About Parachute Mobile
Ham radio operators Mark Meltzer, AF6IM, and Michael Gregg, KF6WRW, were chatting on a repeater in 2008 and learned that they shared skydiving as a second hobby. They talked further about combining the two hobbies and the Parachute Mobile Project was born.
We operate amateur (ham) radio gear while skydiving. Radio jumps are usually HAHO types (high altitude high opening) to give maximum hang time for radio communications. The jumpers are supported by a team of experienced hams, one team at the drop zone and the other at mission control which is usually sited on a mountain peak overlooking the drop zone. Our jumps, or missions, as we refer to them, are great opportunities to make a contact and receive a special QSL card.
The jumpers carry a variety of gear depending on the mission profile: FM and SSB transceivers, 20 meter PSK beacon, APRS transceivers with GPS and physiological telemetry, data and voice recorders, batteries, DF locator beacons, and trailing wire antennas with cutaway releases. APRS I-Gates and other specialized airborne and ground equipment are also deployed.
Higher jumps are planned, up to as high as 24,000 feet (with oxygen) subject to FAA clearance. AF6IM made two freefall jumps from 24,000 feet, but sustained parachute flight starting from those altitudes raises all sorts of life support and safety issues that must be fully addressed before we take this next step. Our team made HAHO radio jumps from 18,000 feet for Radiofest 2010 in Seaside, California, without oxygen gear, but that is as high as we can go without masks and tanks. HF SSB comms, PSK 31 comms, and additional telemetry data are all on the menu for future missions.
We welcome new members. There are no dues and no stuffy formalities, but you are expected to work diligently on mission preparation and execution and show up on time and prepared. We are an inclusive not exclusive group. Our experienced team members can train you to help at the drop zone or at mission control. If you are a proficient and safe ham skydiver, talk to us about joining our jump team.
Learn more about us at parachutemobile.org.