Welcome to Brian Germain's newsletter "Transcending Fear". This is your direct source for the freshest stuff that Brian has come up with, from skydiving articles to emotional psychology. We hope you enjoy the information, and perhaps even pass it along to your friends and family!
I am thrilled to have you here!
How to Ground Launch
Your Skydiving Rig
The Green Way to Fly
by Brian Germain
to Take Off
Skydivers are the only pilots in
history that don't know how to take off. To become a complete pilot, we must
learn how to get ourselves into the sky without outside assistance. Most
skydivers find ground launching their skydiving system to be an incredibly
rewarding experience, and very good exercise. As a training tool for canopy
piloting, it is akin to the significance of a wind tunnel for skydiving technique.
By spending a great amount of time actually doing the activity, we are better
able to get the feeling for what we are striving to learn.
Ground launching burns no fossil
fuels. It does not pollute the atmosphere.
Best of all, ground launching is absolutely free. You can't beat that.
You can ground launch any
skydiving canopy if you have enough slope and some up-slope wind. The heavier
the wing-loading, the steeper the slope has to be. I don't recommend flying
anything higher than 1.2 or so until you get some experience. Airlock parachutes can be inflated
completely prior to launch, but most open-nose wings will pressurize well if
you have a bit of wind or a skillful launch technique. A wing with a flat glide
ratio will work best, and those with elliptical planforms will be easier to
steer with harness input, giving the pilot more options for maneuvering.
Paraglider fabric is more rigid, and therefore inflates easier without
distortion. It is significantly heavier, however, and may not lift up as easily
in zero wind conditions.
There are some great
ground-launch-specific wings out there, as are there some amazing harnesses.
Lightweight paraglider harnesses with their low attachment point allow the
pilot to lean all the way to horizontal. While a bit weird to fly at first,
this allows the body drag to be minimized, while contributing to the
aerodynamic lift at high airspeeds. The efficiency benefits are proven, and
well worth the learning process.
A helmet is a necessity, and
many sites have rocks, requiring you to wear adequate body armor such as knee
and elbow pads. A good pair if hiking boots with healthy ankle support is also
essential. Have a cell phone and a friend in the event that things don't go as
planned. Danger requires us to plan for both the best and worst case scenarios.
Bring lots of water and a snack.
Climbing the hill is hard work (you will want to do this over and over again),
and you will want to be in good form. Have a flashlight in the event that the
flying goes into the evening, and a rudimentary first aid kit isn't the worst
First, choose a location that is
smooth, steep and without obstacles. A big rock can really mess up your day.
Sandy hills facing a large body of water create the safest, most stable
conditions. Remember that trees create turbulence too, so a wide slope with a
clear, steep launch site will give you the best chances for success. As with
any take-off, this is not 100% safe, and you must be afforded a great number of
options for plan "B".
The wind MUST be flowing
directly upslope, and should be less than 15mph until you have a number of
flights. If you fly in high winds or turbulence, you have a higher probability
of having bad things happen. If you wouldn't fly a kite there, don't launch
your parachute there.
Take several minutes to stand on
top of the hill to feel the wind. Throwing a bit of grass in the air is a good
way of seeing the exact wind direction. Note that there is often a bit of
variance in the direction and velocity. If it gusts up quickly, you should keep
your wing in the bag. If the wind is pushing your body as you stand on top of
the hill, stay on the ground. Always look for the reasons why you should not
fly. Better to be in the ground, wishing you were in the air, than the
Make sure the owner of the land
gives your permission, or cannot see you fly. ;) Remember, trespassing still is a crime according to the law in
most countries. Not all, fortunately. The moral issues of experiencing
something this beautiful weighed against the reasons to follow local legal
regulations are for another discussion.
No Wind or Low Wind: 'The Charging Bull'
*Remove the bag and pilot-chute and stow the slider all the
way down, or remove it altogether. If you have an old harness without a
reserve, you won't have to lug your reserve parachute up the hill over and over
the brakes before launching.
the canopy out upslope from your container, in a horse-shoe configuration with
the end-cells closer to the rig than the center cell, so the center cell will
inflate first. The nose must face up, but the canopy should be on its back.
Check all the lines for sticks, line knots, and for continuity.
the rig on, while facing downhill. Some people forgo the chest strap to allow
them to lean all the way forward in the harness, but make sure your leg straps
are tight and properly routed.
your risers over your arms, and grab the toggles, paying careful attention to
the continuity. Take your time and get it right.
under the risers, grab the front risers at the connector link. Some wings,
particularly cross-braced parachutes with the nose sewn shut may inflate better
if you hold both the front and rear risers to prevent the nose from folding
a moment to collect yourself and prepare for flight. Relax you mind, clearing
your head of all doubts and fear. Observe the situation and visualize your
flight with clear, positive intension. Consider the possibility that you will
fly much further than you originally expected. Have options.
there is very little wind, you will need to get a bit of running speed before
you hit the end of the lines and bring the canopy up, so start by backing up
toward the canopy. Clear a channel in the lines so you can stand right up next
to the tail.
you are ready to fly, run AGGRESSIVELY downhill with your hands up in front of
you, with you elbows straight, with no slack in the front risers.
you hit the end of the lines, the canopy will go "WHOMP!" and will
pull your shoulders back a bit. Keep running! Look downhill as you run with
complete commitment. Watch where you are going. Run straight into the wind.
10. Do not apply your
brakes until you have lots of speed, otherwise the parachute will retreat
behind and prevent your progress like an airbrake.
11. When the parachute
is fully over your head, release your grip on the front risers, and keep
running with concerted effort.
12. If the canopy
drifts to one side, do not try to steer it back over your head. Run slightly
toward the side that the parachute has drifted toward so that you end up back
under the canopy. Continue running.
13. Look up at the
canopy as you run straight downhill to check for proper inflation and line
continuity. If something looks wrong, stop running and pull your toggles all
the way down to abort the launch sequence.
14. When you have
adequate running speed, apply the brakes to 1/4 or so. If the wind is higher,
you may find more success by adding a bit if rear risers instead.
15. Look straight
downhill as you run to assure a straight take-off run, and to avoid rocks and
16. Keep running as
fast as you can until you find yourself running in the air. Flaring and jumping
into the air will not work, and is equivalent to an airplane pilot pulling back
on the power and yanking back on the yolk to get airborne. This may work for a
moment, but the lack of airspeed will drop you back down to earth.
17. Never do a 180
back at the hill, and always land across the slope or downhill, if the slope
mostly flattens out.
18. Do not fly into a
tree, ski lift or other object.
19. You may still die.
Launches: Reverse Kiting
1. Set up the wing as if you are preparing for a straight-ahead
"Charging Bull" Take-off Method, with the front risers and your brakes in your
2. Rotate 180 degrees to face up the hill, and your wing. This
will require you to throw one riser-group over your head so that you are
completely "Crossed". It takes a bit of practice to get used to flying your
parachute in reverse, but it will eventually feel natural. The controls are
backwards, but everything still works. Remember which way you rotated so when
it comes time to launch, you spin around the right way.
3. In high wind conditions, it may be helpful to hold both
wingtips just behind the "A" lines and inflate the parachute in an arched
horseshoe. Once it is pressurized and looking good, let it go and lean back
against the load when the canopy gets to the end of the lines. It will pop a
bit and then fly straight over your head. This is a great technique for cross-braced
parachutes that are resistant to inflation or have limited space.
4. In lighter wind conditions, start by teasing the wing to
inflation by "fluffing" the front risers.
5. When the wing begins to fly and rise up over your head, drop
the front risers and apply the brakes to bring the wing back down onto the
6. This is called "Building a Wall", and is a good way to prepare
you for launch, while allowing you to survey the scene and look for reasons why
you would choose not to launch: (Gust winds, traffic, wing malfunction or a
funny feeling from your higher self). This also is good for preventing
wingtip-first inflation, in which the center cell is deflated. Dropping the
fronts and stabbing the brakes will pop the nose open.
7. Once you have decided you are GO for launch, load up the front
risers to lift the wing up. Be sure to get your wing perfectly settled over
your head. If it feels like work, the wing is not yet in the neutral position.
8. When you are physically stable and mentally calm (take a deep
breath and relax), lean back (uphill) and rotate 180 degrees on the body's roll
axis (pirouette), so that you are facing directly out away from the hill,
facing the relative wind. Look directly up at your wing immediately to ensure
that it remains directly over your head.
9. Take as long as you need to now to prepare yourself for the
flight. The beauty of a bit of wind and a pilot that is comfortable with kiting
is, you have all the time in the world. Get yourself feeling good before taking
off. You will be amazed what that does for your flights.
Feel the wing over your head, play with it a bit. Brakes bring
the wing back in the window, rear risers do the same thing but less so because
they offer less drag. Front risers will bring it forward. Too far forward and
the wing collapses, too far back and it will pull hard and eventually stall.
Some wings require a bit of front risers to prevent it from sinking back, while
those with less drag may require a bit of brakes or rear risers to keep it from
overshooting the window and folding under.
Once the wing is centered over your head, make yourself light
by increasing the wing's angle of attack until you feel a bit of lift, as you
lean forward into the harness.
Relax into your weight, feeling the wing as a part of you, let
up on the brakes smoothly to reduce the drag of the wing, and begin your
decisive forward progress directly into the wind, down the hill, increasing
your airspeed with complete commitment to fly.
As you feel the speed increasing, the wing will begin to lift.
Gradually increase the angle of attack until you get yourself
airborne. Do not stop running until you are in the air.
Hold what you have for a moment, to ensure that you are stable
in ground effect.
Gradually nose the wing down to allow it to increase in speed
and lift off into flight.
From there it's your sandwich, put on it what you like.
Flying straight out away from the hill will allow you to
effectively fly out of the lift if you are gaining too much altitude on a windy
Making a 90 degree turn will allow you to stay close to the
hill, and will keep you in the "Lift Band", the region with the greatest amount
of upward wind flow to increase the duration of your flight on a low wind day.
Smooth 180 degree "S" turns will allow for a long, beautiful ride down the lift
band. Remember to always look where you are going.
Just try not to hit anything, anyone, or any planets.
Have a wonderful time. J
Brian Germain is a parachute designer with over
13,000 jumps and over 20 years of ground launching and skydiving experience. He
is the author or several books including Vertical Journey, The
Parachute and its Pilot, Transcending Fear and the new book: Greenlight
Your Life. These books can be found here: http://www.bigairsportz.com/publishing.php
Brian is also available for canopy flight courses: http://www.bigairsportz.com/education.php
and keynote speaking:
|Converting Negative into Positive
By Brian Germain
We are in a very interesting phase of the human experience.
We have reached a point in which our technology has made life very easy for us
in some ways, yet that very same technology has also increased the pace of life far beyond the capacity of our coping mechanisms for handling stress.
It is now up to us, the modern humans, to find ways to deal with our emotional
experience so that we may live long, productive and healthy lives.
to utilize our new tools is not the problem. We are skilled at operating PDA's,
I-Pods and DVR's, but we still have trouble handling the edgy side of our human
brains. Our emotions are what empower us to act based on our deepest
convictions, but instead we find ourselves avoiding emotion altogether in order
to remain mentally stable. I believe that this approach is robbing us of the
one thing that makes us truly human.
emotion, we are unempowered. Yes, feelings are sticky and can get us into some
pretty big trouble if we let them run wild. However, it is my firm belief that
a next-generation human is one that integrates this aspect of processing into
our logical thinking processes.
and sadness are one branch of the emotional tree. When we allow these
emotions to win over our actions and our thinking process, they tend to lead us
to go places that we don't want to go, and to do things we wish we hadn't done.
These feelings can, on the other hand, offer us guidance about how we really
feel. They tell us what we are not, and what we do not want to do.
It is the
good feelings like joy, creativity and love that we desire to increase in
frequency and magnitude. These kinds of emotions guide us to who we really are
and what it is that we would like to do because they tell us that what we are
thinking and doing is in harmony with our inner nature. Nevertheless,
sometimes we have to work with the darker emotions in order to uncover hidden
truths, and deal with the things that need to be handled. We must solve these
things so they can leave, so that we can get back to the job of having a good
emotion is not productive in and of itself. This much is true. But if we avoid
negative emotions, we loose access to the wisdom that it can offer us. We
must learn how to convert it into productive thought. We must use the spirit
of that which it is wanting us to do, but channel it toward a positive set of
from negative experience into positive is the hardest of all human journeys.
The inertia of emotion is powerful, so our feelings resist change. This is why
it is so important to utilize meditation so that we may let go of negative
feelings in favor of inner silence. Once this is done, however, we still have work
to do. We must conjure a good feeling from wherever we can get it so that we
may look at the situation with new eyes.
with the human mind is that we often think that we must derive all of our
resources from the present moment. Fortunately, due to the power of abstract
thought, we have the ability to bring into our attention anything we want. It
is through this capacity that we are able to step out of a negative mood and
into a positive one. This is the process called "Transcendence".
There are many ways to do this. You
may have a list of things in your life that make you feel good: the image of
your child, or someone that you love. Perhaps it is the feeling of paddling a
canoe or hiking in the forest. No matter what it is, you need to remember that
this image, this feeling, is available to you at all times. It is fully
appropriate for you to indulge yourself in this experience, even when things in
your life seem to be going badly. The truth is, the change of perspective that
this kind of shift in focus can provide is all that is necessary to transform
your feeling, and your situation.
Life is all about mood. If you
cannot or choose not to manage your emotional experience, life with throw you
around like a rag doll. It will lead you into places that you do not want to
go. If, on the other hand, you defend your inner good feeling with everything
that you've got, you can see the solutions that make things better. If you
maintain your perspective and transcend negative experience and transform it into
an opportunity to make your life circumstances better, life is what you make
it. Life is, after all, entirely up to us.
Enjoy your day.
If you enjoyed the information in this email, please feel free to forward it to your friends and family. For more articles by Brian Germain, go here:
To order Brian's Books, go here: