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Taking your first jump course and learning how to become a skydiver can be a daunting and overwhelming task. So much information over the course of 6 hours. One of the most important things we are taught as baby skydivers is to PULL!! Immediately following “PULL!!” we are told to pull at a certain and precise ALTITUDE. How does one determine how far away from the ground they are while falling at 125 mph you may ask? Altimeters! Pussfoot recently went on an adventure to Deland, Florida and we made a point to have a visit with one of the sports premier altimeter manufacturers Alti-2. As soon as we arrived at the ALTI-2 office we were given a warm welcome at the door by John Hawke, General Manager. He jumped right into it for us and give us the inside hook on all things ALTI-2   So what did we learn?
President George Bush SR Jump with Alti-2
Alti-2 was formed in 1999 by Kathy Grix and Roger Allen. Roger Allen was the former General Manager of SSE, INC (Steve Snyder Enterprises). SSE built altimeters, AAD’s, and guided cargo parachute bundles.  Kathy Started Alti-2 after Steve Snyder sold SSE and began to manufacture the Altimaster II and Altimaster III. She started out producing them in her bedroom in Michigan, moved to the garage and later moved the whole operation to Deland Florida.
we have come a long way
After opening in Deland, they added military gear to their product line introduced the Altimaster Galaxy, their first proprietary design.  In 2003, they came out with their first electronic product the Neptune -- the first electronic altimeter that was usable as an audible and as a visual. It was also waterproof. The innovations in these new product lines really built out the ALTI-2 brand as a game changing brand. The market is always changing and Alti-2 continues to keep their innovation train going hard.   released was Alti-2’s current flagship The Atlas -- the standard altimeter in the US. Along with sport gear Alti-2 continues to manufacture gear for the military, including the Neptune Tactical MA-12, MA-10UD and the MA-10UD Transmitter. 
INTERVIEW -- John Hawke, General Manager of ALTI-2
John Hawke
Pussfoot: “What sets alti-2 apart from other products?”
John: “Our dealers like that our products are made in the USA. We are in Deland which is considered the manufacturing hub for skydiving gear. Our location also makes Alti easily accessible. People like Alti because of the reputation, reliability.”
Pussfoot: “When you said the market is changing what did you mean?”
John: “The sport has grown, it has especially grown in the amount of disciplines that people are able to participate in. It’s also grown in the way that puts greater demands on equipment. Our customers are using things like GPS and Go-Pros now.  As new technology becomes available people want equipment to do more and more things. “
Now that's a safety Record
Pussfoot: “Could you give us a brief description of day to day life here? What do you guys do for fun?”
John: “There’s a lot of fun and togetherness around holidays. The people working in production usually organize the activities. We are open Monday-Thursday. We gather for lunch sometimes and enjoy eating at “The Perfect Spot” at skydive Deland. We get a lot of visitors when there is no jumping. We enjoy getting feedback from fellow skydivers. The wristband mount actually came about when someone put an altimeter on a sweat band and showed us.”
Pussfoot: “Do you guys do any custom colors?”
John: “Not really because of the wait times. We used to make the galaxy with custom dial faces. If someone gave the artwork we would make them.  They fell out of popularity when people started buying digitals. It was also very time consuming so we stopped doing it.”
                                            Alti-2 assembly
Pussfoot: “Have you thought of any products designed for the tunnel?”
John: “The number of tunnels has grown immensely; we are open to any ideas in any market that fits our ability to produce a product simple or complex. With skydiving products, we try and target our market and build products that people are going to use.”
Pussfoot: “What type of altimeter do you prefer digital vs. analog?”
John: “It boils down to personal preference; you are going to hear strong arguments for both.”
Parts for days
Please see John’s article about this debate on
Pussfoot: “How many altimeters do you recommend a jumper use? “
John: “I’m not currently jumping, but when I first started doing AAF I had two altimeters, one on each side.  I jumped SSE, Altimaster II when I started jumping. I also Used some smaller had mounted altimeters.
Pussfoot: “How often do you recommend calibration? “
John: “We don’t have a recommended calibration cycle; it all boils down to how well you take care of it. Overhaul repair is 109$, send it in to Alti, they will fix unless they can’t repair it. If you take care of it could go for 30 years.”
Pussfoot: “How many people do you employ?”
John: “Currently 13 people. We enjoy walking to each other’s offices, and the old school feel of things. We believe size doesn’t build resilience. Everyone that works here is multi hatted. Everyone chips in to do the work that needs to get done”
Our visit with ALTI-2 was a fun one. We could experience the passion that all the staff at Alti-2 has for their products. One thing that stood out was the care they had for safety, not only in their own workplace but for all the skydivers that use their equipment.  Alti-2 has a great backstory and we are stoked to keep watching how they innovate while we jump their products time & time again.
A huge thanks to John Hawke for taking his time to meet with us!
Can you spot the fake?
One of the altimeters below is an Airsoft toy and was bought online as a real altimeter.
Credits: Nick Legname / Brian Casserly

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