June Club Night

For the June Club Night, we were fortunate enough to have a guest speaker, Phil Hartree, ably supported by his partner, Bev. Phil is a renowned and highly successful skydiver, the holder of many trophies and records for his sport. Firstly he gave us an overview of what skydiving actually is, and by way of an introduction he showed us a video of a television advert that Honda had commissioned to be broadcast live from Spain in 2009, and in which Phil had taken part. This very impressive advert consisted of a team of skydivers who spelt out the letters of Honda in turn as they descended. Phil then went on to go through the various forms and disciplines of the sport, and how a newcomer might work his or her way into skydiving, and what they could get from the sport. He finished his presentation with a video of his team, Micro Climb8, participating in the 2015 Dubai World Air Games, in which they were the highest ranked amateur team. A fascinating presentation that was extremely well received.

Phil shows us a canopy Jake wonders if it will fit back in… … Phil proves that it will

After the break, Phil encouraged us to get hands on with the equipment items he uses during skydiving, from the helmets and jump suits – he had brought along two of these, his standard suit, and a special suit and helmet that he wears when acting as the cameraman for the team, his new role in the sport – and the altimeters and other safety kit. But most fascinating of all, he demonstrated how the main parachute deploys, by actually doing so and showing how the various elements combine to ensure that the canopy opens and fully inflates. We needed a lot of floor space for this demo, with the parachute fully laid out – we were fortunate in having arranged to use the Coach House for his talk! With Bev’s help, he then explained that the canopy is rectangular for a good reason – it is hollow and contains nine compartments that are open at the front and closed at the back, so that they inflate on the ram-air principle, which
gives the canopy an aerofoil profile, whch imparts both lift and forward motion. A very clever design, which is quite a bit smaller than I would have expected.

Then, to everyone’s delight, Phil proceeded, whilst surrounded by a very interested audience, to re-pack the parachute back into its container. I had envisaged a long table and a squad of people to perform this task, but I was surprised to see that this is one-man operation, carried out on the floor. A hugely entertaining evening and a big thank you to Phil and Bev for coming to talk to us.

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