Published in Blue Skies Magazine Issue #79: July 2016
To learn more about Vector Camps, and to sign up for the upcoming CSC event, please click here.
Building on the success of the famous Vector Festival event in Europe, UPT has spearheaded a group of manufacturers, coming together to deliver a skills camp experience like no other. The goal is to work with top coaches and provide camp participants with a safe and personalized way to further their skills. Number of slots available per each day is limited. Coaches and organizers will come from teams like Fly4Life, SDC Core and AXIS Flight School, and focus on working with a small group of flyers. Participants will be entered into a raffle to win a custom Vector container at the end of the series, along with many smaller prizes during each camp.
In conjunction with each VectorCamp, we at Blue Skies Mag will deliver tips, tricks and interview from select coaches on a variety of topics – especially for those of you that can’t make it to the camps in person!
The first VectorCamp is to be held at Chicagoland Skydiving Center (CSC) August 11-14, 2016, featuring a variety of events and disciplines:
⚬ 10 Way FS Challenge (AXIS Flight School vs. the Grillet family)
⚬ Intro to Canopy Flocking (Greg Rau)
⚬ Angle Leadership Group (Andy Locke)
⚬ Mixed FreeFly Sequentials (Naomi Kotzee)
⚬ Multi Dimensional Wingsuit Flight (Lawrence de Laubadere)
⚬ HeadUp Formations and Big Way Skills (Gareth Bloodworth)
⚬ Intro to FS and Group Belly Flying Skills
⚬ Intro to FreeFly
⚬ Intro to Angle Flying
Originally posted by Blue Skies Magazine May 12, 2016
Originally posted by Performance Designs on May 3rd, 2016
“For the one year anniversary of launching the Valkyrie, we wanted to create a continuation of the original Valkyrie Ad (see below) first released early last year. Sticking with the same theme, we aimed to showcase a strong female figure as the personification of the Valkyrie. Brianne Thompson of AXIS Flight School was chosen. As a strong, confident, talented woman in the sport, she was a natural choice for the ad.
The photo was shot at Skydive Arizona with the help of Nik Daniel (AXIS Flight School), Steve Curtis (Arizona Arsenal), and photographer Justin Carmody. In case you were wondering, the fire is 100% real and no Valkyrie canopies were harmed in the making. We only had three chances to get the winning shot due to weather and lighting conditions, but after some rainy days, tense moments, and hot swoops (literally!), we finally captured the perfect shot seen here.”
The Operation Enduring Warrior Skydive program began in 2013 (it was then called Operation X-Wing) to facilitate initial skydiving training for combat-wounded veterans. Since then, nine students have earned their A licenses through the program. But just like other recently A-licensed skydivers, many OEW jumpers came off the high of reaching this milestone and found themselves asking, “What’s next?” The world of skydiving is so full of possibilities for new jumpers that deciding what path to take can be overwhelming.
To figure out how to best encourage graduates to continue to learn, have fun and make wise decisions, OEW asked its alumni what kept them interested in the sport and coming back to their drop zones on weekends. From these interviews, OEW organizers learned that the new jumpers needed to feel comfortable in their home drop zones’ environments and that relationships with local jumpers played a big role in whether an adaptive skydiver chose to call a particular DZ home. So OEW decided to start a mentorship program to help graduates maintain currency and proficiency while beginning to explore different disciplines in the sport.
There’s No Place Like Home
OEW-program hosts Lone Star Parachute Center in Luling, Texas; Skydive Arizona in Eloy; Skydive Paraclete XP in Raeford, North Carolina; and Skydive Suffolk in Virginia are very supportive of the program and its adaptive athletes. However, after initial training, graduates often find themselves without a familiar drop zone close to home. Todd Love, a triple amputee who began skydiving in 2013 and is OEW’s first graduate, said, “I look for how accessible [a drop zone] is. If it’s not, then the only way I’m going is if I have a good friend who can help me out with all the logistics of skydiving as an adaptive athlete. It can be a bummer going to a drop zone that doesn’t have a bathroom I can use.”
Love also shared his thoughts on selecting people to jump with: “I always try to choose other skydivers who can have a positive ability on my own skydiving capabilities. I look for people who are professional not just in skydiving but … about everything they do. It sounds silly, but watching how people drive their cars, how they eat, how they speak or how they listen are all very revealing of their states of mind. There may be hints in their habits on the ground that may foreshadow their behavior in the air.” Love emphasized the need to find good communicators to jump with and added, “If there is a lack of communication, then step up and be the voice that can bring clarity to the plan of the skydive.”
Finding a Mentor
Along with the feedback OEW received from interviewing its graduates, it also had a chance to witness the positive effect of mentorship first-hand. When Tyler Anderson, a 2015 graduate of the OEW program at Paraclete XP, attended a B-license canopy course through AXIS Flight School at Skydive Arizona, he brought along his mentor, Justin Avila. (Recognizing that canopy control goes hand in hand with avoiding injury and staying in the sport, OEW recently began offering B-license canopy training for its graduates.) Anderson met Avila—a fellow wounded veteran with more than 500 jumps and a Coach rating—through school outside of the OEW program. At the canopy course, the OEW staff recognized that Avila’s support and guidance was a big part of Anderson’s success at progressing in the sport after earning his A license.
Additionally, Love attended some of Anderson’s canopy classes, providing additional support. Love’s guidance was also useful to new OEW student Donna Bachler. Though at different stages in their skydiving progressions, both Anderson and Bachler commented on the value of having another OEW Skydive graduate and adaptive athlete available to them as a resource.
A single mentor can provide an invaluable support system, as well as guidance and motivation, to a beginning skydiver. For OEW graduates, the most effective formula for achieving skydiving progression and success involved mentorship by fellow veterans. OEW graduates and current students call drop zones all over the United States home. If you’re a military veteran skydiver and would like to be involved with OEW, email email@example.com or search for “Operation Enduring Warrior” on Facebook.
About the Author
Iveta “Murv” Muravyeva, D-33208, is a pilot and a skydiver with more than 14 years of experience in both fields. She joined Operation Enduring Warrior in 2012 as Operation X-Wing’s program director with the goal of connecting wounded veterans to the skydiving community. She’s worked closely with AXIS Flight School at Skydive Arizona, as well as the staff of Skydive Suffolk, to develop the program.
I would like to congratulate Dan Dupuis, and thank Dave at Skydive Radio for making the 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.
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.