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Rating Corner | Wind-Tunnel Training And The First Skydive

Rating Corner | Wind-Tunnel Training And The First Skydive

by Jim Crouch

The Rating Corner | October 2018

At the July 13-15 USPA Board meeting in Milwaukee, the board passed a motion to change the Basic Safety Requirements regarding accelerated freefall student training. The new language spells out the minimum requirements for students who train in wind tunnels before they make their first jumps with only one AFF instructor. The italicized text below indicates the new language in the BSRs:

“2-1G.4.

 b. Harness-hold program

(1) All students must jump with two USPA AFF rating holders until demonstrating the ability to reliably deploy in the belly to-earth orientation at the correct altitude without assistance, except:

(i) Students who have been trained in a wind tunnel may jump with one AFF rating holder after demonstrating the following in the wind tunnel:

- basic stability (neutral body position)

- heading control

- controlled forward and backward motion

- controlled turns

- proper response to hand signals

- simulated altimeter checks and time awareness

- wave-offs

- simulated main parachute activation

(ii) The wind tunnel training and tunnel flight sessions must be conducted by an AFF rating holder, or a tunnel instructor who is under the direct supervision of an AFF rating holder. All training must be documented.

(2) All students must jump with one USPA AFF rating holder, exit safely, maintain stability and deploy at the planned altitude without assistance prior to attempting disorienting maneuvers.

(3) All students must jump under the direct supervision of an appropriately rated USPA Instructor until demonstrating stability and heading control prior to and within five seconds after initiating two intentional disorienting maneuvers involving a back-to-earth presentation.”

The BSRs already allowed for a student to demonstrate skills in a wind tunnel and start skydiving with one AFF instructor but did not specifically spell out the requirements, so a subcommittee of the Safety & Training Committee researched the issue and worked with instructors who were very experienced with wind-tunnel training. That process led to the list of skills each student needs to demonstrate in a wind tunnel before jumping with one AFF instructor on a first skydive. The BSRs are meant to allow for flexibility, and the drop zones that elect to use wind-tunnel training can always choose to use two instructors if so desired.

Advancements in technology and teaching methods have always required USPA to change the BSRs to adapt, and luckily the board has continued to keep an open mind and also ensure the level of safety is where it needs to be when it comes to the variety of student training programs in use by USPA members and drop zones around the world today. 

Jim Crouch | D-16979

USPA Director of Safety & Training

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