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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. At age 24, after four years with the same fantastic person, I knew it was time to pop the big question to my wonderful girlfriend, Marie. But I knew that an extraordinary person like her deserved nothing but an extraordinary marriage proposal. I knew that it couldn't be over a dinner, or up in lights at a stadium or anything like that. Not that those ways are bad; they just aren't really me, and I wanted something that was unique. Then it came to me. I have been a skydiver for a few years and have accumulated 113 skydives to my credit. What better way to propose than to jump out of a plane! After all, marriage is "the big leap," right? So, on Valentine's Day, while my girlfriend and the rest of the world dutifully spent the day working, I hopped in my car and drove to Skydance Skydiving in Davis. The night before, I had taken a white bath towel, cut it in half and written the words "Marry Me" on it. When I showed up at the dropzone in Davis, I was a little more nervous than usual for the skydive. But once the cameraman and I got in the plane, the routines of the dive started coming back to me. The cameraman, Tim, who was going to be filming and photographing my skydive, turned to me at 11,000 feet in the plane and yelled, "You ready for this?" I wasn't sure whether he was referring to the skydive or the wedding proposal, but I shouted back, "Heck, yeah!" The door opened and the whoosh of the wind rushed in and filled my ears. Tim climbed outside the plane and turned to face me. I stuck my head out into the fierce wind and started the exit count: "Ready, set, go!" Free fall. There really is nothing like it in the world, and words do not do it justice. As soon as I exited the plane, the technique took over and all nervous energy turned into the magic flow of a skydive. I stabilized and unfurled the sign, which flapped madly in the wind. So there we were -- falling toward Earth at 120 mph. It was beautiful; peaceful, actually. After a little more than 30 seconds of free fall, my altimeter read 4,500 feet. It was pull time. The parachute opened, and I sank down to a tiptoe landing. The cameraman and I rushed into the video editing room to see how the video turned out. To our delight, everything turned out fantastic. Tim took the time to edit the song I wanted on it, Peter Gabriel's "In Your Eyes." It was now 6:30 p.m. on Valentine's Day, and Marie had just gotten home from work. I'd set up the family room with lighted candles and three packages. She had a note in front of her wishing her a happy Valentine's Day and instructions to not ask any questions until the final gift had been opened. She opened the first gift, Peter Gabriel's album "So," with the song "In Your Eyes" on it. She smiled and then went for gift No. 2: a roll of undeveloped film (which contained the still photographs of the skydive that she could develop the next day). She looked at me quizzically but remembered not to ask any questions. Now it was time for the big final gift. She opened it: the skydiving videotape I had filmed earlier in the day. She put the video into the VCR, not knowing what was on it. The tape began with me saying, "I'm ready to take the leap." Peter Gabriel's chorus of "In Your Eyes" rolled on and the video progressed. The door of the plane opened and Marie watched with eager anticipation. I exited the plane and unfurled the sign, which was at first so flappy she couldn't read it. The camera man flew in closer and then the words became crystal clear: "Marry Me." She read it ... she cried ... and she said yes. Brad Koch lives in Pleasanton.
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. 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!
  11. admin

    Skydivers sue over mid-air crash

    TWO student skydivers who plunged to the ground after a mid-air collision during a training jump are suing the company that was teaching them how to parachute. Christopher Charles Morton, 33, was in hospital for four days and off work for six weeks after the accident, which also involved Michael Richard Warren, 26, at Picton, south of Sydney, on December 14, 1997. Mr Morton and Mr Warren are suing Sydney Skydivers Pty Ltd in the NSW District Court, claiming the company was negligent by failing to ensure its employees were adequately trained and that it failed to exercise due and proper care for the safety of its students. Their barrister, Andrew Morrison, SC, told Acting Judge Clifford Boyd-Boland it would be their case that the system for novice skydivers put in place by the company was "thoroughly unsafe". Mr Morrison said the pair were "some significant distance above the ground" when they collided and fell. Mr Morton, a master of the Sydney Harbour tall ship Bounty, suffered a fractured pelvis and injuries to his right shoulder, spine, head and severe shock. Mr Warren, a former coalminer, received fractures to his right arm and injuries to his spine, head and severe shock. Mr Morton told the court a friend, his girlfriend and he had decided to buy each other skydives for Christmas presents that year. He said that after a day of training he went up in a plane to do his first jump with several instructors and fellow student Mr Warren, who was then doing his third jump. They were to aim for a cross marked on the ground and were directed by instructors moving large arrows and using batons to show them which way to turn. "I thought I was doing really well because I was coming up to the cross," Mr Morton said. But he said when he was about 30 metres from the ground and while watching his instructor, who was also on the ground, he and Mr Warren collided. He said his canopy collapsed and he hit the ground. The company is being sued under the Trade Practices Act, with Mr Morton and Mr Warren alleging the services supplied by the company were not supplied with due care and skill. The company's barrister, Greg Curtain, told Judge Boyd-Boland there would be evidence Mr Morton and Mr Warren failed to follow instructions to watch the "target assistant" on the ground and that Mr Morton went in the opposite direction to the way he was directed. Mr Curtain also said there would be evidence that there was nothing wrong with the way the company's operation was carried out. The hearing is continuing.
  12. 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.
  13. 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
  14. joelstrickland

    Improving Your Indoor Flying Outside The Tunnel

    How First-Person Videos Can Supplement Real-Life Learning Image by alphamedak If you’re like most people, there’s only one reason you’re not, like, the best tunnel flyer in the world. It’s the annoying digital thing that barks out at you from the driving room window. 00:00! 00:00! 00:00! The cruel little clock leaves you with a knuckle-biting question that lingers in the air: Is there training that you can do that optimizes the time you spend in the airflow while the damn thing isn’t ticking down? Apparently, there is. But let’s dig into a bit of theory, first. Embodied theories of learning and instruction are having something of a moment in airsports. When we talk about “embodied learning,” we’re talking about the ways our physical actions lay the neural groundwork for new information to take root in meaningful ways. That neural groundwork is a physical, real-world thing that’s being manufactured in your head right now. The material is called myelin, and its part in the process is called myelination. Without myelin, you’ll never nail that layout. Myelination is the method by which your brain paves the pathways you tell it are most important. Like wrapping a copper wire in rubber, it wraps the axons of those prioritized neurons, protecting the neuron and helping it conduct signals more efficiently. Repeatedly, deeply practicing a move--getting it a little wrong, making adjustments and trying again--is the most efficient way to build up that myelin and, by extension, get better at what you’re working on. (For more of this in a super-readable pop-sci format, check out Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code.) When you only have a few minutes in the tunnel--or a few seconds, hopefully very occasionally, to mess with a malfunction--you need all the help you can get to get the myelination process wrapping neurons. If you’re not actually doing the activity you’re trying to myelinate, the trick is to make your brain believe that it is the actor that’s practicing the action. Learning physical skills has always begged for embodied learning methods, but modern technologies are hopping the fence in places between the things you absolutely have to be physically present to learn and the things you can reinforce--or even learn--on your own couch. Take, for example, the virtual reality malfunction videos released as a collaborative project between Sig.ma and the USPA. These are, in this author’s opinion, set to exponentially improve the way new skydiving students learn malfunction response. (Heck--they might even be instructive for you if you haven’t yet had the pleasure of seeing one or two of these babies overhead.) Visualization has proven useful for this kind of thing, but you have to keep in mind its limits: Visualization works, but only if you’re able to very realistically, very precisely visualize the task at hand. You already have to know what you’re doing first. Visualization is a very useful tool for competitors training for a world competition; it’s not terribly helpful for someone at the first stages of working on an outface snake. First-person/VR environments are for learning new stuff, and they do it very well. The results are in: first-person video works. Check out this 2017 study published in the Journal of Educational Psychology, which tested whether first-person videos were better task-teaching tools than third-person videos. (Sure, the study participants were assembling components on a circuit board, but doesn’t putting together a complicated line kinda feel all fussy-fiddly, too?) Across two experiments conducted in different labs, the first-person group performed the task more accurately, hands-down, and more time-efficiently to boot. There’s a problem, of course: It has not, historically speaking, been an easy task to find first-person video of tunnel flying. And that’s where Johannes Bergfors, a Swedish tunnel instructor and coach, comes in. Johannes has produced a fine set of these, available for free on YouTube, called First Perspective. Simply put, it’s a series of online videos filmed from the flyer’s POV. They show repetitive flying of dynamic flying motions on several speeds, both solo and duo. Filmed over a few days in the Flystation wind tunnel in Munich, local instructor Nick Poland flew the lead as Bergfors filmed following. (As a bonus, there are also some first-person videos posted there of non-single-move exchanges between Bergfors and Poland and also freestyles by the legendary Leonid Volkov.) "Your visual experience is a muscle memory,” Johannes explains. “For example, if you’re trained as a gymnast and have made a thousand front flips from the trapeze, then you will be more prepared to do a front layout, because you have already seen your world spin in front of you on the vertical axis so many times and will be able to navigate at the same time. If you don’t have that experience, you can expect everything to be a blur in front of you. Without that basis reference, you’ll have to perform a new type of body motion at the same time as your visual is dramatically changing." The idea for First Perspective has been on Bergfors’ to-do list for quite some time. Before he took his first tunnel gig in 2014, he had about 20 hours of tunnel time, which he’d paid for with a less-than-princely chef’s salary that made every second count. “Also, I was not a very good student,” Bergfors laughingly adds. “I was always complaining. My expectations were too high, and I spent a lot of time stressed out. I also had really lousy body control since I never really did any sports before that except for skydiving. If I had videos like these when I began, I think they could have helped me, and I think that’s probably true for a lot of people out there. I don’t claim it’s perfect, and it’s not a series of instructional videos about how to fly--it’s about what could be presented visually in front of you when you fly certain lines, and about teaching your body to embody this information in kind-of a sneaky way.” Johannes plans to expand and improve the collection in time. That said: It’s a damn good start. For those of us who’ve been looking for a way to invest in their progression without the clock ticking down the dollars, it’s a sweet discovery--and, hopefully, one of many emerging innovations for inspired airsports instruction. First Perspective on YouTube: https://tinyurl.com/fallrates2018
  15. admin

    Beatles fall from the sky?

    It isn't every day you see John Lennon drop out of the sky. Or Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison, for that matter. Well, the skydivers at Lisle Eyes to the Skies Balloonfest Sunday weren't actually the four mopheads from Liverpool themselves, but they looked an awful lot like them. The Flying Beatles skydiving exhibition, complete with an American flag held by one of the "band members," was the pinnacle of a "Beatle-ful" day at the Lisle festival. In a celebration of the true millennium this year, the Eyes to the Skies committee wanted to bring in bands commemorating every decade from the 1960s on, said co-chairman Wayne Dunham, and each day of the festival would honor a different decade. But for Sunday, they wanted something a little different. "We thought, let's get a group that encompasses the last 50 years," Dunham said. Who better than The Beatles? So Dunham found three popular Beatles cover bands - "1964" ... The Tribute, British Export and Revolver - to play songs from three separate phases in the band's career. The Flying Beatles, a skydiving group out of Ohio, were the final ingredient of the day, jumping both when the festival opened and then later on in the evening, equipped with lighted jumpsuits. But Joe Maude of Glen Ellyn said he was a bit confused. "They had the American flag between them," he said. "Shouldn't they have had the British flag?" He and his wife Sue brought their 8- and 10-year-old sons - both avid Beatles fans - to the festival specifically to see the tribute bands. "We have a 15-year-old daughter who wouldn't come because the Beatles aren't hip," he said with a laugh. But there were hundreds of people sitting on a hill listening to the bands that thought otherwise. "We actually had several hundred people on the hillside before we opened," Dunham said. Tim Bedore of Naperville said he was impressed with the Eyes to the Skies music selection this year. "I think there should be more copy bands at fests, and The Beatles are the best of the bunch," he said. "I'd rather hear this than some band from the '70s that only had a few hits."
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Image by DeltaBravo As spring draws near it is time once again to start thinking about the summer jumping season. Most drop zones will start to organize their safety day activities, gear will be inspected, and repacks scheduled. However, what many of us forget to do is spending some time developing our coaches and instructors after all, professional skills can be forgotten during the winter months just as easily as safety rules and regulations. For many drop zones, instructional development stops after the candidate’s progression card is signed off and the certification is issued. What we fail to realize is that instructional skills are perishable and everyone can benefit from annual employee development training. What I would like to discuss here are some methods the average drop zone can use to develop their instructors. Understandably not all of these are possible at every drop zone, and individual drop zones may have to modify these methods to fit into their procedures, but these are simple and can be done with little imposition on the drop zone. Before I talk about training techniques I would like to discuss certification and training records. I am not about to suggest that drop zones start massive files on their people, but the drop zone owner is an employer and even though most of the employees are classified as independent contractors, the DZO/DZM should have a basic training folder for each instructor. Some things that might be useful to include would be copy of class 3 medical certificates for tandem instructors, copies of CPR/First Aid certification cards, awards, and even the latest logbook entry once a year (I’ll discuss the last two more later on). Although none of these items fall into the privacy act, the DZO/DZM should still keep the files locked up and they should only contain the document copies, never the originals. This will prevent the information from being passed around or discussed publicly. Now that we have the staff, and their records are in order, how are we going to mold them? To renew an instructor certification, the individual must attend an instructor’s seminar. The majority of the time that seminar is the annual safety day, but instructors need something more. I have heard many DZOs/DZMs make the comment that the requirements to become a certified instructor should be made more stringent. I even heard one person advocate that a coach should have a minimum of 500 jumps. Although that sounds great in theory, logistically it is almost impossible. Instead of just forgetting about instructors and coaches after they have become certified, get them all together once a year. Pick one of them to give the ground portion of the First Jump Course while all the other instructors are the students. This will allow for all of the instructors to provide constructive feedback to each other and it will give the instructors a chance to relearn something they may have forgotten. One thing that is frustrating for a new student is when one instructor says, “Remember? In class you were taught to….” When in fact that was something the other instructor forgot to teach in class. By holding annual employee development training not only will the instructors benefit, but so will the students. Free Fall Drills Another technique is to practice free fall drills. It happens to all of us. We, as humans, can get sloppy with our techniques overtime. Two instructors or coaches jumping together would be in a position to debrief each other. This can be done as a fun jump, but as long as it is not a free fly jump or a “zoo” dive. After all, we are not free flying with first jump students and they are jumping exact dive plans. I do want to stress at this point that instructors must help each other out. If it is in the plan for one person to act like a first jump student, then act like one, but let’s be honest, how many first jump students actually put their helmet on backwards and start playing with the aircraft controls as soon as they get in the plane? Although I’m sure it does happen on occasion, not to the extent that I see people acting it out when teaching new instructors. Discuss with each other what you have seen over the past year, but don’t make the training so unrealistic that it is ineffective. Have an instructor day at the wind tunnel. Since wind tunnels are beginning to spring up in more places take advantage of it. Video the time in the tunnel and spend some time doing dirt drills working on areas that need improvement. Emergency Training Many DZs will invite the local rescue squad out on safety day and there are others that don’t like to do this because they do not want to scare the new jumpers. I can understand both sides of this, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that this is a dangerous sport. It is a good idea for all instructors to have basic first responder training specific to the types of injuries that could be experienced at the DZ. Subjects such as C-Spine immobilization, when to move an injured person and when not to should be taught to all instructors. What about the injured person’s helmet? Should it be left on or taken off? How do you safely remove an injured person from the swoop pond? When the call is placed into 911, what information is the most helpful? Does the staff know the address to give the 911 operator (that is a good thing to type up and put by the phone, by the way). This brings us back to the training folder. One of the things that would be a good idea to keep in the folder would be copies of awards and maybe even a copy of a recent logbook entry. If there is ever an accident or fatality at the DZ, the DZO/DZM will have to deal with the media. By having key information handy, the DZO/DZM will be able to make a quick and informative statement to the press if needed. For example, if someone were to get hurt during a tandem jump, the DZO could say, “This is a very unfortunate accident and we are looking into the cause right now. The instructor is highly experienced and has over 10,000 jumps, 9,000 of them being tandem, and just two months ago was awarded the USPA badge for 50 hours of free fall.” Many people don’t like talking to the press, and that is the subject for another article, but the fact remains; by just saying no comment you leave the uneducated alone to make up their own answers based on hearsay, rumors, and their own fears. As you can see, there are various ways for a drop zone to develop their instructors. Although not every way is possible, nor has every possible way been covered, we must remember that drop zones are businesses, instructors are employees, and once in a while, employees need refresher training too. Corey Miller C-38834 Corey has a Master’s Degree in Aeronautical Science, specializing in Human Factors and Education. He has over 30 years of experience in both aerospace and military aviation. He is currently the Quality and Safety Manager for the ATM Program in Kabul Afghanistan but he calls the Oklahoma Skydiving Center his home.
  19. 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.
  20. "We live longer in three seconds than some people live their entire lives." That's one of my favorite quotes from a fellow BASE jumper, and it was at the forefront of my mind as I read BBC broadcaster and psychology writer Claudia Hammond's new book, "Time Warped: Unlocking the Mysteries of Time Perception." The book tackles the alternately baffling and encouraging science behind our brains' relationship with the arbitrary measurements of our wristwatches. More to the point: It puts that information in a framework that makes total sense for an airsports athlete. Time works a little differently for us, after all. Linear time lies at the heart of the way we organize life, sure--but it also lies at the heart of the way we experience it. This might be the bigger concept--because what's within our own minds is under our own control. Skydivers--especially in high-stakes moments, like competitions and records--can relate to the curiously changing shape of time. Saturated with focus, it feels as though some experiences are being scrubbed through in super-fast-forward, while others are playing out almost frame-by-frame. It turns out that fluxes in time perception aren't simply an athletic and personal deficiency; these mental gymnastics around the concept of time's passage are a "defining feature of how the human mind works."It turns out that, in a physiological sense, the "slow-motion car crash" isn't a myth -- it's "a cognitive reality." Hammond's hypothesis is compelling in its simplicity: that the way we experience the passage of time is not an external process we're subjected to. Instead, time as we know it is actively created by our own minds. It isn't reliable and it is certainly not objective. Neuroscientists and psychologists call this "mind time," and Hammond describes how we as humans -- and, by extension, we as extreme athletes -- can shape it and use it to our own benefit. Much of the challenge we face as airsports athletes is exerting a practical amount of control over our physical and mental responses to overwhelming stimuli. No amount of mental gymnastics will turn a BASE exit with a seven-second rock drop into an exit with a 12-second rock drop; however, if we can start to see "mind time" as flexible and ourselves as active participants in our experience of it, Hammond suggests that we can stay in flight just a little longer in our own minds. (This is a deeply appealing and useful thought experiment for athletes who practice a sport that often requires us to dedicate days of our time for scant minutes of freefall.) "Time Warped" is a profoundly conceptual but still, somehow, practical book. It addresses the way our internal clocks dictate our lives and the ways in which mindfulness works as a tool to master that internal clock. One of the book's most beautiful passages sums it up brilliantly: "We will never have total control over this extraordinary dimension. Time will warp and confuse and baffle and entertain however much we learn about its capacities. But the more we learn, the more we can shape it to our will and destiny. We can slow it down or speed it up. We can hold on to the past more securely and predict the future more accurately. Mental time-travel is one of the greatest gifts of the mind. It makes us human, and it makes us special." Other Resources: Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman Felt Time: The Science of How We Experience Time by Marc Wittmann
  21. 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.
  22. admin

    New Wind Tunnel in Lake Elsinore

    Marissa Partners, LLC and Aero Systems Engineering today announced their plan to open the world's most advanced design indoor skydiving facility. Located in scenic Lake Elsinore, the state-of-the-art complex will be the widest diameter commercial facility of its kind at 14 ft. and capable of producing wind speeds in excess of 150 mph. The Tunnel VS 1(TM) is a realistic skydiving simulation experience. Unlike some older technology wind tunnels that exist today, The Tunnel VS 1(TM) provides participants with the actual sensation of flying through the air just like a real skydive from a plane. "Our indoor skydiving facility will allow people of all ages to come in and experience the thrill of an actual skydive in a safe and controlled environment while also serving the training needs of recreational, professional and military skydivers throughout the world," said Bruce Federici, a managing partner for the firm. "Think of all of those people who would never jump out of a perfectly good airplane in order to skydive, but would love to experience first hand what it is like to be free to fly!" Indoor skydiving facilities have existed for some time for use by both the military and skydiving markets. Only recently have they begun to catch on as an affordable source of family recreation and entertainment. "The City of Lake Elsinore is a recreation and tourism oriented community that already has a strong tie to skydiving," said Marlene Best, assistant city manager. "A facility like this would be a great addition, and create synergy with the attractions already here," she added. Aero Systems Engineering Inc.'s President, Chuck Loux, said, "We are enthusiastic about this opportunity to work with Marissa Partners, LLC in providing this state-of-the-art wind tunnel." Aero Systems Engineering has more than 50 years of wind tunnel experience, including the successful Matos Military Freefall Training Facility, provided to the US Army at Fort Bragg, N.C. Aero Systems Engineering provides wind tunnels and jet engine test cells worldwide. Today's announcement is the first step in a new era for the entire skydiving industry and represents a major shift toward more family-based recreation. About Aero Systems Engineering ASE designs and supplies wind tunnels for testing in all speed regimes: low speed, subsonic, transonic, supersonic, and hypersonic. The company's primary wind tunnel business areas include turnkey projects (new facilities and facility upgrades), vertical wind tunnels/free fall simulators, automotive climatic wind tunnels, engine/rocket altitude test facilities, high temperature heaters, and design of all types of wind tunnels and associated systems and components. About Marissa Partners, LLC Marissa Partners is an investment holding company. The company's primary business is the development and operation of Vertical Wind Tunnels "The Tunnel VS 1(TM)" for recreational use. The company's focus is to create and market an exciting new form of recreational entertainment for the enjoyment of consumers and to provide a realistic skydiving simulator for skydiver training. CONTACT: Marissa Partners LLC Bruce Federici, 909/615-3052 TheTunnelVS1@aol.com or Aero Systems Engineering Inc. Don Kamis, 651/227-7515 ase@aerosysengr.com
  23. Joel Griffin, who said she felt as though her body had exploded, after the accident, and leaving court yesterday. Joel Griffin thought she was dying. Having crashed to the ground from a height of 3,000 metres, she had no feeling in her legs and was in excruciating pain. Told by doctors she would never walk again, the 25-year-old skydiver has overcome that, but still suffers back pain, cannot play many sports and is unable to work fulltime, she told the NSW District Court yesterday. Mrs Griffin, who has a six-month-old child, is suing the Byron Bay Skydiving Centre, claiming it was negligent by misleading her and failing to safely supervise the jump. Her counsel, Mr Andrew Morrison, SC, said in his opening address that despite his client's concerns that the wind was too strong, she was persuaded to go and reassured it was safe. Mrs Griffin had been told in her training that she should not skydive if the wind exceeded 15 knots, he said. Meteorological evidence would show the wind was well over 15-20 knots. The accident happened on November 2, 1995. It was her 28th jump and part of a publicity stunt. The skydiving business had been sold, and the old owners had planned to exchange contracts in midair. Before the aircraft took off, Mrs Griffin said, the safety officer on the ground, Mr Steve Lewis, had said to her "the wind was a bit suss" and that he would measure it. She had told him she would not go, but he said: "It'll be okay. I'll radio the plane if it gets any stronger." "Once we got up I noticed there was a lot of white caps on the water, and trees were moving around a lot." She told the instructors in the aircraft, who told her "it'd be okay". As they were climbing out of the aircraft, she checked with the pilot whether Mr Lewis had made any communication about wind speed. He had not, and they went ahead with the jump. "I could tell the wind was very strong," she said. "I was flying along just going straight ... and I felt myself pull backwards really hard and looked up and saw my parachute was tangled. I just started to spiral." She landed extremely hard, she said, and it felt as though her body had exploded. "At first I thought I was going to die. I couldn't feel my legs." She was flown to Lismore Hospital with a fractured spine and was told she would never walk again. She was later transferred to Sydney for surgery. Since the accident Mrs Griffin has taken part in two tandem dives, but in these jumps the instructor took the full brunt of the landing, she said. "Skydiving for me is a passion, and I guess I was denying that anything was wrong with me to get up and do it again." She wants compensation for past and future medical expenses, and for economic loss. The hearing continues. Photos: Rick Stevens and Jon Reid
  24. admin

    What did you do last summer?

    Tis the season.... Summer for skydivers is the time that we let loose, enjoy the longer days, jump as much as possible, go to boogies, see old friends and meet new people. For The Freefly Training Center (FTC), this past summer was no exception. Following a successful and eventful season at Skydive Sebastian in Florida, these guys didn't slow down at all for the 'busy' summer season. Instead they tracked into the summer with a demanding agenda of skills camps, boogies, and competitions…and I got to be there for most of it, so here's my take on it. Intensified Skills Camps Skydive Sebastian was well represented at many different dropzones this summer, coaching and organizing at Skills Camps run by FTC instructors. They kicked off the summer, as many 'northern' dzs do, on Memorial Day weekend. Current National and World Champions, Mike Swanson and Rook Nelson, headed to Cross Keys, NJ, to organize with Monkey Claw during the annual Monkey Claw Jam, this year's theme being 'The Running of the Bulls'. Following that boogie, Mike met up with FTC instructor Dave Brown, in Orange, Mass. to hold an intensive skills camp at Jumptown. This is the second year for a skills camp at Jumptown, and again, it was a great success. Before going back to Chicago, to continue an arduous training schedule for the U.S. Nationals and the World Cup, Mike hosted successful skills camps at both Skydive New England and AerOhio. Rook, Mike and Dave, who spent the majority of their summer at Skydive Chicago, organized and coached freeflyers who were stoked to get in on the learning atmosphere. They also placed 1st (Rook) 2nd (Mike) and 3rd (Dave) at the3rd Annual Freefly Money Meet that Skydive Chicago hosted. 'Alaska Jon' Devore, who together with Rook and Mike, form team 'Alchemy', also joined the Chicago contingency to help organize and coach during Summerfest, the Midwest's newest large scale boogie. In late July, Dave and Mike joined forces once again and went up to Canada, for the 3rd annual Canadian Freefly and Film Festival, hosted by Skydive Burnaby in Ontario, and the Gravity Pilots freefly team. They kept the Otter flying all day for 8 days, with coaching, organizing and Atmosphere Dolphin (AD) tests. They held nightly seminars regarding safety, gear, group dynamics, an overview of how to get the most out of your dives. Dave and Mike also gave AD "A" tests for the first 3 Canadians to get their ADs on Canadian soil.... Congrats to Glen, Brent and John. Rook was busy organizing at the annual Richmond boogie in Indiana at the end of August, keeping the Skydive Chicago Super Otters turning all day every day of the event. And on the far East Coast, the New Englanders kept Dave busy during the Labor Day weekend coaching and organizing, as well as attending the coolest 'Tiki Bar' party of the year. On his way back down home to Florida, Dave enjoyed a 5 day stay at Cross Keys where he organized local freeflyers, and organized the pond swoop and chug which Thomas Huges from Sebastian XL eagerly took the first place prize and glory. Following N.J, Dave was in Orange, VA, for the last skills camp weekend of the tour na d was greeted by the always warm welcome of the locals. One on One coaching started off each day for registered partispants which by afternoon turned into group organizing and each night a big way sunset jump, followed by 'beer kicking' (a local dropzone tradition), and video debriefs. Swoopin' It Up Out There In between all of the boogies and dzs that the FTC attended, they also were quite active in competing in some of the biggest swoop competitions of the season. It began with the 'Red Bull Wings Over Chicago' event, held on Lake Michigan, in downtown Chicago. Congrats to Rook, Mike, Dave and Alaska, who all placed in the top ten!! That was only the beginning of the 'swoop tour' for the summer, to be followed by the swoop event sponsored by GoFast at the World Freefall Convention, this year held in Rantoul, IL. Dave attended and had lots of positive feedback from the experience. The event was hosted by Jim Slaton, from the Icarus 'Team Extreme', and Lyle Presse, a local organizer and event manager from Skydive Sebastian. The combined efforts of these guys have led to the creation of the 'Pro Swooping Tour' (PST), which recently had its first event in Perris Valley, CA at the beginning of October. (ps. The Convention was a great time, if you didn't get there this year, you should definitely check it out next year!!) Less than a week later, Rook, Mike and Dave headed up to The Ranch, in Gardiner NY, for the Pond Swooping Nationals. Although a small injury kept Dave from competing past round 2, he kept the crowds entertained as the MC for the remainder of the event. Rook did very well, placing in the top ten, out of over 65 competitors, and taking home a cash purse, congrats! Dave and Alaska Jon went on to compete in the Pond Surfing Championships held at Skydive New England the following week. This was the first year that this dz has had a swoop pond/competition, and I think it left quite a favorable impression on everyone. The day after the competition was over there was a 2 jump 'demo competition', 2 rounds, 1000$ each, winner takes all, at Old Orchard Beach in Maine. The next stop of the swooping tour brought Dave, with teammates (PD Velociraptors) Vladi Pesa, Christopher Irwin and Sonic, to California to compete in the first ever Pro Swooping Tour Team Challenge. For never having jumped as a team in a competition, these guys finished fourth, closely behind the Icarus 'Team EXtreme'. Congrats again!!!! The FTC will be attending and hosting some swoop events coming up for the winter season, and is looking forward to seeing everyone out there pushing the sport further. On Top of the World Ma While the summer was full of fun events, it was also a time for serious training. Team Alchemy, representing the USA, logged more than 800 team jumps together this summer, training for the US National Championships held in Chicago, IL, and the World Cup held in Vienna, Austria. Meanwhile, over in England, other FTC instructors Rob Silver and Chris Lynch, of team 'Sebastian Free Jive', trained for the British National Championships, with teammate Tim Porter. Chris and Tim formed 'Skyjiver', a freestyle team, to compete in the British Nationals as well. Here's what a lot of training and a whole lot of skill can produce....GOLD! Congratulations to all the teams.... US National Championships Freefly - Gold -Team Alchemy World Cup Championships Freefly - Gold -Team Alchemy British National Championships Freefly - Gold - Sebastian Free Jive British National Championships Freestyle - Gold - Stylejiver Also congrats to Chris Lynch, who won gold in individual accuracy on his PD Velocity 103, and to Sebastian Free Jive who also won gold in the team event. All of these world class teams will be representing Skydive Sebastian and the Freefly Training Center at the 2003 World Air Games this summer, held in Gap, France. Way to go guys!!!!!! Othere Worthy News The IMAX movie 'Adrenaline Rush: The Science of Risk' recently had it's grand premier in Montreal, Canada, before being shipped to theaters worldwide. It was very well received by all those attended. Mike, Dave, Rook and Rob open the movie with a segment of freeflying over Sebastian, which was filmed with the IMAX film crew from 'S.H.E Entertainment' and director Carl Sampson last December. The film also has some of the most breath taking view's of BASE jumping in Norway , Wing Suit flying in the Florida Keys and Leonardo Da Vinci's parachute jump by Adrian Nicholas in the Mojave Desert. Check out your local IMAX theatre for showings-it's not one you want to miss! The FTC has also been busy planning out a packed season here at Skydive Sebastian, starting with the season 'opener' Halloween boogie (Mike and Dave/LO's), shortly followed by the Keys boogie (Dave and Rook/LO's), held in the Marathon Key. The FTC will also be holding tunnel camps, skills camps, the 'Pure Progression Program', Big Way Invitational Camp, and many other events. Drop Zones or individuals interested in having an Intensive FTC Skills Camp at their dz this upcoming season, contact skillscamp@freeflytrainingcenter.com. For any other info, or just wanting to get down on the new school vibe….go to www.freeflytrainingcenter.com or e-mail info@freeflytrainingcenter.com Hope to see you soon!!! Erin Golden
  25. “This particular aircraft doesn’t have seatbelts, but we only have it for this one boogie--and we’ve never had a forced landing, anyway.” “There’s no AAD in this rig, but I’m only going to jump it this once while my regular rig is being repacked. It’s just so I don’t miss the record attempt. I’ll be back on my regular rig on the next load.” “We always jump in cloud here. Otherwise we’d never get to jump! The pilot has GPS, anyway, obviously, and he’s never been wrong.” The final sentence--which always follows, right?--is the kicker: “I’m sure it will be fine.” Are you? Really? USPA Director of Safety and Training Jim Crouch introduced a really important concept in April’s Parachutist (‘Safety Check’; April 2017). In it, he brings up The Challenger Launch Decision, written by sociologist Diane Vaughan. Vaughn very usefully summarized the kernel of this human tendency. She even coined a term for it: the “normalization of deviance.” Normalization of deviance comes up pretty much everywhere in life (foregoing your helmet just to bike down to the neighborhood park; speeding; not bothering with the condom). High-variable, high-pressure, high-safety-requisite circumstances breed the normalization of deviance like bunnies at a bunny swinger’s convention. For some insight into how the normalization of deviance affects you in your airsports career, let NASA Astronaut Mike Mullane bend your ear. Mullane was a fighter pilot in 1978, when he was selected as a Mission Specialist in the first group of Space Shuttle Astronauts. He chalked up three space missions (aboard the Shuttles Discovery and Atlantis), spending more than 350 hours in the void. And, solely in the years after he celebrated his 60th birthday, Mullane summited Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Rainier and 35 of Colorado’s 14,000+ers. You can safely assume that Col. Ret. Mullane is an expert in managing his own risk envelope and that of those around him--and, yet, even he is still influenced by the normalization of deviance. How ‘bout that. Why is it so tough to fight immunity to unacceptable risk? Cause damn, it’s hard. It’s cultural; it’s about preserving a certain quality of relationship. It’s personal; it’s about preserving a certain self-image. Finally, it’s transactive; it’s about trading off a potentially good experience now for the chance to have more good experiences later, in the absence of much data at ****all. “The natural human tendency,” Mullane notes, “Particularly in pressured circumstances, to want to take a safety shortcut. [You say,] ‘I’ve done a [jump] like this a thousand times in the past, and nothing bad has ever happened. I can certainly do it this one time [...] and nothing bad is going to happen. [...] The absence of something bad happening when I took this safety shortcut means that it’s safe to do so again.’” There will always be a next time. And you’re going to be mightily tempted to do it again. When you do it--whatever ‘it is--enough times, the shortcut becomes the norm. The loop is reinforced. In Mullane’s words, “The deviance is now invisible to you.” And when invisible deviance leaves a very visible mess? Well, Diane Vaughn coined another term in her book for that eventuality: a “predictable surprise.” Those involved in the Challenger debacle readily admit that the explosion (and the resulting deaths) constituted a predictable surprise. So does a catastrophic wingsuit collision in the absence of one jumper’s AAD. So does a plane full of broken jumpers after a forced seatbeltless landing (of which--make no mistake--there are very many). So does a double tandem fatality at a dropzone with an it’ll-be-fine attitude towards instructor training. Image by Brett Kistler The itchy issue we face as airsports athletes is that we’re not under pressure from the government, as Mullane and NASA were. We’re not under pressure from the market. The pressure you’re under on the dropzone is your own. If you think it’s a good idea to scratch, you can damn well go ahead and scratch. You can roll your eyes at anyone who gets after you for it--the manifest; your buddy; your team at the Nationals. Most of the time, though, you don’t. You stay on the load, and--probably significantly more than nine times out of ten--you build another nanolayer on your normalization-of-deviance callus. The old triusm that familiarity breeds complacency makes a little more sense, no? That newbies are generally more risk-averse than intermediate-to-mid-career jumpers (a trend which tends to reverse as the jumper amasses significant empirical data)? That you’re more willing to do--well--gloriously stupid shit at a dropzone you know really well, as opposed to one you’re just visiting? Take it from Richard Feynman, compared the practice of predictive reasoning to Russian Roulette: “The fact that the first shot got off safely is little comfort for the next. [...] Nature cannot be fooled.” In real life, of course, it’s more uncertain than that. He was talking about binary predictive reasoning (with an either-A-or-B result). We’re not playing a binary game when we’re jumping and flying; we’re not playing Russian roulette. Honestly, we don’t even know how many bullets are in that gun. But we’d better remember that it is a gun, and it is loaded, somewhere in there--and the safety culture we’ve inherited is a desperate attempt to introduce proven failsafes in the face of our old nemesis, randomness. Walking out to the pointy end is fun. Randomness is fun. Deviance is fun. That’s a big part of why we do this, right? That said: understanding why we make the decisions we make--and, perhaps, even learning to make better ones--can do much to extend a career. For more, do yourself a solid and check out Vaughn’s The Challenger Launch Decision, which originally coined the phrase. It’s a riveting read--and I bet you’ll readily recognize the culture which worked to create the conditions for the tragedy.