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Found 272 results

  1. admin

    The Legend of Roger Nelson

    Roger Nelson: If you're a skydiver, chances are you've heard the name. If you're not a skydiver, chances are you've watched one of the few movies that were inspired by this man. While the tales of Roger's life have been passed around to keen ears, mostly between jumpers, as a kind of folk lore, the words that have been spoken have often been words bound in mystery. The lines between truth and exaggeration, as with most stories passed through word of mouth, can get a little blurry at times. However there is no doubting the colorful nature of Roger Warren Nelson's life. Skydiving CareerRoger began skydiving in 1971 at a dropzone in Hinckley, Illinois. He was always a bit of a rebel and never quite fitted in with the then aesthetic standard that prevailed within the skydiving community at that time. In the beginning of the 70s recreational skydiving was still in its early days, with many of the then participants coming from military backgrounds, and both Roger and his brother Carl stood out from the crowd. It's said that the term 'Freak Brothers' which was given to both Roger and Carl stemmed from their less than ordinary presence at the dropzone. As skydivers, Roger and Carl were pioneers. They both laid the groundwork for what is known today as Freeflying. At the time, skydives were done belly down, in a standard practice, but the 'Freak Brothers' threw a spanner in the works when they started what was then known as 'freak flying'. Freak flying was the Nelson brother's own unconventional freefall style, which was described by Roger in 1978 as any body position that saw the flyer's stomach facing up and their back down, towards earth. So while Olav Zipser is recognized as the father of freeflying, the 'Freak Brothers' were already laying the groundwork for unconventional freefall positions years before. In the mid 1970s the brothers started a "zine" called the Freak Brother Flyer, which ran from 1973 until 1976. Freak Brothers became more than just a term for him and his brother Carl, after a while Freak Brothers became an organization and a community with thousands of followers around the world. The Freak Brothers Convention was later organized with the help of Jeanie (Roger's wife) and Carl. These boogies were some of the largest around at the time and drew in over 600 passionate skydivers. In 1979 the Freak Brothers suffered the loss of Carl, who died in a skydiving accident. From 1986 to 1989, Roger ran the Illinois dropzone "Skydive Sandwich". Later in 1993, he went on to found Skydive Chicago, which is now recognized as one of the world's leading dropzones. Roger spent much of the 80s partaking in world records, while spending much of the 90s organizing them. Between the years 1999 and 2002, he won 2 silver and 2 gold medals as Captain of the Skydive Chicago STL 10, in the 10-way speed event. The Other Side of Roger NelsonWhat separates Roger's story from the average accomplished skydiver's, is the other side of his life. While Roger was a well loved individual with much support, particularly in the skydiving community, during the 1980s, he was dealing in some rather shady operations, to put it lightly. Roger used aircrafts to smuggle drugs into the United States, while also working as an informant for the US government. After he was arrested in 1986 on charges that included racketeering, conspiracy to distribute drugs and currency violations, his life would become a enveloped in court dates and uncertainty. He pleaded guilty and in 1987 was sentenced to 10 years behind bars, but was released after serving half of his prison sentence. After his arrest, Roger called out the DEA on not acting to tips he had provided them, that would have helped capture Carlos Lehder, who at the time was considered one of the largest cartel leaders in the world. Despite the information Roger provided to the DEA with regards to being an informant, the DEA would later shrug it off, saying that Roger had not played any significant role in slowing down the influx of drugs into the United States. In 2003 Roger was killed in a canopy collision incident. There was more to Roger than just criminal controversy and skydiving, he was also a family man. His eldest of two children, Melissa recalls in a recent piece of writing, how her and her father wouldn't always see eye to eye, but in his death, has come to realize the leadership he instilled in her. She continued to say how her father had taught her to stand on her own feet, and create her own legacy as opposed to living in her family's. Sugar AlphaThis is all but just a fraction of Roger's life and the reality is that it's hard to summarize such an eventful life. Roger and Melissa have authored the newly released book entitled "Sugar Alpha: The Life and Times of Senor Huevos Grandes". A description of the book offers some insight in what to expect: "Skydiving and drug smuggling pioneer Roger Nelson lives life out of the box. Fueled by a love for adrenaline and adventure, Roger goes after everything he wants with gusto. But now Roger is ready to retire from smuggling. With a parachute center to run and a family to raise, Roger knows it is time to stop the cat-and-mouse games he has been playing with the authorities for years. He and his longtime partner, Hanoi, plan one final run to Belize, where they intend to fill their Douglas DC-3 with enough cannabis to set them up for life. But then Hanoi dies in a plane crash in an attempt to make some "legitimate bucks" flying fish in Alaska while they wait for the growing season to end. Left without a partner or plane, Roger remains determined to return to his family for good. To do so, he decides to stay true to himself and follow through with his retirement run. Roger must rely on a colorful cast of characters and the most unlikely airplane for a gig ever-Sugar Alpha, the legendary DC-3 with the secret fuel tanks and not-so-secret paint job-to help him complete the most daring run in the history of smuggling." With extremely positive early reviews, this book is a must for any skydiver, though you definitely don't have to be one to enjoy it. Get your copy from Amazon.com
  2. Get Ready: Here Comes the Turbine 206 When Joel Strickland and I jumped in all fifty states this summer for our Down For 50 project, we saw the insides of a lot of 182s. A lot. That’s no surprise, of course--the 182 is the undisputed workhorse of our sport. It could be argued that the valiant little 182 keeps our sport going. But what if there were a better way? As it turns out, there is. I found out about it when Joel and I made our Oklahoma stop. Understandably, we fully expected to see another 182 out there. Instead, when we wandered across the hangar of the (super tidy, spacious and impressive) Oklahoma Skydiving Center to see what was parked outside, we had to double-take. There was a 206 parked out there. A 206 with a very funny face. A turbine. For reals. Our first look at the toothy open grin of that jumpship was to start something of a minor obsession for me. First of all, it became apparent that its presence there had engendered the healthiest sport community of any smaller dropzone I’d ever visited. No wonder: that thing gets six jumpers to 14,000 feet in less than half the time it took the DZ’s old 182 to huff four folks up to 10k. The door is big. And this thing -- for lots of reasons -- puts turbine power within the reach of dropzones that never dreamed they’d be able to get there. I’ll let its champion, Andy Beck, cover all that. (Andy Beck is Co -DZO of the Oklahoma Skydiving Center, a small DZ between Tulsa and Oklahoma City, as well as the co-owner of BAM Aviation, which has been specializing in this conversion since Andy himself discovered its existence.) Pretty cool, right? I’ll leave the explanations to the expert. Below follows the conversation I had with Andy about this beautiful beast. If you’re not as enchanted with this plane as I am by the time we’re done here, I’ll be very surprised. Q: What’s your love story with this plane? Andy: My dropzone [the Oklahoma Skydiving Center] is somewhere between a small and a medium-sized DZ. For years, we were, like, man, we want a turbine airplane, just as instructors and fun jumpers. It’s easy to relate to that. I grew up on a single airplane drop zone. That’s where I started; that’s how I learned to skydive: A single airplane 182 drop zone. When you’re in a situation like that, you spend your whole life sitting around, watching people skydive, doing tandems and AFFs, just praying that there’s an airplane load that has empty slots. And that’s okay, because that’s all you know. But then you go somewhere and you suddenly realize there’s a different model that means you can skydive more than once or twice a day. you see how much more time you have for the fun part of the sport in a turbine, compared to what you can get out of the 182 that’s waiting for you back home. Since my wife Alyssa and I bought this dropzone four years ago, we wanted to bring that other model to our own DZ. The first thing we did -- immediately -- was to bring in a second 182, so we could have one for tandems and AFF and one for fun jumpers. I understand why people don’t want to mess with fun jumpers, but to me the reason that I think that you need the experienced-skydiver scene is because -- if you don’t -- then how do you convince anybody to do more than one jump? If all they ever watch is tandems, they’re one-and-done. They think that’s all there is. If they have to go somewhere else to jump after AFF, that’s not good either. People want to stay where they learned. They know the people. They want to travel and visit, but they love their home. That’s where they want to be. That’s their home base -- their friends -- the people they like to jump with. To teach people to jump and then tell them to go somewhere else just seemed dumb to me. So you have to grow to support your experienced skydiver community. Q: Why not just get an old King Air like everybody else? Andy: Long story. As a DZO, when you start looking at turbine airplanes, yeah, you think, maybe I can afford a King Air, but the only ones that anybody sells that any small-to-medium DZ can afford are about worn out, and worn out King Airs are a huge maintenance situation. Then, you think: I really love the Caravan. And that’s a cool plane. It is one of the starter-type turbine investments. But most of the Caravans worth having cost between $1.2 and $1.8 million dollars, and you’ve got 16 to 20 slots to fill. At a smaller DZ, you just can’t reliably fill it. That’s just not a very doable business model. And before, there really wasn’t anything that was, basically, half of a caravan. So I kept looking. The 206 has been around forever as a skydiving plane, but it really has a bad reputation because -- with the standard configuration -- it’s super slow. In the Oklahoma summer, you can hardly get to 10,000 in one, even if you’ve got the turbo version. For our purposes, it’s just not much of a plane. Then, one day, I heard about the new Pratt Whitney PT6 turbine 206 conversion from a fun jumper. It sounded like a myth, but I was intrigued, so I called the aircraft conversion inventor, Van Pray, who was partnering with Turbine Conversions on the Turbine 206 concept. Van has been around dropzones, skydiving, and airplanes all his life and turbine conversions has been modifying agricultural aircraft to turbines for decades. I asked Van to bring his plane down for a weekend so I could see if maybe this was going to be the answer to my problem. Turns out, it was better than I could have ever imagined. Anyway, Van and Emiko Pray brought their plane down, and we basically rented it like a boogie for two different weekends to try it out. I wanted to see how it cash flowed; how much fuel it used. There is no way anybody could tell you that information without seeing it for yourself. Since I paid all the bills, I could really see how economical it was. After that, I just knew that’s what I had to do. We had to build one. Q: What do the numbers look like? What does the turbine 206 specifically bring to the table here? Andy: Well, you can get a 182 for about $60,000 dollars. The Turbine 206 goes for around $600,000 depending on airframe, engine, etc... So of course it’s expensive when you look at it like that. But you have to remember that what you’re actually getting for that is half of a Caravan. Depending on your airframe -- engines and all that -- the fuel burn is half of a caravan or less too. Before I got the turbine 206, we had an average of three planes at OSC. We would always fly two, but on a lot of really busy days we would fly all three. In the summer, with a 520, or a PPonk, or a higher-horsepower 182 that actually can go to 10,000 feet in a reasonable time, you burn 7 to 8.5 gallons of fuel alone. Obviously, when they’re full, heavy and hot, it’s more like 8 to 8.5 gallons, but when you’re flying cool, light loads you could do a little over 7 gallons. That’s what my average was, at least. The turbine 206, on the other hand, will average ten gallons consistently to 14,000 feet AGL. The other big thing is that AV gas is getting a little bit harder to find in the first place, and the price of it is consistently higher than jet fuel pretty much anywhere you go, especially in more remote areas -- but if there’s a commercial airport anywhere around, no question, you can get jet fuel. So: When you look at expenses, the turbine 206 doesn’t burn very much more fuel per load, and the fuel it burns costs less. You also get the industry standard Pratt Whitney PT6 dependability and reliability. With the high-horsepower 182, I could count on two loads an hour: four people per load, to 10,000 feet. With the turbine 206, you get six people per load and you can do three loads per hour -- to 14,000 feet -- with one plane. Every hour throughout the day, you just keep getting farther ahead, because the plane doesn’t slow down with the heat. The density altitude doesn’t affect it the same way. It just goes and goes. On a good Saturday we do 30 loads in the 206 -- three loads an hour for 10-plus hours. We just fly and fly and fly. Q: The fun jumper community here seems to be seeing some real benefits. These guys have crazy healthy jump numbers for being based at a small dropzone. Andy: Yeah, we’re proud of that. The quality of every skydive is better, and that makes a difference to the bottom line, too. We wanted to offer the best possible experience to all of our jumpers! In the last two years, we’ve finished way more A licenses and created way more fun jumpers, because on each skydive they’re not getting 25 to 30 seconds of freefall, they’re getting from 50 to 60 seconds on every jump. It’s like trying to ride a bike. If your parents let you ride a bike for 10 to 20 seconds, take your bike away, then give you another 10 to 20 seconds on it the following weekend, it is going to take a long time to learn how to ride a bike. Skydiving is way harder to learn than riding a bike. If you give them more time on task and more jump availability, people are going to learn and be better and safer skydivers. They’re more current. They’re more excited. They make more jumps. It just gets better in every direction. Fun fact: We do 18,000-foot jumps occasionally, and we could even go higher than that if we wanted to. This plane climbs just as good at 18,000 feet as it does at 10,000 feet. It’s just a whole different beast. We have a lot of fun here. Q: So when did BAM Aviation start doing the conversions? Andy: That’s a funny story. When we built the first one, we had absolutely no intention of building more airplanes. That wasn’t why we did it in the first place. We did it for our dropzone. But, in the process of figuring out how to do it, we partnered up with Turbine Conversions and they made us an authorized installation center. They came and took a tour of our facilities, saw what we had and asked if we wanted to take on some more. This conversion is not crazy-hard, but it’s not just a straight, bolt-on modification and it takes real skill to do. It is a lot of sheet metal work. And I was lucky enough to have access to some real talent with Mike Palmer and Brian Wattenberger. I myself am learning, but the two guys that work with me really are master mechanics. They’re very unassuming, but when you get in the shop and watch their creativity, it’s incredible. They are true masters of the trade; true craftsmen. There would be no airplane business if it wasn’t for Mike and Brian. That’s a fact. I mean: I’m the skydiving business owner, and the guy that came up with the idea to convert the first plane, but without the mechanics, there would be no BAM Aviation (which stands for Brian, Andy, Mike). That’s for sure. At this point, it’s busy here. We have another one that we’re more than halfway through and several others in the works. We’re prepared to scale up, depending on need. I’m sure that the more people that know about it, the more people are going to be interested in it, because it the turbine 206 is a real option for that small/medium drop zone to be able to expand without going a million and a half dollars in debt. I do it because it’s good for my dropzone and it’s good for the sport.
  3. Dr. Randy Brown of the UW STOMP Study Talks Us In If you huck yourself out of aircraft for fun, you already know that it doesn’t always go according to plan. It follows that there are a couple of facts of which you should probably be aware: Victims of traumatic injury are at greater than normal risk for opioid addiction. Initiates of opioid misuse who progress to injection frequently cite prescription of an opioid for an injury as their first exposure to opioid, and the event that led to their eventual addiction. If you’ve been in this sport for a while, you almost certainly know someone who ended up battling opioid addiction for precisely that reason. And, if you’re in a hospital bed with a ‘fun button’ under your thumb the first time you think about opioids, you might be in for a rough ride. It was next to just such a hospital bed, after a very bad couple of days, that I first heard about the STOMP study. (“STOMP” stands for the Screening in Trauma for Opioid Misuse Prevention.) The three-year study, based at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health, draws on expertise in Addiction Medicine, Trauma Surgery, Public Health, Systems Engineering, Social Work, Pain Medicine, and Primary Care. The goal: to improve medicine’s understanding of opioid misuse and the development of addiction specifically in the context of traumatic injury (Ding! Ding! Ding!) and pain management. Ultimately, its goal is to develop protocols which will intervene early in the process to prevent opioid misuse, addiction and related complications. The STOMP program is hope on the horizon. I reached out to the program’s Principal Investigator, Randall Brown, MD, PhD, FASAM, to get a little wisdom for those of us tossing ourselves into harm’s way. Annette: How’d you become interested in pain medicine? Dr. Brown: I did my initial training in family medicine in California’s central valley, in a town called Modesto. At the time I was doing my training, the area was producing 90% of North America’s methamphetamines -- and consuming a fair chunk of it, as well. In hospital, we saw a ton of complications resulting from injections, methamphetamine use, and the struggles in that population -- where, despite having a horrifically painful surgeries and hospital stays, would reliably leave the hospital and resume their use. It made a deep impression on me. For someone to go through the pain these patients went through and return to the use so immediately, this addiction thing must be a pretty compelling state of affairs, and I don’t think the health care system, in general terms and settings, is adequately prepared to facilitate recovery from addiction. I found that troubling and fascinating, and so I pursued further training and gradually moved my focus from broader family medicine to substance use issues, prevention and treatment. I came to Madison in 2001 to do a research fellowship. I have been here involved in that sort of work to some extent for 17 years now. A: What changes have you seen in the field over that 17-year period? Dr.: In brief, the opioid crisis the biggest thing that has emerged since I’ve been doing this. Opioids are a much bigger deal than they were when I started on this path. Substance use issues have always been a major problem -- and, currently, substance misuse is the most common root cause of preventable death and morbidity in the US. It shifts from time to time, but it is always there: whether it is alcohol, which is always there, or methamphetamines, or opioids, which picked up steam in the 90s. Opioids have really skyrocketed over the last 15 years. A: How did opioids rise to power, would you say? Dr.: The literature guiding pain treatment in the 90s evolved over a landscape of imperfect science. The message that experts in pain management were putting out there back then -- with fair frequency -- was that “we are not treating pain adequately.” They specifically meant chronic, non-cancer pain. The literature out there in the 90s insisted that we should be using opioids more liberally to alleviate that suffering. The literature insisted that addiction was rare; that complications were rare. Honestly, we didn’t really know otherwise. There really weren’t data out there to tell us that wasn’t the right thing to do, and it seemed like the right thing to do -- to alleviate pain and suffering. The other thing that was put out there via the literature was that opioids don’t really cause any organ damage, so there wasn’t a clear ceiling to the daily dose. Again, we didn’t really have data in the literature to tell us otherwise. Around 2009 and 2010, the state of science started changing a little bit. We did have studies appearing in the literature indicating that these higher doses were associated with greater risks, particularly for overdose and death. That’s where there really started to be a sea change around prescribing patterns; trying to rein in those daily doses; trying to bring them down to less risky levels. On the flipside of that, from the public health standpoint, while it’s a smart move to reduce the absolute supply of opioids out there, the tricky piece is doing that in a reasonable and compassionate way, not cutting people off or assuming that these dosage recommendations are a hard ceiling for everybody. Opioids are still really important medications. They aren’t going to -- and they shouldn’t -- go away. We just need to be more mindful about monitoring their use, and educating patients about how to handle of them, to dispose of them appropriately if they aren’t using them. A: Can you summarize the STOMP study for me? Dr: STOMP recruits UW hospital patients who have been admitted for a traumatic injury. We collect information from them about their medical history, their personal history and their mental health. We then follow them forward for six months after discharge to collect further information that measures around mental health symptoms, anxiety, post-traumatic symptoms that may have developed as a result of the injury, information around their current opioid and other substance use patterns. We are trying to tease the data apart to see if there is some way that, all the way back to the time of injury, we can identify some factors that are strongly predictive of someone developing difficulty controlling their use of opioids. A: Let’s talk about my community: the “skyfamily” of airsports athletes. A lot of us are highly mobile, without an established healthcare provider, and a lot of us get injured when we’re traveling. Oftentimes, we’ll find ourselves inured far from home, where there the standards of medical care may be very different than we’re used to. Where would you suggest that folks go if they’re in that position and they need good information? Dr: That’s a really great question. Honestly, when we were putting this study together, STOMP, Screening in Trauma for Opioid Misuse Prevention, I was not finding much of anything out there, to tell the truth, and this was only a couple years ago. The stuff that is out there in prominence and taken up widely really is more targeting chronic pain -- like long-term stuff. The CDC has released a good set of guidelines regarding the reasonable taper rates for opioids and a patient information packet. The most common situation that folks struggle with after a more serious injury is that taper, and that information is good to have as soon as possible. These can certainly apply in situations with injuries which have resulted in severe pain that needs to be managed for a few or even several months. The other information contained in those guidelines that I think is really important for folks to know regards the safe and responsible handling of opioids: storing them appropriately, not advertising to the world that you have them (because of the potential for being victimized) and the safe disposal of unused medication to protect public health. In the setting of traumatic injury, I honestly have not been able to find a lot more out there. That’s why we’re doing this study. A: Is there any additional wisdom you want to offer an athlete who suffers an injury and realizes that they may be facing the reality of a long-term course of opioid medication? Dr: Recognize early that successfully navigating this process will take a collaborative effort with an established provider that can track your progress over time. Even if you’re lucky enough to be living in a stable residence geographically, know that, in this clinical setting, you’re likely to be moving between specialists and other care providers. Sometimes, monitoring -- and appropriate care in coming off of higher-dose opioids -- can fall between the cracks. Establish a relationship with a provider and stick with it for a period of months. That’s a challenge anywhere, but particularly for folks who are highly mobile. A: What are a couple questions that folks can ask of a potential provider to establish whether or not the provider they’re with has an appropriate functional understanding of opioids, so that we know that the experts we’re trusting really understand what they’re prescribing? Are there flags that can indicate if you are dealing with a savvy and empathic prescriber? Dr: My instinct would be to ask that provider the fairly open-ended question around their philosophy regarding the use of opioids for managing pain after an injury. Warning signs would be, for example, a provider who tells you that they “hate prescribing opioids, ever,” or, conversely, someone who says, “No problem! We’ll keep you on opioids as long and as much as you need them!” The provider should have a thorough, thoughtful answer to that question that incorporates a balance. That answer should involve informing you that there is some risk for physical dependence, but giving assurances that s/he will be here to work closely with you as you’re coming off of them when it becomes appropriate. You’re looking for a provider who demonstrates mindfulness of what physical dependence and opioid withdrawal is like, but isn’t someone who is just going to write the opioid prescription because it is the easy thing to do. A: Tell me about what the future of pain management might look like. Dr.: It’s pretty exciting, actually. We have been doing work here at UW to investigate the therapeutic potential of psychedelic substances, primarily Psilocybin, but also MDMA. We are going to be launching another study to see about the therapeutic potential of Psilocybin in the setting of opioid addiction or opioid use disorder. We are excited about that. Then we also have a study upcoming on therapeutic potential of MDMA for PTSD, which bears a relationship to substance use risk. It’s important to differentiate between clinical and recreational use. One of the really important components of the studies on the therapeutic potential of Psilocybin and MDMA involves the pieces of the intervention referred to as “set and setting.” Set refers to a number of things, including a relationship that is built up with a guide, the development of trust, orientation to the experience, exploration of current symptoms of mental health issues or underlying issues and preparing the participants for the therapeutic session itself. The setting can also be quite important. These supervised administrations tend to happen in an environment that is comfortable, homey, and not your typical clinical research, hospital-ish looking room, but the variables are still all under strict control, and the patient is being monitored by medical personnel. Both set and setting are understood to be really important to the potential therapeutic outcome. Recreational use takes all those controls away, so the extent to which those experiences can be therapeutic is a lot more unpredictable. Luckily, we’re getting closer and closer. When these treatments will be approved is a little unpredictable, but both are moving toward FDA approval. We’re participating in the studies that will hopefully lead to that, but it’s probably a couple years down the road. It’s an optimistic future, for sure. To learn more about Dr. Brown and the STOMP study, visit the study’s landing page at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine website.
  4. nettenette

    Lessons Learned with Amy Chmelecki

    Images by Amy Chmelecki When we catch up with Amy Chmelecki, she’s getting ready for what is, for her, a pretty normal travel schedule. From her Eloy home base, she’s heading out for one week on the coast of Barcelona, and then two weeks in Portugal’s Algarve, and then one week at a pop-up drop zone in Sicily. “I’m not sure of the details of where I’m going to be off the top of my head,” she laughs, “mostly because I couldn’t pronounce any of the names.” At this stage of the game, Amy’s own legendary last name is the one that needs the most emphatic pronunciation. She’s at the top of her game, after all: a flagship athlete with Red Bull, and certainly one of the most sought-after skydivers in the world. With head-to-toe branding, of course, comes great responsibility. Amy is no stranger to high-profile skydiving--she’s been a leading athlete in the sport for many years. Even so, her career’s constant up-level trajectory wouldn’t be a great fit for just anyone. “I’ve debated the ‘sacrifice’ question on a philosophical level with some of my friends,” Amy muses. “Sure, there’s a level of financial insecurity involved in this kind of career, but I don’t mind it. You have to be comfortable with the constant unknowns and have faith that it is going to work out. I get it that some people wouldn’t be comfortable with that, but speaking for myself, I don’t feel like I’ve sacrificed anything. Like having children, for instance. A lifestyle like this would be difficult with children, but I’ve never really wanted them--so it just fit.” It doesn’t hurt that Amy has had some pretty awesome female mentors along the way. “I actually talked to [Rigging Innovations Co-Owner] Brenda [Reid] quite a bit about this,” she continues. “I don’t know if she remembers those conversations, but they meant a lot to me when I was starting off in my career. The ‘kids’ question was something that I was nervous about, because there was this fear in the back of my head, like, am I going to regret my choice? Brenda has never had children, and I sat her down and talked to her about it extensively. She really filled me with a calm that I needed. Here was this extremely successful woman in the sport of skydiving. Since then, she has been put in the Skydiving Hall of Fame. She and [husband and Rigging Innovations Co-Owner] Sandy [Reid] have this beautiful marriage; life; career. And she has zero regrets about not having children. It was nice to hear that from someone that I admire so much.” “People still tell me I’m going to change my mind,” she laughs. “It’s happening less and less, but it still happens. The other day in Atlanta, a taxi cab driver told me I’d want kids one day, just wait and see. I’m like, dude, I’m 41. I’ve been all around the world this month. He had no idea what he was talking about. It was funny.” As any woman in airsports knows all too well, that cab driver’s oafish mansplain certainly doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Even for us girls in the rank-and-file, misconceptions abound. Amy, however, gets the rarified opportunity to blow them to bits. For instance: recently, Amy was hearing a murmur in the press bemoaning the fact that Red Bull only hires teenage girls to be its star athletes. “So then Red Bull puts out this video on Women’s Day,” she grins. “And I was, like, hey! Guess what! I’m in that video, and I’m 40. I like representing this new part of me, being a woman in her 40s and still an extreme sport athlete and still getting better, and evolving, and doing more and radder things. Sometimes, like everybody, I get a little bit of an impostor syndrome--but I’m really proud of that video and what it meant for females. This is really still happening. I’m still doing this. This is possible.” The idea of “possibility” is one that Amy gets to play with quite a lot in her daily life as a top-shelf airsports performer. If you’ve seen any of the jumps she does in that shiny silver helmet with the bull on it, you know just how far she (and the rest of the team) are able to push possibility on any given day. I’m sure we can all agree that it’s inspiring for a tidy stack of reasons. That said: Not all impossible feats are what they seem. For instance: Most people probably assume that the hardest demo Amy has ever done was the landmark wingsuit flight over the New York City skyline. Surprisingly, Amy insists that it wasn’t. “Honestly, it was relatively easy,” she insists. “There were no obstacles on the entry to the barge, first of all. We had space all around. We could approach from any direction, so we were able to go favorably into the wind.” “There was a moment when I was coming in for the landing,” she adds, “where I thought I was going to go a little long. I just let my wingsuit fall from up on my chest down on my legs. In hindsight, I was okay already, but that little bit of added drag slowed me down just a touch. That was easy to manage. There was lots of room for forgiveness on that one.” It is not, as you might imagine, always that way. “Compare that with some of the other demos we do,” she says, “where the only possible approach is to, for instance, make a right-hand 180, get close to something in the turn, avoid the crowd lined up all along one side and slip in somewhere. Those are a lot harder, even if the landing area might appear to look a lot bigger. Or, of course, a stadium demo.” And what about Amy’s dream demo? If “possibility” didn’t have to figure in anywhere? Her answer comes in record time. “I’d jump off a rocket,” she laughs. “No one has done that, have they? I should do a two-way with Jeffro out of a rocket.” She pauses to think. “I wonder if Elon Musk drinks Red Bull? He must. It says he sleeps only 4 to 5 hours a night. There has to be something keeping him up. I’m sure we could get him involved. Anyway. who doesn’t want to go to Mars?” “Seriously, though,” she leans in, “for me at this point it’s mostly about continuing to do what I’m doing--and taking care of myself more, because as you get into your 40s you have to make changes physically, and you have to work harder at being able to keep up with this type of lifestyle. My goals are to keep this sustainable for as long as I possibly can. To me, that means caring for myself physically and emotionally, and just continuing to do the hard work and evolving as a sponsored athlete.” Wise words, indeed. We wanted to know: From all that wisdom, what would 40-year-old Amy have to say to 20-year-old Amy if 40-year-old Amy walked into the Bent Prop on her kid counterpart’s very first shift? “Buy bitcoin,” she deadpans. “Okay, right. If I could go back with the knowledge and the experience and the brain that I have now, I would nurture a plan B along the way more. I would save money earlier; budget a little bit more wisely; invest. Now: The reason I say ‘with the mind I have now’ is that, honestly, I wasn’t capable of that kind of thing in my early 20s. Living this lifestyle, that’s one thing. Harnessing and nurturing a Plan B as well as saving money along the way? That’s something else entirely. When you’re younger, you’re thinking, ‘what if I die tomorrow?’ Then you get to a point where you’re, like, ‘what I live until my 90s?’ Living is way harder.” Anyway, with this kinda life--why would Amy want to do anything differently? In all honesty: she doesn’t. “Even with my own advice,” she chuckles, “I would probably do everything the same.” Good choice, Amy.
  5. StarLog Skydiving & Rigging Logbooks Price: $12 Brand new line of Skydiver and Rigger Logbooks. All spiral bound for easy logging and fit inside all standard size logbook covers. StarLog Skydiver holds 304 jumps StarLog Pro holds 1456 jumps StarLog Rigger holds 684 logs Available at ChutingStar Power Tools Price: $19.95 Want a great stocking stuffer with a low price? Give your loved one a Power Tool packing tool in holiday colors! Available at Para-Gear Hanging Handcrafted Wood Swooper Dude Price: $20 Made of mahogany, coconut and jute, the details on this handcrafted swooper includes a canopy, lines, rig on the back, hair, determined swoop face and skirt. Available at ChutingStar Rig Hangers Price: $42 With these colorful hangers you can hang your skydiving rig wherever you want. Whether it's on a rack at the dropzone hangar, on the back of a door, in your closet or anywhere else you can think of. These powder coated hangers make it easy to spot your skydiving rig, as well as give it a nice accent. Available at Para-Gear The Summer I Became A Skydiver, Children's Book Price: $25 Skydiver Ben Lowe wrote this children's book that tell's the story of a boy's introduction into a summer of skydiving. This 29-page hardcover book is a great short story that also helps explain skydiving to youngsters. Available at ChutingStar Glow Face Alt III Galaxy - $169 Meters and Black Only. The phosphorescent face provides a background glow to assist in low light conditions. The glow lasts over 2 hours in complete darkness, and is perfect for either night jumps or those sunset loads when it starts to get dark. The Glow Face Altimaster III Galaxy features a field replaceable lens. In case your lens gets scratched or cracked you will now be able to replace it yourself instead of having to send it to get serviced. Available at Para-Gear Selections Skydiving Photo Book by Michael McGowan Price: $43 This giant, hardcover photo book from McGowan is the perfect coffee table book of some of the most amazing shots in skydiving. Packed with more than 100 large, full-page photographs. Includes forward by Michael McGowan as well as liner notes from Angie McGowan and Tom Sanders. Available at ChutingStar Para-Gear Parachute Gear Bag Price: $85 Durable fabric and heavy duty zippers make this bag ideal for storing and carrying all the gear needed for skydiving. ID sleeve for personal information Dual zippered main compartment with zip protector Back pocket with additional inner zippered-pocket for storing accessories and documents up to size A4 Rubber handle on top and side Heavy duty metal buckles and comfortable-shoulder straps Durable, easy to clean, splash proof material. Available at Para-Gear
  6. nettenette

    Why and How to Stop Believing in Talent

    Your Mindset Matters, In the Sky and On the Ground Usually, when someone tells you that there are “two kinds of people in the world,” you’re either in for a bad joke or a cringeworthy platitude. That said, here you have it: Illustration by Nigel Holmes So: Are you blue, or are you green? If you’re a skydiver, there’s a good chance you’re green--and that’s a good thing. (We’ll get into that later.) The above graphic, and the decades-long body of research behind it, derives from the work of Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, Ph.D. In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol goes into some depth regarding how the belief in our ability to change over the belief that we just kinda *are* one thing or another conspire to create us. Here’s her TED talk summarizing the work: https://www.ted.com/talks/carol_dweck_the_power_of_believing_that_you_can_improve#t-106915 While Carol’s TED talk revolves around this mindset dichotomy in the context of childhood development, make no mistake: This is by far not a kid thing. This is an everybody thing. According to Dweck’s research, a “fixed mindset” insists that our character, our intelligence and our abilities are carved in stone from the start. They’re static. We can’t change them in any meaningful way. If a fixed mindset person enjoys a success, it’s because they are successful and talented. The flipside is that fixed mindset people feel like they must avoid failure, no matter what the cost, because if they fail they are a failure, and that they’ve proven wrong the people who praised them for being smart and being good at things. Every challenge, then, is a gladiatorial trial whereby they’ve gotta prove themselves or wear the cone of shame. When the pressure is on, fixed mindset would much rather lie and cheat than ask for help. A “growth mindset,” on the other hand, doesn’t look at it that way. A growth mindset sees failure as a heavier weight to lift so it can develop a heretofore weaker muscle. Failure isn’t failure. Failure is simply the state of not having succeeded yet. And, instead of running from challenge (academic, interpersonal, developmental, athletic, and onward), growth mindset runs toward the empty spaces. When growth mindset meets success, it says “Okay, then. What else ya got?” Growth mindset wants to be better where fixed mindset wants to look better. Ironically, growth mindset has an uncanny knack for scoring on both counts. Growth mindset, as Dweck puts it, “luxuriat[es] in the power of ‘yet.’” Fixed mindset is “gripped in the tyranny of ‘now.’” There’s more. Disquietingly, whichever mindset looms predominant tends to act as the motor for our entire lives. It drives not only our functional relationship with success and failure, it drives our behavior, our choices, our relationships and, in the endgame, our happiness. So, now, to the sky. Look around you for the good news. The lion’s share of skydivers, most of the time, are growth-mindset people. Y’know that graphic that pops up on Carol’s talk at about 07:40? The one that shows electrical activity in the brain when subject students encountered an error? I’m willing to bet that’s every skydiver’s brain on pretty much every jump. As a group, we just love to build out our neural networks, and our culture helps us along that delightfully meandering uphill path. First off, we see and we honor the work. We watch the hard-charging learning process of the athletes we acknowledge to be good at what they do. We share the workshop where they make their refinements. The exact measurements are up for debate, but we still rattle off jump numbers and tunnel hours and years in the sport when we calculate our expectations. Our licensing system, even, reflects that deference to workmanship and walking the long path over showmanship and cutting corners. Secondly, our sport has a pretty stark way of showing us the danger of operating out of a clearly deterministic mindset. Generally speaking, jumpers who consider themselves talented tend to behave more recklessly than jumpers who consider themselves lifelong learners. Right? Finally, our sport’s podiums are consistently graced with teams who bootstrapped themselves into shiny medals. We inherently know that, if we put the time and effort in, we can get there too. Here’s the cool part: For all that focus on growth, we can still get better. There aren’t “two kinds of people in the world,” after all--and Western culture has doused us in such a steady stream of fixed-mindset malarkey for so long that it’s really hard to get the stains out. First, we can rinse the idea of “talent” out of our collective hair. “Talent” is a fixed-mindset classic. It describes an ingrained quality, not a hard-won achievement. “Talent” is limiting, and it tends to keep the athletes under its banner from trying anything that might leave its fingerprints on their carefully burnished shine. Secondly, we can use every available opportunity to praise more wisely in situations where we’re called upon to give feedback. Instead of praising talent (“You’re a natural!”), we can praise process (“I saw you working to control that spin. It was much better this time.”). Finally, we ourselves can learn to love “not yet.” We can stop laughing off forged logbooks, pay-to-play ratings and the practice of egging ourselves (and other jumpers) on into extralimital skill situations. We can continue the tradition of our forebears in the sport, who carved out enough deep space for growth that we can sink our roots in deep before repotting. The space they created for us is a cherishable gift. As Dr. Dweck puts it: “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.“ ---------
  7. MARINA, Calif. -- There he was, high above Monterey Bay, a yellow speck rocketing across the gauzy sky. Birdman was tracing a line due east, maybe 100 mph, following the braided shoals of the Salinas River. The ground was approaching at about 60 mph. Graceful from afar, close-up he looked like a flying squirrel in an Elvis get-up. Mark Lichtle had jumped out of a plane at 12,900 feet and was trying to soar two miles inland before deploying his parachute. For a minute and a half, the 42-year-old skydiver kept gravity at bay, moving forward much faster than he was descending toward that famous dark soil of Steinbeck country. Mark Lichtle: Featured Photographer Mark's Galleries Lichtle is one of a growing flock of jumpers who wear wing suits. Designed by BirdMan International, the suits keep humans aloft with nylon wings that extend from the wrists to the hips and inflate as air starts to rush into them. Another wing, like a bird's tail, connects to both legs. "It's like slow-motion skydiving," Lichtle said. "You can stay up longer and go farther. The wing suit has allowed us to feel as close to flight as possible." Since they became commercially available in 1999, BirdMan suits have given skydivers a new rush, and provided a new impetus to base jumping--hurling oneself off buildings, bridges and cliffs. Lichtle is a retired mortgage broker from San Jose who films other people enjoying such adventures, often while jumping himself. Recently he leaped off a tower in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and in Mexico he jumped 1,200 feet into a cave called the Basement of the Swallows, which itself could swallow the Empire State Building. Wing suits are for experts only. The company recommends that a skydiver perform at least 500 parachute jumps and then take special bird-flying instruction before putting on wings. Although there is an emergency mechanism to cut away the wings, the diver's arms are very restricted while flying. "It's like skydiving handcuffed, and your head is your first point of contact with anything else," Lichtle said. Vladi Pesa, a BirdMan dealer and wing suit instructor, said that once students learn to control the suit, it revolutionizes their diving. They can do loops and barrel rolls and carve across the sky as if it were water or snow. "It completely changes the flight path," Pesa said. "You can do formations, flying like a flock of birds. You can double your free-fall time." Skydivers have long experimented with artificial wings and were called birdmen. In the mid-20th century, the practice was akin to jumping from a plane in a cheap Batman costume. From 1930 to 1961, according to Birdman International, 72 of the 75 people known to have tried such stunts died. The problem was, and still is, that skydivers need to be stable when they deploy their chutes. If some homemade wing has you spinning like a fan out of control, you're history. In the 1990s, skydivers began experimenting again, this time with wings that had no hard parts and were easier to keep in control. A Frenchman named Patrick DeGayardon got it right--for a while. He performed successful wing jumps until 1998, when he tried to sew a little pillow beneath his parachute to get rid of a pocket of dead air behind his derriere. Unfortunately, he sewed the chute itself to the pillow and didn't try to deploy it until too late. He plunged from life to legend. About that time, a Finn named Jari Kuosma came up with the idea of a commercial wing suit. A Croatian friend designed it, and BirdMan International was born in 1999. It has sold about 1,000 suits, ranging from $600 to $1,000. Kuosma has been trying to tinker with designs to slow down the speed of descent even more, allowing birdmen to swoop up and for a moment, maybe, achieve zero vertical velocity. "We are getting very close to zero," he said. "I am going to land this thing without a chute one day." Hopefully, not like the 72 others. Kuosma said he slowed the downward speed to 10 mph on one flight, whereas a normal skydiver falls at about 120 mph before throwing the chute. Others say birdmen haven't gotten much slower than 40 to 60 mph. On a cool summer day, with a briny wind coming off the bay, Lichtle suited up at the Marina Airport, an aging corrugated affair with old barracks and ragged windsocks. He harnessed himself into the six zippers and shuffled like a penguin to the runway. He wore a helmet--aptly designed by the Bonehead company--shaped flat like Frankenstein's skull, on which he mounted his camera. "Birdman!" an onlooker shouted, as an instructor explained the wing suit concept to curious students. Soon after the plane lifted off, the other skydivers on board jumped out right over the airport. Lichtle told the pilot to drop him a couple miles away at the coast. He wanted to see if he could get back to the airport on his own wings. He has to get used to his new suit, which is for advanced divers and "a little twitchy." Still, because he is more streamlined through the air, the sensation is a lot smoother and more liberating than regular skydiving. "You don't have the hard wind on your body," he said. He leaped alone over the beach and, at first, fell like a rock. Then in several seconds, the air went through the vents of his wing, and floom, they inflated. He was aloft, aiming roughly for a rusted water tower at the airport. But up at 12,000 feet, a strong head wind was blowing off the land. Lichtle was going about 100 mph into the wind and hurtling down about 65 mph. He watched his altimeter and studied the oaks and artichokes below. Flatbed trucks tooled along the farm roads. He realized he was not going to reach his goal and threw his chute at about 3,500 feet, still a quarter mile west of the airport. He drifted east with the wind and spiraled down with the other divers, undaunted. An eagle he wasn't. Still, Lichtle was unruffled. "This is really the closest you can get to a bird."
  8. admin

    An Insiders View of Team X

    By Ian Drennan I wasn't really sure what to expect when arriving at Deepwood Ranch in Deland for the PDFT Tryouts. So much of my skydiving career had been spent preparing for this moment, yet when it finally arrived I felt very unprepared. I can't deny that going into the event I was in competition mode, not sure what to expect, but sure I was going to give 100% no matter what they threw at us. Little did I know that this would feel, and be, nothing like a competition, and nothing like anything I'd ever experienced before... After a brief welcome by the PDFT we were all taken to a house where we were given free rein to divide our living space as we saw fit. The mood was good; everyone was excited, and nervous, as to what the coming days would bring. Surprisingly when it came to picking living space, most people gravitated towards the people they'd never met or had spent limited time with. There were of course, requirements for each area - thankfully our space was dubbed the "No Snoring" zone :) I had expected the atmosphere to be tense; there was so much unknown and so much riding on this event for each and every person there. Yet the mood was upbeat and encouraging - the tone for the week had been set. We woke on Tuesday morning, way earlier than any human should have to be awake (that's 6am for me... what can I say, I'm not a morning person!) - still, the rooms were abuzz with excitement and everyone anxiously scurried out to start the day. After breakfast the introductions began, lead by the PDFT and John LeBlanc (who blew off a meeting to spend more time with the group!). As the introductions progressed, each participant revealed more and more about their background, upbringing, and motivations behind pursuing this dream. This 3+ hour experience flew by as, surprisingly, people quickly took to a "heart on the sleeve" approach, laying out their innermost insecurities, fears, thoughts, and dreams. Once the introductions were done, we were assigned groups (picked by the PDFT) of 5 people. Each of the 3 teams was then assigned a task: prepare a group presentation on a set topic (each group had the same topic) within the hour, and each team member was required to spend an equal amount time speaking. This exercise quickly allowed groups to get a feel for personality dynamics within each team and, hopefully, learn to work as a group. Well, I can't speak behalf of the other groups, but Group 3 rocked the house :) I was lucky to be paired with a fantastic group of people, all bringing different strengths to the table. The groups were not just responsible for a single presentation, but rather were together for the week and assigned different duties for each day - dish washing, cooking, or grounds maintenance that would be done in between the scheduled activities for the day, and interviews. Tuesday night was brought to a close by the group’s first rock session. Much like the Native American Talking Stick tradition, this concept allowed people to voice opinions – uninterrupted - discussing themselves, their teams, the day, or anything that sprung to mind in a positive, or negative, fashion. Once again each individual surprised me with their honesty, and their ability to take constructive criticism. Around 11pm, after a long day, we packed it in and went back to the house - exhausted.....I don't think I've ever seen so many skydivers in bed at such an early time :) Wednesday we woke to poor weather, so the group took the opportunity to do their individual presentations. We were entertained with a variety of topics, from cooking, to building water towers, to snowboarding, juggling, fresca ball, and even how to hot-wire an airplane! Each member added their own personal flair. I think it was here that it really struck me what an amazing job the PDFT had done selecting the 15 members. I remember looking around and realizing how level the playing field was. Each individual was strong in different ways, and it was clear that the team could pick any 4 and still have a spectacular outcome. After the presentations, everyone blew off some energy by playing some of the newly introduced games or learning to juggle. It was quite a sight to behold. Group 3 took to cooking that evening, and with little deliberation began the cooking assembly line. Surprisingly, Travis Mills (from group 2) joined us in our food preparation. Travis, a onetime sous-chef, took the time to help us rapidly prepare our ingredients (that man is a chopping machine!!). I began to notice how well we were working together. As usual, after dinner, everyone sat around the fireplace, chatting, trading stories, etc. It was here that JC took it upon himself to introduce Zip-Zop. Every single person participated in the game (despite enormous suspicion), including Jay, Ian, and Shannon from the PDFT! I won't ruin any surprises, but needless to say - JC is a prankster....oh, and JC if you're reading this....I'm plotting my revenge... On Thursday we woke to beautiful weather. The energy levels were almost uncontainable....we were finally going to JUMP! The team had something special in store for us today: We were going to do a mini-competition. After a few practice rounds the competition started - interestingly enough, the mood wasn't competitive; it was supportive. I can't speak for others, but I've never felt so relaxed before. Each round was just downright fun. The highlight, for me at least, was the expression round - not an event I normally do well in, so needless to say, I was elated with the final outcome. After the competition it was back to chores where our group was to help Kim, the land owner, chop wood for his house (and our fire pit). It was here that what was happening really became clear to me. Our group was unable to audibly communicate, since Tommy D was using the chainsaw to cut wood. But somehow we still needed to work together to load up the truck and get a system going. We fumbled a bit the first few minutes, each struggling to find our place....but then, something happened: We began to draw on what we knew of each over the last few days and created yet another assembly line - seamlessly operating in unison. We actually got so efficient that we chopped, and loaded, and entire truck full of wood in 20 minutes all with minimal communication! Returning from the wood chopping experience, I was summoned to my interview. This was it, this was the moment to shine in front of the team, and give them every reason why I should be on the Expansion Team. I consider myself fortunate to have competed, and become friends, with the team before this day - yet it was still intimidating. I cannot imagine how some candidates, who'd never met any of them, felt at that table. The team was warm and welcoming though, and it felt far more like a discussion than an interview. Offering up direct questions and answers, I felt I represented myself well. I walked away with a smile thinking that good things were coming... and then it hit me, and it was like getting hit by a Mack truck. All these doubts entered my mind: "What if I get offered a slot, can I live up to the public expectation of a team member?"; "What if I just blew it?", etc. You see, in all my dreams of becoming a PDFT member, I'd actually never stopped to think what would happen if I actually got it. I know I wasn't the only one. I didn't have too long to dwell on my insecurities since the night's activities were about to start after dinner. This time JC once again had an icebreaker game. This one was more a mind game, and boy did he mess with my mind :) The rules of the game were simple: You had to figure out the rules of the game, and when you did you had to guide (but not tell) players who hadn't figured it out yet. Much to my frustration I wasn't getting it and, as more and more around me figured it out, my frustration grew. Fortunately, Ryan was the most frustrated and, in a fake temper tantrum, provided comic relief. It was now time for our Rock Session. The team once again kicked it off, providing examples of how negative, but constructive, criticism to other teammates. Surprisingly, the candidates sessions remained largely positive. It was a very emotional experience for everyone involved. Drained and filled with self-doubt, I headed to bed. Friday morning was the first morning all week, that no one was on time to breakfast. Mentally exhausted, and nervous, we gathered ourselves and headed out for the final day. The mood was definitely serious - we all knew what was happening today. We kicked off the day with a grueling exercise: We had to pick who we thought the new team should be, as well as a 'heart' team made up of 3 other people we'd love to fly with and then explain to everyone in a few short words, why we made the choices we did. It was here we got a tiny taste of what the PDFT was about to go through. It was incredibly tough to pick so few people from so many qualified people. In the end, after everyone's choices were vocalized, the choices were spread evenly among the group - this was definitely not going to be easy. Deciding to jump, each group got paired with a PDFT member and did a formation jump. The exercise was in trust, and it was here I noticed that I needed to be more trusting of my teammates in the air. Time was now out though and the PDFT needed to go and deliberate, and while they deliberated gave us carte blanche to jump and do whatever we wanted to, to blow off steam...and blow off steam we did :) I took the opportunity to work on my trust issues by encouraging everyone there to swoop me while I sat in a kayak on the pond - after all, if I couldn't trust these people, who could I trust? It was one of the most enjoyable things I've ever done in my life. I had my own swoop show, with each person trying to outdo the other on the pond. It was total and utter carnage - and it was great! My favorite memory is of Travis Mills screaming by doing a ghost-rider with the biggest smile I think I've ever seen anyone have. After a quick hike through Deepwood Ranch, it was time to return to hear the final announcement. The team arrived a few minutes later than expected, with a somber, yet relieved, look on their faces. It was clear they'd made a decision. Addressing the group the team announced that they'd almost not reached a decision that night, they had dropped the list to 6 people but had been unable to narrow it further. My heart jumped. With us all hanging on every word, the team announced that they'd made a change in plans and had decided to expand another 2 slots as "next on deck" or alternates. These candidates would be given first dibs at any future opportunities, or expansions, within the PDFT but would not be considered 'the final four'. First Jens Thorgenson's name was called. I was immediately thrilled; Jens and I had started building a strong friendship and respect, and I thought he was a wonderful choice. Next they announced me and my heart raced - it was unexpected, but ultimately perfect for me. I was ecstatic! In a weird way, I felt like the pressure was off, but felt no sadness at not making the final four. I knew, no matter who was picked, it was going to be a good choice and the PDFT was going be stronger than ever. Before announcing the final four, Ian Bobo emotionally reminded everyone that the blue jerseys weren't an indication of self-worth, and that each person there was a great candidate. The words were sincere, and they rang true. Once the final four were announced, through tears of joy, and sadness, everyone took the opportunity to congratulate them. Looking around I realized this is what the week was all about - cheering your team on, and we were ALL a team. We all left the next day as better people, with a deeper respect for everyone there than any of us could have imagined. I often try to explain the experience to people, but realize that it falls short of doing the whole process justice. All I can say is that it changed me in a way I can't describe. I've had many people asking me what happens from here? What does "next on deck" mean? Honestly, I don't know where this is going, but I know it's going to be a hell of a ride.
  9. Results of the USPA Board of Directors Election (1/5/00) NATIONAL BJ Worth Roger Nelson Glenn Bangs John DeSantis Mike Mullins Michael Ortiz Don Yahrling Larry Hill REGIONAL Central: Gary Peek Eastern: Mike Perry Gulf: Madolyn Murdock Mid-Atlantic: Gene Paul Thacker Mideastern: Gary Cooper Mountain: Marty Jones North Central: John Goswitz Northeast: Marylou Laughlin Northwest: Jessie Farrington Pacific: Jess Rodriquez Southeast: Barry Chase Southern: Larry Stapleton Southwest: Lee Schlichtemeier Western: Harry Leiche
  10. Each year the boundaries of skydiving are expanded, giving way to new avenues of progress and to endless possibilities. The year 2012 was a big year for the sport, with a number of records being set. But aside from the records, there are also groups or individuals who slowly push the standards up with a display of skill. Other times we're inspired more by the surroundings and the cinematography of the video. We take a look at some of the most inspiring skydiving related videos from 2012. 1. Felix Baumgartner jumps from the edge of space One doesn't really have to say anything about this video, I'm sure everyone reading this knows all about it already, but for those that don't; on the 14th October 2012, millions of people around the world were fixed to live streaming of a world record attempt by Felix Baumgartner to set the highest ever skydive. The final confirmed exit height was 128 100 feet, allowing Felix to reach speeds of 833 mph during his freefall. Whether you love him or hate, one cannot deny the magnitude of this jump. 2. Gary Connery lands a wingsuit without a parachute This jump had a lot of media hype, not as much as the previous video - but the idea of skydiving without a parachute was obviously a subject that brought a lot of attention. The idea has been something that Jeb Corlois had been talking about for years prior, though his idea for landing was and still is quite different. Some argue that Gary Connery's jump was less landing without a parachute, and more just crashing into a pile of boxes. Though the technicalities of the jump aside, there is something liberating about the idea of being able to exit a plane without a rig on. Over the coming years, we will not doubt see further attempts to perform the act of landing without a parachute, and this first step - was definitely a jump worth the attention. 3. Vertical Skydiving World Record While this video was technically uploaded in early 2013, the footage is from 2012 and comprises of a record setting 138 person vertical skydiving record. The video was created as a marketing strategy by GoPro for the Hero action camera - and regardless of your POV camera preference, it's hard to argue that they didn't put together an absolutely amazing video. While only lasting just over a minute, it's a pretty awesome minute of viewing. 4. Skydive Dubai - Part 2 This video was a follow up to an extremely popular video that Skydive Dubai released originally in 2011, the original video has over 11 million views on youtube, and if you're looking to attract potential clients, what better way to do it than using viral networking to show just what an amazing place to jump Dubai is. While the footage may not show all too much groundbreaking skydiving, you can't help but want to head there immediately and get on a plane when you look at the view. If the point of a video is to get you up in the air, this video accomplishes that flawlessly. The best way to describe it, is fun! 5. Soul Flyers tear up wind tunnel Something for all the tunnel rats out there. Soul Flyers always manage to get one amped with any video they're in and this wind tunnel video is no different. There's some absolutely amazing flying in this video and for anyone who hasn't stepped inside a tunnel yet, it may well get them wanting to. The cinematography is also extremely good for a discipline that's notoriously difficult to get good footage of. Which of these videos inspired you the most. Let us know, or share your favorite skydiving videos of 2012 in the comments section below.
  11. PALATKA — To celebrate his 60th birthday and his forced retirement as an airline pilot, Larry Elmore jumped out of an airplane 60 times in one day. He was forced to retire from Trans World Airlines at age 60 because of Federal Aviation Administration rules on commercial pilots. So Tuesday, Elmore, of nearby Melrose in northeastern Florida, got together at Kay Larkin Airport with a support staff of parachute packers from Skydive Palatka and jumped 60 times to prove a point about his age. Jeff Colley, drop zone manager at Skydive Palatka, said Elmore made his first jump about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday and finished up about 3 p.m. Three planes and three pilots were used to ferry Elmore up for his jumps. Elmore, who started skydiving in 1986, donned a parachute, hopped in a plane, and parachuted down. Upon landing, he would shed his used chute, put on another held waiting for him, hop in the plane and go up for another jump. For the first 59 jumps, he exited the aircraft at 2,300 feet and opened his parachute immediately. On the final jump, Elmore skydived from 13,500 feet, Colley said. Alison Duquette, an FAA spokeswoman, said at age 60 pilots begin a progressive decline that could affect levels of safety for commercial passengers. Elmore has started a new job as a corporate pilot, Colley said.
  12. admin

    Saving lives with your computer

    Dropzone.com users have formed a team to help with a world-wide effort to understand proteins and their role in certain diseases. It is called "Folding@Home" and this effort is already producing results. Some of you may have heard about SETI@Home, and it's search for extraterrestrial intelligence by scanning the skies with radio telescopes and analyzing the signals they pick up from space. Folding@Home (F@H) works much the same way, in that analysis of data is shared by many computers. Collectively, many computers become one, huge, super-computer. This "super computer" studies protein folding, misfolding, aggregation, and related diseases. Something much more meaningful to most of us than searching for extraterrestrial intelligence. To help in this effort is very easy. You simply download a program from http://folding.stanford.edu/. And install it on your computer. The program only runs when you are not using your computer, so it doesn't interfere with any work you are doing. When you install the program, you can also join the Dropzone.com team. Simply put "31515" for your team number. You can also do this later, or change to a different team at any time. Join the conversation in the forums
  13. admin

    Time for a National "Sky" Patrol?

    Back in 1936, snow skiing was a sport that only a few dedicated individuals pursued. The primitive conditions practically guaranteed that anyone foolish enough to ski would eventually be injured. On the snowy slopes of a Vermont mountain, just that happened to Charles Minot "Minnie" Dole when his ankle snapped in a fall. His friends went for help, but eventually had to toboggan him off the slope themselves, using a piece of sheet metal roofing material as an improvised rescue sled. The ankle fracture was so bad that Dole was told he would probably never ski again. A few months later, one of Dole's friends who had helped him down the mountain was killed in a ski racing accident. Dole was not only determined to recover and ski again; he was also determined to do something about making skiing safer. He co-founded the National Ski Patrol in 1938, modeling it after some of the informal ski patrols at local ski areas and grafting on some of techniques used by Swiss ski instructors and mountain guides. After World War II, skiing boomed in popularity, equipment and services improved, and the National Ski Patrol is now the largest winter safety organization in the world. To this day the NSP serves an invaluable function in preventing or responding to skiing accidents with special training and equipment. Skiing and skydiving have many parallels. They evolved over roughly the same time frame, and advanced rapidly after World War II. During the sixties and seventies national organizations formed, services improved, training became professionalized, and equipment evolved rapidly. Similar sports enjoyed similar progress. Swimmers and surfers have trained, well equipped lifeguards. Climbers have mountain rescue specialists and spelunkers have cave rescue organizations. But for some reason skydiving has never evolved an organization dedicated to preventing accidents, responding to them where and when they happen, and evaluating them to learn how to make the sport safer. Considering the frequency of skydiving injuries, there is an obvious need for trained response. All outdoor sports share some commonalities. Each takes place in an unusual environment, with specific environmental hazards. Each has specialized equipment and skill sets. Each has an undeniable element of risk, yet those risks are not mysterious and can be mitigated through proper preparation. Skydiving can learn from other forms of outdoor recreation and develop a national training program to prepare drop zone staff and volunteers in accident prevention, preparation, and response. Such an organization, modeled after the National Ski Patrol, may be just around the corner. This December Skydive Arizona will host a training course that will also serve as an opportunity to examine what is needed to bring this sort of organization to your drop zone. At the core of the program will be a Wilderness First Responder course from a nationally accredited organization. The WFR was chosen over standard EMT training because of a heavier emphasis on trauma, and on managing it without access to immediate ambulance response, since many DZs are a long ways from the nearest ambulance. In addition to the WFR, the course will include modules on skydiving specific problems such as aircraft and fuel safety, removing skydiving equipment from injured jumpers, recovering cut-away equipment, problems involving tree, water, and power line landings, and incident investigation. Relationships with the local emergency medical system and with the FAA will be reviewed. Recognizing and mitigating hazards will also be discussed, as will incident reporting and the possibilities offered by building up a national database of accidents. The course, scheduled for December 1 - 10, 2007 is open to any interested skydivers, regardless of their experience in the sport. Slots are limited and must be reserved well in advance. The course cost is $600, which includes instruction, materials, and training aids. Graduates will receive WFR certification from the Wilderness Medicine Institute of the National Outdoor Leadership School. For registration details, go to www.airdropassist.org/wfr.htm The course cost does not include lodging or food. Participants will be engaged in classroom activities all ten days, and actual skydiving is not on the agenda. If you bring your rig, plan on jumping before or after the course. Camping is free. Inexpensive team rooms or bunks are available on the drop zone. There are several hotels nearby. For lodging and travel information, go to www.skydiveaz.com. For other questions, contact Bryan Burke at: bryantburke@hotmail.com.
  14. corvuscorax

    About Learning The Extrem Sport Skydiving

    Generally when folks consider learning the extrem sport skydiving, they think of getting unbelievable adrenalin rushs. The truth is that these principles are possibly polar opposites. Provided you were truly trying to feel free in the sky, there are possibly very distinct steps you must make in an attempt to do well with realizing your calling. [Image 1] Here are tips to start you off: -- Living healthy Living healthy is an important part of the process that someone looking to learn the extrem sport skydiving should do. If you are already accustomed to living healthy, when it's time to learn to skydive, it would be a routine you do naturally. -- Being sporty An integral aspect of the discipline that is required to prepare for learning the extrem sport skydiving involves being sporty. When you be sporty, it primes you to flourish in the best mindset to realize the utmost objective of learning the extrem sport skydiving. [Image 2] -- Getting no acrophobia The biggest oversight that someone could experience when preparing to learn the extrem sport skydiving is falling short with this vital tip. If you decide to not consciously practice getting no acrophobia, it can be impossible to prosper. That is how contingent your accomplishment is on getting no acrophobia. Assuming you are curious how to get no acrophobia, then continue exploring for we will explore that here! We wish to analyze the journey to learning the extrem sport skydiving effectively. We can equip you for a different level of satisfaction. Please consider a couple thoughts one must think of before attempting to learn to skydive. Before learning the extrem sport skydiving, you must figure out and make sure that learning to skydive is the right choice for you. Before learning the extrem sport skydiving, it helps to analyze your day-to-day practices. Then examine that against a person already able to feel free in the sky. You ought to analyze someone that is effectively doing what you wish to achieve. Then see if you're reflecting what they execute. That is a beneficial starting point. Here are questions you ought to challenge yourself with: Do you want to feel free? Want an amazing Adrenalin Rush? Do you want to keep away all the distractions of life? [Image 3] Ideally, you answer was "yes" to these questions. Then probably learning the extrem sport skydiving is the right activity for you and best wishes for executing the plan toward realizing your calling by continuing to read! Before kicking off what is generally needed to prepare, we ought to narrow in on some measures that someone should recognize before starting. Besides, learning the extrem sport skydiving is a voyage. You ought to prepare for a journey before executing the plan. Learning the extrem sport skydiving requires considerably more than deciding one evening to say, "wow, I am going to learn the extrem sport skydiving." Sure that can be a starting step. However to accomplish a bit of benefit with learning the extrem sport skydiving, you should initially prepare mentally. Learning The Extrem Sport Skydiving - A Look Back Realize you aren't the first individual in the universe that has the ambition of learning the extrem sport skydiving. Actually, there are tons of people all around that hope for to learn to skydive. The harsh truth is that hardly any will actually commit and achieve it. If you assess individuals who have done well in learning the extrem sport skydiving either recently, or back in time, you will unveil something comparable among those who have grown successful. They appreciated what was involved before commencing, and they knew what breed of individual is prone to prevail. When you understand what breed of character it requires to truly learn the extrem sport skydiving, there is nothing that will block the pathway amidst you and your satisfaction! Learning the extrem sport skydiving has a tangible attribute to it. However any action that you plan ahead of time will bring a greater result. You'll unveil the force behind your will will bring you toward your goal. Don't think of getting unbelievable adrenalin rushs. Learning the extrem sport skydiving involved a person to be forever and strong-willed. We know that. Today we are primed to to analyze the steps involved with learning the extrem sport skydiving so we can appreciate our future accomplishments. You have already asked yourself: "Do you want to feel free?" Honestly, you truly had to ask yourself. Those that responded no to this topic will remain incapable to merely take any action to learn the extrem sport skydiving. You asked "Want an amazing Adrenalin Rush?" You could not have reached to this point if you responded no. The harsh truth is a special temperament is involved to hope for one thing, and a completely different personality to ultimately do it. [Image 4] Congratulations for existing as the breed of individual that gets going. Thinking back, it is feasible that people that attempted to learn the extrem sport skydiving and went wrong probably did not prepare themselves. By acknowledging the initial questions to establish if you are possibly a suitable personality to learn the extrem sport skydiving, you are aware of what is recommended to get there. Just recognize, getting no acrophobia is a essential provision. Every time your mind conveys that learning the extrem sport skydiving is unfeasible, recognize that a person who is getting no acrophobia will ignore the disappointment and target their thoughts on success. Let's analyze what is needed to prepare seeing that our thoughts are settled!Learning The Extrem Sport Skydiving In Everyday Life Learning the extrem sport skydiving should be regarded as a lifestyle. It is an important part of the process that you may integrate into your lifestyle in many ways. Actually, while you are working during your training to learn to skydive, you ought to analyze how learning the extrem sport skydiving can change your essence. Do you recall being presented with these pointed questions: Do you want to feel free? Want an amazing Adrenalin Rush? Do you want to keep away all the distractions of life? Here are questions which appoint qualities that establish if you were able to learn the extrem sport skydiving. These are lifestyle options. answer was "yes" to these pointed questions, you were not just substantiating that you were able to learn the extrem sport skydiving, but rather, you validated your lifestyle practices. By recognizing the duty that these qualities play in your ordinary routines, you are understanding the duty that learning the extrem sport skydiving presents in ordinary routines. No one said that learning the extrem sport skydiving is simple. All rewarding activities require dedication. Learning the extrem sport skydiving is no exception. When you analyze the preparation stages that must be completed prior to learning the extrem sport skydiving, these very preparation stages can be beneficial in other areas of life. Living healthy, being sporty and getting no acrophobia ought to be regarded as acts that transcend learning to skydive. While certain of the acts are specific to learning the extrem sport skydiving, several of it can develop related spheres of life. Actually, learning the extrem sport skydiving does require a deviation in your judgement. The forever quality that is needed to learn to skydive will change your essence. In moments, you can be making evident a forever quality in other areas of life. That is the beauty of learning the extrem sport skydiving that most people fail to consider. [Image 5] Learning the extrem sport skydiving is more than learning to skydive. It is a lifestyle in numerous ways. Anytime you assess this as a lifestyle, you can reap the various benefits of learning to skydive in day-to-day overall life. Metaphorically, it requires a certain attribute to realize the utmost objective alltogehter. It is practical to allow each of these gains to develop your essence. One must have an amazing quality to learn the extrem sport skydiving too. That is another characteristic that critically influences your essence. The more you call on that quality to learn to skydive, the more you can identify that attribute within unrelated areas of life. The majority who are committed to the general goals will find learning the extrem sport skydiving wholly delightful. Congratulations on executing the plan toward this lifestyle choice!
  15. Thanks to social media, word of mouth marketing has become the most powerful marketing tool in the industry. This approach to marketing is exciting for some and a nightmare for others because the message cannot be controlled. Word of mouth spreads like wildfire by a few keystrokes of an individual who either loves or hates your service. For a business to thrive in today's tech savvy world, an owner must view opening the doors each morning as a theatre company on opening night…you're putting on a show. Each day businesses are putting on a performance for each customer who are armed with amazing technology to tell the world about the performance. It's time to start dancing! Perhaps no image is more synonymous within skydiving as the famous 'infidel' tattoo that went viral on social media bringing attention to a drop zone that no business owner would desire. Through the Eyes of the Consumer Imagine if you were invited to be a secret shopper. Your assignment would be to take a date to the nicest, most expensive restaurant in town. This restaurant would only be visited on the most special of occasions because of its high price point. Excitedly, you accept the offer and look forward to enjoying a quality meal in a romantic setting with that special someone in your life. In consideration of your assignment, what would it take to rate the restaurant a perfect five stars? One would think that the rating centers around the meal, but with more thought there are several interactions that take place before the food reaches the table. Consider these eleven judgement points that lead up to the presentation of the food: Website - In preparation for your meal, you elect to review the menu online. This is the first interaction with the restaurant. What image and feeling does the site convey? Hopefully it's positive as you send the link to your date to show where you're going... we want her to be impressed! Directions - How easy or difficult is it to locate the restaurant? There's nothing more frustrating than getting lost! Parking - Is parking readily available or are you circling the restaurant trying to find any opening? Greeting - What is the greeting like when you arrive? For the price point and experience, we hope it's positive and warm! Cleanliness - What is the appearance of the restaurant? This will set a tone. Hopefully, the soles of your shoes aren't picking up tons of dirt because the floor hasn't been swept in days. Wait Time - How long does it take to be seated especially as you have a reservation? If you've made arrangements ahead of time, the wait should be minimal. Interaction - What is the interaction like with your server? The gratuity will be high after the cost of this meal…we hope it's good! Beverages - Having placed an order for drinks, how long does it take for them to arrive? If this is a first date, you may need that beverage to arrive sooner than later to ease the awkward silence! Bathrooms - While awaiting drinks, you visit the bathroom. No one likes a dirty bathroom...anywhere. Food Order - How long does it take for the server to take your order for food? Do you like to wave at a server when it's time to place the order? Food - How long does it take for the food to arrive since you made the order? "Maybe the lamb is being flown in from New Zealand?" Once the food has arrived there are more interactions with the server, an offer for dessert and the bill. If the food was perfect, and the eleven interactions prior to the meal were average, would you award the restaurant five stars? Though all of the interactions leading to the meal are all small details, when added together become significant. To receive a true five star review, no detail is too small. Above: excessive waiting is a major issue at DZ's around the world which only lessens a customer's experience. Between the price point and high expectations, this will not win any five star reviews. As other businesses have had to adapt, so must our industry. As in the secret shopper example above, replace the meal with the skydive. We must strive for five stars and examine every interaction a customer has with our DZ's to ensure it's never average, but always exceeds expectation. Our customers are not just our tandem or AFF students, but fun jumpers and the staff that work for us as well. The key to harnessing word of mouth marketing is to allow service and professionalism to be as important as the skydive itself. No detail too small when offering the single greatest experience life has to offer.
  16. admin

    Ten things that may keep you alive

    Skydiving is a sport where you never stop learning. Even if you could, somehow, come to know everything, the sport is evolving constantly, and someone who's an expert one day is a newbie the next. Often, the learning we do isn't just academic - it can make us perform better, even keep us alive when there are problems. With that in mind, here are ten things that may keep you alive when things really hit the fan: 1. Know your limits. Everyone's limits are different, and are based on their experience, background, physical and mental fitness, and natural abilities. Some people think well under pressure, some need to drill and drill so their natural tendency to freeze is overcome. Some are incredibly flexible, some need 'crutches' (like sleeves or weight) to control their fall rate. It's important to be honest with yourself when deciding your limits, even if it goes counter to the alpha mentality that most skydivers have. We're all human. 2. Respect your limits. Don't do things you're not ready for, and don't let other people talk you into doing them. This comes up very often when women jumpers enter the sport - suddenly they have a lot of male friends who want to take them on 20 ways, free fly jumps, demos etc well before they'd ask a male jumper. And while it is technically possible to safely take someone with 20 jumps on a 20-way (you could do it with 19 AFF-JM's) it's usually a bad idea. 3. Push your limits. This may seem in contradiction to 2) but it's important. Once you know your limits, and respect them, you can start overcoming them. Do you have a problem with fall rate? Find a slow (or fast) skydiver and do a 2-way, with the other jumper going slower and slower (or faster and faster.) Is your canopy control so-so? Try drills - learn to flat turn and flare turn, a little more on each jump. Follow someone else. Do no-contact CRW. Learn to sit fly. Pushing your limits isn't just a feel-good thing, it actually helps you survive in the sport. If you learn how to fly a small elliptical well, you will have much more control over your slightly larger square - and that can save your life if someone cuts you off on final. CRW can be fun, but can also be the difference between life and death if you have a cypres firing and have to land two canopies. 4. Push your limits, one at a time. This is even more important. It's possible to learn to do demos, as long as you learn the basics - canopy control, obstacle landings, spotting. Trying to learn these all on your first demo is asking for trouble. Small canopies, same thing. You can certainly learn to jump a VX 97. Doing it all on one jump - going from a Sabre 150 to a VX 97 - is a huge mistake. First transition down to a smaller Sabre, then learn to fly it. Then switch to an elliptical of about the same size, and learn to fly _it_. Once you get to that VX 97, you will have the background to fly it well - and you will be much, much better prepared to fly any canopy in between. 5. Learn flat and flare turns. You should be able to do a 180 in the air without your canopy diving at all, and you should be able to turn at least 45 degrees during your flare. Every year, several people die because they turn too low. I'm convinced that many of these aren't intentional hook turns, but accidental low turns to turn into the wind or avoid an obstacle. Knowing how to flat and flare turn might have saved their lives. 6. Learn more about your gear. What color is your reserve? Your reserve toggles? If you ever look above your head and see four sets of risers, how will you tell them apart? What color is your freebag? You can learn all this by watching your rigger pack your reserve, and even more by doing it yourself (under supervision, of course.) Read up on TSO testing of your gear, and learn about the limits it was tested to. If you know that, you can keep your own flying within its operational limits. Learn about what's in a Cypres, and how it judges altitude. Learn the difference between Dacron and Spectra, and how to pack a pullout rig. 7. Get related experience. Pilots have a distinct advantage over other jumpers when something goes wrong in the plane, because they know how to read the signs, and they know how to operate around aircraft. They have a better idea what to touch and what not to touch, and can more easily communicate with the pilot (and, in rare instances, ATC.) You don't have to get your instrument rating - even a few lessons will teach you a lot about aerodynamics, aircraft weight and balance, stabilized climbs and descents, elevator trim and its importance, etc. Or learn to climb. Serious climbers (except, possibly, sport-only climbers) are their own riggers, and understand the ideas behind an equalizing anchor, dynamic vs static rope, and nylon to nylon friction. Many of those transfer to the kind of rigging that gets done in skydiving, and if nothing else, will help you make sense of how rigs are designed. 8. Get out of your drop zone. Drop zones tend to have "flavors" to them, and are sometimes homogenous when it comes to skills or equipment. Kapowsin, for example, seems to use nothing but Infinity's, and for a while Air Adventures was nearly 100% Reflex. Some drop zones are mainly free fly, some RW, some do a lot of demos. By getting away from the familiar, you'll learn more about other disciplines, other equipment, even other ways of thinking. You'll also meet some really cool people - you can't talk to Bryan Burke, John LeBlanc, Tony Domenico or Adam Filipino, for example, and not learn something. Unfortunately, not every drop zone has them, so you have to hit the road. 9. Buy your beer. It sounds like a selfish tradition, designed to punish new jumpers. It's a whole lot more than that, though. The key is that, if you buy the beer and give it to people, they will ask you what it's for, and you will end up talking to people (up to 23) about what just happened. Since this usually happens at some significant time (say, right after your first cutaway) this is a really important time to talk about what just happened without being embarrassed about it. (Well, maybe you will be anyway, but tough.) On the flip side - if someone buys beer for the DZ, and you're an experienced jumper, don't just grab a bottle and run. Find out who bought it and why they bought it. That beer isn't quite free - the price is that you have to pass on the knowledge that _you_ first learned when it seemed like you were buying a case every other weekend. 10. Teach others what you know. There is no better way to learn than to teach, and it helps others as well. If you want to become an expert at emergency procedures, teach part of a few first jump courses and watch other people screw their procedures up. If you want to learn a lot about RW, organize. If you want to learn more about skydiving in general, teach a graduate course. Just the act of putting everything down on paper and talking about it will lead you to research to make sure you're right, and you'll get feedback when you actually do the teaching.
  17. admin

    6 Tips To Boost The Bottom Line

    In an industry where everything costs a lot of money, creating opportunities to maximize on customer expenditure is essential. Many of the DZ's I visit focus solely on tandem and video sales and are merely satisfied with any other purchases made in the gear store. Let's be more strategic by increasing peripheral sales to help boost your bottom line. The margins on tee shirts are too substantial to ignore. Also, guests who purchase a second tandem become part of your marketing team by recruiting others to join them on their skydiving adventure. Are you doing everything you can to boost these sales? Understanding What We Have The skydiving industry has something that retail companies, salespeople, and corporations crave….no, WISH they had with their customers. That word is connection. Ever been to the Gap during its heyday in the 90s or even the Apple Store of today? Millions of dollars have been spent by these companies to mix the right elements to make the retail environment inviting enough to make a connection. Selling has been turned into a science focused on stimulating the consumers senses. Walk in to an Apple Store and pay attention to what you're seeing. Visually, the store is appealing with clean lines, lighting that isn't harsh but illuminates and is soft. The colors in the store window are vibrant. Audibly, the music is up with an energy-induced, toe-tapping beat. The music isn't an ipod on shuffle but is part of a science known as multi-sensory branding. Everything is by design to connect with customers and create an environment that is inviting, warm and allows no obstacle for consumers to react on an impulsive purchase. The energy felt within the Apple Store is palpable as the throng of people within the store creates a vibe that makes the price of the products not seem so incredibly expensive. Touch - having all the products out and available to touch and play with is part of the Apple Store's brilliance and pushes the connection between user and product. Playing with an ipod is much more powerful than simply looking at one. Smell - Think there isn't a smell at the Apple Store? You won't notice what you're smelling, but instead notice what you're not smelling. There is no musty smell from hundreds of people crammed into its tight quarters, but rather a smell of newness that matches the vivid environment. Undoubtedly, the store is cleaned very well at the end of each day. Everything involving the senses is calculated and by design. Whether you're an Apple lover or hater, Apple has created a retail model that spares no expense to create a connection with the consumer. When a connection is made, sales are made. The skydiving industry has conquered the hardest part of selling: we have the connection. Now, let's make some sales! Closing the Sale The moment a tandem student lands from their skydive is SALES GOLD. The reserved person who arrived at the DZ who hemmed and hawed about upgrading from video to video and stills is now primed to spend a little more money…at least $18 for a tee shirt. The connection the student has with the tandem instructor and the organization is now sealed as serotonin surges through the veins of an individual who has just completed "The best experience of their lives." The consumer WANTS to share their experience showing off a tee shirt or product that says, "yeah, I jumped out of an airplane and loved it." Be sure we're creating the right environment to make the sale. NOTE: You don't need to have an amazing facility or retail space to accomplish this.The minimum requirement is that your sales area is clean and feels organized. 6 Power Tips To Boost The Bottom Line The Closing 1. The Tandem Instructor The tandem instructor is the gateway to an easy sale. The student has entrusted his / her life to the instructor while facing their biggest challenge and they lived! Big time connection here. If your DZ is meeting instructors in the landing area with a rig, then you're negatively affecting your sales. Great that you're busy, but if there is not enough time to complete the experience, then you're clearly understaffed. A great book has a strong beginning, middle and end. Too often, we end the tandem experience improperly without an instructor: a). debriefing the tandem student with encouragement about how well they did during the jump b). the presentation of a certificate of achievement signed by the instructor with a shake of the hand or hug and the signing of log books (instructors and student's) c). presentation of sales opportunities that the customer has become eligible for having completed their first jump as well as the next steps to becoming a solo skydiver. A Word on Instructors: Passionate instructors will buy-in to this. A DZ's success is everyone's success and job security for all! 2. Placement Where the closing takes place is key to driving sales. Ideally, have the presentation of the certificate of achievement take place in the store. Once the instructor shakes hands and departs, the student is left with feelings of exhilaration and happiness in the retail space. 3. The Store The gear store, regardless of size should feel clean and organized. If the store is poorly lit, has worn out carpeting, and is bulging at the seams with product then make the correct changes. Offer less product if needed to make the sales environment more friendly. All products should be neatly hung or folded. 
 4. Displays Be sure your customers can touch tee shirts. If tee shirt designs are simply on display behind the counter with sizing in drawers, then you are not maximizing sales. As with all retail stores in the mall, people want to see how tee shirts will look on them. The interaction of touching the product is very important. 5. Offer a Deal Even if it's perceived. There is a euphoria in shopping when people feel like they've received a deal. Observe the madness of Black Friday in the US as shoppers quite literally feel a 'high' when getting amazing deals even at the cost of getting out of bed at 4:00am, fighting traffic and huge crowds for the opportunity to spend money in a crazy environment! When presenting the certificate of achievement, offer an exclusive discount in the form of a coupon (preferably on card stock, so it feels substantial) for those that have completed their jumps to receive a discount on purchasing their next tandem, a discount for beginning AFF and a discount on a tee shirt). Even a $2 discount off of a US$20 shirt feels good to a shopper. You don't have to give the house away to see a jump in sales. 6. Create an Urgency Don't give customers options to get a deal after they leave the DZ. There is no better sales environment than the moment after a jump. During my time at Skydive Carolina, I offered my guests who had paid full retail the opportunity to purchase a gift certificate for a tandem at half the price. The discount would be valid for that day only, pushing the student to make an on-the-spot decision. (The strategy is not to force the student to jump the same day, but to leave with the discount in hand in order to recruit others). Once the customer leaves the DZ with an option to buy later, the percentage of sales decreases dramatically. If someone called within a few days begging to cash in the offer…I would always honor it. The psyche of most people doing a tandem skydive is to share in the experience with others. My basis for good marketing is to convert happy customers into 'talkers' for your DZ. Anyone leaving with a half off tandem promotion becomes a marketing mouthpiece. They will try to recruit others to join them for their next tandem experience and of course you will capture them at full retail. Some people return alone, but that is the minority. This is part of equipping your guests to become the marketing machine for your DZ and the best part is they're paying you to do it. Owning and running a DZ is harder than most people can imagine. The lists of to-dos and responsibilities are endless and being ahead on anything is typically short-lived. My thoughts are geared towards working smarter, not harder and to convert your happy customers into marketers.
  18. This past week saw the opening of the voting process for the 2013-2015 USPA Board of Directors. Voting shall continue through the months of November and December with the closing date for submissions being the 31st of December 2012. The voting, which is open to all USPA members will result in the selection of representatives who will handle the direction and policies of the USPA until the end of 2015. The USPA allows for voting to take place either through written submission or through electronic voting. The voting form can be found in the November issue of Parachutist magazine, as well as online in a .pdf format. For those new to the process of the USPA election, the USPA's board consists of 22 members, with 8 national directors and 14 regional directors. These members are elected by the entire USPA membership and members from the regions where the directors reside, respectively. There is not a difference in the authority held by either a regional or a national director. National Director Nominees Members are able to vote for up to eight national director nominees. One is able to vote for any of the names that appear on the official ballot, or to write in the name of a candidate or multiple candidates that do not appear on the ballot. The eight nominees with the highest amount of votes will be elected as the 2013-2015 national directors. Regional Director Nominees Members are able to vote for one regional director nominee. The candidate must reside in the same region as the voting member, as per the address on the members USPA file. In cases where a region may have either no candidates or a single candidate running, members are able to cast a write-in vote for any member that is a resident of the member's reigion. Download USPA ballot form (Right click and 'save as' to save to your computer) Paper Ballot Voting The USPA has advized that members who wish to cast their votes via the method of paper ballots must do so either by using the voting form that is included in the November issue of Parachutist magazine, or by downloading and printing the voting form from the USPA website. As per the USPA, "Ballots containing more than eight national director votes, or more than one regional director vote will be disqualified." It is important to note that the forms which have been downloaded for paper ballot voting must be completed in the handwriting of the USPA member and digitally marked or signed submissions will not be accepted, further more these cannot be faxed or e-mailed. Electronic Voting USPA members received an e-mail from VoteNet which provided instructions and the means to cast an electronic vote. There were a number of cases where members failed to receive the e-mail, for those people who failed to receive the e-mail in question, the USPA advises that you either contact the membership department and verify your membership details and e-mail address, or that you resort to using the paper ballot method listed above. You are able to contact the membership department either by telephone at (540) 604-9740 or via e-mail at membership@uspa.org. Members are allowed one vote, either by electronic voting or via paper ballot, if more than one vote from a single member is received it will be the first received ballot that is counted, while any others will be discarded. The first board meeting of 2013 will occur on the 22nd to the 24th of March in Daytona Beach, Florida and will see the new directors for the 2013-2015 term seated, the meeting will also see in the election of the new USPA officers. You are able to partake in or follow discussions regarding the 2013-2015 USPA election process via the forums.
  19. Clouds can provide spectacular scenery - but what should you know about them Introduction: There is a lot to learn across your career as a skydiver. Expanding one’s brain is a process the starts right from the blocks and, if you are doing it right, never stops. Along the way there are things that you have to know in order to progress through to new levels and ratings, yet there is also things you can know that will make you a better skydiver in terms of your safety and awareness, and also contribute to your smooth and efficient progression. Parachuting from aircraft has diversified into many different disciplines - some may draw you irresistibly towards them but others you might never touch with a long stick. Regardless of how you embrace the zoom, one thing is constant and true - the weather rules over us all. Some of these disciplines have stricter parameters for operation than others - an accuracy competition has to stand down in all but the gentlest wind while hot shit canopy pilots are unhampered buy much more, whereas low cloud might keep all matters of freefall in stasis while the swoopy types can still get their kicks from within sight of the ground. We can all benefit from taking a little time to understand more about how the weather works. You don’t need to become an expert - but the further on your brain gets from it being either ‘too windy’ or ‘not too windy’ the better. At the very least, investing in a bit of knowledge will make you more interesting to talk to when everyone is standing around looking up at the sky and bitching about the conditions. It might also save your life. Visibility is important Student Status: When you are brand new to skydiving the dividing line between too windy and yahoo giddy up is positioned way over on the too windy side. The restrictions are pretty heavy to allow for safety while you are getting the hang of it so some patience is required - so this is the perfect time to embrace the learning process and seek the benefits of going above and beyond with your ambitions. Everything is new and there is a lot of it, so hoover up all that is offered. An important lesson to understand early on is that much of what is taught in skydiving in delivered with more than a smattering of opinion - and there is no shortage of those who are absolutely sure that their way is the best way and what that other guy said is horseshit. Developing a mindset of enquiry from the start will help you to filter the important information and use it properly. It is too windy for you to jump. Why is it too windy? Why is it too windy for you? It is raining. Why is it raining? Down The Road: As soon as you are out of that student getup and in your own gear then you are fair game for being quizzed in the plane by anyone else who has not bothered to find out the vital information for themselves and needs help at the last minute. It really doesn’t take a lot of effort to learn the particulars about the situation you are about to skydive into, and knowing a few simple things can make you look much more like a bad motherfucker and much less like a clueless mug. Can you identify which way is North? Do you know what the wind is doing right now both at altitude and on the ground? Continued learning is one of skydivings great gifts - everywhere you look there is always extra distance to go. Absolute clarity over Lake Balaton, Hungary Crossover Skills: If anything, skydiving is on the more forgiving side of all the sports that involve a canopy over your head. The geographical spaces we use for jumping out of planes are all different but with lots a base similarities - a runway, a few hangars where the aeroplanes sleep, a power line or two to avoid, a bar where the important drinking happens. All of skydivings sisters and cousins are much more intimately involved with the weather. If you find yourself drawn to Paragliding or BASE jumping then you will be spending a lot more time in places where the issues you can (and will) face become magnified by the terrain. The world has no shortage of those who believe that because they can perform a big bad swoop along the manicured grass then they possess the skills to fly a speed wing through a six foot gap in an alpine forest. Even a cursory glance at the incident reports will demonstrate how many accidents could have been avoided if just a little more knowledge had been applied. Skyjumps happen in a controlled environment - the perfect time to learn. Would You Like To Know More? This, and the following articles are not designed to be anything approaching comprehensive information - they are assembled to point you in the right direction by covering the main topics in a general, encouraging and hopefully entertaining way. The weather on our planet is effected by things on both the grandest scale and the most intimate - from national television channels depositing region-wide possibilities to conditions able to affect you and you alone. Part two has a look and weather in its biggest forms, such as fronts, cloud formations and upper winds. Part three focuses on more localised concerns like turbulence and thermals. Part four finishes up by pointing you toward some of the popular resources you might use to grow your brain.
  20. admin

    Health Gymnasium

    Health gymnasiums Those who can afford time and expense involved many wish to take advantage of the facilities offered by health gymnasium. None of the equipment and other facilities provided by gimnasium are strictly necessary to the process of getting fit, but they can add interest and variety to your physical exercises. Two other advantages offered by good gymnasium are constant supervision, which enables you to exercise with safety confidence, and a congenial atmosphere. Exrecising with people who share common purpose can provide extra enjoyment and incentive. It is necessary first of all to distinguish between the different types of gymnasium. Training fymnasium are essentially for athletes and other men and womenwho wish to develop their skills for particular athletic activities. They provide facilities for athletes to keep themselves for their chosen sports. Health gymnasium provide advice, instruction and facilities for everyone who wishes to become or keep fit, whatever his or her initial physical condition. Their clients range from professional athletes to office workers who wish only to make the best use of their lunch hours. Health gymnasium vary widely în quality. When choosing one of yourself, you should check that is staffed by qualified and responsible instructors. You may feel flattered to be attended by a sports celebrity, but professionally trained physiotherapists and physical education instructors can be equally, if not more, beneficial to an unfit person. You should expect to be asked details of your medical history, and to be carefully examined before being allowed to use all the facilities. Three types of exercise The accesories provided in health gymnasium to help you exercise range form simple wights and benches to more sophisticated equipment such aș pulleys and rowing machine. These accesories are appropriate for different kinds of exercises. Isometric exercises, the simple type involvea applying muscular strenght by pulling or pushing immovable objects. The muscles are tensed amd this tension is sustained for short periods of time. Because little movement is involved în these exercises, they develop static rather than dynamic strenght. Isotonic exercises involve pulling or lifting an object to certain position and then returning it to its original position. They cause the muscles to contract as you move but, because the weight or force employed is to the same degree throughout the exercise. The weight or force used can only be that which you cadn lift or pull at the weakest point in the range of motion involved and at other points your muscles are not sufficiently strained to develop în strenght. The third type of exercise, known as isokinetic, requires more sophisticated equipment. Isokinetic exercises can be designed for particular needs. For example, a person who is training for a particular sport can do exercises that stimulate exactly the demands of this sport, and also developed precisley the muscles he or she most needs. Massage Facilities for massage may be available at health gymnasium or sauna baths. Massage is used in physiscal therapy as a means of rehabilitating patients who are suffering from certain physical pain or aliments but, as a mean of getting or keeping fit, its value is very limitated. Sauna baths Sauna baths may be attached to health gymnasium or may exist as separate establishments. Most sauna baths are organized according to similar basic principles, although Finnish sauna baths retain their original national characteristics. They have an invigorating effect on the whole body and aid physical and mental relaxation, but their effect on the whole body and aid physical and mental relaxation, but their effect are temporary rather than long-term. Sauna baths provide a healthy and enjoyable means of relaxation, but the sudden rise and pulse rate can be dangerous. Pregnant women and people with high or low blood pressure, should therefore avoid them.
  21. MissMelissa

    Hey Bro, Check Out my Go Pro

    The sleek, low-profile design, an easy-to-use system, so small it’s hardly there, and it’s oh-so-glorious high quality images – the Go Pro, Hero. In this social media society, the Go Pro is seductive, yet it’s oh-so-risky. For all you rebels at heart, those willing to learn, and especially those with less than 200 jumps - let’s lay down some tracks about being courted to don the camera. As an AFF Instructor and having been in the sport for nearly two decades, I have developed a hearty outlook about jumping a camera. But let’s slip on a bit of perspective mixed in with a bit of old school and new school thinking. So to round out this discussion, I interviewed two well-respected and well-known camera flyers about the topic – Norman Kent and Brian Buckland. Norman Kent, a life-long photographer and artist has been jumping a camera since 1975. Norman only wanted to try skydiving once. However, he experienced something so captivating, he saw an opportunity to capture the moments of beauty that was so different and so freeing in the sky. He admitted to be a fast learner, however he first strapped on a camera only having 24 jumps – it was a Kodak Instamatic with 126 cartridges. Norman didn’t have a skydiving photographer mentor. In fact, there weren’t many people strapping cameras on their heads in those days. It was an arduous and expensive venture for those willing to try. And for Norman, he made his own contraption by using a motorcycle helmet with no chin cup, wired a mechanical plunger, and confessed he didn’t know anything. So as he jumped his equipment, the air pushed the helmet up and the buckled strap choked him as the helmet moved all over his head and he fumbled in the sky. While these set backs were disappointing, it did not detour him. Instead, he was motivated to invent something that worked better - this approach lead to many camera helmet and jumpsuit innovations over his career, leaving a legacy of pioneering in camera flying. I asked Norman what he thought of today’s USPA’s current regulations for jumpers to wait until they had 200 jumps to fly a camera. “Regulation is a good idea, a good guideline,” he says. “It sounds hypocritical to say because I started with the ‘yahoo’ approach, but it’s wise to wait.” I’ve known Norman for a long time. I’ve seen him jump enormous contraptions carefully constructed upon his head. He’s a proficient and a well-respected camera flyer and we talked how different it is today with the Go Pro being so small. I ask him if he sees any dangers. “It all comes down to the attitude of the jumper,” he begins. “Because the Go Pro is small, it’s inviting people to use it who aren’t even in photography. It’s [jumping a camera] not so simple and there are dangers involved.” Norman and I both agreed that there is a shift in thinking in skydiving from the renegade days of the past. The development of tandem jumping and social media have greatly changed the image our sport, attracting more types of people to experience skydiving that the thinking of the past has to change. Norman elaborates, “People learn so differently that I’m not pro-regulating, I’m pro-educating. We need to develop a training or an awareness program [about jumping a camera.]” Although he recognizes the dangers happening, he also sees this as an opportunity for the sport. “This is an opportunity for coaches and instructors, for inventors, for schools…” Norman is currently working on a project for a You Tube production geared towards camera flying educational purposes coming out later this year. Let’s bring it back in the day where these young lads photographed below are sporting some serious state-of-the-art camera gear in 1988. Brian Buckland comes from an entirely different background. Brian made his first jump in 1994 and didn’t jump a camera until 5 years later and racked up about 500 jumps. Brian’s philosophy was to become a proficient flyer first; so he logged about 200 belly jumps, then learned how to freefly. During this time he notes that he was becoming more aware of his routine with gear checks, canopy skills, and landings. Finally the time came and he strapped on his first camera – a Canon Rebel 2000, with film. Brian went to Radio Shack after buying an off-the-shelf flat top camera helmet to wire up a shutter release. He admits to being nervous since his routine greatly changed with having to be concerned with battery life, clean lenses, and correct camera settings, in addition to checking his gear and high fiving everyone. When he landed from his first jump, he looked over his wares and was surprised how well they turned out. He submitted them and they were published. “I learned about photography after the fact [of getting the first photo published]. So I went to a continuing education course for photography and started translating that to the sky.” Over the years Brian has developed a systematic routine and is busy the entire flight making sure everything is in order prior to jumping. “It’s important to be comfortable with gear, build good habits, and safely skydive with others.” Brian also didn’t have any skydiving photography mentors. However, he looked up to the likes of Norman Kent, Joe Jennings, Mike McGowan, Tom Sanders, Craig O’Brien and later, Jason Peters. Now with established photographers in the sport, I asked Brian what he thought of USPA’s camera regulations. “The numbers are decent because the time in sport and time in the air are important in building a comfort level. Adding something new when you’re new and not comfortable with the everything else, something like a camera becomes a distraction.” Both Norman and Brian elaborated how the common attitude is, “it’s [Go Pro] not a camera, it’s so small, you-don’t-even-notice-it” attitude. Brian conveyed a story how, against his advice, a tunnel instructor with about 100+ jumps had lost two Go Pros! And we’ve all seen the photo on Facebook with an AFF student’s pilot chute wrapped around an instructor’s Go Pro. The Go Pro is a snag hazard and most people who wear them use non-cutaway helmets and screwed on mounts. This is an excerpt from USPA on September 1st, 2011: Adhering to Camera Recommendations USPA has been receiving an increasing number of calls and e-mails from Safety & Training Advisors and instructors regarding what to do about inexperienced skydivers who want to jump with small-format video cameras, such as the GoPro. Many new jumpers seem to feel that the small camera does not pose a risk, and they simply want to wear the camera while jumping. For that reason, the new jumpers do not consider this to be a video jump that falls under the 200-jump recommendation in the Skydiver’s Information Manual [SIM]. The truth is that even though the camera itself may be small, it still represents a significant snag hazard to any jumper. This is especially true considering the various camera mounts jumpers use. In addition to the snag hazard, no matter how much a jumper thinks the camera will not become a distraction during the jump, it will. There are plenty of cases of newer jumpers forgetting to fasten chest straps or creating dangerous situations in freefall, etc., that were directly attributed to the distraction of the camera. USPA’s camera recommendations appear in Section 6-8 of the Skydiver’s Information Manual. Be sure jumpers at your drop zone are following these guidelines. They exist for very important reasons. The SIM is an excellent outline about camera safety and requirements, but it doesn’t educate. I agree that too many people have a careless attitude about the jumping camera equipment too soon and that we need more education. We’re fortunate to have an organization that mediates our government relations, memberships, insurance, etc. However, they do not govern, they suggest and that gives us the freedom to self-police safety amongst ourselves. If we want to see change for the better, we need to take it into our hands and pass on good information. Allowing newbie’s to jump camera equipment just because they’re “heads up” isn’t a qualifier to allow them the privilege to wear one. I visited a DZ and asked the S&TA; about their policy of jumpers with sub 200 jumps wearing a Go Pro. The answer I received was, “If their heads up, it’s ok.” I quizzically looked at him and said, “How do you know he’s heads up? Have you jumped with him?” Two hundred jumps is, although not the best, a measure of experience. At least I can assume they’ve earned their B-license (including the canopy progression) and have a bit of time and experience. I don’t have a chance to jump with everyone to qualify someone with sub 200 jumps “heads up,” and who’s to judge whose heads up anyways?! There’s so much more to just jumping a small-little-thing like the Go Pro. Because of social media, there are ethics that ought to be tied into this conversation. Excited newbie’s may use their footage unjustly and this effects more than the person jumping it. For example, Gerardo Flores – an uncurrent, 30-jump wonder sneaks a camera on his jump and has a “near death experience” that goes viral on the web. This situation affected the skydiving community negatively and gave a sneak peak to the public how “reckless” skydivers can be. Not to mention other videos that go live streaming on the web. I asked Brian what advice he’d give to those thinking about jumping any kind of camera and he said, “Be comfortable with yourself well before strapping on a camera. Be proficient under the parachute, build your awareness, know your emergency procedures, know your gear and wear the proper gear. Then, learn about the camera prior to jumping it.” Although Norman and Brian didn’t have mentors, both have been a huge help and inspiration to aspiring camera flyers over the years. Both have made themselves available to help give direction and may be reached through their websites, www.BrianBuckland.com and wwww.NormanKent.com. And stay tuned for Norman’s upcoming video on You Tube, "The Dangers of Being a HERO". Now, for all you rebels at heart and those willing to learn, I cannot tell you what to do but share my experience. However, when you meet the camera flying requirements, it’s like earning the rite of passage to don a camera on your head. Throw in a bit of education in there and believe me, it’s totally cool and absolutely worth the wait.
  22. admin

    Dropzone Unknown

    With all of the worldwide disasters happening, have you thought about joining in and helping out somehow? Skydiving skills, to reach people in isolated areas, are being used by Remote Area Medical, to bring in help where it is needed yet where it is inaccessible by conventional ground transportation. Remote Area Medical - RAM Airborne Remote Area Medical, RAM, has been providing humanitarian aid to people worldwide since 1985, with the airborne division currently on the rise and seeking skydivers. Founded by Stan Brock, from the show Wild Kingdom, RAM and its volunteers are “Pioneers of No-Cost Health Care” with well over 400 missions in the US and abroad. The first RAM Airborne mission was to Tennessee in 2005, proving that skydivers and cargo can be dropped into an unknown area, on top of a hill in the Appalachian Mountains. The next RAM Airborne mission is to Guyana in South America, to clear trees from existing grass runways; making them accessible once more by airplanes. From March 26 to April 9, RAM’s mission to Guyana will provide air-ambulance access to the people living in the nearby villages. This is a non-medical mission, but medical support is needed, in the event of an injury or medical emergency during the mission. An additional trail team is being recruited, not requiring skydiving skills, to re-clear a trail in the Amazon forest, connecting two villages to another airstrip which was repaired by a RAM team in 2004. This will be a physically demanding mission, to clear large trees and thick undergrowth, while living in a tent or hammock. Hiking through the Amazon forest is no walk through the park either, with machetes in hand and packs on your back; these are a few things to keep in mind, and a few things to savor, for those who want to come for the adventure. Skills Being Sought: Skydivers must have a B-license or better, with an average of 100 jumps as a minimum; good canopy control and a canopy wing loading of 1.3 or less are expected, because there’s no room for error, and no hospitals to go to if you biff your landing. As you may have guessed, no hook turns allowed. You bring in your own gear for camping, and you pay for your own airfare to and from Georgetown, Guyana – but it is tax-deductible, since it is for a humanitarian effort. It is the most direct way to give, by providing your skills directly where it is needed! RAM is also seeking people with medical skills, to handle any potential injuries that may happen, one per team at a minimum – more if possible – plus some basic medical supplies. The rest of the team is not required to be medically trained but everyone must be physically prepared – this is not your typical working-holiday trip overseas – it is hard work and it is worth it. Videographers are also being sought, to help document this first-time-ever event. Proof of skills will be necessary, to ensure one’s safety, and others’ as well; video cameras may also be provided, as details are confirmed. Videographers would be the first to land, then film the others as they land; the case-of-beer policy will be waived, mainly because there are no stores to go get any and no refrigeration either. If you or someone you know is interested – here are some things to begin doing: Work on hop and pop exits and accurate landings Gear up your camping supplies – for a two-week camping trip Get in shape – it’s a load of work and physically exhausting Join RAM as a volunteer – send an e-mail to karen @ karenhawes.com for further details, or go to http://www.karenhawes.com/ram/RAM-Mission-FAQ.htm RAM Camp If you want to work on the skills necessary for this type of skydiving mission, there will be a “RAM Camp” training program offered in mid-March at Skydive Arizona, prior to the Guyana mission from March 16 - 19, to hone or develop your skills in: Spotting, exiting and landing in unfamiliar areas Cargo-bail preparations and air drops Basic field-medical skills, stitching open-wounds, making traction splints Basic camping and navigation skills Other survival tips and tricks to know, plus pitfalls to avoid Prospective volunteers, who complete this course and display the necessary skill level required, will be selected over volunteers who do not. For more information about the RAM Camp, go to http://www.karenhawes.com/ram/RAM-Camp.htm This course will be taught by three RAM volunteers, with years of experience in the areas of skills being taught: Rene Steinhauer – Medical Aid in Remote Areas Bryan Burke – Cargo/Spotting/Airdrops and Navigation Karen Hawes – Travel Tips (for men and women) and Gadgets in the Wild RAM Camp Instructors All three trainers will cover their own areas of expertise, and survival skills training, based on actual in-field experience; with personal experiences ranging from domestic and international relief efforts, everyone has something to learn in this course. Here’s a brief background of each instructor: Rene Steinhauer RN, CFRN, EMT-P – Rene is a currently working as a flight nurse in Antarctica till February 2006. He has worked on humanitarian projects around the world and has also worked as a combat medic on the front lines in Iraq. He has trained civilian and military personnel in remote and combat medicine for years. He is also one of the founding members of RAM Airborne. Bryan Burke – Safety and Training Advisor at Skydive Arizona, with two decades in the sport and 3,200 jumps. Although he is known in the sport as the organizer of numerous boogies and competitions, he also has considerable experience with parachute testing, skydiving for the entertainment industry, and other applications that require precise airborne delivery. Most of his off-DZ time is spent kayaking, backpacking, or rafting in remote wilderness areas. Karen Hawes – A Systems Engineer at Lockheed Martin, with 500 jumps on 6 continents in 12 countries and at over 100 dropzones, she has been a RAM volunteer since 2004. She is the current RAM Airborne recruiter, with three missions to: Guyana (airstrip repair), Sumatra (tsunami relief), and Tennessee (first RAM airdrop mission). A fourth RAM mission to New Orleans is scheduled, for the second week in February 2006. She is also working on configuring solar power sources for hand-held electronic devices, to be used on remote-area missions. For More Information and to Sign-Up For more information on the mission in March and the RAM Camp, go to: http://www.karenhawes.com/ram/RAM-Mission-FAQ.htm http://www.karenhawes.com/ram/RAM-Camp.htm Come One, Come All! If someone you know is interested, but not a skydiver, then now is the time to begin training and cap it off with one of the RAM Camps, to be ready for future missions. If you already have the skydiving skills, you can take advantage of this unique opportunity to add “Humanitarian” to your list of skills and world experiences. Find out more about RAM at www.ramusa.org and join the adventure!
  23. admin

    AFF Training - Level 2

    Napoleon Skydiving Center: Level 2 - Body Awareness Now that you have your feet wet, we will start working on trim maneuvers. There are a lot of things to accomplish on this level, so don't waste time geeking the camera. Once you are under canopy, try a few spiral turns (above 1500' please). TLOs Maximum free arm time. 3 PRCTs. Heading awareness during freefall. Trim control or body awareness exercises. Relaxed, arched body position through entire freefall. Pull by 3500 feet, look over right shoulder to observe pilot chute launch. Dive Flow Running Description Hotel Check: Check In, Check Out. Exit Count: C-182 Prop, Up, Down, Arch; Otter Center, Out, In, Arch. HARM Check: Heading, Altimeter, Reserve JM, Main JM. PRCT: Arch, Look, Reach, Touch, Check 3 times. Short Circles: to maintain altitude awareness between maneuvers. Team Turn: initiated by looking over the arm in the direction of the desired turn to pick a heading refrence. Then bend his/her upper body 20 degrees at the waist in the direction of the turn. At the same time, drop the shoulder the turn is moving toward by 2-3 inches. Keep hands and arms still -- all motions are preformed from the waist. As the desired heading is aquired, return to a neutral boxman position. Forward Motion: initiated by extending legs (straightening them at the knees) while simaltanously bending arms at the shoulders to form a 'lazy W'. Hold for 3 seconds and return to a neutral boxman position. 5-5 Signal: at 5500 feet. Pull: Arch, Look, Reach, Pull, Check at 5000 feet. Primary Canopy Check: Shape, Spin, Speed, Twist. Release Toggles Secondary Canopy Check: Slider, Endcells, Tears, Lines. Controllability Check: turns and flares OK. Canopy Control: halfway down, halfway back. Setup For Landing: Downwind at 1000', Base at 500', Final at 200'. Prepare to Land: at 50'. Flare: at 10', feet and knees together, PLF if necessary. Collapse the Canopy, Field Pack, and Return. Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7 Level 8
  24. admin

    Air Adventures AFF: Level 7

    GRADUATION DIVE JUMP SEQUENCE: The JM will check the spot, then tell you to exit. When you are ready to exit, just dive out of the plane like Superman. Do not check in. Get stable as soon as possible after exit. Turn to find your JM. Track towards him when you find him. Follow your JM's hand signals. Remain close to him throughout the dive. When he signals you to turn, do a 360. Check your altitude after each manuever. When he signals you to track towards him, use forward motion to get closer to him. When he gives you the delta-track signal, track for five seconds. If he drops below you, arch harder to increase your fall rate. If he floats above you, arch a little less to decrease your fall rate. At 6000 feet, shake your head to indicate "no more manuevers." Your JM will not remind you if you forget. Turn 180 away from your JM and track for five seconds, then stop. Wave off and pull at 4000 feet. Note the new altitude. Check above you as you wave. Count to five and check your parachute. PERFORMANCE STANDARDS: Remain stable 100% of the time after exit Demonstrate tracking, fall rate control, and tracking skills Demonstrate altitude awareness despite distractions. Perform breakoff procedure at 6000 feet. Stable solo waveoff and pull at a lower altitude (4000 feet, plus or minus 500 feet.) LEVEL SEVEN HINTS: Be altitude aware! Your JM will not help with altitude clues, and may try to distract you. Do not let him! Remember - the pull is lower than previous dives. You have more time between "no more manuevers" and the pull. During the track, be sure to pick a point on the ground to track towards so you don't track in a circle. Expect the unexpected. This is your final dive as a student, and your JM will be testing you to see if you can safely jump on your own. REMEMBER THE MOST IMPORTANT PARTS OF ANY SKYDIVE: PULL! PULL AT THE RIGHT ALTITUDE! PULL STABLE! LAND SAFELY UNDER AN OPEN CANOPY! Before Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Level 6 Level 7
  25. Busy skies - Bad Sassendorf, Germany. From the solar flares and zooming photons of a gargantuan ball of always exploding fire really far away, through to the moon swinging about in the sky or even the rotation of the earth itself - the weather which makes or breaks our plans on this little blue and green planet is affected by things on the grandest scale. Meteorological science is both amazingly exacting and still kind of imprecise all at the same time. While hard to nail down the total details, weather forecasting can tell you pretty much what to expect and more-or-less when. There are things you can judge in the distance that might affect you directly when you ask questions like: If there is a hurricane in the other side of the ocean might it be windy at the weekend? Or, if these opposing weather fronts are going to clash above me how is it going to affect the conditions? The most important rule is the further away you look the more general you have to be. Knowing how things work and seeing them in advance might mean making the call between a great day of jumping while the naysayers stay at home, seeing a shitty day coming a mile off and going to the movies instead, or accidentally skydiving in the rain and having to dry your shit out afterwards. Clouds It is fun to learn about clouds. The names might seem baffling at first but with just a small amount of practice you will be able to identify the most common types and what they herald for your skydiving day. Once you can name the usual suspects there are a great many others that signify environmental anomalies and special circumstances which can further your awareness. A cloud spotter’s guide in the glove compartment of you car or handily placed next to a window is a good way to encourage what can become a rewarding and entertaining habit. Here are the formations that you generally get to deal with: Little Puffy White Ones: Latin Words: Cumulus (Low), Altocumulus (Medium), Cirrocumulus (High). Cumulus clouds are the fluffy cotton wool variety that appear in children’s fridge door paintings. The presence of any cloud indicates precipitation but small friendly white examples mean all the things skydivers like - mostly sunny and not windy and not raining. This is the type of cloud they hold in reserve for the choicest skydiving locations around the world, where everyone jumps in their swimwear and frolics in the sea at the end of the day. Grey Fogginess: Latin Words: Stratus (Low), Altostratus (Medium), Cirrostratus (High). Stratus cloud is likely what is happening when the whole sky is full of grey and people are shaking their fists angrily at it. Thin layers can be seen through but any kind of density can render the sky obscuring and opaque. Stratus skies can represent the kind of conditions where you could be offered jumps from whatever the cloud base is, or possibly from above if the ground is still visible. A good Altostratus day is the kind that gives you the feeling you first experienced as a child peering out of on an aeroplane window and wishing you could get out and bounce around on a big white spongy trampoline. Big High Massive Ones: Latin Words: Cumulonimbus Huge cloud structures can make for spectacular skydiving experiences as you zoom down through colossal valleys in the sky. Just watch as the wingsuit types get all giddy with excitement on days like these - then promptly land miles off the dropzone because they couldn’t resist chasing some perfect aerial canyon. However, much care is needed. While these towering storm clouds might be spread out and allow for jumps in the gaps it can be all too easy to wind up inside one if things go against you. At best you get wet and uncomfortable, at worst your visibility is zero and things are dangerous. Jumping with lots of cloud around requires good judgement and extra emphasis on safety - keep the groups small and bin the tracking. Storm cell building in the distance - Lake Balaton, Hungary. Combinations In a very general way when you start smooshing your Latin words together things are getting busier up there and more likely to lead to no skydiving. Nimbostratus formations are what can be known as fine British skydiving weather. Large ominous grey monsters fill all the observable sky as you gear up while it is still actually raining outside, but don’t worry - there is a hole coming. For extra entertainment bring an American along and watch then gawp slack-jawed and unbelieving at you while you get ready. Stratocumulus clouds are the big wavy sheets that can be low, medium, high, or all at the same time. Thin layers like this are caused by generally stable conditions before things get saucy. Thin layers at different heights can look like shit from the ground but be fine once you are in the plane, realising that much of it remains above you and does not hinder your visibility of the ground. Jumping from cloud base - Slavnica, Slovakia. A nice layer to play above - Dunkeswell, UK. Go Further There are many types of of cloud. As a skydiver you will spend a lot of time looking up at the sky - so it is a solid investment to learn more about how it works. There are clouds that demonstrate it being windy enough to push rain up into the sky or down out of it before it normally would, there are those that form up into rolls and lumps and streets, those that create incandescent colour from above or below, and those that don’t do anything but will impress the hell out of people when you can name them.