On January 4th, 2015 AXIS Flight School created an experimental dive pool for what was then referred to as XRW (Extreme Relative Work). This is a still developing discipline where canopy and wing-suit pilots build formations. In essence, an XRW skydive is a dissimilar formation flight.
Photo courtesy of Dan Dupuis.
The first dive pool developed by AXIS was called XF. The name change from XRW was proposed similar to how RW (Relative Work) was changed to FS (Formation Skydiving); and since CF (Canopy Formation) is already taken, the XF abbreviation was introduced for “Cross” Formation. The first draft only had 3 Randoms and 6 blocks.
Dive pool images from 2015
Since wing-suit technology has dramatically increased flight performance over the past few years, new formations have become possible. The updated 2020 version now features 8 randoms and 10 blocks dispersed over three classes: intermediate, advanced, and open. In addition, the XF rules have been updated to evolve with the times and practitioners can even make use of the AXIS DrawGenerator. There are now two orientations for the wing suit pilot to fly in:
Being competitors at heart, Niklas and Brianne do their best to improve on a daily basis. This applies not only to competitions, but also their business and life’s work – AXIS Flight School. AXIS has gone through an incredible online transformation, which could be called a “Cyber Grand Re-opening”. These changes have been taking place behind the scenes for over two years.
The AXIS website has always been packed with lots of useful tools and information. In order to make the site more user friendly and to keep up with the times more than a facelift was needed. In fact, we started over. Major improvements include a color coded menu system which is easy to navigate, condensed information on every page, and not to be overlooked – The AXIS Skydiving Repository. Here we developed a digital sorting system that categorizes all or our articles and reference materials for faster recall. Now users can search for categories such as solo skills, canopy, camera, and much more to find what you are looking for.
In addition, AXIS Flight School now uses sig.ma, a platform on which you can keep track of accomplishments, IDs, licenses, merits, etc. in a digital form. This allows us to send merits to students who have demonstrated their proficiency to our AXIS Coaches™ and acknowledge their achievements. Available Merits are displayed at the top of each web page, and their colors correspond to the new menu system.
PICTURE PERFECT: Man takes pictures, 15,000 feet up in the air
“Skydiving, as one can imagine, is dangerous enough, but try to imagine the added element of trying to capture the perfect picture, 12,000 feet up in the air. One photographer does exactly that, as a career.
“As a kid, I’ve always been pretty active, always enjoyed extreme sports, whether it was doing the skateboarding thing or riding bicycles,” said Niklas Daniel. “In this case, this was just another thing I wanted to experiment with.”
One can call Daniel a skydiving expert. To date, Daniel has made more than 10,000 jumps, and counting, and he is now known as one of the best behind the camera, at 12,000 feet.
Daniel’s love for photography began at an early age, and after falling in love with skydiving, he blended his two passions.
“The moment is very fleeting,” said Daniel. “So, if you have a shot in your head that you would like to create, it takes a lot of practice, a lot of training, also a little engineering to try and put that together.”
Daniel also described the difference between photography works that take place on terra firma, and those that take place up in the air.
“If you’re taking a photograph on the ground, depending on the subject, you maybe have the ability to take a test shot, take a look at the settings, and then be able to adjust until you get that right shot,” said Daniel. “Skydiving is more of sport photography, where they’re trying to get that perfect shot and it’s not something that you can recreate necessarily.”
Daniel said in order to be a good aerial photographer, you’d have to be a great skydiver.
“Not is it enough that I have to fly my own body or my parachute for example, but I have to be able to do that without having to think about it that much that I can now focus on the shot,” said Daniel. “In addition to that, I have to be very aware of my closing speeds with other people, the distance I’m away from them and I also have to remain altitude aware. I can’t look at my altimeter constantly, because that would ruin the shot.”
Equipment is also important. Daniel’s helmet works as his rig, and his tripod is his own body.
Over the years, Daniel has documented other people’s jumps, along with the formation of skydiving teams. He has also produced training video. Daniel said some of his favorite pictures to take are during competition with his team.
“I really enjoy the pressure of having to get a specific shot, and then being able to present that to the judges,” said Daniel. “That’s been my expertise, but I also really enjoy the off-the-wall projects, so whether someone wants to light a parachute on fire or something kind of more in that direction. Something you don’t see everyday.”
Besides doing what he loves everyday, Daniel also gets to share his passion with others who might not get the chance to. He and his wife, Brianne, support “Operation Enduring Warrior” by donating their time to help wounded veterans enter the sport of skydiving.
I would like to thank Dave at Skydive Radio for making my image below their pic of the week! Skydive Radio is the world’s leading internet radio show dedicated to the sport of skydiving. Weekly episodes include commentary, feature interviews with industry insiders, listener-contributed photos, and e-mails from an audience that spans the globe.
Click here for a behind the scenes look at how the image was captured.
Brianne Thompson and Niklas Daniel of AXIS Flight School, with Steve Curtis of Arizona Arsenal, recorded some video footage for Go Pro on October 22nd, 2014. Parts of the video were featured on the 60 Minutes segment “GoPro Moment” on February 4th, 2015. The final edit is scheduled to be released on Go Pro’s You Tube Channel very soon. Special thanks to: Samantha, Trunk, Wade and Robin for helping us get the shots!
60 Minutes SportsGoPro Moment Intro Curtis and Brianne flying head down Brianne approaching the slip and slide Brianne on the slip and slideCurtis demonstrates precision on landing60 Minutes end credits, Curtis, Brianne and Nik build a “3-stack” over Skydive Arizona with their high performance canopies.
Even though the shot was my idea, I have to give credit to Brianne Thompson of AXIS Flight School for making it happen 🙂 Recorded by two back-to-back GoPro‘s (see right), the individual footage was put together and then slomo’d to get the desired effect.
To view the segment, please click here => SKYDIVE FACEPLANT – A skydiver crashes into a parking lot at 40 mph and survives.