30 years CYPRES

Helmut Cloth Reflects on 30 Years of CYPRES

Monday, January 11, 2021

It’s almost hard to believe that there was a time that AAD’s were mocked because they were more dangerous to have than not to have. It took a huge cultural change within the sport to shift that perception. We owe a great deal to the innovator and pioneer, Helmut Cloth, and his team at Airtec for doing what some considered the impossible – creating a reliable AAD.  And here we are, celebrating the 30 year anniversary and saving over 5,000 lives!


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The first CYPRES save was in April 1991, just three short months after the CYPRES was introduced to

The death of Freddy Leising in 1986 inspired Cloth to develop a reliable AAD. Leising was a good friend of Helmut’s and Helmut felt Leising’s death was preventable.

the skydiving market. “I remember how I stopped in Dortmund at the train station on the way back from a CYPRES presentation in Austria,” Helmut began. “It was a Sunday and I had some time at the station, so I called home. I asked if anything was new and that’s when I heard the news, we saved the first jumper!!”

Helmut continued, “It is one thing to design and test a device, the practice is always something completely different. The confirmation that our device had now saved a life was fantastic to hear. A young student from Dortmund survived her jump because of our creation!” Helmut went on to say that he was sure the device worked, but it was confirmed and convinced skydivers it worked too. “Every life we saved and still save today motivates each of our employees immensely.”

In 1991, the CYPRES was groundbreaking technology. As Helmut stated, “it was an absolute novelty in its reliability and its kind.” The unit always activated when it should, and didn’t activate when it shouldn’t – this became the greatest strength of the CYPRES. He added, “To ensure in this one, a hundred or a thousand jumps can be related to luck or chance. But to ensure this in 30 years of business with over 157 million jumps is related to the great dedication and even greater effort.” 

There are now more than 25 different CYPRES models in use that offer the ideal solution for different applications. All of the devices share the same precision and reliability – something that CYPRES is proud to stand by. “We are constantly developing our equipment and adapting new developments in skydiving wherever possible,” Helmut shared. “Any developments we make that we feel are an improvement for every user are made available to our customers – be it the “dropzone offset” function or the “user-selectable activation altitude” – both are innovations that have been made available to all CYPRES owners in the course of maintenance.”

A CYPRES ad from 2006
One of the many classic CYPRES ads that have appeared in various skydiving magazines through 30 years. This ad from 2006.

He added by saying, “Some trends in skydiving bring new unexpected requirements and record attempts are always pushing the limits of what is possible.” 

Now, 30 years later, CYPRES has customers buying equipment for the second and even third time. They’ve seen families whose grandfathers, grandmothers, fathers, mothers, sons, and daughters jump a CYPRES because they trust the unit and the brand. “We see how much our community has grown over the years, and with even more joy we see every single jumper we saved with our CYPRES!” Helmut exclaimed.

Above: The outstanding safety record of the CYPRES begins long before it ever makes it into a rig. The testing of every device is painstaking. 

When asked about his advice for the next generation of innovators he shared that he had a plan, but was met with incredible challenges not to pursue his mission. “Nothing is impossible,” he said, “if you have a plan! When we developed and presented the first CYPRES in 1991 all important people from the skydiving scene applauded and were enthusiastic. But behind closed doors they said: “Our advice as friends is do not continue. The CYPRES will missfire. Every AAD missfires! There will be accidents and you will be sued. As a result, you personally will be bankrupt and possibly even in jail. So follow our honest advice and stop it immediately.”

Looking back, Helmut says “The way I see it, it´s a good thing that I didn´t listen and pushed on.”

In true Helmut fashion, he concluded by saying, “I am looking forward to the next years and challenges!”

All of us jumpers who’ve trusted CYPRES throughout the years, all the jumpers and families who were directly affected by a CYPRES save, and the entire community at large – we just want to express our gratitude, and congratulate Helmut Cloth as well as the entire CYPRES team for an astounding 30 years!! Thank you for all you do, have done, and continue to do in the sport! – Melissa Lowe

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