OEW Skydive Update: Jonathon Blank

Jonathon checking out one of the Skydive Arizona otters. Photo by Niklas Daniel.

Back in September 2021, Operation Enduring Warrior (OEW Skydive) sent Jonathon to AXIS Flight School at Skydive Arizona to get them ready for their custom Accelerated Freefall (AFF) program. Over the course of three days, Jonathon trained with Brianne Thompson, Niklas Daniel, and Joost Luijsterburg, getting him through his First Jump Course (FJC), flying 15 minutes in the Skyventure Arizona wind tunnel, and completing two succesful skydives.

What follows is a pictoral of Jonathon’s progress.

Jonathon learns how to react to various parachute malfunctions using a training harness and que cards.
Rehearsing emergency cutaway proceedures using a training harness.
Brianne Thompson working with Jonathon in the wind tunnel. Photo by Niklas Daniel.
Special made custom rig and tunnel cover by United Parachute Technologies (UPT). Photo by Niklas Daniel.
Jonathon and Brianne after checking out the otter. Photo by Niklas Daniel.
Rehearsing the exit and jump plan at a mock up. Photo by MURV.
Jonathon exits the aircraft with AXIS Instructors Brianne Thompson and Niklas Daniel. Photo by Joost Luijsterburg.
Looking good!
Jonathon checking his altimeter after a series of practice touches. Photo by Joost Luijsterburg.
Deployment. Photo by Joost Luijsterburg.
A picture perfect landing. Photo by Joost Luijsterburg.
Photo by Joost Luijsterburg.
The gang heading out on Jonathon’s AFF Level 2. Photo by MURV.

Unfortunately we got weathered out by strong winds and were unable to continue jumping.

Current conditions from the AXIS weather station.

We look forward to flying with Jonathon again in early March, completeing his A-Licesene and beyond.

Jonathon Blank is a former USMC Staff Sergeant injured by an IED while deployed to Afghanistan.

Chasing the Worlds Fastest Man

The 2021 United States Parachute Association National Championships were held October 18-30 at Skydive Arizona. The aim of the event is to:

1) recognize and honor U.S. National Champions in the following disciplines:​ Artistic Events, Canopy Formation, Formation Skydiving, Accuracy Landing, Canopy Piloting, Mixed Formation Skydiving, Vertical Formation Skydiving, Wingsuit Flying, Speed Skydiving, and

2) to select the best competitors in the United States to form representative U.S. Teams from the appropriate disciplines for participation in selected international competitions.

Speed competitor Niklas Daniel at the 2021 USPA Nationals at Skydive AZ.

“Speed Skydiving is a new skydiving discipline with as simple a definition as it gets.  Achieve the fastest speed possible over a given distance. It has developed over the last few years and represents the fastest non-motorized sport on Earth. In essence, speed skydiving is the discipline where only one aspect of skydiving counts – freefall speed. The speed achieved by a human body in free fall is conditioned of two factors, body weight and body orientation. In a stable, belly to earth position, terminal velocity of the human body is about 200 km/h (about 120 mph). A stable, freefly, head down position has a terminal speed of around 240-290 km/h (around 150-180 mph). Further minimizing body drag and streamlining the body position allows the skydiver to reach higher speeds in the vicinity of 480 km/h (300 mph).” – FAI ISC website

Competitors are not allowed to wear weight and can only use standard skydiving equipment. Performance is recorded using a speed measuring device (SMD), a GPS tracker that is attached to each individuals helmet. For more information and rules of the event, please click here.

A new world record was set in round 1 by the current World Champion Kyle Lobpries (USA) with a speed of 512.97km/h (318.74mph)! Kyle broke his own record he had just set a couple of months earlier at the 3rd FAI World Speed Skydiving Championships in Tanay, Russia.

2021 USPA Nationals Speed Skydiving Results posted on SKYDERBY.

AXIS Flight School coach Niklas Daniel claimed second place with an average speed of 486.86 kmh / 302.52mph. Nik’s single highest scoring round was 495.36 kmh / 307.80mph, which occurred in round 4.

Nik reached a top speed of 502km/h (311.92mph), but unfortunately this peak in performance happened after the end of the scoring window. Joining the 500 club will have to wait 😉
Exit weight 100.8kg / 222.22lbs. Photo by Karl Mayer.

Nik’s gear of choice for the competition was a Cookie G3 helmet, Vertical Suits Speed Suit, L&B Optima II, Freefall Data Systems Color Alti, Cypres 2, UPT Micron (V316), PIG gloves, adidas lite racer adapt 4.0 shoes, and some strategically placed gaffers tape 🙂

Nik’s performance earned him a spot on the USA Team to compete and represent the United States at the upcoming World Championships in Eloy Arizona next year.

Silver Medal and USPA Team Patch.
2021 Speed Skydiving Podium. From left to right: Niklas Daniel, Kyle Lobpries, Anthony “TJ” Landgren. Photo by Kay Robinson.

Nik would like to thank his sponsors for their continued support. In no particular order: Skydive Arizona, Skyventure AZ, Cookie Composites, Cypres, L&B Altimeters, Performance Designs, UPT, and Vertical Suits.

OEW Wind Tunnel Training 2021

Kevin and Jonathon just completed flying with AXIS Flight School at the Skyventure AZ tunnel. Having flown 3.5 hours each over the course of three days, Kevin and Jonathon are part of the January 2021 Operation Enduring Warrior Skydive class (a veteran-founded nonprofit organization). The goal of this training camp was to best prepare Kevin and Jonathon for eventual AFF and skydive training in the near future; aiming for the beginning of next year. Both excelled at learning body-flight in the tunnel and exceeded their own expectations. Before jump training can commence, there are still a few equipment hurdles that need to be taken care of. AXIS Flight School instructors Brianne and Nik feel confident that Kevin and Jonathon will take to the sky without hesitation and are happy to welcome them to the skydiving community.

During their visit, Todd Love was in town to get recurrent and jump, but unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. Todd joined the gang in the tunnel and was able to provide some valuable insights to Jonathon via demonstration, since they have a similar body compositions.

Nik, Kevin, Brianne, Todd and Jonathon in front of the Skyventure Arizona wind tunnel at Skydive Arizona.
Photo by Emily Quinn

Foundations of Flight | Ram-Air Parachute Anatomy—Cells

Brought to you by Niklas Daniel and Brianne Thompson of AXIS Flight School at Skydive Arizona in Eloy. Images by Bruce Fournier.

In the photo above, the area that makes up the canopy’s center cell is highlighted in red.

It is important for jumpers to have at least a rough understanding of the different areas and features of their ram-air parachutes. Whether you are trying to describe a specific part that needs maintenance to a rigger or you are discussing your last landing with a canopy coach, a common language and terminology can help avoid confusion. The following provides a look at the internal components of your parachute that are hidden from view.

Concept: Cross-Sectional Area

A cross section provides a two-dimensional view of an object as if it were cut in half, revealing details of its inner workings. This can help shed some light on very specific areas, although they will make up only a small piece of the puzzle. There are generally six vantage points from which to view a cross-sectional area. These are typically at right angles to the three axes:

Equipment: Cells (Longitudinal Axis View)

In the previous article we defined what a ram-air parachute is and how to check if it is working properly. Now we will take a closer look at what the air is being rammed into: the cells.

In simplest terms, a cell is the space that is occupied by air when a parachute is inflated. The word “cell” comes from Latin and means “small room.” In the case of a parachute, the ribs make up the walls, the bottom skin is the floor and the top skin is the ceiling. The nose (leading edge) of the parachute has openings that capture the relative wind, pressurizing the internal structure of the wing as the closed trailing edge traps it. We’ll cover more details about these features in the next issue.

A parachute can have any number of cells, but most common sport parachute designs have seven or nine. Most sport parachutes utilize a bi-cell design, meaning there are two rooms per cell. Therefore, each cell has three ribs, two which are called loaded ribs (because they have suspension lines attached to them) and one in the middle of the cell that is not loaded. The purpose of non-loaded ribs is to provide additional connection points between the top and bottom skin. This helps shape the parachute into a more efficient wing.

Information about AXIS’ coaching and instructional services is available at axisflightschool.com. The authors intend this article to be an educational guideline. It is not a substitute for professional instruction.

More educational skydiving content, as well as this free article, is available by downloading the AXIS Skydiving app on your smart device.

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