant : 63-way vertical world record (women’s) 2011 Participant : Freestyle Nationals (British) 2011 Participant : 80-way head down record (European) 2011 Organizer : Woman’s head down record (British) 2010 Participant : 22-way head down record (British) 2010 Participant : 41-way vertical world record (women’s) 2009 Gold : Freestyle Nationals (British) 2009 Gold : British National speed (female) About iFLY Indoor Skydiving: Austin-based iFLY Holdings, LLC is the world leader in design, manufacturing, sales and operations of wind tunnel systems for indoor skydiving. Under the brand names iFLY, SkyVenture, and Airkix, the Company has flown over 7,000,000 people in a dozen countries since launching the modern vertical wind tunnel industry in 1998. iFLY has 39 facilities operating, 15 currently in construction and another 8 planned to start construction before the end of 2015. iFLY supports and utilizes the safety and training rules set out by the International Body Fight Association (IBA) to ensure safety and progression of the sport of indoor skydiving.
  11. Aerodyne recently announced the release of their new canopy, the Pilot7. This new main, which was initially developed with wingsuiters in mind, is a 7-cell variation of the popular Pilot canopy which Aerodyne have sold for over a decade. The original Pilot canopy is in fact the company's most successful product, with the 9-cell elliptical holding an average rating of 4.67/5 based off 69 votes in our gear section. Aerodyne say they found their design for the Pilot7 heavily influenced by the strengths of the initial Pilot, and wanted to ensure that the new canopy lived up to the expectations set by its older sibling. Something for EveryoneBoth beginner flyers and experienced wingsuit pilots have reportedly demoed the Pilot7 with great results and public feedback as to the performance of the canopy. The company claims the Pilot7 provides 'superbly consistent openings', while in flight offers the pilot something fun and agile, while still remaining stable and easy to fly. "It has a flat glide and a powerful flare, likely more so than any 7-cell you’ve experienced.", claim Aerodyne. It was clear that solid, reliable openings were a key factor for this canopy during development, and testimonials from those who have been demoing the Pilot7 seem to confirm that Aerodyne have really hit the nail on the head with regards to the reliability of openings. While the focus of the Pilot7 was wingsuiting, Aerodyne say they expect that the canopy may become popular in other demographics of jumpers. Due to forgiving openings, handling characteristics and low pack volumes of the canopy, it could serve as a great choice for all skydiving skill groups, however could prove especially useful for beginner skydivers. MaterialsThe standard version of the Pilot7 will come in ZP, while there are also the options for Aerodyne's honeycomb low pack volume ZPS and their new UltraLPV material. "This builds the top skin and stabilizers from ZPX, and the ribs and bottom skin from FX-11 (the low pack volume material used in the SmartLPV). We use the ZLX lines to create an amazingly low pack volume canopy." Available sizes: 117, 137, 147, 167, 187, 207, 227, 247 sq ft.
  12. POA Labs has announced the launch of the GoHawk, an expansion pack for the GoPro Hero4 that adds three new levels of functionality for POV Still and Video photographers. The GoHawk adds three new camera ports, allowing the user to connect: Remote shutter button. Save time by only shooting photos when you want to. Choose from hands-free mouth switches or a thumb triggered handlebar switch. Works with any 2.5mm remote shutter switch. Remote LED indicator lets you know that your camera is on and recording. The bendable indicator can be mounted in your helmet or wrapped around your handlebars. Auxiliary USB Power Input for extended shooting - plug into any battery pack and never run out of power again. The GoHawk enhances the process of shooting POV photos with your GoPro Hero4. Choose from a mouth-operated shutter button (best for chest or helmet mounted cameras) or a handlebar-mount push button (ideal for handlebar mounted cameras, cyclists, and motorcyclists). Simply plug your switch of choice into the GoHawk and start shooting! For still photographers, the GoHawk can be used in Continuous or Burst photo modes to capture the pictures you want, and ONLY the pictures you want. You’ll never have to spend hours sorting through the contents of a full memory card for that one magical shot. If you shoot video, you can easily start and stop recording using any external shutter switch. With the bendable LED indicator.you’ll never have to worry if your camera is on, taking a photo, or recording. A blue standby LED lets you know that your camera is on and flashes to let you know when your battery is low. A red record/shutter LED mimic’s the GoPro’s own shutter button lights no matter what mode you’re in. No special software is needed to operate the GoHawk. Simply plug it in and start shooting. The GoHawk is perfect for photographers and videographers who value the durability, price, and compact size of their GoPro’s, but need more control over how they capture the action. For more information, visit: the kickstarter page If you're interested in backing this project, you can support it on their kickstarter page, which is now live. About POA Labs POA Labs is a Portland-based product incubator focused on developing new and innovative products that enhance the lives of people who take their fun seriously. We want to enable our customers to do more - do it better, do it easier, and do it safer. Have more fun.
  13. Michael Huff has a hard time saying goodbye. Photo credit: Michael HuffAre you ready to be alone in the sky with a malfunctioning parachute and two little handles? Though there are skydivers with thousands of jumps who have never experienced the fun of a cutaway, don’t be fooled: it’s not a question of “if,” it’s a question of “when.” Don’t feel ready? You’re not alone – but there are a number of proven ways to boost your confidence (and, therefore, safety). 1. Stay CurrentI know. It’s not your fault. Your home DZ is seasonal – or it’s far away – or it’s a tandem factory that keeps sullen fun jumpers on the ground. Whether it is or isn’t your motivation that’s the problem, the fact remains: long lapses between jumps are dangerous. They dull skills, heighten apprehensions, create a sense of unfamiliarity with aircraft and degrade the muscle memory you have carefully built around your gear, which is of vital importance in the event of a reserve ride. It’s vital to your career as a skydiver – especially, at the beginning – to make the effort to jump every couple of weeks. Make the effort and get up there. 2. PrepareThe USPA Skydiver Information Manual puts it rather dryly: “Regular, periodic review, analysis, and practice of emergency procedures prepares you to act correctly in response to problems that arise while skydiving.” Rephrased in a slightly more compelling manner: practicing might save your life, especially if you’re a newer skydiver who isn’t quite as accustomed to the stresses of freefall as an old-timer. Here’s a two-item to-do list to tip you in the right direction: Deploy your reserve for every repack. Have you ever deployed the reserve for your current skydiving rig? If not, the result may surprise you. You’ll learn the direction of pull for your gear, as well as the force you’ll need to exert. If your rigger watches the process, he/she can watch the deployment and identify potential problems. Even if you have deployed your own reserve, a repack is an unwasteable drill opportunity. Practice emergency procedures in your DZ’s training harness. (You may feel like a dork, especially if you’ve already been skydiving for a little while. Go on a quiet weekday and do it anyway.) 3. Do The Little DanceBefore each and every jump, the USPA advises skydivers to “review the procedures to avoid emergency situations and the procedures to respond to emergencies if they occur.” This doesn’t have to mean poring over your SIM like you’re cramming for a test. It does, however, require a little bit of work before every jump--just to make sure that your muscle memory is fresh and your brain is prepared for puckersome eventualities. Touch your handles in sequence before you enter the plane. It is not beneath you. Being blasé about basic safety doesn’t make you more awesome. If you ever happen to share a plane with an energy-drink teammate or a world-class coach, watch ‘em closely and you’ll see what I mean. Check that your reserve handle is seated, while you’re at it. A loose reserve handle can deliver a reserve ride without the fun of a malfunctioning main – and you don’t want that, do you?Right! So: now you’ve done what you can to be ready for a potential reserve ride on any given skydive. Next time, we’ll talk about what to do when your main decides to give you the pop quiz.
  14. Luke Aikins may not be a household name like Felix Baumgartner or Jeb Corliss, but he has been instrumental in the development of several high profile stunts and well known skydiving events. Born into the skydiving world, it was almost natural that Luke would go on to follow in his family's footsteps. Over the years he has amassed over 16 000 jumps, while also establishing himself as a skilled BASE jumper. He worked directly as a consultant with the Red Bull Stratos team, acting as a vital aspect in the highly publicized Baumgartner jump. Luke is also one of the safety and training advisers for the USPA, and helped in creating the Red Bull Aces wingsuit event. However Luke is now looking to emerge from the background and place himself at the center, by making a jump from 25 000ft, without the use of a parachute, in the project titled "Heaven Sent". The idea relies heavily on his skills as a precision flyer, requiring unbelievable accuracy in order to land in a 100x100 foot net, which will be suspended above the ground. In the first video teaser for the event (above), Luke goes on to mention that while the size of the net may seem large, from the point of exit, it would not even be visible. This would not be the first jump where a skydiver has exited the plane without a parachute, with motocross legend Travis Pastrana being one of those, who famously exited shirtless, drinking a can of Red Bull. However, the big difference here is that in other occasions of "parachuteless" exits, the skydiver was then grabbed in freefall and still landed under a canopy, or placed their rig on while in freefall. With Luke Aikins, there will be no one and nothing to catch him, except for the hundred foot net, and Luke will be exiting from more than twice the height.
  15. The Neurology Neurosurgical Department of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, under the guidance of Patrick Weldon MD, is conducting an investigation into Injuries Sustained from Hard Openings and is actively researching any skydivers who may have been injured from a hard opening. The chief investigating physician in this study is Dr Patrick Weldon, an avid skydiver, videographer, and WFFC Load Organizer. The purpose of this study is to identify the type, extent, and duration of injuries sustained from hard openings as well as long term effects of these injuries with emphasis on recovery, prognosis, and ability to return to skydiving. Skydiver cooperation is essential to identify common factors from these injuries, and your participation will lead to better understanding of the dynamics involved in parachute openings. Results of this study could lead to improvement in parachute designs. Participants will be under no obligation to travel. Research will be initiated by telephone interviews by a Neurologist or Neurosurgeon. If participant agrees, a physician will review their medical chart and diagnostic procedures (ie. Xrays, CT, MRI etc.) Information on any and all injuries sustained from a hard-opening parachute, minor to severe, is desired. Please note that this is a medical research study only. Physicians and others involved will not in anyway cooperate with any litigation or litiganous activity. Any attempt to use this information for any lawsuit-based purpose will be denied. For more information, or to participate, please contact Dr Patrick Weldon, Department of Neurology, University of Mississippi Medical Center, at (601) 984-5500, fax (601) 984-5503, or via email: [email protected] This study will follow all applicable HIPA rules and regulations regarding medical research and patient confidentiality.
  16. Just a week after the plane crash at Parachute Center near Lodi which resulted in a Cessna 208 upside down in a vineyard, another crash has occurred. This time however, with tragic results. A Cessna 182H jumpship from Skydive Kauai in Hanapepe (Hawaii) crashed early on Sunday morning shortly after take-off. All five individuals on board the aircraft died, with four being pronounced dead on the scene while another was taken to hospital, though was also later pronounced deceased. On board were two instructors, two tandem passengers and the pilot. At the time of publication most of the names of those involved had not been released to the public, with the exception of Enzo Amitrano, one of the two instructors on board. A witness to the incident claims that the aircraft had left the runway when shortly afterwards problems with the engine were experienced. The pilot is then said to have attempted to bring the plane back towards the runway when flames began to come out of the engine as it descended rapidly. There are some conflicts in media reports as to whether the fire began during the descent or only after impact, regardless the aircraft did catch alight and firefighters had extinguished the fire withnin an hour of the incident. According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the pilot involved was not familiar with the aircraft involved. Though it is not yet clear what role this may have played in the incident. Our thoughts go out to the loved ones of those involved. Discussions about this crash can be had in the incidents forum.
  17. Image by Juan MayerIt happens so fast. You’re coming down from a great jump. You land, laughing, and whip around for the imminent high-five with a huge smile on your face. That smile drops right along with the friend framed in your view. Something happened in those last few feet of flight--you don’t know what, but that triumphant swoop turned into a spectacular case-in, and your friend’s screaming, and you’re running towards him at top speed, and his leg is at a crazy angle, and there’s blood. Lots of blood. What the hell do you do now? Wouldn’t you like to have a plan? Even if you have no intention of becoming a medical pro--or even a uniformed first responder--you can get a short education that might make you the deciding beneficial factor in someone’s very worst day...maybe even yours. This curriculum is comprehensive and practical, integrating the essential principles and skills required to assess and manage medical problems you might come across, especially but not specifically in isolated and extreme environments. It doesn’t have a name that implies its usefulness for skydiving, sure--”Wilderness First Responder” sounds like a course built just for Search-and-Rescue burlies--but hear me out. You need this. Here’s why. 1. Help is not always immediately at hand.Wilderness First Response certifications are meant to be used in earnest when the caregiver and receiver are essentially stranded in remote circumstances. While skydiving drop zones aren’t generally beyond the furthest reaches of civilization, they’re never in the center of it, either. Response times are not, as a rule, immediate. Any medical education is of enormous benefit, of course, but--for a regular-strength skydiver--the ROI of a WFR is pretty damn dead-on. The WFR course is about intelligent, informed self-reliance in the absence of immediate help. In the wilderness setting that the course was designed around, the priority is to figure out whether you can semi-self rescue, to assess what additional resources you need, and to methodically stabilize yourself and/or others until the cavalry rolls up. In the dropzone setting, this training is just as useful. 2. Whether or not you’re trained, you will always be the first responder to your own injuries. Make those early minutes count.If you end up injured during an emergency landing that’s outside the drop zone--and you don’t have a charged, functioning method of communication--then you’ll be waiting for help to find you. If you happen to be conscious in that interim (hooray lucky you), WFR training will give you a method for understanding your injury, stabilizing it and tracking its progress for later reporting. Without training, you’ll likely just lie there, terrified, in blinding pain--or make your injuries worse with incorrect responses. 3. You should be off the list of dead-weight liabilities and on the list of assets.Skydiving is a sport that demands proactive personal responsibility in the context of a mutually supportive, risk-educated community. We all understand this. That said: While a WFR certification does not confer the knowledge of a full EMT, it makes the bearer a much stronger member of the greater support team. A baseline education in first response moves you from a gasping member of the horrified crowd to a literate, assisting partner in incident management, though your role in the moment will, in all statistical likelihood, be quite procedurally basic. 4. You should dial up your powers of observation.We’re not just talking about cardiac arrest and gaping wounds, here. WFR training will help you recognize subtle symptoms in a way that could help you change the outcome. Dehydration? Hypoxia? Heat illness? These are real-life dropzone problems, and your awareness could make a big difference in someone’s day. 5. You’ll get important certifications.Successful completion of a WFR course will generally earn you a two-year Adult & Child CPR certification as well as the obvious Wilderness First Responder certification. This may or may not be an important piece of paper for you in a technical sense, but current CPR certification makes you a secret superhero in a world where lives are often saved by trained, responsive passers-by. 5. It’s a really good time. Seriously.Wilderness First Response courses are generally administered in, predictably, wilderness settings. I did mine with the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) with the full majesty of the Yosemite Valley as the backdrop. My partner did his in the Grand Canyon country of Flagstaff, Arizona. WFR courses are offered in highly visitable settings all over the States--indeed, the world--and y’know what? There are few better-invested ways to spend a week in nature than learning life-saving, life-changing skills in a close-knit group of fellow adventurers. Y’know, like the close-knit group of fellow adventurers with whom you share your sky--and who are counting on you to be the best team member you can possibly be. Live up to it.
  18. A Cessna 208 was left upside down in a field just off Jahant Road, near Lodi Airport on Thursday 12 May when the aircraft was forced to make an emergency landing. While it is unclear what caused the emergency landing and no official statement on the cause has been given -- the following was posted on the Dropzone.com forums. "One of my friends was on this load. Apparently they opened the door at 1000 feet and smelled fuel, everyone sat down and clipped in, then the engine failed and the plane landed upside down after clipping a nearby SUV. This is just what I heard, not confirmed" The owner of the dropzone had told the media that while they still weren't certain of the exact reasons behind the failure, he could confirm that the propeller had stopped spinning, forcing the landing. The plane was being operated by Parachute Center and there were eighteen individuals on board at the time of the crash. Thanks to the effect use of restraints in the plane, despite the fact that it was lying upside down, all eighteen passengers walked away from the incident without injuries. However, it was not only the passengers aboard the Cessna that found themselves subject to the situation. While making the emergency landing the plane just clipped the tail of an SUV with two individuals inside. Thankfully it was merely a small nick to the vehicle and both the driver and passenger of the vehicle walked away with nothing more than a bit of shock. Showing that nothing can keep a dedicated jumper out of the sky, several of the passengers aboard the crashed plane returned to the dropzone to continue jumping, just moments after the crash. Discussions on this incident are currently taking place in the Plane Crash - Lodi 12 May 2016 thread. Update: 16 may 2016 Footage has now been released from inside the aircraft which can be viewed below:
  19. Competing for the first time as a team, the all-girl foursome of Shavon Simpson, Kim Myers, Kristen Johnson and Nada Almarr powered to the top in the 4-Way Formation Intermediate Category at the second 2016 SandStorm Scrambles event at Inflight Dubai. The foursome – the only all-girl group in the 16-team competition open to both Intermediate and Rookie skydivers – produced a stunning final jump to snatch the title after a closely-fought battle saw the four-round competition go to the wire. Combined together by the event judges in order to represent a spread of ability, the girls adopted the team name ‘The Mighty Morphing Flower Arrangers’ and certainly blossomed as a 4-Way Formation team scoring 87 points to win by seven from runners-up the ‘E-Lemon-ators’, featuring Gabor Molner, Iurri Railean, Alexander Staschenko and Janina Huschle (80 points). Also scoring 80 points but given third place due to an inferior top scoring round were Glen Lowerson, Clare Greenwood, Emma Merritt and Cornelia Mihai (‘Break Like The Wind’). “As we hadn’t flown together before and were the only all-girl team in the competition, it certainly went better than we expected,” said a delighted Shavon Simpson. “The great thing about competing with people you have never flown with before is you learn, you adapt and you have fun. “Obviously there is pressure on you as you’re not competing with your usual team-mates and you don’t want to let anyone down but it is a great format.” Staged in inflight Dubai’s 5.03m x 20.73m indoor tunnel, the two-category event saw competitors combined into teams by highly experienced judges and SkyDive Dubai instructors Eliana Rodriguez and Alena Chistova. Competition was fierce throughout as the teams performed a number of formations in the tunnel under the watchful eyes of both Rodriguez and Chistova. Going into the final round, the eventual winners were lying in third place but produced a near-flawless final performance to score 30 points – the best of the night – and take the title. “I don’t think any of us were breathing on that last jump,” added a delighted Simpson, who helped her team to the winners’ cheque of AED 16,000. “We knew we had to score well if we were going to win so we stayed completely focused on getting a big enough score. Fortunately, it paid off.” In the 4-Way Formation Rookie category, victory and the first prize of AED 12,000 went to the ‘Dutchy’s’ team of Ahmad Abdulla Hashim, Pablo Rua, Sioned Taylor and Nawaf Alawadhi on 57 points, seven ahead of the ‘Heroes and Zeros’ team of Abdulla Aldosari, Sean Hahessy, Andy Salisbury and Khaled Mahdy (50 points). Third place went to ‘Chitty Chitty Bust Bust’ comprising Khaled Abduljalil, Ana Fratila, Karim Madour and Margo Weber on 47 points. “A big thank you to everyone for making it an exciting competition,” said Meet Director Ian ‘Freddy’ Macdonald. “The Scrambles format is one of our most popular events and we look forward to staging even more indoor tunnel flying competitions in the near future.” SandStorm Scrambles Results 4-Way Formation Intermediate 1. Myers/Johnson/Almarr/Simpson 87.00 2. Molner/Railean/Staschenko/Huschle 80.00 3. Lowerson/Greenwood/Merritt/Mihai 80.00 SandStorm Scrambles Results 4-Way Formation Rookie 1. Hashim/Rua/Taylor/Alawadhi 57.00 2. Aldosari/Hahessy/Salisbury/Mahdy 50.00 3. Abduljalil/Fratila/Madour/Weber 47.00
  20. NZ Aerosports released the original Icarus Safire in 1999. They followed up in 2001 with the release of the Safire2, and she went on to become their biggest selling mainstream canopy, and one of the most popular beginner and intermediate canopies on the market. About five years ago, there began to be rumours of a Safire 3 and Crossfire 3 being developed, but the development of Petra and Leia stole the limelight and the research and development hours, and kept the company preoccupied for a few years. But last year NZ Aerosports started making some noise about them again, and since there's been a few teaser posts on their Facebook page about these new wings. Everyone wants to know when the Safire 3 and Crossfire 3 will be released, but the team at NZ Aerosports are staying tight lipped on that one. They have stated that the Safire 3 will be first to go public. And they've released a bit of information about what we can expect to see in the Safire 2's successor. They say they are also working hard on the Crossfire 3 project and that it’s going to be ready later in the year than the Safire 3, but it’s looking pretty good! The starting point for the Safire 3 project was reshaping the Safire 2 in the same software and using the same 3D design technique used to design Petra and Leia. They’ve kept the crossport design and repartition the same, to reduce surface distortion and improve load bearing, and the 3D lineset design, which gives a more accurate shape in flight. They’ve used the same elliptical lobe, so the shape of the canopy given by the way the lineset attaches now follows a true ellipse. And they’ve added their statement Powerband that flattens the 3D panels more accurately and reduces fabric stretch to keep the new design true to it’s shape in flight. These are some of the design changes you can expect from the Safire 2 to Safire 3: New planform totally reshaped through true 3D design Proportionally tuned air inlets that open wider in the centre of the canopy and less toward the tips New brake configuration, providing a more efficient flareIt won't be more 'high performance' than the Safire 2, because it is aimed at the same type of pilot that flies them now, but she will be more efficient and responsive, have a better glide and an even more powerful flare. The Safire3 Project: Opening Progression from NZ Aerosports Ltd on Vimeo. When the Safire 3 comes to market she will be available exclusively from NZ Aerosports in New Zealand, and NZ Aerosports dealers.
  21. Photo by Jeff AgardJust moved across the country? Heading out to boogie in a strange new land? Impromptu road trip? If you’re not used to jumping at new-to-you DZs, reorienting yourself to a new conveyor-belt-to-the-sky is a bit daunting. But never fear, brave adventurer: if you walk in knowing what you need to do, you’ll be golden. Here’s a checklist to help make the process a little easier on you. Before you arrive:1. Do a preliminary scan for unpleasant surprises. Find out as early as possible if the dropzone (or the specific event you’re planning to jump) has special requirements that could keep you on the ground. 2. Budget. Get pricing on jump tickets, DZ accommodation and registration fees. This is a good time to check the jump-ticket refund policy and find out if there are extra charges for credit cards. 3. Ask about facilities. If you’re going to be squaring up to swampy summertime port-o-lets, miles-off RV hookups, co-ed showers (rawr) or anything else outside your comfort zone, you’ll want to know as early as possible so you can make a battle plan. 4. Make sure you’ve packed all your documentation. At the very least, you’ll need an in-date reserve repack card, your parachuting organization ID and your logbook. In some cases, you’ll also need your AAD travel documents and proof of medical insurance, too. Travel insurance is never a bad idea, either. When you arrive:1.Get the lay of the land. You’ll be spending a lot of time in the hangar and in the waiting areas, so get oriented. Pick a prime spot for your gear (hopefully, near an electrical outlet). Find the bathrooms and the fridge. Identify the load monitors, if there are any. Find out if there’s a separate window for manifest, or if the main office does it all. 2. Rock up to the office. Fill out the waiver, get a gear-and-paperwork check and buy your tickets. 3. Get briefed. You’ll likely be pounced on when you land in the office, but just in case: Pin somebody down to give you a complete briefing of the dropzone’s map and rules. Do not get on the plane without a briefing. Get clear on the manifest procedure. It seems like every DZ on the planet does this differently, and it can really get in the way if you’re not on board. Are you going to have to pay in advance, pay as you go, or pay at the end of the day? How does the ticket system work? Learn the exit order and separation rules. Many drop zones have very specific procedures in place, while others assume you should know where you belong. Watch how the local jumpers organize themselves, and ask lots of questions if you don’t get clear instruction. Check out the satellite map. You can expect a dropzone representative to use an overhead map of the dropzone and its surrounds to brief you. The rep will describe how to use recognizable landmarks to spot the dropzone from the air and review landing area obstacles, power lines, bodies of water, nasty neighbors, turbulence, the “beer line” and uneven terrain. Use this time to memorize your outs. Find out if there’s a special hard deck for this DZ. If there is one, it might be (way) higher than your personal hard deck. Check out the wind indicators. Find them on the overhead map, then peek at them in person while you take yourself on a tour of the main (and alternate, if applicable) landing areas. If there are tetrahedrons, ask if they’re trustable or if they’re “sticky.” Know the landing pattern. Landing patterns are not the same across dropzones, ranging from first-one-down-sets-it to a regular Busby Berkeley choreography of established patterns that never, ever change. Until you’ve internalized the unique rhythm, it’s best to give the main landing area a wide berth for your first handful of jumps at a new DZ. Make sure you know the rules and areas for swooping and hook turns, whether or not you plan to do them. (Don’t be the big canopy that tugboats lamely across the zoomy canopies’ path.) Figure out the loading procedure. Find out how the calls are announced and where you need to be to hear them. If there are shuttles to the plane, you’ll need to know what the call is to be on the shuttle. If there’s a retrieval from the landing area, make sure you know where it is (and hoof it over there right after touchdown).4. Get on a load! Make an organizer friend (or be your own organizer friend) and keep an open mind about what jumps you want to do. 5. Buy the good beer to share at greenlight. It’s basically, like, a housewarming that you throw for yourself. You’ll feel at home before you know it.
  22. admin

    Four-Armed is Forewarned

    Altitude awareness is easily the most important aspect of skydiving and it’s no wonder that audible alert systems were one of the first technological inventions in the earlier days of skydiving. Like most things technical, significant advances have been made, and any device that provides information/feedback during a skydive is a valuable addition to any skydiver’s tool kit. Larsen and Brusgaard, the foremost authority on altitude-measuring/awareness devices, launched a new product named the “Quattro,” in early 2014. With four user-programmable altitude notifications/alarms, the Quattro has become incredibly popular. Why?It’s important to understand what an audible offers skydivers involved in precision activities. Once relegated only to scream at a skydiver that they’d missed their point of deployment, audibles are now used for indicating user-controlled altitude alarms, while still providing feedback for deployment, hard deck, cutaway, or other altitudes warnings. From a wingsuiting perspective, I cannot imagine anyone not owning a Quattro. With the ability to generate seven notifications in flight, wingsuiters have no reason to not be set for exact breakoff points, maneuver points, deployment, entry and exit gate-points for performance training, competition points, and the list goes on and on. Wingsuiters fall at different rates, and with radically different wingsuits, everyone has different needs and wants. With this in mind, I’ve put together a few bullet points on where the Quattro benefits wingsuiter pilots. COACHING: Frequently, wingsuit coaches have a “no more work altitude” that is different than deployment altitudes. For example, I want students to not perform tasks below 6000’ but frequently continue stable flight until 4,500. As a coach, I want these notification alarms in addition to my own personal alarms of 3,500’ and 2500’ and my hard-deck alarm at 1600’. As an FFC/First Flight Course coach, students are given specific tasks at specific altitudes on the climb to altitude. The Quattro provides three “climb to altitude” alarms that a coach might use to remind him of those points where the student should be providing feedback or information. For example, students might be giving a verbal description of the skydive at 5000’ or indicating their countdown and waveoff point at 6,000’. In any event, climb-to-altitude alarms serve a multitude of value. PERFORMANCE TRAINING: Wingsuiters competing in FAI Performance Categories need to enter their performance gate at 3000m/9842’ and exit the gate at 2000m/6562’ and while the mandatory Flysight can provide these entry/exit indicators, competitors can benefit from a pre-gate announcement that the Quattro can provide, in addition to deployment indicators. ACRO COMPETITION: In Wingsuit Acro, the competition clock starts as the competitors exit. In non-compulsory jumps, synchronization is frequently part of the jump, and having set points for an action, particularly where wingsuiters may not be facing each other (back to back flying), an alarm or series of alarms can provide valuable timing information. The multiple alarms are also good for notifying competitors when they’ve reached their competitive deck, while still providing the “standard” three alarms for deployment, reminder, and hard-deck. HIGH ALTITUDE JUMPS: Wingsuiters engaging in high altitude jumps are flummoxed that most audible systems cannot provide feedback above 10,000’. The Quattro is capable of informing the wingsuiter as high as 19,990. Although the Quattro offers a broad spectrum of alarm settings, users are not required to enable them, and this is one of the features I appreciate most about the Quattro; users may configure the system to be as personal as needed, turning on/off various alarm points. Wingsuiters focused on performance frequently do not want to look at their wrist or chest mount altimeters if they’ve got a good performance groove happening, and full-face helmets often make it impossible to see chest-mount altimeters when in a performance configuration; an audible provides valuable feedback when cranking a chin around to see a visual may have a negative impact on performance. The unit allows for offsets, so if the landing area is a different elevation than the point of take-off, audible settings can be user-adjusted if the offset is known. Otherwise, the unit will recalibrate itself every 14 hours to the last MSL point of take-off. Manually zeroing the Quattro is as easy as pressing the center button a couple of times (this is the same procedure for generating altitude off-sets). As with previous L&B; products, the Quattro uses a pair of 2325 batteries, easily found at most any electronics store or grocery store that offers a wide variety of button batteries. In my experience, the batteries seem to be good for about 1000 jumps, or about a year. However, the Quattro and Optima seem to be very forgiving when the battery indicator says “replace me.” I’ve tacked on another 300 jumps after the indicator told me I had an empty battery. While just about any discipline in skydiving can benefit from the Quattro’s numerous features, wingsuiting is one aspect of the sport that frequently demands “more.” Wingsuiters love data, feedback, and algorithms designed just for them, and the Quattro certainly delivers. It probably helps that some of the folks at L&B; are avid wingsuit pilots, and have taken time out to really dig into what makes wingsuiting and wingsuiters just “a bit different” than other skydivers, and in the Quattro, they’ve really done it well. Although I’m not a speed skydiver, I can only surmise the multiple alarms would also benefit the speed discipline. Several helmet manufacturers have recognized the value of L&B; products, and have custom-fit slots for the Quattro (or Optima2, Solo) audible, and some have given exterior access to the audible. One feature I very much appreciate in my Tonfly helmets is that I can access the audible from the outside, letting me know my altitude settings are correct, that my battery is good, and that the unit is active (I frequently turn it off if I’m not going to be jumping for a few days). The unit display turns off after 14 hours, but will reactivate if it senses a climb to altitude. Unless manually turned off, it is always ready to jump. During frequent/daily jump cycles, I don’t bother to turn off my Quattro. By the way, for the color coordination-conscious skydiver, these are available with custom-configuration buttons, just like the Optima and Viso.
  23. Image by Joe NesbittLast week, we talked about the mighty kerfuffle that is the pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction. So...who wants to have one? Nobody! Right. So now that we’ve established that, we can get down to the business of avoiding the hell out of those. There are four big steps you can take to lessen your risk of a PCiT, and there’s a good chance you’re currently messing up at least one of them. 1.Cock it up (so it doesn’t cock your jump up).Your collapsible pilot chute is a demanding partner. Her deal is this: no foreplay, no canopy. Most of the time, you’re good about it. You guys have a really established routine at this point, right? From the time you’ve got your nylon laid out on the floor to the time you wrap your legs around it to finish it off, you follow a very predictable routine. Somewhere in there, you give that collapsible pilot chute a tug and get her indicator window nice and blue. Everybody’s happy. But what happens when you get distracted? If you end up ignoring your PC for a surprise debrief or a dance break or an awkward conversation with the meaty contents of the best-fitting freefly suit you’ve seen all week, make no mistake: she’s going to get her revenge. Failure to cock the collapsible pilot chute, after all, is the leading statistical cause of PCiTs. The solution here is simple: focus. Give your pack job the attention it deserves, in the same order every time. (It’s never a bad idea to include that little indicator window on a quick gear check, either.) 2. Do what you’re told.I know. You’re the boss of you, and I’m not your real mom, and manufacturers are basically like corporate drones, and the USPA is a bunch of guys throwing canes and slippers at kids who merrily chase balls onto their collective lawn. You do what you want. That said: maybe you should do what you’re told every once in awhile. This is revolutionary stuff, I know. But the manufacturers’ instructions for bridle routing and main-flap-closing aren’t just there to give you something else to toss giddily out of the box when your new container arrives. As any pro packer will tell you, those yawn-inducing closing procedures differ dramatically between brands. If you’re using the wrong one for your particular equipment, you’re setting yourself up for a container lock. 3. Watch the news.Along those lines: be on the lookout for updates. Remember a few years back, when all those photos came out of closing pins stabbing neatly through the middle of their bridles? It kinda looked like a fabric samurai drama, but it was pretty serious -- several jumpers, jumping different equipment, experienced pilot-chutes-in-tow in this same manner. In response, manufacturers posted updates to their manuals, changing the closing procedures for their containers to lessen the risk. The moral of the story is this: Maybe you’re still doin’ it the old way and have managed to be lucky so far. (Emphasis on: so far.) You can also investigate pull-out -- as opposed to throw-out -- pilot chute systems, if you like to be on the oddball end of technology. 4. Embrace the transient nature of our linear existence.Nothing is forever, dear reader. All seasons pass. All kittens turn into old cats. Your pilot chute and bridle will eventually wear out. Thus is the way of the world. We know you love your pilot chute and bridle. They love you back. They yank that nylon out of the bag for you over and over and over without complaint. They get dragged across the grass and the filthy packing mat and the Arizona desert for you. They get stepped on and sat on and waved around willy-nilly when you need to get someone’s attention on the other side of the hangar. But they can’t do it forever. Collapsible pilot chutes lose effectiveness when their little kill lines shrink. If that line shortens to the point that the PC can’t inflate fully, you will probably end up with a dead pilot chute flapping around above you in freefall while you count to yourself in your helmet. Insufficient drag to pull the closing pin = PCiT. Like many existential tragedies, this doesn’t happen overnight. Have you noticed little hesitations after you throw? Are they getting longer? Have you noticed the aging process creeping up on your little bitty sub-parachute in the form of obvious wear? Cuddle up on the couch with her, read The Velveteen Rabbit together, cry a little bit and give your old, loyal PC a Viking funeral. She deserves it.
  24. At the end of the day, skydiving is a dangerous sport. I’ve lost many friends and even family members– under properly functioning parachutes. We can’t regulate stupid behavior, but we can at least spread good information so more people can make wise decision. So why would someone consider upsizing? 10. Cannot land consistently standing up. If you’re having troubles standing up consistently or even in the same area in all weather conditions, then you need to upsize and take a canopy course to understand the concepts basic flight characteristics. 9. Not current. You can be uncurrent after a winter vacation without skydiving, coming off an injury or just life getting in the way. According to USPA, you are uncurrent if: A-license holders who have not jumped within 60 days B-license holders who have not made a freefall skydive within the preceding 90 days C- and D-license holders who have not made a freefall skydive within the preceding six months DZ policy: Every DZ has their own policy for uncurrent skydivers. Be sure to check in with them before coming out to the DZ to see what you may have to do. Also check the USPA Skydiver’s Information Manual for more info. 8. Jumping at a Higher Elevation. At higher elevations the canopy is going to perform faster and act more responsive because of the air being less dense. So landings will feel faster and turns will feel more aggressive. If you’re traveling to places like Colorado or Utah, you may want to pack a larger canopy. 7. Gained Weight/Wearing Weight. Well, what can I say? Sometimes during the winter, it’s easy to pack on some pounds and that invariably negotiates your wingloading. Also, if you haven’t jumped all winter and you’ve accumulated a new wingloading, you may want to consider getting current on a bigger canopy. Next, if you’re a small girl, or decide to get on a 4-way team, you may be wearing weights. This added weight will definitely make your canopy fly differently than expected. So before making a decision on what canopy to buy or whether or not to downsize, consider the use of weights to make the best wingloading decision for your experience. 6. Reserve Size. Generally, your main and reserve should be about the same size. If you were quick to downsize or couldn’t find the right sized container, but have a larger reserve, with little experience under a bigger canopy, may be a good reason to upsize your main. (Having the same sized canopies also reduces other problems should 2 canopies out occur.) 5. Types of Jumps. Doing big ways? Wingsuiting? Demos? Some jumps may warrant a bigger parachute. When I do world record jumps, I usually opt for my bigger canopy so I’m not fighting my way through traffic and have a larger range of floating. Wingsuiting can cause line twists or other malfunctions and jumping a more docile canopy can help you negotiate them better. On demos, having a lower wingloading will give you more range to negotiate smaller landing areas or areas surrounded by obstacles – as long as you understand the flight dyamics of your wing. 4. Age/Health/Agility. Take an inventory of your overall health. How are your knees? Wrists? Ankles? Eyesight? Depth perception? Reaction Time? These may be considerations to upsize. 3. Attitude/Experience. Someone’s overall experience and attitude about the safety of themselves and others is a vital component in skydiving safety. Disregard for your own experience and/or safety is an obvious sign to upsize. 2. Because You Downsized and You Shouldn’t Have. Having inconsistent landings? Not standing up your landings? Stabbing out your flare? Landing by touching down on your knees first then popping up to your feet thinking it was an awesome swoop? Spiraling in traffic cause it’s freakin’ fun on a small canopy when not necessary? Scared of line twists? Having a hard time kicking out of line twists? Not paying attention to others in the sky? Land downwind for fun? Don’t follow a landing pattern? What the hell is a landing pattern? Don’t understand the flight characteristics of your wing? Pretty much don’t follow the rules? 1. Finally, if you cannot answer yes to all of these questions, you need to upsize: Can you land your main crosswind? Are you comfortable landing crosswind? Can you land your main downwind? Are you comfortable landing downwind? If you had to land out and the only option was a tight area surrounded by obstacles, do you know you could land your canopy accurately? Do you feel that you completely understand the flight characteristics of your wing? Do you understand what happens to the flare, landing pattern, stall characteristics and overall flight characteristics when you downsize? Have you used your rear risers & do you know why and when you’d need to use them? Have you used your front risers & do you know why and when you’d need to use them? Have you performed braked turns? Braked turns for landing? Can you land within 10 meters of a target center at least 5 times in a row? Did you take a canopy course beyond the B-license requirements? When I first started skydiving, I was young and pretty much invincible. I was on the fast track to get on a small canopy and go fast! And it’s all fun, until you get hurt or you watch someone die. I’d seen a lot of crazy things (especially people “getting away” with bad decisions) in my 20-year career, but in 2003, I witnessed my father’s fatal canopy collision. Then without your permission, things change. It’s amazing how death will completely transform your perspective on safety, especially when the sport is your livelihood. We spend more time under canopy than we do in freefall, so this is a moment to check in and evaluate how much canopy education have you gotten? My dad used to tell me, “take stock into your destiny.” So, take that Flight 1 course you’ve always wanted to, finish your B-license canopy training, ask questions, and just know, there ain’t no shame to upsize that thang! How at risk are you? Below is a canopy risk calculator that was created by the USPA, which can give you an idea of just how big of a safety risk you're at with your current canopy and experience level Calculate My Canopy Risk Useful Resources Barry Williams on Canopy Safety (Skydive Elsinore 2013 Safety Day) [Video] Barry Williams on Canopy & DZ Safety (Skydive Elsinore 2012 Safety Day) [Video] Performance Design's "Survival Skills for Canopy Control" Contributors: Melissa Lowe, Barry Williams and Jason Moledzki
  25. admin

    Exit Order Safety

    Brian Germain and wife Laura Kraus launch an exit over Voss, Norway. Photo by Ron HolanThere are many different views on exit order, although only some of them are based in science. The following exit order plan is based on the principle of "prop blast penetration": the degree to which a jumper remains under the aircraft based on the drag produced by their body position. When a jumper assumed a low drag body position, head down for instance, they follow a longer arc through the sky on their way to vertical descent. The fastest falling skydivers are freefliers, which means that they remain under the aircraft longest. If freefliers exit the aircraft first, their trajectory will take them toward, and often beyond the trajectory of flat flyers exiting after them. This fact has been proven time and again in the numerous close calls that have led to the creation of this exit order model. Therefore, the best way to create maximum separation between jumpers at deployment time is to have the FS "flat" jumpers exit before the freefliers, regardless of deployment altitude. Beyond this, we must also consider formation size when planning exit order. Since the last groups out of the airplane are more likely to land off the dropzone, large groups tend to exit before small groups based on the "needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few" principle of human civilization. I concur that this is a good plan, but for another set of reasons. Large groups tend to open lower than small groups due to task fixation and the need for adequate tracking time to create safe separation. This means participants of large formations should open closer to the dropzone. Further, smaller groups have the option of breaking off early, tracking perpendicular to the jumprun and pulling high to compensate for long spots, while the complexity of building a large formation makes it difficult to take such steps toward safety due to the peer pressure associated with the situation. Photo by Ron Holan The Exit SequenceSo this brings us to the preliminary plan of sending the flat flyers out first, in groups largest to smallest, then the freefliers. However, since inexperienced freefliers most often remain under the aircraft for a shorter period of time than vertically oriented freefliers performing perfect zero angle of attack exits, the order should be lowest experience to highest. This also allows the more experienced freefliers to observe the exits of the novices, giving them the opportunity to give helpful advice, and to provide extra time in the door if necessary. If the previous skydiver or group is still under the airplane, do not jump. When in doubt, wait longer. Following the flats and then the vertical skydivers, we have the students and tandems. The order can be varied here, although there are some reasons to support sending the tandems out last. First, landing a tandem off the DZ is safer than landing a student into an unknown location. Second, students can sometimes get open lower than planned, which not only increases their risks of landing off, but puts the instructors at risk of landing off even more as they open lower than their students. Tandems on the other hand have the option of pulling whenever they see fit, which allows the camera flyer to get open high as well. The last groups to consider are those involved in horizontal skydives, such as tracking, "atmonauti" or steep tracking, and wingsuit pilots. The truth is, experienced horizontal skydivers can safety get out of the way of other jumpers quite easily, and can exit in any part of the order. However, in the case of two or more horizontal skydiving groups, plans must be created and followed with vigilance. For instance, one tracking group can exit first and track out and up the right side of the jumprun, while another group can exit last and offset toward the left side of the jumprun. Three horizontal groups on the same aircraft are best handled by adding a second pass, although there is a great deal of room for creative answers when wingsuit pilots are involved. Photo by Ron Holan Timing the ExitsThe amount of time between groups must vary based on the groundspeed of the aircraft. On a windy day, with an into-the-wind jump-run, the aircraft may move quite slowly across the ground, reducing separation between jumpers. This requires significant time between exits, perhaps as much as 15 seconds or more on a windy day or a slow airplane. The separation between groups can be increased quite easily on windy days by crabbing the aircraft with respect to the upper level winds, a practice that has become increasingly common at large dropzones. For a scientific explanation of exit separation, please read John Kallend’s PowerPoint, found here. Many jumpers believe that once the freefall is over, there is no way to prevent a collision. However, given the glide ratio of modern parachutes, we have the ability to close the gap quickly after opening by pointing our canopies in the wrong direction. Given the fact that the vast majority of skydivers will be opening reasonably close to the jumprun, immediately flying up or down the line of flight is pretty much always a poor choice. Therefore, once you have cleared your airspace and pulled, your job is to look for traffic in your immediate vicinity and then fly your parachute perpendicular to the jumprun heading. I like to call this “Canopy Tracking”. Once you verify that the others are open and note their location, you can begin to navigate toward the play area and then to the pattern entry point. This all requires a great deal of awareness and adaptability, as even the best plan can change quickly in a complex environment. The bottom line is this: keep talking. Every load is a brand new set of circumstances, and requires a good deal of thought and planning. Make sure everyone arrives at the loading area no later than the ten minute call to allow for healthy preparation time. Most accidents and close calls could have been easily avoided by skydivers talking to skydivers, and skydivers talking to pilots. Take your time in the door, keep your eyes open and take care of each other. It is a big sky up there, and when we work together, safety is the likely conclusion. Brian Germain is a skydiving safety advocate, and has written numerous books and articles on the topic. He has a regular spot on Skydive Radio called Safety First, and has made over 150 safety related videos, all available through AdventureWisdom.com