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  1. Unfortunately, we weren't able to attend the recent 2019 PIA Symposium which took place in Dallas, TX from the 4th until the 8th of February. However, our friends over at Skydive TV did an amazing job at the event, creating a number of videos from the various stalls. We've put together some of these videos in a quick collection, allowing you to recap what was going down at the PIA Symposium if you were like us and unable to be there, or whether you're just interested in hearing what some of the vendors and stall managers had to say. PIA Symposium 2019 | EPISODE 1 from Skydive TV® on Vimeo. Sigma & Burble The video kicks off with an advert for the direction that Sigma has gone with their new partnership with Burble. An interview with Dylan Avatar from Sigma then commences to discuss the way in which the two companies have eased the pains of manifests when working with the software. The software focuses on syncing data between the jumper's Sigma profile with that of the manifest. By doing this, the dropzone is able to receive the necessary certifications from the jumper without the exercise of excessive forms or card management. The software is set for release in the Spring, with additional development work still in progress. Franz Gerschwiler from Burble then discusses how the system works, the desire for a March release date and gives a short demo of how data that is contained on the app, as well as the success that Burble has seen in recent years being adopted by more than 100 dropzones. NZ Aerosports Next, Skydive TV talks with Attila Csizmadia from New Zealand Aerosports who initially discusses the loss of company founder Paul ‘Jyro’ Martyn, who passed away in 2017, and how his visions shaped the company. With a memorial to Jyro, placed at the stall in his honor. Attila confirms that there won't be any new NZ products unveiled at PIA, however the company has recently launched the JFX II, which is discussed in its advances to the original JFX. The discussion then shifts to a new wingsuit canopy that the company have in the works and is currently undergoing testing, though no specific release date is mentioned. The interview moves to Julien Peelman, who discusses the future of the company and what's on the horizon for NZ Aerosports. He mentions the "Anna" which is a high performance canopy that fits between the JFX II and the Leia. Peelman then goes on to discuss the move from 2D to 3D software for the company and the advances in the development software being used. Sun Path Products At the Sun Path booth, Rob Kendall talks passionately about the company's new Javelin Odyssey design, which draws heavily from feedback received by customers of the old Odyssey. He talks about several new features on the container, from the adjustments to the side panel to enhanced safety aspects, though states that the design is still a prototype and will be further tested before launch. Doug Baron then takes over to discuss the adjustments made to the back piece of the container, a feature which will offer enhance ergonomics to the user, as well as briefly discussing the new single lateral padding. Revl Revl provide a product of interest mostly to dropzones, as they offer an intelligent hardware and software solution to video capture, editing and publishing. Eric Sanchez talks to Skydive TV about how their product will capture each jump in high quality video, then use AI technology to process the video and edit it in such a way that it removes the need for video editors. Their product will then automatically upload the edited video to the cloud in, and in a matter of minutes one is able have the video automatically edited and uploaded to the cloud for each client. They use a QR code system to tie each video to the client. Not only does this product edit automatically, but it also goes through the process of charging the battery and erasing the previous data after cloud syncing, by itself. It also has the ability to merge multiple videos together during the editing process, so outside and inside videos will be merged into a single final edit. Definitely an interesting product, and we'll be watching to see whether this does get picked up at dropzones. Elite Rigging Academy Derek Thomas, with more than 50 years of rigging experience, discusses a bit of his back story and how Elite Rigging Academy came about. He explains his desire to create a rigging course that isn't just a week long experience, but rather a comprehensive 3-week course
  2. nettenette

    Why We Boogie

    The History of a Silly Name Image by Andrey Veselov It’s hard to imagine that, not too long ago, a skydiving get-together was a rare thing indeed. Today, as you’ve no doubt noticed, there are hundreds of ‘em. In fact, almost every drop zone, no matter how small, has at least one official yearly boogie to celebrate its local jumpers. Namibia! Fiji! A tiny little beach town in Kenya*! A big field in Montana! Where two or three are gathered in its name, behold: you’ve got a boogie on your hands. Some of these events are immense, filling the skies with dozens of wildly various aircraft, hundreds of skydivers and a whirling (terrifying?) smorgasbord of disciplines. Others are comparably tiny. Despite their differences, most boogies are a reliably good time. It stands to reason that a group of skydivers would find any excuse to come together in a frenzied combination of daytime skydiving and nighttime frivolity–but when did the first one take place, and how did it come by such a goofy name? Read on. The Birth of a BoogieThe modern skydiving boogie may owe its existence to a film: specifically, the first major skydiving film released to the public, called Gypsy Moths. Shortly after the film’s much-lauded debut, one of the skydivers featured in the film – a prominent skydiving athlete named Garth “Tag” Taggart – was asked to put together a “just-for-fun” skydiving event in his hometown of Richmond, Indiana. Until then, skydivers only really, officially gathered for USPA-officiated competitions at regional and national meets. In September of 1972, Garth arranged that seminal event, which is recorded in Pat Work's fascinating record of early skydiving (entitled "United We Fall"). Where Did the Term “Boogie” Come From?The term “boogie” derived from a comic motif developed by fringe cartoonist R. Crumb.** The motif features a “boogie man” striding confidently across an abstract landscape with the phrase “Keep On Truckin’” emblazoned above. The word “boogie” doesn’t appear anywhere within the motif, but the story goes that Garth Taggart was inspired by the image. He was also probably influenced by use of the word in New Zealand skydiving circles, as well as by its use as a then-trendy name for an, ahem, wild party. In any case, Taggart picked that moniker to describe the Richmond RW Festival on its event t-shirts, and the term stuck. Firmly. These get-togethers have sometimes been referred to as “jumpmeets”--in the olden days, when the organizers didn’t want to saddle the event with the term’s then-obvious, hard-partying implications--but “boogie” is how we’ve really come to know the phenomenon. Hilariously enough, those historic shirts didn’t actually use the word “boogie.” Due to an unfortunate misspelling on the hastily-printed giveaways, they described the event as a “boggie.” Snicker snicker. The First Boogie Kicks OffHowever confused the naming, that original event brought together more than a hundred skydivers from all over the US to practice the then-relatively-new RW discipline. The Richmond City Boys’ Club hosted the event, making significant revenue by charging non-skydivers an admission fee. That first boogie (or “boggie,” if we’re being historically accurate) saw some formations that were, for the time, pretty damn groundbreaking. In "United We Fall," Pat Work notes that the athletes “made several big stars out of a Twin Beech and a DC-3.” Work goes on to remember that “[a]ll the self-styled, super-hero RW types made three tries at a 30-man, and succeeded in FUBAR-ing all three in front of the lens of Carl Boenish.” The botched jump didn’t cripple the event, however. “Everyone else just giggled and went up and made 18-mans […] with no problems[.]” That night, the skydivers and some lucky spectators enjoyed a raucous bonfire, dancing and screenings of some of the most seminal skydiving videos on record. The Boogie EvolvesIn the years immediately following that first boogie, the quickly growing sport of skydiving started to earn a bad-boy reputation amongst the general public (who didn’t much care about it previously, when the sport was tiny and firmly on the fringes). For several years, the city of Richmond out-and-out banned skydiving for fear of its freakshow excesses.*** By the time the 1970s were drawing to a close, however, that original boogie had become very official. It turned into the USPA Nationals--whaddaya know. Boogies TodayThe phenomenon of the boogie holds to the much same spirit as Garth “Tag” Taggart’s founding principle: fun. These days, however, they’re also used as a venue for major skydiving competitions, world records, vendor demonstrations, charity efforts and loci for training. Across the board, these events retain one important historical value: the nominal “boogie” itself. We come for the party, right? *Which I just finished attending. **If you aren’t aware of R Crumb, treat yourself to a Google image search. You’re welcome. ***Apparently, it was proving too logistically difficult to lock up their daughters--and sons, for that matter.
  3. admin

    Chopping Is Just The Beginning

    A reserve ride is an exciting adventure no matter how many jumps you have under your belt. Preparatory training is obviously the best way to ensure that you walk away unscathed, but it is my experience that the simulations we create are not as realistic as they could be. In many cases, many of us will argue, they are not as good as they need to be. The purpose of this article is to suggest possible improvements to the state of the art in emergency procedure training. If we envision beyond what we have done in the past, improvement is assured, and the safe conclusion of parachute malfunctions will increase in frequency. If we can simulate cutaway jumps more realistically, skydivers will be calmer in emergency situations, and more skillful. Elaborate simulation, in my experience, will also result in greater awareness and recall, more efficient actions, and less emotional trauma once the event is over. The first issue to be addressed by our sport as a whole is our simulation equipment. Although a vest with handles may be very helpful for establishing the general flow of handle-pulling, it is a far cry from what the event will actually feel like. Many jumpers have reported, upon landing from their first cutaway, that things did not feel or look remotely the way they expected. Handles were not where the jumper expected them to be, pull forces were not what they anticipated, nor was the feeling of the experience similar to the training process that was supposed to prepare them for this event. It is my experience, however, that when we take thoughtful steps to improve our training methods and equipment, the gap between expectation and reality can be closed significantly. The most important piece of equipment in any simulation is the mind. Creating a clear visualization of the scenario is essential, no matter how silly it may look to bystanders. The job of the Instructor in these situations is to provide insightful clarification, ideally based on their own experience. Set the emotional stage for the student in every possible way, describing the details as clearly as possible, leaving nothing out. Allow yourself to get wrapped up in the excitement that is inevitable in such experiences. This will not only make the simulation feel more real, it will help illuminate the natural mental reaction of the student to intense stress. If over-reaction or under-reaction is apparent, further training is necessary. If the student failed to perform, the instructor simply has more work to do. It continues to be my strong opinion that a suspended harness is absolutely essential for the best possible training. Given the vast amount of money we now spend on aircraft and student gear, skimping on this key element of teaching equipment is shortsighted, and most often a product of laziness and compromise. If building a hanging harness cost thousands of dollars, the financial argument might hold more merit, but this is most decidedly not the case. There are many possible methods that cost very little, and can be created in just an hour or two. I know, I build a new hanging harness at almost every dropzone I travel to in the process of running my canopy skills and safety courses. I do this because I want to offer my course participants the best possible training, and because an alarming percentage of skydiving schools have done away with this vital piece of training equipment. This needs to change if we are to improve the safety of our sport. Let's start with the actual harness. When I find suspended harnesses in use, most often the actual rig is an uncomfortable, dilapidated old rig from the early 1980's, hung from the ceiling by attachment points that are way too close together to simulate a realistic experience. In the best cases, there is a three-ring setup that allows the jumper to cut away and drop a few inches. This is a great training aid, but what if the rig was a more modern adjustable harness that could accurately reflect the fit and handle placement of the rig they will actually be jumping? For that matter, what if we hung them in the rig they were actually going to jump? What if the suspension apparatus was long enough to practice kicking out of line-twists? What if the toggles simulated the resistance of an actual parachute using bungees or weights? What if you pulled on straps attached to the bottom of the harness each time they flared, to simulate the pitch change? What if, as crazy as it sounds, you went to the local hardware store and picked up a high-powered carpet blower, a.k.a. “snail fan”, and angled it up at the harness to reflect the feeling of the relative wind? This is the kind of outside-the-box thinking that creates better simulations, and better training. Further, this is how we prepare our students for an actual malfunction and reduce the risk of pilot error. For experienced jumpers, I highly recommend hanging up in your own rig. This will clarify handle placement under load, allow you to explore strap tightness possibilities, and give you the opportunity to experience actual pull forces when your repack cycle is up. If you do not have stainless steel hardware on your rings, please use fabric connection points rather than the carabiner attachment displayed in these photos. Another key element of malfunction simulation is to follow through with the complete jump, rather than stopping after the handles are pulled. In reality, the adequate performance of emergency procedures is just the first in a long list of steps that lead to a safe landing. For instance, what if the cutaway harness had Velcro reserve toggles that needed to be first peeled upward and then pulled downward? Many people, myself included, have tried simply pulling the reserve toggles downward to find that they would not release. Missing details like this can lead to a student feeling more angst than is necessary, and can result in further stress-induced mistakes with major consequences. Additionally, proper exploration of the reserve canopy is important for a good flight pattern, accuracy and landing flare following a malfunction. How much slack is in the brake lines? Where is the stall point? What is the flare response on this brand new canopy? A good cutaway followed by a broken ankle on landing is still a bad day. Simulate the whole jump, and there will be fewer surprises. The final issue I want to cover on the topic of better emergency procedures training is the inclusion of deliberate adrenaline management efforts following the deployment of the reserve canopy. Carrying the emotional momentum of a malfunction all the way to the ground definitely increases the chances of a lousy landing. High levels of stress takes time to sluff-off, but a skilled operator also knows how and when to slow down. Once you have pulled all the handles you need to pull, taking three long, slow, deep breaths while gazing at the horizon with a smile of relief on your face can change your mood, and your fate. Get your composure back, and your optimism will follow. From there, skill is just a short step away. This process can and should be included in every emergency procedure simulation to create a habit that is likely to be carried out in the sky. Following such quiescent procedures allows the mind to more easily let go of the recent past and focus on the present moment and the near future: 1) Check altitude and location 2) Find a safe landing area 3) Explore the reserve 4) Fly a good pattern 5) Flare beautifully 6) Walk away with a smile on your face 7) Thank your rigger A malfunction does not need to be viewed as an emergency, especially if you are truly prepared; it is just a change of plans. A complete simulation can be the difference between a horrifying emergency and a well-executed contingency plan. If we handle it well, a main parachute malfunction can actually be fun. I have found few experiences more rewarding than a complicated situation that I figured out on the fly, and despite my fear, I kept my head and did the right thing. In short, a parachute malfunction is an opportunity to prove to yourself and the world that you can handle yourself in a crisis, and with realistic training, your success can be an inevitable conclusion. About the Author: Brian Germain is a parachute designer, author, teacher, radio personality, keynote speaker with over 15,000 jumps, and has been an active skydiver for 30 years. He is the creator of the famed instructional video "No Sweat: Parachute Packing Made Easy", as well as the critically acclaimed book The Parachute and its Pilot. You can get more of Brian’s teaching at Adventure Wisdom, Big Air Sportz, Transcending Fear, and on his vast YouTube Channel
  4. Image by Joel StricklandDoes exit order seem like some kind of obscure semi-religious ritual? Do you go through the motions without really understanding the moving parts? If so, yikes--but you’re certainly not alone. Luckily, understanding the logic behind the order is a pretty straightforward affair, and the entire sky will be better off if you wrap your head around it. Ready? Okay. Commit this to memory. 1. In the name of science, get the $#&$ out.It may seem like hollow tradition to hustle out the door on exit, but it’s not. As a matter of fact, there are serious calculations behind the art of exiting the plane efficiently. On a calm day, an aircraft on jump run covers around 175 feet per second of flight (that equates to a mile every 30 seconds or so). Translated into stopwatch terms, that means that--on that same calm day--no more than 60 seconds can pass from the moment the first jumpers leave the airplane to the moment the last jumper exits. For practical purposes, taking into consideration how much ground the average square canopy can cover, every jumper in the plane has to be out during a two-mile jump run. If they don’t, some are bound to land out (or a chilly second pass is going to be served up to the sulky remainder). 2. Don’t mess up the pilot’s math.If your group is about to be the first big handful of meatballs out of the plane but you suddenly split up into smaller groups, you’re messing with the pilot’s chi. After all, the jump pilot has more to calculate when he/she turns on that little green light than you might realize. He/she has to calculate about how much time each group will take to exit, and make sure the green light goes on at the correct distance from the DZ to accommodate the aforementioned 60-second countdown. As a rule, the group that will have the slowest climb-out should leave first. Big group? Light goes on farther out from the DZ to allow for a slower climb-out. Little group? The light goes on closer to the DZ. How can you help? Jump the plan you give manifest, and the pilot can give everybody a good spot. 3. Jealously guard your real estate.If you’re a Big Sky Theory kinda jumper who assumes vertical separation is going to save you from a meat-traffic collision, you are not working from scientific facts. Horizontal separation is the only separation that really counts up there, so make sure your group has a chunky slot of sky all to yourselves. Never place big bets (like: your continued existence) on your fellow skydivers pulling at the altitude they swear by. A tiny brainfart (or a big malfunction) will eat up that vertical separation before you can say “what happened to pulling at 3,500, toolbox?!.” 4. Horizon-pointing belly buttons go behind downward-pointing belly buttons.When freefly folks get out first, they tend to become part of an undelicious freefall sandwich. Here’s why: On a typical skydive, a pair of freefliers will clock a 45-second freefall and open at around 3,000 AGL. Let’s say that pair is followed by a belly group with a 10-second climb-out. This is going to sound like a math word problem, but bear with me: If one of those freefliers has a canopy with a 30MPH forward speed (which will move forward at around 45 feet per second, assuming little-to-no wind), opens 30 seconds before the belly group and turns right back toward the DZ, the variables are stacking up for a collision. Those 30 seconds of flight will drive the freeflier forward by about 1,300 horizontal feet--a measly 400 feet from the middle of the belly folks, which a solid six-second track can cover. If you add wind to the equation and the RW group gets blown even further into the path of the freefly pair, the likelihood of a meetup gets even uglier. When freefly groups get out after belly groups, the picture gets a lot healthier. The fast fallers get their horizontal separation, predicated on their shorter climb-out and faster descent rate. Wind becomes a positive safety factor instead of a negative one; slower fallers simply blow farther away. 5. With longer flights comes greater responsibility.Tracking groups, high pulls and wingsuits get to snuggle with the pilot (and/or the tandem pairs) in the way back of the plane. Why? First off, they’re mobile: if they’re doing it right, they’ll use all that horizontal power to get the hell away from jump run--and get back from a longer spot. If they’re not doing it right, however, they’re fully within their capability to truck through everybody’s personal piece of sky on the way down. The moral of the story: longer freefall (or, in the high-pull case, general airtime) requires greater awareness and responsibility on the part of the nylon pilot. 6. Don’t be the heat-seeking meat missile.That’s the bottom line, really. Everybody in the sky is counting on you. (Me, for instance.)
  5. Regina from CYPRES shares information about the CYPRES unit, 'WSC' designed for the wingsuit community. Images by Randy Connell If you’ve never attended the Parachute Industry Association Symposium, you may not know what to expect. Maybe, you aren’t even sure what PIA is or why you even need to make the trip. If you’re afraid of sitting in stuffy rooms with an atmosphere as uncomfortable as a timeshare tourist trap, you can relax. PIA is nothing like that. The PIA Symposium is a time when the different branches of our particular segment of aviation all come together under one roof. Rather than draw things out, let’s get to it. Here are 5 things you didn’t know about the PIA Symposium. Just How Big the Skydiving Circle Is When you arrive at the PIA Symposium, get ready for a warm welcome: there is an entire booth set up to greet you. Get your swag bag, name tag, and seminar schedule, and be ready for a great time. Like a drop zone on a sunny steady summer Saturday, the air is nearly buzzing with energy. In one space, jumpers current and retired, drop zone owners and managers, and military personnel and skydiving teams are all gathered together. You’ll see people from around the world. We know our circle is a somewhat isolated one, but boy, it sure doesn’t seem like it at the PIA Symposium. It’s also not just jumpers and drop zone owners from the United States that are present. You’ll walk past groups speaking languages from around the globe: military teams from Poland chatting, fun jumpers from South Africa mingling by the complimentary refreshments. Nearly every continent and country is represented. Exponential Business Connections At the PIA Symposium, you have the chance to establish meaningful industry contacts. Top gear manufacturers both military and civilian, set up impressive interactive displays and booths to give PIA Symposium attendees the chance to see the most cutting-edge innovations in the skydiving industry. Whether you are looking for training equipment or student gear, you will find what you need here. The EXPO Hall isn’t just for managers and drop zone owners either, there is gear on display that is perfect for weekend warrior skydivers too. 85 Year Old British Skydiver, Dilys Price was the Keynote Speaker at the 2017 PIA Symposium. Ways to Improve your home Drop Zone They say a ‘smarter skydiver is a safer skydiver.’ Well, the PIA Symposium is the perfect place to learn. The PIA Symposium facilitates knowledge sharing through seminars which are teeming with information. During the symposium, you have daily opportunities to sit in on seminars dealing with rigging, skydiving, management, government and skydiving interaction, and BASE. If you want to run a better, safer drop zone, attending PIA is a great first step. However, fostering safe drop zones isn’t just a job for managers and drop zone owners: the community as a whole is responsible. Whether sport jumper, manager, or drop zone owner, when you leave PIA, you leave armed with a noggin full of knowledge to take back home to your drop zone and improve everyone’s experience. Everyone Feels Like a Potential Friend You wouldn’t assume that you would leave any sort of symposium with some lifelong friends, would you? Well, you might just leave PIA with a few more telephone numbers programmed in your cell and a long list of drop zones to visit. No matter the level, ethnicity, or country of origin, it seems skydivers click. The PIA Symposium is basically a melting pot of like-minded people all connected by a love of skydiving and a passion for the sport and industry. Sandy Reid of Rigging Innovations stands with his team. At the 2019 Symposium, RI introduces their new Mojo MARD. Opportunities to Explore New Places You don’t have to sit in seminars from sun up until sun down. Throughout the day, there are plenty of breaks and opportunities to explore. The PIA Symposium each year is held in charming cities with their own little secret niches and neat places to tour. This year is no different. The 2019 PIA symposium will be held in Dallas, Texas. So, grab a group of your new friends and do some sightseeing. They say everything is bigger in Texas, and we bet this PIA symposium will be one of the best yet!
  6. 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
  7. “Misty” Kim Kanat Talks About the Team Guess what? There’s been an all-female demo team kicking ass and taking names since the 1980s. Maybe you’re as surprised to learn about them as I was--or maybe you’re squinting at your screen and wondering what rock I’ve been hiding under--but y’know what? I think we can both agree that that’s pretty damn great. The basics are pretty straightforward: The team of 13 women calls Skydive Tecumseh home, jumps hot-pink-and-navy kit and specializes in jumping big honkin’ flags. The details are the cool part: Each one of “the Mistys” can do anything the demo requires, from packing the flags to setting up the smoke--and each is a highly successful professional with a full-time career outside of skydiving. When I visited Skydive Tecumseh to check off Michigan for Down for 50, I jumped at the chance to corner Misty member Kim Kanat and pick her brain about the team. During the week, Kim is a mild-mannered (and high-powered) Facility Manager for a real estate company; but, when the call comes, she slips into her pink-and-navy supersuit and smiles for the adoring crowd. Kim’s been at it for four years now, and she shows no signs of slowing. Annette: Tell me about your person intro to the sport. How’d you became a skydiver in the first place? Kim: It’s a love story, really. My husband and I were on vacation in Hawaii in 2001 and ended up doing a tandem. It was a life-changing moment for both of us. About a year later, for our 10th wedding anniversary, we took the first jump course. The rest is history. We’ve been jumping ever since. Fifteen years later, here we are. A: How’d you get a slot on the Mistys? K: I’ve known the current owner of the Misty Blues, Amanda Scheffler, for my whole skydiving career, and known about the team since I started jumping -- Amanda bought [the team] about five years ago from Cindy Irish. We were at the dropzone one day and she asked me if I would be interested in doing some demo jumps. I said yes. The next thing I knew, I was jumping at an air show in Maine, so close to the Canadian border that our phones were roaming. It took two flights to get to Maine, plus some driving because there isn’t a commercial flight that goes that far up. It was a very, very small show; we just had a 182. I still remember the scariness of that jump. I started on static line; not AFF. So that first demo with the team was a very visceral reminder of being a static line student. I ended up having a minor malfunction with my banner on that jump; luckily, it cleared itself, but it still gives me butterflies to think about it now. Honestly, every time I do a demo, it feels just like that first time, because in skydiving anything can go wrong. You just hope that it doesn’t. There’s extra pressure on a demo with the team because the clients are paying for that jump; paying for you to be there as a performer. Sometimes there are issues with the plane; sometimes it’s too windy, or the weather isn’t great, which puts a damper on our part of the show. When everything is conducive to letting us do what we are there to do and it works, it’s magical. A: You haven’t slowed down in four whole years. What was it about that jump that hooked you? K: Well, the Misty Blues are very crowd-oriented, and that gets me going. It’s so much fun to be a crowd-pleaser with a message. Before and after our jumps, we walk amongst the crowd, pass out stickers and take photos with all these excited kids. We interact a lot. I think that sets us apart a little bit from some of the other demo teams that are out there, and it never fails to inspire me, because we spend a lot of that “crowd time” working the message of empowering women and girls to let them know they can do pretty much anything they set their minds to. We’re all working women, and a few of the Mistys have kids, too, so we’re walking the walk. A: What are your signature moves? K: When we’re booked for a show, we’re almost always the opener. We open up the show with a very large American flag. The jumper with the flag usually carries a microphone and has a little conversation with the MC of the airshow as they’re descending, which is a reliable crowd-pleaser. When we’re jumping in an airshow context, we’ll often have some of the stunt pilots circle us with smoke while we are jumping in with the flag. We have another signature flag with an enormous smiley face. I love that one. A: Do you have a favorite of the jumps you have done so far with the Mistys? K: Just last year we had a local businessman book us for a private party. He’s a construction owner that is local, and he throws this huge annual theme party. He got our name and asked us if we could do a demo into it. The theme that year was “America,” and it had a mechanical bull; volleyball courts; a fireworks show at the end. The setup was unbelievable. It was a tight landing area, but everything worked out. Best of all, we got to attend the party after we landed. The guests just thought it was fantastic--so much so that he asked us to come back and do it again this year. A: Do you feel like you face additional pressure because you’re an all-female team? K: Personally, I would have to say yes. I know there are a lot of other demo teams out there that do more than we do, and some of those guys have more experience than we do, so I do personally feel obligated to put on a better show. I don’t know if that’s necessarily because we are women, but being a woman, I like to be able to nail it. On the other hand, some people want to coddle you more when you’re a female jumper, and I just want to be treated like everybody else. The landscape for women in skydiving is changing, though, and it’s changing fast. A lot of the AFF classes at Skydive Tecumseh have a good number of women in them. Case in point: There are two female Tis at our dropzone. I think that’s awesome. It doesn’t happen everywhere, yet, but I am certain that it will. A: The Misty Blues have been around for more than 30 years. What’s the secret to that longevity? K: Inclusion. Some people have better skill sets at certain things, but we strive to include everyone in a meaningful way. Over the years, we’ve discovered that inclusion can bring shy and hesitant people out of their shell and end up in them becoming an integral part of the team. The owner of our team, Amanda Scheffler, is fantastic. She is willing to show anybody anything, anytime. She does it all. And she’s a great example of inclusion. I don’t know if I would have [joined the team] had they not approached me. I would have never asked. I’ve learned from Amanda that you never know what including someone will open up for them. A lot of times those people in the shadows are the ones who are jumping conservatively, thoughtfully and procedurally and have a tendency to look and observe before they act, which is the kind of person you want on a team. I think having other women to show you the ropes helps, too. We have a couple of guys who help us out as ground crew, but we really do it all. For example: If we’re doing smoke and all that stuff, we try to get in there and make sure all the people are informed and all the girls know how to do it. We can all pack the banners, rigs, and flags. Getting everyone’s hands on all of the skill sets is really what makes our team. Everybody can jump in and fill in for each other. A: What’s your personal skydiving philosophy? K: Feel the fear and do it anyway. That’s what I’ve always said about skydiving. Even to this day, I still get butterflies on a demo. In skydiving and in life, I really live by that--to feel the fear and do it anyway--because you never know what will come out of it. Sometimes it is good. Sometimes it is bad. Always, it is a learning process. “Doing it anyway” can only ever propel you forward. ---- For more info on the Misty Blues, visit the team website at mistyblues.net.
  8. nettenette

    The Secret of Banana Hammock

    A Few Nuggets of Golden Advice from a Winning Self-Funded Skydiving Team It starts like a bad joke: a Californian (Kenny Beach), an Italian (Alessandro “Alex” Struppa) and a Frenchman (Lawrence De Laubadere) walk into a skydiving competition... “Our team name was Banana Hammock,” Kenny grins. “We decided that while we were drunk ice skating.” Yep. Banana Hammock. “Alex made a logo,” he continues. “It’s a banana in a hammock with his hands in the air. His arms are my jumpsuit and his legs are my teammate’s jumpsuit, and the banana is drinking a martini.” The punchline of the joke? Banana Hammock took the 2-way MFS gold at the 2014 Nationals. (*Rimshot*!) It was a damned good result, especially considering where Kenny was at the outset. “When we did our first team jumps,” Kenny remembers, “Alex was already able to fly head down and pick up grips. I would leave on my head and then flop away and fall past. Byyyyyye.” As it turns out, the road from flopping to flying your way to the top of a national podium is paved with very intentionally-executed intentions. Without meticulous planning and open team communication, there’s very little chance you’ll ever make it to the first round. And, for most mere mortals on self-funded teams, you’ll have a very limited number of chances to get it right before the money and/or the wherewithal runs out. The struggle is real. That said: If you’re looking for an example of a skydiving team done right, this is it. Banana Hammock not only walked away with a gold medal but with the teammates’ friendships intact--gold within gold--and Kenny is willing to share the wisdom he gleaned from that epic endeavor. 1. Compete for the right reasons. When Kenny was first looking for teammates, he ran into a lot of friction from people who simply didn’t want to compete without the guarantee of a win. “You have to understand that it isn’t the winning that makes you better,” Kenny observes. “It’s the fact that you are getting in with a like-minded, dedicated group of people and you are doing the same skydives over and over with them. You each learn how the other flies, and then you can focus on the really fine details.” “When you train to compete, as long as you approach it from the mentality I’m not going to win, I’m going to become a better skydiver and I’m going to use this as a tool to buckle down as if I’m trying to win,” he muses, “then you will be giving yourself the opportunity to learn all these particular skills within whatever discipline you’re training, in a really focused environment.” 2. Overstaff. The most deadly contingency for most skydiving teams is that of the suddenly-absent member. Shore up. “If you want to do a 4-way team, find 8 people,” Kenny says. “If you want to do an 8-way team, find 16. People are going to bail on you. I’ve seen teams that have been destroyed a week before Nationals because their outside center flyer decided he couldn’t go to Nationals anymore and the entire team’s training was shot because they didn’t have a backup. Make sure you have more people than you need.” 3. Start talking. Got some people interested? Great. Now it’s open-communication time. “When you get the people, put together the plan for your schedule and the goal of what you want to achieve: to win; to place; to develop; whatever that is. Figure what everyone wants to do and find a general consensus. For example: You might have one person who is, like, I want to win the Worlds this year and somebody else who is, like, I just want to see what a competition is like. Both of those people won’t get what they want. The person who just wants to see what it is like isn’t going to put the energy in to train hard enough to win the Worlds. You are going to have to meet in the middle if it’s going to work. Find people you can work with and who will work together for compatible goals.” At some point along this journey, emotions are bound to escalate. When that happens, be ready. Kenny advocates getting everyone into a quiet room and passing around a talking stick (or a talking altimeter or a talking helmet or a talking rock or whatever ya got). 4. Everybody gets a job. Kenny insists that, once the team is in agreement about the goals, it’s time to give everyone a very specific set of roles to play. “Try to divide up the responsibilities for each member,” he says. “Have one person be responsible for making sure there is coffee in the morning; one person be responsible for making sure the video flyer gets taken care of; one person be responsible for making sure your pack jobs are done. You’ll pool your resources to pay for everything, of course, but have the admin jobs divided up so that everyone is responsible for part of the team so it comes together as a fully functioning unit. You don’t want one person getting stressed because they’re having to do everything. Everyone shares ownership.” 5. Plan down to the minute detail, and do it on paper. “I think the thing that helped us the most was sitting down and getting a calendar and scheduling out every single day we were going to train, with concrete goals lined out. Not just, We want to win Nationals. Instead: We want to win Nationals and have this kind of average point. We put down on the calendar what skills we needed to work on at what time, and we broke it down to be really structured around what we were going for.” That hyper-detailed schedule might sound imprisoning; for Kenny, it was anything but. It gave him the freedom he needed to dedicate himself completely to the task. “If I knew that in the month of February, I would be at Paraclete for the second week and training three full days over the last weekend, then when February comes around, I’d know exactly what my schedule was going to look like to plan ahead for work. The strictness of the schedule ensured that we were getting the number of jumps we needed, the amount of tunnel time we needed and the amount of work we needed, all within our schedules.” Not a spreadsheet nerd? No problem. You’ll get the hang of it. “I literally had no experience of even how to set up a schedule,” he adds. “I went from working at McDonald’s to a full time skydiver, and then I quit my job to pack parachutes.” In fact, Banana Hammock’s training schedule derived from a 4-way-specific structural starting point gifted to Kenny by uber-competitor Dan B.C. The team agreed on a certain number of jumps and a certain number of tunnel hours that they needed to accomplish in the nine intervening months between their training start date and the Nationals competition in October. From there, it was a matter of division--but with a twist. 6. Cluster ‘em up. “You just divide up the jumps by the number of months you have available,” Kenny explains, “but you try to schedule so you are trying to do your month’s jumps in 2-to-4 day time period. You don’t want to do 40 training jumps over the entire month. You want to do 40 training jumps in 3 days and then maintain currency the rest of the month. That way you are honing in and developing those skills rather than just maintaining some vague point of currency. Like: Do I transition on my right or my left shoulder? Do I back up two feet or a foot? When you do 10 jumps in a day, you can dial that in. If not, you are not going to get that level of resolution.” 7. Then plan for the contingencies. “Then we went on to build a plan for all of the things we could think of that could possibly go wrong,” he continues. “When we did our first team jumps, we had already had a contract that we had written up and both signed that said, ‘if this happens, this is what we are going to do.’ That way there was no animosity between us if any of it happened.” Happily--and somewhat predictably--but for a few speed bumps, Banana Hammock ended up cruising cheerfully along its well-oiled tracks to meet its golden goal. While the team decided not to compete again (self-funded, y’know), Kenny reports that everyone involved considered it a happy ending, and he, for one, is glad he took the time to do it right. “The best advice I can give you,” he smiles, “Is don’t give up. Don’t quit. It won’t always seem like it, but it is worth it. If you’ve ever considered competing, you owe it to yourself to try.”
  9. nettenette

    The Last Frontier

    Down For 50 Jumps Alaska, And Annette O’Neil Tries to Rise to the Occasion Image Credit: Melissa Dawn Burns When I grapple my way out onto to the float, I notice two things immediately. First: It’s impossible to maintain a relaxed attitude while sitting on the pontoon of a floatplane in full flight. My mental image of myself doing this is going to take a major revision in the translation to reality. Secondly: My pilot chute has never felt so vulnerable in all my jumps. For almost the entirety of this once-in-a-lifetime skydive, as I keep a resolute smile trained on the camera aircraft flying next to us, a sepiatone clip plays over and over in my head: A pinch of (actually very securely and conscientiously packed) fabric managing to wiggle itself out of my (actually tight-as-a-new-pair-of-jeans) BOC and bolt mischievously between the pontoon and the step, deploying my beautiful new Crossfire one last time as we spiral, nose-first, into Alaska’s forested wetlands. But I digress. Before we came to Alaska, we were warned. “Ah, mosquitoes: Alaska’s state bird,” said one. “They don’t bite you. They carry you home and feed you to their children.” “You’re only there for five days?!,” breathed another. “Good luck with that. You should have planned on at least a week. You’ll never get a break in the weather.” “A college kid just got eaten by a bear while he was running a half-marathon out there in Anchorage,” chimed in another. “It chased him off the trail and into the forest. He was calling his mom as it was running him down.” Since my previous knowledge of Alaska was gleaned almost entirely from the Calvin & Hobbes ‘Yukon Ho!’ collection and a single viewing of Grizzly Man, I’m a receptive audience. I decide not to go for runs. When I arrive in Anchorage, I walk through a neighborhood from my airport hotel to a car rental storefront. The gardens, clearly nothing more than a salad bar for the local deer population, have been scrupulously stripped of anything edible. The one with remaining flowers is surrounded by a high fence. A woman crosses in front of me, walking her toy yorkie. She is carrying bear spray. I speed up, having no toy yorkie to cast off as bait. Image Credit: Melissa Dawn Burns When I get to the rental place, they issue me a Subaru. Clearly, they assume I’m not messing around. And clearly, we are not. The next morning, we—myself, my Down For 50 co-adventurer, Joel, and Brett, along for the ride on this particular state’s adventure—are on the road, bound for the town of Talkeetna. Ah, Talkeetna, Alaska: the acknowledged “doorway to Denali,” home to a heterozygous mix of hippies and lumberjacks, a private pilot mecca. The latter becomes evident even miles away, on the long road into town. The traffic overhead, after all, is significantly more congested and varied than the traffic on ground level. I’m glad I’m not driving; I’m transfixed looking out and up, checking out the rush hour trucking over the trees. Soon, following the instructions given in a flurry of arranging emails, we wind through a series of deeply wooded roads to arrive at our pilot’s lakehouse/hangar/office/flight school/community hub. The pilot himself, Don, is an affable fellow with a handsome mustache and the air of a man you’d immediately trust with your life. In fact, I do: When he suggests that we head over to the airport to conduct a quick aerial requisition of the available parachute landing areas “in the Breezy,” I immediately offer myself up. We hop in the rough-and-ready fuel truck (okay: the rusted-through blue pickup with a tank of AV gas in the bed) and off we go. The airfield is, to put it mildly, a candy store. All manner of aircraft sit gamely waiting, lined up as tidily and fetchingly as pretty ladies in an Old West brothel, all waiting expectantly for a pilot. Don and I cruise along in front of their expectant glass faces. Will we hop into the shiny red one? The bare-metal number that looks like it’ll have a sign on the door that says “silk scarves required”? The race-car-faced green-and-white one with its dancing shoes on and the freshly-chamwowed gleam? What’s this blue thing? As I’m wondering what I’m looking at, we pull to a stop. I take a closer look. This aircraft—I’m finding it difficult to call it a “plane”—is a robin’s-egg-blue latticework of metal with a wing laid across the top. There’s a prop. There’s an engine. There’s a Wizard-of-Oz-style picnic basket strapped in for storage behind an open, park-bench seat. It looks like the pilot is meant to perch on a piece of wood that sits directly in front of that. Suddenly, I realize that Don’s walking right towards it. Oh. The BREEZY. That looks pretty breezy, alright. Don hands me a motorcycle helmet and a bib jumpsuit “so he doesn’t have to worry about me.” I sit down on the park bench. I fasten the single lap belt as fastidiously as I can manage. Then, as Don works the engine like a lawnmower, I read the little metal placard fastened to the seat in front of me. It says, “Passenger warning: This aircraft is amateur-built and does not comply with the federal safety regulations for standard aircraft.” For some reason, that’s all I need to start enjoying myself. As we taxi out, I’m smiling so hard in my helmet it hurts a little. Twenty minutes later, I’ve found Jesus. I’m reeling from the feeling of being in the dead-on sweet spot of everything I love about flying and motorcycling and adventuring, all bound up into one ugly-ass not-quite-aircraft. We rode the river like a track day. We bounded over forested hillocks and gravel outcroppings and one enormous, out-of-place old satellite dish. We buzzed the lakehouse, waving at my astounded companions. As we land, I decide I might not be bluffing about wanting my fixed-wing license anymore. I tell Don. “Oh, you don’t need a pilot’s license to fly this thing,” he grins. “I can get you checked out on it this afternoon.” I backpedal. Hard. When we arrive back at camp, it’s late. It doesn’t look late, but it is late. Don, the pilots and us jumpers congregate on the dock, four floatplanes bobbing cheerfully around us, and go over the flight plan. As it turns out, they want to do our jump as a stacked formation—each of us in our own chariot—with queenly Denali throwing her white skirts around in the background. There will be a photographer (my preternaturally gifted, multi-hyphenate wonder of a friend, Melissa) passenging in a camera plane, ready to capture it. Our flight instructors thrill to the plan. I am assigned the one that’s mostly purple, bedecked with little hippie daisies. I am much pleased. After the meeting, Joel and Brett and I trundle up to the room that Don has graciously offered us, with its wide deck overlooking the twilit lake and the visiting pilots trading stories around the fire pit. We (very ineffectually) close the shades. We try to rest. Tomorrow’s a big day. Image Credit: Melissa Dawn Burns The night segues seamlessly into the morning. I wake when my sleep mask shifts and the 4:30AM sun sears my eyelids. Brett wakes when I bump his shins, hanging over the padded arm of the loveseat upon which he reclines. Joel is already up. Coffee in hand, we meander down to the dock under a cloudless, bluebird sky. There’s a four-month-old Bernese-Blue Heeler mix rolling around the lawn, doing its best to learn how to be a dog, its fur bunching adorably in handfuls, waiting to be grown into. Two chubby golden retrievers stalk fish offshore. Two pigs, wire-haired and curious, wander over and present themselves for belly rubs. We kit up. Taking off from water is a new experience entirely. It’s smoother than I think it’ll be, as the glassed-off lake is feeling nary a tickle of wind this fine, blue morning. Before I know it, we’re tooth-and-clawing our way up to six grand. “I forgot how pretty it is from up here,” my pilot smiles when we get to around four. I, for myself, had forgotten that most people—especially people around here—don’t blow through four grand like the front door on a cold night. Once we’re up at six, we circle, building the formation. Let’s be clear: these are really, really good pilots, but they’re not formation pilots, and there’s most certainly a trick to it when you’re wrangling low-performance aircraft that were made to do nothing of the sort. With the door open, six thousand feet over Alaska at the entrance to glaciertopia, it is cold. The twenty minutes it takes them to get together has me clinging to the back of the passenger seat like it’s a lover returned from the wars. I hope my hands still work when it’s time to get out. Image Credit: Down For 50 Which, coincidentally, it is. I see Melissa’s plane figuring its way alongside us. I uncertainly stick out a foot and screw it down onto the sandpaper surface of the step. Then I offer my body up to the full blast of the relative wind and lunge for the strut. I get a purchase. I, ungainly, perch. I’m doing it. There’s a yoga to staying here, one iron grip around the strut, the other hand “casually” in my lap, my brain stuck firmly to my pilot chute. Most of me aches to tumble into the familiar arms of freefall. The rest of me grabs that part of me by the cheeks and shouts into its face: For chrissakes, woman, pay attention to this and here and now, because it has an expiration date that is less than a minute in the future and this is what you came for. I heed it. Suddenly, I can see. I see the red and white camera airplane, framed by impossible mountains. Denali, of course; Mount Huntington; Moose’s Tooth; Little Switzerland. I see a sky of a blueness Alaska pretty much never sees, yet here I am, sitting in it. I see Melissa, concentrating behind the winking black eye of her lens. I can’t see them, but I feel Joel and Brett, doing their own pontoon yoga practice behind me and above me. I see so much of what I love about being in this world, hanging here and now in the suspended animation of complete attention. And then there’s the landing area below—a cleared construction pad, tucked up next to the Talkeetna airport runway. My pilot nods. I had planned some sort of fanfare for this exit. As it stands, however, all I can manage is a dizzy-eyed smile and a bog-standard hop. My pilot hollers to watch me go. She’s never seen anything like it before. When we land, parachutes slung over shoulders, I’m exhausted with the effort of committing it all to memory. I decide to walk back to the FBO and let it all process—Don’s generosity; the force of the community here; the entirely new sensations of flight. It overwhelms my hardware. It’s only later, as we hunch over plates heaped with pancakes, that I happen to glance at the collection of grinning pilots clustered in black-and-white on the Talkeetna diner wall. It crystallizes what I’m feeling: The momentum of a long tradition. Those smiling faces, proudly next to their planes, captured over the entire history of aviation, seem to prove that this place—Alaska, the last frontier—was created by and for adventure. Alaska turns energy to adventure like some sort of spiritual chlorophyll. Every single one of these guys grew tall, strong, enduring lives with the force of that alchemy. Alaska pushes out the envelopes of the willing like leaves bursting from ever-lengthening branches. This is its job. It does it well. ----------- Down For 50, the first 50-state skydiving road trip accomplished in a single journey, is happening from May to October of this year. To follow the journey, to check out when it’s coming to your state or simply to help out (thanks!), visit downfor50.org.
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    Chuck Blue - SkymonkeyONE

    At 39 years old, Chuck is pretty long in the tooth as compared to most of his fellow swoop competitors. At 5'7" and 153 pounds he is not a very big guy either; don't let that fool you, Chuck is more than capable of taking care of business. He is a second generation skydiver who grew up on dropzones. A former serious 4 and 8-way competitor, CRW dog, and vidiot, Chuck now spends the majority of his time managing the Raeford Parachute Center School and swooping. Recently retiring after just over 21 years in the military, Chuck has gotten "serious" about skydiving. Nicknames:SkymonkeyONE, fiesta boy. Age:39 Birthplace:Opelika, Alabama USA Marital Status:Divorced. Seriously involved to a sweet girl. Children:Not yet Occupation:Manager of Raeford Parachute Center School, skydiving instructor, professional swooper< Education:three years college, tons of Army crap Hobbies:Riding and hot-rodding my Harley, all water sports, snowboarding Team Name:A team captain in the PST series, sponsored by Performance Designs. Formerly with Team Cobalt (Atair Aerodynamics) Container:Javelins Main Canopies:Performance Designs Velocity (75, 79) Reserve Canopy:Performance Designs 106R AAD:Cypres, except during pond swoop meets Home Dropzone:Raeford Parachute Center, North Carolina; Skydive Opelika, Alabama Year of First Jump:1981 Licenses and Ratings:AFF-I, SL-I, Tandem-I, BirdMan-I, professional "student" rigger and jump pilot (since age 6) Total jumps:3,300 plus a bit RW:2200 CRW:about 400, lots at the bottom of RW jumps. Demo accuracy:400 Tandems:just over 400 Canopy swoops:well over 2000 Total Cutaways:4 in 22 years Most people don't know this about me:I am just as good on water or snow as I am in the sky. Out of all your skydives, is there one particular jump that stands out the most?Man, I can't nail it down to just one. First skysurf in the state of North Carolina (1990)? A military freefall jump at 3:00am where I was blown backwards at over 50 MPH under canopy and almost got fried in high-tension power lines? What do you like least about the sport?The fact that so many dropzones feel the need to charge for services and instruction that used to be part of the first jump course. This makes me sick. What safety item do you think is most important and most often neglected?Most important nowadays? Simple, the audible altimeter. Most neglected? I would say a hook knife. We all need to get back in the habit of jumping them. How did you get interested in skydiving?Hard not to get interested when your dad is a DZO takes you to the DZ ever weekend as a child. Any suggestions for new students?Yes, shop around before you commit to any one school. Once through your training, attach yourself to a group of more experienced jumpers and learn from them. What the hell is a Skymonkey and why are you number one?A skymonkey is a member of the loose-knit band of jumpers that jumps with the Green Beret Parachute Club or at Raeford. I am SkymonkeyONE because I coined the term while teaching classes there. Kip Lohmiller, the former club manager(now also retired), is SkymonkeyTWO as he and I teach together most of the time. Nobody else is numbered. There are now hat-wearing monkeys at a variety of other dropzones that I have visited. Were you a hard child to raise?Absolutely not; I was very well mannered. Now, my sisters were a pain in the ass! What's the toughest thing to do in skydiving?Stay up with the Jones's. Someday I am going to own:My own dropzone. Most embarrassing moment in freefall or at a dropzone:I was skysurfing into a demo back 1991 and my main (a monarch 135) opened so hard I shit myself. I was barely conscious, landed, shucked the board, then walked straight to a porta-potty where I promptly cleaned up and disposed of my undies. Nice, huh? What's the most bad-ass thing you can do in the air?I don't know; 18 points in time? Swoop my canopy the length of the dropzone? Tandem a guy 6'8" and 275 pounds? What kind of student were you?A very quick study. What's the dumbest thing you have ever done?Very nearly blew myself up by attempting to cut the "unleaded gas only" restrictor out of my truck's gas filler neck with a TORCH! Unbelievable. I have no idea what I was thinking. What is your most significant life achievement?Earning the green beret. While in freefall, what was your strangest thought?"Why can't I see out of my goggles and why can't I move my left arm?" This after regaining consciousness after being knocked out by a flailing jumper trying to swoop a 12-way I was videoing. I woke up at 8 grand, covered in blood, and with my lip busted wide open with a buddy right in front of me ready to pull me out. Nobody I knew jumped an AAD back then so I could have very easily died. Please explain you passion for canopy swooping?I have always pushed the limit with parachutes. I had a new Excallibur the month after it's introduction, then "the next best thing" every time something faster came out. I don't get any greater satisfaction than when I make a nice, carving turn over the top and rip it across the pond or through the course. Swooping competitions are the one thing that erases the line in the sand separating RW and freefly folks on most dropzones. In my opinion, that is the best, most diverse crowd of people I have ever jumped with, bar none. What's skydiving like with a 65 square foot canopy over your head?Things happen very fast and you really have to pay attention to who is below you in the sky. What advice would you give to someone with 300 jumps trying to break into canopy swooping?Ask questions of the accomplished people on your dropzone, attend competitions and seminars when possible, do not ignore people like myself, J.C. Colclasure or Andy Farrington when we are trying to school you. Lastly, do not downsize too rapidly just for the sake of vanity. Explain Chuck Blue in five words or less:Skymonkeys in flight, afternoon delight! Submitted by Carlos Azul (Chuck's alter ego)
  11. PALATKA — To celebrate his 60th birthday and his forced retirement as an airline pilot, Larry Elmore jumped out of an airplane 60 times in one day. He was forced to retire from Trans World Airlines at age 60 because of Federal Aviation Administration rules on commercial pilots. So Tuesday, Elmore, of nearby Melrose in northeastern Florida, got together at Kay Larkin Airport with a support staff of parachute packers from Skydive Palatka and jumped 60 times to prove a point about his age. Jeff Colley, drop zone manager at Skydive Palatka, said Elmore made his first jump about 6:45 a.m. Tuesday and finished up about 3 p.m. Three planes and three pilots were used to ferry Elmore up for his jumps. Elmore, who started skydiving in 1986, donned a parachute, hopped in a plane, and parachuted down. Upon landing, he would shed his used chute, put on another held waiting for him, hop in the plane and go up for another jump. For the first 59 jumps, he exited the aircraft at 2,300 feet and opened his parachute immediately. On the final jump, Elmore skydived from 13,500 feet, Colley said. Alison Duquette, an FAA spokeswoman, said at age 60 pilots begin a progressive decline that could affect levels of safety for commercial passengers. Elmore has started a new job as a corporate pilot, Colley said.
  12. admin

    Saving lives with your computer

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

    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
  14. admin

    Skydiving and goose grinning

    So, Saturday was my day to celebrate 68 years on the planet by checking off a very much delayed personal experience on my list: a tandem free-fall skydive! It began with checking www.skydivenm.net to view a number of their tandem jump videos. They looked like what I expected so I picked up the phone and scheduled a date some three weeks in the future. This Saturday, "jump morning" began with a short drive from Albuquerque to Sky Dive New Mexico's hangar at Belen's Alexander Airport up on the East mesa. Shortly after I arrive, I am in a 45 minute, very professional and meticulous ground training by Tandem Master, Rich Greenwood. This is followed by a period of waiting until it is my turn to go up. I pass this time very pleasurably watching others go through their suit-up and check-out, their pre-jump practice, get into the plane, go up, float down, and then watching over their shoulder as they review the videos of their jumps and receive their "First Jump" certificates. All the while, there is a group of six to eight individuals in the hangar meticulously repacking parachutes for next jumps. I'm beginning to get that meticulous is a good thing in skydiving. Then…it's my turn! Kelly Wilson, my Tandem Master jump partner, hand picks a professional jumpsuit for me to put on. Kelly has been doing tandem jumps for a bunch of years and the folks he's taken up before me today have all been giggling and beaming afterward and saying it's totally awesome and that I'll do just fine and love it. Kelly meticulously straps me into my jump harness, which is like a full parachute harness except for two important features: four really heavy-duty clips on the back…and …no parachute. Kelly wears the parachute. And just before we exit the plane, he will attach me super snuggly to his front with those four clips and tighten everything with final web strap adjustments. Kelly puts me through three complete practice cycles of exit, free-fall, rip-cord pull, and landing firmly reinforcing Rich's earlier training. Then Kelly, Ron, Jason and I all head for the awaiting Cessna. Ron Weagly is our videographer (I want a DVD record to remind myself and prove to my kids and grandkids I really did jump out of a perfectly good airplane), and Jason Korrel is our commercially rated pilot. Kelly and I do an exaggerated John Wayne walk for Ron's video. John Wayne walk - remember I'm old enough to have seen the movies. We tuck ourselves into the cockpit and Don starts and revs the engine and we begin our rollout to the runway. After a somewhat noisy, twenty-minute, breathtakingly beautiful climb over the spectacular East mesa with the Rio Puerco River reflecting in the sunlight, we are 11,000 feet above the Belen Airport and the skydive landing zone. It's time for me to put on my goggles and jump headgear. Then in the not-any-too-big-for-four cockpit, I get on my knees facing forward so Kelly can hook me up and check everything out (meticulously). Next, Ron pops open the over-size right door letting a wave of really cool thin air to blast in. Ron steps out and hangs on to the wing strut with one hand and starts videoing Kelly and me as we begin "exiting the plane." I grasp a strap inside the open cabin door and slide my right foot from under my butt out into the wind and onto the large metal step. I follow that carefully with my left foot. A brief glance at the ground. A smile to the camera. Kelly reminds me to hook my thumbs under my harness shoulder straps and then says, "One. Two. ARCH!!!" and we "exit the plane" into a clear, cool, bright-blue New Mexico sky. I pull my head back and my feet up into as much arch as I can as Kelly deploys the drogue chute which will help stabilize and ever so slightly prolong our free-fall. Tap-tap on my shoulder and I unhook my thumbs and extend my arms and hands out in the free-fall "flying" position and check the altimeter strapped on my left wrist. Free falling from 11,000 feet down to 6,000 feet is totally unlike anything I have ever imagined or experienced! It is almost indescribable. Afterwards I will remember it as like flying without a plane, just body-wise, like in a really great flying dream. Kelly gently rotates our position to face into the sun. Ron floats down right in front of us and gives me a thumbs up which I return with a wave and as much of a smile as I can muster into 120 MPH free-fall wind in my face. Earlier, I've seen the other videos and I want to be sure to smile and wave into Ron's camera so the kids will think that Dad's cool. Heck … so Dad will think that Dad is cool! Too soon, it seems, the helmet beeper goes off in my right ear signaling we are falling through 6,000 feet. Kelly gives me a reminder tap on the shoulder and I reach down for the orange plastic ripcord handle on my right hip. Got it! Quick easy pull! Onethousandone, onethousandtwo, onethousandthree, and the canopy deploys with surprising gentleness --and everything goes mystically silent. I can stop looking into the camera and look around and see the entire Middle Rio Grand Valley and East mesa dangling beneath my feet. There just really aren't enough exclamation points to do this view and experience justice. The silence of hot air ballooning might come close, but we are 5,000 feet up, ever-so-gently falling, there is no burner noise, and we can steer! Ron, the videographer, has continued his free-fall so he can beat us down and set up to video our landing. Kelly asks how I'm doing. I say I'm doing great, but I don't tell him I'm darned near crying because of the sheer beauty, the silence, the majesty of it all. He pulls down on the left riser and we pirouette counterclockwise - then the right riser into a clockwise pirouette - pure magic and beauty. I see Ron's canopy way below us now, lining up his landing. The e. e. Cummings poetry quote, "The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful," comes to mind. I look at my wrist altimeter and we are at 2,000 feet. At 1,500 feet Kelly says the folks on the ground in the landing zone can hear me if I holler loud - so I begin hollering and waving for the next couple of minutes just because it feels so good. Then we are at 800 feet and Kelly is heading us up into the wind, I pull my feet up for a butt-slide landing and the next thing I know -- I find myself comfortably seated on the ground in the landing zone -- Kelly has released the clips -- Ron is holding out his a hand to help me stand up, all the while videoing my very wide grin and asking me, "So, how was that for you?" It was great, stupendous, indescribable. Again, not enough exclamation points! He records some more banter and a high five exchange with Kelly, and we get into the Skydive New Mexico van for the 3-minute ride back to the hanger. Ron provides a quick preview of my video, and, hey! I look pretty good! (A little secret: smiling broadly, sticking your tongue out and waving at the camera in free fall looks way more cool than you can imagine.) Kelly and Rich and a couple of other skydivers congratulate me and then Kelly is handing me my very own personalized "Tandem First Jump Certificate." Then it seems like it's all over too soon. We walk back to our car for the short drive back to Albuquerque and dinner and home. A wonderful mirage-like memory and vision of what I've just experienced keeps playing over and over in my head: Ron pops the door open, I look down on the mesa and the Rio Grande Valley, Kelly leans me out into our free-fall, we stabilize, Ron floats in front of us with his camera, I pull the rip-cord, we float ever-so-serenely down to a gentle butt-plop landing and I feel myself grinning like a goose (geese do grin, don't they?). For days later I notice I can still easily replay these wonderful scenes in my mind and, I am still grinning like a goose. And that's how I did my first free-fall skydive. Life is good! Some day if you want to discover what your goose grin feels like, you can begin by going to www.skydivenm.net, checking out the neat tandem videos, and hooking up with Rich and Kelly at the Belen Airport … and you'll do just fine and love it! Post script: The mailman just delivered Ron Weagly's DVD of my jump and I slapped it into my PC for viewing as quickly as I could. All I can say is (1) he made me look sooooo very good, and (2) I'm thinking about going again. Copyright Tom Miles, 2007 Albuquerque, NM
  15. admin

    Ring Sights and Suspension Lines

    Included in this feature are three parts related to the death of Jan Davis at Lodi a week ago. The first part is a recent post by Jan Davis to rec.skydiving in response to the death of a fellow skydiver a while ago. Ironically the post deals with the risk risk of camera line snags, which seems to have been part of the tragic chain of events that led to her death. The second part is an article from a local newspaper regarding the Jan's accident and the third is an article about the ongoing FAA investigation. Ring sights and suspension lines From: Flyincamra (flyincamra@aol.com) Subject: Ring sights and suspension lines Newsgroups: rec.skydiving Date: 2001-03-26 09:52:24 PST After reading of the tragic death of a fellow camera flyer, it brought to mind my discomfort at seeing the newer small camera helmets. My helmet is a headhunter with a big squared off front for a still mount. My ring sight is mounted close in and is virtually covered up by my still platform. The newer helmets, whether they be top or side mount, seem to have the ring sight by neccessity sticking way out from the helmet... long posts going every which way. This weekend I was on the plane with a new cameraflyer with just such a setup. He said as soon as he was sure where he wanted it set, he would have the posts on his ring sight cut down so no excess would stick out. Still.... the post from the helmet to the sight was very long..... It made me think of the way we tape the shoes of tandems that have hooks on them instead of eyelets for shoelaces, but yet we fly with huge hooks sticking out of our helmets..... I don't know the configuration on the helmet the deceased was wearing, but that was the first question that came to my mind. You know... this really doesn't seem like a difficult design problem to me. It would seem possible to form the ring sight directly to the camera helmet and still incorporate a way to make the sight adjustable... thereby doing away with the posts that are sticking out there like a target in a violent malfunction. Yesterday, after thousands of camera jumps, I had the new and unsettling experience of feeling my left riser hang up on the back portion of my top mount video camera. I don't know how or why as it was only momentary, but I felt it pulling up at the back of my helmet, pinning my head down so I couldn't look up to see what was happening. Just as I started think about reaching to unclip the helmet, the riser popped loose and let go. No biggy, nothing serious..... but it made me wonder if I could get out of that helmet fast enough if I needed to...... My sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Richard Lancaster. Jan Devil Skydiver killed after chute tangles By Andy Furillo Bee Staff Writer (Published April 1, 2001) A skydiver was killed outside Lodi on Saturday when her reserve parachute got tangled in a camera mounted on her helmet, officials said. Janice Irene Davis, 49, from Hollister, died in a vineyard just west of Highway 99 near Jahant Road. She had made nearly 3,000 jumps before the accident. The Hollister-area resident and other sky divers had jumped from a plane at about 9,000 feet, according to the San Joaquin County Sheriff's Department. Bill Dause, the owner of the Parachute Center in Lodi, said Davis' main chute "failed to work" at the time of the 2:03 p.m. tragedy. He said she ejected the main chute and deployed the reserve. Davis had been using the camera to videotape two other divers. "Somewhere in the process of releasing the first and deploying the second, she inadvertently became a little unstable, causing the bridle of the reserve chute to become unactive," Dause said. Dause said a similar fatality occurred recently in the eastern United States and "the camera definitely was the culprit." He said the two deaths should prompt parachute enthusiasts to examine the practice of mounting cameras on their helmets. He described Davis as "a very outgoing, very caring person." Within hours of Davis' death, Dause was back up in the air with skydiving students. "We didn't slow down at all," Dause said. "She wouldn't want us to stop." FAA seeks clues from sky diver's video camera The Record (Published April 2, 2001) ACAMPO -- Authorities said Sunday it will take more time to determine what happened in the final moments of parachutist Janice Irene Davis' life, because the video camera she was carrying broke on impact. The Federal Aviation Administration this week will begin attempting to repair a videotape that was inside the shattered camera. It may show why the 49-year-old Hollister woman's main parachute failed to open during a Saturday afternoon dive at the Parachute Center in Acampo, San Joaquin County coroner's Deputy Tom Scott said. Meanwhile, coroner's officials Sunday said Davis died on impact from injuries she sustained in the fall. Davis landed in a vineyard about 300 yards south of Jahant Road, just west of Highway 99, shortly after 2 p.m. Saturday. She was an experienced parachutist hired to videotape two other jumpers Saturday, those who knew her said. Authorities believe Davis fell 13,000 feet to her death. Her main chute apparently failed to open correctly and her backup chute got caught on the video camera attached to her helmet, officials said. Scott said the FAA has taken over the investigation. "We know nobody pushed her out of the plane, we know nobody toyed with the chute," he said. "As far as our investigation is concerned, we don't go any farther than the toxicology reports." Investigators from the FAA's Oakland Flight Standards District Office could not be contacted Sunday.
  16. An Ohio man BASE jumping from West Virginia's New River Gorge Bridge early Saturday morning missed his landing spot and got tangled in some trees before releasing himself from his harness and falling some 40 feet. According to a report today by the National Park Service, 33-year-old Shannon Murphy, of Wadsworth, launched into the darkness at 1:40 A.M. The sky was overcast and the gorge was full of fog, making it nearly impossible for him to see his landing zone. After friends John Maggio, 37, and Andrew Pulton, 20, placed a 911 call, rescuers including a team of rangers, county police, fire and EMS personnel got to Murphy, who was semi-conscious and suffering from a severe head injury and a fractured arm, 45 minutes later. He was stabilized and taken to a local hospital before being transferred to a trauma center in Charleston, West Virginia. The NPS report stated that alcohol may have been a contributing factor in the accident. Murphy will be charged with illegal aerial moves; Maggio has been charged with aiding and abetting. An investigation is underway. Four men caught BASE jumping off the Virginia's New River Gorge Bridge in December were fined $600 a piece after pleading guilty to aerial delivery in a magistrate's court. Tourists visiting the Fayette Station area of the New River Gorge National River snapped photos of two of the four jumpers in mid-air and dialed 911 as the group was still free falling towards the gorge floor. Rangers and several law enforcement agents were dispatched to the scene and, aided by vehicle-descriptions given by the tourists in a second 911 call , - apprehended the men. BASE jumping from the New River Gorge Bridge is illegal except for one day of the year, when the annual Bridge Day is held. The 2001 Bridge Day is scheduled for October 20.
  17. 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.
  18. When Todd Davis started skydiving, he had to scrape together every penny he could for the sport. "Once I did my first jump, I knew this is what I wanted to do, but I didn't know how I was going to do it," said Davis, 28, who started jumping 10 years ago. Now, he makes a living off skydiving as a co-owner of Chicagoland Skydiving in Hinckley. He and friend Doug Smith, 27, bought the business in December. Davis said he loves the sport and expects the business to grow. As an instructor and videographer at Chicagoland Skydiving for three years before taking over, he watched skydiving's popularity increase. About 300,000 people skydived last year, for a total of 3.3 million jumps, said Chris Needles, executive director of the U.S. Parachute Association in Alexandria, Va. Increasingly safer equipment and a wider acceptance of jumping out of airplanes for recreation have contributed to skydiving's steady growth, Davis said. "The gear is so advanced now that anybody can skydive, anyone from you to your grandmother," Davis said. In fact, one woman last year went skydiving on her 86th birthday. This year, a woman with Parkinson's disease jumped on Mother's Day. Standard equipment for students at the jump site includes an automatic activation device that will open an emergency parachute if the main parachute is not deployed during a jump. That and other equipment make skydiving costly. A tandem jump in which a student is attached to an instructor while they share a parachute, costs $175. Beginners jumping with their own parachute pay $275 for the required six hours of training. That compares with about 30 minutes of training for a tandem jump. Two instructors jump with each student for the first solo jump. For another $80, a videographer will jump too, recording still and moving images from the one-minute free fall and landing that takes place five or six minutes after the chute opens. Lisa van Deursen, a manager, videographer and instructor at Chicagoland Skydiving, said she would like to see more people hire videographers, but they seem put off by the price. "People can't understand why it's so expensive, but I have $3,000 worth of equipment on my head," she said, referring to helmet cameras. Planes that can hold up to 20 skydivers cost $800,000 to $1.5 million, while parachutes and other gear for one person can cost $5,000 to $12,000. Davis and Smith lease the planes as well as the land used for the business. They employ 25 independent contractors as instructors, pilots and parachute packers. About 6,500 jumps took place last year at the Hinckley site; in 1999, there were 3,200 jumps, according to van Deursen. The growth comes despite the presence of two regional competitors: Skydive Chicago near Ottawa and Skydive Illinois in Morris. Nationally, skydiving has grown at a rate of 2 or 3 percent every year for the past 10 years, Needles said. "It's not perfectly linear at all times because we are affected by movies that come out about skydiving, so you get these great spikes sometimes," Needles said. He said improved safety does seem to be a factor, and he noted that while there are still fatalities associated with the sport, there were only about 30 deaths in the U.S. last year out of about 3.3 million jumps. The number of annual fatalities has remained steady for 10 years, despite jumps increasing each year, Needles said. Davis said he thinks the sport will continue to grow because of the natural curiosity many people have about flight. "It's the closest to flying outside of your dreams," he said. For information or reservations, call 815-286-9200. Chicago Tribune
  19. Fredericksburg, VA... Pat Moorehead, 80, of Long Beach, CA, will be awarded with the National Skydiving Museum's Trustees Award during the museum's fundraising weekend celebration at Skydive Arizona, Eloy, November 10, 2012. The award is being given to recognize Moorehead's TEAM 80 event where he made 80 skydives to celebrate his 80th birthday. The event raised more than $18,000 toward the museum's building fund. On November 20, 2011, to celebrate his 80th birthday, Moorehead jumped out of a plane at Skydive Elsinore -- 80 times. Despite cloudy skies and rain, he set the world's record for the most skydives by an 80-year-old in one day. Moorehead actually made 81 jumps; after he broke the record, he went up one last time to fly the American flag. The feat took a little over 6 ½ hours and was supported by more than 50 volunteers including Moorehead's wife Alicia, riggers, cameramen, a pilot, and a doctor on standby. Moorehead also managed to get the necessary equipment and an airplane on loan for the event. The jumps began around 6 a.m. and concluded shortly after 12:30 p.m. right before the skies opened and the rain began. Friends and admirers from around the world sent in contributions to the National Skydiving Museum to honor Pat. His original goal was $8,000….the final total was more than $18,000. The Trustees Award is a newly created award that will be given at the discretion of the museum's Board of Trustees for significant contributions to the museum and its mission. Moorehead will be presented the award by the president of the museum's Board of Trustees L. Len Potts at its prestigious Hall of Fame Dinner Saturday, November 10. The gala will be held at Skydive Arizona. Tickets to the Dinner are still available. The dinner is part of a weekend fundraising celebration with activities starting Friday morning (November 9)that include exhibit displays with some of the rich history of the sport, a theater featuring great skydiving footage, and a special display on the history of the Star Crest Recipient Awards (SCR). A video of Moorehead's jumps will be continuously played along with a banner signed by all who donated to his efforts. Throughout the weekend, a group of large-formation skydivers will be building 64-way formations to commemorate the birth of relative work. On Friday evening, there will be a BBQ with some of the sports' living legends sharing stories from the past. The culmination of the weekend is the Hall of Fame dinner presented by the Parachute Industry Association when seven skydiving legends will join 17 others into the museum's Hall of Fame. More than 300 people from around the world are expected to join in the festivities and the event is expected to bring in more than $125,000 to support building the museum. The fundraiser will benefit the National Skydiving Museum's $6-million capital program that will raise the necessary funds to build the museum in Fredericksburg, VA. The National Skydiving Museum is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation governed by a Board of Trustees. For more information and to register for the National Skydiving Museum Weekend and Hall of Fame celebration, visit www.skydivingmuseum.org or contact museum administrator, Nancy Kemble, at 540-604-9745 or nkemble@skydivingmuseum.org.
  20. admin

    An Insiders View of Team X

    By Ian Drennan I wasn't really sure what to expect when arriving at Deepwood Ranch in Deland for the PDFT Tryouts. So much of my skydiving career had been spent preparing for this moment, yet when it finally arrived I felt very unprepared. I can't deny that going into the event I was in competition mode, not sure what to expect, but sure I was going to give 100% no matter what they threw at us. Little did I know that this would feel, and be, nothing like a competition, and nothing like anything I'd ever experienced before... After a brief welcome by the PDFT we were all taken to a house where we were given free rein to divide our living space as we saw fit. The mood was good; everyone was excited, and nervous, as to what the coming days would bring. Surprisingly when it came to picking living space, most people gravitated towards the people they'd never met or had spent limited time with. There were of course, requirements for each area - thankfully our space was dubbed the "No Snoring" zone :) I had expected the atmosphere to be tense; there was so much unknown and so much riding on this event for each and every person there. Yet the mood was upbeat and encouraging - the tone for the week had been set. We woke on Tuesday morning, way earlier than any human should have to be awake (that's 6am for me... what can I say, I'm not a morning person!) - still, the rooms were abuzz with excitement and everyone anxiously scurried out to start the day. After breakfast the introductions began, lead by the PDFT and John LeBlanc (who blew off a meeting to spend more time with the group!). As the introductions progressed, each participant revealed more and more about their background, upbringing, and motivations behind pursuing this dream. This 3+ hour experience flew by as, surprisingly, people quickly took to a "heart on the sleeve" approach, laying out their innermost insecurities, fears, thoughts, and dreams. Once the introductions were done, we were assigned groups (picked by the PDFT) of 5 people. Each of the 3 teams was then assigned a task: prepare a group presentation on a set topic (each group had the same topic) within the hour, and each team member was required to spend an equal amount time speaking. This exercise quickly allowed groups to get a feel for personality dynamics within each team and, hopefully, learn to work as a group. Well, I can't speak behalf of the other groups, but Group 3 rocked the house :) I was lucky to be paired with a fantastic group of people, all bringing different strengths to the table. The groups were not just responsible for a single presentation, but rather were together for the week and assigned different duties for each day - dish washing, cooking, or grounds maintenance that would be done in between the scheduled activities for the day, and interviews. Tuesday night was brought to a close by the group’s first rock session. Much like the Native American Talking Stick tradition, this concept allowed people to voice opinions – uninterrupted - discussing themselves, their teams, the day, or anything that sprung to mind in a positive, or negative, fashion. Once again each individual surprised me with their honesty, and their ability to take constructive criticism. Around 11pm, after a long day, we packed it in and went back to the house - exhausted.....I don't think I've ever seen so many skydivers in bed at such an early time :) Wednesday we woke to poor weather, so the group took the opportunity to do their individual presentations. We were entertained with a variety of topics, from cooking, to building water towers, to snowboarding, juggling, fresca ball, and even how to hot-wire an airplane! Each member added their own personal flair. I think it was here that it really struck me what an amazing job the PDFT had done selecting the 15 members. I remember looking around and realizing how level the playing field was. Each individual was strong in different ways, and it was clear that the team could pick any 4 and still have a spectacular outcome. After the presentations, everyone blew off some energy by playing some of the newly introduced games or learning to juggle. It was quite a sight to behold. Group 3 took to cooking that evening, and with little deliberation began the cooking assembly line. Surprisingly, Travis Mills (from group 2) joined us in our food preparation. Travis, a onetime sous-chef, took the time to help us rapidly prepare our ingredients (that man is a chopping machine!!). I began to notice how well we were working together. As usual, after dinner, everyone sat around the fireplace, chatting, trading stories, etc. It was here that JC took it upon himself to introduce Zip-Zop. Every single person participated in the game (despite enormous suspicion), including Jay, Ian, and Shannon from the PDFT! I won't ruin any surprises, but needless to say - JC is a prankster....oh, and JC if you're reading this....I'm plotting my revenge... On Thursday we woke to beautiful weather. The energy levels were almost uncontainable....we were finally going to JUMP! The team had something special in store for us today: We were going to do a mini-competition. After a few practice rounds the competition started - interestingly enough, the mood wasn't competitive; it was supportive. I can't speak for others, but I've never felt so relaxed before. Each round was just downright fun. The highlight, for me at least, was the expression round - not an event I normally do well in, so needless to say, I was elated with the final outcome. After the competition it was back to chores where our group was to help Kim, the land owner, chop wood for his house (and our fire pit). It was here that what was happening really became clear to me. Our group was unable to audibly communicate, since Tommy D was using the chainsaw to cut wood. But somehow we still needed to work together to load up the truck and get a system going. We fumbled a bit the first few minutes, each struggling to find our place....but then, something happened: We began to draw on what we knew of each over the last few days and created yet another assembly line - seamlessly operating in unison. We actually got so efficient that we chopped, and loaded, and entire truck full of wood in 20 minutes all with minimal communication! Returning from the wood chopping experience, I was summoned to my interview. This was it, this was the moment to shine in front of the team, and give them every reason why I should be on the Expansion Team. I consider myself fortunate to have competed, and become friends, with the team before this day - yet it was still intimidating. I cannot imagine how some candidates, who'd never met any of them, felt at that table. The team was warm and welcoming though, and it felt far more like a discussion than an interview. Offering up direct questions and answers, I felt I represented myself well. I walked away with a smile thinking that good things were coming... and then it hit me, and it was like getting hit by a Mack truck. All these doubts entered my mind: "What if I get offered a slot, can I live up to the public expectation of a team member?"; "What if I just blew it?", etc. You see, in all my dreams of becoming a PDFT member, I'd actually never stopped to think what would happen if I actually got it. I know I wasn't the only one. I didn't have too long to dwell on my insecurities since the night's activities were about to start after dinner. This time JC once again had an icebreaker game. This one was more a mind game, and boy did he mess with my mind :) The rules of the game were simple: You had to figure out the rules of the game, and when you did you had to guide (but not tell) players who hadn't figured it out yet. Much to my frustration I wasn't getting it and, as more and more around me figured it out, my frustration grew. Fortunately, Ryan was the most frustrated and, in a fake temper tantrum, provided comic relief. It was now time for our Rock Session. The team once again kicked it off, providing examples of how negative, but constructive, criticism to other teammates. Surprisingly, the candidates sessions remained largely positive. It was a very emotional experience for everyone involved. Drained and filled with self-doubt, I headed to bed. Friday morning was the first morning all week, that no one was on time to breakfast. Mentally exhausted, and nervous, we gathered ourselves and headed out for the final day. The mood was definitely serious - we all knew what was happening today. We kicked off the day with a grueling exercise: We had to pick who we thought the new team should be, as well as a 'heart' team made up of 3 other people we'd love to fly with and then explain to everyone in a few short words, why we made the choices we did. It was here we got a tiny taste of what the PDFT was about to go through. It was incredibly tough to pick so few people from so many qualified people. In the end, after everyone's choices were vocalized, the choices were spread evenly among the group - this was definitely not going to be easy. Deciding to jump, each group got paired with a PDFT member and did a formation jump. The exercise was in trust, and it was here I noticed that I needed to be more trusting of my teammates in the air. Time was now out though and the PDFT needed to go and deliberate, and while they deliberated gave us carte blanche to jump and do whatever we wanted to, to blow off steam...and blow off steam we did :) I took the opportunity to work on my trust issues by encouraging everyone there to swoop me while I sat in a kayak on the pond - after all, if I couldn't trust these people, who could I trust? It was one of the most enjoyable things I've ever done in my life. I had my own swoop show, with each person trying to outdo the other on the pond. It was total and utter carnage - and it was great! My favorite memory is of Travis Mills screaming by doing a ghost-rider with the biggest smile I think I've ever seen anyone have. After a quick hike through Deepwood Ranch, it was time to return to hear the final announcement. The team arrived a few minutes later than expected, with a somber, yet relieved, look on their faces. It was clear they'd made a decision. Addressing the group the team announced that they'd almost not reached a decision that night, they had dropped the list to 6 people but had been unable to narrow it further. My heart jumped. With us all hanging on every word, the team announced that they'd made a change in plans and had decided to expand another 2 slots as "next on deck" or alternates. These candidates would be given first dibs at any future opportunities, or expansions, within the PDFT but would not be considered 'the final four'. First Jens Thorgenson's name was called. I was immediately thrilled; Jens and I had started building a strong friendship and respect, and I thought he was a wonderful choice. Next they announced me and my heart raced - it was unexpected, but ultimately perfect for me. I was ecstatic! In a weird way, I felt like the pressure was off, but felt no sadness at not making the final four. I knew, no matter who was picked, it was going to be a good choice and the PDFT was going be stronger than ever. Before announcing the final four, Ian Bobo emotionally reminded everyone that the blue jerseys weren't an indication of self-worth, and that each person there was a great candidate. The words were sincere, and they rang true. Once the final four were announced, through tears of joy, and sadness, everyone took the opportunity to congratulate them. Looking around I realized this is what the week was all about - cheering your team on, and we were ALL a team. We all left the next day as better people, with a deeper respect for everyone there than any of us could have imagined. I often try to explain the experience to people, but realize that it falls short of doing the whole process justice. All I can say is that it changed me in a way I can't describe. I've had many people asking me what happens from here? What does "next on deck" mean? Honestly, I don't know where this is going, but I know it's going to be a hell of a ride.
  21. admin

    First Dock - Two Jumpers Make History

    The first controlled dock between a canopy pilot and a skydiver in freefall is a fact! In the skies of DeLand, Florida, around four o'clock in the afternoon on April 17th, Jari Kuosma, wearing a Skyflyer wingsuit, did a controlled dock on the ankle of Vladi Pesa who was flying his Performance Designs Velocity 84. Kuosma is the president of BirdMan, Inc. and has 2100 jumps in total, 1100 of those are wingsuit jumps. Pesa has 8,000 jumps and is an experienced canopy swoop competitor, AFF JM, tandem master, and a BirdMan instructor. Videographer Todd Sutherland, flying his Skyflyer along side of Kuosma, was there to capture the magic moment. Pesa wore a weight bag of 30 pounds; his wingloading was 3.5 to 1. His canopy risers were specially designed for this project in order to increase the speed and vertical decent of his Velocity. This was Pesa's and Kuosma's 17th attempt trying to close the gap between canopy and wingsuit. "We flew in close formation - within inches away from one another - during the last six attempts," said Kuosma, "but I had a hard time closing that final gap since I was at the edge of my Skyflyer's performance envelope." "This flight was the physically hardest of all," said Kuosma. "Unfortunately Vladi's canopy turned 180 degrees on deployment, which made him travel at a high rate of speed in the opposite direction of what we had planned. Todd and I almost lost our faith, Vladi seemed to be miles away and there was no way he was able to see us on the horizon. Just prior to break off, though, we saw each other and I just went for it." On this attempt I tried a new angle of attack. In past jumps, I had been flying above Vladi's canopy, just off the edge of his wing and arching to come down to his ankle. This time I still flew parallel to and above his canopy, but further away horizontally; I got to his ankle by doing a vertical side slide," Kuosma says. Break off was planned at 5000 feet to give Jari time to safely deploy and Vladi the chance to unlock his risers and prepare for an intense landing. "The weirdest part was looking at Jari breaking off and deploying his parachute right next to me while I was already under canopy," said Pesa. "How are the landings you wonder? - FAST !!" A Larsen & Brusgaard ProTrack recorded Jari's average vertical speed at 35mph. The two estimate their forward speed at 60-70mph. The two are planning to do more attempts in the next few days in order to get better video and still footage to show the world. It is not an easy task to capture such a unique stunt on film. "Southerland is doing a great job staying with us though," says Kuosma. Kuosma and Pesa warn jumpers to not attempt this stunt without consulting them. You can contact Kuosma at the BirdMan office, (386) 785-0800 or Pesa at (386) 801-6295. Wing Suit Discussion Forum BirdMan, Inc. Web Site
  22. 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.
  23. admin

    Strong Saves Small Irish Dropzone

    Imagine as a Dropzone Operator waking up at 7:30am on a sunny summer morning to discover that the dropzone has been broken into by thieves in the middle of the night and that all your student equipment is gone! On the morning of June 1st, 2007 Skydive Ireland received a serious blow when all of our student equipment was stolen in the middle of the night by thieves leaving us grounded and unable to take our customers skydiving. All of our Solo Student rigs and all of our Tandem equipment was gone just like that without trace leaving us completely disabled with very little options. I mean let's face it, in our industry the option of taking a trip to the local adventure store to replace your stolen parachute equipment just simply does not exist. Irish winters are really long and here we are having just arrived at the peak season of summer with the sun shining and an empty gear room with no manufacturers nearby and no friendly dropzone to offer assistance in our time of need, it is well and truly at that point you say to yourself…. We're F**ked! This is the type of scenario you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy and this disaster threatened the DZ's very existence since we were a new DZ and only a few months old at the time. We tried to remain composed and think of a clear plan of action to recover from this situation with our first instinct to go on the search for our brand new equipment that was lifted in the wee twilight hours of a summer's morning. The police were dispatched but the real truth of the matter was that the equipment was gone and our worst fear was that this was a specifically targeted job since no other valuable equipment was stolen. Whoever did it knew what they were coming for. There were mixed feeling as we found it difficult to believe another Skydiver could possibly be behind this hit. We figured if it was regular thieves that they would have found more value in expensive wide screen televisions and other similar types of equipment that would sell very easily on the street. With only two skydiving centers in Ireland who were these people planning on selling stolen student parachute equipment to? Having come to terms with the mornings events and dealing with the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach I knew that we had to figure a solution fast and turned to the Skydiving Industry for support. What I suppose was the standard thing to do I did and that was to call the manufactures of the brand new equipment and surely they would be willing to use their resources to rescue us. The Tandem rigs we had were Paratec Next Tandem since we are based in Europe I figured it best to deal more locally for my Tandem gear. So calls were made to Paratec and the situation explained and the consequences of what would happen to us were easily understood. In naive hope I never thought that there would be an issue of support but I was greatly disappointed beyond words to be told by Paratec that there is no equipment they could dispatch to us to assist their customer and fellow skydivers recover this emergency and that they cannot part with their one and only Tandem Demo rig. I wasn't impressed. A cold chill rand down my back with the shocking realization that we were now isolated from other Tandem Equipment Manufacturers who were now all based several thousand miles away and now in the month of June the parachute manufacturing industry was in peak demand with typical 12-14 week delivery schedules. I hurried to dropzone.com in desperate search of some used Tandem Equipment in the classifieds but there was nothing there that was suitable or easily accessible. The other dilemma of course was that all of my Tandem Instructors were rated under the Vector Tandem program so we didn't exactly have the option of just going with any Tandem rig that was available. I'm sure you can start to appreciate the nightmare situation we were now facing and running out of options. It was time to revert back to the manufacturers and try to plead for their understanding to help them understand how serious this situation had escalated. I mean seriously, does it get much worse than this? I made the best move as a dropzone owner that I have done to date. I picked up the phone and called Strong Enterprises based in Orlando Florida. I was greeted by a very friendly Sales Manager named John Makoski who immediately begin to work a plan to dispatch replacement equipment without delay to get us back in the air. I mean this guy dropped everything he was doing and put Skydive Ireland on his highest priority and he just couldn't believe that something like this happened to us. It was due to his concerned response to our situation and seeing lighting speed response to getting this situation under control that I was finally able to regroup and feel the weight of a thousand elephants lift right off my shoulders. Here was a manufacturer who I had never bought a single piece of equipment from or never benefitted their business in any way begin to treat my small company like I was their biggest client. Within a few hours John had gotten approval from Mr. Ted Strong who everybody knows is the owner of Strong Enterprises and was authorized to immediately dispatch 6 Dual Hawk Tandem Systems from their large inventory of stock and make the arrangements to get them to Ireland without delay. I couldn't believe it! This was incredible and I just couldn't express how grateful I was to be picked up in the hand of this Parachute Manufacturing Giant and begin to feel that everything was going to be alright. Then suddenly I had an anti climax when I realized that none of my Tandem Instructors were certified to use the Dual Hawk Tandem. With this piercing feeling in my brain another whole began to bore deep when I thought to myself that perhaps this company might take advantage of me and demand a higher than normal sale price since I didn't have any other choice and finally I began to wonder how am I going to afford 6 new Tandem Systems in light of our break in and something I haven't mentioned yet was that our stolen equipment was not even insured. This is not good. So now I am wondering how this is going to pan out and that I still have to get 6 Tandem Rigs each weighing about 65 lbs to Ireland as fast as possible and at a price I could afford and then find someone who could just fire up a Dual Hawk Instructors Course to get us rated to use the equipment. This is when Mr. Tom Noonan, Strong's Tandem Course Director was introduced to me and in a friendly and supportive voice over the phone said that he had taken the initiative and booked flights direct to Ireland and will personally deliver the equipment and spend the time here to qualify all of my Instructors on the Dual Hawk Tandem and that they will provide the new equipment to me at a hugely discounted price and that they will allow a few months for me to be able to pay for the vast majority of it all! If any of you reading this has ever experienced an immense rush of extreme and unquantifiable feeling of gratitude, relief followed by a dash of excitement and an overflow of amazement at this level of concern and support it was actually quite hard to digest and realize that these guys were willing to do all of this for me. What an incredible level of customer focused service. This is mind blowing stuff and every Dropzone Operator should be seriously paying attention to this. I can honestly say that this is something I have never heard of another manufacturer do in this type of situation in my 13 years of Skydiving. Lets be honest and say that this was a huge risk for Strong in that what if I went bust because of this situation and was not in a position to repay them for their equipment and I had it in Ireland. But they weren't one bit concerned about this and only cared about getting my little DZ back up and running and the deal Tom made with me was that I would have to buy him a few pints of the black stuff in an authentic Irish pub. That was an easy deal to agree I can tell ya! It wasn't long before I was at Shannon Airport shaking hands with the man who flew through the night across the broad Atlantic loaded with Parachute Equipment for delivery and to provide immediate expert training and certification on the Dual Hawks to get us back in the action. This was now all starting to feel very surreal. With his surname being Noonan and being from Boston it was evident Tom was from Irish descent and had always looked forward to visiting his ancestors home. As we sat in a typical Irish Country style pub with symbols of the old Irish culture and harder times of the past it was about 7:30am it was time to start cashing in on our deal. So I ordered a few pints of the black stuff and Tom, Darren and myself toasted to a new chapter and to recovering Skydive Ireland and feasted on a full Irish Breakfast till we were as fat as cows. Now beginning to show signs of a long night spent travelling and with a fully loaded belly and a nice few pints of Guinness we headed back to my house so Tom could refresh and get some sleep. Darren and I unloaded the car and all our new gear was in black gear bags and it felt really good holding Dual Hawk Tandem Parachute Systems in my arms and feeling like everything is getting back on track. I don't think I will ever be able to explain the feeling accurately enough so I won't even try or I'll end up just babbling. So with Tom now out for the count I was anxious to try on our brand new Dual Hawks so we pulled out two of them and immediately begin to start dissecting the rig to discover it's features and to see how it feels. As a certified parachute rigger for more the n10 years I immediately begin to admire the workmanship of this parachute system and to examine its components which at first glance had me realize this was not just another Tandem System. With features such as the dual loop main canopy closure to prevent a nasty horse-shoe and the anti-line dump line stows. Even the fine detail of the position of the RSL to deal with a possible riser breakage to avoid a premature reserve deployment. I really liked the feature of the Master 400 sqft Reserve canopy which is comforting to know this canopy is thoroughly designed to meet the most demanding Tandem nightmare. One of the really exciting things about it was that they were all equipped with the brand new development from Strong which is the superb all ZP material SET 366 Main Tandem Canopy configured with Single Brake setup. I was not getting really buzzed about flying this new toy. It was obvious that this rig was built for Tandem Skydiving from the ground up and was rugged to last the test if time. We now had a serious set of kit that made our stolen Tandem Systems look like plain old modified sports rigs. I couldn't get over the size of the Drogue and what I immediately liked was the simplicity of the main and reserve deployment sequences. On our other Tandem Systems there seemed to be a confusing amount of handles which offered a great risk of causing the Instructor confusion in a high stress situation. I had always thought the more handles the better because of more options but then thought that simple is better given the statistics that ALL Tandem Fatalities were due to Instructor error. I was now keen to complete the Strong Tandem Instructor Candidate Course which for us would be the cross over from another Tandem Rating so it meant less jumps to become certified on the Dual Hawk then if we were starting out as new Instructors. Later that day when Tom arose from the dead we made a plan to get going the next day with the Course Material and waste no time in getting it completed. Throughout the course I found Tom Noonan to be an excellent Examiner to work with and what was most apparent was that not a single ounce of ego was present in his natural ability to make a person feel comfortable and help us understand the functions of the Dual Hawk and was patient with all of our questions and comparisons and scenarios with the what we had been used to jumping and now getting excited about jumping the Dual Hawk. I was anxious to feel what freefall will be like with the position of the Drogue attachment at the base of the Reserve Tray unlike the Vector 2 style system which gives a really nice position in freefall and makes for an excellent Student freefall position for the Video and Photos. I can honestly say from going as passenger that the Student Harness is the most comfortable out of all the harnesses which makes for some very happy customers. Tom did an excellent job at completing the course qualifying myself and my Instructors. He worked very hard and was very committed to his very high standard of safety and awareness and we all learned a lot of valuable skills and information from him. He is a true professional and loves what he does and I was glad that with his proud Irish heritage he was able to visit Ireland and Skydive at my DZ with beautiful views of lakes and mountains Tom became attached to the place and has since returned again to Ireland to spend time with us doing further training to qualify a Strong Tandem Examiner to make us more self sufficient. Tom has become a great friend and I will always be grateful for what Strong Enterprises did for my dropzone. Without them we were well and truly hammered. I could spend a few paragraphs telling you what I thought about the other manufacturers lack of support in our time of need but it would just simple take aware from the value of this story but what I will advise from our experience is that when choosing your equipment especially when you're living depends on it is imperative you choose a manufacturer who can back you up when the shit hits the fan. I have only good things to say about the Dual Hawk and with almost a year of full time jumping the Dual Hawk and sweet soft opening of the new SET 366 and zero cutaways I can only say you will look long and hard for a Tandem System of this caliber. Once you see past the fluff of the other Tandem systems with other manufacturers competing to be the most inventive it stands to this day that the Dual Hawk is the most proven Tandem system in the world and was designed by a great man who was the true pioneer of Tandem Skydiving, Mr. Ted Strong. Thank you all the Team at Strong Enterprises in Orlando Florida. You saved our bacon and have been a huge source of support and inspiration to my dropzone and you are to be applauded for your concern and the dropzone rescue operation you handles so professionally and I hope one day I can repay you. I am glad to report that some of our stolen parachute equipment surfaced in Eastern Europe in the country of Lituania which we were able to retrieve. The gear had been in use at a Skydiving Center and when I discovered this I made contact with the Dropzone to inform them they were using stolen Parachute Equipment. Investigations are pending to source that carried out this terrible crime and to ensure they do not do it to another dropzone again. Blue Skies, David Byrnes DZO - Skydive Ireland www.skydiveireland.ie
  24. admin

    Alti-Force Sensor Pack - GoPro Addon

    With the increased popularity of action cameras over recent years it's not surprising that we've seen an increase in the manufacturing of third party hardware that makes use of the GoPro camera to add additional value to users. Hypoxic recently released their Turned On product, which allows skydivers to see whether or not their camera is recording or whether there's any errors, without having to ask their buddy. The company Alti-Force has just released a product of their own that attaches to the GoPro camera and like the Turned On device, will seek to add some extra value to skydivers. When in use the Alti-Force Sensor Pack will be able to overlay information about your flight over the video. The device is able to record and display both altitude and the acceleration/G-Force of your jump. The visual representation of Gs can be useful for those looking to maximize performance, by using the information to identifcal optimum body positioning and technique. Features Subtitled video playback for your GoPro® camera Altitude subtitles selectable as feet or meters Acceleration G-force subtitles selectable as X-Y-Z axes or total magnitude Compatible with GoPro® Hero4 Black and Silver, Hero3+ Black and Silver, or Hero3 Black Fits in GoPro® cases with BacPac™ backdoor² (not included) Compatibility GoPro® Hero3 Black – YES – firmware v03.00 GoPro® Hero3+ Silver – YES – firmware v02.00 GoPro® Hero3+ Black – YES – firmware v02.00 | v03.00* GoPro® Hero4 Silver – YES – firmware v02.00.00 GoPro® Hero4 Black – YES – firmware v02.00.00 All efforts will be made to maintain compatibility with future firmware versions but cannot be guaranteed *v03.00 disables camera’s USB mode, use of memory card reader is required Any that support .SRT subtitle files (check your player’s specifications) Includes most TVs and VLC media player (for all OS platforms) Video must be played via USB mode or memory card reader If copied off camera, video .MP4 and subtitle .SRT files must be copied to same location Note: Windows® Media Player and QuickTime do not support .SRT subtitles Camera Modes The Alti-Force Sensor Pack records data/subtitles in Video Mode only. All standard video resolutions and frame rates are supported. The Alti-Force Sensor Pack does not support Time Lapse and Looping video modes, and is disabled in all Photo modes. Mechanical Size: 2.36 x 1.38 x 0.40 in (60 x 35 x 10 mm) Weight: <1 oz (18 g) Electrical Standard camera voltage: 3.6v (powered from camera) Minimal current draw: <2 mA typical Accelerometer Tri-axial | ± 16 G’s | 0.1 G resolution Barometer Absolute Pressure: 300 to 1100 mbar | ~0.1 mbar resolution Altitude range: -2000 to 30,000 feet | 1 ft resolution Pressure to Altitude conversion assumes standard conditions. Sampling RateHero 3/3+: approx 4.5 samples per second Hero 4: approx 6.5 samples per second Subtitle Settings Altitude: Feet | Meters | Both | None Acceleration: XYZ axes | Total magnitude | All | None G-bar: On | Off Temperature: °F | °C | None — Additional options — Data CSV file (saves all raw sensor values): On | Off Altitude offset: Feet only More information on the Alti-Force Sensor Pack can be found on the Alti-force website.
  25. 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!