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Found 202 results

  1. Hi, I have gotten mixed answers to this question so I wanted to ask here. Hopefully someone who owns one of these can chime in or a rigger who has experience with them I was told that the TSO may be written in a way that some riggers will pack it and others will not. Another source told me it has a TSO and there is no problem. The one I'm looking at was manufactured on 1999 if that makes a difference Anybody have any experience with this?
  2. admin

    Side by Side - A Two Out Story

    April 1st is typically a day for trickery, but the only fool this year was me, and the only trickster was my main canopy! I decided to make a last-minute trip to Skydive Perris with friends to make a balloon jump, but when it was winded out, the generous CReW Dawgs at Elsinore came up with all the gear my friend and I would need to make some beginner CReW jumps. The first jump on borrowed gear went great, but as we packed up my coach informed me the gear I was borrowing was a pull-out, and briefed me on how to use it. We planned a four-stack and lucked out with a camera jumper. As we get out of the plane, I pulled weak and ended up with no canopy. I knew from previous coaching that it’s a bad idea to take a Lightning terminal, so I went straight to reserve. As the reserve came out, I was kicking myself that I wasn’t going to be able to participate in the CReW jump, and would have plenty of time to think about how I got into this mess as my teammates got to play. I decided to fly over and watch, and that’s when I noticed the pilot chute bouncing around on my back. “I should get rid of that,” I thought, and reached for my cutaway handle. I didn’t even have a grip on it before my main came out and settled gently next to my reserve. Next thing I know, the camera flyer is in front of me, pointing and laughing. “What do I do?” I screamed, and he just laughed harder. “Well,” I thought, “if he’s not freaking out, why should I?” So I didn’t freak out. Instead, I worked to get back to the dropzone. No easy task, as I’d soon find out. A west-blowing wind was sending me back over the Ortegas, and with twice the fabric over my head, I was struggling to get any forward movement at all. Unbeknownst to me, my coach flew under me, shouting at me to chop. I tried to force some separation between the two canopies to do just that, but I couldn’t trust myself to hold the reserve away from the main long enough to go for my cutaway handle. Because the two canopies were trimmed so similarly, they really wanted to fly together, although the particular configuration I was flying really wanted to fly south. Considering the town of Elsinore was south, I spent a whole lot of time and energy just keeping the pair flying straight. Image by David Sands (D29444)Imagine pulling straight out of the plane under a large canopy, unable to do much besides try to keep your canopies flying straight and think about the sequence of events that got you here. Imagine looking down and going through your tree-landing procedure, and then multiplying that by two. Imagine trying to figure out how you’re going to steer the two canopies onto one of the small access roads on the mountains. With 1,000 feet to spare, I made it to the field I was aiming for, just at the foot of the Ortegas. I tried the usual landing-out procedure, transposing my pattern onto the field, but my canopies kept wanting to steer to the right, into the small neighborhood next to the field. So instead I just aimed my canopies at a small patch of grass in the field, and hit it gently without flaring. My legs were shaking and I couldn’t stop laughing nervously. It took me three tries to daisy chain my lines, and one of the Elsinore staff members had come to pick me up before I even made it out of the field. My coach, feeling responsible for me, landed in the mountains and called Elsinore to let them know what had happened. It took some time, but they found him, having landed without incident. Once I got back to the dropzone, I cracked a beer and waited for the shaking in my legs to go away. Lessons LearnedThe main takeaway from this is to know your gear. I was briefed very thoroughly by my coach on how to use a pull-out system, and practiced multiple times on the plane. Yet when it came time to pull, I didn’t fully extend my arm, and ended up with a pilot chute in tow. To me that was always one of the scariest malfunctions there are, because there are two schools of thought on how to handle it. One is to go straight to reserve, as I did, and one is to cutaway and go to reserve. In hindsight, I stand by my choice, because cutting away could have fired my main directly into my reserve. The other scary thing about this particular malfunction was that it was a two-out that was flying stable. One school of thought is that you should cut away to avoid a downplane, and the other is that if you’re flying stable, you can pilot it to an open area, which is what I did. If I had downplaned, I could have cut away my main and flown my reserve down, but I wasn’t convinced I could keep the canopies apart long enough to get to my cutaway handle. The problem with this scenario is that, under different circumstances, a dust devil could have blown my canopies into a downplane close to the ground, and I might not have been able to chop my main at all. One last thing I would change is that I would have taken my cell phone. If I had gotten hurt in the mountains without any way to access emergency care, things could have been a lot worse. I’ve since invested in a small prepaid phone to keep in my jumpsuit pocket. In the end, I stand by my choices, and acknowledge that there was a lot of luck that kept me from disaster that day. I regret that my coach got stuck in the mountains, but I’m grateful that he was willing to look out for me. I faced the two malfunctions I feared the most on one jump and managed to walk away with a swollen ankle and a wounded sense of pride. Will I still do CReW? Every chance I get! And I’d trust the riggers, CReW Dawgs, staff, and other jumpers at Elsinore any day.
  3. 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.
  4. BrianSGermain

    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
  5. 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.)
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Lodi, May 27 - The San Joaquin County Sheriff's office reports that an Oakland man died Saturday after jumping with a group of parachutists, possibly from a mid-air emergency that might have started on the ground. "It appears that the decedent suffered some sort of a medical emergency during the jump which incapacitated him, disallowing him to properly and safely complete the landing," said spokesman Joe Herrera of the San Joaquin Sheriff's Department. An autopsy will be needed to determine the cause of death. The man has been identified as 52-year-old Daniel Paul Skarry, of Oakland. He was discovered by occupants of a home after he landed in the back yard, crashing down with his parachute between some trees on the property. Other jumpers made no mention of noticing anything unusual at the start, according to subsequent interviews with deputies. "The parachutist had been jumping for at least 15 years. He was one of 22 jumpers who had left Lodi Airport to jump in formation. The initial jump went fine and the decedent joined a group held together at the wrist," said Herrera. According to one of the jumpers holding the man's wrist, Skarry's grip became weaker, then gave way. They had started from an altitude of 15,000 feet. The group watched helplessly as Skarry got below them and seemed not to move, except where pushed by the wind, Herrera said. When he reached the 1,000-foot level, the parachute's automatic activation device switched itself on. He fell to the ground amid trees in a residential yard, Herrera said. The occupants of the house called for help. Skarry was taken by helicopter to the hospital at UC Davis, but was pronounced dead at 11:48 a.m. after medics unsuccessfully performed CPR, Herrera said. The Federal Aviation Administration will be notified of the incident, and the coroner's report may be conducted in Sacramento County, Herrera said. Skarry may have already had hypertension and diabetes, Herrera said.
  9. admin

    American Woman Dies in Italian Alps

    ROME (AP) A 27-year-old woman from San Francisco died Sunday after her parachute failed to open fully during a jump in the Italian Alps, news reports said. Erin Aimee Engle plunged to her death on Mount Brento while base jumping, an extreme sport in which people jump from cliffs or other fixed objects using parachutes. Mount Brento is one of the sport's most popular and dangerous locations. Engle was the fourth skydiver to die on the mountain since May 2000. The last incident took place two months ago when a Belgian jumper's parachute did not completely open. Engle's boyfriend, whom authorities would not name, immediately jumped after her in an effort to revive her, the ANSA news agency said. She was pronounced dead at a hospital in Trent, the main city of the northern Italian region of Trentino.
  10. Michael "Schlefy" Schaefer was involved in a fatal BASE incident on Friday, December 29th due to an off-heading opening from a cliff in Arizona. Schlefy was a beloved staff member of Chicagoland Skydiving in Hinckley, IL. A memorial fund has been set up for Schlefy's young sister and the restof his family in Germany. The Schlefy Memorial Fund PO Box 758 Hinckley, IL 60520 Chicagoland Skydiving manifest@chicagolandskydiving.com www.skydive.com
  11. admin

    Skydiver hits power lines

    A QUEENSLAND skydiver has cheated death, sustaining only minor injuries when his parachute hit power lines. The experienced Townsville skydiver is expected to be released from hospital tomorrow after being treated for a chipped bone in his heel. Coral Sea Skydivers chief instructor Richard Pym said the skydiver misjudged the wind while attempting to parachute into Townsville's Bicentennial Park last night. The man missed the park, landing across the road near an industrial bin. Mr Pym said that during the landing the man's parachute hit power lines. The man is believed to be a Townsville builder who had completed 130 successful parachute jumps.
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    Canadian skydiver dies in Florida jump

    DELAND, Fla. (CP-AP) - An experienced Canadian skydiver died after making a tricky high-speed turn too close to the ground, crashing into the pavement at a popular Florida skydiving centre. Stephane Drapeau, 30, from Beloeil, Que., was making a routine jump until he made the high-speed turn at an extremely low altitude as he approached the landing area at Skydive DeLand near the municipal airport. Drapeau had about 4,700 jumps before Friday's accident. DeLand Police Lieut. John Bradley said Drapeau slammed into a strip of pavement at a high speed causing massive injuries. ''He was wearing a helmet, but at times they can go as fast as 80 mph (130 km/h) when they make that turn,'' Bradley told the Canadian Press. ''His chute deployed properly ... His canopy probably collapsed or when he made the turn he was so close he just impaled the ground.'' Though the case is being treated as an accident, it has been turned over to the Federal Aviation Administration, Bradley added. If performed correctly, the manoeuvre brings skydivers in at a high rate of speed but allows for a horizontal glide about one metre off the ground, usually resulting in a soft landing, said Skydive DeLand General Manager Mike Johnston. ''He misjudged his landing,'' he said, also noting that Drapeau appeared to have made the manoeuvre too close to the ground. A pair of paramedics joined a skydiving doctor in treating Drapeau at the scene. He was flown by helicopter to Halifax Medical Center in nearby Daytona Beach, where he later died, police said. Just an hour-and-a-half before the fatal fall, a 42-year-old sky diver from Holland suffered a broken ankle after making a hard landing at Skydive DeLand, the Daytona Beach News Journal reported Saturday. Johnston said Drapeau was a frequent visitor to the popular DeLand skydiving spot, making the trip from Canada almost every winter. Although he didn't teach there, he was accredited to do so and worked for a parachute centre in Quebec, the Journal reported. Drapeau became the second person to die at Skydive DeLand in four months. Chantal Bonitto, a 31-year-old New Yorker, died Dec. 27 when her parachute failed. In April 1999, Beatrice Vanderpol, a 55-year-old French woman, also fell to her death because her parachute failed. A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa said Canadian officials are looking into the accident. ''We're in contact with our consulate in Miami and we are trying to find out more,'' Patrick Riel said. Drapeau's family has been notified and are being offered consular assistance, he said.
  13. The family of a famous skydiving videographer blames a Las Vegas company and another skydiver for his death, the family's attorney said in opening statements Thursday in the jury trial of a lawsuit. In the suit against Michael Hawkes, his company -- Skydive Las Vegas -- and local teacher and skydiver Joseph Herbst, the parents and brother of Vic Pappadato claim that Hawkes has a long history of violating safety rules and on the afternoon of May 10, 1998, allowed a group to dive even though some of them had been partying the previous evening. The family's attorney said those mistakes led to Pappadato's death. The plaintiffs' attorney, Frank Sabaitis, told jurors that Vic Pappadato, 33, agreed to videotape the dive for a friend, who was celebrating a birthday. Pappadato had more than 5,000 jumps to his credit. The group was supposed to jump from the plane, form a circle and then move away from each other as Pappadato taped the event, Sabaitis said. At least one of the members lacked the skills necessary to move into the circle and struck Pappadato, the attorney said. Pappadato continued the taping, but when it came time for him to deploy his parachute at 4,000 feet he could not. When Pappadato was forced to deploy his chute seconds later to avoid hitting a skydiver below him who was opening his own chute, the lines of Pappadato's chute became entangled, Sabaitis said. Before he could straighten the lines or deploy his alternate parachute Pappadato was struck by Herbst, Sabaitis said. He then fell to his death. Sabaitis said that although two of the divers later said they either smelled alcohol or had attended a party the night before, the others joined ranks and blamed Pappadato for the tragedy. Pappadato's video of the jump will show the other jumpers were at fault, Sabaitis said. "He was a compulsive safety nerd," Sabaitis said. "He was obsessive, and yet the defense is that Vic Pappadato made all of the mistakes that day." Greg Miles, who represents Hawkes, said many of the Pappadatos' witnesses are disgruntled former employees of Hawkes', and that his client had no reason to suspect anyone was intoxicated that day, he said. Herbst's attorney, Imanuel Arin, said the evidence will clearly show Pappadato deviated from the plan during the jump. Herbst was below Pappadato when Pappadato struck him, and the "low man always has the right of way." Jurors this week also are scheduled to hear a countersuit filed by Herbst against Pappadato. ~ LAS VEGAS SUN
  14. BASE jumpers plan to congregate at Mineral Canyon near Moab in November to "celebrate the lives" of two colleagues who died July 18 when their single-engine airplane crashed while scouting jump sites near the head of the canyon. Clint Ford, 22, of Brush, Colo., and Earl Redfern, 43, of Moab, were killed instantly when the wing of Ford's Grumman AA-5 Traveler apparently clipped the edge of the canyon wall and the plane crashed into a rock talus slope and burned. The pair had left the Moab airport on the afternoon of July 18, when temperatures were recorded between 105 and 108 degrees, did not file a flight plan and triggered a five-day aerial search by the Civil Air Patrol, local pilots, the Utah Highway Patrol and Grand County Sheriff. The crash site was 15 miles southwest of the airport and two miles outside the northern boundary of Canyonlands National Park. Redfern was an internationally known BASE jumper who was the first to successfully jump off several pinnacles and cliffs in the Moab area. He also was an experienced commercial pilot who flew air taxi service regularly in the canyons, where summer heat and unpredictable wind currents create hazardous flying conditions. Clint Ford had recently obtained his pilot's license; authorities were unable to determine who was piloting the plane. News of the two men's deaths was posted on a popular BASE jumping Web site (www.baselogic.com) and was greeted with expressions of condolences from around the world. "Thanks to Earl for opening up many new sites in Moab for the sport of BASE jumping's future," wrote Susan Eddy. "He left a legacy for us to follow. Remember, be cautious always and have fun." Added another BASE jumper: "Let's take time to reflect on the good times we had with our fallen brothers. Fly high, Clint. On headings, Earl. We will miss you both." Enthusiasts plan to gather Nov. 4 in Mineral Canyon to honor the men with an impromptu celebration of BASE jumping. Since Mineral Canyon is located on BLM land, the activity is legal. In nearby Canyonlands National Park, BASE jumping is banned. "We don't have a lot of BASE jumping going on in the park simply because there's hundreds of miles of cliffs on BLM land that have roads on the top and roads on the bottom, which allows them to do several jumps in a short time," said Steve Swanke, Canyonlands district ranger in Moab. "The park does not have that kind of road access. So you find in season, there are thousands of BASE jumps happening on a weekly basis on the BLM lands here." © 2000 The Salt Lake Tribune
  15. For most of us that have been to the World Freefall Convention (WFFC) before, the excitement begins to build as soon as we drive up to the airport entrance and stop at registration. Just seeing canopies in the air is enough to get our adrenaline flowing and make us hurry to get in the sky so we can have as much fun as the people we see there already. But wait! For safety's sake we need to slow down and take some time to familiarize ourselves with the convention facilities. In particular, those of you who have never been to the World Freefall Convention at least need to take a look at a map of the airport and convention site so you know where to find the best places to park, camp, and land your parachute safely. There aren't many rules at the convention, but the ones we have are important, because they affect the safety and enjoyment of the convention by you and everyone else who attends. We skydivers are generally some of the most safety conscious people around, but the excitement and fast pace of a large skydiving event have the potential for making us forget or ignore the usual good judgment we use back at the home DZ. One of the most important safety rules that we ask you to follow is to not push yourself and exceed your skill or capabilities. This applies in several areas: Getting On A Load The World Freefall Convention has the widest variety of skydiving opportunities you may ever experience in a short period of time and at one location. You will have a chance to jump from many types of aircraft and be on many types and sizes of skydives that might not be available to you back at your home DZ. Load organizers will be available for all of the skydiving disciplines, as well as seminars, coaching, and formal instruction by well known skydivers in these areas. These people will do all they can to help you learn to skydive better and to help you get on skydives that are safe, fun, and challenging. Most people who come to the convention seem to be interested mainly in freefall formation skydiving. If you are one of these jumpers the best bet is to start off with a group no larger than you usually jump with, and keep it simple until you are comfortable jumping with people you don't know and with figuring out where you are going to land. Even some experienced jumpers who have been to several conventions in the past try to first find a small group of jumpers and "warm up", while at the same time refamiliar- izing themselves with the convention at a relaxed pace. If you usually jump with small groups it wouldn't hurt to break off a little high on some of the first few loads so you can get some practice tracking a good distance from others in case you want to get on larger loads. Just be sure to use that time tracking, and don't open higher than recommended. Once you have made a few jumps you may get the urge to try bigger formations, and a good way to start is by checking with the load organizers that are available at the convention. The organizers are there to help you get on a skydive quickly, and to plan safe and successful skydives for jumpers at all experience levels. If you have any questions about safety or what type of skydive might be appropriate for someone with your skydiving experience while at the convention, just ask one of the load organizers. They will be happy to help you even if you are not jumping on one of their loads, or if you already have a group with whom to skydive. Landing Landing areas at the convention are generally unrestricted and we would all like to keep them that way, but this depends on your good judgement and common sense. If you are experienced enough and are conservative, you can land right next to where you are parked or camped, but there are plenty of large open areas in which to land, and the short walk you will make back to your packing area in some situations might be well worth the additional safety. While under canopy you will need to constantly be checking for other jumpers that may not see you. Think ahead and plan your landing site and pattern while still high enough to avoid other canopies without requiring evasive maneuvers. Hook-turns (turns more than 90 degrees for landing) are allowed only on approach to the swoop pond (where they are expected) and must not be done anywhere else! As a reminder, there are some situations in which you will definitely want to land in a large open area: If you are jumping a demo canopy with unfamiliar flight characteristics. If you have any problems with your canopy and decide that it is safe to land anyway, for example, a broken steering line, an accidental step-though pack job, or a canopy connected backwards. If you have a reserve ride. Demo Gear Most of the major manufacturers of skydiving gear will be at the convention and they will have gear available for you to see and to test jump. However, these people probably do not know you, and do not know your experience level and abilities. If you exaggerate your experience or ability when deciding what gear to try out you are only putting yourself and others in danger. Canopies are the most likely piece of gear that you will have the opportunity to test jump and there will be a wide range of types and sizes available, some of them very high performance types. Be conservative, and take the manufacturer's advice on what canopy to try first. Most importantly, land in an open area that is away from other jumpers. A quick toggle turn required by suddenly finding another canopy in your path could be disastrous in an unfamiliar high-performance canopy. The harness/container systems provided by the manufacturers to test jump or to use when trying out a canopy are always very nice pieces of gear, and some of them even allow you the option of where to put the pilot chute. Still, they are not the same as jumping your own gear. Make sure the rig fits well and that the leg straps are tight and securely in place. Practicing your pull before the skydive is a good idea. In Conclusion The World Freefall Convention can provide us with some of the greatest opportunities and most fun skydiving times of our lives, but we must exercise a good deal of caution to keep it that way. Please be careful so we can all share in the fun for years to come.
  16. And What You Can Do To Fix It Image by Gary Wainwright I’m not a teacher. I’m forehead-slappingly, eyes-avertingly, hide-your-facingly terrible at it, actually. Luckily, I’m lucky enough to count as friends some of the best airsports teachers in the world. (Whew.) This article is a collection of short answers from several of these. They’re top-level coaches/instructors/examiners, and their experience spans in several disciplines. They’re also incredibly wise, beautiful souls. I went to them with this question, so important for all of us students on the edge of the world: If you could cure all your students of one thing they do that gets in their own way, what would it be? Here’s what they had to say. Listen up. “Rushing. I see a lot of students that are determined to pack too many things into one jump. Then they end up flailing; when they don't nail the first part, they're confused as to whether to go back and work on the first part or move on to the next part anyway. They lose a lot of time, and they get very frustrated. Pick one thing. Do it perfectly. Stop. Then move on to the next thing.” - Joel Strickland: Freefly & Tunnel Coach; Double British National Champion, Freefly & Freestyle “If I could cure all my students of one thing, it would be to erase the idea that everything about them is static and unchangeable. Once a student believes in their own self-efficacy -- believes in the idea that all that they are is changeable in a positive direction -- believes that everything from their physical reactions to their fears can be modified and updated -- anything is possible for them to learn. - Matt Blank: Wingsuit Skydiving Coach, Lightning Flight Wingsuit & Freefly School “I’d get them to stop watching YouTube. That creates pre-conceived notions of what they should be doing. Either that, or I’d encourage them not to freefly from jump 26 to jump 199 -- when they do, their belly skills suck dust when it comes to their FFC.” - Douglas Spotted Eagle, Wingsuit Skydiving Instructor “Often, they don’t respect the progression and embrace their inexperience. You must do both. It makes sense to one day aspire to wingsuit BASE jump from a cliff, but it can be difficult to focus your efforts where they are the most effective if you’re fast-forwarding years into your career. Your instructor, who you possibly selected because he or she wingsuit BASE jumps, wants you to focus more on finding the range of your beginner or intermediate wingsuit -- and recovering from instability in it -- before talking about how the wingsuit BASE start works. I find that many students seem to want faster returns for their efforts, and they seem to get frustrated with their own learning process. I can appreciate the way that we latch onto that dream of human flight, but i want to pass on an outlook where each individual skill is a whole and complete activity by itself that takes time and effort to master before being combined with other skills. So when you combine a set of skills (for example: rigging, canopy control, site selection, weather, bodyflight, wingsuiting and experience in the subterminal base environment), then you can make smart decisions. When you lack experience or skills in a certain area, you begin to lose the full picture.” - David Covel: Wingsuit Coach, BASE FJC Instructor, AFF Instructor, TI “I would cure them of self-doubt. It takes courage and confidence to challenge yourself to change your behavior and improve your skill in any area of your life. It's amplified when applied to an extreme sport. A lack of belief in your own potential can manifest itself in many ways: fear, nervousness, indifference even laziness. Understanding that you have the control and ability to consciously change your own actions is a very empowering fact that can unlock all levels of improvement. You have to commit to change.” -Maxine Tate: Canopy Piloting Instructor, Flight-1; US & UK National Champion; Coach Examiner; AFFI/Evaluator “I would cure this one thing that gets in students’ way: hubris. Assume you know nothing about the sport you are learning. No one assumes that they know everything about the sport they are learning, but the worst students just aren't really listening when the instructor is talking. In general, girls are better at listening than the boys. I think with the boys, especially with really good skydivers, there is a certain amount of ego that prevents accepting that there are things in BASE that they know nothing about. Think about this: almost EVERY BASE course that my partner Marta [Empinotti] and I teach, we learn something. This is because we know we don't know everything, so we keep our eyes and ears open, hoping to learn something new that we can analyze, assimilate and share with others in our beloved sport.” - Jimmy Pouchert: Co-Founder & Chief Instructor, APEX BASE; Freefly Coach “Over-amping. The ability to breathe even (especially) when scared, and to get into a focused zone before a jump, makes the biggest difference between a skydive that feels rushed and out of control and one in which a lot of learning and growth takes place. Even very experienced skydivers often feel nervous before their first wingsuit jump or when trying something new. The key is to trust that your ground preparation will serve you in the air, and to focus on one thing at a time starting with deep breaths, releasing tension, and visualizing the perfect exit.” - Taya Weiss, Owner/Head Instructor at Lightning Flight "We all have a tendency to look at the negative first, so I would remind all my students to start by pointing out three positive aspects about their previous skydive and then focus on one or two -- maximum, two -- areas of improvement. Positive reinforcement, combined with constructive criticism, goes a long way towards improving performance and attitude." - Lawrence de Laubadere: Freefly Coordinator, Lightning Flight Wingsuit & Freefly School “If I could cure all my students of one thing, it'd be expectation. As I tell them all, “If it's not fun, it's not worth it!” Learning to fly is not unlike so many other things in life: sex, making friends, etc. The harder you try, the harder it is. When I try to teach someone something in the tunnel, they often feel (natural) disappointment if they can't do it how they see others doing it. But it's not my goal to get you doing perfect layouts from the start. I'm looking for the components from my students: staying relaxed, looking where they should be, keeping the legs straight, etc. All I need them to do is smile, have fun, and keep making those baby steps. No expectations, no disappointment. In the end, I think attitude is one of the trickiest skills in progression.” -Dave Rhea: Instructor, Bodyflight Stockholm
  17. admin

    Jan Davis dies at Lodi, California

    Popular and well known skydiver Jan Davis died at Lodi in California on Saturday March 31, 2001. Jan was filming a tandem when the accident happened. The tandem master saw her with a spinning malfunction and subsequent cutaway. He reported a 'pilot chute in tow' to impact. Early reports indicate that the reserve bridal had snagged under her front mounted still camera. She apparently worked on the problem all the way in. She had pulled all her handles. The freebag was out. Some reserve lines snagged the ring sight, and the freebag locking stows were still stowed. No further information available at this time. Note: Another skydiver also called Jan Davis died last year doing a BASE jump in Yosemite National Park. Source: rec.skydiving
  18. admin

    Marijuana in skydiver's system

    A skydiving instructor who died in July while attempting to land on a pond at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa was seriously impaired by smoking marijuana within two hours of his death, according to a toxicology report released Wednesday. The report was made public an at inquest conducted by LaSalle County Coroner Jody Bernard into the death of Ronald Passmore Jr., 33, who died July 14 when he slammed chest first into the pond at the jump zone and died of a severed aorta. A coroner's jury declared the death accidental. Passmore's death was the sixth in a year at Skydive Chicago, a fatality rate eight times higher than the national average. He was the second instructor to die there this year and the second fatality since July 2001 in which drugs were found in the victim's system. The toxicology report, prepared by St. Louis University Hospital laboratory officials, showed Passmore's blood had a cannabis level about double that at which a person is considered impaired, according to laboratory director Dr. Christopher Long. "This (level in Passmore's blood) demonstrates relatively acute smoking within the last couple of hours before his death," said Long. This is serious impairment due to marijuana--cannabis--that would affect everything you could possibly use to skydive, particularly reaction time and depth perception." Efforts to reach Roger Nelson, operator of the Skydive Chicago, and Chris Needels, head of the U.S. Parachute Association, were unsuccessful. Needels was present at the jump zone for a USPA board of directors meeting on the day that Passmore and two other skydivers jumped from a plane with high-performance parachutes to perform a landing known as "pond swooping." The landing is a difficult maneuver in which a skydiver skims across the water, much like a water-skier, and then walks ashore. On that day, word had been passed that the three planned to swoop the tiny swimming pond at the dive zone and a small crowd had gathered. According to one observer, the first skydiver managed the maneuver successfully, but the second stalled into the water. Passmore was the final diver and as he came in, he made a sharp hook turn and pancaked onto the water, severing his aorta and causing numerous other internal injuries, according to the autopsy report. After Passmore's death, Nelson said he banned pond swooping at the jump zone. Passmore, a veteran of more than 1,300 jumps, had been living at the campground that is part of the Skydive Chicago compound and was working as an instructor for Nelson. Instructors are paid a fee, usually about $25, to accompany students who are taking up the sport. Skydive Chicago is one of the busiest drop zones in the Midwest with about 75,000 jumps a year. On May 18, John Faulkner, 28, also an instructor at the jump zone who was living at the campground, collided in the air with another jumper, rendering him unconscious. His backup chute failed despite being equipped with a device to open it automatically. No drugs or alcohol were detected in his system. On Oct. 18, 2001, Bruce Greig, of Jacksonville, Ill., died when his chute became entangled and he went into a spin. His emergency chute deployed too close to the ground and he died of chest injuries. A toxicology report was positive for cocaine, marijuana and Ecstasy.
  19. A British Army sergeant was killed during a parachuting accident today, the Ministry of Defence said. Sgt Stefan Robert, 30, a member of the 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, was killed while jumping from an RAF Hercules at 3,000ft over Weston-on-the-Green, Oxfordshire. He was married man with a young daughter and based at Didcot, Oxfordshire, the MoD confirmed tonight. An investigation is under way and a board of inquiry is to be set up by the Army. An MoD spokesman said that the accident was caused by a parachute malfunction, but could not elaborate further on the cause of the tragedy. The jump was part of a military training exercise. His commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Steve Cooper, said: "Sergeant Robert was highly respected and throughout his career has displayed much promise. It is a tremendous shock that his young and valuable life has been taken so prematurely. He will be greatly missed by all of his regiment, his friends, but most importantly his family." Sgt Robert joined the Army in 1990 and had been a member of the bomb disposal team for the past three years. He had recently completed a tour of Kosovo. Paramedics called to the scene of the accident attempted to treat the soldier, but he is believed to have died at the scene.
  20. Before discussing static and dynamic stalls we should first review some terms involving stability. Static stability refers to how something behaves in a steady state. A parachutist suspended under a normally functioning canopy would usually be said to have positive static stability. That is to say that when not changing the position of the toggles or risers, things like airspeed and heading will not change very much from one moment to the next. Dynamic stability refers to what happens after something has been disturbed from its static state. Once a parachutist changes the position of the toggles or risers, dynamic stability comes into play as the body swings under the canopy. A static stall refers to what airplane pilots would call a slow deceleration, approach to landing or simply a normal stall. Basically, at an altitude from which it will be safe to recover from the stall, slowly increase the angle of attack and let airspeed bleed off. Keep increasing the angle of attack, gently, until the stall happens. Under a parachute, this is fairly simple. Slowly pull the toggles down and wait. Do not pull down the toggle so quickly that you swing forward from your normal position under canopy. Hold the toggles all the way down and wait. You should notice the sound of the airspeed decreasing, perhaps a slight rocking in the saddle and then perhaps a noticeable increase in descent rate. This is a basic stall. For all intents and purposes it is the most genteel stall your canopy will demonstrate. Recover from the stall by decreasing the angle of attack -- let the toggles up and resume flight. The dynamic stall is different because of the suspended weight swinging under the canopy. Again at an altitude from which it will be safe to recover, begin the maneuver from full flight -- toggles all the way up. This time instead of slowly pulling the toggles down, pull them down as quickly and as far as you can and hold them there. A few different things are happening this time around. Because your airspeed initially hasn't changed all that much, but you've increased the angle of attack dramatically, the wing is now creating a lot more lift. A function of creating lift however is also the creation of drag. Your canopy as a result will not only go up but also slow down. Your body on the other hand is following Newton's first law of motion and will continue at its current speed and direction. Unfortunately this also asymmetrically loads the front and rear risers, which continues to further increase the wing's angle of attack. It's a vicious little circle there for a moment or two as increasing the angle of attack slows the canopy more and more. As your body swings farther and farther forward, rapidly, the wing exceeds the critical angle of attack and it stalls. Your body may have been thrown quite a bit forward of the leading edge of the wing and even slightly upwards of your normal place under the canopy. As a result, your body may feel a much more definite falling or even backward motion than it did during the static stall. Stalls can happen at any airspeed and at any attitude. All that is required is for the wing to exceed the critical angle of attack. Up to this point in this discussion, we've been looking at stalls in a fairly normal manner. If you didn't know better you may have thought that the stall had something to do with the speed of the wing or its attitude in relationship with the horizon. That's normal. Many people make this mistake. After all, we've demonstrated the stalls from a slow deceleration and with a fairly normal relationship to the horizon, earth and sky. That's about where most discussions on the subject begin and end. So, some people might make the mistake of thinking that a stall can only happen if you're flying too slow or if the leading edge of the wing is pointed toward the sky. Unfortunately, this is just dead wrong. To make matters worse, some maneuvers that you may perform, turns for example, create G force. Basically, your body wants to continue in a straight line but is getting pulled in another direction by lift. As the bank angle increases, so does the G force. In an airplane, maintaining altitude during a turn, the G force increases at a rate equal to one divided by the cosine of the bank angle. So, at a bank angle of 60 degrees the G force will be 2. You might not get exactly 2 Gs under a parachute turning with a 60 degree bank though since generally you're not maintaining the altitude and the equation becomes quite a bit more complicated taking into account your descent rate, but in most cases it will definitely be greater than 1. So what does this have to do with stalls? As the G force increases so does the amount of lift required to offset it. With the same angle of attack, the airspeed at which the stall occurs will be increased by the square root of the G force. Airplane pilots would call this an accelerated stall. Let's say you're pulling a sustained 2 Gs pulling out of a steep swoop, your canopy will have an accelerated stall at 1.414 times its static stall speed. The really insidious part of this is when a person is snapping the toggles down to pull out of a too steep and too low swoop, the dynamic stall comes into play. The body continues in a straight line, increasing the angle of attack and aggravating the stall with really bad results. It's my opinion that this could be the primary factor in some botched hook turn landings. Paul Quade is a Certified Flight Instructor and the camera flyer for the Open Class 4-way team, Perris Lightwave.
  21. admin

    The "D" Point by Brian S. Germain

    Although there are many ways to improve one’s accuracy in parachuting, I have found no better way than flying a consistent pattern. By connecting a series of invisible points in the sky, “Altitude-Location-Checkpoints” as I call them, we can create a consistent flight path that makes us more predictable in the air, as well as significantly increasing our chances of landing on target. The typical pattern, made up of three distinct turn points, I will now argue is not quite enough to get to the target with the consistency we are looking for. The standard flight pattern for a ram air parachute involves a downwind leg, a cross wind leg, and an into-the wind leg, also know as the final approach. This pattern is defined by three distinct turn points, “A” (Base to Final), “B” (Downwind to Base), and “C” (pattern entry point). It is true that if we are prepared to modify our approach in light of new information along the way, we can hit the target. But wouldn’t it be nice to get there without needing to modify our flight path, to just sail along and turn when the altitude is right? That is exactly what the inclusion of a fourth turn point does. The trouble with the standard pattern is that there is a good deal of guesswork when it comes to the length of the Base leg. Depending on the glide ratio of the parachute, the location of the turn to Base leg will vary widely. The better the relative glide ratio, the farther the turn to Base needs to be from the target. Our ability to adapt to this changing environment is spotty at best, and often requires substantial correction along the way. This creates traffic conflicts, as well as varying airspeed and decent rate, making life far more difficult for us, and for the canopies behind us. In most cases, the length of the Base Leg needs to be longer than we think. This becomes an even more important issue for swoopers setting themselves up for a high speed approach. If the length of the Base Leg is incorrect, the pilot is forced to either float in the brakes or “S-Turn” prior to the initiation of the dive. This has consequences to the approach, even if they manage to reach the Initiation Point at the correct altitude. If they are flying significantly faster than usual when they arrive at the initiation point, they may lose much less altitude in the turn due to the increased front riser pressure upon initiation. If they are flying significantly slower than usual, they may lose a much greater amount of altitude in the turn, and find themselves hooking into the ground. It is my experience that, aside from the altitude of the Initiation, the selection of the “B” point is the most important aspect of a high speed approach. If we simply add another checkpoint prior to the entry into the Downwind Leg, we can take the guessing out of the process. Assuming that the turn points are equidistant in altitude (300, 600 and 900 feet), we can simply add another unit above the original pattern entry to create a fourth, or “D” point, precisely on the wind-line, upwind of the target. What this does is, it creates a Pre-Base Leg, which shows us exactly how long the Base Leg needs to be. In other words, if the altitude between the points is 300 feet, the “D” point is at 1200 feet. The beauty of the data that this “D” point brings us is, we discover the exact length of the base leg without choosing the precise location of the “B” point prior to exit. This means that we can fly this pattern at a new drop zone, or when we are landing off, and learn where the altitude-location-checkpoints are for that specific landing area. It doesn’t help us with the “depth” of the pattern points, but it puts us in the ballpark, assuming that we have a rough idea of our canopy’s glide ratio. When the winds pick up, this method still works perfectly well. The crab angle on the Pre-Base Leg is equivalent to the angle of crab on the Base Leg. Note that the horizontal distance of the offset from the target on the downwind leg on a windy day is exactly the same as it would be on a no wind day (A to B = Anw to Bnw). This is only true if we do not compensate for the side-slip of our ground track due to the crosswind legs. However, even when we do choose to compensate for diagonal crabbing on the base leg and create a “Holding Crab”, if we create the same crab angle on the Pre-Base Leg, we end up on the perfect final approach despite the complex situation. This is easily accomplished by simply making our goal to fly a box pattern on the ground, flying our Pre-Base and Base Legs perpendicular to the wind-line. Also note that the length of the base leg is longer on the No Wind condition than it is on a windy day on which we perform a Holding Crab on the crosswind legs. This is due to the reduced groundspeed when in a Holding Crab, and the diminished glide ratio that comes as a result of it. If you aren’t pointed where you are going, you will not move there quite as quickly. This method assumes something that many canopy pilots do not have: a trustworthy altimeter. A standard dial-type, analog altimeter is not sufficient to give us the kind of accuracy we are looking for. Even the digital dial-type is not usually graded in such a way that we can distinguish units of one hundred feet or less. These are freefall altimeters. For the precise data required by today’s canopy pilots, we need digital altimeters with digital read-outs. Even better, many of us have found, is the heads-up advantage of an audible altimeter designed for canopy flight such as the Optima and Neptune. If you have an audible alert telling you where you are, it is far easier to keep your eyes looking outside the cockpit and on the action that may require your instantaneous reactions. All that being said, your eyes have ultimate veto power. If things do not look right, your instruments must be ignored. Too many skydivers have hit the ground due to complete faith in their instruments that let them down due to mechanical problems, battery issues or some unconsidered technical malfunction. Assuming that you use this accuracy technique the way it was intended, and you notice what is happening as it is happening, you can take a huge step forward in consistently hitting your target runway. It will take a while to dial-in your approach so that you actually hit the target, but the target is always a secondary goal to hitting the centerline of the runway and turning to final at a reasonable altitude. If you plan your pattern well, using four distinct points along the way, you can change what you are capable of handling as a canopy pilot. Not only will you feel better about yourself, you will increase the likelihood that you will live a long, healthy life. That, of course, is the mark of a great skydiver. In addition to being a highly experienced skydiver with over 14,000 jumps, Brian Germain is the author of several books including The Parachute and Its Pilot, Transcending Fear, Vertical Journey, and Green Light. He is currently designing canopies for Aerodyne Research, and offers canopy flight courses worldwide. For more about Brian’s Books, Seminars and Parachutes, visit his websites: www.BigAirSportz.com and www.TranscendingFear.com
  22. admin

    Saved By The Beep

    Most of us agree that canopy control is the most important, and most difficult aspect of skydiving instruction. Within this broad objective is the ability to fly a safe and consistent landing pattern. This is crucial for everyone, from the highest level of experience down to the beginner. The clear necessity for improvement in this area has been demonstrated time and again with the unacceptable frequency of canopy collisions and low turn accidents that have plagued our sport for far too long. General aviation has implemented many new technologies to assist pilots in navigation. These tools have enhanced aviation safety, and such devices are not considered crutches, but a necessary part of safe flying. Similar advances are now commercially available for skydivers as well, but many do not include these instruments in their safety toolkit; least of all for primary instruction methodologies. It is time for this to change. Altitude awareness is not something that ends once the canopy opens. Knowing precisely how high we are throughout the approach and landing is vital for consistency, and many of the traditional analogue devices are unable to provide truly trustworthy data. The digital altimeters that are now widely available are accurate within ten feet or so, but they have one tragic flaw: the pilot must look away from the ground, and away from the traffic, in order to access the information. Having water available does not guarantee that the thirsty will drink, and as altitude diminishes and stress level increases, visual altimeters are used less and less. As many high performance pilots have come to realize, audible altimeters are an incredibly powerful aid for heads-up access to the information that saves their lives. The time has come to utilize these tools for students and intermediate skydivers as well. A pattern is a simply a series of invisible points in space, what some have come to refer to as "altitude-location check-points". With three or four ALC's, a canopy pilot can follow a preplanned path through space to a predictable landing point. When these ALC's are programmed into an audible device such as the Optima, with its impressive tolerance of + or - only ten feet, the distracting glances at a visual altimeter become mostly unnecessary. More importantly, I have found that my canopy piloting students who use such audible cues are more aware of their surroundings, and are far less likely to run into other canopies on the way to the target. Even more importantly, by having their eyes focused "outside the cockpit" so to speak, the canopy pilot learns exactly what the ground looks like at the various altitudes. Therefore, I have discovered, if there is an instrument failure in the future, they have "calibrated their eyeballs", and are aware when they are too low to execute a hard, descending turn. Many instructors have grown accustomed to preaching the party line that relying on instruments for canopy flight is inadvisable. Although there is some merit to training our eyes to recognize key altitudes, simply trusting our inborn instincts is not an effective way to accomplish this goal. When a “flat-line” beep goes off in your helmet that marks 300 feet AGL, and you happen to be looking at the ground at the time, you immediately become a better canopy pilot. Furthermore, when you are focused on your surroundings, rather than a dial on your wrist, you are more likely to make the necessary course corrections that lead to the target. The primary reason for missing the target is, and always will be, failure to maneuver when a course correction is necessary. When you always know how high you are, and are observing your location in relation the target, you are far more likely to make the change that puts you in the peas. The safety concerns regarding the use of audible devices for flying a pattern can be addressed with a few simple rules. The first rule is, if you don’t get the first beep, assume that the instrument has run out of battery life, or is improperly programmed. When the initial pattern beep comes, verify that this is in fact the altitude that you expected it to be by looking at your visual altimeter. If it is not, or you hear nothing at all, use your visual altimeter for the remainder of the jump, and sort it out on the ground. Above all else, your eyes are your default, and you can veto what the audible is telling you, or not telling you. If it doesn’t look right, put your parachute over your head and prepare to flare for landing. There have been many technological leaps that have changed the sport forever, and audible information for canopy flight is proving to be one of the most profound. By knowing exactly how high we are at all times, we can act appropriately. We can relax more as we fly our approach, and enjoy the simplicity and joy of landing our parachutes without worry. Above all else, the reduction of the stress within each canopy pilot, both student and expert, has proven itself to allow for the full expression of skill that training has made possible. When we embrace such advances, we can more easily expand into the pilots we were meant to become. BSG Brian Germain is a parachute designer and test pilot, and runs canopy flight skills and safety courses all over the world. Brian has made over 14,000 jumps in his 25 years in the sport. He is also the host of the “Safety First” segment on SkydiveRadio.com, and the creator of many educational You Tube videos. Brian is the author of the widely popular canopy flight text The Parachute and its Pilot, as well as Transcending Fear, Greenlight Your Life, and Vertical Journey. His upcoming book entitled “Vibe Matters, emotion is everything” will be coming out later this year, along with the long awaited educational packing video “No Sweat”. His websites are www.BIGAIRSportZ.com and www.Transcendingfear.com and his YouTube channel is: www.youtube.com/bsgermain
  23. The British skydiver Clare Barnes died when her parachute failed because it was not packed properly, an interim report into the accident claimed today. The Australian Parachute Federation (APF), which has been investigating the incident, blamed poor gear maintenance and incorrect packing of the parachutes for the 24-year-old’s death. Miss Barnes, the daughter of newsreader Carol Barnes and Foreign Office minister Denis MacShane, was killed when attempting her 200th jump with her boyfriend and seven other members of a skydiving club near Melbourne on Sunday. Graeme Windsor, the APF’s national safety and operations manager, said the chain of events that led to her death started with the incorrect packing of the pilot chute, which is used to drag the main parachute from its pack. He told PA News: "Because the pilot chute was not packed properly it did not produce enough drag." The report said: "When Clare activated her main parachute release at the correct altitude, she experienced a high-speed malfunction. It appears that Clare then followed correct emergency procedures by pulling the main parachute release system, followed by the reserve ripcord. Unfortunately, the main parachute did not release as it should have, and the reserve parachute became entangled with it, preventing either parachute from opening correctly." Miss Barnes had taken part in a nine-way formation with the other jumpers but after she broke off, her parachutes failed and she fell. The report went on to list several technical factors which contributed to her death in Barwon Heads, north west of Melbourne. "The pilot chute that drags the main parachute from its pack had not been packed correctly, and was unable to develop fully," it said. The federation also blamed the failure on the fact that parts of the kit Miss Barnes was using was not compatible with the rest of her equipment. "The main parachute could not escape from its deployment bag because some suspension line stowage bands were too large to allow the bag to open under the reduced pilot chute drag conditions," the report said. Mr Windsor explained: "One of the rubber bands was too big so the bag would not open and let the parachute out." The report said the main parachute release mechanism did not work because it contained "non-standard fittings". Mr Windsor said the release mechanism "was not the standard one for the harness she had on". He said the major factors in the tragedy were "poor gear maintenance and packing". Miss Barnes was an experienced skydiver and a licensed parachute packer. "There is no indication at this stage that she did not pack the gear herself," Mr Windsor said. The APF said all factors contributing to the accident had been illustrated in the past. "The combination of all these factors at the one time has led to a tragic loss of one of our experienced members," the organisation said. Renewed advice stressing sound maintenance of equipment will be given out as a result of the accident, the APF said. A final report will wait for the findings of the coroner’s inquest. Yesterday, Miss Barnes’s parents arrived in Australia to make preparations for the funeral, which was expected to take place in Melbourne on Friday morning local time. Fatality Database Entry Forum Discussion Times online
  24. Reporting a skydiving (or any other technical sport) accident isn't an easy job, but making the effort to do it thoroughly can give your readers a better product that tops competing publications in this area. Why is improving coverage of this relatively rare event important? The reason is because turning out boilerplate or inaccurate coverage of these incidents angers many skydivers, who might then become ex-readers, and gives the non-jumping segment of your audience nothing special to take away from the story and thus doesn't reinforce your publication's brand. Accuracy, Not Generalities Before you think I'm suggesting that you write a full investigative report of any sport accident, let me say that I don't suggest any additional words in your reports. What I am suggesting is making those words count, with more solid information. Often the sentences that appear in skydiving accident coverage are misleading as to the true nature of the accident. For example, the explanation of "The parachute failed to open" that is so often used in such reports is not a simplification for an audience uneducated about skydiving; it's just plain wrong nearly all the time. It's comparable to saying of a single-vehicle accident, "The car failed to stay on the road," implying that the car is at fault rather than the driver. Such a statement implies that the skydiver did everything in his power, correctly, and still his/her equipment failed to function. However, this is exceedingly rare-occurring far less often than once per year. What is far more common is that a skydiver makes a mistake landing a perfectly good canopy (39% of the 35 U.S. skydiving deaths in 2002, the most common cause of death), collides with another skydiver in freefall or under his parachute (21% of the 2002 deaths), or fails to respond correctly to a survivable equipment malfunction (12% of the 2002 deaths). (Note: skydivers do carry reserve, or backup, parachutes; a malfunction of the main parachute does not automatically kill the skydiver.) We all like to think that we'll make all the right decisions when the chips are down, but the unfortunate truth is that nearly all skydiving deaths are caused by "pilot error"-a mistake on the part of the skydiver. This doesn't mean that we have to crucify this person who made the mistake, but we shouldn't imply that the equipment was at fault when it wasn't necessarily the main factor in the accident. Getting the Scoop Reporting the specific cause of sport accidents gives more "meat" to your story, which both your skydiving and non-skydiving readers will appreciate. But how do you know what to write when you're not a skydiver and don't understand the topic you're supposed to report? Work with the experts-foremost of whom is that drop zone's safety and training adviser (S&TA). The S&TA is an individual appointed at almost every drop zone in the U.S., and abroad, by each Regional Director of the United States Parachute Association (USPA), regardless of whether or not the drop zone is a Group Member of USPA. This individual is tasked with many different safety and administrative-related duties at their appointed drop zone, one of which is investigating skydiving accidents and fatalities. Investigating incidents is one of the less enjoyable responsibilities of an S&TA. Other interview possibilities include the coroner (if the skydiver involved is deceased) and the rigger (person licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration to pack reserve parachutes, and usually knowledgeable about skydiving gear malfunctions) who inspected the gear--if applicable and if the S&TA directs you to talk to this person. A third possibility is the drop zone owner/manager if an S&TA is not available. The USPA is a good source of general skydiving information, but is not a good source of information on specific incidents. The local sheriff or a representative often becomes a media liaison by default, but unless this person is a skydiver working closely with the drop zone's S&TA, then working only with this person is not good. A sheriff with no skydiving experience is no better information source on a skydiving incident than a reporter with no skydiving experience, and will often garble information he or she is given simply through unfamiliarity with the topic. Ask the previously listed skydiving professionals to explain to you, in layman's terms, the cause of the accident so that you can accurately report it. They may not yet have all the answers, especially if certain equipment malfunctions are suspected, but if you are polite and interested rather than forceful about getting the story before an early deadline you will get a lot more cooperation. A good working relationship with the drop zone in question is ideal, because not only will this help you on this story, but you will also get a much better story for other drop zone events such as charity fundraisers (skydiving is interesting to your non-skydiving readers, and can sell publications when good events happen as well as accidents). Introducing more specifics to your report will be good for your readers, but more information requires more fact-checking. If possible, send a copy of the article to your source at the drop zone before publication. The source will likely jump (pardon the pun) at the chance to review the coverage for accuracy. Don't Make These Mistakes Skydivers do not skydive because of a death wish. If that were the case, they'd only make one jump apiece. They most definitely are thrill seekers, but they are dedicated to skydiving safely, even while pushing the envelope, so they can continue to skydive. Portraying skydivers and skydiving as irresponsible, imminently dangerous, or suicidal is an inaccurate disservice. It is also inaccurate to imply that drop zone management is to blame for most skydiving deaths, because it is every skydivers' choice to exit the aircraft; once they have done so, the only person who can keep one safe is himself/herself. For the most part, blaming a drop zone for an experienced skydiver's death (nearly always skydiver error, as previously stated) is similar to blaming the highway system for a motorist's death. The system simply provides the place for the motorist to drive; the drop zone merely provides an aircraft and landing area for the skydiver to jump and land. What a skydiver does with those resources is his or her responsibility alone. Also, keep in mind that stating or implying that a drop zone is to blame for an incident could lead to a libel suit if there is no evidence to back up the accusation. While the following isn't technically a mistake, it is the author's firm belief that in most cases, the practice of including a roll call of any deaths that have previously occurred at a drop zone (or any other sports facility) with an accident article serves no good purpose. If all of these deaths were attributable to the management or equipment provided by the drop zone, then there is something going on that should be exposed. Without proof of such culpability, however, listing previous deaths generally just angers skydivers and creates the mistaken assumption by non-skydiving readers that there is something going on that should be stopped. Again, keep libel laws in mind. Jump Plane Accidents Thankfully even less common than skydiving fatalities, jump plane accidents present a different reporting challenge mainly because aviation accident investigation falls under the authority of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The local skydivers might or might not have an aviation and accident investigation background, and might or might not know the cause of the accident; they are not the people you should interview about aircraft incidents. Just because the accident involved a jump plane doesn't make it a skydiving accident. The pilot would be a good source if he survived, but NTSB is the final authority on aircraft accidents, and their reports tend to take some time to come out. They do send public affairs officers to the scene of aircraft accidents; these people are the ones you should talk to in this instance. Resources for journalists regarding aviation accidents can be found on their web site at www.ntsb.gov/events/journalist/default.htm. The end goal of this article is more informative, balanced, tasteful reporting of skydiving and other sport incidents in order to better serve readers and thereby the commercial publications they purchase. Thanks to Randy Connell, S&TA, S/L Instructor, AFF Instructor; Chris Schindler, ATP, CFII; and Jim Crouch, AFF/I, USPA Director of Safety and Training, for their contributions to this article. Resources: www.uspa.org www.ntsb.gov Christy West is a journalist and gold/silver skydiving medalist with over 1,800 jumps.
  25. A SKYDIVER who plummeted 13,000ft to earth with his bride after their main parachute failed to open spoke yesterday about the accident. Kevin McIlwee, 47, said from his hospital bed in France: "I didn't have time to think whether we were going to get through it or not." He said, however, that as he fought to control the descent over the town of Vannes in Brittany, he confided to his wife of six weeks, Beverley, 44, who was strapped in front of him: "We might not make it." Watching colleagues did not expect them to survive, but the couple, who had regularly skydived in tandem, crash-landed on grass, escaping with severe leg injuries. Mr McIlwee, a maths teacher from De la Salle College, Jersey, said that their main parachute failed to open at the regulation 5,000ft when they made their jump on Sunday. He said: "I found I just couldn't jettison the chute. I tried to engage the reserve chute but the two couldn't fly side by side." Mr McIlwee, a skydiving instructor who has made more than 4,000 jumps, said: "The parachutes were continually tangling and I was doing my best to control them. I have no idea at what speed we hit the ground. We were very lucky. We could have been a lot worse." Mr McIlwee suffered a badly broken leg and his wife, the manager of the Seabird Hotel chain in Jersey, suffered broken bones in both feet, and a broken knee and shin bone. The couple are expected to travel home to Jersey by air ambulance in about a week. Mrs McIlwee, who has enjoyed skydiving for about five years, told her father, Dennis Murtaugh, by telephone that she intended to give up the sport. She has had metal plates inserted in her legs and will be in a wheelchair for many weeks. Mr Murtaugh, 67, a theatre critic from Burnley, said: "She said she felt so lucky to be alive. She's usually such a bubbly person, but was understandably talking in a weak tone. She was very shook up, and was only just starting to realise that what had happened could have cost her life." "She said she was looking out of the window from her hospital bed enjoying seeing the daylight and the birds outside." Mr Murtaugh added: "Kevin is a hell of a fellow, and he knows what he is doing. I put it down to his experience as a skydiving expert that they are here today at all. It's a God-given miracle that they are both alive."