P A R A C H U T I N G ' S N E W S M A G A Z I N E

Ask the Editor

Contents of Batch 10:

Using a Time-Out Altimeter Correctly
Can a 90-lb. Person Skydive?
Can a 300-lb. Person Skydive?
Where Are SCR/SCS Archives?
How Much Does the Sport Cost?
Wants to Buy a Wind Tunnel
Canopy Speeds
Newbie Looking for Comfort
Skydiving and Diabetes, Asthma
Taking Rigs on Airliners
Where Can I Make Military-Type Jumps?
The Origins of Tandem Jumping
Why Not 3 Parachutes?
AFF Helps Students with Problems

The following questions were submitted by visitors to our Web site and answered by the editor of Skydiving magazine. .

To ask a question of your own, click here.


Using a Time-Out Altimeter Correctly

Q. I've heard that unless a Time-Out! altimeter is mounted with the logo up in relation to the relative wind, it won't function accurately. Is this true?

A. We checked with the manufacturer. "A Time-Out! will work no matter how it's mounted or in what position the jumper is in--even upside down or spinning out of control," reported spokesman Colin Bridges of Cool 'n Groovy.

Both visual and audible barometric altimeters are somewhat affected by mounting position because air pressure isn't the same over the surface of a falling object. But variations of a few hundred feet aren't really significant for a jumper who's falling at 170 feet per second.


Can a 90-lb. Person Skydive?

Q. I weigh only 90 lbs. Can I become a skydiver?

A. There are plenty of active jumpers who weigh less than 100 lbs. Canopies and rigs are available in a wide range of sizes, so getting equipment that gives you the fit and performance you need shouldn't be much of a problem.
It could be a problem during your training, however, as your DZ might not have a harness that is small enough for you. (A few years ago a small woman was killed when she fell out of her student harness; some investigators said it was too big for her.)


Can a 300-lb. Person Skydive?

Q. We have a prospective student who weighs about 300 lbs. and is 6 feet 6 inches tall. Our student gear is too small for him. Do you know of anyone who has gear for such a person?

A. Several DZs have reconfigured tandem rigs for use by solo students. The Relative Workshop has information on using its Tandem Vector that way. Contact T.K. Donle at (904) 736-7589.


Where Are SCR/SCS Archives?

Q. Is there an archive of SCR/SCS jumps available, either on line or elsewhere?

A. Bill Newell administers the Bob Buquor Memorial Star Crest program, and he has accurate records that go back to Day 1. Contact him at 3418 Mona Way, Bakersfield, CA 93309.


How Much Does the Sport Cost?

Q. What does it cost to learn to jump? How much is equipment?

A. Skydiving's Kim Griffin telephoned seven big and small DZs across the U.S. and pulled together these average figures:

Training by the AFF method (first jump through graduation and including three repeat dives): $1,500.

New "top shelf" gear with a state-of-the-art rig, main, reserve, AAD, altimeter, jumpsuit, helmet, goggles (an average from various manufacturers): $4,900.

The budget-minded can get all-new equipment for $3,500 if he or she opts for less expensive components (Dolphin rig, PD 9-cell main, Tempo reserve, Astra AAD, Sapphire altimeter, Flite Suit, Protec helmet and goggles).

After studying our classified ads, Kim calculated that a set of used gear (main, reserve, rig and AAD) costs on the average $2,700.

Average cost to rent student gear: $20 per jump.

Then there's the cost of several obligatory cases of beer, placating a seldom-seen spouse, etc.


Wants to Buy a Wind Tunnel

Q. I'm the deputy director of the National Museum of Naval Aviation. We're building a Flight Academy similar to Huntsville, Alabama's, Space Camp. I need help in locating one of those indoor parachuting devices, an enclosed large fan that appears to allow for freefall.

A. They're called wind tunnels or skydiving simulators. Check the Web site www.skydivingmagazine.com/windtunl.htm for a list of all the public tunnels we've found.


Canopy Speeds

Q. How fast are today's canopies?

A. Georgia jumper Danny Page has recently been jumping with a Kestrel hand-held wind meter. It's small and easy to use under canopy. He found that a moderately loaded Performance Designs Stiletto has an airspeed of 36 to 38 mph in full flight and 25 to 27 with the deployment brakes set.

Page was surprised to find that a comparable Performance Designs Velocity turned in similar numbers; it was only faster by 1 or 2 mph, if that.


Newbie Looking for Comfort

Q. I'm thinking about skydiving for the first time. My biggest fear is dying. Can you give me some information that might comfort me?

A. Learn more about the sport. Visit a DZ and watch jumpers in action. If you like what you see, and if you're willing to risk your life to join them, then you'll probably conquer the inevitable stomach full of churning snakes.

But skydiving's not for everyone. Don't do it unless willing to accept its risks.


Skydiving and Diabetes, Asthma

Q. Are there any restrictions to parachuting if you are asthmatic or an insulin-dependent diabetic?

A. We aren't aware of any legal restrictions on jumping with either condition, and we know of several active skydivers who are either diabetic or asthmatic.

Since the symptoms and severity of both conditions vary widely from one person to the next, it makes sense to check with your physician before taking up the sport.

Because skydiving is at times both strenuous and stressful, many parachute centers and instructors are understandably fussy about any medical condition that could compromise safety.

New arrivals register when they first visit a drop zone. The paperwork almost always includes questions about the jumper's health and about any medical condition that might interfere with safe parachuting.

If you have a condition that you think might be problematic, then check with your physician before going to a DZ. Blacking out in freefall is considered bad form.

You should also be open about your condition with the drop zone's management. Besides declaring them on the pre-jump hold-harmless agreement you'll almost certainly sign, you should discuss the matter with your instructor.

The final decision will probably be yours. But until you know more about the sport by experiencing it firsthand, you'll greatly benefit from the oversight of your doctor and the DZ's professional staff.

We know several active skydivers with insulin-dependent diabetes. We've seen them routinely check their blood sugar at the DZ and, in a few instances, inject insulin when it was necessary.

We know one active skydiver with asthma who was a member of the U.S. Parachute Team.


Taking Rigs on Airliners

Q. I'm coming to the U.S. soon to pick up my new rig. What is the effect of the extremely low temperatures of the cargo hold on the equipment? My rig will have a Airtec Cypres, too. What is the airlines' policy on carrying such an explosive device on board?

A. If you're traveling by commercial airliner, you don't have to worry about the temperature of the cargo hold. It's heated and pressurized like the cabin. (Otherwise, all those traveling pets would die, and the shampoo in everyone's luggage would be everywhere.)

The explosive power of a Cypres cutter is quite low. Nonethelss, Airtec sends an wallet-sized card with each new unit, explaining what the device is and admitting that it might cause alarm when X-rayed by security personnel. The card might help in some situations. We doubt it; the paranoia of today's society is nearly insurmountable.

Over the years, we've found it's much better to ask forgiveness than permission when it comes to carrying a rig on an airliner. Some ignoramuses at the security checkpoints as well as some airline employees think carrying a parachute on board is like carrying a loaded pistol. We NEVER volunteer we're carrying a parachute.

Most airlines say they don't have any policies about parachutes as luggage, but jumpers constantly get hassled.

Rather than carry a rig on board, we prefer to pack it in an appropriate-size suitcase and check it. Gear bags don't give enough protection, they're too easy to open, and they attract too much attention.

We also buy extra insurance for the gear. Insured luggage supposedly must be accounted for en route, and we hope this reduces the chance of us getting to our destination without our gear.

Good luck! Unfortunately, you're going to need it.


Where Can I Make Military-Type Jumps?

Q. Is there a DZ where I can make a jump just like a paratrooper? I know in this day of square canopies and freefall that this is probably out of the question. I just thought it might be a good way for several friends to get together and experience the thrill of military-style jumping.

A. Call Chuck Gilbert of the Phantom Brigade, (352) 588-4388. The group jumps regularly at Skydive City in Zephyrhills, Fla., using military MC-1 canopies and dressed in fatigues. For many skydivers, it's a sight to see, with the Twin Otter droning over the DZ at 1,000 feet, disgorging olive-drab round canopies in the early morning air. Ted Strong, president of gear manufacturer Strong Enterprises, joins the group occasionally.


The Origins of Tandem Jumping

Q. When did tandem skydiving begin?

A. As far as we know, the first tandem--"dual harness, dual parachute"--skydives were made by Mike Barber (carrying Kirk Morrison, the son of his girlfriend) and Bob Faverau (carrying his son Robbie) on June 11, 1977, in DeLand, Fla. Although Favreau's fall rate was too much for the jumpers who followed the two pairs out of the DC-3 "Mr. Douglas," they did manage to build an 8-way star around Barber and Morrison (Skydiving #2).

In 1983 Ted Strong of Strong Enterprises in Orlando began the commercial development of tandem equipment and procedures (Skydiving #41). Bill Booth of the Relative Workshop soon joined in.


Why Not 3 Parachutes?

Q. I'm new to the sport and really want to know why skydivers use only two parachutes. Every year some skydiver or skydivers die when their reserves fail. If there were two backup parachutes, skydiving would be almost foolproof.

A. Over the years a few extra-cautious jumpers have routinely worn a second reserve, usually by adding a chest-mounted reserve to the front of a piggyback rig.

The practice has never caught on because the accident record shows that very few jumpers die because of a bonafide reserve malfunction. It's incorrect to say this happens "every year," at least in the U.S.

When a jumper does have a problem with his reserve, it's the result of a main-reserve entanglement or simply pulling it too low or not at all. Wearing multiple reserves wouldn't help much in those situations.

"Tertiary" reserves used to be popular with CRW jumpers. A "tersh" is a pilot-chuteless round canopy packed in a deployment bag and worn on the chest. It is connected to the jumper's harness by a single riser that might be 20 feet long or more.

If two or more jumpers became inextricably entangled, the idea is to vigorously throw the bagged canopy clear of the mess, where the long riser will allow it to inflate cleanly.

The system worked, but it's no longer popular among jumpers. Some hang glider and paraglider pilots use a similar system, however.


AFF Helps Students with Problems

The following is a reader response to a query published in a previous issue of Skydiving:

R. I would like to respond to the query from the discouraged seven-jump student. You related your personal experience which was very similar to this student's experience. The one major difference is that when you were learning to skydive, AFF was not an available option.

In modern times we have properly trained personnel who could take this student on a harness-hold-type skydive. A jump with an instructor or two at his side to assist with his stability and allow him to feel an extended freefall may be just what this gentleman needs to boost his confidence and get him back on the horse. -- Darlene Kellner, Sugarloaf, Pa.


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