Posted on 2 Comments

DZ Differences

Over the course of the last year, I’ve been truly blessed to have the opportunity to travel to some amazing dropzones. What I’ve come to find is that each has it’s own unique set of qualities and it’s own unique group of jumpers.

This definitely keeps things interesting.

When it comes to issues like safety, I’ve come to find that each dropzone has their “danger zone” – that one element of the sport where there is constant discussion regarding jumper safety. Seems that every dropzone has their area(s) where they proceed with much caution.

This really came to my attention this weekend when the debate continued regarding canopy downsizing.

As I forgot to mention a couple weeks ago, I decided not to purchase that Sabre 2-120 I had been demoing. Not due to the size, but due to inconsistent and incredibly odd openings. It gave me gear fear, and that’s not how it should be. I really came to realize this after demoing another Sabre2-120 that opened perfectly every time. So needless to say, I’m back on my Sabre 1-150 for the time being – at least until my wallet will allow me to buy new.

The experts at CSC all questioned why I purchased the 150 in the first place, stating that with my weight I should be on a smaller canopy. There goes that mixed message again.

So it got me to thinking about the areas of the sport where safety is a main focus and the differences between dropzones I have visited. Come to find out, almost ALL of them vary widely. These are definitely things that set dropzones apart from one another. Check this out:

  • The folks at one dropzone I have frequented are extremely hesitant when it comes to downsizing. The focus is on the size of the canopy rather than the wingloading. However, most of these people don’t bat an eye when it comes to wingsuiting or camera flying.
  • On the total opposite end of that spectrum, I’ve visited a dropzone that was hesitant to put anyone with less than 500 jumps in a wingsuit, but they highly encourage jumpers to test out canopy size and find what works for them – stressing wingloading rather than fearing size. (Though don’t get me wrong, neither of these dropzones are negligent or ignorant of the safety behind any issue, they just have those areas where they’re more likely to proceed with caution).
  • There’s a local dropzone that’s extremely strict on the rule of not flying a camera before you have 200 jumps, though I’ve been on loads where they don’t hesitate to throw jumpers out through “industrial haze” so thick it’s a guessing game when it comes to locating the LZ.
  • Then there’s the dropzone where jumpers on the flight will have the pilot do two or three go-arounds just to ensure that everyone on the flight will be able to avoid the clouds at a significant distance but they don’t hesitate to throw jumpers out in high, turbulent winds.
  • I’ve also been to a dropzone that in general is very strict. So much so that until you have 500 skydives, you can be grounded for any of the following: not having an AAD, freeflying with another jumper if you both don’t have 500 skydives, trying to jump in winds higher than 15 mph, wingsuiting or camera flying. Though, this very same dropzone has ZERO rules about swooping. Anyone, anywhere, anytime.
  • Then there are the dropzones that have strict swooping rules, these jumpers are often confined to specific areas of the LZ and you will be grounded if you don’t abide by them. Of course, these dropzones have their areas where they turn a blind eye as well.
  • Some dropzones don’t care if you jump barefoot, others won’t even think twice about it.

I’m sure the list goes on, but this is just off the top of my head. It’s amazing how much dropzone policy can differ from one to the next.

And yes, I’m keeping this vague. Who am I to call out dropzones on their policies. I’m no one, that’s who!

For the most part, the majority of dropzones I’ve visited are very safety conscious. Most have pretty strict landing patterns, or at least they encourage safe canopy piloting based on location and conditions. Most are incredibly strict on BSRs, though camera flying has been split about 50/50 when it comes to that 200 jump requirement.

Anyhow, this is just an observation that I found interesting and wanted to share. Though if you’re looking for my opinion, for what it’s worth, I say proceed with caution in every aspect of the sport. Safety should always come first. Know your limits, be aware of those around you and always pay attention.

That is all.

Blue skies!


Posted on Leave a comment


Sorry for the long delays in between postings, I’ve just been so busy with my new job, with my summer plans, with getting Skydive Addiction on the map, with making excuses as to why I haven’t been posting, with procrastinating posting, and with a bunch of other stuff.

Seriously speaking though, getting Skydive Addiction on the map is my #1 priority…
Behind skydiving of course 😛

So anyways, this past weekend, I managed to convince 8 of my friends from a couple of DZs I jump at to join me on a bungee jumping road trip.
Needless to say, I heard at least 20 skydivers say:
“Are you crazy? How could you jump off a perfectly good bridge… WITHOUT a parachute?”

Yes, that’s right… Skydivers asked me the most God awful question in the world…
Why wouldn’t I? It’s quite a different rush from skydiving, and it’s a welcome change from the regular routine… Given, it’s not something you’d find me doing every day, but it’s fun once in a while.

So we headed to the Great Canadian Bungee which claims to be the highest bungee jump in North America. It’s 200 feet over a very very blue lake. Beautiful place actually.
I jumped there last year (as you can see on one of my 1st posts). And it was a lot of fun, so I decided to head back.

Turns out that when you’re 8 or 9 people, it’s actually cheaper to pay for 10 then it is to pay for 8 or 9… Group discount… So that’s exactly what we did.
And since I organized it, my friends were quick to put my name down as the person to do two jumps.
So the 1st person to jump is a girl named Stephanie, she’s done 5 tandem skydives, but doesn’t have her license yet. She’s never done a bungee jump however.
(They went by weight)
After 7 minutes of her standing at the edge not jumping and 7 minutes of myself and one of the other guys yelling at her to hurry up, she finally took the plunge… Ok, well she held hands with the instructor and he slowly lowered her backwards until she finally fell. HI HI =)

The others jumped right away, which was a welcome sight =D

My first jump was a normal forward dive with my ankles strapped in, didn’t give me the same adrenaline rush as the 1st time though (Which pretty much proved that once you face a fear, you never get that same rush again =( )

I even tested it… I started running back up the hill to get to the top… Half way up, I couldn’t breathe anymore… If I had an adrenaline pumping through my veins, I probably would’ve made it up without breaking a sweat.
So on the 2nd jump, I decided to strap myself in by the shoulders. The instructors at the top told me that since I was so comfortable with jumping off the bridge that I could do a flip this time.
We decided that I’d do a back flip. That back flip then turned into a double and if I had known how much more time I had, I probably would’ve been able to get a third in. Damn me and my dissatisfaction!!!!!

So after spending 2 and a half hours at the bungee jump place, we then decided to go grab breakfast at some random place in town… This place was on the 2nd floor of a supermarket… And I can say one thing… If we thought waiting for Stephanie to jump was a lifetime wait… Waiting for sunny side up eggs and toast to be prepared was an eternity.

Fast forward an hour and we arrive at Go Skydive. It’s one of those DZs that you wouldn’t be able to find if you didn’t know where to go… We didn’t know where to go.
We parked in the Gatineau airport’s parking lot, looked around for signs, but couldn’t find any.
We were given directions on how to walk there by a girl who had just completed her 1st tandem =).
So we get there, they check out our paperwork, the rigs we’re jumping, and so on.
Then they tell us that even though we’re regular jumpers who have jumped together before, they want us to jump with a coach ?!?!?!?!

My buddy Alex lent me his rig (Sabre I 170 in a Javelin J2 rig), he spent 15 minutes checking the gear making sure that everything was ok even after a rigger took a look at it and I had inspected it too… His reasoning was that he didn’t want my death on his conscience. I laughed, told him that I’d pull the reserve on purpose then went into the plane 😛

In the end, they decided to put 5 of us on a Cessna 182 (TINY plane!!!) instead of their Navaho (Still tiny, but bigger than the Cessna) but this time, we didn’t need a coach.
For those of you who don’t really know the difference, with a Cessna, you have to get out of the door, hang onto a strut below the wing, stand on a step and hang there before your jump.
On the Navaho, you jump out of the door. On the Twin Otter and the Caravans that my home DZs have, you not only jump out of the door, but you have a bench to sit on 😛

Anyways, the DZ’s landing area is bigger than the one at Parachute Montreal but the planes, much smaller.
The staff was nice, but the rigger who packed Alex’s rig after I jumped took ages… He also asked us different questions about the rig and forgot to collapse the pilot chute (a fairly dangerous mistake that can sometimes cause a malfunction). Anyways, all in all, I’d jump there again, but I’d also pack my own rig 😛

Blue Skies everyone!