Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Video of Skydiver getting stuck underneath airplane at 10,000 feet

Normally when you hear of a skydiver having a "problem", it has something to do with their parachute. However, on Friday near Lima Peru, the skydiver's jumpsuit became part of the problem.

As first reported by ABC News, after skydiver Fernando Gava jumped out of the airplane, he was still attached to it! The pant leg on his jumpsuit become snagged on the jump step of the jump plane. 

The Jump Pilot had to fly around for approximately 30 minutes while the skydiver tried to cut his pant leg off with a knife that he had. All skydivers AND Jump Pilots are trained to keep a hook knife on them at all times and luckily Fernando had his on him.

He was able to free himself from the circling Cessna 182 with his hook knife and landed safely on the ground, as did the airplane. He received a warm welcome from his fellow skydivers and medical attention to a cut on his hand upon his landing.

- SkyDiverDriver.com

Thursday, July 9, 2015

14 Skydivers and Pilot survive emergency landing at Skydive Dubai

A Grand Caravan owned by Skydive Dubai with 14 Skydivers on-board crash landed at about 8am local time on Tuesday morning. The aircraft had just departed Skydive Dubai's Desert Campus when it was forced to land off runway on the side of a sand dune.

According to a statement released by Skydive Dubai, the airplane experienced a "technical problem shortly after it had taken off". Soon after the airplane crash landed, it became fully engulfed in flames and was a complete loss. Luckily none of the 14 Skydivers, nor the Pilot was injured during the accident.

The UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) has started its investigation as to the cause of the accident and will release a report when complete. We will post that report when it becomes available.

Monday, June 22, 2015

History - Civil Jump Planes dropping more than Skydivers

Twenty years ago NASA teamed up with a Drop Zone near Mojave, California for their X-38 project. The Jump Aircraft that was utilized was a C206. Scaled Composites Inc. built the X-38 test airframes. A very interesting article about the project is found below. Author is unknown. Photos by Jim Ross.

A 4-foot-long model of NASA's X-38, an experimental crew return vehicle, glides to earth after being dropped from a Cessna aircraft in late 1995. The model was used to test the ram-air parafoil landing system, which could allow for accurate and controlled landings of an emergency Crew Return Vehicle spacecraft returning to Earth. The X-38 Crew Return Vehicle (CRV) research project is designed to develop the technology for a prototype emergency crew return vehicle, or lifeboat, for the International Space Station. 

The project is also intended to develop a crew return vehicle design that could be modified for other uses, such as a joint U.S. and international human spacecraft that could be launched on the French Ariane-5 Booster. The X-38 project is using available technology and off-the-shelf equipment to significantly decrease development costs. Original estimates to develop a capsule-type crew return vehicle were estimated at more than $2 billion. X-38 project officials have estimated that development costs for the X-38 concept will be approximately one quarter of the original estimate. 

Off-the-shelf technology is not necessarily "old" technology. Many of the technologies being used in the X-38 project have never before been applied to a human-flight spacecraft. For example, the X-38 flight computer is commercial equipment currently used in aircraft and the flight software operating system is a commercial system already in use in many aerospace applications. The video equipment for the X-38 is existing equipment, some of which has already flown on the space shuttle for previous NASA experiments. The X-38's primary navigational equipment, the Inertial Navigation System/Global Positioning System, is a unit already in use on Navy fighters. The X-38 electromechanical actuators come from previous joint NASA, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Navy research and development projects. 

Finally, an existing special coating developed by NASA will be used on the X-38 thermal tiles to make them more durable than those used on the space shuttles. The X-38 itself was an unpiloted lifting body designed at 80 percent of the size of a projected emergency crew return vehicle for the International Space Station, although two later versions were planned at 100 percent of the CRV size. The X-38 and the actual CRV are patterned after a lifting-body shape first employed in the Air Force-NASA X-24 lifting-body project in the early to mid-1970s. The current vehicle design is base lined with life support supplies for about nine hours of orbital free flight from the space station. It's landing will be fully automated with backup systems which allow the crew to control orientation in orbit, select a deorbit site, and steer the parafoil, if necessary. The X-38 vehicles (designated V131, V132, and V-131R) are 28.5 feet long, 14.5 feet wide, and weigh approximately 16,000 pounds on average. The vehicles have a nitrogen-gas-operated attitude control system and a bank of batteries for internal power. The actual CRV to be flown in space was expected to be 30 feet long. 

The X-38 project is a joint effort between the Johnson Space Center, Houston, Texas (JSC), Langley Research Center, Hampton, Virginia (LaRC) and Dryden Flight Research Center, Edwards, California (DFRC) with the program office located at JSC. A contract was awarded to Scaled Composites, Inc., Mojave, California, for construction of the X-38 test airframes. The first vehicle was delivered to the JSC in September 1996. The vehicle was fitted with avionics, computer systems and other hardware at Johnson. A second vehicle was delivered to JSC in December 1996. 

Flight research with the X-38 at Dryden began with an unpiloted captive-carry flight in which the vehicle remained attached to its future launch vehicle, Dryden's B-52 008. There were four captive flights in 1997 and three in 1998, plus the first drop test on March 12, 1998, using the parachutes and parafoil. Further captive and drop tests occurred in 1999. In March 2000 Vehicle 132 completed its third and final free flight in the highest, fastest, and longest X-38 flight to date. It was released at an altitude of 39,000 feet and flew freely for 45 seconds, reaching a speed of over 500 miles per hour before deploying its parachutes for a landing on Rogers Dry Lakebed. In the drop tests, the X-38 vehicles have been autonomous after airlaunch from the B-52. After they deploy the parafoil, they have remained autonomous, but there is also a manual mode with controls from the ground.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Review - Engine Failure Immediately After Takeoff - C208B (675 SHP)

A year ago today the Grand Caravan pictured above operated by Grant Aviation crashed during its takeoff phase of flight in Alaska. Although N208SM did not experience an engine failure, I thought that today would be as good a day as any to review the Emergency Procedures for Engine Failure Immediately After Takeoff  for Cessna Model 208B (675 SHP). 

Us as pilots know, the worst time to experience an engine failure is during the takeoff phase of flight. This situation is also when pilots can have the least amount of time to react and usually seem to make the worst decisions. Including making the ill-advised decision to turn back towards the airport when they are too low to the ground. Forgetting simple Private Pilot 101 lessons of Aerodynamic Forces in Flight Maneuvers. Their fear induced large bank angle, to get them back to the airport, results in a large reduction in airspeed further resulting in a stall and crash.

Another reason that I would like to review this emergency procedure is because as a Skydive Pilot I realize that at this time of year there are a lot of new Caravan Pilots. Skydivers jump year round in most parts of the world, however a considerably larger amount of skydiving is done during the Summer months. A new season usually equals new Caravan pilots. As you might have read in some of my past articles, most of the Jump Pilot hiring is done during the month of April (in the Northern Hemisphere) and that is done to get them ready for the busy Summer months.

Please remember that these Emergency Procedures found below are for the Cessna Model 208B (675 SHP) and no others. If you are flying a different model Caravan, please review your aircraft's FAA approved Abbreviated Checklist or Airplane Flight Manual for that specific model.

As stated in the Pilots' Abbreviated Checklist published by Cessna, here are the procedures for:  

Engine Failure Immediately After Takeoff 
  1.  Airspeed - 85 KIAS with 20 DEGREES FLAPS
  2.  Propeller - FEATHER
  3.  Wing Flaps - FULL DOWN
  4.  Fuel Condition Lever - CUTOFF
  5.  Fuel Shutoff - OFF (pull out)
  6.  Fuel Tank Selectors - OFF (warning horn will sound)
  7.  Battery - OFF    

If you have finished the above procedures and have double checked them all and you still have altitude (time) you should proceed with the Emergency Landing Without Engine Power procedures found in your aircraft's FAA approved Abbreviated Checklist or Airplane Flight Manual.

My fellow Caravan Pilots, please remember to review oftenfly safe so that you can continue to have fun!

Friday, June 12, 2015

Jump Flying, the Rotary Version! By Dan Rose

Jump Flying, the Rotary Version! 
By Dan Rose 

This article is in no way a guide to being a jump pilot, this is written to show the rotary side of jump flying for both pilots and jumpers as the helicopter is a rare visitor to the drop zone. In this article I've tried to guide the reader through the various stages of arrangements, phases of the flight and the individual problems and pitfalls of helicopter jump flying. If you want to learn to become a jump pilot go ahead and contact your local parachute authority as they'll have the relevant material to cover for jump pilot training. I hope the below helps both pilots and jumpers understand the principles of helicopter parachute operations as I've found there's a severe lack of resources and training material for the helicopter jump pilot!

First of all, a little bit about the helicopter and why the appeal to use it as a jump platform? Most fixed wing guys would describe them as 'the dark side of aviation', 'a million bolts flying in lose formation', and I've even been told by the guy who taught me jump flying that by flying rotary I'd be going straight to hell! Joking aside if you ask any rotary pilot they'll explain to you the attraction of the helicopter, the ability to lift vertically, hover and maneuver laterally. But the appeal of the helicopter as a jump platform isn't about what the pilot likes, it's the jumper! From the jumpers point of view it's a toss-up between the appeal of jumping an unusual aircraft, and the unique exit experience a helicopter gives. With the low airspeed on the run-in, this gives the jumper the subterminal exit more commonly experienced from a base jump.

To make a start we've all heard the saying 'the weight of the paperwork has to match the weight of the aircraft before you can go', this applies just as much here! Before any jumping has even been thought of, it’s important to make sure the relevant paperwork and authorisations are in place before you carry out helicopter parachute operations. What's needed may vary from country to country depending on your Civilian Aviation and Parachute authority. I'd advise researching heavily into what applies to you the pilot, the aircraft and the parachutist before you think about carrying out any kind of drops. For a pilot in the UK he/she must hold the appropriate licence/rating to operate and to be in command of the aircraft, be a BPA approved jump pilot and cleared on the aircraft he/she is going to be operating for the parachuting role. With reference to the helicopter or any aircraft carrying out parachuting it must be approved to carry out such operations, normally in the form of a flight supplement which has been prior approved by your relevant civilian aviation authority. This supplement may state any modifications made to the aircraft, door removals, and thus any airspeed or flight conditions that must be adhered to during the jump role. Finally for the jumper most drop zones put a licence and jump limit on anyone taking part in helicopter jumping, this is quite rightly so due to the complexity and the extra skill needed to carry out a helicopter jump. After the above has been said I'd just like to again emphasise that you must research the exact requirements needed for your particular location and operation, I've deliberately kept away from exact details as this article is more about an insight into helicopter parachute operations rather than definitive rules and regulations.

One final thing to be said about paperwork is the all-important weight & balance, look closely into the weight limits and envelope of your particular helicopter and any changes that'll occur through all phases of the flight. I'm not suggesting W&B is more important in the rotary world compared to fixed wing as it's vitally important in both roles, but in the rotary role the limits are very much more restricted and envelopes very much smaller. Thus 4 jumpers exiting from a Jet Ranger will have a larger effect on C of G and control forces needed to counter it, than it would in a fixed wing aircraft. The other aspect to think about in rotary operations is lateral C of G, this is where smooth jumper exit and exit order come into play. For example on a B206 with the pilot sat right seat and 2 jumpers exiting on the right side might be within C of G limits but would cause severe control inputs while they're at the door and upon exit, unable to guarantee a smooth and stable jump run. To put simply the helicopter pilot really gets to feel the difference between a light and heavy jumper and the control inputs needed on exit! It's important to sit down prior to jumping and work out suitable exit orders to ensure the safest and most stable way for all jumpers to exit the aircraft, this will vary on type, number of jumpers and pilot judgment. Also with some helicopter types there will be C of G and airspeed limits when the doors are removed. This is due to the way the air flows around the fuselage with the doors off, the rearward C of G, the effect on the directional stability of the airframe, the compensatory effect then needed from the tail rotor and cyclic inputs needed. As a result directional control may not be possible above certain air speeds and at certain C of G positions! With all this said I'd recommend running up w&b schedules for all possible jumper/fuel configurations through the day, this way you'll know what you can and can't do as things will typically change throughout the jumping day.

With the paperwork in order and your weight and balance figured out, what now? A very important source of information for both the pilot and the jumper is a proper briefing. This is an excellent opportunity to pass your requirements ascertained from your weight & balance calculations as to jumper numbers and types of exit. This is also a chance to run down the all-important safety briefing, what the jumpers do in an emergency may vary greatly between fixed wing and rotary and they must be completely clear as to what they should and shouldn't do. The briefing should include both what to do in an emergency and normal operations, for example how jumpers enter the aircraft during rotors running boarding, sounds simple but it's all too easy to walk into a tail rotor which is conveniently placed at head height! This is also a good opportunity for a question & answer session between the pilot and jumper, you'll more than likely get the typical questions like 'can we hang off this?', 'can we hang off that?', it's essential that you make everybody clear as to what they can and can't do as you don't want questions being asked while the pilots busy on the jump run. Typically with a helicopter a jump light system may not be installed so a system to notify the jumpers as to when they're on the jump run, when to climb out and exit the helicopter needs to be agreed on. With the pilot normally sat in close proximity to the jumpers verbal warnings usually work, but everybody needs to be clear exactly what the verbal warnings will be and when they'll be given to save any confusion once airborne.

Before the jumper gets into a helicopter to do a jump, it's probably a good idea to look over the aircraft while it's on the ground and shutdown. This will give them a chance to appreciate the major differences between rotary and fixed wing. The first thing a jumper may notice is the severe lack of space! Unless you happen to be really lucky and get jump a chinook, you're more than likely to be jumping a 4-5 seat light helicopter, maybe a B206 Jet Ranger or R44. I'd recommend sitting in the helicopter prior to jumping with a rig on to get used to your sitting position and how to operate the seat belts. Once you've figured out the basics think about where the handholds are and how you'll transfer yourself from sat in the door to your exit position, this might sound easy but when the time comes to exit it'll be the difference between a smooth exit and what's technically known as a cluster f**k! Ruining the experience for yourself, your fellow jumpers and not to mention making the pilots job a whole lot harder as you faff about in the door! A very important point to note are the additional snag-up points with a helicopter, door fixings, earthing points, skid supports and skid wheel attaching points are to name but a few! This emphasises the point about looking over the helicopter before the jump, chat with the pilot as he'll be able to point out the most obvious hangup points and the parts of the helicopter you should be looking for and avoid during the exit.

Once you're familiar with the seating, seatbelt usage and snag points it's time to think about the exit. Once again sit in the helicopter beforehand and plan the exit strategy and order. Will it be a single jumper exit, multiple exits, in what order and what type of exit? This will vary hugely on the type of helicopter you're jumping for reasons I'll explain later. My best advice for this is to speak to the pilot, he'll know the limits of the helicopter type and the preferred exit type and in what order to maintain a balanced and controlled exit for yourself and the aircraft. During the exit for smaller helicopter types it's vitally important jumpers are aware not to 'push-off' from any part of the airframe, it must be a 'fall away' exit. This is due to the fact the helicopters fuselage is supported under the rotor disc just like a pendulum and any outside force pushing on the fuselage will create a swinging motion and control problems for the pilot and an uncomfortable exit for following jumpers. Smooth exits are the order of the day when it comes to helicopter jumping!

Having dedicated ground crew may also be a good idea as invariably jumper loading will be done rotors running, having someone to guide them on and get them strapped in helps greatly. Due to the smaller fuel capacity and likely weight restrictions hot refuels may be needed, a ground crew will help with this and save valuable turnaround time. Whatever your ground handlers job he/she needs to be briefed just as much as the jumpers, particularly in emergencies and any relevant hand signals used during the ground handling phase.

Okay, so the paperwork, weight & balance and briefing are all complete and everybody is clear as to what do to and when. Time to start up, as with all jump flying you're more than likely be departing close to the helicopters MTOW. Careful thought needs to be taken as to the type of departure you'll be making depending on the conditions at the time, wind, temp, a/c weight, local obstacles and noise abatement need to be taken account of. Check your flight manual and make sure you're aware of your machines torque/power limits at all phases of flight, this is especially important for the helicopter when lifting/maneuvering at low level on the airfield. This is due to the power required to keep a heavily laden helicopter hovering at slow speed, and the additional power requirements needed to make turns with the tail rotors requirement of engine power. I personally try to ensure the pickup point is into wind and clear of obstacles for a straight out departure, thus easing the workload on the engine and making my job a whole lot easier! For a rotary departure it's important to try and remain clear of certain parts of the Height/Velocity curve. Any helicopter pilot will explain to you that during single engine operations, certain Height and Airspeed combinations will give unfavourable conditions for an autorotation in the event of an engine failure. Remain clear of these combinations as much as you can giving yourself the maximum possible chance to recover in the event of an engine failure, I'd also recommend scouting the airfield surroundings for ideal set down points if you have an engine failure or other technical problems on the departure phase.

When airborne and climbing it's important to have a predetermined pattern to follow to reach the jump run and exit point, this will hopefully keep you clear of other air traffic and possibly other jump ships and drops running alongside your rotary parachute operations. After all parachutists under canopy and helicopters don't mix! This is best arranged with a prior briefing amongst yourself, your fellow jump pilots and the DZ controller so you all work efficiently together through the day. On the climb-out and the doors off it's tempting for the jumpers to dangle legs, cameras etc out of the door, this should be discourage wherever possible, this is to avoid anything departing the aircraft and hitting the tail rotor with obvious serious consequences such as tail rotor failure! It's also worth mentioning that parachutist line checks must be strictly adhered to before climbing into the helicopter for the very fact doors are open during flight and thus the increased danger of premature canopy deployment and hang ups. Although a premature deployment and hang up is a serious situation in both fixed and rotary I'd argue that it's more likely to lead to an incident when on a helicopter with the additional rotating aerofoils and the proximity to these and the jumpers. In this situation the helicopter then has the reduced ability to maintain aircraft stability compared to fixed wing and should a canopy be cut away you then pose the risk of a main/tail rotor strike and failure. In this event it's important that any remaining jumpers smother the pre-deployed canopy to reduce the chance of any part of the canopy exiting the aircraft, leaving anything hanging outside the aircraft is strongly discouraged for the above mentioned reasons. Simply said with hang ups and premature deployment prevention is better than cure, parachutists check your gear before boarding and pilots ensure everybody is properly briefed on airframe snag hazards!

As with both fixed and rotary, both types face the chances of an engine failure, this can happen at any phase of flight and the pilot must be happy he can deal with this as per his emergency drills at all times. While most fixed wing pilots might think that when the helicopter experiences an engine failure it just drops out of the sky like a brick.....fortunately for rotary pilots and their passengers this isn't so! While the procedures for engine failure on rotary aircraft differ to fixed wing the basic principles remain the same, maintaining control of the aircraft and find a suitable place to land the aircraft safely. In this fact helicopters have an easier time than fixed wing with the ability to set down in relatively small and confined areas. With an engine failure in a helicopter the procedure is called an Autorotation, a short explanation of this is where the helicopter uses the airflow from the decent to maintain rotor RPM, thus it's the airflow rotating the rotors rather than the engine. This is completed at the end with a flare and a hopeful smooth set down, with the pilot keeping careful control of the rotor RPM throughout all phases of the Autorotation. Another situation unfamiliar to fixed wing pilot is a tail rotor failure, which at some phases of flight can be worse than an engine failure! The purpose of the tail rotor on a helicopter is to counter the engine/rotor torque and give directional control, with this said I'm sure you can understand how serious is can be should it fail. Depending on the phase of flight this can be dealt with in a variety of ways, one of which is to enter an autorotation. All of the above can be complicated even further by the fact you may have jumpers inside/outside of the aircraft so make sure you're comfortable with you emergency procedures.

Once on the jump run the helicopter needs to be set up ready for the jumpers to climb out and exit, for the rotary pilot this is normally speed and power adjustments as the doors are normally already open/removed and flap configurations don't apply. As with the departure, power limits and requirements need to be carefully monitored due to the helicopter slowing and needing more power to maintain this flight configuration. It's also worth mentioning at this phase of flight pilots need to be aware of the condition known as LTE or Loss of Tail Rotor effectiveness, this occurs when the helicopters tail rotor is unable to counteract the main rotors torque effect, LTE is commonly experienced during low-airspeed high-power conditions which are both experienced during the jump run. As with most aerodynamic effects the chances of LTE will change depending on atmospheric conditions, most helicopter jumps in the UK will be done anywhere between 5000-6000ft AMSL and conditions similar to standard atmospheric conditions. Should you be operating anywhere Hot & High check your flight manual to ensure you're operating within performance limitations. With reference to the run in speed on the helicopter unless you're flying/jumping a large twin turbine you won't be hovering (much to the jumpers disgust!) and this is due to the fact high hovers require large amounts of engine power and should the engine fail at this point it would drastically reduce the chances of recovery. For this reason the run in will be done at a speed suitable for autorotation should the engine fail, with most light singles this is typically around the 50kt mark. I've been told that at 50kts and the combination of the rotor down wash the exit experience is as if you're making a still air exit from a building or as in a hover.

When the helicopter is configured, stable and you've received the 'clear-drop' from the DZ controller it's time to notify the jumpers it's time to climb out. Hopefully with the practice they've had on the ground and knowing the hand holds the jumpers will climb outside as smoothly as possible, as previously discussed the exit order and movement around the helicopter needs to be carefully rehearsed due to the pendulum effect of having the fuselage hung under the main rotor disc. As the jumpers exit (making sure they 'fall off' rather than 'push off') be prepared for shifts in CofG and the cyclic movements needed to adjust for this, after my first few lifts I soon became able to pre-empt the cyclic inputs needed as the jumpers exit the aircraft. Also be cautious with the sudden reduction in helicopter weight as they exit, unless you're quick with the collective this may lead to a sudden climb and if you're sat just below cloud level a chance of inadvertent IMC. Take your time of the first few jump runs to get used to the feel of the aircraft as they exit, it may also be a good idea to sit with an experienced helicopter jump pilot while doing a light load before you chuck yourself in at the deep end with a 20 lift cycle first time around!

 Once the jumpers have exited the helicopter it's time to descend and pick up the next load, as with all helicopter control inputs try to make this as smooth as possible. On two bladed teetering hinge rotor heads you have to be careful not to cause 'mast bumping', which may occur during the descent or when arresting an inadvertent climb after the jumpers have exited. This is where in low G conditions (typically arising from excessive forward cyclic inputs during a descent) the fuselage and rotor hub exceed angle limits causing the hub hitting the rotor mast resulting in damage and potential main rotor separation! For this reason use the collective to initiate the descent and the cyclic to control pitch and airspeed, this brings me to my next point. With some types you'll have airspeed limitations when the doors have been removed, adhere to these strictly as it's all too easy to forget this when trying to hurry the descent and pick up the next load. Ignoring these airspeed limits can lead to directional control problems as previously mentioned. As with the climb out make sure your descent and airfield joining pattern doesn’t clash with local air traffic, other jump ships on jump runs and jumpers under canopy. Keep the lookout going all the way through the descent as you're more than likely operating with a lot of activity happening in a small amount of airspace. Once you're on finals and positioning to pick up the next load be cautious of ground obstructions and personnel, this is where it's a good idea to have a designated loading area for rotors run refuels and loading jumpers under the safe control of a ground handler.

With all the above said, helicopter jumps are novel and challenging for both the parachutist and pilot. As with all types of flying, caution and a professional attitude are needed from all parties involved. I’m hoping from the information in this article it’ll allow the fixed wing pilot more information into what a rotary pilot goes through, the rotary pilot more information and a starting point on helicopter jump piloting, and the parachutist an insight as what he/she will experience on a helicopter jump. I encourage any pilot to research the above further before he/she takes up helicopter jump flying as I’m in no means an expert.....but this should give you an idea where to start and what to expect! Fly Safe!!

*Thanks to John O’Connell & Alex Law for their Technical Input!


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Meet our Featured Jump Pilot - Mia with Skydive Jurien Bay

Meet our Featured Jump Pilot Mia, a Caravan pilot with Skydive Jurien Bay. A drop zone on the beautiful Turquoise Coast of Western Australia. Mia is a pilot and skydiver and is passionate about both!

Age: 27
From: Victoria, Australia
Total Time: 900 hours
Company: Skydive Jurien Bay
Location: Jurien Bay, Western Australia
Years Flying Skydivers: 3

What do you like most about flying skydivers?

I show up to work every day and get to fly an awesome aircraft and hang out with a bunch of amazing and inspirational people. I can hardly call what I do a job. I really love the variables that my day brings me – which keeps me on my toes. The Caravan is such a versatile and reliable aircraft and is an absolute joy to fly. I particularly enjoy the responsibility of being able to haul up to 17 passengers up to FL150! I couldn’t possibly pick only one thing that I like most about flying skydivers in the Caravan – I love every aspect of what I do!

What are your career goals?

Currently I am very happy flying the Caravan at Skydive Jurien Bay. In the future I hope to open my own skydiving business with my partner. In addition to flying, business management is another passion of mine, and I’m keen to put my management degree to good use.  If that falls through, I’m still hoping NASA needs  a Caravan pilots to go to space ;)  

What is your advice for younger pilots?

I've learned that the road to making your flying dreams come true isn’t always easy! My advice for younger pilots is to persevere and take any opportunity that is offered to them.  Also, it is easy to get too focused on achieving the end result or landing that dream job in the airlines. Enjoy the journey and remember to have fun while making your flying dreams come true :D

Feel free to visit the Skydive Jurien Bay site skydivejurienbay.com

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

*Repost* As a Jump Pilot you should always be watching your Skydivers exit!

This is a cool shot of my buddy "voodoo" and a tandem passenger exiting our C206 Jump Aircraft at Skydive Taft a few years ago.  You can see me in the background watching the exit and is something you as a Skydive Pilot should always be doing.

It is very important to make sure that none of the skydivers lines or handles get snagged on a seat belt, a door frame or anything else.  Also, insure that they have indeed unbuckled their seat belt.  I have personally never seen it, but I have heard of skydivers forgetting to unbuckle their seat belt and then attempting to jump, resulting in them dangling from the side of the aircraft.

As you can imagine that type of situation could cause major problems for them and you as the pilot.  I always have a hook knife handy as well, in case I need to cut their seat belt off. I encourage you to do the same. I personally like the Gerber "Crisis Hook Knife". It is available on Amazon and eBay. Go buy one, you might save a life with it one day!

My fellow Jump Pilots, please remember to review oftenfly safe so that you can continue to have fun!

- SkyDiverDriver.com

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Converting your FAA Commercial Certificate to CAA New Zealand License

I have received questions in the past from Jump Pilots wanting to know how to "convert their FAA Commercial Certificate to a CAA (New Zealand) Commercial License". As you will read below, you are not technically "converting" your current FAA Certificate to a CAA License. You will keep your current FAA Certificate, be assessed and then given a CAA License. I thought some of you might want to know how to go about doing this as well. Here is what I found:

"In order to determine that the appropriate recognition requirements are met, all overseas pilots who seek the issue of a NZ Commercial Pilot License (CPL) or Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL) are required to have their flight experience and qualifications assessed. These assessments are carried out on behalf of the CAA by Aviation Services Ltd and are completed in accordance with the appropriate requirements prescribed by CAA.

In addition, acting under delegation from the Director of Civil Aviation, Aviation Services Ltd administer all NZ Flight Crew written examinations and initial issue flight tests for the CPL, Flight Instructor Ratings and Instrument Ratings. 

Overseas pilot license holders who seek the issue of a NZ CPL or ATPL, should initially contact ASL at the following address: 

Aviation Services Ltd. 
PO Box 30343 
Lower Hutt 
New Zealand 
Telephone: +64- 4- 913 9812 Fax: +64-4-913 9816 


For assessment purposes, any person seeking the issue of a NZ Flight Crew License will be required to support each application for assessment by producing their pilot logbook(s), current overseas pilot licence, unexpired overseas medical certification and any other evidence that may assist in establishing the applicant’s qualifications and flight experience. Evidence of holding a flight radio telephone operator rating or equivalent will also be required.

Following completion of the assessment, each applicant who meets the eligibility requirements for recognition will be advised in writing as to what they must complete prior to making application for a NZ Flight Crew License. 

When all the appropriate requirements have been completed, each application for the issue of a NZ Flight Crew License should be submitted to: 

Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand 
PO Box 3555 
Wellington 6140 
New Zealand 
Telephone: +64-4-560 9400 Fax: +64-4-569 2024

* The information above was found in the 10 page form titled: "Recognition of Overseas Flight Crew Licenses and Ratings" 
Read it in its entirety by visiting this link: www.caa.govt.nz/pilots/For_Australian_pilots.htm

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Meet our Featured Jump Pilot - Orion with Chicagoland Skydiving Center

Meet our Featured Jump Pilot Orion, a Twin Otter pilot with Chicagoland Skydiving Center. A drop zone that has been in business since 1968 and is one of the largest in the Midwest United States.

Name: Orion
Age: 27
From: Vermont
Total Time: 1,250
Company: Chicagoland Skydiving Center
Location:  Rochelle, IL
Years flying Skydivers: 2 years

What do you like most about flying Skydivers? 

I enjoy the skydiving community, being around people that love what they are doing allows you to appreciate your role as a pilot.  I get to fly cool planes filled with cool people.  Plus, skydivers are always happy... who wouldn't want to hang out with happy people?

What are your career goals?  

Never to have a 9-5er... But seriously... to enjoy my career, I would say is my primary goal. That and try out all that aviation has to offer. I only hope I don't croak before I get to do it all. 

What is your advice for younger pilots?  

Do what you love and always be ready to learn, the rest will come.  Also, part of being a pilot is to always be looking for that next great opportunity. But most importantly, don't forget where you are now and where you came from.

An added note from Orion: "Growing up on the side of a mountain in Vermont, listening to the gliders catching the updrafts as they whistled by sparked my love for aviation.  From then on I knew exactly what I wanted to do in my life, I was going to FLY!  

My love for aviation brought me into skydiving as a jump pilot, flying a Cessna 182.  Working and spending nearly all my time at the drop zone it became apparent that I should take the opportunity and learn to skydive.  After completing my AFF training and receiving my A license, I began to understand why everyone around me was so hooked.  Skydiving is one of those things that once you realize there is nothing to be afraid of, the possibilities are endless.  I can say for certain that I am addicted.  

I enjoy the drop zone atmosphere and being around people who love what they are doing so much that it is hardly a job to them, myself included.  I look forward to being the guy at the front of the plane taking you to altitude, and feel free to talk to me or give me a high five!!  See you in the sky!"

Feel free to visit the Chicagoland Skydiving Center site skydivecsc.com

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Laugh at the Calf..... on the taxiway! - Video

So here I am, about 5 years ago, on a peaceful Spring Day in Northern California taxiing in my Cessna 182 with a load of skydivers on what we thought would be an uneventful hop 'n pop (low altitude skydive) day.

Little did I know that we were about to come very close to a baby cow with our propeller and eating Veal, whether we wanted to or not! As I'm proceeding down the taxiway towards the runway to take off, I see in the distance what I thought was a large black dog on the taxiway. I focused more on the creature and realized that it was either the largest dog that I have ever seen in my life or indeed NOT a dog but something else. Something that was very curious about airplanes and was not removing itself from the taxiway. In fact it started running towards the spinning propeller!

That was when I started asking my skydivers, "What the bleep is on the taxiway?" At that point all four of us start leaning so far forward that our noses were almost touching the windshield! Also, at about that point everyone's cameras started rolling. Thank God that skydivers usually have a camera mounted to some part of their body! Because if we did not have this video and had to rely on explaining it to people with just words, it would not be nearly as funny. 

During the video I am obviously being a "smart ace" when I I state that I don't have reverse. Oh, and the strange noises that you hear.... that's Kyle making Raptor noises. Why you might ask, we're not sure. A mating call maybe? Enjoy!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

How a Wingsuiter should NOT be exiting your Skydive Aircraft

This is how a Wingsuiter should NOT be exiting your Skydive Aircraft. This guy is very lucky that he did not strike the horizontal stabilizer, severely injuring himself or even bringing the airplane down. Every Wingsuiter knows that you always exit the airplane with your legs together, never step out because this will open your leg wing. Also, keep your arms by your side for at least 3 seconds to clear the airplane's tail. The person pictured here is clearly not following best safety practices or he would not have his wings open while being in front of the horizontal stabilizer.

According Google Analytics over 3,000 people have viewed this article, not to mention the thousands that saw it on Facebook and Instagram. Yet still we have ONE guy named "Ben" that insists on arguing with me that the person in this photo is doing nothing wrong. He also mumbled something about the camera angle yada yada. So now the Wingsuiter and Cameraman are creating illusions? Should they start an act in Vegas? We'll have Ben do the introductions since he's their self appointed spokesperson. Save that BS for someone else guy. Is that why the Wingsuiters that jumped before him still have their arms close to their sides? Is that why every comment from Skydivers and Jump Pilots under this photo on Facebook was similar to, "Yikes!", "No Bueno!", "Wingsuit FAIL!" etc etc.?

Not to mention, he's missing the point to this entire article. We've all met this type of person, they want to debate just for the sake of debating. They do not truly care if they're right or wrong. However, I will use this situation to prove yet another point to my newer Jump Pilots. If you end up flying skydivers for more than a minute, you WILL have a guy that does stupid and/or dangerous stuff in or near your aircraft and will insist (or lie) and tell you that he did nothing wrong and to chill out. You MUST stand up to him as soon as practicable. Sometimes their adrenaline is so high that they don't think straight. It might sound funny but it's true.

I have taken a few guys aside and reminded them of what they did and to not do it again or they're done for the weekend. If they screw up on the Sunday sunset load then the next time I see them at the DZ, they can have fun watching everyone else because they're not jumping out of any airplane that I'm flying. Anytime that I've ever had to do that (luckily only a couple times), the DZO backed me up. If they had not, I would've tied the airplane down and left the DZ within minutes.

As a Skydive Pilot in Command you need to be talking to your skydivers (especially Wingsuiters) on the ground regularly. Also, at the start of the day or in between loads when you have a chance to talk to a Wingsuiter that you do not recognize at the DZ, go introduce yourself. I always do. I also ask them how many wingsuit jumps they have and I remind them to let me know when they are on the load and in which direction are they going to track so that our courses don't cross. I also remind them to stay tucked until they are well clear of the aircraft.

A few years ago I had a Wingsuiter open up (his arm and leg wings) too early and he struck my horizontal stabilizer. The strike only slightly dented the sheet metal. However, it broke his right arm severely, which made it much more difficult for him to deploy his parachute and manipulate his toggles. 

Luckily he landed safely. I waited to yell at him until after he returned to the DZ with his cast on and his pain pills in full effect. 

Remember, if anything bad happens while you're flying that Jump Plane, the FAA will mostly be looking at you unfavorably and asking you uncomfortable questions and making you fill out stacks of Federal forms... not the skydiver. Don't lose your Pilot's License because of some moron. Fly safe guys!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The USPA Safety Day is March 14th. What will you speak about as their pilot?

The United States Parachute Association (USPA) designates the second Saturday in March of every year to be its Safety Day and this year that happens to be on March 14th.  Started in 1997, it is the day that all of the USPA drop zones around the country gather up their employees and skydivers to review safety issues.  

Many of the skydivers are a little rusty from not jumping much (if at all) during the Winter months and is why it is held at this time of year. The only problem with Safety Day is that it's only one day a year. If I owned a drop zone we would have safety meetings every month. Even if it was simply a 15 minute safety review on a Saturday morning.

If this will be your first Safety Day at your DZ as a Jump Pilot, be sure and ask your DZO if it will be okay if you can speak at the general meeting. Be sure and write down at least an outline of items that you want your Skydivers, Manifest and Ground Crew to know or be reminded of.  As pilots we are taught that safety is #1, so do not simply stand up and say a couple words.  Take advantage of the fact that you have everyone's attention on the topic of safety. Personally, I usually talk about Weight & Balance, Safety Belts, Emergency Procedures and Prop Awareness during hot fueling, to name a few.

One of the most important things to remind your skydivers of, is what you as Pilot in Command will DEMAND of them in the event of an emergency. I personally demand that they remain calm (or try), do not tap me on the shoulder to ask silly questions (usually to ask if they can jump) and NO ONE touches that door unless I say so. 

If a s skydiver ever opened the door and jumped out during an emergency situation without my approval, I would have them grounded for a weekend. If the DZO disagrees with my punishment for them, then he/she can find another pilot for that weekend. Luckily I have only had to discipline a couple skydivers over the years. They all ended up thanking me for giving them a "time out" and they ended up respecting me more as their pilot.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Flying the EAA 1929 Ford Tri-Motor!

Recently I was honored to be able to fly EAAs 1929 Ford Tri-Motor! I flew it out of Shreveport Louisiana (DTN) on a beautiful sunny weekend. The Ford Tri-Motor has always been one of my favorite aircraft of all time. So, as you can imagine I was in heaven that day, a day that I will never forget.

Trying to maintain my cool and a heading!

My Captain for the day was Cody Welch, a retired airline pilot with over 33,000 flight hours. As if it wasn't hard enough for me to maintain my cool, I had one of the most experienced pilots in the entire state next to me. Capt. Welch ended up being one of the most down to earth and happy pilots that I've ever met. I confided to him that this was a dream come true for me to fly this airplane. He told me that he knows exactly how I feel. He said, "I still feel that way after numerous years of flying this bird!"

Capt. Cody Welch and Chris Rosenfelt

As a lot of my readers know, I have been flying skydivers for over 7 years now. So it was definitely cool to discover that the Tri-Motor that I flew also has a history of flying skydivers! It turns out that specific airplane use to fly Smoke Jumpers, helping to put out forest fires in Missoula Montana back in the 1950s. I have included a cool photo that I found of it back in the day about to take on a load of Jumpers.

Smoke Jumpers about to board Ford Tri-Motor in Missoula MT.

One of our passengers had a very interesting story to tell. He is Shreveport businessman Byrum Teekell. When he was only 5 years old (80 years ago) his father took him to the, then new Shreveport Downtown Airport to take his first airplane ride. It turns out that it was this very same airplane! That first flight inspired him to become a pilot, which he did, and even flew around the world in 1992!

Mr. Teekell told us that his first time up in this Tri-Motor it was piloted by legendary pioneer pilot Clarence Duncan Chamberlin. The second man to pilot a fixed-wing aircraft across the Atlantic, carrying the first transatlantic passenger. Yep, hearing that was definitely humbling for me to hear. Something I probably need more of.

Monday, March 2, 2015

New Jump Pilots, let's have a SAFE and fun 2015!

Most of the Jump Pilot hiring is done between now and the end of April and I have been reminded of that this past week. A lot of emails from newly hired Jump Pilots with tons of questions about their new job and the industry. 

I love helping younger pilots, so keep the emails coming. As I told them, I will repeat here... you will more than likely be pressured to fly a load of skydivers when you know that you should say no. SAY IT! If you don't, it might be more than your license that you lose. 

In my years as a Jump Pilot, I have refused to fly in marginal weather and/or quickly approaching crappy weather. I have refused to start the engine until everyone was seated the correct direction and wearing their safety belts. I have refused to start the engine after noticing that an extra skydiver boarded. They thought it was funny. It is not funny and those silly games can kill us and a respectable DZO will have your back every time. If he/she doesn't back you as a Jump Pilot.... leave. 

Here's to a SAFE and fun 2015!