Smith Aerospace

Ron works out of an amazing facility, solar powered, with every imaginable kind of tool available.

Smith Aerospace
The genesis

This is Ron’s first fin, arriving on the scene in 1992, with a wooden fin blade and denim (blue jeans) material for foot pockets. Already you can see some advanced ideas - the high aspect ratio fin, the adjustable foot angle, and the flexible rubber fin suspension. You can see the damaged wing, with what looks like to me at least one fiberglass repair.

The genesis
Advancing

After a 1993 design did not perform well, this next fin was born in 1994. The body is constructed of aluminum parts, originally yellow, but still using a wooden fin and denim foot pockets. Its wing broke after about 6 months of use, so Ron went back to using his first fin. Then in 1995, he remade this fin in black with a new hardwood maple foil for added strength to resist breaking. He continued to use it until he built the Classic.

Advancing
Wing is Born

In 2000, Ron tried a design using parts from roller blade boots for foot pockets, but did not use it much as the foot attachment did not work very well. Some of the carvings from this fin’s hardware did later provide the genesis for the Classic’s foot plate mold. This is the Classic, first built in 2002 and later offered to the public in 2009. This was the first of Ron’s fins to use the aluminum foil. Ron kept this fin busy until he developed the HP and ORCA.

Wing is Born
First Wingtips

The DOL-Fin HP below came in 2010 and was initially sold to the public in 2011. It was the first to incorporate his current aluminum foil design with folding wingtips.

First Wingtips
My ORCA

The ORCA was first seen around the world in competitions in 2010. This is my DOL-Fin ORCA (#002) as it appeared at Smith Aerospace prior to my purchase in 2011. It was the first one offered to the public. This fin design was great, but it was just too time consuming and expensive to make for mass production to be practical. To do it, Ron needed help, but was unable to train workers to do the kind of precision work this fin requires and still remain within budget. As a result, there are precious few of these amazing beauties out there prowling the world’s oceans - not enough, I think, for the ORCA to realize its full potential.

My ORCA
Natalia Rules

Natalia Molchanova performed a 217 meter DYN with the ORCA at the 2010 AIDA Team World Championships - very close to her world record at the time of 225 meters.

Natalia Rules
Wes Represents

Wes Lapp posted a 172 meter US national record DYN with the ORCA on May 6, 2012 at Deja Blue 3.

Wes Represents
Ron Flies

Later, on September 15, 2012, Ron Smith fired up this lovely beast to pass Wes with a 175 meter DYN at the 2012 AIDA Team Pool World Championships.

Ron Flies
Postrecord Calm

Relaxed, calm, centered, focused . . .

Postrecord Calm
Such a Cool Fin

The X-20, developed in 2011 and introduced in 2012, is perhaps the coolest looking and most successful of Ron’s product line. It is also a great all-around fin. There is no greater feeling than powering one of these fins up from the bottom plate!

Such a Cool Fin
The Culmination

Next is the new flagship of the DOL-Fin line, the ORCA 2. I got to swim quite a bit in the prototype during my visit. The new fin has all the performance of the ORCA, but is a great deal easier to make and therefore less expensive. I am told that constant weight divers will love this fin. The original ORCA’s negative buoyancy causes it to have a tendency to want to lead you to the bottom plate during freefall unless you add more neck weight to compensate. The ORCA 2’s positive buoyancy corrects that problem and also raises the legs for a more comfortable and efficient pre-dive breathing posture and duck dive position. Additionally, you can drop it in the ocean and not fear your investment sinking to the bottom.

The ORCA 2 also incorporates a new foil suspension system. It has a much more fluid feel than the previous suspension design, and makes almost no noise in the water. The new system has all the benefits of the old system, but feels smoother, looks cleaner, and has no metal parts sticking out to get bent.

The new foot strap design is a big improvement too. Now the main and heel straps are independently adjustable, the metal from the original ORCA straps is gone, and side release buckles are added to the heel straps to allow rapid egress.

The ORCA 2 is an awesome fin. It is easily as good or better in power, performance, and feel than the ORCA it replaces.

The Culmination
Awesome Design!

Here we get to see Ron’s latest masterpiece, the Pilot. It has the simplest and most elegant design imaginable. It takes advantage of “some new construction techniques to form an exo-skeletal frame that is a strong lightweight metal hybrid sandwich structure,” with the new suspension system (first developed for the ORCA 2) an integral part of the structure. I swam the prototype many hours in various configurations. It is a very relaxing swim - effortless, the perfect everyday fin. It is very strong, so it will be almost impossible to bend or break this frame in normal use or transport. By the way, when I say “almost,” I am really saying I think it will be impossible, but I am sure that someday someone will run a truck over one and prove me wrong.

Awesome Design!
Protectors

Here you can see two parts that can be added to help protect the foil by holding it off the bottom of the pool when standing, or the side when pushing off. This part is made of plastic to also protect the pool - probably unnecessary in the ocean.

Protectors
Easy to Pack

The foil on the fin shown, with wingtips stowed, is 30 inches (76.2 cm) long. That along with the frame and shoes would easily fit into a suitcase. When I left Sahuarita to fly to Kuala Lumpur, I had a Pilot prototype and my ORCA along with all of my dive gear and most of my clothes in one suitcase. Try getting any other monofin in your suitcase. Normally when I travel I carry an X-20 and ORCA in the same suitcase and don’t even think twice about it.

Easy to Pack
The Masterpiece

Here Ron demonstrates the new Pilot.

The Masterpiece
Effortless!

Effortless!

Effortless!
 
 
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