My old Cessna 140 eventually lost it's challenge and was sold.  After a number of years of not flying, one of my skydiving friends talked me into investigating the purchase of a more challenging aircraft.  I did some research, and I made the decision to purchase a single seat Pitts Special S-1 aerobatic biplane.  I spent a number of hours in a Citabria getting current again, and drove half way across Canada to take a couple of hours of advanced instruction in a Pitts S-2B.  I found the plane I was looking for just outside of Winnipeg MB and spent 3 adventure filled days flying it home in November 2003.  The

The single seat Pitts did not allow me to take any advanced instruction or offer rides to my friends and customers, so it eventually got replaced with a 2 seat Christen Eagle II, which I am currently flying.  Unfortunately the lineup for a ride is wide and deep!  It has more power than the Pitts (200 hp Lycoming IO-360), Hartzell constant speed propeller, and much higher roll rate with 4 ailerons.  Every bit as challenging to take off and land as the Pitts, though!

I have been at all of the PIA Symposiums since 1991, with our Sidewinder container system, and I have really enjoyed meeting all of the jumpers and getting to know the other manufacturer's.  I take all of the seminars I possibly can while there.  I'll see you at the next symposium for sure.  Wishing you many safe jumps and flights in the years to come....  al.

Allan MacDonald, President
Flying High Manufacturing, Inc.                                                                               
Return to Flying High Home Page


average temperature was -23C and no heater!  It has been a great learning opportunity and a pile of fun.  C-GRJS (See Gorgeous :-) is a model S-1C with a Lycoming IO320 engine, inverted fuel and oil, fixed pitch wood propeller and tubular steel fuselage.  Fabric cover over the back half of the fuselage, and fabric over wood rib/wood spar wings with 2 ailerons on the lower wings.

Flying High Manufacturing Inc.

                 Company History

Flying High Manufacturing was established in 1975 by Mike "Zeke" Zahar, in Abbotsford, B.C. Canada. Aside from building the original Bullet harness/container system, Mike's wife Marlene produced a line of jumpsuits, and we have always done repairs, repacks, modifications, and custom rigging work.  To see our 'invisible' rig, worn under a dress suit, look at all the old James Bond movies (yes, the main pilot chute really was packed in the right front pants pocket). The company was incorporated in 1979 and moved to a newly acquired DZ in Claresholm, Alberta, in 1980.  In 1982 Mike was joined by Al MacDonald while Mike devoted more of his efforts into 4way and 8way team training, as well as running the Claresholm DZ and upgrading his flying qualifications.
The company moved back to Abbotsford in 1987 for 8 years, where there were 3 nearby DZs to service and the winters were much shorter (and warmer!).  We returned to Alberta to our present location in 1994.  We are currently located in a rural setting nestled up against the east side of the Rocky Mountains, in a 1904 renovated CPR train station.  The north end (right side in the picture) was originally rough warehouse space, which has been converted to the Flying High loft.  Aside from manufacturing our own harness/container   systems for both skydivers and pilots, we have always done inspection/repacking, modifications and minor/major repairs. We also sell most popular brands of parachutes, other container systems, AAD's, beepers, altimeters and other skydiving paraphernalia you may need. 



The Bullet

Our first harness/container system produced, the "Bullet," incorporated a 2-pin side pull reserve with covered housings. The harness was constructed of single T-13 webbing and it used the "Jerry Meyers" single point square release, until the 3-ring system became available. The main container had side closing top flaps with a velcro handle pull-out. After two years of field testing (working in conjunction with CSPA) a modified version of the "Bullet" was released for use as a student system. It was set up for an FXC Model 12,000 AAD with the actuator mounted inside the main container and the control head mounted on the left side strap. This facilitated removal of the AAD for testing without "popping" the reserve, and reduced the vertical loading on the aneroid at opening shock. It had a unique RSL system which worked independently of the reserve ripcord and AAD, and a throwout pilot chute mounted on a belly band for Instructor Assisted Deployment (IAD); the static line being abandoned at most Canadian DZs for this method.  Although we haven't produced any "Bullet's" for a number of years, the "Student Bullet" is still used extensively at DZs across Canada. A Military version was also produced for the Canadian Forces demo team, the "Skyhawks".

The Excaliber

In 1984, after a year of testing, Flying High began producing a new container system, the "Excaliber." It featured the same harness construction as the Bullet, but incorporated an externally mounted (PopTop) reserve pilot chute with a vertical two-pin ripcord and side closing main flaps, which transition smoothly into main riser covers.  It was available in pull-out or throw-out configurations with many custom options. Although initially made for round reserves only, testing was completed with square reserves in 1988.

The Sidewinder

In 1990, we began producing a third container system, the "Sidewinder". It features the same harness as previous rigs and comes standard with double-wide legstraps/padding. A single pin reserve ripcord locks the through-the-pilot chute loop. The tip of the ripcord pin fits into a protected channel on the midflap, which prevents snagging or bending of the pin. The reserve top flap has side locking tongues, and the main closing flap has a single locking tongue at the bottom. The main side flaps transition smoothly into riser covers, which also have locking tabs. It is available in throw-out (leg mount/ BOC) or pull-out configurations, with many custom options. In 1993 a Student Sidewinder had testing completed and is available-- it is now used extensively across Canadian DZs.  In late 1999 testing was completed for minor flap configuration changes.  These modifications include integral riser cover locking tabs, the reserve top flap now tucks-in to the midflap, and the main closing flap tuck tab was also made integral.  Testing on the articulating rings option confirmed that this option makes the harness over 22% stronger!  The Sidewinder is our current container system.

Although Canada does not currently require parachute equipment to meet any standards, we chose to spend three years developing the Sidewinder container system and now have an FAA TSO (C23c Cat B), which we received in Dec/92. 

The Slimline    pilot emergency parachute system

The Slimline was developed in 1985 as a comfortable backpack, utilizing the Phantom 24', 26' and 28' canopies with full stow diapers.  At this time the skydivers were switching their emergency parachutes over to the ram air (square) parachutes, and good used Phantom canopies were available on the market.  Many of our customers chose to install an 'experienced' emergency parachute in their new Slimline.

In 1994 a demand was realized for a special design of backpack in order to fit the Blanik L23 training glider.  This glider had a very narrow seat back, and currently available parachutes would not fit into the seat.  A parachute system was developed to fit this width, in a teardrop shape where the bottom of the container was much thicker than the top.  The Security Aeroconical with full stow diaper was chosen as the canopy to be used with this container, and a number of them have been produced for several soaring clubs in western Canada.

A later model was introduced for use with larger pack volume 26' canopies with the 'choker' style full stow diaper.  It is shorter and thicker, and works well for those 'height challenged' pilots who need to be able to reach the rudder pedals.

                                          FLYING HIGH:   The People

Michael Zahar, with 3000 jumps, was world champion in 1977 4way Gold, 1979 4way Gold and 8way Silver, 1981 4way and 8way Silver, 1983 4way and 8way Gold, and 1985 4way Silver and 8way Bronze. Mike represented Canada on the IPC for a number of years, and devised the block system currently used in international competition. He flew "Turbo Mingo"  in Norm Kent's "Dream of Flight" video, and for a number of years in Europe.  Onto the Citation, Learjet, Falcon 900, and he is currently flying a Bombardier Global Express, residing in Hong Kong with his wife Marlene.

Al MacDonald has 1500 jumps, and 1400hrs as a private pilot. Al is a CSPA life member, Instructor B, Rigger B with over 3000 reserve repacks, and is a Rigger Instructor. He has personally made over 1000 harness/container systems. Al is currently the President and General Manager of Flying High Manufacturing, Inc.

                                          Al's Story:

"I remember being incredibly impressed with the first parachute jumps I saw. I was 14, living on yet another military base, and during the annual "AirForce Day" airshow, 2 military jumpers exited a helicopter and were blown some 2 miles away from the crowd on their ParaCommanders.  I suppose I should have paid more attention to the 2 mile landing, and subsequent parahiking, but from that moment on I was going to make a parachute jump.   I was 19 and on my own, before I got the chance. Our first jump course lasted for several weeks, including lots of packing two evenings a week.  We were keen: a friend and I practiced doing PLF's off his garage roof.  Our first-time jump pilot had already made 2 expensive jumps

(out of CF-104 Starfighters), and my exit wasn't too good because I didn't get much of a cut, but I was now bitten by the 'parachute bug'. That was May 1973 and it wasn't long after that I became the owner of a good used 'Double L' C-9 main and T-10 reserve.... life was great!  The main eventually changed to a MK3 PC, and in the days when 'everyone' was jumping a Stratostar, my first square was a Stratocloud and I quite enjoyed learning to do accuracy with it.

My father, being an ex-Starfighter driver himself, was initially not too keen on me jumping out of serviceable aircraft until I started describing RW to him. The link to 'formation flying' was made and I was suddenly on a level playing field. As the years went by, my parents enjoyed hearing my skydiving adventure stories (some edited to protect the guilty) and I took great pride in displaying my photos when I turned to freefall photography.  I have done a number of demos, but stumbled onto my best one by accident. Right place, right time, the only skydiver there with a rig: opening ceremonies on the last day of the Oshkosh Airshow in the early 80's.

I took a Rigger course in 1982 and completed two instructor ratings in the next 2 years. I started working full time for Flying High Manufacturing, Inc. in 1983 and never looked back to my old job as a mechanic. In my 'spare time' I bought a half share in a Cessna 140 and got my private pilot licence in 1983.  I did the video work for the Canadian National 4/8way teams for 2 years running, finishing 6 jumps a day at 1pm and dashing back to Flying High to catch up on the sewing, until it was dark. 1986 brought about a checkout in a 182 and I flew jumpers for 250 hours on weekends.... not much jumping that year! Next year, along with a move to the west coast (Chilliwack, BC), I got checked out on flying the DZ's C-180, and in 1992 I managed to log 30 hours in a Pilatus Porter. I was lucky enough to be invited to fly in Snohomish's 15 Cessna formations two years in a row--talk about hard core non-contact RW for an hour at a time!  I was still doing some video jumps as well as flying; I currently have 1500 jumps and 1400 hrs PIC.

The TSO process for our Sidewinder harness/container system was done on the Canadian west coast. Part of the project was learning to run a computer to write manuals, and making friends with the Autocad program (I'm still making friends with Autocad). It took me about 3 years all together, and I called on favours from lots of friends. And of course, there were the many drop tests. I'll never forget digging the test dummy out of muddy strawberry fields, wheelbarrowing it back to the DZ and hosing off all of the mud.... what fun the winter testing was!  Many thanks to Bill Wolczuk of Rainbow Skydivers in Chilliwack BC for an incredible amount of help and support through the whole testing program.... I couldn't have done it without you!  Thanks also to Ian Flanagan at Pacific Skydivers for use of his airplane for the heavy drop tests.  One very expensive heavy drop test resulted from someone in the aircraft failing to take out the safety pin before letting the dummy go!  The TSO also entailed learning to deal with our own aviation authority, Transport Canada, who do a strict job of monitoring the Quality Control program for the FAA. In all, a very interesting and educational experience. Approval for the Sidewinder was granted in December, 1992.

I moved Flying High from the west coast, to our present location in Claresholm AB Canada, in 1994. It's a rural setting with clean air and good neighbours. My house and the shop are all in one large building, an old train station, so I am rarely late for work".


Here's a short history on some of our products: