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In defense of Icarus Tandem
Islander-O posted a topic in Tandem SkydivingLate 2017 and early 2018, I heard from two different TI’s with respectable experience a similar statement “Icarus tandem is crap (it was expressed in stronger words). It collapses in turbulent conditions” That statement was followed by the sentence “But “Sigma” is really cool! It never collapses!” After some considerations, I decided to say something about Icarus tandems too. I did my first tandem in 1993. Since that time I jumped Vector-1, Strong DH, Sigma and Racer Tandem systems. Through that time tandem canopies have progressed from a huge 500 sq.ft Goliaths to agile (if this word can be applied to tandems) 300 or even 270 babies. I am of the old school, which blessed the skydiving with ““More cloth above your head is better” wisdom, and reluctantly changed to smaller canopies. But I have to admit that Icarus changed my view on small canopies in general and Icarus tandems in particular. One day the CI gave me a plastic bag containing bright new Icarus-330. 2200 jumps later I disconnected it, put it into plastic bag and gave to our rigger. In the span of said 2200 jumps I had a lot of pleasant openings and the said pleasure was not spoiled by any trouble or malfunction. It, like an old horse, safely brought me to the ground through gusty winds, turbulence and occasional no-winds on wide variety of restricted LZ’s: soccer field, baseball field, a narrow strip between said fields, narrow beaches. That IT-330 canopy was replaced with IT-300 which I loved even more. I had chat with a lot of TM’s that worked in similar or even worse conditions and they shared my few on Icarus Tandem canopy. So, now one can understand my astonished when I heard the mentioned above statement. Early 2018, my personal circumstances brought me to DZ that utilized Sigma-340, Icarus-365 and even Icarus-400 (!). All canopies had controls set in 6+2 configuration. So, I had an opportunity to compare both canopies on the jump to jump basis. Sigma tormented me with its funny openings the major feature of which was a collapsed central cell. I know that there will be comments “watch your packing”. I have to admit that I had a few normal openings when I packed myself (on a hook), but collapsed central cell did not go anywhere. Icarus openings were much more stable. To be fair, I have to say that periodically Icarus has a “butterfly opening” – you see the central cell behind the slider. This happens when canopy got out of deploy bag and assumed a pear-like shape but upon deceleration everything comes back to normal. As for control setting 6+2, I would like to tell that main (big, yellow etc.) toggles provide very limited control of either Sigma or Icarus. Because it engages the end cell(s), it is impossible to redistribute the canopy internal pressure (you cannot “pump” the canopy). The turn on this toggle is slow and shallow because small area of an air break (OK, an aileron). With two toggles on a hand, the canopy does not become agile because nearly a half of a trailing edge of the canopy engaged as the airbrake that located too close to the center of the canopy. This makes me think that quoted at the beginning of this post sentences commented Icarus in configuration 6+2 that forces TM to fly long straight approach making canopy the most vulnerable to wind gusts, turbulence, and thermals. This is the most non-Icarus tactics. As I said above, I made thousands of jumps on Icarus-365/330/300 canopies that were in 6/1 configuration that allowed me to control the canopy on opening, make energetic turns that gave me good horizontal speed that was converted into a lift on landing. I use the landing pattern of 270-degree turn with a toggle pulled down to the top of my shoulder. This turn provides me with the speed that is the best treatment of winds, turbulence, and thermals. Relatively low vertical speed allows to stop turn and any moment and flare. So, in my opinion (a personal one of course) Icarus tandem is the good and reliable canopy.