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Buying your first parachute - What kind of parachute should I buy when I'm ready for my
For AADs, none are anywhere near as well field tested as the Cypres- by a
huge margin. Lately there are many new kinds of Cypres-like AAD's advertised.
Keep in mind the number of jumps made on all non-Cypres AAD's together is
probably less than one tenth of percent as many jumps made on Cypres AAD's. I
can't understand why anyone would want to effectively be an AAD test pilot by
jumping anything other than a Cypres.
New Parachutes, Harness/ Containers-
Ask Ned for a price on new skydiving equipment, email me what you are looking for. Check the gear sales link www.orangeskydiving.com/equipt.htm If you rather buy used things, tell me and I'll see what I can find for you. Never buy anything, especially a parachute, harness/container without checking with a couple of our senior instructors.
Choosing a first Parachute or AAD's-
There are always new manufacturers coming out with the next great skydiving bargain, beautifully advertised in living color on the pages of parachutist or online. Be really careful what you buy. There have indeed been killer canopies marketed over the years. Many avoidable fatalities happened on Glide Path Nova Parachutes. The original Crossfire main parachute, like the Nova, was prone to collapse in turbulence with several resulting fatalities. Neither of these parachutes had been properly tested prior to release to the skydiving public. Parachute aerodynamics is an incredibly complicated thing. Even though other kinds of parachutes may not have such large design defects, there have been other releases like the original Saffire, which just didn't flare as well as a modern main parachute should. There are probably no more than 30 or so skydivers in the US who really have the skills to evaluate a parachute design. Just because your friend says they tried a parachute and they liked it does not mean it performs particularly well in all situations.
The best way to avoid unexpected problems when choosing a brand and model of parachute, other than asking a respected skydiving instructor, is to go with one of the brands that has the most of it's products in regular use. That would be Performance Designs "PD", the parachute manufacturer for parachutes, and the Cypres AAD. PD & Cypres have dominated the market by probably a factor of 1,000 or so in most cases. Their initial product introduction to the sport was an order of magnitude better than all available products at the time. I see lost of new adds for Cypres wannabees, proudly touting a handful of saved lives, but none of them had anything like the long-compiled success record of the Cypres AAD.
Harness/Containers, on the other hand, don't vary as much in safety in that they are not aerodynamic flight components like a main parachute. United Parachute Technologies (AKA Relative Workshop) Sky Hook appears to be a worthwhile innovation. Time will tell if it has any drawbacks.
*Colors are a matter of personal preference, but I will give a little advice:
1) Fluorescent colors tend to fade first. Most parts of a parachute or harness container require considering hand rigging and sewing and might be impractical to replace. Examples of easily replaced parts are leg straps and padding on a ring harness, some reserve cover flaps, pilot chutes, sliders.
2) When designing a parachute, consider what it will look like when you view both layers of a parachute through the bottom; a red top skin and white bottom skin might look like a pink parachute. The most popular main parachute options are 825 microline and soft fabric connector links "slinks".
3) A modern parachute being good for well over 1,000 jumps with reasonable care, consider what it will look like after a sweaty packer has laid on the top of the center cell hundreds of times. You might want to avoid light colors on the top center cell since they will show the packer dirt more. A contrasting slider color might be useful in evaluating slider hesitations or slider-up malfunctions. Bright colors will be easier to find if you have to cut your main parachute away if it malfunctions.
Most of this page was professionally written by a former magazine editor. Then Ned put a line across it, added part of an email he sent to students, and added a rambling discourse with a few random color facts below that. I hope you don't mind.