The Parachute Industry Association Symposium 2009 has wrapped up in Reno, Nevada, and it did not disappoint those looking for the latest, greatest skydiving products, gadgets and information.
Here is a rundown of the new products and improvements you'll soon see for sale in gear shops. Performance Designs announced it's Optimum Reserve canopies are being manufactured in the larger sizes. This low-bulk reserve canopy was only previously available in sizes 99, 106, 113, 126 and 143. It is now being manufactured in sizes 160, 176, 193, 218, 235 and 253. Performance Designs also released two new canopies: Comp Velocity and Pulse. The Comp Velocity is a slightly redesigned Velocity for competitive swoop pilots, which comes standard with a removable deployment system and 300 HMA lines. The Pulse is an entry- to mid-level canopy with a flat glide ratio and the Optimum's low-bulk fabric for the bottom skin. The canopy will have a zero-p top skin, ribs, stabilizers and slider.
Aerodyne showed off it's new zero-p canopy fabric, which the company says is not only stronger and lower-bulk than standard zero-p, but also "self-healing" from small pin holes or snags. This will be used in it's new cross-brace canopy the Sensei, as well as an option in all of the other Aerodyne canopies such as the Mamba and Pilot. Aerodyne also slightly changed the design of its Icon on the back and container sides. And the Skyhook has been released in the larger student Icons, sizes I7, I8 and I9. More sizes of Icons with the Skyhook are yet to be announced.
Larsen & Brusgaard unveiled updated versions of three of it's audibles, which will now be water-resistant: Optima II, Viso II and Solo II. These are expected to hit gear stores in March. Alti-2 showed-off it's N3, which should be shipping next month. The N3 is the overhauled version of the Neptune2 with a rechargeable battery powered through a mini-USB plug-in cable. The N3 audible/digital altimeter will include a hand-mount and charging system.
ParaSport Italia is starting manufacturing of it's newest visual digital altimeter, the Altitron. New stretch cordura is now available on it's swoop pants and jumpsuits. And a new cutaway system is available for it's Evo helmets.
SkySystemsUSA is putting the final touches on it's new full-face helmet, the PRO Diver, which features a thicker lens and unique flip-up system.
Cookie Composites has a new full-face helmet with a scratch/smudge resistant lens and oxygen intake valve. Cookie also will be releasing a new camera helmet, the Atomic, with an integrated side- and top-mounting system, the Padlock, that will allow easier, faster changes of side-mounted cameras. The Padlock also allows the angle of the side-mounted camera to be changed with ease. The new top-mount system is now a complete square, allowing you to move the top camera to any angle. A new helmet liner material is being introduced into it's new line of helmets, which offers more protection for hard hits.
United Parachute Technologies just received FAA approval for the Spectra reserve ripcord and Bill Booth announced it is available immediately on all new Vectors. UPT also is working on a new reserve ripcord pin that is smaller and made of a cold-forged steel, which will not bend easily and will be easier for riggers to use. And the magnetic riser cover system for the Vectors has been improved to allow the jumper to replace the magnets, if needed, without any sewing.
VASST released four new training videos to supplement it's Aerial Camera DVD that has been on the market for a couple of years. The new DVDs include Canopy Control, Tandem Videos Made Easy, Wingsuits 101 and Wingsuits 202.
Sonic of Ulster County Canopies was showing off the first-ever TSO'ed BASE rig, the BaseR with BaseX canopies. The BASE container includes attachments for a chest-mounted reserve so the rig can be jumped out of skydiving aircraft. Sonic will be hitting the road this Spring bringing demo rigs and 3-day training seminars to a drop zone near you. HiPerUSA is building up it's demo stock and keeping custom delivery times down to 5 weeks.
And while all the new products and improvements were shown-off at night, during the day riggers and skydivers were learning the latest tips, info and tricks on all things skydiving at the PIA seminars. It was definitely a smaller and less-attended Symposium than recent years, but the information and new products were better than ever.
Check out the brief video from the PIA 2009 hosted by Douglas Spotted Eagle interviewing Mike Gruwell about HiPerUSA and ChutingStar.
ChutingStar at PIA 2009