Made in Dunlap: Precision Aerodynamics
by Calvin Sneed
Many companies in the Chattanooga area specialize in products that spotlight outdoor activities. Almost two decades ago I placed my own life into the hands of one of those companies. I jumped out of a perfectly good plane with this company's product on my back. In fact, the first President Bush has jumped with a parachute designed by Precision Aerodynamics. It's nice to share that distinction about parachutes, that are proudly MADE IN DUNLAP..
It was in the skies over the airport in Tullahoma, Tennessee 19 years ago, when I jumped out of that plane with a Precision Aerodynamics parachute for the series called "Kill Calvin."
"We build parachutes and send them all over the world," says company founder and president George Galloway.
Precision Aerodynamics makes parachutes from nylon fabric.
"Actually, the yarn to produce the fabric comes from Chattanooga, the Dupont plant on Access Road," he said.
First step in the process of making a parachute is telling a computer which pattern to cut, either electronically or by laser. Each station in the plant has a different responsibility in the process. Susie sews reinforcement strips into the fabric that will hold the weight the parachute will carry to the ground.. At Teenie's station, "she assembles all of the cut pieces with the reinforcement tape sewn into them."
At another station, Sue does the same thing Teenie does, only it's a different type of canopy.
"They really make the sewing process look easy, but it is quite a skill," says Galloway.
In one area, Judy sews the fabric for a reserve parachute in case the main one malfunctions. I had one of those when I jumped, too.
Each parachute, main and reserve has many suspension lines, cut by Cindy. "She marks the lines and puts loops in the end of them," Galloway says.
How strong is the line? At the testing station, the line snapped at 607 pounds.
The finished lines then go to Treena, "who attaches the suspension lines that Cindy cut," says Galloway. Cleo has the job of securing each one of 40 strength points on this parachute, which Galloway says, "is the point in the canopy that bears up the load when the ripcord is pulled, slowing the parachutist from 120 miles per hour to about 4 miles per hour, in about one and a half seconds. My instructor and I relied on those strength points when the ripcord was pulled.
Karen double-checks the lines, and Stephanie checks the overall canopy, and we have one finished parachute in the process that is good to go.
My parachute operated perfectly.. But it was that gopher hole in the ground upon landing that I missed seeing. I broke my ankle in 3 places that day.
12-thousand feet of perfect parachute.. And human error got me in that last foot.
George Galloway and Precision Aerodynamics, has been working the past 2 years on a special parachute for the world's longest parachute jump from 120-thousand feet high.. 3 times higher, than commercial jetliners fly. The jump is scheduled for later this summer.
We'll keep you posted on that jump..
More Business News
Last Update on September 17, 2014 17:29 GMT
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The Labor Department says consumer prices edged down 0.2 percent last month following a tiny 0.1 percent gain in July. It was the first decline since a similar 0.2 percent drop in April 2013. Core prices, which exclude energy and food, were unchanged in August, the first time there hasn't been an increase since October 2010.
Over the past 12 months, overall prices and core prices are both up a modest 1.7 percent. These gains are well within the 2 percent annual increase for inflation that the Federal Reserve considers optimal.
US homebuilder confidence soars in September
U.S. homebuilders' confidence in the market for new, single-family homes surged this month to the highest level in nearly nine years.
The brighter outlook reflects growing optimism that sales will rise over the next six months, spurring growth in home construction.
The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo builder sentiment index rose this month to 59, up four points from August. The index has risen four months in a row.
The latest reading is the highest since reaching 61 in November 2005, before the housing bubble burst.
Readings above 50 indicate more builders view sales conditions as good, rather than poor.
Builders' view of current sales conditions for single-family homes, their outlook for sales over the next six months and traffic by prospective buyers each increased in the latest survey.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The U.S. current account trade deficit narrowed slightly in the April-June quarter, reflecting gains in exports of oil and civilian aircraft and a bigger surplus in Americans' overseas investment earnings.
The Commerce Department says the deficit in the current account shrank to $98.5 billion in the second quarter, down 3.5 percent from the revised $102.1 billion deficit in the January-March period.
It was the smallest current account deficit since an imbalance of $87.3 billion in the final three months of last year. The lower deficit reflected a variety of factors including gains in U.S. exports and a larger surplus in earnings by Americans in their overseas investments.
The current account is the broadest measure of trade, covering not only the flow of goods and services but also investment flows.
FedEx 1Q profit, sales top expectations; company to add 50,000 seasonal jobs
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) -- FedEx plans to hire more than 50,000 extra workers to handle another record year for holiday-season package deliveries.
That's up from last year, when FedEx announced it would hire 20,000 seasonal workers.
FedEx announced its hiring plans Wednesday on a conference call with investors.
Rival UPS says it will hire up to 95,000 seasonal workers. Both companies are benefiting from growth in online shopping.
FedEx Corp. says its net income in the fiscal first quarter is up 24 percent from a year ago, thanks partly to a strong performance by its ground division.
Its results beat analysts' estimates.
FedEx shares have risen nearly 8 percent since the beginning of the year and 41 percent in the last 12 months.
NEW YORK (AP) -- Kohl's Corp. says it will hire more than 67,000 seasonal workers nationwide for the holiday shopping season, about a third more than last year's 50,000.
The department store operator expects to hire an average of 50 associates per store, up 25 percent from a year ago. Kohl's, based in Menomonee Falls, Wis., operates 1,163 stores in 49 states. It also expects to hire 9,300 people for jobs at its distribution centers and 670 people for seasonal positions in its credit operations.
A retailer's hiring plans can indicate its expectations for the holiday shopping season, which accounts for 20 percent of the retail industry's annual sales, according to the National Retail Federation.
FAMILY DOLLAR-DOLLAR GENERAL
MATTHEWS, N.C. (AP) -- Family Dollar is telling shareholders to reject an unsolicited, $9.1 billion takeover bid by its rival, Dollar General.
Family Dollar is currently trying to arrange a sale to another bargain chain, Dollar Tree.
After repeated rejections by Family Dollar Stores, Dollar General Corp. last week appealed directly to shareholders of Family Dollar Stores Inc., offering them the same price for their shares.
Family Dollar accepted an $8.5 billion buyout offer from Dollar Tree Inc. in July.
Shares of Family Dollar, based in Matthews, North Carolina, are trading close to all-time highs, as are shares of Dollar General, based in Goodlettsville, Tennessee.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Senate investigators are blaming China for almost a dozen successful hacker break-ins of computer networks belonging to Pentagon contractors.
A yearlong investigation announced Wednesday by the Senate Armed Services Committee identified at least 50 intrusions since 2012 against unspecified contractors working for the U.S. Transportation Command, or Transcom. It said at least nine break-ins were highly sophisticated and blamed those on China's government.
Investigators said China's military was able to steal emails, documents, user accounts and computer codes. They said it compromised systems aboard a commercial ship contracted by Transcom for logistics routes, and hacked into an airline the U.S. military used.
The newly declassified Senate report says defense contractors have generally failed to report to the Pentagon hacker break-ins of their systems as required under their business agreements.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A federal bankruptcy judge in West Virginia has approved a $2.9 million settlement to benefit 300,000 people whose water was contaminated in a January chemical spill.
Judge Ronald Pearson filed the order Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Charleston. A U.S. District Court judge's approval is also needed.
The proposal relies on insurance proceeds from bankrupt Freedom Industries. The spill spurred a tap-water ban for days. Freedom filed for bankruptcy eight days later.
The settlement would let a yet-to-be-determined panel pick public interest projects to fund, potentially including long-term health monitoring or more water testing.
The company whose water supply was contaminated opposed the deal. West Virginia American Water said the settlement would keep thousands of creditors from recovering anything on bankruptcy claims.
The Charleston Gazette first reported the order.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Midwest retailer Meijer (MY'-er) Inc. will pay $2 million to settle charges that the firm knowingly sold and distributed hundreds of recalled products.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission says Meijer distributed at least a dozen different recalled products -- from toys to vacuum cleaners -- through a system it operated with a third-party contractor. It's against the law to sell or distribute products that have been recalled.
Among the recalled goods: Fisher-Price toddler tricycles, high chairs by Graco Children's Products, Hoover vacuums and box fans by Lasko.
In agreeing to the settlement, Michigan-based Meijer neither acknowledges nor denies the CPSC charges.
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