From The Mag

The FlyBy {i103: July 2018}

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Originally printed in issue #103 (July 2018) of Blue Skies Magazine.
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The FlyBy is our monthly round-up of short news, tidbits, cartoons and other random stuff.

Take It DZ | Nadene Beyerbach, Adventure Creative

LEVITY: Because sustainability can be both relaxing and rad. | By Leah Levy

Our favorite parachute manufacturers do an incredible job of creating canopies built to last thousands of jumps. However, the nylon material we love for its super strong tensile strength and lightweight pack volume is also a synthetically woven fiber made from petrochemicals—which means it will never biodegrade. If you were to take just the skydiving annual material usage reports for parachute manufacturing, you’d have enough lines to stretch the width of the United States multiple times, enough square feet of fabric to cover major cities and enough nylon thread to equal the weight of a Skyvan.

So, what can we do to change this current cradle-to-grave cycle in parachute manufacturing? Meaning, how can we begin to think more sustainably about the materials we use for our parachutes and what environmental implications does the lifetime of a product have before eventually being thrown away?

What started out as a school independent study of crafting recycled pilot chutes quickly turned into a full thesis of studying parachute-owner and -consumership behavior, hoarding donated parachutes and designing and creating a line of products. As more and more people responded to an online post stating that they had parachutes just sitting around that they weren’t sure what to do with, the need for this solution in the form of this business became more apparent.

I created Levity, a line of hammocks, swinging chairs and more, made almost entirely of donated and upcycled parachutes and gear. The strength and lightweight pack volume of parachutes combine with the magic feeling of being suspended by lines and fabric.

Levity isn’t just about the products, though. It’s also about sustainability and community by redesigning the current cradle-to-grave cycle in parachute manufacturing by involving everyone. Because of the initial cost and sentimental value, once a canopy has lived through its full life cycle, rather than sit in a trash bag in a closet for years before finally ending up in a landfill, consumers can choose to donate their old canopy in exchange for a small gift made out of that parachute or opt for a discount applied toward an already made Levity product. For drop zones and manufacturers, involvement can be anything from support and endorsement to becoming a point of collection for materials, a point of sale or donating scrap materials in exchange for return endorsement and recognition in making sustainable strides within the industry.

And the name? Stemming from my last name, Levy, my family inherited this cool old pub sign from my grandfather back in his days of performing on the side as a magician. The painting depicted the silhouette of a magician levitating a woman with the words “The Levity” underneath. Combined with the true definition of the word, meaning frivolity and lightheartedness, the idea of levitation and swinging seemed to go perfect with the mentality we skydivers take forward into our lives of not taking things too seriously.

Curious about all the research behind this project and business? Want to know what makes Levity stand apart in the camping-hammock market? Have any old gear you’re looking to clear out of your closet? Want some of your own Levity swag to become a part of this new sustainable cycle? Check out the Kickstarter and video online under “LEVITY HAMMOCKS AND SWINGS – Parachutes Reimagined.”

update: Levity has been fully funded!

Industry Beat

  • Matt Siegmann joined UPT’s marketing department earlier this year, and currently handles all graphics, merchandizing, website and social media. He brings with him several years of experience working in the industry and is excited to work with the team already in place at UPT.
  • Sunrise Manufacturing, maker of the Wings container, has moved operations to a larger factory in Zephyrhills, Florida. Delivery times for custom rigs remain at 5-6 weeks.

Compass & Crow Corner | By Marissa Barclay

Welcome to Compass & Crow Corner! My name is Marissa Barclay and I am the owner/artist of Compass & Crow Studios, a small business specializing in custom painted helmets. This month I’m showcasing several helmets but this article is more about the client who commissioned them: Erick Miller. Erick was one of my very favorite clients. He was easy to work with, very communicative and encouraged me to always put my own spin on whatever concept he came up with. Each helmet this month was commissioned by Erick.

Unfortunately, Erick left us last spring7. He was one of the most supportive clients I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. Erick had followed my work and watched me grow my business since the very beginning. He purchased several helmets from me over the years. Some were for his personal use, others were purchased as prizes for Western New York Skydiving’s boogie raffles (WNY was his home DZ). And others still were purchased as gifts for new skydivers who couldn’t afford to purchase a helmet of their own. Although I never got the opportunity to meet him in person, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that he was one of the most caring, thoughtful and supportive people in our sport. He truly wanted to see others succeed in their endeavors, related to skydiving or not.

Since Erick’s passing, I had the chance to chat with Amy Miller, his wife. She shared the following thoughts with me:

“As soon and Erick saw Marissa’s work he knew he needed a custom helmet. He had no idea of what he wanted, he simply knew he could trust Marissa to provide an amazing helmet. After his first custom helmet he was hooked! Erick was all about being generous and giving back to the skydiving community. He instantly wanted to help promote her business and continue to use her services. Like most skydivers, once Erick found the color scheme he liked, his gear had to match. He was a huge fan of bright green and was very excited to get another custom helmet with colors he wanted, in the designs he wanted.”

I think we can all learn an important lesson from Erick. That lesson is to always be supportive of our friends and encourage them to follow their dreams and to achieve their goals. Because when we lift each other up, amazing things will happen.

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