Well, it’s been a while. A lot has been happening in my life – lots of travel, exciting new adventures – I’ll fill you in some other time.
But, this weekend I was able to take advantage of the beautiful weather by getting my ass back in the air.
I’d planned to conserve funds and limit myself to one day, three jumps. I stuck to the one day part, but ended up making a few more than intended. I got sucked into doing some wingsuit rodeos, which are interesting out of a porter I must admit, and before I knew it the numbers were climbing.
What an amazing weekend. I got to spend time with some of my dearest friends that I hadn’t seen in over a month and make some new ones while I was at it Freeflying was fun and I continued to progress in some sitfly skills that I wanted to hone, while breaking it up by jumping on a wingsuiters back and going for a ride. Nothing quite like soaring through the sky on a warm January day in the South. Good stuff.
And for anyone who is interested, I’m still trying to sell my Sabre2 120. I’m going to lower the price on it a bit for anyone who writes me and mentions the blog, you can have it for $1500. It’s in amazing condition , still crispy- like new without the hassled of packing a brand new canopy. Yes, I know, I just got this one to the point where it wasn’t a bitch to pack and now I’m selling it. Your welcome, to whoever buys it. Lines are still bright white. It’s only got 200 jumps on it. No rips, holes or patches. Zero cutaways. Always packed indoors on carpet. Picture below. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you or someone you know is interested.
On that note, back to the craziness of life. I promise to do my best to update more often. After all, I’ve got another upcoming tunnel trip I’ll have to tell you all about.
Believe it or not, I don’t have a lot to talk about these days. There’s a lot of really amazing things happening in my life at the moment, some of which I’m not at liberty to talk about and the rest is shit you probably don’t want to hear about anyway.
That said, I’m lacking in blog content. My brand new Crossfire2 109 came the other day courtesy of my amazing sponsors over at NZ Aerosports and is getting all prepped and ready for me to jump thanks to my friends at ChutingStar (new location in Marietta is amazing, btw. Laura gave me the grand tour when I dropped off my rig the other day and I have to say I was impressed with the space. Not only that, I was mildly thrilled to see Big Steve in the loft…I love fun surprises).
Saturday I’ll finally get to jump her! It should be a sin to have skydiving equipment delivered on a Monday – it’s complete torture!
On top of that I’m making my plans for the holidays – starting with the Christmas party at Skydive Tuskegee and ending with the Invasion at Skydive Sebastian. So much fun to be had at these events. You should totally try to make it out if these dropzones are not on your radar.
That’s my blog update for the time being. So I’m turning to my loyal readers for ideas – what do you want to read about? Anything I haven’t talked about in a while, or ever, that you want me to discuss? I’m open to ideas. This is just as much your community as it is mine…I’m all ears.
Love and Blue Skies!
I know y’all are probably tired of hearing me say that Deepseed is the shit when it comes to jumpsuits – because they are – but I wanted to review some of the important reasons why, if you’re in the market for a suit, you should really consider them.
First and foremost, customer service. If you’ve been in the sport a while, you know those skydiving manufacturers who have the reputation of having terrible customer service and those who have been known to bend over backwards to ensure their customers have everything they need, and then some (like the PDs and L&Bs of the world). Let me tell you, Deepseed falls into the latter category.
Having worked with them for the greater part of the season, I’m absolutely amazed at the level of responsiveness I receive each time I reach out. Even with a 16 hour time difference, Liam, Sally and Krista make time in their early mornings to answer my questions and ensure I’ve got everything I need before the sun goes down on the East Coast of the States. They’re so patient with my random requests, last minute design changes and tweaks – Krista has even jumped on Skype to walk through requests step-by-step to ensure they get it right.
Working with a company who not only is responsive but willing to go above and beyond at all hours of the day to ensure top-notch service is an experience to look forward to. Ordering skydiving gear should not be a chore – it should be enjoyable. You should love the final product, because as we all know, that shit ain’t cheap, but at the end of the day, when the product you ordered comes in the mail and you can tell that they took care in the design and development, it’s all worth it.
That’s what you get with Deepseed. Quality. Stellar customer service. And a custom design that is like no other.
I’ve mentioned the quality in previous posts, but I have to go over that again. I have been with friends at the dropzone and watched as the stitching on their “name brand” suits unravels before our eyes. I’ve also seen people blow their suits apart in the tunnel – even suits that were “tunnel rated.” It’s disheartening to see – especially when these people spent hundreds and waited for weeks on these suits that were supposed to stand the test of time only to fall apart within the first 6 months they’ve had them.
I’ve also seen suits that have FINALLY arrived only to be far too large, or too small, and need to be sent back to be altered multiple inches. That goes beyond measurement error, that’s just sloppy. Deepseed has this amazing measuring school online with pictures and video to show you how to get the most accurate measurements and will ensure that, if you’ve followed instructions, your suit will come back fitting like a glove. Mine did. The INverter that we ordered at the same time did.
And if there’s any question about a measurement or a design request, you better believe you’ll get an email from Krista or Sally rather than having them guess. This just goes to show the level of customer service you can expect from them – the highest!
If you need a tunnel rated suit, I highly recommend looking into the Vyper – made for both men and women. Or, if you’re a jumper in the summer and a tunnel rat in the winter like me, talk to them about adding a layer of windproof material to the Curv8or or INverter (the men’s version of the Curv8or which is an amazing freefly suit) so you can fly it in and out of the tunnel without worrying about blowing out your sipper.
Guys, it’s evident that I can’t say enough good about Deepseed, as a company, as people, as designers. Do your research, email them about design options (you can do much more with design than you can on their design program online, just shoot them a note, they’ll work with you) I promise you, you won’t regret giving them a chance. I certainly haven’t.
Love and Blue Skies!
It’s amazing what a high-quality jumpsuit will do for your skydiving.
In recent weeks I received a custom freefly jumpsuit from Deepseed. It’s their Curv8or design for women, and it’s amazing! Moments after my first jump with the suit I was spewing excitement from my face about the smoothness of my flight. I wasn’t fighting with fabric on an ill-fitting jumpsuit, when I decided to make a move, I went there without hesitation. The suit cut through the air like I’d never experienced before.
The thing about freefly suits is that they are supposed to fit a very specific way in order to function properly in a sit (and, if I could stay on my head I’d assume the same for head down). They need to fit close to the body without being tight, and they need to flex in the right places without riding up on the arms or legs.
There are so many features of the suit that I like. You can find the description of all their suits here, but if you want a first-hand account from someone who is absolutely head-over-heels for this suit, then keep reading.
This is first on my list because, from the experiences I’ve had with other suits, this aspect makes the Curv8or stand out from the rest. There are these amazing spandex panels placed strategically throughout the suit that allow it to fit perfectly no matter the position your body may find itself in. The cuffs on the arms stay in place and don’t ride up thanks to these panels, and the spandex on the legs allows me to transition from a sit to stand to shelf and everything in between without encountering too much or not enough fabric to make these moves smoothly.
Being a New Zealand based company (read: shipping ain’t cheap) I was nervous about the suit fitting right the first time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard fellow jumpers say they had to send their suits back to “the other guys” because it didn’t come in fitting properly the first time – I’ve even heard stories of multiple resizing efforts to get it right. Yikes! Thankfully, Deepseed has this handy little Measuring School that will walk you through proper measuring to ensure a proper fit. And if they question any of your numbers, they will email you to have you remeasure just in case. They pride themselves on getting it right the first time – so long as you follow the measuring instructions.
Living in the South, this is a critical aspect of the suit. There are some days that the last thing I want to do is wear a jumpsuit because it’s so f-ing hot out, but it’s actually pretty comfortable to don this suit. The fabric breathes so you don’t feel like you’re trapped inside a ziplock bag.
They can do everything from color fades to design imprints (read: you can have a logo, text or other image that imprinted directly into the fabric of the suit, so it won’t snag or wear off over time). You can make the suit as basic or as loud as you want.
If the suit doesn’t fit properly, if it didn’t turn out to your specifications or if their stitching isn’t up to par, you have a guarantee that they will fix it for you. Keep in mind, if your suit isn’t rated for the tunnel, that’s not considered “normal wear and tear” but when you’re scoping out options online they explicitly call out which suits are tunnel rated. Be sure to check out the Viper for men and women if tunnel flying is your flavor.
There’s something to be said for a company that will bend over backwards to ensure you are not just happy, but thrilled with their products. Liam, Sally and the rest of the gang are more than willing to work with you on your designs and they’ll even try something new to make sure they have happy customers. I love working with individuals who care!
So, if you’re in need of a new freefly suit, I can’t recommend Deepseed enough. Hit me up with questions if you have them.
It’s summer here in Georgia, which means it’s regularly 90+ degrees when I’m out skydiving. Sweaty jumpers pack together into the plane for 60 seconds of air conditioning upon exit at 14,000 ft, and we’re already sweating by the time we’re back on the ground.
Needless to say it’s not uncommon that I get looked at like I have two heads when I’m putting on my skull cap and gloves as I’m boarding the plane.
Now, any woman skydiver knows just how critical a skull cap is in ensuring that you’re not spending hours brushing out knots in your hair (or worse, cutting them out), after a day of skydiving – so not much justification takes place here…but gloves, in the summer, really?!
Let me just tell you, I’ve jumped with and without gloves and regardless how hot and humid the weather, they’ve proven to be a necessity. Here’s why:
It never fails, the day I forget my gloves or think for one reason or another that they’re not needed, I end up injuring my hands. We’re talking scrapes, cuts and bruises here, nothing too serious, but enough to be annoying and usually leave me bleeding post-skydive. Rarely do I know exactly what happened – skydiving is sometimes a full contact sport, with fellow jumpers, the plane, the ground – but once I’m back on the ground I’m all “that stings, what the hell!”
This weekend proved to be no different, thanks to my altimeter for gouging my paw!
Personally, I like having gloves for the added grip they provide. When you’re skydiving with others, there will come a time where you’re hanging outside of a moving aircraft with one hand on a bar keeping you attached to the plane while your fellow jumpers get set up to exit. With gloves, I have confidence I’m not going to slip off. It’s also nice to have gloves when it’s pull time so slippage isn’t an issue.
This probably goes without saying but gloves provide a nice barrier between your skin and the elements. My skydiving gloves are less “wintery” and more the type you’d find baseball players wearing (in fact, I picked them up from the baseball section of a sporting goods store if I remember correctly), but they still do the trick when it comes to weather protection – that is, unless it’s below freezing at altitude, but that’s an entirely different conversation.
Here in the South, it still gets chilly at altitude, even when it’s warm on the ground. And for someone who has circulation issues in her hands and feet, I don’t need to worry about my fingers going numb on a skydive.
It’s all what you’re used to -
Here’s what it comes down to – personal preference. If you want to jump with gloves, if that’s where you’re comfortable, you know what it’s like to grasp your hackey (we’re talking skydiving here people) and exit with (or without) gloves, stick to what’s comfortable. As a jumper who grew up at a dropzone in the North, it made sense to get comfortable wearing gloves – they were essential if you wanted to jump any time other than the dead of summer. In the end, only you can make this decision for you.
So tell me, do you wear gloves? Why, or why not?
And ladies – thoughts on the skull cap? Totally critical in my book!
Hard to believe that the 4th Annual Jump for Diabetes is right around the corner. This will be my 3rd year coordinating the event and I am proud to say that it’s going to be bigger and better than the last!
We recently launched our website http://jumpfordiabetes.org (thanks to our friends over at nDevix), where you can keep up on the latest raffle items as they come in (we all know that’s what skydivers are interested in, free shit, right?), get the latest information on sponsors and participating dropzones, and you can even donate online!
We are so blessed to have both Skydive Chicago and Skydive The Farm on board this year. We’ll be hosting two events, in tandem on July 6-8th to raise funds for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. If you’re on Facebook and haven’t already be sure to RSVP to our event. You can keep up with the latest updates there as well.
So let’s get to what everyone wants to know about – those gear donations. We’re still over two months out and already we have seen more generosity from this community than ever. It warms my heart to see all the manufacturers who are standing behind us to help find a cure for diabetes. This year we have Deepseed on board with us and they are eyeballs deep in supporting this cause. Huge thanks to Liam and his crew for all they’ve already done! Check out their website and Facebook page. They’ve got some great stuff going on and they’re just plain fun!
Once again PD is all in and the first ticket drawn on Saturday, July 7th after the fireworks at SDC will be the lucky recipient of a free custom main (non-cross braced) or reserve canopy from Performance Designs. Bad ass! And of course, there’s thousands of dollars in free gear and discounts:
- FREE Taste of Base with Miles Daisher
- 2 – 50% Off Wings Containers
- 2 – 50% Off Cookie G3 Helmet
- Bonehead Discount Certificates
- 20% Off Vigil
- 2 – 35% Off Vector, plus 15% options from UPT
- 2 – 40% Off Javelin container from SunPath
- Hypoxic Certificates
- 3- $100+ Discounts from Ouragan Suits
- 4 – 20% Off Phoenix Fly Discount Certificates
- FREE Freak’n Suits
- FREE Reserve Repack from String Theory Productions
- FREE Phantom X Helmet from Square1
- 35% Off Bev Suit Voucher
- 2 – 30% Off Mirage Systems container
- 2 – 50% Off Deepseed Jumpsuits
- FREE Cypress Maintenance Certificate
- 3 Brian Germain Books
- $100 Off SDC Rhythm Tunnel Camp
- And MORE
Donations are still coming in and we will keep you posted on our website as we get more.
If you want to purchase tickets, see Rick or myself at Skydive The Farm, Morgan at Skydive Chicago, or email us at JumpForDiabetes@gmail.com. You do NOT have to be present to win, so please feel free to purchase remotely!
I will be managing the event at Skydive Chicago this year, so if you want to find me the day of the event to purchase, please feel free. If you’re planning to head to The Farm for the event, don’t worry, Rick will be on the ground there, and on the phone with me so all winners will be announced immediately after the drawing.
Oh, and if you want to be a sponsored jumper and pledge your jumps for the weekend to the cause, you can do that from anywhere too! Just shoot me a comment, Facebook message or email and we’ll get you the sheet so you can get pledges.
Thanks to all who are working so hard to make this a great success! We couldn’t do any of it without the unwavering support of this community.
Love and blue skies!
Skydiving is expensive.
I know I’ve touched on the skydiver budget before, but it’s definitely not something to be taken lightly. As someone who has gotten herself in and out of debt and round and round we go, I’ve got a handful of tidbits to share on the subject.
When you first enter the sport and do your $200 tandem (or your first $350+ AFF), thinking about pursuing your license can be scary, especially from the perspective of your wallet. It often helps that people continue to tell you that it will get cheaper once you get off student status, but honestly, that’s not always the case.
Sure, jumps to altitude are usually no more than $25 each, but people who go balls to the wall in this sport tend to spend thousands of dollars just to get started. After your student training, it’s time to buy your own gear so you’re not wasting money on renting.
Then you need to buy things like an altimeter, helmet, jumpsuit, and dytter. Then, for those who take interest in having their own videos, you’ll need a camera helmet and camera setup. Or, many people now are doing the whole GoPro/Contour thing, which tends to be a much cheaper option – and if you haven’t seen the videos before they’re very high quality!
Once you’re fully geared up, you’ll want to travel to some of the best events around. So you’ve got travel expenses, money for a good gear bag to keep your rig safe during travel…you get the idea.
Of course, there are ways to go about getting everything you want out of the sport without completely breaking the bank. Yes, gear is expensive and it is true that you get what you pay for (for the most part), but there are options…If you don’t care about matching all your gear and having the latest new toy, that’ll be a start. Places like dropzone.com and even eBay have plenty of used gear options. This is great for anyone who doesn’t mind a gently used rig/canopy/helmet, you name it. I was lucky enough to find a great deal on my first rig on dz.com, as well as a helmet that’d only been jumped a handful of times, and RW suit, freefly pants, and I’ve also been able to sell used canopies, jumpsuits and more. Don’t forget to ask around your home dropzone too, you never know who might be selling, and maybe for even cheaper than they would have online cuz they don’t have to deal with the hassle.
The other thing I recommend, for those who aren’t completely against using credit, is to have a card specifically for skydiving. You can track how much you spend and see where you can cut corners. If you’re lucky enough to be at a dropzone where the DZO will help you finance your gear orders or training, definitely take him up on that. Then you won’t have to worry about interest rates and all that jazz.
Say you’re at a smaller dropzone where this isn’t feasible, you can always look into helping out around the DZ. You might be surprised how much extra cash you can earn from packing a couple days a week or helping out with manifest, or even helping to promote the dropzone. Any little bit you can do to help might earn you a few free jumps here and there.
If you’re really trying to stick to a budget and you’re doing everything you can to scrimp and save for all those fun boogies, but you just can’t seem to make the rent payment after a week in Puerto Rico, you might want to considering picking one or two must attend boogies every year to help save on travel expenses throughout the year.
Living in cold climates in the winter can be painful, so (and I need to take my own advice on this one) it might be a good idea to stick close to the home dz when the weather is nice to you have enough to go around come winter and you’re not sitting behind the computer drooling over the pictures your friends posted on Facebook from their beach landings in PR. Not that I would know anything about that….hehe.
As you get further into the sport and start buying and selling gear, things can get even more complicated. Be sure to do a lot of talking with others about how to do this the right way so you’re no losing money or worse, getting screwed for unsafe gear. And of course, there’s a whole new set of financial challenges when you start exploring other disciplines like wingsuiting. I’m still navigating issues like this – I’m no help there.
So yes, skydiving is expensive, but there are plenty of people out there doing it, and doing it regularly, who seem to be getting along. Sure, some might be living beyond their means and taking advantage of credit, or some that are living below what they may have considered standard before they fell in love with this sport, all so they can get their adrenaline fix.
Whatever the case may be, people are making it work for them. Be sure to ask around, you might be surprised what kind of tips people have for making the financial stresses a bit less intense. What are some of your financial tips for skydiving?
Love and Blue Skies!
With the weather warming up a touch I can’t help but think about Safety Day that’s just around the corner and finally getting back in the air!
A few of my fellow jumpers in the Chicagoland area have asked me to talk about coming back to the sport after a long period off, like you know, the winter. Of course, I’m not the best person to ask since last winter I didn’t go more than 3 weeks without a skydive, so speaking from experience is going to be difficult.
Regardless, this is a great time to take a look at the challenges in coming back to the sport since so many of us will be doing so in the near future. So I’ve skimmed my resources to provide some thoughts for making your transition back to the skydiving world as smooth and painless (figuratively and literally) as possible.
- Attend Safety Day – the official USPA Safety Day is on March 12. Many dropzones choose to have theirs on different days to accommodate jumpers who might want to attend other, larger Safety Day events. Regardless, be sure to attend at least one. For those who may not realize it, Safety Day is more than just about getting back in the air / completing recurrency jumps (if the DZ you’re at is even flying that day). It’s about refreshing your memory on safety in the sky. You’ll have a chance to not only review the USPA BSRs and any changes to the SIM but also refresh on your home dropzone regulations. You’ll review landing patterns, pilot policies and have a chance to hear from the S&TA. I can’t stress the importance of this day enough. You might be surprised how much has fallen out of that brain of yours over the long winter months.
- Check your gear – if you weren’t due for a reserve repack or inspection, be sure to give your gear a good once over yourself. Make sure your 3 rings are in good shape, that your closing loop isn’t worn, that your pilot chute is cocked. If you doubt your last pack job on that final jump of the season, you may even want to shake out your canopy and give it a fresh pack.
- Review canopy skills – I’m a big believer in being a safe and competent canopy pilot; it could save your life. You never know when that rogue student might enter your landing pattern and necessitating a last minute adjustment. Parachutist Online has a great article on becoming a better canopy pilot. This is a start, but if you haven’t before, a canopy course is always a good idea. That’s high on my priority list this year for certain!
- SIM on the go – I mentioned this yesterday on Twitter but if you’re an iPhone user, be sure to download the USPA SIM app. What a better way to stay fresh on those BSRs than by having them in your pocket? You can download the app here or by searching USPA SIM in the app store.
- Watch and read to learn - as I mentioned a couple weeks ago in my currency post, I can’t recommend enough watching videos and reading indicent reports to help you learn what not to do. Get the butterflies out by watching a few cutaway videos, find out what went wrong in seemingly routine skydives that ended in injury or even death by scanning your Parachutists and Dropzone.com incidents. Learning from others mistakes can possibly save your life.
- Make that first jump a safe one - speaking of getting the butterflies out, you’re bound to have some on that first skydive back. I certainly did, even after I was only out for 3 weeks. I imagine it being a bit more intense this year. If you don’t need a recurrency jump with a coach/instructor, make sure that first jump back is with someone you trust and/or someone you’ve flown with a lot. A 16-way zoo dive likely isn’t the best way to get back in the air, just a thought.
I’m sure this isn’t all, so let’s hear it from those of you who’ve been around longer than little ole me….what are some of your suggestions on coming back after a long period off?
With winter in full swing and many of us who have been on the ground since November (yes, I’m slightly ashamed by this fact) are getting the itch to do anything skydiving related, now is a great time to get those pesky little to-dos out of the way.
You know, rig inspections, reserve repacks, cypress maintenance, all those little safety things that, come May, you’ll be so thankful you did so that you’re not out of commission, or worse, spending your hard-earned cash renting gear while your Cypress is in for it’s 4-year.
So if you haven’t already, pull out your reserve repack card and take a look. If you’re due anytime in the next few months, it might be time to start thinking about setting up a time for a repack so you can spend every moment of nice weather this spring doing what you love most – and no, that doesn’t mean hovering over your rigger for that last-minute repack so you can get back in the air.
Speaking personally, I’m kinda kicking myself for not having thought about this sooner. In all reality, in December I should have remembered that my Cypress is due for it’s 8-year maintenance and sent it in – especially knowing that I’m due for a reserve repack in February anyhow. For those who are new to the sport, when you’re dealing with AAD maintenance, it’ll require a reserve repack as well – do yourself a favor and time it right so you can kill two birds with one stone.
One thing to remember when you have an AAD, especially a Cypress, is that you have regular intervals where this little bomb on your back needs some TLC. Battery changes and manufacturer maintenance can come at the most inopportune times if you’re not diligent. With Cypress, you have to send the device in for two weeks – add shipping time in there and you’re looking to have your rig out of commission for the better part of three weeks. What a more convenient time to get this out of the way than during winter when, if you’re like me this year, it’s very likely you’re sitting on the ground (well, for at least 3 consecutive weeks at some point or another).
Another good suggestion, while your rigger has your gear, is to have him give it a good once over. Some riggers don’t include inspections in their reserve repack pricing, so you can’t just assume it’s going to happen. Most good riggers do take the time to look over your rig, after all, your safety is their priority (if it wasn’t they wouldn’t waste their time getting paid pennies to ensure you have a reliable back up ride in case of emergency, now would they?). But you can’t just assume that’s going to be the case as every rigger is different.
Take time this winter to establish a rapport with your rigger. Let him learn about you, your skydiving habits, your wants and desires in the sport. Build up a little trust in this person who may be packing your next reserve ride. Having a solid relationship with your rigger will help, trust me. Besides, if they know that you typically throw your rig on the bottom of the closet in your damp basement, at least they’ll know to look for black mold during a repack.
For those that didn’t catch it, that was a bit of sarcasm. Please, never, ever store your rig in an unsafe place. Invest in a gear bag, keep it in a cool, dry place. We may all be thrill seekers, but most skydivers I know don’t seriously have a death wish…
Alright, enough with the black death talk. Point here is, take care of your gear. Do it now before the weather turns nice and you’re spending a day on the ground because your reserve repack date was on the most beautiful day of the spring.