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Found 205 results

  1. admin

    Wind Drift & Exit Order Graphic

    This graphic is based directly on the output of John Kallend's freefall simulation program set to the following conditions: Aircraft speed of 85 mph (125 fps) Fast faller exiting first Slow faller exiting second, 10 seconds later Winds aloft of 35 mph (51 fps), ending at 8000 feet To view a graphic of the same conditions but the exit order reversed, click here. This is what CAN happen under THESE conditions. It goes without saying that there are endless possibilities and variables besides those presented here. I believe it is important to note Kallend's remarks regarding the creation of his program: I tried to avoid anything that included the vagaries of human behavior, as far as possible. The two cases I consider could be considered as extrema. One is a belly flier who maintains constant attitude with respect to the relative wind, and falls at a speed achieving a 65 second freefall from 14000 ft. The second is a head down flier maintaining constant attitude and taking 50 seconds. I determined the ballistic coefficients by back-calculation (fancy term for "trial and error"). I don't think a belly flier will go less far in forward throw than my calculation, and I don't think a head downer will go farther. Someone who 'mixes it up' will go some intermediate distance. Most of the belly fliers I know maintain an essentially constant attitude unless they funnel. I suspect the head downers may vary (I don't freefly). Also missing are such things as systematic backsliding, freaking around, etc. I believe these will impose a random spread on the calculated paths." -John Kallend, Ph.D. Conclusion Many people have assumed, based on the arguments posed by this graphic, that it is a case for making fast fallers always exit after slow fallers. This is not the purpose of the graphic. There are instances where, as a DZO, I would have the fast fallers exiting first. An example might be if I had a DZ on an island and the spot was critical; I might consider the risk caused by a premature deployment to be less than the risk posed by drowning skydivers. At a wide-open DZ (like Skydive Arizona), out landings are less of a hazard, and the horizontal separation ensured by putting fast fallers out last becomes the deciding factor. The bottom line is that there is much more to consider than wind drift and fall rates. Every drop zone needs to adopt a policy that provides the best safety under the conditions and types of skydiving that take place. There is no single solution that works for everybody all the time. Perhaps most importantly, skydivers need to be educated about the effects of wind drift, fall rate, and time. Time is the key to understanding freefall drift; it is a basic observation that a slow falling group will experience more drift because it is drifting for a longer period of time than a fast falling group. While they are in the same moving air mass, they are drifting horizontally at the same rate, but they experience different periods of time in that air mass (in the above example, 29 seconds for the fast faller and 36 seconds for the slow faller). In conditions where there are extremely high winds aloft, it is possible for a slow falling group, exiting well after a fast falling group, to open up several thousand feet downwind of the first group. -Tim Wagner, D-10552 Further Resources: Winsor Naugler's Another Look at Descent Kinematics John Kallend's Interactive Java Freefall Simulation
  2. admin

    Jump Plane Crashes Near Lodi

    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:
  3. nettenette

    Jumping at a New DZ: Your Battle Plan

    Photo by Jeff Agard Just 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.
  4. Image by Joe Nesbitt Last 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.
  5. admin

    When Should You Upsize Your Canopy?

    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
  6. admin

    Exit Order Safety

    Brian Germain and wife Laura Kraus launch an exit over Voss, Norway. Photo by Ron Holan There 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 Sequence So 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 Exits The 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
  7. Curt Vogelsang captures some hot canopy-on-canopy action. Y’know when you don't feel like getting out of bed in the morning? Your main parachute is likely a lot brighter-eyed and bushier-tailed than you are, but every once in a good long while it just doesn't feel like getting out and doing its job. Y’know? Relatable. Kidding aside: When you throw your hand-deployed pilot chute but the container stays closed -- trapping the main deployment bag inside, helpless to deliver you a parachute -- you’ve gotchaself a pilot-chute-in-tow. In other words: you’ve got nothing out, which makes you the clenchy, concerned (and hopefully very temporary) owner of a high-speed mal. You’d better get on that, buddy. Stat. But how? Deploy the reserve immediately or cut away first and then deploy the reserve? One Handle or Two Handles: The Cagematch If you’re not sure which you’d choose,* you’re certainly not the first. This particular point has been the subject of roaring contention since the invention of the BOC, my friends. (Guaranteed: the comments section below will corroborate my statement. I can sense people sharpening their claymores and dunking their arrows in poison even now.) There’s a school that says -- well, duh -- get your damn reserve out, like right now what are you waiting for. There’s another school that calls that school a bunch of mouth-breathing pasteeaters. The latter group insists that you'd better go through the procedures you know lest you mess it up when it counts. They usually follow up by spitting on a photograph of the first group’s mother and wondering aloud why the first group is even allowed to skydive. Then they start punching each other. Images by Joe Nesbitt The USPA Skydiver’s Information Manual doesn’t make a move to break up the fight. It stands clear of the flying arms and legs and says, “Y’know -- they both kinda have a point.” Section 5-1 of the manual says this, verbatim: “Procedure 1: Pull the reserve immediately. A pilot-chute-in-tow malfunction is associated with a high descent rate and requires immediate action. The chance of a main-reserve entanglement is slim, and valuable time and altitude could be lost by initiating a cutaway prior to deploying the reserve. Be prepared to cut away. “Procedure 2: Cut away, then immediately deploy the reserve. Because there is a chance the main could deploy during or as a result of reserve activation, a cutaway might be the best response in some situations.” Let’s look a little closer at the options, then, shall we? Option One: Not Even Gonna Bother With That Cutaway Handle. Pro: Immediately yanking out that reserve saves a step. When AGL counts (and golly, doesn’t it?), saving a step can save a life. Many skydivers are quick to point out specific incidents in which jumpers with PCiTs have gone in with sealed magical backpacks, having failed to pull both handles (or pull any handle at all) while the clock was ticking. Gulp. Con: It takes the pressure off (in a potentially bad way). As the reserve leaves the container, there’s a chance that it can take the sealing pressure off the flaps that are keeping the main container closed. The main can then leap to freedom and deploy at the same time as the reserve. At this point, you might wind up with an entanglement, a side-by-side, biplane or downplane to figure out.** Option Two: Get Off The Field, Main Parachute. Reserve, You’re In! Pro: It’s the same stuff you’ve been taught to do for every other reserve-requisite malfunction. ...If you initiate the reserve deployment clearly, confidently, and as early as possible, of course. After all: making a one-off exception for a single kind of malfunction can be tricky. A jumper might well spend a little too much time thinking it over (‘Am I going for my reserve handle first right now? ‘Cause that’s weird. Is that okay?’) when they should just be yanking the stuffing out of their emergency handles. Going through the real-life motions of the little dance you do before you get on every load makes more sense to your body, for sure. Con: You’re adding more complexity to the situation than you may realize. Especially if you don’t have secure riser covers, the (jealous?) cut-away main risers might sneak out of the container and grab for the reserve as it deploys. Another thing: the main is very likely to wiggle free, detach from the harness as soon as it catches air and do its best to entangle with your Option B. The latter kerfuffle is made much more likely when you add a single-sided reserve static line to the mix, turning the already-dismaying situation into something of a tug-of-war. Neither of these choices sounds like the cherry on top of a lovely afternoon; I know. At some point, however, you may be forced to make one. If you do, you’d better have a plan in mind. Not in the mood to make that choice? Me neither. Luckily, there are some steps you can take to better your chances of never seeing a PCiT -- and in next week’s article, I’ll tell you what they are. --------- *If you have a Racer (or any container with a cross-connected RSL), you do not have a choice. You must pull the reserve without cutting away. Do not pass ‘go,’ do not collect $200. In that particular configuration, the main will choke off the reserve if the cutaway has been pulled. If this unnerves you, get thee to a rigger to discuss it. **Head over the PIA.com to check out a handy study they did in 1997 regarding the management of two-out situations. It’s called the “Dual Square Report.”
  8. admin

    Surviving the No Wind Landing

    One of the most dreaded conditions of all is the no wind scenario. This fear is so profound that many jumpers in fact avoid jumping in no wind conditions. Although landing with the benefit of a headwind is unarguably easier, there are specific methods that markedly improve the chances of standing up your landing. Here are a few tips that will help you to land softer and safer when the wind goes away: 1) Make sure you level off within touching distance from the ground. If you finish the flight with some space between you and the earth, you will have more than just forward speed to deal with at the end of the landing. All parachutes stall above zero airspeed, which means that as soon as the extreme slow flight capability of your parachute is attained, it will drop you into the ground with both forward and vertical movement. The best way to deal with this is to be sure that you have already arrived at standing height when the stall breaks. That way, the only remaining kinetic energy is forward movement, which can be diminished by taking a few controlled steps. 2) Make sure your brakes are short enough. Most manufacturers set the brake lines to allow for a certain amount of slack so that when the front risers are applied with the toggles in the hands, there is no tail input. This, coupled with shorter risers (most parachutes are set up for 21 inch risers), will prevent you from reaching your parachute's slowest flying speed. With the help of your rigger, shortening the brake lines is an easy task. Take out not more than one inch at a time and give it a few jumps before taking more out. 3) Keep the parachute over your head. Any tilt in the roll axis will result in a premature stall of the parachute, which will drop you into the ground while you still have ground speed. This is due to an effect known as "load factor". When a wing is in a bank, it requires a bit of increased angle of attack to keep it flying at the same height or descent rate. This results in an increased relative weight, which in turn increases the stall speed. Keep your eyes looking down the "runway" and you will be able to notice variance in your bank angle easier. Making smooth corrections to the bank angle all the way to the end of the landing will result in a softer touch-down and less forward velocity at the end of the ride. 4) Be sure that you are finishing the flare. Keep smoothly adding brakes until you run out of arms, or ground-speed, whichever comes first. In other words, if you are flying into a significant head-wind, flaring all the way down will make you go backwards, as the speed of your parachute will be less than the speed of the wind. Flaring straight down is the only way to accomplish a complete flare, as stylish outward sweeping of the arms out to the sides or to the back will only result in a stylishly ineffective flare. The brake lines can only work if they are pulled. 5) Assuming that a PLF is not necessary, put one foot under your spine, as the "main landing gear", and the other out in front as the "nose gear". That way you will not plant both feet at the same time and pivot onto your face. Slide your main gear along the ground as long as you can, and then when the friction finally grabs your foot, take that first step onto the front foot. 6) Loosen your chest strap and lean forward in the harness. This will allow you to get your weight over your "landing gear", rather than back on your heels. The parachute will increase its pitch angle as you progress through the landing, but your body doesn't have to tilt in accordance. Freeing your body from the pitch of the system will allow you to feel more comfortable finishing the flare, as you will not feel the urge to let up on the toggles as you put your feet down to get to a more balanced pitch angle. 7) Let the wing sink down below standing height during the second half of the swoop, and then use the canopy's lift to bring you back up to standing height. Referred to as the "Seagull Landing", this allows you to arrest any excess forward speed, as you will be in a climb at the last part of the landing. Be sure not to climb above standing height as you do this, as that will result in a drop at the end that will put you on your face. 8) Practice slow flight up high. The more comfortable you are with the low-end range of your canopy's performance envelope, the longer you will be willing too keep your toggles down at the end. Fear of the stall results in incomplete flares, as well as letting up the toggles at the end of the landing. Keep the canopy in brakes for at least 30 seconds (up high), and perform smooth turns right and left. This will help you fly your way out of any bank angle created by an asymmetrical level off during the flare. 9) Believe it is possible to land perfectly. It is. Only when a pilot thinks: "I am going to crash" is the crash inevitable. 10) Get video! There is no greater tool than actually seeing yourself land. The best way to get filmed, I have found, is to film other people. Landing in no wind can be great fun. Ultimately, this is how we counter the fear of landing our parachutes. If you lean forward into the experience, your positive body language results in more fluid, appropriate actions that actually improve your situation. When you are comfortable with landing in no winds, you begin to actually look forward to those zero-wind sunset loads. Scooting across the ground with maximum forward speed can be incredibly enjoyable when you know you have the skills to handle the situation. In the end, the only way to achieve this is to jump on a regular basis, and enjoying the learning process is how this is reinforced. Find something about every landing that you can smile about, even your crashes. Everything that is not the path shows us where the path is not. Happy Landings! Bryan Germain www.CanopyFlightInstructor.com Editors Note: Also see - Another Look at No-Wind Landings by Scott Miller
  9. nettenette

    On-Point Off-Landings: A Primer

    Sylvia Tozbikian wiggles her way back to the DZ after an off landing in a graveyard “Off” ain’t such a bad thing. As skypeople, we love “off.” Offbeat. Offhand. Offside. And, y’know -- we’re all a little off, really. Off landings should fit right into our oddball little world. Unfortunately, lots of skydivers tend to be ill prepared for an unscheduled landing out in the real world. Are you one of ‘em? Here’s how to get ready for a surprise skydiving adventure. 1. Be a nerd about it. Sure, the airborne life throws you curveballs sometimes -- but there are variables here that you can control, y’know. Work ‘em. If you only ever land that thing in a schoolbook configuration in the exact same landing area, you’re not going to enjoy the steep learning curve of an off landing. Hang out with a canopy coach for a weekend to workshop your braked flight (and, y’know, braked landings) in a structured, feedback-rich environment. The more thoroughly you train your body and brain to execute these maneuvers, the less you’ll panic when you look down and realize you’re hanging over an endless sea of potential ouch. Also: always jump with a charged method of communication. 2. Speak up. Very likely, your off landing is going to be your fault, and it’s probably because you didn’t pay attention (to winds aloft, to the jump run, to your opening altitude, to where you were pointing your pretty new wingsuit…). If it’s the pilot’s fault, you should know it by the time you’re standing at the door and lookin’ down. If the spot is off, don’t leave the plane. Ask for a go-round. 3. Look out for yourself. If you’re at the caboose end of a group and you can’t spot from the door, make a habit of quickly spotting as soon as you run out. If you notice that your compatriots failed to notice that they were getting out of the plane somewhere in the next state, evaluate your options. If it’s safe, then you should peace out earlier and pull higher, crossing fingers that the extra altitude will get you home. That said, don’t be a dick. If the particular skydive you’re doing is safer for everyone if all members conform to the freefall and breakoff plan, then congratulations: you’re landing out. 4. Curb your optimism. At this point in your journey into offland, you might be under one of two available parachutes. Your first responsibility after ensuring that whatever’s out is controllable is to realistically determine where you’re headed. If you feel like you just-might-maybe make it to the main LZ, make sure you’re not just-might-maybeing your way into a power station or highway or forest or whatever might be in the intervening territory. If you’re not sure -- or if the middle ground is an alligator farm -- then you should bin that Pollyanna attitude and get real. Put your entire brain on the task of on finding a safe alternative that takes into consideration your current position and the wind direction. 5. Mind invisible canopy-eaters. Once you’ve picked a spot and are toodling down to make your acquaintance with it, you should start getting as picky as possible. You’ll obviously be headed for what appears to be an open space, but wait -- are there invisible monsters lurking? Trees, buildings and other solid objects can throw serious turbulence if they’re upwind (and livestock can wander into the picture very quickly). Keep that in mind as you’re planning. 6. Play the field. As much as possible, be a commitmentphobe. Make sure you don’t have blinders on to other landing areas that might save your ass in the event of surprise fences, power lines, turbulence monsters, stampeding herds and other obstacles you didn’t notice from on high. 7. Embrace it. If you’ve always been on, you can be assured that off is coming. Get real and get ready, and you’ll be much better...off. (Snicker, snicker.)
  10. And What You Can Do To Fix It Image by Gary Wainwright I’m not a teacher. I’m forehead-slappingly, eyes-avertingly, hide-your-facingly terrible at it, actually. Luckily, I’m lucky enough to count as friends some of the best airsports teachers in the world. (Whew.) This article is a collection of short answers from several of these. They’re top-level coaches/instructors/examiners, and their experience spans in several disciplines. They’re also incredibly wise, beautiful souls. I went to them with this question, so important for all of us students on the edge of the world: If you could cure all your students of one thing they do that gets in their own way, what would it be? Here’s what they had to say. Listen up. “Rushing. I see a lot of students that are determined to pack too many things into one jump. Then they end up flailing; when they don't nail the first part, they're confused as to whether to go back and work on the first part or move on to the next part anyway. They lose a lot of time, and they get very frustrated. Pick one thing. Do it perfectly. Stop. Then move on to the next thing.” - Joel Strickland: Freefly & Tunnel Coach; Double British National Champion, Freefly & Freestyle “If I could cure all my students of one thing, it would be to erase the idea that everything about them is static and unchangeable. Once a student believes in their own self-efficacy -- believes in the idea that all that they are is changeable in a positive direction -- believes that everything from their physical reactions to their fears can be modified and updated -- anything is possible for them to learn. - Matt Blank: Wingsuit Skydiving Coach, Lightning Flight Wingsuit & Freefly School “I’d get them to stop watching YouTube. That creates pre-conceived notions of what they should be doing. Either that, or I’d encourage them not to freefly from jump 26 to jump 199 -- when they do, their belly skills suck dust when it comes to their FFC.” - Douglas Spotted Eagle, Wingsuit Skydiving Instructor “Often, they don’t respect the progression and embrace their inexperience. You must do both. It makes sense to one day aspire to wingsuit BASE jump from a cliff, but it can be difficult to focus your efforts where they are the most effective if you’re fast-forwarding years into your career. Your instructor, who you possibly selected because he or she wingsuit BASE jumps, wants you to focus more on finding the range of your beginner or intermediate wingsuit -- and recovering from instability in it -- before talking about how the wingsuit BASE start works. I find that many students seem to want faster returns for their efforts, and they seem to get frustrated with their own learning process. I can appreciate the way that we latch onto that dream of human flight, but i want to pass on an outlook where each individual skill is a whole and complete activity by itself that takes time and effort to master before being combined with other skills. So when you combine a set of skills (for example: rigging, canopy control, site selection, weather, bodyflight, wingsuiting and experience in the subterminal base environment), then you can make smart decisions. When you lack experience or skills in a certain area, you begin to lose the full picture.” - David Covel: Wingsuit Coach, BASE FJC Instructor, AFF Instructor, TI “I would cure them of self-doubt. It takes courage and confidence to challenge yourself to change your behavior and improve your skill in any area of your life. It's amplified when applied to an extreme sport. A lack of belief in your own potential can manifest itself in many ways: fear, nervousness, indifference even laziness. Understanding that you have the control and ability to consciously change your own actions is a very empowering fact that can unlock all levels of improvement. You have to commit to change.” -Maxine Tate: Canopy Piloting Instructor, Flight-1; US & UK National Champion; Coach Examiner; AFFI/Evaluator “I would cure this one thing that gets in students’ way: hubris. Assume you know nothing about the sport you are learning. No one assumes that they know everything about the sport they are learning, but the worst students just aren't really listening when the instructor is talking. In general, girls are better at listening than the boys. I think with the boys, especially with really good skydivers, there is a certain amount of ego that prevents accepting that there are things in BASE that they know nothing about. Think about this: almost EVERY BASE course that my partner Marta [Empinotti] and I teach, we learn something. This is because we know we don't know everything, so we keep our eyes and ears open, hoping to learn something new that we can analyze, assimilate and share with others in our beloved sport.” - Jimmy Pouchert: Co-Founder & Chief Instructor, APEX BASE; Freefly Coach “Over-amping. The ability to breathe even (especially) when scared, and to get into a focused zone before a jump, makes the biggest difference between a skydive that feels rushed and out of control and one in which a lot of learning and growth takes place. Even very experienced skydivers often feel nervous before their first wingsuit jump or when trying something new. The key is to trust that your ground preparation will serve you in the air, and to focus on one thing at a time starting with deep breaths, releasing tension, and visualizing the perfect exit.” - Taya Weiss, Owner/Head Instructor at Lightning Flight "We all have a tendency to look at the negative first, so I would remind all my students to start by pointing out three positive aspects about their previous skydive and then focus on one or two -- maximum, two -- areas of improvement. Positive reinforcement, combined with constructive criticism, goes a long way towards improving performance and attitude." - Lawrence de Laubadere: Freefly Coordinator, Lightning Flight Wingsuit & Freefly School “If I could cure all my students of one thing, it'd be expectation. As I tell them all, “If it's not fun, it's not worth it!” Learning to fly is not unlike so many other things in life: sex, making friends, etc. The harder you try, the harder it is. When I try to teach someone something in the tunnel, they often feel (natural) disappointment if they can't do it how they see others doing it. But it's not my goal to get you doing perfect layouts from the start. I'm looking for the components from my students: staying relaxed, looking where they should be, keeping the legs straight, etc. All I need them to do is smile, have fun, and keep making those baby steps. No expectations, no disappointment. In the end, I think attitude is one of the trickiest skills in progression.” -Dave Rhea: Instructor, Bodyflight Stockholm
  11. How to Avoid Spinning Malfunctions Image by Oliver Nöthen Ah, to be swung madly around the ballroom of the sky. If you like that sort of thing, of course. Most of us, y’know, don’t. Even though they’re eminently preventable, spinners remain a very statistically significant cause of cutaways. There’s good news, however: A little attention will go a long way towards making sure you aren’t dancing downward under a misbehaving main. Here’s how to get your body, brain and gear set up right. 1. Are you bungling the basics? If spinning mals come up more than occasionally for you, consider whether you need to send yourself back to packing (or body-position) school. Might be the case. 2. Are you just being loopy? Back when side ponytails were sexy and just about everything smelled like Teen Spirit, the skydiving industry used Velcro to secure toggles to risers. When manufacturers made the switch to the velcro-free designs we see now, they forgot about something vitally important: the long, floppy bights in the steering line that were now suddenly exposed to the rodeo ride of the deployment process. Those mile-long bights took the opportunity to lasso anything they could. A particular favorite: hands. One misplaced toggle grab, and a skydiver could easily find him/herself in a compromising bondage situation with their control lines. The bights happily welcomed guide rings into the act. It was a ready-made recipe for a super-solid spinner, and it was ugly. Soon, every single manufacturer’s rig designs had integrated line stowing features (“keepers”). There’s a reason the changes were made: as a jumper, you need that line tucked safely away until you’re good and ready to release the brakes. That said: Many of those old risers are still around, unmodified. Even more bafflingly, some skydivers don’t bother stowing the lines during the packing process (presumably, to save 20 seconds or so). If that’s you, you know what to do. And if you have Velcro on your risers, for the love of god check it for airworthiness. 3. Are your cat’s eyes conspiring against you? Toggles love the cat’s eyes of brake lines. They dive at the chance to snuggle and lock in a spinny embrace. It’s no wonder that’s the case: after all, their relationship is really hot. The heat that’s generated by the slider’s travel over the lines has a shrinking effect on the system, creating a kind of Chinese fingertrap for your toggle seating. With one toggle in and one toggle out, you’re going to be going for a ride. A rigger can quickly suss out if your cat’s eyes are in good shape: big enough for the toggle to pull out smoothly, but not so capacious that the toggle’s fat bits can pass through. If they need replacing, do it. 4. Do you know when to let go? Spinning malfunctions are sneaky bastards. For all their preventability, they have killed people. Make no mistake: Once you’re looking at one, you need to take it seriously. The most important thing you need to remember is this: a spinning malfunction is not a line twist. When you’re under a docile, level main that’s flying cheerfully along as you swear at it, you’re looking at a line twist. When you’re not directly below a canopy that’s flying level -- when it’s flinging you outwards as it heads for the ground -- you are on the business end of a spinner. The first is an inconvenience. The latter is a mal, and you’d better get on it. As wing loading increases, so does the violence of the spin, and the likelihood that you’re going to kick out of it quickly dissolves. So: Don’t fight it. Just get rid of it. Take some quality time with your reserve. You’ll be glad you did.
  12. admin

    Stalling For Success

    Image by Andrey Veselov Stalling For Success: What You Don’t Know About Stalling Your Canopy Could Smack You. Hard. This, suffice it to say, could end badly. There was a balloon jump. (Whee!) The winds picked up at around 3,000’ and shoved your jolly crew rather far off-DZ. (Um…) You jumped anyway. (Whee!) You over-rotated your super-magnificent aerial and pulled a titch lower than you wanted to. (Um…) Your landing options are now -- well -- limited. And a little heavy on the obstacles. And kinda tiny. And now you’re on final. (Uh-oh.) Do you know where your stall point is? Probably not. Right about now, I bet you wish you did. In this regard, skydiving is unusual. After all, stall training is a foundational part of the training process in other air sports (paragliding, specifically), and there’s no question it’s vital. Considering how important it is to know the exact point at which your equipment stops flying, it’s surprising how few skydivers – even advanced ones – have seriously investigated the stall point of their canopies. Perhaps this is because the transition between the very-slow-flight and no-flight modes produces a stomach full of butterflies. It could also have something to do with the fact that skydiving canopy rides are much shorter than paragliding flights -- and, because the skydiving canopy is trimmed to fly down instead of up, comparatively easy to fast-forward. No matter what the root cause, the fact remains: knowing your stall point is an essential component of safe and skilled canopy flight. And there’s probably a lot that you probably don’t know -- yet. Here’s the skinny. 1. You aren’t really in control up there. Sorry, buddy. Without understanding your system’s stall point, you are not in full control of your wing. Most notably, you’re at a significant disadvantage during the landing process, as the execution of a flare is the approach to a stall in very close proximity to the ground. 2. It’s not about slow flight. It’s about no-flight. The lion’s share of ram-air canopy pilots believe that the definition of a stall is directly related to slow airspeed – that the “stall point” is when the canopy is flying too slowly to produce lift. Sound familiar? Yep. Unfortunately, while it often ends up being the case in practice, this isn’t actually true. The true “stall point” is defined as the moment when the parachute is no longer producing lift, no matter what the airspeed when you enter the maneuver. Bear with me here, because this has bearing on your jumping career. When a ram-air airfoil reaches an excessive “angle of attack,”* a stall results. As relative wind moves over an airfoil, it “curls” over and downward to create lift. However, when the pilot adjusts the airfoil to a higher angle with respect to the relative wind – often, but not always, by pulling hard on the brakes – he or she is effectively building a nylon wall against that relative wind, making it harder for the relative wind to follow its usual path and create lift. Finally, it reaches a point where it can’t. At any point that the angle of attack reaches that point, no matter what the airspeed, the pilot has a stall on his or her hands. When you understand the stall as a function of AoA, you can easily see how a ram-air airfoil can stall at high speed as well as low speed. This leads to an important fact: a higher-loaded wing will stall at a higher airspeed than its more lightly loaded counterpart. This is just another of the galaxy of reasons why it’s important to downsize your canopy thoughtfully and knowledgeably. 3. You can choose your own adventure. Initiating a stall for the first time is not unscary. Don’t just stab the brakes and cross your fingers, though: manage the process. The rodeo quality of the stall depends on the type and sharpness of the inputs you use to get into it, and on your technique for stall recovery. Stalls entered using slow inputs tend to initiate a stall from slow speed and slight sink, making the stall more docile than those entered using quick, brutal inputs. The more aggressive and uneven you are in your entry, the more likely you are to introduce a bank angle at the entrance of the stall. This will stall the lower wing first, which can often result in a spin (and, maybe, line twists) during recovery. Another bit of advice: Don’t just reach for your brakes. Jumpers tend to initially experiment with stalls by monkeying around with their toggles – mostly, because they’re more familiar with those controls. That’s not really the best idea. Though rear-riser stalls “kick in” more suddenly than stalls initiated with the brakes (as they profoundly and quickly change the shape of the canopy using the C and D lines), recovering from them is smoother and easier.** ...and, of course, pull high. The “lab” is up at a nice, cushy altitude. Make sure to stop your experiments with a lot of margin between you and the dirt. 4. You don’t have to go it alone. Look at your canopy’s manual to familiarize yourself with the stall dynamics you can expect from it. If there’s no information regarding stall behavior in the manual, contact the manufacturer and ask about it. They’re happy to help. So are canopy coaches. Ask, ask, ask. Then you might not have to ask the farmer to disentangle you from the fence, collect your scattered dignity and help you hobble to the road. That’s worth it, no? Here’s a great little video by AXIS Flight School that demonstrates a rear-riser stall. In this video, you can closely inspect the canopy’s reaction to the stall input. *The angle of attack, or AoA, is the angle between the cord line – visualized as a straight line between the leading edge and the trailing edge – and the relative wind that the airfoil is moving through.
  13. admin

    Deployment Emergencies

    Common ripcord and hand-deployed pilot chute malfunctions are the lost handle and the hard pull. Submitted by plante Lost Handle Lost handle or out-of-sight hand-deployed pilot chute. Some ripcords are held in place by elastic webbing or Velcro® cloures. If the ripcords come out of these places, they may be blown out of your sight. Some puds (knobs or handles for hand-deployed pilot chutes) attach with Velcro closures, and some are stowed in elastic pockets. There are pros and cons to where these pilot chutes and deployment handles should be mounted. Either one may separate from the container and blow up behind you. Search for the ripcord (one time only) by following the harness to the ripcord housing with your hand. Search for a hand deployment device (one time only) with your hand by following the container to the area where it is supposed to be mounted — perhaps even as far as the closing grommet. If you can’t locate the handle immediately, pull your reserve ripcord. Practice this on the ground periodically. Lost handles and hand-deployed pilot chutes can also occur after the pull if you fail to pull far enough. Make sure you pull the ripcord all the way out of the housing, or if using a hand-deployed pilot chute, pull the pud to arm’s length before you release it. Hard Pull The hard pull may be caused by a bent or rough pin, a hand-deployed pilot chute bound up in its pouch, or you may have packed more canopy in the center of the container instead of filling the corners. If you feel resistance to your pull, give it two more quick tries (perhaps even with both hands while maintaining the arched body position) and then if that doesn’t deploy the main parachute, pull your reserve ripcord immediately. After a number of jumps, it is normal to become somewhat complacent about the pull; you may give it a relaxed, half-hearted jerk. The pull may take as much as 10 kg (22 lbs.) of force, so pull again. If continual hard pulls are bothering you, you might choose to spray a non-petroleum-based silicone or Teflon® fluid on your ripcord cable or your closing pin and your closing loop. This will make quite a difference and it will last for many jumps. You may occasionally have to do it again as dirt and grime builds up on your pin or ripcord cable system. Inspect your system for any signs of roughness. If they exist, get a rigger to replace the rough component with a smooth one. Pilot Chute Hesitation A problem you could have with your reserve deployment, or a main with a spring-loaded pilot chute, is the common pilot chute hesitation. Hesitations can happen to hand-deployed mains but they are not as common. Hesitations occur when the pilot chute momentarily flutters in the low-pressure area behind you rather than catching air. The hesitation may be caused by a bent or weak pilot chute spring, but usually the pilot chute is just sitting in the dead air space created behind you when you are in the stable position. Sometimes the pilot chute jumps upon release but fails to travel far enough to get a grip on the air rushing past you. It may drop back down on your back and just bounce around or just lay there. If it was hand-deployed, you may not have given it a good throw. To correct the problem, you may turn on your side during the post exit or pull count, allowing the airflow to inflate the pilot chute and pull it free, you may peek over your shoulder after pulling the ripcord, or you may sit up to dump (deploy your canopy). This last method of pulling, then sitting up (almost the start of a backloop) also reduces the opening forces on your shoulders, but it can lead to other problems such as trapping a tight-fitting deployment bag in its container. Consult with an instructor who is familiar with your system prior to attempting this type of maneuver. Pull-out v. Throw-out The pull-out and throw-out pilot chutes are preferred by experienced jumpers, but students (except IAD students) use the ripcord and coil spring pilot chute combination. For a detailed explanation of these three systems, see the chapter on equipment. Trapped Pilot Chute If the pilot chute is not properly stowed in its pocket, it may bunch up and jam when you try to extract it. The trapped pilot chute results in a hard pull that may or may not be cleared. If you find you have a hard pull, try one more vigorous pull before you go for your reserve. Pilot Chute In Tow Pilot chute in tow may be short or long. It is short when the pilot chute bridle is looped around something such as a harness strap. (A proper gear check could have avoided this problem.) If you have one of the rare bellyband mounted throw out models, make sure that the bellyband is not twisted. If the pilot chute bridle is wrapped around the harness (such as on a twisted bellyband or leg strap), tugging on it will only result in a (short) trailing pilot chute. Check the bridle routing during packing, have it checked in the equipment check prior to boarding the aircraft and check the routing again prior to exit. Twisted bellybands and twisted leg straps are a significant cause of pilot chutes in tow. The pilot chute in tow is long when the pilot chute pulls the bridle to its full extent but does not pull the pin securing the main container. The failure may be due to a damaged pilot chute (producing insufficient drag), a rough pin, a tight main container (canopy stacked too high), or a closing loop which is too short. The long pilot chute in tow is more likely on sub-terminal velocity jumps. Make sure the bridle-pin connection is not worn, that the pin is smooth and curved, not straight (unless it is supposed to be such as in pull-out pilot chute systems), and that the locking loop is not too short. If you are faced with a long pilot chute in tow, never try to clear it. A recent USPA article (Parachutist, June 1997) stated that if you have a pilot chute in tow, deploy the reserve immediately. Therefore, it is treated as a total malfunction. Other experts in the field take the position that if there is anything out behind the container, including a spring-launched or hand-deployed pilot chute, execute a cutaway and reserve deployment immediately. Note: Most student equipment is Single Operation System (SOS) oriented. This means that pulling the reserve handle will execute the cutaway (disconnect the main risers) then deploy the reserve all in one smooth action. A two-handle system requires a separate cutaway handle to be pulled to disconnect the risers, followed by a pull of the reserve ripcord. How to handle a pilot chute in tow has been the subject of great debate and much beer has been consumed discussing it. While there are exceptions and strong feelings about what has been stated above, time is usually too short to consider them. After the reserve starts to deploy, the main container may go slack enough that whatever kept it closed is no longer doing so, therefore the main may start to deploy. If the main was disconnected from the harness by the action of a cutaway, it will probably not be anything more than a temporary nuisance. However, one must always be prepared for possible entanglement of the two canopies whether a “cutaway” has or has not been performed.
  14. Image by Brian Buckland It is common knowledge that wing-loading has profound effects on the way parachutes perform. Furthermore, it appears that even if the wing-loading is exactly the same between two otherwise identical parachutes, different size canopies fly quite differently. In other words, if you fly a 210 square foot parachute of a given design with lots of additional weight to achieve a loading of say, one pound per square foot, a 150 at the exact same wing-loading will usually have a steeper glide ratio, faster turns, and demonstrate a longer recovery arc following a high airspeed maneuver. This means that, regardless of the wing-loading, all small canopies are high performance, and should be treated accordingly. There are many explanations for this non-linear relationship, and in this article I will discuss some of the most significant governing variables. Test flight data shows us that small wings, regardless of wing-loading, will be more radical than their larger counterparts, all other design aspects being equal, however the degree to which they are different depends of the model of the canopy. Nevertheless, the trend is consistent and predictable. The most common explanation for these differences is that it is due to differences in line length. Smaller canopies do have shorter lines on the whole. Although it is true that some aspects of a parachute’s performance increases as line length reduces, this only applies to mobility about the roll, pitch and yaw axis. The effects on recovery arc tend to have the opposite response to line length. In other words, a parachute with longer lines tends to exhibit a longer recovery arc. To explain these counter-intuitive effects, we must look elsewhere for an explanation. The other aspect, previously unconsidered, is the relationship of the canopy's internal volume to its surface area. Essentially, the volume displaced by the airfoil can be thought of as a key aspect of the overall DRAG. Of course the shape of the wing itself is vitally relevant to the drag coefficient, but for the purposes of this discussion, let’s focus on the effects of drag from the perspective of simple air displacement, like a footprint in the sky. The fatter the airfoil, the more drag it will exhibit. This means that a “fat” parachute will sit at a higher angle of attack in full flight, based on the balance of power between the airfoil's drag (D1) and that of the suspended load, the jumper (D2). Further, the drag value of a “fat” airfoil will increase markedly with airspeed, and therefore large objects will suffer more drag than “skinny” airfoils at high speed. The wing, therefore, will “want” to return to the overhead position more aggressively on fatter airfoils, as a general rule. Let's take those aerodynamic principles to the realm of parachute sizing. When a parachute design is scaled, for the most part, the entire wing is scaled simultaneously. This is the same geometric progression as a matchbox car: same three dimensional proportions, but a different size. When we want to make a parachute larger, we simply multiply each dimension by a “scale factor”, a single number that will result in the size change we desire. When we apply this mathematical model to parachute designs, we create an unwanted effect: disproportionate scale factors relating to area and volume. Simply put, the number we use to scale the parachute is based on the "square footage" of the wing, and this is of course, a square function (X²). The volume on the other hand, is governed by a cube function, (X³). This means that when we increase the height of the rib at the same rate as the span and the chord, we inadvertently make the wing too fat as we scale upwards, and too thin when we scale down. This is one of the reasons why a 120 flies very differently than a 170, even at the exact same wing-loading and body drag component. The wings only appear to be the same, but they are most decidedly not the same from a volumetric perspective. So, one might say, why don't we make the height of the airfoil on smaller wings greater, and that of larger wings smaller, proportionately? This is sometimes done and it works to a certain degree. However, if we were to search for a formula that would allow us to scale the volume at the same rate as the area, we would have to keep the rib height the same on all sizes of a design. I worked this out with a brilliant Tasmanian mathematician on flight back from Sydney many years ago. A 120 with the same rib as a 190? That doesn't quite pass the gut check, does it? Only the middle sizes would fly right, and beyond a few degrees of freedom, the system would collapse into chaos, because the fat little wings would have too much drag to be efficient and the big wings would have too little lift to land well, and would be prone to collapse in turbulence due to their flimsy nature by virtue of their low volume. A simple answer does not appear to exist, at least not yet. The heart of the problem is the fact that our industry has grown accustomed to the use of "pounds per square foot" as our way of quantifying parachute size. This leads to the erroneous belief that a given "wing-loading" will result in similar performance for all parachutes regardless of size. This is most certainly not the case, and is dangerously misleading for light weight jumpers striving for that magical one pound per square foot wing-loading. A 120 is inappropriate for someone with less than 100 jumps no matter how much they weigh. So, what do we do? Firstly, we honor the differences in parachute sizes, and downsize very carefully. We make our steps downward based on actual ability and frequency of jumping, and we look for any excuse we can to upsize. In addition to remaining conservative with regards to canopy size, we must go to greater lengths to understand the nature of performance and size. If it is true that performance trends do not appear linear with regards to parachute size, then perhaps the solution is a curved ruler. To that end, I have offered a complex sizing chart to the world that reflects the non-linear nature of parachute sizing and performance for the purpose of downsizing guidance. This easy-to-operate chart has been adopted by many national organizations and local dropzones as the official guidelines for parachute size relative to experience. Born from a brilliant but arguably conservative Swedish chart created by my good friend and colleague, Ola Jameson, who was the Head of Safety (Riksinstructor) for the SFF at the time. My somewhat less conservative version of the “sizing chart” offers suggestions for parachute size relative to weight, rather than simple wing-loading alone as the defining factor. This allows the recommended parachute size for a heavy person to be a higher wing-loading than that which is suggested for a lighter person. It is available HERE. The sizing chart does not suggest when the jumper should downsize, but rather limits the degree to which they should decrease their parachute size based on the complex aerodynamic principles effected by wing geometry. The "chart trap" is always a risk with such things, when jumpers automatically step down in size because the chart suggests that a change is reasonable. Decisions based on parachute size and design should always be made based on the actual ability of the jumper, and the other governing factors described in the 22 pages of modifying text that follow the chart. Another consideration I will now put forth to the skydiving community is a fundamental change to the way we define parachute size. Based on the discussion above, a two-dimensional analysis is insufficient to describe what a parachute will do in the sky, and "pounds per square foot" is a very limited 2-D relationship. I suggest that a better model for parachute size definition is Pounds (or kilos) per Cubic foot (or cubic meter). The metric numbers would be far easier to work, if we can get the Yanks and Brits to let go of the Imperial system; but we have to pick our battles, don't we. By using lbs/ft³, we will effectively remove the 2-D bias from the "ruler" as it were, and make the relevant differences more numerically obvious. It may sound like a radical idea at first, but so was the ram air canopy when that showed up, but look how well that worked out. Just because a change is difficult does not make it less necessary. In the interest of moving this new paradigm forward, and in the spirit of the immortal words of Mahatma Gandhi, I will be the change I wish to see in the world. Here are the volumes of my parachutes. It is my hope that other manufacturers will follow suit, in the interest of transparency of our parachutes’ designs, for the good of the skydiving public. The topic of parachute performance prediction is vast, and must continue to be discussed in scientific terms. We must do this because, as one of the few (mostly) self-governing branches of aviation, we are the only true experts in our field. We are the ones who must think outside the old box of established paradigms, and change when change is necessary. We will continue to improve our sport in every way, simply because we love our sport so much that we want to know more, and grow more. The universal passion for knowledge exhibited throughout the skydiving community leads us to a very high level of mutual respect for our fellow jumpers. This precious commodity of solidarity is rare in this world, and we must allow that connection to lead us to always reach for safer procedures built on our ever-increasing understanding of that which saves our lives. Improvement in matters relating to safety is just love of life in motion, and love must be adaptable and smart if it is to last in a complex world. Again and again, skydivers prove to me that they are highly intelligent adventurers committed to safety, and very much worthy of my respect. We will adapt, and we will thrive. About the Author: Brian Germain is a parachute designer, author, teacher, radio personality, keynote speaker with over 15,000 jumps, and has been an active skydiver for 30 years. He is the creator of the famed instructional video "No Sweat: Parachute Packing Made Easy", as well as the critically acclaimed book The Parachute and its Pilot. You can get more of Brian’s teaching at Adventure Wisdom, Big Air Sportz, Transcending Fear, and on his vast YouTube Channel
  15. admin

    Flight Planning for Safety

    In any aviation activity proper flight planning is critical to safety, and skydiving is no exception. If you take the time beforehand to plan for various eventualities, you don't waste precious time making decisions when they arise. Preflight Familiarize yourself with aerial views of the DZ and surrounding area, if they are available. Note locations of obstacles and pick likely outs for bad spots in various directions. Check weather reports, if possible, and note forecast winds at altitude, cloud conditions and any approaching fronts. You are less likely to be blindsided by rapid changes in conditions when informed of their likelihood. Turn on your AAD, if so equipped. Make sure your hook knives are accessible. Find out who on the formation has audible or visible altimeters, AADs and RSLs; make sure they are all operational and properly initialized. Check your and your partners' gear. Make sure you are in agreement on breakoff and opening procedures and altitudes. Face into the wind and see where the sun is. Its position should be the same when you are on final and there is no wind indicator available. Exit Know what groups are around you, what they are doing and what delay is planned between groups (ask around before and after boarding). The Skydive Arizona policy of large to small slow-faller groups, followed by large to small fast-faller groups, followed by students, followed by tandems is the best all-around approach in the business. The more of a delay between groups you can arrange, the better. DO NOT assume that any reasonable delay is reason not to pay attention to other groups in the air - LOOK AROUND! Freefall Dock gently, from the level of the formation. DO NOT swoop into a formation, but make the final approach smooth and deliberate. DO NOT EVER get above or below a formation. Inadvertent deployment can become fatal fast if people are above each other. If low, stay near and to the side of the formation until breakoff. Do NOT begin tracking before breakoff altitude, and DO NOT do anything to increase vertical separation.. Track flat at a common level. DO NOT drop out of a formation vertically. If you have an inadvertent deployment when you are below the formation, the likelihood of someone getting killed is significant. The greatest likelihood of an inadvertent deployment is right after exposing the pilot chute pouch to direct air stream - like when dropping out of a formation in a stand-up. Track to a clear sector while watching the people on either side. While flat tracking, it is easy to split the difference between the people to either side by looking under your arms. Canopy Flight Open at an appropriate altitude. Between two and three thousand feet is reasonable for a high traffic event; any higher opening (for CRW or whatever) should be arranged with the pilot. Do NOT spiral down through a high traffic area. If spiraling to lose altitude, get well off the wind line to stay clear of the spot for other groups, and LOOK AROUND. In a turn, the direction of most likely collision is at the leading edge of the canopy in the direction of the turn, and there is a blind spot where a collision may occur between jumpers whose canopies blocked their view of each other until right before the collision. I reiterate - SPIRALING IN HIGH TRAFFIC IS DANGEROUS! The safest flight path when opening above the landing area is to fly the canopy away from the landing area, perpendicular to jumprun, until far enough out to allow a long, shallow approach to the landing area (leave enough room for obstacle clearance). LOOK AROUND NEAR THE GROUND! Don't fixate on your landing, but pay attention to who is in the area. Keep your head on a swivel, and periodically scan for potential traffic. Do not execute unplanned turns near the ground. If you are cut off on final, executing an avoidance turn must not be a possible response. Landing The safest landing areas are the least popular ones with the most outs. Landing in congested areas or where ground traffic is allowed (e.g., the camping area) can be an invitation to disaster. If you must turn for traffic or obstacle avoidance while setting up to land, use a FLAT TURN. If you don't know how to do so, find out from someone experienced in the maneuver and practice at altitude until you have the procedure wired. Keep your head on a swivel after touchdown. Even if you land under complete control, you might want to dodge someone who is swooping where they should not. If landing out is inevitable, or if safely making it to a designated landing area is in doubt: Pick an open area in which to land by 1,000 feet (300 metres). Corn can be over 12'(4m) tall (a cornfield is NOT like an unmown lawn), so landing between rows and preparing for a PLF will reduce the likelihood or extent of injury. Any changes of color on the ground probably have barbed wire along the boundary. Land parallel to any area changes. Locate any telephone poles or other wire supports by 500 feet (150 metres), and set up to avoid the wires that are sure to go between them. Identify the lay of the land by 500 feet (150 metres), and set up to land alongside any hills. Do NOT land uphill or downhill, REGARDLESS of what the wind is doing. If there is any doubt about the landing surface, or if you are sure to have excess speed on touchdown (like when stuck with a downwind landing) execute a PLF and roll out the landing. Keeping feet and knees together, and not using hands or elbows to break the fall can greatly help avoiding injury.
  16. admin

    What To Do When the Wind Picks Up

    As a student skydiver you are guided by your instructors, drop zone management and USPA's Basic Safety Requirements (BSR's) as to the maximum winds allowable for you to safely jump. However, after you graduate from student status and become a USPA "A" license holder, there is no requirement or recommendation concerning wind speeds. And after you purchase your own gear, drop zone management will no longer need to worry about the gear that you are renting from them. From that point on, the decision to jump or to stay on the ground will be a decision that you will be making for yourself. The following article describes some of the things to consider when you find that someone has turned the big fan on "high". Before the Jump: You will find that the maximum winds to jump in is a very individual decision and depends on the jumper's experience, attitude, main canopy size and type, and reserve canopy type. Do not base your decision on what you see more experienced jumpers do because their situation is different, and do not allow yourself to be talked into jumping in winds that are not appropriate for your level of experience and your gear. It does however help to watch more experienced jumpers land when you are deciding whether or not to jump yourself. Watching someone that is your weight and has similar gear will give you a good idea of what to expect on your landing, assuming the wind does not increase any further. In addition to getting the wind speed in miles per hour from a wind meter or other source, you can go to the landing area and observe the winds for a while, noting in particular the gustiness present in that area. With experience you will be able to judge the wind that you can jump in by how the wind feels. Sometimes a lull in the wind may fool you into thinking that the winds have subsided enough to safely jump, but you should observe the winds for at least 5 minutes before coming to that conclusion because another period of increased wind and gusts may follow a lull. If you in fact decide to make a jump when the winds are strong, protect yourself in the event that some unexpected problem arises by wearing adequate head protection and foot protection. After Opening: After your canopy opens and you have begun to fly back to the landing area is the time when you may first begin to realize that the wind has picked up or is much stronger than you were prepared for. As soon as you realize that this has happened, get turned into the wind and check your speed across the ground. If you are backing up there is a good chance that the wind is also very high on the ground. If you have a reserve static line system (RSL) on your rig you may want to disconnect now in the event that you have to release your main canopy. Pulling down on your front risers will increase your forward speed and may help you make it back or at least keep you from backing up as far, but using your front risers also increases your rate of descent, so you will have to use your best judgement as to whether this is really helping you or not. If you do not think that you will make it back to the normal landing area, this is the time to make sure that wherever you do land will be a large clear area. It is especially important not to land behind anything like a tree line or a building. The stronger the winds are, the more turbulence is generated downwind of large obstacles like these. It may be necessary to turn and fly far downwind to get to a suitable area. Approach to landing: As you get closer to the ground there will probably be slightly less wind, but it will be more turbulent, especially if the terrain is anything but completely flat. Your canopy will be more stable if you hold partial brakes. Your arms can act like "shock absorbents" by relaxing some of the tension on the brakes when the gusts come along. Holding some brakes will cause your canopy to fly slower and may even cause you to back up, but this may be better than risking having your canopy collapse. At this point you will be comforted by knowing that you have planned ahead well enough to have chosen to land in a large field with a lot of room behind you in which to back up. Landing: It is usually recommended that you not front riser or turn sharply near the ground when there is turbulence present. This has been known to cause canopies to collapse. Smaller canopies are much more sensitive to small steering changes and to gusts so concentrate on keeping the canopy directly into the wind. You may not need to flare as much as when there is less wind but you must still flare. The main thing to avoid is flaring fully just as a gust occurs. A gust could create enough extra lift to make you go up suddenly and then let you down hard when the gust subsides. Use your judgement and your feel of the canopy to determine just how much to flare and prepare for a parachute landing fall (PLF). After landing: The best advice that can be given here is what we have heard many times as students: Pull down on one toggle, and keep pulling it in until you have canopy in your hand, then run around to the downwind side of you canopy. Even if you have a good landing it is still possible for your canopy to stay inflated and to pull you over and onto the ground. You can usually prevent this by quickly turning around and running downwind with the canopy while it is deflating. If you begin to fall down after landing do not reach out with your hands to break your fall because of the possibility of injuring your arms. Concentrate instead on getting your canopy deflated and do a PLF if necessary, or let the seat of your jumpsuit take the action. If it has become extremely windy or gusty when you land and you are certain that you will not be able to land without being dragged you have one last resort, and that is to pull your cutaway handle to release your main canopy. This of course assumes that you have disconnected the reserve static line (RSL) system and that you are not jumping a single operation system (SOS) that pulls the reserve handle at the same time you cutaway. Do not let your fear of re-connecting your canopy prevent you from releasing it if you really need to. It is not a big deal to release your canopy and it is not very hard to properly re-connect it to your rig. You or your rigger probably do it every reserve repack anyway to test the release system. Quite often a canopy that is released in this manner will land with the risers laying out across the canopy and can be easily straightened out. You may even be able to re-connect it right where you land. Just be sure to have the release system inspected by a rigger and do a good line check before packing. If you decide to release your main canopy, the best time to do it is when you find yourself off balance and know you are going to fall down. If you do this promptly you will simply fall down and not be dragged. You may not even get very dirty! However, if you wait until you are being dragged across the ground by your canopy you may be dragged into a position where you cannot reach your cutaway handle. Once you are being dragged, you are in very bad situation and must do whatever is necessary to get the canopy under control. At this point you will be glad to know that you planned ahead well enough to not be upwind of a paved surface or a barbed wire fence. After everything is finally under control be sure to gather up your canopy tightly to prevent the wind from re-inflating it. Remember, the jump is not over until you are back in the packing area with your gear off. In Your Spare Time: Read your canopy owner's manual! It has a wealth of information in it and contains information on your canopy's flight characteristics. Some manufacturers even have advice on flying your canopy under adverse conditions.
  17. BrianSGermain

    Collapses and Turbulence

    There are many variables to consider when looking into a canopy collapse: What was the pilot doing? How fast was the canopy flying when it collapsed? Where was the pilot flying? What is the canopy design? What is the wing-loading? Was there any re-active solution employed? These are the principle considerations, but not the only ones. I will take each one separately. 1) The way in which a parachute is flown can increase or decrease the "G" loading on the lines. A rapid release of one or both brakes significantly increases the chances that the canopy will collapse. This allows the parachute to surge forward to a lower angle of attack, decreasing the lift of the parachute. This reduces the amount of energy exerted by the parachute away from the suspended load, allowing the "negative" portion of the lift to take over and allow the wing to fly towards the jumper. 2) Airspeed is what creates lift. Lift is what causes the wing to strive to fly up and away from the jumper. This is the formula for line tension and therefore stability. The slower you are flying, the more likely your parachute will collapse due to low internal pressure and low line tension. 3) Was the wing flying in clean air when the collapse occurred? This is an important part of the question. All parachutes can collapse in "bad" air. We must always fly considering the invisible dangers that the sky presents us. If you wouldn't fly a kite there, don't fly or land your parachute there. 4) Certain parachute designs do better in turbulence than others. I must avoid pointing fingers here, as this is a volatile industry that can be taken down by non-skydiving lawyers. Nevertheless, certain wings have an increased propensity to go "negative" when presented with adverse condition, while others bump around a bit and keep on flying. This is a complex issue, and the best way to decide which parachute to buy and fly is to listen to the actual statistics, and to your own experience when flying a particular design. I have not experienced any kind of collapse on the parachutes I fly, ever.* If you have on yours, you may want to reconsider what is over your head. *(This does not include nasty, ill-conceived prototypes that seemed like a good idea at the time. I am talking about production-model canopies here) 5) Parachutes perform differently at different wing loadings. The lighter the wing loading, the slower it will fly. This means that the internal pressurization of the wing will be less on larger canopies. In general, lightly loaded parachutes experience more small collapses than heavily loaded ones. Not only is there less internal pressure in the wing, but the dynamic forces area also less with decreased airspeed. This means that the average line tension tends to be less on a lightly loaded wing, and the wing tends to have a increased propensity to surge forward in the window when flying at low air speeds. This is why very small, highly loaded parachutes tend to experience fewer distortions, especially when flown at high speed. Flying at high speed increases the drag of the canopy itself, relative to the jumper, so the relative wind holds the parachute back in the window and at a higher angle of attack. This is why I make carving, high "G", high speed turns to final approach heading, especially in turbulence. The speed actually reduced the chances of a collapse by increasing the forces that keep the parachute at the end of the lines. I am literally increasing my wing loading by flying fast and at high "G's", and the increases velocity reduces the amount of time that I fly in bad air. I am not saying that you should downsize just to increase your stability. I am saying that until your skills and knowledge are ready to fly smaller, faster parachutes, you should stay out of the sky until the winds come down. I still haven't been hurt by a jump I didn't do. 6) This is all about "Pitch Control". If you are flying a good design with lots of airspeed and significant line tension, and in a reasonable location that has no obvious precursors for collapse, you can only deal with a collapse in a re-active manner, as you have addressed all of the relevant variables up to this point. If your wing tries to aggressively surge forward in the window, you must notice it and quickly stab the brakes to bring it to the back of the window. A collapse always begins by a surge to a low angle of attack, but there is very little time to deal with the problem before I folds under. Here are the signs: The first sign is a change in Pitch. The wing moves forward in the window. This is the limited flying space over your head. Too far forward and it collapses. Too far back and it stalls. The "G" loading drops dramatically and almost instantly. In other words, your apparent weight in the harness drops because the wing is producing less lift. This is the time to jerk on your brakes: quickly, sharply, but not more than about 50% of the total control stroke. This action is to pull the wing back in the window, not to stall the parachute. By putting the wing further back in the window, we are increasing the angle of attack. This increases the lift, and forces the wing to fly away from the suspended load and thereby increase the line tension. This can prevent a collapse entirely, or cause the wing to recover to stable flight before things get really out of control. If the wing is allowed to collapse, it may recover quickly on its own. This is why the more modern airfoils have the fat point (Center of Lift) so far forward. It causes the wing to pitch nose-up when it begins to fly again, bringing it back to the end of the lines. Nevertheless, parachutes can still collapse fully, which often involves significant loss of altitude and possibly a loss of heading. If your wing goes into a spin because of a collapse, your job is to stop the turn first, as you increase the angle of attack. If it is spinning, there is less chance of recovery until the flight path is coordinated and the heading stable. Conclusions: Don't fly an unstable parachute. If it is prone to collapse, ground the parachute. Do not sell it to an unsuspecting jumper at another drop zone. These people are your brothers and sisters. Don't fly in crappy air. Land in wide open spaces, in light winds, and never directly behind another canopy. Practice stabbing your brakes in response to forward surges on the pitch axis. This must become a "learned instinct" that requires no thought at all. Like pulling emergency handles, pulling the wing to the back of the window when the lines get slack is essential for safe skydiving. Keep flying the parachute. If your parachute does something funny near the ground, don't give up. If you keep your eyes on YOUR ORIGINAL HEADING, you will unconsciously do things that will aid your stability and keep you from getting hurt. Looking toward what you don't want is how you make it occur. I hope this little article helps you understand the phenomenon of collapses a bit better. I know as well as anyone how painful a collapse can be. I do not want to go back to that wheelchair, and I don't want anyone else to have to experience that either. You morons are my family, and if information can help protect you, I will give it until my lungs are out of air. Blue Skies, Sky People. Bri Article Discussion BIGAIR SPORTZ
  18. Deleted

    The Abort Zone

    Landing your canopy in a specific place is a skill that we all must master. If you cannot land where you want to, eventually you will land someplace you don’t want to. Honing this skill is something that we all must pursue, and how we approach this will determine whether or not we survive the learning process. We must first learn how to land on a runway before striving to land on a specific point. When pilots try to skip this step, they often run into significant stumbling blocks, some of them requiring surgery. Once you are proficient at hitting the centerline of a runway with consistency, then you can move on to more specific targets such as entry gates and landing points. One of the most important aspects of any approach is the “entry angle”. Although we can often repair a flawed approach, there are limits to our course corrections. The parachute can only do so much. If you set up too close to the target or entry gate of the swoop course, you may be in for a painful lesson. Too tight is a very dangerous place to be. Even if you are flying a conservative approach, making gentle turns to final, this can still bite you. When a pilot strives to land on a target that is mostly underneath them, they are on what I call “the path of crazy shit”. You can almost hear the banjo music starting like in a chase scene in an old western. There is no graceful way to land on a target that is directly below you. The parachute wants to glide, and turning or diving to get there will always put your life at risk. If you are a swooper, the consequences of being too close to your entry gate are dire. You may have the potential to extend the dive of your canopy to make the entry gate, but all you will do is make a divot between the flags that mark the location of your final act of egoistic stupidity. Let it go, and live to swoop another day. If we are too far away from our entry gate, real or imaginary, our solutions are simple, and generally quite safe. “Shallowing” of the approach can easily be accomplished by letting off the dive early and/or holding a bit of brakes or rear risers. We do not often read incident reports about canopy pilots who died a horrible death as a result of holding two inches of rears to stretch their glide back to the target. Set up deep, and tighten up over several jumps. The hard part comes when you have set yourself up, started your dive, and are not sure if you can make the gate or not. You are tight and steep, and you think that if you make it you are going to be a hero. Hero or zero that is; only time will tell. If you hold your swoop in your hand like a butterfly, hoping it will not fly off, you will live far longer than if you squeeze it tightly and try to force a square peg into a round hole. Either it is there or it is not. You need to train yourself to know when you are too tight by knowing what it looks like when it is just right. Visualize the perfect entry, not too shallow, not too tight, with the target or entry gate out in front of you. Walk through the sequence, setting up tiny gates on the ground, and practice making aborts by lifting your eyes from the entry gate and landing long. If you are looking down at it, just let her fly, land safely, and go up and do it again. There is always the next jump. They key to a good abort procedure is training. Without physical rehearsal for physical activities, our cognitive understanding is useless. We have to practice arresting the dive over and over, and find new ways of putting our parachutes into level flight quickly. The first concept is: “Pitch Before Roll”. This means that the turn itself is less important than the pitch attitude of the canopy. When you are striving to pull up from a diving turn, increase the canopy’s pitch angle before striving to recover the roll. Bank angle does not kill people, descent rate does that. If you nose your parachute up, you will increase the angle of attack of the wing, which will give you the added lift that will reduce the decent rate. This will afford you the time to reduce your roll angle prior to touchdown. You literally create time. The second concept that supports healthy recovery technique is: “Sharp Inputs Create Sharp Results”. Slowly applying the brakes, regardless of the depth of the input, will never create the high rate of pitch change that shorter, sharp inputs can. This is the same reason why slow flares, when started at a very high altitude, will not cause an adequate change of direction of flight so as to create a level-off for a soft landing. Practice giving sharp stabs on the brakes while in a turn, and see what it does for you. If your weight increases dramatically, you know you are creating a change of direction, since inertia is resisting your change of motion. Another relevant concept with regards to saving yourself from a low turn is: “Give Up Some Heading”. If you strive to arrest your dive and stop the yaw too quickly, you are likely to wobble on the roll axis. This is because the increased lift on the low wing is bringing that wing up, beginning an oscillation about the roll axis. This can easily be prevented by allowing the turn to continue a bit following the increase in the angle of attack. Look into the turn, and let the wing follow through with its natural over-steer tendency, perhaps as much as 90 degrees when recovering from a fast turn. This overshoot can be as little as 20 degrees in a slower, carving turn. When you strike the toggles, do it with a short, strong burst-and-hold of 12-18 inches, but do it in an asymmetric manner that continues the current momentum of the turn. This will allow you to smoothly and slowly exit the turn and enter your final landing procedures gracefully. The last idea that seems to make a difference in how quickly you are able to pull up from a low turn is where you are looking: “Look Where You Want To Go”. If you are like most people, you will stare at your impending impact point on the ground, right until landing. By focusing your attention on what you don’t want, you inevitably make it happen. Somehow we are drawn toward whatever is in the center of our focus, so it is a far better plan to look toward where you intend to go, rather than where you are currently going. If you have turned too low, your current destination point is somewhere below you, while your intended flight path is in the general direction of the horizon. Lift your eyes, and make your parachute fly toward where you want to go. Focus is more than the object of attention, it is the shape of things to come. Aborting is a part of life. Humans are not perfect, and sometimes we are incapable of fixing our errors. Targets and entry gates are fun to shoot for, but not at the expense of our bodies. Aim to fly a clean approach every time, and let your gut tell you what to do. If it feels bad, it usually is. Do not let your desire to make the swoop course or the peas keep you from seeing what is right in front of you. Ego distorts our vision, as does passionate desire. The only way to see clearly is to remain calm, breathing slowly and completely throughout the approach, and maintain a positive mood as you set yourself up. If you start to feel scared, it is your cue to breathe more and try less. The perfect approach always feels easy. It flows like water. It is the result of good planning combined with good execution, made possible by positive emotion. Joy is thrust, fear is drag, ego is weight, and knowledge is lift. Maximize lift and thrust, and you will go far. Go Big Live Long BSG Brian Germain is the author or several popular skydiving books including: The Parachute and its Pilot, Transcending Fear, Vertical Journey and Greenlight Your Life. He also has a spot on Skydive Radio called “Safety First with Brian Germain. Brian runs canopy flight courses throughout the world, and does motivational keynote speaking on the topic of transcending fear. His website is: www.BrianGermain.com
  19. admin

    Clean Up Your Turns

    "Turn coordination" is a topic that, until recently, has been mostly unapplied to ram-air parachute aerodynamics. In simplest terms, this refers to the degree to which a flight vehicle is aligned to the relative wind during a turn. Another way to look at this is the degree to which a turning aircraft is pointed at the relative wind with regards to the yaw axis. A "clean turn", from an aerodynamic perspective, is one that keeps the nose of the aircraft pointed at the relative wind throughout the turn. When flying airplanes, this prevents the passengers from spilling their drinks, as well as saving fuel and preserving airspeed. In parachutes however, this aspect of turning has mostly been ignored. As parachutes become faster and faster, the time has come to begin thinking about this aspect of our canopy flight for several very important reasons. The first has to do with the ability of the pilot to level off at any point during the turn. Lets face it, sometimes the ground creeps up on us. Flying an aerodynamically sound turn increases the likelihood that you will be able to convert your airspeed into lift in a timely manner. If you are sliding sideways through the sky because you are simply jamming a toggle down, you are not prepared to interface with the planet. The relative wind is jumping across the bumps on your parachute, creating turbulent flow, while the suspension line load is getting shifted to one side of your canopy. When you attempt to stab out of an uncoordinated turn, there is a hesitation before the parachute begins to change direction and level off. If the ground gets to you before this happens you may find yourself watching Oprah in your hospital bed for a while (not that I have anything against Oprah). The second reason for flying a coordinated turn has to do with overall parachute stability. In an uncoordinated turn, the nose of your parachute is not pointed at the oncoming relative wind. It is sliding sideways. This means that the pressure in your wing is being compromised, in addition to the wingtip on the outside of the turn being presented to the relative wind. If you hit turbulence during this kind of "sloppy" turn, you are much more likely to experience a collapse of this side of the parachute. In other words, if you are turning right, your left wing more likely to fold under. Interestingly, when an aggressive, uncoordinated toggle turn is released, the opposite tends to happen. When the right toggle is released, the right wing surges forward as the drag is released and it is presented to the relative wind, opening the door for a collapse on right side of the parachute. Either way, this can result in way too much daytime TV. A fundamental problem... There is a fundamental problem with the way in which most of us were taught how to turn our parachutes. They said: "if you want to turn right, pull down the right toggle." Simply pulling on a toggle increases the drag on the right side of the parachute, retreating that wing tip. At the beginning of the turn, it is purely "yaw" energy. It is like the pilot of an airplane stepping on the rudder pedal. As a discrete action, steering toggles are an incomplete input. We need some "roll" energy. The harness is more than a way to attach the jumper to the parachute. It is also a way to manipulate the canopy itself. If the right leg reaches for the earth as the left hip reaches for the sky, the parachute will turn to the right. It is true that smaller parachutes will respond quicker to such inputs than larger ones, with elliptical canopies responding the quickest, but harness input will have an affect all parachutes. Most importantly, when used at the initiation of a turn, harness steering converts a toggle turn into a coordinated maneuver. This is true if you are under a Lotus 190 or a Samurai 95. When flying an airplane, all turns begin by initiating roll energy with the ailerons, (rotating the yolk), followed by an application of the rudder to coordinate the turn. The old airplanes had a string on the cowling (hood) to show the direction of the wind-flow, while newer ones have slip indicators on the instrument panel. If only we had such information while we were flying our canopies. Ah, but we do… Trailing behind your wing is all the yaw axis coordination data you will ever need. It is called your pilot-chute. If you are flying a coordinated turn, your bridle will remain parallel to the ribs of your canopy throughout the turn. If at any point it goes slack, whips around like a snake or drifts off to one side, you are not flying a clean turn. You are not carving your wing through the sky; you are skidding out of control. The relative wind is not following the valleys of your ribs; it is hopping over the bumps, tumbling into chaos. Try this on your next jump. Look up at your canopy while you are flying straight and simply yank a steering toggle down to the ½ brake position. You will immediately see what I am talking about as your pilot-chute swings off to one side. Next, lean in your harness, lifting one leg-strap to yield direct roll axis input. It may turn and it may not, depending on the wing. This is not important. Then, while holding the harness input, pull the steering toggle to turn toward the direction of your harness input. You will notice that the pilot-chute is trailing straight back, even in a sharp turn. Once you have experienced your first real coordinated parachute turn, it is time to develop new habits. This takes time. I find that when learning a new skill like this, it is best to have a simple way to remember the process. In this case, try using the following sequence for every turn you make: 1) LOOK, 2) LEAN and 3) TURN. This is mnemonic was taught to me by a great paragliding instructor and skydiver, J.C. Brown. Rather than thoughtlessly jamming a toggle down, look where you are about to go, lean in the harness to establish the roll, and finally, pull the toggle down to flow deeper into the maneuver. When you play with this kind of turn, you will find that the parachute simply feels better; that you feel more in control over the wing. You will also find that you can better bump both brakes down during the turn in order to reduce your decent rate, or even level off completely. While practice is necessary to perfect the technique, all parachute have the ability to transition from a descending turn into a level flight turn, into a soft beautiful landing. If you know how to carve your way out of a low turn, there will never be a reason to hook into the ground, ever. Although many skydivers still think of their parachute simply as a means to get back down to the ground after a skydive, learning how to use the system the way it was meant to be used will increase the chances that you will get back down to the ground safely. Gravity pulls equally on those who love canopy flight as those who abhor it. From twenty years of teaching parachute flight I have learned this: you can only become great at something that you love. The more you understand, the more you will explore. The more you explore, the more you will feel control. The more in control you feel, the more you will love it. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what it is all about. BSG Brian Germain is a parachute designer, test pilot, advanced canopy flight instructor and author. Brian's book The Parachute and its Pilot has become the worldwide source for canopy flight information and is available at a gear store near you, or through Brian's website: www.BigAirSportZ.com
  20. johnfallo

    Exit Separation

    On Saturday October 26, 2013 there was a near canopy collision by experienced jumpers. There were several factors which may have contributed to this event. I feel that a lack of understanding of exit separation was a major contributor. The winds of the day were posted: 24 knots at 12,000 feet, 22 knots at 9,000 feet and so on. I was on the first load, first out with a three way formation. I turned to the group behind me and asked for 10 seconds of separation. The response was “Why? That’s a lot of time.” Both of these jumpers have around 500 jumps. One has been jumping for over 10 years, the other for 9 years. One of these jumpers was part of the group that was involved in the near collision later that day. The incident: a near miss at opening time between two skydivers we will call jumper 1 and jumper 2. Jumper 1 left the plane first as part of an 8 way relative work group. Jumper 2, as part of a less experienced 2 way relative work group, left next with 5-6 seconds of separation. The second group left the plane flipping and having fun then got stable and continued a normal relative work dive. Jumper 1 was oriented to track up the line of flight decreasing his separation from the 2nd group. Jumper 1 further decreased his separation from the 2nd group by continuing to fly his canopy up the line of flight for 12 seconds. At which time he noticed one of the jumpers from the two way open pretty close. He then started looking for the other jumper from the two way group (jumper 2) and started a right rear riser turn. At this point, jumper 2 under a still deploying main fell past and within 20 feet of Jumper 1. Here is a link to the video of the opening sequence. This video was taken with a gopro camera and the jumpers in it are closer than they appear. Conclusions: 1. The initial flipping on exit of the second group may have had the two way in an orientation to slide down the line of flight and therefore contributed to the second group moving towards the first group. If so this would have been only momentary and not a large contribution. 2. Jumper 1 decreased separation by tracking up the line of flight. Although a contributing factor to the lack of separation, this was an appropriate action as on groups of 2 or larger all jumpers should track away from the radial center of the formation regardless of whether that puts them tracking up or down the line of flight as this will give them the greatest amount of separation from the members of their own group which would pose the greatest danger of collision at opening time. Jumpers tracking up the line of flight away from larger groups should always be aware of their direction and not “over track”. 3. Jumper 1 was flying a small fast canopy, continuing to fly up the jump run, holding into the wind with his brakes still set. This decreased separation with the following group. Every skydiver should know where jump run is planned to be before boarding the aircraft. All jumpers should upon opening orient themselves as quickly as possible to fly perpendicular to jump run at least long enough to ensure the groups before and after them have opened. 4. There is no question that mistakes were made on both sides, but there should also be no question that there would have been greater separation with 8 seconds at the door as called for in the chart below. In this case an extra 2 seconds separation would have equated to between 224-252 more feet of separation. We are also reminded of another incident we had a while back. Jumper 1 on a hop-n-pop leaves opens and flies up the line of flight. Jumper 2 leaves with about 5 seconds of separation and tracks down the line of flight. Jumper 2 tracks through Jumper 1’s canopy ripping it in half. Luckily neither one was injured. Another example is the video posted Iloveskydyving.org. This video clearly shows the following group giving 8 seconds of separation. Judging from their flying style it is obvious they are very skilled and not likely sliding through the air unintentionally. However, they still end up opening dangerously close to the group before them. We don’t know about what mistakes the group ahead may have made if any, but consider the problem may have been enough wind to dictate more time for adequate separation. Close Skydive Canopy CollisionAs Jumpers, we must have a basic understanding of the effects the ground speed of the aircraft has on the amount of time that we need to allow for the same amount of separation. I have heard swoopers say that the only good wind is no wind. They are saying this because in a no wind situation all things remain constant and consistent. Likewise at altitude if the aircrafts speed relative to the ground was always the same we would always give the same amount of time for the same amount of separation. What is adequate separation? In distance, the number I was taught is 1000 feet from center of formation to the center of the next formation for small groups. This number increases up to 2000 feet or more for groups of 8 or larger. Consider two 4 way groups lined up perfectly with jump run which will result in a jumper from each group tracking directly at one another. This allows each jumper to track 250 feet with 500 feet still left between them. The Skydivers Information Manual goes farther and recommends 1500 feet of separation for small groups and solos. What is adequate separation? In time, that will depend on the speed of the aircraft and the wind the aircraft is encountering. In other words, it will depend on the ground speed of the aircraft on jump run. See the chart put together by Phil Litke. These numbers should be considered minimums for 1000 feet of separation to be doubled for following groups of 8 or larger. Here are some examples of experienced jumpers and Tandem instructors giving between 13 and 31 seconds exit separation when the winds were very high. Also consider that these instructors are, for the most part, giving such separation on solos and 2 ways. As stated earlier, larger groups should be allowed more distance and therefore more time. We are all concerned about hosing the guys in the back of the plane by taking too long. I am not advocating that we give more time unnecessarily. If the speed of the aircraft dictates a certain amount of separation between groups this should include your set up, climb out, and count. I am not suggesting anyone taking longer than the conditions call for as this would create different problems such as people landing off, unnecessary go arounds, and wasted fuel. Most of us have had experienced people in the back of the plane yelling for people to hurry up and get out. This is because they feel you are taking too long to exit and will end up with them getting too far from the airport to make it back. If the winds are strong enough to necessitate a certain amount of separation then likewise the plane is moving slower relative to the ground, Freefall drift will be greater, and the acceptable opening spot may be farther from the landing zone. Every skydiver should know the acceptable exit and opening points for the conditions of the day. Many people land out without trying to make it back because it looks father than they are used to seeing. Without looking at the winds and calculating the opening spot before you go up you have very little chance of knowing for certain whether you will make it back, especially as the winds get higher and the spots get longer. One thing that you cannot control when you leave the aircraft is what the group behind you will do. We all should look after each other. By knowing how much separation to give you are looking out for yourself and the group ahead of you. Don’t be afraid to confirm with the group behind you that they will also wait an appropriate amount of time before exiting. Recommendation to reduce the likelihood of these type incidents: 1. Phil Litke’s exit separation chart should be posted near the jumper closest to the pilot for easy reference on jump run. 2. Upon turning onto jump run after the cut, the pilot will inform the close jumper of the aircrafts ground speed. This close jumper will look at the chart and determine how many seconds are needed. The number of seconds separation to give will be passed down to all jumpers on the load. 3. If this turns out to be too great a burden for the pilot we should install a GPS unit near the door so that the jumpers can determine ground speed themselves and make all jumpers on the load aware of how many seconds separation to give. We all have to get on board for this to work. Our landing direction at our dropzone is mandatory. This has been the best proactive step towards promoting a safe landing area and smooth landing pattern I have seen since I have been with my dropzone. The chaos of 22 jumpers landing in every direction in light and variable winds seems to be behind us. Each of us knows no one landing against the assigned pattern will escape a talk with a staff member. Exit separation is as important a safety issue and should be treated with the same respect. It needs to be a matter of policy for consistency. There is not an original idea on this subject here. This is the best knowledge which my mentors passed on to me. Here are a couple of related articles which go into greater depth about these concepts and solutions to these problems. I hope it is clear we must go about things in a more thoughtful and consistent way to avoid similar incidents in the future. http://www.dropzone.com/safety/Exit/Exit_Separation_Revisited_628.html http://indra.net/~bdaniels/ftw/sg_skr_dealing_1_uppers.html
  21. At 66 years of age and with a one year old hip replacement, it decided that it was time to upsize my main canopy. I currently jump an Aerodyne Triathlon 210, so I purchased a Performance Designs Spectre 230. I had heard good things about the Spectre, although I had not yet jumped a demo Spectre. Of course, I did not need any advice on how to use this canopy. I have almost 2300 jumps, a USPA Pro Exhibition rating, and have owned dozens of canopies. I thought I could land anything, especially my nice new big 230 square foot canopy. Little did I know that a "slightly elliptical" canopy would be so drastically different when making turns and in recovery than the more traditional Triathlons I have always jumped. So, my first mistake was that I never read the flight characteristics information in the sales literature, in particular, about the dive characteristics of this canopy. Many of the reviews said that the Spectre is described as “ground hungry”, and needs a deeper and faster flare to land well. My jumps on my new canopy: Jump #1: I tested my turns and my old style two-stage flares. Oh well. Not much of a stall. Maybe I just have to "learn" this new canopy. I used a straight-in approach on grass, but hit rather hard in very fast, sliding landing. Good thing the grass was damp. Jump #2: I decided to land into the pea gravel pit. A 10 mph crosswind at 45 degrees caused me to make a small correction on landing, then the wind side started to dive, a I pushed my flare, nothing, I hit hard, drove my right shoulder into the pea gravel pit, plowed a deep furrow through it, and went into a belly slide as I exited the peas. But this still counts for accuracy, right? Jump #3: After breakoff from a 15-way formation, and after too long of a track, I opened, and saw that I was rather far from the landing area. I decided to land in a small green field. I fortunately noticed the chain-link fence on all four sides of the field. Now I needed to burn off some altitude to get into this spot. I used one carving S-turn at quarter brakes, and then a last second turn to come straight in. However my canopy started to dive into the ground so fast that I never had a chance to get the “fast deep flare” that this canopy requires. I hit so hard that I caused six breaks in my leg and a partial shoulder dislocation. Rotor cuff surgery is now in my future too. It seems that in an stressful situation, I reverted to my old landing and flaring habits from my other canopies. So here are my comments and recommendation when jumping a new canopy (even when upsizing.) If most of your experience is on some of the more docile rectangular canopies, be careful if you change to even a slightly elliptical canopy, even if it is bigger. It will surprise you how differently it responds in turns, dives, and recovery. Bigger is not always enough to be better. (Sorry guys.) Read all of the reviews written about the canopy, and all about the flight characteristics. Talk to others who have owned one. Ask your Safety and Training Advisor and Rigger about the canopy and how it fits your style and experience. Open high and test everything you can up high. Practice steep as well as shallow turns. Test your flare and note the toggle pressure and location needed to find your stall point and "sweet spot". (Your brake settings may be different than on other canopies you have jumped.) Observe the dive speed and recovery traits at all brake locations, plan a straight in landing until you get experience, and that means more than one jump. Even if you have 2300 jumps like I do, read all of the articles you can find on canopy skills. At the very least, you will wind up with a checklist of things to look for to prepare for your first landings. In summary: I was careless but lucky. I have gone through many "could have - should have" thoughts, and offer my personal experience and observations as food for thought, and hope it may help others when changing canopy style or size.
  22. admin

    Exceeding Expectations

    Image by Lukasz Szymanski The challenge for any business is to exceed the expectations of its customers, especially when expectations are already high. The businesses that can pull this off will gain loyalty and earn valuable word of mouth marketing from their satisfied customers. Exceeding expectations is a challenge for the skydiving industry. Everyone who books a skydive already has very high expectations… after all, this is a major event in many people’s lives. Having traveled and visited drop zones all over the US, one of the biggest issues I see is a narrow sightedness when it comes to the guest experience. Too often, drop zones are focused on doing just one thing well: the skydive. Though this is definitely what we should be focused on (it’s what people are there for), we’ve lost sight of the complete experience; if the operation isn’t running efficiently, high expectations will turn to disappointment in short order. The common culprit in a poor customer experience is wait times. No one likes to wait. Yet here we are, charging a premium price, taking reservations and then expecting people to happily wait for several hours before they jump. Informing customers about wait times over the phone and in e-mail confirmations (usually 3 - 5 hours) doesn't make this practice any more acceptable or palatable to our customers who are conditioned to expect instant gratification. In a world where we can order something on Amazon.com and have it show up at our doorsteps the next day (or in some markets, the same day), we shouldn’t expect our customers to adapt to our antiquated practices. Rather, we should be challenging ourselves to find ways to better adapt to modern customer expectations. If we fail to do this, we will undoubtedly face the fallout of negative reviews online. How To Exceed Expectations To exceed expectations, a business must recognize its weaknesses through the eyes of the customer. The best way to do this is to ask them. However, if you want honest feedback, don’t survey your customers immediately after their skydive; they’ve just had one of the most amazing experiences of their lives, of course their immediate feedback will be positive. When I managed a DZ, I was always under the impression that we were doing a great job because when I surveyed customers following their skydive they always raved about their experience. Only when I started to survey our guests 24 hours after their jumps did I become aware of organizational problems that needed to be addressed. These ranged from employee language on the plane, (not good when your business is located in the Bible Belt) to major frustrations with wait times, to dissatisfaction with media quality. If you want to have a finger on the pulse of your organization, survey your guests after they’ve had time to come down from their initial adrenaline high. If they’re dissatisfied, they’ll typically tell you! Understand The Touch Points There are usually 20 interactive points of contact that a customer will have with a drop zone. If a DZ wants to gain a competitive advantage in a busy marketplace and see digital word of mouth marketing spread, they should be focused on improving these customer touch points. The goal should be to reach a five star level of service at every touch point. This is not an easy task, but it’s what has separated brands like Disney, The Four Seasons, REI and Zappos from all of their competition. This way of thinking should not be precluded from skydiving - especially considering the time and expense that goes into running a DZ. If we’re investing so much time and money into our operation, why not be the best we can be? Below is a list of 20 customer touch points every DZ should be aware of. I challenge all of my clients to rate themselves on a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being poor and 5 being excellent. The caveat is that the score for each touch point must be graded on the organization’s weakest link within the category. For example, if four out of five instructors give great service and one is average, then the score must be graded on the weakest instructor. Now you see the challenge! The Touch Points Website Social Media E-mail exchanges Phone Interactions Road Signage Parking Lot (the condition of it) Greeting at manifest Condition of the bathrooms Quality of DZ Food (snack bar or vending machines) Quality of training Wait Times to Make Skydive Presentation of the Jumpsuits Presentation of the Instructor Presentation of the Videographer The Aircraft The Ride to Altitude The Skydive Time it Takes To Receive Media Quality of the Media Quality of Materials (certificate of achievement) The Closing (defined as a thought out ending highlighting accomplishment) In today’s digital world, word of mouth can make or break a business. If you want to leverage this powerful tool to your benefit, then you have to start consistently exceeding customer expectations. Take a step back and view your business through the eyes of the customer. Focus on the entire experience, not just one element within it. Remember, the actual skydive is only one component of the overall customer experience. Strive to make every component as incredible as the skydive itself, and you’ll turn customers into raving fans.
  23. admin

    The Evolution of Jetman Dubai

    Image by Max Haim There's been a ton of social media hype this week about the new Jetman Dubai video released by XDubai. The video, available in 4k quality, has already amassed over 2 million views on youtube within 48 hours of release. But what is the story behind Jetman and will this venture see an evolution to methods of human flight? Back in the mid-2000s, Yves Rossy of Switzerland set history by becoming the first person to fly with the use of a jet-propelled wing. A step that closed some of the gap between wingsuit flying and aircraft piloting. Before venturing into jet-propelled human flight, Rossy was both an air force and commercial pilot, serving in the Swiss Air Force before flying for both Swissair and Swiss International Airlines. Rossy first began skydiving, then looking to wingsuiting and skysurfing in order to maximize his flight time, but neither of these were able to satisfy what it is he was after. Rossy didn't want to be freefalling, but rather flying, with as little restrictions and as much freedom and agility as possible, while still ensuring the longest possible flight time. This is what then prompted him to begin his development on the original jet propelled wing. After developing an inflated wing design in order to achieve more flight time, Rossy then began to design the first jet propelled wing, which was flown in 2004. This first propulsion based wing was only a dual jet propultion system, which allowed him to maintain flight level. In 2006 he changed the design to use 4 jets instead of the original 2. This change allowed Rossy to go from merely being able to maintain flight level, to being able to ascend while in flight too. Since 2006, Yves Rossy, the Jetman has flown in several high profile flights and accomplished impressive achievements. Rossy is now primarily flying in Dubai, with Skydive Dubai seemingly being the sole sponsor of the venture at this point in time. Teaming up with Skydive Dubai has meant that Rossy has been able to get some crazy video footage of his latest flights, with Skydive Dubai being notorious for their video production quality. The Next Chapter In early May, Jetman Dubai began hinting at the announcement of a new development in the Jetman Dubai project and after a few social media teasers, a video was released on the 11th May which announced that Yves would no longer be flying solo. Instead, he would be joined in the air by Vince Reffet, a well known skydiver and BASE jumper. Vince was born into a family of skydivers and did his first jump at just 14 years old. Now just in his 30s, Vince already boasts an impressive tally of over 13 000 jumps. The French protege is specifically recognized for his freeflying skills, and is best known for his position on the Soul Flyers team. The training of Vince by Yves Rossy has opened up far more opportunities for the Jetman Dubai project, with the most noteable being that of formation in flight. According to the Jetman Dubai website, Yves began training Vince as early as in 2009. The visuals of these two individuals flying together are so outstanding that it has many calling fake on the videos. However the truth is that what you see is the result of some extremely skilled pilots, working together to create something majestic. The Jetman Wing The Jetman Dubai wings weigh in at a total of 55kg with a wing span of 2 meters, and contain 4 Jetcat P200 engines. Speeds on descent can reach 300km/h, while ascent speeds clock in at around 180km/h. The flight will typically last for between 6 and 13 minutes. Flight begins with an exit, most commonly by helicopter, and when the flight time is over, a parachute is deployed for landing. A question on a lot of people's minds seem to be whether or not this type of jet propulsion system could work its way into the public. Though it seems that those keen to do some jet flying of their own should not hold their breath, apart from a large budget, it's difficult to see any situation in the near future whereby the safety aspect associated with these wings will allow for public use. In the mean time however, we can sit back, watch and enjoy. Who knows what is next for the now Jetman Dubai duo, but we can't wait to see it...
  24. Many factors determine the way your canopy opens. The design of the canopy and the way it is packed are two important factors, but body position also plays a major role. We learn to deploy our canopies in a basic, stable position as students, and many of us don't give this skill much more thought after that. Unfortunately, we sometimes develop a few bad habits that have a negative effect on our openings. Even after making thousands of jumps, people have been surprised to find that a few small adjustments to their body position during deployment can significantly improve their openings. This article is about deploying a parachute, one of the most important things you do on every skydive. It might be a good idea to practice these techniques on the ground before trying them in the air. You might even want to make a solo jump and try some practice pulls using these techniques before it's actually time to deploy. If you are not a licensed skydiver yet, or have just recently earned your license, you should discuss this article with your instructor before trying anything you read here. He or she may want you to focus on more important skills, like altitude awareness and basic stability, rather than adding anything new to your pull sequence. No Need for Speed The speed at which you are falling when you deploy your canopy can have a large effect on the forces generated during the opening. As your airspeed increases, these forces also increase. Many of today's canopies are designed for relatively slow openings, and some will not be affected greatly by a little extra speed at deployment time. Some jumpers even find that their canopies open better when they are falling a bit faster. This is not something you should take for granted, though. Higher airspeeds might not cause a canopy to open hard as long as everything else is just right, but small variables tend to have greater effects at higher airspeeds. If you rush your pack job one time and let things get a little sloppy, or if your canopy is starting to go out of trim, extra airspeed could make the difference between an opening that is slightly abrupt and one that really hurts. Slowing down before you deploy can provide a greater "margin of error" and reduce the effects that other variables have on your openings. Slowing down can be especially helpful if your openings are frequently or even just occasionally faster than you like them to be. Vertical or "freefly" body positions like head-down or sit-flying allow you to reach much higher airspeeds than "flat" body positions. This extra speed makes flattening out and slowing down before you pull particularly important. Both beginners and experienced freeflyers should keep this in mind when planning their dives. Even if you don't freefly, simply tracking at the end of a belly-to-earth jump can significantly increase your airspeed, and you may still find it helpful to "flare out" of the track and slow down before you deploy. To flare out of a track, spread your arms and legs and de-arch slightly for a second as shown in. This will help bleed off any excess speed. Keep your arms and legs spread out and maintain a slight de-arch while you wave off, remembering to look around for other jumpers. As you finish your wave-off and start to pull, relax back into a normal arch. If done correctly this doesn't take a significant amount of time and becomes a natural part of your wave off. What Are You Looking At? Take a moment to notice where you are looking while you reach for your pilot chute. If you jump with a video camera, look at some of your openings on tape. What do you see in the video as you pull? Are you looking up at the horizon, or down at the ground below you? Do you look back toward your pilot chute handle as you reach for it? Do you look over your shoulder after you pull? Older skydiving rigs used spring-loaded main pilot chutes activated by a ripcord. Even in the late 1990's this type of system was still used on most student rigs. Those of us who were trained using this type of system were taught to look for the ripcord handle before grabbing it. We were also taught to look over one shoulder and "check" after pulling the ripcord. Looking over your shoulder changes the airflow over your back and helps clear pilot chute hesitations, which are common when using a spring-loaded main pilot chute. Most licensed jumpers use hand-deployed main pilot chutes, and these are becoming the standard for student training as well. Even if years have passed since they transitioned to a hand-deployed pilot chute, many experienced jumpers still have the habit of looking for their pilot chutes as they reach for them and checking over one shoulder after they throw them. Unfortunately, it's almost impossible to look over your shoulder and keep your shoulders level at the same time. Looking over your shoulder also tilts your container to one side. Although large, docile student canopies may not get offended if your shoulders and container are uneven, more responsive sport canopies will be much happier if you keep your shoulders level. Having your shoulders and container tilted as the canopy deploys can cause off-heading openings, line twists, and can even cause a hard opening. Most of us have our pilot chutes mounted on the bottom of the container, so trying to look for the handle is really useless. Even if you still use a legstrap-mounted pilot chute, you probably can't see the handle very easily in freefall. Since hand-deployed pilot chutes are thrown into the clean air next to your body, pilot chute hesitations rarely occur and checking over your shoulder every time isn't necessary. Some people have a habit of looking straight down as they deploy. This tends to put you in a slightly head-low attitude, which can increase your airspeed slightly. It can also amplify the opening force your body feels, since this force will mainly be transmitted to your shoulders when the canopy reaches the end of the lines. Also, your legs may swing through a wider arc as the canopy sits you up in the harness, making the opening feel more abrupt. Instead of looking for your handle or looking down at the ground, try lifting your head up and looking out at the horizon as you reach for your main deployment handle. This puts you in a more head-high attitude. The opening forces will be transmitted farther down through the harness instead of being concentrated at your shoulders.Looking at the horizon also helps keep your shoulders and container level as you pull. After throwing the pilot chute, bring your arms back into a neutral freefall position and think about keeping your shoulders level as the deployment bag lifts off of your back. You can also push your hips down slightly and bend your knees just a bit, as if you were in a very slow backslide. This keeps your head and upper body high. In the past, some jumpers have recommended "sitting up" during the deployment. This can actually work well as long as it is done correctly, but if you sit up too much or too soon there is a risk of increasing your airspeed or even becoming unstable. Simply lifting your chin, looking at the horizon, arching a bit more, and relaxing your legs slightly has a similar effect to consciously sitting up, and you're less likely to overdo it. Some people who jump with side-mounted cameras believe it's necessary to keep their heads down when they deploy, to prevent a riser from hitting the camera. This might be an issue if you have narrow shoulders or wear your chest strap very tight, leaving less room between your risers. It also might be a problem if your camera sticks out from the side of your helmet quite a bit. It's best to minimize this problem by keeping side-mounted cameras as small, streamlined, and snag-free as possible. If you're convinced it's necessary to keep your chin down, at least keep a good arch and relax your lower legs to keep your shoulders higher than your hips, and also focus on keeping your arms and shoulders level in the relative wind. Back in the Saddle As soon as the canopy sits you upright in the harness, try putting your feet and knees together for the rest of the opening . Putting your legs together helps keep your weight even in the harness and reduces the chances of an off-heading opening. This is especially effective if you are jumping an elliptical-type canopy. Just the weight of your legs swinging around or a small weight shift in the harness can cause some of these canopies to start turning. If you grab your risers as the canopy is opening it's best to hold the lower part of the risers, just above the 3-Ring system. If you grab the risers up near the toggles you might make the canopy turn by unintentionally pulling one riser or releasing one brake. If you hold on to the bottom of the risers, you can still slide your hands up quickly to steer with the risers or release the brakes if necessary. Some jumpers try to keep their openings on heading by actively steering with their rear risers while the slider is still up against the canopy. This works with some canopies, but other canopies don't like it at all. You may get better results if you just relax, sit still, focus on keeping your weight even, and wait until the slider starts to come down before making any corrections with the risers. Watch Where You're Going In a first jump course we are taught to check our canopies to make sure they open correctly. Although this is important, it can also create a very bad habit. Many jumpers look up at their canopies as soon as they start to open, and continue watching the canopy through the entire opening sequence. Some people continue looking up for several more seconds while they collapse their sliders and release their brakes. If another person opens close to you, you may only have a second or two to react in order to avoid a collision. Staring up at your canopy for five or ten seconds after you deploy is like driving down the highway while staring up at the roof of your car. Fortunately, a few techniques can help you avoid this problem. Many students are taught to count out loud while their canopy deploys, saying "arch, reach, pull, one thousand, two thousand, three thousand…" If you don't do this already it's a good habit to create, and can help you keep track of time during the deployment sequence. You will hear and feel different things during each stage of the deployment. A second or less after you throw your pilot chute, you should feel the snatch force pull you upright in the harness. This is the force of the canopy fabric hitting the relative wind as it comes out of the deployment bag. The canopy will then snivel. The snivel is the portion of the opening where the slider stays against the bottom of the canopy, reducing your airspeed before the canopy starts to inflate. There will still be a lot of wind noise during the snivel, and you will still have a sensation of falling. This may last for a second or two, or even for several seconds. The inflation occurs as the slider moves down the lines and the cells fill with air. Things become quieter once the canopy inflates. Even under a canopy that inflates very slowly and smoothly, you will still feel the transition from falling to gliding. You may also hear the slider flapping above your head once it comes down. Once you become more aware of these sensations you will find that your other senses can tell you as much about your opening, if not more, than your eyes do. Soon you will feel comfortable looking out in front of you during the entire opening, rather than watching the canopy itself. This allows you to watch for other jumpers, and many people find this reduces off-heading openings as well. "But," you may ask, "if I don't watch my canopy open, how will I know if I'm having a malfunction?" Take the advice of someone who has cut away a number of misbehaving canopies: you will probably know right away if you are having a malfunction. They tend to feel very different from a normal opening, and you will probably know something is wrong before you ever look up. If you start to count after throwing your pilot chute, and reach "two thousand" or "three thousand" without feeling the snatch force, there is obviously a problem. This would be an acceptable time to look back over your shoulder and check for a pilot chute hesitation or pilot chute in tow. Once you know how many seconds the snivel usually lasts on your canopy, you will also know if that part of the opening is taking longer than normal. You can usually feel line twists right away, and if you start spinning wildly you'll surely want to look up at your canopy and see what's bothering it. What if the opening feels perfectly normal? Unless you need to avoid another jumper right away, you should still look up and check your canopy right after it inflates. You might not notice a tear, broken line, or similar problem until you look up. Even in these situations, if the opening felt normal then the canopy is probably flying well enough to give you a low rate of descent. Assuming you deployed at a reasonable altitude, you should have enough time to do a control check and execute emergency procedures if necessary. If you've been watching your canopy open every time then you might not feel ready to stop doing this during your very next jump, but you should start developing better habits as soon as possible. Start counting when you throw your pilot chute, and notice how long each stage of the deployment sequence takes. Pay attention to what you are hearing and feeling during the opening. Soon you won't need to watch the whole deployment, and will be able to pay more attention to your body and your surroundings. Improving your body position and increasing your awareness when you deploy your canopy can produce great results. You might not remember everything in this article during your next jump, but at least think about trying these suggestions one at a time, at your own pace. You might be amazed by the difference a few small changes can make. About the author: Scott Miller runs the Freedom of Flight Canopy School at Skydive DeLand in Florida (www.freedomofflight.tv) and holds canopy skills camps at other DZ's throughout the year. He has worked at several drop zones as an AFF instructor, tandem instructor, and freefall photographer, and also worked as a test jumper for Performance Designs. This article first appeared in Skydiving Magazine, Volume 25, Number 7, Issue #295, February 2006. Printed here by permission of the author.
  25. Despite having occurred late last year, a recently uploaded Youtube video showing an extremely close encounter between a tandem instructor, passenger and the jumpship they just exited from, has gone viral. The 4 minute long video (including editing) was shot in October 2014 and shows a tandem instructor, from what has been determined as a Thailand based skydiving operation at an estimated 13 000 feet (a typical exit altitude for tandem jumps). Twelve seconds after the TI and passenger exit the plane, the plane comes into view of the camera and can be seen diving quickly in their direction. The camera speed is then slowed down and shows the plane moving closer, with one frame showing the bridle and drogue of the TI wrapped around the wing of the plane. It appears as though the drogue bridle was cut when it wrapped over the wing and can be seen waving behind the TI in some of the frames. He then deploys the reserve shortly afterwards. The passenger appears for the most part, unaware of exactly how close the pair came to death during the incident, with the video later cutting to text on screen suggesting that the TI had just explained what had happened, while they were under canopy. There has been quite a bit of conversation around just how this happened, whether it was purely pilot negligence - or whether perhaps a close fly-by is something that is pre-arranged with the TI and pilot, in order to give the passengers a more thrilling experience. While there is no clear evidence to lead one to make such a damning assumption, several individuals have noted the TI's apparent eagerness to get the passenger to look in the direction of the descending aircraft, even before it has entered the frame of the video. Others are calling the TI a hero for the professional way in which he handled the incident, staying calm and getting both himself and the tandem passenger safely on the ground. Regardless of the details behind the incident, it's clear that those involved are lucky to still be alive. A discussion about the event is currently taking place in the forums in an incidents thread.