Skydive Radio Interview on Visualizing

AXIS Flight School would like to thank Garnett and Dave at Skydive Radio for hosting us on their show (#249). Brianne and Nik discuss the value of incorporating visualization parctices to enhace performance.

Visualizing interview 1:37:20 – 1:55:00

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AXIS introduces new HFS dive pools

AXIS Flight School has introduced a new discipline – HFS (Horizontal Formation Skydiving), which is intended for indoor skydiving and utilizes both the belly and back-flying orientations simultaneously. It is therefore related to the horizontal rounds drawn during an MFS advanced event, but with an expanded dive pool in order to facilitate more rounds. These disciplines are a great stepping stone for those with formation skydiving experience and are wanting to explore free-flying. There are two versions to choose from: 2-way and 4-way. Both have been added to the AXIS DrawGenerator.

The 2-way HFS dive pool incorporates some elements from the USPA MFS and Collegiate dive pools, as well as the USIS 2-way VFS event. In addition there are some new formations created by AXIS to further expand the pool.

The 4-way HFS dive pool is an adaptation and was inspired by the 4-way VFS discipline.

XF Dive Pool and Rules Updated

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.

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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.

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Dive pool images from 2015

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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:

  • Normal (belly to earth) – indicated in gray, and
  • Inverted (back to earth) – indicated in red.

Back in the day 🙂

AXIS coach Niklas Daniel started experimenting with XF back in April 2010, and has posted videos and written articles about the subject.

2010 – Nik’s first few attempts at Skydive Elsinore.

2011 – Training Camp at Skydive Arizona

2011 – MOAB Boogie.

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Photo by Taya Weiss.

2014 – Getting a bit braver. Post by Blue Skies Magazine.

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2015 – XF gets some exposure on Discovery Canada with first 3-way Night Formation.

Continued fun, experimentation, and introducing the discipline to others.

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Wing-suit pilot and photo by Alex Swindle.

OEW in the Eloy Enterprise

Disabled veterans learn how to skydive

 

ELOY — Two paraplegic military veterans have taken up a new hobby and recently began their journey of obtaining their skydiving license.

Ryan Newell and Chris Wolff traveled to SkyVenture Arizona from Kansas and Texas for their first training session with AXIS Flight School instructors Brianne Thompson and Niklas Daniel.

Newell and Wolff are part of Operation Enduring Warrior, which is a veteran-founded nonprofit organization that offers various programs including skydiving.

The skydiving program offers an unparalleled sense of freedom of flight and endless mental, physical and emotional rehabilitative solutions in what can feel like a completely new dimension in their lives, often becoming a lifelong hobby, advocates say.

“The concept I tell my children all the time is society says I can’t do this. I can tell them to sit back and watch what’s about to happen,” Wolff said. “It lets them know and understand that the only person that’s going to change you is you, and the only person to hold you back is you. There’s going to be a time when you find a wall that stops you, but what is it? Is it an equipment issue, is it a strength issue? There’s something that goes on that you can break through, but it’s not going to be maybe the way society thinks it’s suppose to be done and that’s the biggest thing we have to look at.”

Wolff had some previous skydiving experience with four tandem jumps, but Newell had no freefall experience.

At SkyVenture Arizona, the two veterans spent many hours in the wind tunnel learning the basics of how to control their body during freefall.

“It’s amazing,” Newell said. “You’re free. It’s like nothing else in that moment matters, it’s just you and the wind. It’s the most incredible feeling to be in there and be free.”

Wolff pointed out that in the wind tunnel there was a different sense of freedom compared to when he did the tandem jumps.

“You’re defying gravity when you’re in the wind tunnel floating above it, but you’re by yourself; you’re not attached to anybody,” Wolff said. “You’re in control of your turns, your rotations, everything that you’re doing you’re not relying on somebody else. It’s kind of like having training wheels and you kick the training wheels off and you don’t have them anymore.”

Wolff spent 10 years in the Air Force and went to Afghanistan as an aerospace maintenance craftsman to disarm weapons. Everything went smoothly and he returned home, he went through the redeployment line and during the medical portion of the process where he got his vaccines and updates, he got a flu shot.

“Nineteen days later I woke up paralyzed from the neck down from a flu vaccine,” Wolff said. “I laid in a hospital bed for 2½ years as a C5 quadriplegic. All I could do was move my neck side to side, I couldn’t talk, couldn’t function anything on my own.”

Then one day Wolff slightly lifted his arm off the bed and 11 years later he’s able to stand up and walk with forearm crutches.

Newell spent eight years in the Army and was in Afghanistan riding in a Humvee when his accident happened.

“I ended up rolling over 100 pounds of homemade explosives that detonated right underneath the truck and it took my right leg instantly,” Newell said. “It broke my left leg femur in half … I don’t remember anything from that portion of it — just what everybody had told me. I was the only survivor out of the Humvee and that’s actually what drives me to all the stuff that I do, it’s because I live for my teammates.”

Newell and Wolff spent five days in Eloy during the first session of their training before traveling back home. They both enjoyed learning from Thompson and Daniel and pointed out that they enjoyed the experience with their instructors as well as the whole skydiving community in Eloy.

“They take the time and they focus on each individual need and they’ll tell you if you’re doing it wrong,” Newell said. “They had me flying on my own during the first session of being in the tunnel. I’ve talked to three other drop zones and even though they have instructors there, they didn’t want to take the risk of training an amputee and these guys didn’t hesitate one bit. These two just flat out go, it doesn’t matter what the injury is, if it’s amputation or paralysis, they will find ways to make us fly and there’s other drop zones that won’t do that.”

Wolff added that he’s also faced the same obstacles at other drop zones, where they don’t want to take that chance on him.

“In the adaptive world is where we have a lot of roadblocks,” Wolff said. “Finding people that are willing to take what is considered abnormal, but to us is normal life and pushing the limitations of what was considered the norm to this new type of adaptive skydiving, that’s not really adaptive. We’re a skydiver just like everybody else. Adapting is one of the biggest hurdles in trying to find that person that’s willing to just consider.”

Wolff’s end goal is to be able to continue being an example for other people who are trying to break through barriers and to also change the thought process of those who may unintentionally set those barriers. An added bonus is that he has found an activity that he can enjoy with his daughter.

“I always look at what my daughter can do,” Wolff said. “From playing with a soccer ball to riding her bike or something like that and being able to see something that her and I can do together. That my injury isn’t considered the problem of why we can’t do it but the availability to do it or it’s something we have to work together to do. I don’t have to worry about that barrier anymore.”

Newell’s goal is to eventually have enough people go through the training to establish a skydiving demonstration team.

“We want to be able to show not only everybody here in the U.S. but the whole world with a disabled demonstration team,” Newell said. “To show them that we came to AXIS Flight School and they taught us from Day 1, and go all the way to become a demonstration team of wounded warriors or even wounded individuals in general. Show the world, hey. Get out there and do something. It’s not the disability, it’s the ability.”