10 Ways to Get the Most Out of BASE
Tips from Matt Laj on enjoying your BASE journey...
After jumping the Icarus Safire 2 around the world for about 150 jumps or so, I have to say NZ Aerosports really got this one. I'm labelling the Safire 2 as the dream canopy in the mid-range performance class, because it opens and behaves super smoothly and predictably, is lots of fun to play with because it responds well but without any hassle, takes you home from long spots, and is a good tool to learn canopy skills.
From the 9-cell canopies on the market I've previously jumped a PD Sabre 1 (which was the very first canopy I ever owned) and an Aerodyne Pilot, and I have some experience with a Sabre 2 and a Pulse. From the 7-cells I've demoed a Spectre. Out of all of these canopies I think the Safire 2 is the dream canopy in the mid-range performance class; hassle-free, consistent and fun.
The original Icarus Safire was released just over 15 years ago. It revolutionalized the market by being the first 9 cell that had a lightly and truly elliptical shape, being superior in its openings and flight characteristics compared to other mid-performance 9 cell canopies. NZ Aerosports has been one of the benchmarks in the industry, constantly reshaping and evolving its existing products and developing new ones.
The Safire 2 integrates a new trim and shaped planform compared to the original Safire. It offers an increased glide ratio, more responsive flight controls, a powerful flare and a shorter recovery arc. It's a highly predictable, all-round, hassle free canopy with the best, softest openings in its class.
I got my Safire 2 when I had just under 500 jumps. At the time I was jumping a Pilot 132 at a wingloading of 1.34. I had taken some really good canopy courses with Jim Harris and Brian Germain, and I felt like it was time to downsize a bit and get a canopy that would be a bit more responsive, but still conservative enough for me to learn to fly it in a safe way. Many people at my home dropzone had Sabres, but I wasn't a big Sabre 2 fan because my experience with them was always having a bit inconsistent openings, end cell closure, and having to pump down the slider every time.
I had also heard really good things about NZ Aerosports and their canopies from friends and my coaches around the world, had friends jumping Safires and loving them, so it seemed like a great choice. And to be totally honest, I wanted something different than what other people had! I ordered a 119 square foot Safire 2 (Wing loading 1.45), in my favourite colors of course; white, pink, grey and black all mixed in a wonderful way – though I was sure they would hate me at the factory, since the color changed for almost every rib inconsistently to create an “ombre” effect. I still consider it to be the most beautiful canopy that has ever flown in the skies!
The openings of the canopy are truly famous for their consistency and smoothness. I wouldn't say they are too long though, and the user's choice of packing technique definitely has an effect on the openings. I learned this because I didn't have the greatest packing technique and it almost seemed like I was doing too much while packing, so I had a share of funny openings before I got some packing tips. After that the canopy opened beautifully with no fuss. Like with any canopy it's not just a question of the canopy being typically 'like this or that as it opens', but more the sum of the jumper's opening position and velocity; what you actually do with your body while flying the opening; packing method; and the canopy's character; all of them make a difference in the experience. Packing this canopy is fairly easy even when it's all new, and the fabric quickly settles after some tens of jumps.
As a Safire 2 fan I can also highlight its great glide. It will get you home from long spots easily, and it will allow you to slow down and stay up in the air if needed when there's traffic. It responds well to harness turns and is quite light on the fronts. It has a great flare too, so landings are no problem in any conditions.
The Safire 2 is suitable for a beginner as their first canopy when loaded lightly, but as it is a mid-range performing truly elliptical 9 cell, it is equally useful and exciting for a more advanced canopy flyer at heavier wing loadings. If you are looking for a canopy that is of the latest technology without any of the issues of a higher performance elliptical canopy, Icarus Safire 2 by NZ Aerosports is the perfect choice for you, in any size you choose. I would choose this canopy again any time!
For more information, see Safire on NZ Aerosports
Lead time for the Safire 2 at the moment is about 16 weeks