Parachute Mobile Pacificon 2010 Jumps

Mark Meltzer AF6IM Oct 16 2010 flying above Byron CA. Photo by Jim Wilson. Mark made 43 QSOs on this jump. K6ZIZ in Ukiah was the best DX. Mark also had a QSO with AF6IQ who was aboard the aircraft carrier Hornet in Alameda leading a group of Boy Scouts in radio merit badge study. Good times!
Here is a link to the Pacificon 2010 website page about our jumps:

This PSK 31 gear illustrated here was flown on mission 5, 9-18-2010 but was not used on the Pacificon 2010 jumps. Michael Gregg KF6WRW is shown LOADED with jump ready radio gear from Mike Pechner NE6RD's secret mountain labratory   including VHF and UHF FM, APRS, GPS and physio telemetry, and a 20M HF PSK 31 beacon!!! The HF radio uses a deployable trailing wire antenna which is jettisoned at about 1000 ft to avoid snagging on the final landing approach. Rob Fenn KC6TYD figures out how to SAFELY attach this stuff which is no easy task. It has to stay put in 120 mph winds. Also, one misplaced cable or tie wrap could cause a main parachute malfunction and make reserve canopy deployment impossible. A jumper died at this very dropzone a few years ago when deploying suspension lines snagged on a shoe grommet. Gearing up for a Parachute Mobile jump can take close to an hour with written safety checklists and multiple visual checks and rechecks.
Rob Fenn KC6TYD runs through written safety checklist with Mark Meltzer AF6IM prior to Mark boarding the jumpship at Byron.  You never see regular skydivers using written checklists. The use of written pre-jump checklists was Rob's idea and it really makes sense.
The Parachute Mobile Project made 4 HAHO (high altitude high opening) jumps on Oct 16 2010 over Byron CA and communicated with numerous attendees at the Pacificon ham radio convention in San Ramon CA.  Jumpers were Mark Meltzer AF6IM, Michel Gregg KF6WRW (who made 2 jumps) and Bryan Siepert KG6SVL who is the son of Phil KG6SPS whose QSL card is pictured below.
2 meter FM voice comms on 146.46 simplex were established and APRS telemetry packets with position, altitude, heart rate and blood oxygen levels were transmitted on 144.390. To top it off, LIVE ATV on 1.2 GHz was sent from aloft and relayed to the convention site through the MDARC repeater on Mt Diablo. Our team wishes to thank the organizers of Pacificon 2010 and the Mt Diablo Amateur Radio Club (MDARC) for their support and cooperation. John Ronan Esq. K3ZJJ, the Pacifcon Chairman, was instrumental in setting up an informal liason between the Parachute Mobile Project and Pacificon that permitted the two operations to proceed simultaneously but independently thus avoiding liability issues. Thanks John!
These Parachute Mobile jumps would not be possible were it not for the dedicated support of our Parachute Mobile ground crew including Rob Fenn KC6TYD, Mike Pechner NE6RD, Bernhard Hailer AE6YN, Ray Rogoway W6RAR, John Vargas KI6BEN, and Gordon Baillie KD6LHO. We extend our deep appreciation and gratitude to our former Crew Chief Jon Gefaell K6OJ, a Parachute Mobile founder and the director of all our prior jump missions. Jon has taken a new job and the heavy workload precludes him from continuing to lead the group. Jon always demanded safety first and entertainment last and has embedded that credo deep within our organizational culture.
Here is a QSL card that just made my day! What a joy to receive an original and unique work of art in exchange for a brief QSO with our "vertical dxpedition". Thanks Phil KG6SPS, very much appreciated.
 Phil Siebert KG6SPS wrote:
I can't tell you how much fun it is to work a ham radio pileup from 13,000 ft, while looking at spectacular scenery (SF Bay, Pacific Ocean, Sacramento River delta) with no windows to restrict the view. Our vertical DXpedition was cheap too, jumps cost about $20 at Byron. They run a sale sometimes and the prices drop to $17.
Bay Area Skydiving is the official name of the DZ at Byron and it's a great place to do a tandem jump. They cost more than our solo jumps but give you the full freefall experience with little training or worries as you are connected to a highly trained and experienced tandem jumpmaster. Byron takes safety seriously and have an excellent record for safe tandem jumps. The hazard free landing area at Byron is HUGE which adds to the overall safety of the operation.  They run a good DZ, treat us well and we like like recommending them for tandem jumps and skydive training.
Chuck Heath K6ZIZ boomed in with his solar powered signal on 146.46 all the way from Ukiah which was about 100 miles distant.
Gordon West was at Pacificon. He was really stoked about Parachute Mobile. Gordo watched the ATV coverage relayed from aloft, heard the QSOs and graciously sent this certificate commemorating the event. I didn't take his course, but I do owe my ham radio license to Gordon West's clear writing. His license prep book took me from SWL to Extra in one exam session. Thanks Gordo!

The ham jumpers are grateful to Jim Wilson for getting these great photos which we used on our PACIFICON 2010 special event QSL cards. It's not as easy as it looks to get good lighting, close positioning etc. You can't add power to close the gaps in horizontal distance or altitude. In Jim's day job he is a Lt. in the RCAF flying as a navigator on Rescue C 130 Hercs. We hope Jim can fly with us in Feb at Radio Fest 201 (Feb 26) in Monterey.  We will do doing HAHO Parachute Mobile jumps from 18,000 feet overlooking the Pacific Ocean. We hope to also have ATV gear running on these jumps to feed live video to the Radio Fest site.
 Mark Meltzer's card

YouTube Video

 Michael Gregg's card
Video links, past missions:
Radiofest 2010

Radio Fest 2010 shot by Michael Wright K6MFW


Radio Fest 2010, K6OJ as Mission Control

Practice jumps for Pacificon 2010,

Mark Meltzer AF6IM, practice jump for Pacifcon 2010

AF6IM's final approach to DZ under canopy. John Vargas , KI6BEN, was operating with with Jon Gefael K6OJ at Mission Control on top of Mt. Diablo. Here is KI6BEN's written summary of AF6IM's jump comms.
Parachute Mobile jumpers stop using ham radio during the final approach for safety reasons. You really need full concentration. The approach is fast and the final flare must be done perfectly or you land with high forward and vertical speed with no shock absorbing landing gear. When you mess up the landing it's called a "biff" which can range from embarassing to painful to fatal in the worst cases.

There are no go arounds in parachute landings. You only get one shot. 
Try your hand at landing a ram air canopy in this simulator. The basic program is free, the fully featured one is $29.99. We have no connection with ths software company, just think its an interesting parachute flight sim program. The graphics are pretty crude but the physics and flight modeling are good.
Mark J,
Oct 20, 2010, 1:43 PM
Mark J,
Oct 20, 2010, 1:44 PM