2021 has been a year full of unknowns and surprises. As we began this year, we had no idea how much or how little jumping was ahead. Happily, the majority of USPA’s Group Member drop zones were able to open their doors wider as the year progressed, allowing those of us who enjoy the sport of skydiving the opportunity to get back to our favorite pastime on a regular basis. The doors also opened for more first-time jumpers, and we happily welcomed students into our great sport.
There were some great triumphs this year. We saw some amazing performances from our U.S. Parachute Team at the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale World Championships in Siberia, which resulted in loads of medals coming home, as well as a few new world records. We saw more than twice the number of state records filed this year than last. We cheered as our friends in Hawaii received a reprieve to continue to jump at Dillingham Airport for at least another few years while negotiations toward a long-term lease continue. It was a top year for donations coming into the U.S. Parachute Team Trust Fund. It was also wonderful to see our USPA Nationals occur again in October after the 2020 event unfortunately needed to be canceled.
There were also sad moments. We saw a number of icons in our sport pass away this year, some through natural causes and others while doing what they loved. Regardless of the cause, the passing of one of our brothers or sisters in the sport reminds us to live life to the fullest and to share our love and friendship without reservation, because we never know when our—or one of our loved one’s—last day may come.
We also just concluded our USPA Board of Directors election. The next board meeting—set for February 11-13, 2022, in Houston, Texas, will usher in the people who will set policy and vision for our organization for the next three years. Of our 22-member board, 19 of them have been re-elected. I welcome those who have chosen to return and dedicate another three years to serving our organization. Their tenure and historical perspective will be invaluable to our decision making. I also welcome the three members (Jeannie Bartholomew, Brandon Radcliff and Ed Scott) who will be sitting on the board for their first (beer!) time. I have no doubt that their diverse experiences, along with their passion for the sport, will integrate them immediately into the rest of the board and will help bring new ideas that will drive our sport and our organization forward.
There are also three board members—Jan Meyer, Alixandra Raymond and Kirk Verner—who will not be returning. Each has dedicated years of their lives and considerable energy to the USPA Board, and we thank them for their service to our organization.
So, into the new year we go!